Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus
46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and His disciples left town, a large crowd followed Him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
48 "Be quiet!" many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
49 When Jesus heard him, He stopped and said, "Tell him to come here."
So they called the blind man. "Cheer up," they said. "Come on, He's calling you!" 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
51 "What do you want Me to do for you?" Jesus asked.
"My rabbi, " the blind man said, "I want to see!"
52 And Jesus said to him, "Go, for your faith has healed you." Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
Jesus and his disciples pass through Jericho and a large crowd joins them. A blind man is sitting in his usual spot beside the busy road where, being unable to work, he is reduced to begging for a living. When he hears that Jesus is passing by, he begins to cry out. Although the crowd keeps telling him to quiet down, he refuses. Jesus asks for the man to be brought to him, and Jesus heals him. The blind man then begins to follow Jesus.
Jericho (Mark 10:46)
Jesus was passing through Jericho on his way up to Jerusalem. "Founded perhaps as early as 8,000 B.C.,"1090 Jericho is located about fifteen miles northeast of Jerusalem. There were actually two Jerichos -- "old Israelite Jericho" (aka OT Jericho) and "new Herodian Jericho" (aka NT Jericho).1091 "The Old Testament city of Jericho had been destroyed by the Israelites (Joshua 6:20). But during Herod the Great's rule over Palestine, he had rebuilt the city (about a mile south of the original city) as a site for his winter palace. Jericho was a popular and wealthy resort city, not far from the Jordan River."1092 Thus the Jericho of Jesus' day was a wealthy "city on a major route from Galilee down the Jordan Valley to Jericho and then up (WSW) through the Judean hills to Jerusalem."1093 The converted tax-collector Zacchaeus (zack KEY us1094) lived there (Luke 19:1), and Jesus' story of the good Samaritan "is set on the narrow, bandit-infested road from Jerusalem down to Jericho (Luke 10:30-37)."1095
Beggar (Mark 10:46)
"Beggars were to be found wherever crowds assembled or passed by, as at the entrance to Jericho or the gates of the temple (Matthew 20:30; Acts 3:2),"1096 and of course Jericho's wealth would have attracted many beggars.1097 As one source explains, there were many reasons for begging and beggars:
Israel was never without her poor and afflicted. The poverty that seemed to require begging for the sustaining of life was at times occasioned by natural disasters, such as blindness, and also by marauding enemies who stripped the land of its crop. Because widows, orphans, and aliens without land rights were especially apt to suffer under such circumstances, special laws were designed to protect them (Deuteronomy 10:17–19; 24:19–22; 28:29; Psalms 68:5–6). In some instances the presence of begging testifies to ineffective public relief and limited medical knowledge. The heavy taxation on the land by Rome was also a factor in encouraging poverty and its attendant ills. It must be remembered that plain indolence was sometimes the cause (Proverbs 20:4). In later times the concept of giving alms as an efficacious act developed, and from a legalistic point of view seemed to vindicate begging as a practice, since it provided opportunity for works of righteousness. Jesus warned against externalism in deeds of charity (Matthew 6:1–4). Without question the development of urban centers tended to encourage begging as a profession.
No provision is found in the Mosaic legislation to legalize begging. There is no term in biblical Hebrew to describe the professional beggar. Begging is a part of a curse (Psalms 109:10). Professional beggars were despised by the Jews, and support for them from the general charity fund was prohibited. The Bible does encourage concern and compassion for the poor (Deuteronomy 15:4–8). Material prosperity was the blessing of God, and these mercies should be shared with those in need. In spiritual decadence, almsgiving was equated with righteousness. This was a legalistic turn that testifies to the human tendency to pervert the ways of God.1098
Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46)
This "is the last healing episode recounted in the Gospel of Mark."1099 Reduced to begging because of his blindness, Bartimaeus camped out beside the road, which afforded him "ready access to the traffic to and from Jerusalem. This important trade route was traveled by merchants and the well-to-do, as well as the pious on their way to Jerusalem to worship, who might be inclined to give alms."1100 Because Mark does not record that he was born blind, it may be that Bartimaeus was seeking "to receive back the sight he once had."1101 The fact that Mark records his name may indicate that "Bartimaeus was known in the early church."1102 "There were no healings of the blind in the Old Testament; the Jews believed that such a miracle would be a sign that the messianic age had begun (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5)."1103
Son of David ... Mercy ... My rabbi (Mark 10:47, 48, 51)
Bartimaeus called Jesus "Son of David" and "Rabboni" (Greek rhabboni/rhabbouni: "an honorific title for a teacher of the Jewish Scriptures, implying an important personal relationship"1104). The former was a messianic title and the latter, signifying "my great master,"1105 was "an expression of personal faith."1106 Despite his physical blindness, Bartimaeus could "see" the fact that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, contrary to most of his countrymen who had physical sight but were nonetheless "blind" to this highly significant spiritual truth.1107 Hence Bartimaeus was making a nuisance of himself1108 by literally screaming1109 for Jesus to "have mercy" on him (Greek eleeo: "to show kindness or concern for someone in serious need"1110). Jesus told Bartimaeus that his faith had "healed" him or, literally, had "saved" him. Hence "Bartimaeus' physical 'salvation' (i.e., deliverance from darkness [blindness] to light [sight]) was an outward picture of his spiritual 'salvation.'"1111
Because both God and Jesus are rich in mercy, we are to be, as well:
The NT often uses eleos [noun]/eleeo [verb] for the attitude that God requires of us. In Matthew 9:13; 23:23 it denotes the kindness owed in mutual relationships. The LXX phrase 'showing mercy' occurs in Luke 10:37 for the actions of the Samaritan. In Matthew 18:33 the demand for mercy is based on the divine mercy which precedes ours (cf. James 2:13). The new feature here as compared with Judaism is that God's mercy is known in and through Christ. In James 3:17 and Romans 12:8 eleos embraces lovingkindness in general, though pity is included. Concern for eternal as well as temporal welfare may be meant (cf. Jude 22).1112
Coat (Mark 10:50)
Bartimaeus's cloak was an outer or exterior garment worn over the tunic (a one-piece shirt-like garment worn next to the body that covered from neck to knees).1113 The cloak was "a large piece of woolen cloth nearly square" that "was wrapped around the body or fastened about the shoulders, and served also to wrap oneself in at night."1114 His casting it aside may have indicated a total dependence on and trust in Christ,1115 particularly since he had most probably "been sitting on part of his cloak, with the rest folded over his lap, into which coins could be tossed."1116
No Easy Road
David Livingstone is remembered as a courageous, devoted Christian missionary to the African continent. One time he was contacted by a missionary society asking if he had found a good road. If so, they wrote, they would send other men to join him. Livingstone wrote back that he did not want men who would come only if there was a good road; he wanted men who would come if there was no road at all.1117
The road to Heaven is overgrown with obstacles, cluttered with challenges, and hemmed in by hardships. This is the road Jesus traveled while on this earth, and this is the same road to which he calls all who would follow him. It is not a newly paved superhighway, but it is a superior way that one day will lead us to a city filled with splendor in which God himself will be our light: "And there will be no night there - no need for lamps or sun - for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:5).
??? What hardships are you facing as you travel with Jesus? How can the example of Bartimaeus help you to better endure them?