Mark 10:46-52 (ESV)
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. Many remember Jericho as the place where Joshua and his army marched around the city and the “wall fell down.” The city Mark wrote of was the rebuilt Jericho. Located about a mile south of the original Jericho, it was reconstructed under Herod the Great. When Jesus left the city, a large crowd followed him. Despite all the commotion, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus repeatedly called out for his attention. Bartimaeus and his persistent pleading for Jesus started to annoy those around him and many rebuked him, telling him to “knock it off.” But as Jesus passed, Bartimaeus became more hopeful, and he continued to cry out for mercy. Bartimaeus referred to Jesus the “Son of David,” a recognized title of the Messiah, as the Jews knew he would descend from the line of David. Even though Jesus headed toward Jerusalem with a purpose, he stopped for the determined blind man. When Jesus asked for him, he eagerly sprang up and approached. Then Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 51). This was the same question Jesus had just asked James and John (10:36). Bartimaeus told Jesus he wanted to see again. With that, Jesus let him know he was healed. It was his faith in Jesus’ ability to heal him that made him well.
Bartimaeus was physically blind, yet he could “see” Jesus for whom he was, perhaps even better than Jesus’ own disciples. He didn’t see Jesus with his eyes, but he recognized Jesus was the Messiah. His spiritual sight was sharp, even though his physical eyesight was absent. As soon as Bartimaeus could see, he got on the road and began to follow Jesus too. Bartimaeus models for us what a disciple looks like. He was blind and fully dependent upon Jesus for sight, he cried out for mercy and was confident that Jesus could heal him, and as soon as his sight was restored, he left his place along the road and followed the Messiah. When did Jesus open the eyes of your heart and allow you to trust in him? Did you immediately follow after him? Let’s not forget that if we are asking Jesus for healing or help, we must be ready to follow him too. Real faith isn’t willing to stay on the side of the road.