Mark 10:46-52  Healing of blind Bartimaeus

46 Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. 47 When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” 48 Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.”

They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.”

50 Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

51 Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.”

52 Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way.

This is the word of God for us the people of God.  Thanks be to God.

The Blind Beggar

I was named after my father.  In my language, my name means son of honor.  “Bar” means son and “Timaeus” means honor.  Man of honor.  I used to be an honorable man.  And then I found myself blind and deserted by all my family and friends – forced to beg to eat.  It was like I was invisible…..no one spoke to me.  No one cared for me.  I was living a life that was the polar opposite of the life a man of honor should live.  I was a nobody.  I have no idea how my life had come to this.  I had very little will to even live that day.

But that day my life changed completely.  You see I knew that that day could be a profitable one for me.  It was close to Passover, the big celebration held in Jerusalem.  Jericho is about 15 miles away and the pilgrims passed through on their way to Jerusalem.  It was the law of the Jews that every male over 12 years old who lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem attend the Passover.  And since it was impossible for all to fulfill the law, those who couldn’t go often lined the streets of the towns to greet the groups of pilgrims along the way as a way of supporting them on their travels.  So, I knew the streets of Jericho would be lined with people.

I had a good chance of getting a pretty nice collection from my begging that day because I heard that God had told his people to care for those in need – and I know the pilgrims think their God will bless them if they give to people like me.

But there was another reason I was on the road that day.  Since I’m all but invisible, I hear things.  I hear what people are talking about.  And people were talking about a man named Jesus.  He was a rabbi, is what I had heard.  He had a band of disciples who followed him.  And he had been preaching about God’s power and love, and he had been performing miracles like healing people of illnesses.  I even heard that he brought someone to life who was dead!  So, I was hoping that he might pass by me.  I was curious about what might happen.  And I knew, too, that more people would be out hoping to see Jesus pass by, and I was sure to have lots of coins thrown my way.

So I arrived at my favorite spot on the road.  I spread my coat out by the road so that pilgrims could throw coins onto it as they passed by.  And shortly into the day, I heard a huge commotion and I heard people whispering the name “Jesus.”  The voices began to get louder and louder, “Jesus!  Here he comes!  It’s him.”

And then, I don’t know what possessed me, but I yelled out at the top of my voice, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!  Show me mercy!”  It felt like my voice came from the depth of my soul.  And I just knew that Jesus could help me escape from this miserable life I was living.  But voices yelled back at me, “Be quiet. Stop that yelling!”  And even though I knew I needed to just shut up, I kept yelling – louder and louder.  I knew this was my chance and my hope for life!!

And Jesus heard me.  At first Jesus didn’t talk to me.  But he told his disciples to come over and get me.   Looking back on it, I think Jesus was trying to teach his disciples a lesson when he did that – I think he wanted them to learn to notice people like me.

And so the disciples called to me – “Be encouraged.  Get up!  Jesus is calling you!”  And I threw my coat to the side and coins went flying everywhere, and I jumped up, and I ran toward Jesus’s voice.  Can you believe I did that?  I left all that money I had collected – I just flung it to the side and I ran to Jesus!  I have never done anything like that in my life.  Nothing mattered at that moment except— being in the presence of Jesus. 

And Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I was stunned that this holy man would ask what he could do for me.  But he had said it, “What do you want me to do for you?”

And I just blurted out, without even thinking, “Teacher, I want to see.”

And the teacher without even touching me, said

“Go, your faith has healed you.”

And immediately, I could see.

I could see!

It was a miracle – I never thought Jesus would heal a man like me!

My life was never the same — because I knew that Jesus was the Son of God.  I knew that Jesus had come to save me from my misery.  I knew that Jesus had come just for me that day – just to heal my body and my soul and even my mind.  I knew that Jesus had come to let me know that God loved me.

Jesus restored me that day.

Jesus noticed me – a blind beggar, and honored me as his friend.

And so, I followed him.  I walked away from that miserable life, and I followed him.  And you know, my life has never been the same.  I watched him love people that no one else would even look at.  I heard him share the news that God loves us all.  I saw people changing their lives when he told them that they could be a part of God’s kingdom.

Sadly, Jesus was actually walking toward his death that day on the road to Jerusalem.  But that’s a story for another day.

Today, I came to tell you that Jesus, the Son of David, showed mercy to me – a nobody — when I cried out to him.  And that has made all the difference in my life because it wasn’t just my sight that was healed.  I became a whole new person on the roadside that day.  And I will never cease to follow him and tell others like you all about the good news I heard that day.

Let us pray together.

Jesus, Son of David, hear our cries.

Have mercy on us.

Grant us your grace

For we are broken and blind in so many ways.

 

A time for silent confession and asking for God’s healing.

 

Jesus, Son of David, hear our cries.

Have mercy on us.

Grant us your grace,

That we may know your healing touch

And be restored to the fullness of life

In your holy name.  Amen.