The paragraphs that follow are a collection of musings that I had as I was reading the fascinating story of Jesus’ encounter with Bartimaeus, which is told in detail in Mark and in Luke. So this post is really a Bible study on this meeting.
The context of the story is that Jesus is leaving Jericho to head up the hill to Jerusalem with His apostles and a large crowd behind Him, and here is Bartimaeus, a complete nobody, now forever a character in the most important biography in the history of the world.
What do we know about Bartimaeus? We know that he is the son of Timaeus. Who is Timaeus? We have no idea. Both father and son are forever obscured from us. They are faceless people in the flow of humanity. But Bartimaeus encountered Jesus Christ and his history was forever changed.
We also know that Bartimaeus was blind. He could not see and was therefore aware of his helplessness (Romans 5:6). He was dependent upon others to help him and to lead him.
We know that Bartimaeus was a beggar. His only possible means of support and of survival was begging that others would show him pity and give him something. He was a helpless nobody, but he was ready to cry out to Jesus for mercy and salvation. This is so very different from most of us. Most of us have too much pride to call out to anyone for help. But while calling out for help is one thing, calling out for salvation is another. There is only One who can grant salvation and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our need for salvation must demolish our pride and cause us to cry out for mercy from Jesus.
In this way, Bartimaeus is an example to us of what it means to receive the salvation that Jesus offers.
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32) And Bartimaeus called on the Lord and thus he was saved.
Bartimaeus was the only person in the gospels who called Jesus “the Son of David.” Son of David was a Messianic term. The Messiah would be the Son of David, a great warrior king who would restore Israel once again to their place of prominence. The crowd spoke of Jesus as the Nazarene (47), but Bartimaeus knew Him as the Son of David, the promised Messiah and the One he should seek.
(2 Corinthians 4:4) Bartimaeus, though blind, saw Jesus for who He was, but those walking with Jesus who had their sight did not see Him for who He was. (See John 9:35-39 for other verses that support this theme.)
Are you blind? Are you more like the crowd which was excited to be around Jesus, but never committed themselves to follow Jesus and never called out to Him for mercy and rescue? Or are you like Bartimaeus, aware of your wretchedness and your sin and eager to cry out to Jesus for mercy? Are you like Bartimaeus in that you will “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6)”?
Because of his encounter with Jesus, Bartimaeus will never experience the wrath of God, but will instead forever be in front of the throne praising the Lord Jesus (Revelation 7:9), the Lamb of God, who is the One who rescued him. Bartimaeus encountered Jesus in the flesh and Jesus gave him back his sight. But Jesus also saved him for eternity and declared him saved because of his faith. (“Go; your faith has made you well.” 10:52)
Jesus gives Bartimaeus a complete blank check. “What do you want Me to do for you?” WHAT THIS REVEALS ABOUT BARTIMAEUS Here the Lord of the universe asks a wretched blind beggar what he want s Him to do for him. How amazing that the Lord will serve the beggar! Jesus gives Bartimaeus the opportunity to ask for whatever he wants and the size of the request will display the size of his faith. What does Bartimaeus believe about Jesus? By asking for his sight, something that only God can give him, Bartimaeus reveals that he believes that Jesus is God in the flesh and that He can give him the things that only God can give. Application: What do you believe about Jesus? Have you ever trusted Jesus to give you what only God can give you? What do your requests reveal about the size of your faith in Jesus?
Jesus gives Bartimaeus a complete blank check. “What do you want Me to do for you?” WHAT THIS REVEALS ABOUT JESUS In typical fashion, Jesus responds to the situation with all the authority of God. Who would ask a blind man, “What do you want Me to do for you?” What is the blind man likely to request? Of course the blind man is going to ask for his sight. And Jesus must surely have anticipated this request. He must have known that this would be the request, and yet He still gives the blind man the open invitation to ask for anything. Now, this again reveals Jesus’ deity, for no one but God could fulfill this request and likewise no one but a Man who knew Himself to have divine power and authority would issue such a statement to the blind man. This encounter reveals that Jesus is, indeed, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the One who has all the authority and power of God.
At the call of Bartimaeus, Jesus stopped (10:49). This surely is an amazing thought! At the pathetic cry of a dirty, blind beggar in the dusty streets of Jericho, amid the din of the crowd and the noise and in the throng of faces, Jesus hears Bartimaeus’ cry of faith and STOPS. How can it be! The Son of God, on His way up to Jerusalem to accept His crucifixion and to embrace His suffering; the Son of Man on His way to give His life as a ransom for many (10:45), hears the pathetic cry of this forgotten man and STOPS. God STOPS. O surely this tells us of the power of faith! Jesus Christ was alert for the call of faith. And Jesus Christ is still alert for the call of faith. Has He ever heard your cry? Have you ever cried out to Him? Has Jesus ever heard your cry begging for His mercy? (Romans 9:15-24; 10:13) Are you sure that there was one day when the Lord Jesus Christ heard your cry for mercy and STOPPED?
The crowd tells Bartimaeus to be quiet (48). This is what the crowd always does. The crowd is always there to make sure you feel the full weight of peer pressure and make sure that you do not call out to Jesus for mercy and salvation. Have you let the crowd prevent you from getting to Jesus? If so, you have allowed the crowd to keep you from salvation. Let those who are perishing perish Let the dead bury their own dead (Luke 9:60), but don’t let the crowd keep you from your worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
SDG rmb 9/1/2017