Below is the story of Bartimaeus the Blind Beggar from the gospel of Mark. It is only 7 verses long, but each one of them speaks volumes. Take some quiet time alone with God as you read this story.  

  • Before you start, ask the Holy Spirit to accompany you in your reading
  • Open up your heart and mind to God’s power and cleanse your heart and mind of notions of self-will or previous knowledge
  • Come as a blank slate to Jericho with Jesus. Let Him fill you with the story. 
  • See what you notice … what stands out to you … what words stick with you … can you find yourself in this story … as you walk with Jesus, think about what this story is teaching you. 

Mark 10: 46-52
46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.

 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”

 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.”

 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Wasn’t that a wonderful experience? Walking with Jesus into the ancient city of Jericho and being by His side when he encounters, heals, and transforms a blind beggar.

I challenge you to read through the story another time of two … really focusing on each word and every scene. See the story playing out in your mind’s eye. Pick up on the scents and the heat and the crowd noise. Look at the face of Bartimaeus – wrinkled with age but glowing with the spirit.

I’ve made a quick list of things that land on my heart and mind and stick with me as I walk through this story with Jesus and the Holy Spirit — see what you think of these insights and questions:

> What must it have been like traveling (walking!) with Jesus through the deserts from Galilee to Jericho, and then on to Jerusalem. Did they travel at night to stay cool? What did they eat? When did they sleep? How dangerous was it? Would I ever consider joining them?  

 > As you walk with Jesus into the town of Jericho, can you hear Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus? He is calling Jesus by a name you haven’t heard before — “Son of David.” Do you wonder how a blind beggar would know that Jesus is so close? And why would he call Him by this “royal” name? 

> Did you notice what Bartimaeus asked for from Jesus when he called out to him — “Mercy!” He wants mercy from Jesus. Isn’t that a good place to start your conversation with Jesus everyday — “Lord, have mercy on me!” 

 > Do you get the feeling that Bartimaeus might know more about Jesus even though he is blind, than the disciples know about Him even though they have been walking with Him for years? Think about it: the blind shall see! 

 > The crowd reprimands Bartimaeus to be quiet — to stop yelling out His name. Do you know what that is like? Either way: have you been part of the “crowd” that wants to shush public cries for Jesus (it’s so embarrassing!) — or, have you ever been on the receiving end of those shushes? 

 > There is this short and beautiful half-verse that says … “Jesus stood still.” Is it when Jesus is still that God is speaking to Him, moving within Him, sending Him the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s like the psalm says: “Be still and know that I am God.” Before Jesus converted this blind beggar, he was still.

 > Have you ever missed things … or even people … because you were too busy to be still? Sometimes God puts things right in front of us when we least expect them, and if we’re not capable of being still, we just might miss God. How many times a day do you think that happens to you? Think of the things you may have missed. Think of the people that you may have missed. Do you think you’ve ever been too busy to notice Jesus? I bet He’s never been too busy to be still for you! 

 > As soon as Jesus asks for Bartimaeus to come to Him, the crowd quickly changes its tone and excitedly helps Bartimaeus come. How fickle we can be when it comes to our notions of appropriate and inappropriate, right and wrong, good and bad. Sometimes it takes Jesus Himself to teach us of our misguided and fickle ways of thinking. That’s why starting with a blank slate is so important when reading scripture — otherwise we just “use” the words to affirm our own prejudices and biases. That might make us feel better, but it’s not the purpose of scripture! 

> Do you think Bartimaeus is excited when Jesus calls him? The story says he threw off his cloak and sprang to his feet! For a blind beggar, the cloak is the most prized article of possession. It’s a blanket at night. It’s a shield from the rain. It’s even a “basket” to hold the alms that are tossed his way. But when it comes to Jesus — it’s expendable! Jesus is everything! Nothing else matters. And by the way — when is the last time that you think Bartimaeus leaped to his feet like that? That may have been a first… and possibly a last. But can you be surprised? Jesus just called him! What would your response be? What is your response today to the call of Jesus? 

> I am fascinated by the question that Jesus asks Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Wow — think about it: Bartimaeus is blind … he is poor … he is a beggar … How about starting with all that! But, of course, Jesus already knows that Bartimaeus needs (and wants) something much more than those things fixed. Bartimaeus wants a new life … he wants to be a disciple … he wants to get a restart on a new path. Jesus knows this because deep down inside, it’s what we all want. Oh sure … we may think we’ve got it good … all set … blessed and safe … but Jesus knows us better even if we don’t know ourselves. That question that Jesus asked Bartimaeus is the same question Jesus always asks: “How can I help you today?” And Jesus is always the answer to that question, “What do you want?” Answer: More Jesus! When we start there, we begin a life conversion process that ends up changing everything. Just ask Bartimaeus … or me!

> Bartimaeus responds to Jesus with the only thing he could say: “I want to see again!” Amen … don’t we all? Remember, Bartimaeus was the one who was seeing who Jesus pretty well. He, nobody else, called Him, “Son of David.” He, nobody else, asked Him for the one thing only Jesus could give him — mercy. He, nobody else, threw off his greatest possession and leaped to come to Jesus. Friends — that is what faith looks like in a blind beggar! Bartimaeus doesn’t just want physical sight; he wants to see the world as Jesus sees it — in a whole new way. Like disciples do. 

 > As soon as Bartimaeus asks, Jesus responds. But He doesn’t tell Bartimaeus that he has his sight back — although he does. Jesus tells Bartimaeus something much more important — “Your faith has made you well.” Jesus knows faith when He sees it — when he feels it — when He senses it. Of all the things that Bartimaeus was, or wasn’t, he was the one thing that Jesus could work with — Bartimaeus was a man of faith. Not just a fan. Not just looking for a miracle or a healing. He wanted to be a disciple. Many people “come to Jesus” looking for the wrong things. To be healed of an illness. To get a better job. To win a game. To be in the “right” crowd. I’m sure many of those people in the Jericho crowd on this particular day were there for some of these reasons, and even more. But not Bartimaeus. He was there to be made a disciple. And that’s exactly what happened! 

 > From that day on, the life of Bartimaeus was never the same. He was now on “the way.” Everything changed. I wonder if anybody noticed. Scripture doesn’t tell us that. Maybe he kept begging. Maybe he sat in the same spot he had sat in everyday as a blind man. Maybe he still only owned one cloak. Maybe, on the outside, Bartimaeus was still the same, except not physically blind. But on the inside. Bartimaeus was re-born. He was changed from within — transformed from above — a full-fledged disciple. It’s a reminder to be careful when we try to judge people based on what we see with our physical eyesight. Those eyes aren’t capable of seeing a disciple. In fact, those eyes aren’t capable of seeing Jesus either. Just ask the former blind beggar known as Bartimaeus, who knew Jesus when he saw Him, even though he had no physical sight.

I don’t know much … But this is what I can tell you … I was blind, but now I see …

Pastor Bob