The story of Blind Bartimaeus is found in Mark 10:46-52. This passage precedes the one where Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem. The story also takes place in Jericho. As many know, Jericho fames itself as the location of Joshua’s conquest of Jericho. In addition, preceding the fall of Jericho, another recognized event happened—that being the salvation of Rahab the prostitute.
Particularly in this situation at Jericho, Jesus was leaving with his disciples, along with a mob of a crowd following him out of the city. With this great caravan of people moving along with Jesus, hoping to get his autograph (just kidding), there also seems to be still those lining the streets hoping to get a glimpse of this spiritual giant, Nazarene rock-star, and polarizing figure. As the commotion filtered through the streets, there is this blind beggar, Bartimaeus (Barty for short), who hears the commotion and asks those around, “What’s going on?” They tell him Jesus of Nazareth is coming through.
Although Barty was blind, he was not deaf. He has apparently heard of Jesus of Nazareth. For what will transpire from him is nothing short of an amazing faith that is responding to the truth he had heard coming from eyewitness accounts; accounts that told of who Jesus claimed to be and what he had been demonstrating. Barty, after hearing that it is Jesus who is coming through, cries, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!” As Barty cries this out, many in the crowd become uncomfortable and rebuke him, telling him to be silent. I could imagine people in the crowd yelling at Barty—the obnoxious beggar—“be quiet Barty, your embarrassing us; be quiet Barty, don’t disturb Jesus; be quiet Barty, will pay you to be quiet, just quit screaming.” Whatever they were trying to do to quiet Barty failed to work; instead, he cried all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Talk about a man who embodied his description, a beggar. Barty was desperate. He was a man in need; and he knew that only Jesus could meet his need. It would be fair to say that out of all the people in the crowd that day Barty wanted Jesus more than anyone else. (Question: how bad do we want Jesus, do we cry out for Jesus?) Jesus’ human ears hears the loud cries carrying over the commotion stopping him in his tracks; but I also believe that Jesus’ divine ears heard the cry of Barty’s heart.
As Barty sits there screaming for Jesus, Jesus sends for him. The Bible says, “And they called the blind man, saying to him, Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak he sprang up and came to Jesus.” Reading this, I sense Barty’s excitement and anticipation! I believe he anticipates not needing that cloak anymore. I believe he anticipates not needing to come back to the place he had been accustomed to being everyday, begging people for money. Oh, No. Barty believes that the Son of David, Jesus of Nazareth, is going to heal him. It is interesting that when Barty stands before Jesus, Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
This is like the genie-in-the-bottle moment. Jesus gave Barty an open-ended question of what he would like Jesus to do. Barty is very specific of what he wants. He does not want money or wealth, position or status. Barty wants to be made whole! In other words, he wants to recover his sight. Jesus answers the cry of Barty’s heart. Jesus heals him, and Barty is no longer the same person. He can see; he is whole. He does not have to return to the place of redundant begging and never being fulfilled.
At the heart of this passage, there is the message that every person is a beggar because their life is incomplete. Everyone is a beggar because his or her life is not whole; their life is in shambles, broken, damaged, or distorted in some shape, form, or fashion. Since everyone’s life is incomplete in some way, the only person that can bring healing, restoration, and wholeness is Jesus! He has come to redeem and restore the image of God on man as well as the entire created order.
Sometimes it takes a disease or sickness, like blindness, to get people to understand that their life is broken. But, if people would be honest and truthful with themselves they would come to the realization that they are still broken. They would understand they are not perfect, nor is everything right about them. Maybe people’s brokenness and incompleteness is their perception, attitude, actions, family, purpose, or personal life. And when people come to the realization that life is broken, damaged, distorted, and incomplete they will begin to look for the answer(s) to repair their brokenness, damage, distortion, and incompleteness. While many people have come to this understanding, the answer(s) they have tried to apply have been anything other than Jesus. From the Enlightenment, the answer(s) to repair the brokenness and incompleteness of life is more man.
This is the notion that man can achieve a utopia, a perfect order. Man can better society. Although this idea has led to the advancement of medicine, technology, and quality of life, it has still left people incomplete, broken, and damaged. Many others have turned to substances to at least help them cope with the pain of their incompleteness. Still others turn to people and busyness to help them deal with their brokenness and incompleteness. Finally, others turn to religion and spirituality. However, the difference between every religion and spirituality and the way of Jesus is this: every religion and spirituality other than Christianity has at its core man fixing their incompleteness and brokenness through works and right action. Christianity teaches that there is nothing that man can do to fill the void nor repair the incompleteness and brokenness in their life—only Jesus can.
Jesus is the only one that can repair the brokenness and incompleteness of humanity (and creation). However, I believe it is important to know that while Jesus does that presently in people’s lives, by grace through faith, his final act of restoration and completeness will take place at his second coming when he finally and utterly destroys the work of the evil one and sets up his perfect kingdom on earth.
In conclusion, have we, do we, or will we cry the cry of Barty, a cry that everyone heard that day, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Have we, do we, or will we cry the cry, “Jesus, Lord, God, Savior, make me whole.”