Yesterday morning, I preached from Mark 10:46-52, a text that covers the healing miracle of blind Bartimaeus. If we’re not careful, we will read too swiftly through the text and miss the greater miracle. Not only did Bartimaeus receive physical sight, he likewise received spiritual sight. If you read the story, it’s apparent that before Bartimaeus could see with his physical eyes, he was already able to see with his spiritual eyes. This is indeed the greater miracle in the story.
Imagine Bartimaeus’ life challenges. As a blind man in Jericho in Jesus’ day, he would not have had the technology, education, tools, and other helps that seeing impaired persons enjoy in our present culture. Therefore, he was relegated to the roadside where he was forced to live as a beggar. With no ability to provide for himself and to hold down a job, Bartimaeus was a poor man who had no choice but to cry out for the mercy of people who passed by.
Socially, Bartimaeus would have been an outcast. He would have been considered unclean and unable to worship and socialize with people in his town. Consider the immense challenges facing Bartimaeus physically, and then on top of that, consider the fact that he was also spiritually blind. This is a doubly blind man sitting on the side of the road in Jericho who needed more than mercy from those who passed by on the roads of Jericho, he needed the mercy of God.
At some point, Bartimaeus must have heard the story of Jesus’ healing power. Perhaps as he sat on the roadside, like sitting in a barber shop or beauty salon, he picked up pieces of information about this man named Jesus from Nazareth who performed great miracles. Nearby in Bethany, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Imagine as people passed through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem bubbling over with excitement about what had just occurred. Over time, Bartimaeus perhaps would hear people discussing Jesus’ theology and claim to be the Messiah. Bartimaeus perhaps was building his knowledge base and theology of Jesus while picking up pieces of information day by day.
One day, Bartimaeus and his blind friend went to sit at their typical spot to plead for money. It seemed like a normal day to these men, but then suddenly the streets filled with excitement. They could hear people rushing by with a fast pace. They could hear people calling out to one another. We aren’t told how he came to know, but perhaps someone told Bartimaeus that the excitement was because Jesus of Nazareth was passing through Jericho.
At this moment, Bartimaeus was determined to gain Jesus’ attention. He called out with a loud voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It was shocking to say the least. Bartimaeus didn’t refer to Jesus as the man from Nazareth. He called out to Jesus by giving Him a Messianic title – “Son of David.” In other words, Bartimaeus was saying that Jesus is the promised Son of David from 2 Samuel 7. The people rebuked Bartimaeus and told him to be silent, but his cry out to Jesus became more intense. Matthew recalls Bartimaeus as saying, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The point was clear – Bartimaeus was blind physically, but he had better spiritual sight than many on the road that day.
At once, Jesus stopped and called for Bartimaeus and asked what he wanted. The blind beggar requested to have his eyesight restored. Jesus responded and said, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” This phrase is packed with theology. First, Jesus emphasizes the man’s faith. How did Bartimaeus receive faith? It was a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Apparently while sitting on the roadside he was regenerated by God and given faith to believe. The word Jesus used for “made well” is a Greek word, “σῴζω” – literally – saved. The point is clear – by faith Bartimaeus received the miracle of grace and physical eyesight.
The entire story is a fitting picture of the new birth. Consider John Newton’s words in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace, describing the story of salvation, he writes:
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
How do we know that Bartimaeus was saved? Jesus tells us. However, we see the evidence in Mark 10:52. After he received his sight, he didn’t go off to do his own thing. The text tells us that he immediately started following Jesus. In Luke’s account of this event, we have a better picture of Bartimaeus following Jesus and glorifying God (Luke 18:43).
Do you recall the day Jesus changed your life?
Do people see you following Christ and glorifying God today?
Consider the fact that our salvation is truly amazing grace.