Blindness in Jesus’ lifetime was quite common. Actually blindness was a contagious disease carried by flies and the only way to avoid catching it was to stay away from those afflicted with it. The hot desert sun would close the water duct under the eyelid and the eyes would become red and swollen, resulting in blindness. Because the blind were often considered unclean they had to earn their living by begging at the city gate.
Bartimaeus was one of those afflicted with blindness. He had become accustomed to sitting on the roadside of Jericho. If he was lucky, someone might drop a coin in his bowl, allowing him one more meal to survive. He spent his life as an outcast. He couldn’t work. He most likely felt useless. He couldn’t take care of his daily needs and had no one to help him. Then one day Jesus crossed his path.
The Jews had heard the prophesies of Isaiah which claimed that the Messiah would heal diseases like blindness, deafness, physical disabilities and relieve the suffering of the poor. Those words were echoed by Jesus, when answering John, the Baptist’s question about whether Jesus was the Messiah.
Bartimaeus heard those words too. The city was bustling with repeated words of Jesus, and now he was in his town. He must’ve gained hope when he heard that Jesus was near. The thought of having his eyes opened by the Messiah, was enough for him to go to any lengths to get Jesus’ attention – and he did. He screamed at the top of his lungs, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The crowd and possibly the disciples rebuked the blind man. They thought he was making too much of a spectacle, but that didn’t stop him. Again and again, he shouted, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” He acknowledged that Jesus indeed was the promised Messiah.
At last, Jesus stopped walking and told the crowd to call the man. Bartimaeus jumped to his feet, dropped his cloak and ran to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
The man was healed instantly. The healing was done by Jesus, because of the man’s faith. How often do we become blind to the power of God’s healing in our lives? Are we often like the crowd following Jesus? Do we think Jesus is too busy for us – that we aren’t worthy to ask for such things? The blindness we exhibit in a case like this is even greater than the physical darkness Bartimaeus experienced.
Don’t ever be afraid to talk to your Savior. He’s promised to hear our prayers. He answers in His own way and on His timeline, but you can be confident that He will answer you. His heart is so big and His arms open so wide, that we can reassured that He loves us beyond comprehension – even when we don’t return that love. What a friend everyone has in Jesus.