The Book of Mark tells the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus who had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. The story, recorded in the tenth chapter, verses 46-52, gives us some insight into the details of this narrative. This particular day, Bartimaeus sat by the roadside as was his daily routine, begging for money and food. He had no idea that he was about to have an encounter with Jesus that would forever change the course of his life for the better.
Bartimaeus settled himself in a comfortable position in preparation for another day of begging. Suddenly he began to hear a faint, unusual sound in the distance. At first, he was puzzled as to what he was hearing. The sound drew nearer, and he began to recognise that it was a crowd of people coming his way. At the same time, he detected the footsteps of a person who was passing close to him. He stopped the person to inquire about the commotion that was approaching. The person informed him that Jesus and many followers were travelling in that direction.
Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and the remarkable things he had done for others, so he thought this could be his time for a miracle. With this, he became very excited. He could hardly wait for Jesus to get close to him. When Bartimaeus sensed that Jesus was close enough to hear him, he shouted out loud, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” Persons who were walking ahead of Jesus went over to Bartimaeus and told him to shut up. Bartimaeus ignored them and continued to shout his request to Jesus. Jesus deliberately stopped as he came near to the spot Bartimaeus was sitting. Jesus invited him to come. Someone in the crowd held his hand and brought him to Jesus.
Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus replied, “I want to see.” With that, Jesus restored his sight. Immediately, Bartimaeus abandoned his former way of life and followed Jesus.
The story of this blind man highlights 5 points applicable to the sinner who admits his need for Jesus to transfer him from the kingdom of darkness to the realm of light.
- Jesus is passing your way
Bartimaeus was doing his usual business the day that Jesus passed his way. He had no idea that he would be a changed man before he went to bed that night. Jesus is actively seeking the lost. His mission here on earth was to suffer for the sins of humanity that he could ultimately draw all people to himself. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus is the loving shepherd who seeks to restore every lost sheep to the fold.
Jesus has commissioned his followers to go into all the world, preach the gospel and make disciples. The Good News is God’s power to rescue men from the snare of sin and death and impart his salvation which brings eternal life. It is the means by which Jesus is encountering hungry and thirsty men and women today. He is still in the business of passing our way.
- Bartimaeus recognises his state of blindness
Bartimaeus realised that he had to depend on others to help him get around and that he was at the mercy of others in providing for his daily needs. He saw his blindness as a crippling handicap that restricted his progress in life. There was no technology to make life easy for him. Disabled persons in his day were second-class citizens. Society did not let him forget his blindness or make it easier for him to cope with the challenges of life. He knew that his inability to see was his number one problem. He wanted the privilege of sightedness like all others around him. Similarly, the person who is aware of the heavy burdens of his sins, the disruptions, troubles, pain and suffering his wrongdoings have inflicted on his life, is willing to trade his transgressions for God’s righteousness.
Jesus is still asking the question of every sinner, “What do you want me to do for you?”
- Bartimaeus shouts for mercy
All humankind is like Bartimaeus, blind and living in darkness. The only way to be delivered from our blindness is to call to Jesus for mercy. The sinner who has been touched by the Good News that Jesus is here to seek and to save the lost; those who are tired of carrying the burden of sin (disobedience to God) and desperately needs a reprieve from a life without hope is the one who cries out to Jesus for mercy. Jesus offers mercy and forgiveness to all who shout out to him. Are you dissatisfied with your life; trapped in a vicious cycle of the flesh, materialism, and can see no light at the end of the tunnel? Shout to Jesus for mercy.
- Jesus stops and grants Bartimaeus his request
Jesus did not ignore the cries of a poor blind man. Jesus responded to him with loving concern to the surprise of the crowd that followed and especially to those who urged Bartimaeus to stop the shouting. Bartimaeus approached Jesus, answered Jesus’ question and received his sight. Jesus is willing to listen to your requests. He said that he would not refuse anyone who comes to him for help. He tells us to lay all our burdens and cares on him because he cares for us. Jesus is eager to rescue every struggling sinner who cries out for help.
- Bartimaeus sees, and follows Jesus
Bartimaeus is so overjoyed by the fact that he now has perfect vision; he forgot that a few minutes previously he was a blind beggar sitting at the side of the road trying to encourage passers-by to contribute to his financial needs. That life as a blind beggar was a thing of the past. What an instantaneous transformation! This radical change speaks to the new life the sinner who comes to Jesus will experience. The scripture makes it abundantly clear that “… if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” 2Cor.5:17.
Bartimaeus left his former life behind to follow Jesus. A changed life will no longer feel right conforming to the old way. A life touched by the Master’s hand will gravitate away from the former life and towards Christ. A sinner purged of his sins will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. He will deliberately endeavour to live a life that is pleasing to God, and that is worthy of the calling given to him.
Jesus is always passing our way. Do you recognise your shortcomings, your need for a Saviour? Then call out to Jesus; he will hear and answer your requests. The dramatic change blind Bartimaeus experienced can be yours today. Call to Jesus without delay.
Related: Living Water