Mark 10:46-52 tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with Bartimaeus the blind man.
Jesus and his followers are entering the city of Jericho. As they are walking along what is probably the main road it seems there is a crowd of people gathering. Bartimaeus was a blind man sitting and begging on the side of the road. When he hears that it is Jesus who is coming by he begins to call out to Him, asking for Him to have mercy on Him.
Bartimaeus had obviously heard of Him. He cries out to Him. The crowd tries to quiet him. They basically say, get back to your side of the street. This is Jesus, He has important things to do or teach. Stop crying out. But this doesn’t stop Baritmaeus. Instead he cries out all the louder.
Jesus stops. He says, bring him to me. Now the crowd changes their tune. They say to Bartimaeus that Jesus wants to see him. He throws his cloak aside and runs to Jesus. Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replies – “I want to see”. Jesus says, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road praising God.
At its core this is a simple great story. Jesus heals a blind guy. But there is more here – about Jesus, about Bartimeaus, and by extension maybe about us.
Let’s first look at what this story tells us about Jesus. That’s usually a good place to start.
First it shows us that Jesus is someone who everyone wanted to meet. Jesus is becoming known. People have heard about the things that have happened around Him and through Him. One of the false views of Jesus is that He is this guy who you wouldn’t want to hang out with for whatever reason. Maybe because He is boring, or a rules guy out to ruin our fun. Or maybe we just think of Him as this teacher that just sat around and taught spiritual truths. But the real Jesus had crowds of people wherever He went. He didn’t have to set these up. They just showed up. Constantly. Everyone wanted to see Jesus. Some wanted His help. Some wanted to shut Him down so to speak. But people were constantly coming to see Him.
The next thing it shows is that Jesus is interested in everyone. Bartimaeus was the marginalized. He is the guy on the side of the road. During this time in history as a man who was blind he would have very little if any work options. He is a beggar, probably homeless. If he is lucky he has a family of some sort that cares about him, but most likely he is on his own. Not only that but people with disabilities in those days were often seen as cursed. Either they or their family did something wrong and God was punishing them so to speak. So not only was he physically limited but he was also seen as an outcast in other ways.
You can infer this from the way the crowd treats him. They tell him to shut up and stay out of the way. I’m sure he’d been told that many, many times. He was one of the lowest of of the low in their culture.
But Jesus stops. For him. And He doesn’t do it on the side. He doesn’t circle back later when no one is looking. He stops the whole crowd just to talk to this guy. Jesus tells the crowd to go get him and bring him up front. Then he asks him what he wants. We’ll dig more into that question in a later post. But the point here is that Jesus asks Him what he wants. He tells Jesus. Jesus knows that he believes Jesus can give it to him if He wants to. And so he does. The blind man sees.
What we can take away from this is that Jesus is interested in every person. This is clear throughout the gospels. Jesus meets with everyone. The rich, the poor, the sick and the well, the rulers and the marginalized. He meets with the traitors, the Priests, the Romans, the people that love Him and those that hate Him. You name it. There is no one that Jesus is not interested in. There is no one that Jesus doesn’t love.
This is important for us to keep in mind today. There is no one that Jesus doesn’t love. There is no one that Jesus doesn’t want to meet with. In the next post we’ll look at what that might have to do with us.