It was the last trip Jesus would make into Jerusalem before being crucified. His days were numbered, and thus were the opportunities to be healed by Him numbered also now. As Jesus and His disciples walked along the Jericho road, they passed by a blind man begging on the side of the road. The blind beggar was named Bartimaeus.
During these times, people believed that handicapped or diseased individuals were cursed by God for either a sin that they committed or for a sin that their parents committed (John 9:2). In these days there were no programs and resources to aid people with disabilities like there are today, so individuals like Bartimaeus were reduced to begging for mercy and assistance from others.
Bartimaeus had probably lived his whole life at the mercy of others, begging for food and whatever else he needed. That is a sad situation. You may not be blind like Bartimaeus, but maybe you are in a sad and difficult situation. If so, the story of Bartimaeus offers you hope and comfort.
There are many things we can learn from Bartimaeus
1. He believed that Jesus could help him
“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'”
Evidently, Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and His healing powers, and he believed that Jesus had the power to heal his blindness. When Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replied, “that I might receive my sight.”
Bartimaeus had probably been blind a long time, maybe even from birth. How easy it would be for him to think that it was impossible to ever receive his sight. But somehow, he chose to believe that no matter how impossible it appeared, this Jesus of Nazareth could make him see.
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that no matter how impossible your situation appears, Jesus is able to help you?
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.'” (Mark 9:23)
2. He asked Jesus for help
Bartimaeus was not afraid to cry out to Jesus for help, and neither should we be afraid.
When a synagogue ruler’s daughter was at the point of death, Jesus assured the father, saying, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)
Jesus says to us all, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
When Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, Jesus responded to him. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what condition or situation you are in, Jesus will respond to you if you call out to Him.
3. He did not allow anything to stop him from seeking Jesus
When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, “many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more.” (Mark 10:48)
Many people tried to hush him, but he refused to be hushed. We shouldn’t let anything stop us from seeking Jesus, whether it be fear of what others think, say or do to us. Nor should we allow fear of failure and feelings of unworthiness stop us from seeking Jesus. What if Baritmaeus had let any of these things stop him? He would never have experienced the gift of sight or the miracle of Jesus in his life. What great things will you miss out on if you allow someone or something to stop you from seeking help from Jesus?
4. He obeyed the calling of Jesus
“So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you. And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.”
Jesus could have went to Bartimaeus, but instead, He stood still and called Bartimaeus to Him. Why? Because what Jesus did for Bartimeaus, He does for every one of us. He calls us, and those who answer His calling are chosen to be healed, to be forgiven, and to be His disciples.
It took an act of faith for Bartimaeus to step out blindly to grope around in his darkness to find Jesus. It also takes faith for every one of us to seek the light of Jesus in our dark situations. However, once we step out and obey His calling, Jesus gives us sight and brightens our world.
Notice, that as soon as Bartimaeus learned that Jesus was calling for him, he immediately went to him. Being blind, he probably stumbled his way to Jesus, or someone had to help him find his way to where Jesus stood. You too, may have to stumble your way to Jesus. You may need someone to go with you, to hold your hand along the way, but that is okay as long as you go to Him.
Another note about this is that we can not afford to wait to heed the calling of Jesus. If Bartimaeus had decided to wait another day, he never would have seen Jesus again because after Jesus arrived into Jerusalem, it wasn’t long before He was arrested, tried and crucified. None of us know what tomorrow holds, so don’t miss out on the marvelous blessings that you can receive today with Jesus.
5. He exchanged his old life for a new one in Christ
The fact that Bartimaeus “threw aside his garment” indicates that he made a conscious decision to submit himself to Jesus. We, too, must make up our minds that only Jesus can help us and that we are willing to surrender our problems, needs, demons, dreams, and entire lives to Him. We must make a decision to “put off” our old selves to take on a new life in Christ.
Bartimaeus didn’t just “put off” his garment, he “threw it off.” He was more than ready to put this old life of darkness behind him and take on a new life of sight. We too should be more than ready to throw off our old life of sin, darkness, and troubles in exchange for a brighter and more rewarding life in Christ.
“If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:21-24)
6. He was rewarded for his faith
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately, he received his sight and followed Him.” (Mark 10:52)
Jesus told him that his faith had made him well. More than sacrifices or anything else, God desires our faith in Him. God desires our faith so much that He has promised to always reward our faith, and when we put faith in Him, He never lets us down. He always rewards our faith in some way or another. (Hebrews 11:6—any others?)
7. He followed Jesus
After Bartimaeus received his sight from Jesus, he followed Jesus. After we believe and experience the healing power of Jesus in our lives, we too should dedicate our lives to following Him. That is, we should commit ourselves to learning every day how to be more like Him, how to talk, act, and love like Him so that others can see Him living in us.
Many people around Jericho probably knew about blind Bartimaeus, but after this incident on the Jericho road, they will see a “seeing Baritmaeus.” They will see a changed Bartimaeus, and perhaps there were many people who eventually believed on Jesus because of what they saw in Bartimaeus. When others see a changed you, you may be the very thing that leads them to Jesus as well.
This brief encounter between Bartimaeus and Jesus changed Bartimaeus’s life from a blind beggar to a seeing, rejoicing disciple. Bartimaeus went from a difficult situation where he was dependent on others to being a healed man who could now help others. He didn’t just receive his sight that day, he received victory over his sad and impossible circumstances. You too, can experience a changed and victorious life by believing, seeking, and finding Jesus in your life today. My prayers are with anyone reading this who needs help of any kind.