Blind Bartimaeus

Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way” (v. 52).

- Mark 10:46–52

New Testament Jericho sits about twenty or so miles southwest of Jerusalem, so the arrival of Jesus and His disciples there in today’s passage signifies that His trip to Jerusalem is almost over (Mark 10:46). Our Lord has been on His way to Jerusalem from Galilee, a journey of more than one hundred miles, and finally He is almost at His destination. Between Jericho and Jerusalem, He has an encounter that puts His teaching on discipleship into focus.

Mark tells us that on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, Jesus runs into “Bartimaeus . . . the son of Timaeus” (v. 46). Since Bartimaeus’ name means “son of Timaeus,” Mark’s note of the name’s meaning is unnecessary—unless he is writing for a Gentile audience who does not know Jewish naming conventions. Thus, we have further evidence that Mark’s intended audience consists mainly of Gentiles. In any case, Bartimaeus is blind, and he comes to Jesus for help.

Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus for mercy, calling Him “Son of David” (vv. 47–48). This shows remarkable messianic insight on Bartimaeus’ part, for “Son of David” is a title for the Messiah and Jesus has not been openly revealing His messianic identity (see 8:27–30). Bartimaeus’ request for the restoration of his sight also demonstrates his good understanding of what the Messiah is supposed to do. The prophets associated the work of the Messiah with healing and, indeed, with the re-creation of the entire cosmos (Isa. 65:17–25; see also Rom. 8:18–24). Bartimaeus understands Jesus as the promised Son of David who comes to restore all things, even his lost eyesight.

What sets Bartimaeus apart as one who exemplifies true discipleship is his request for the restoration of his sight, not special favor in God’s kingdom. Not long before Jesus meets Bartimaeus, the disciples came to Him seeking honor, and Jesus had to explain that honor comes not by seeking it but by serving others (Mark 10:35–45). Bartimaeus does not seek privilege; he simply wants his sight back, and his cry for mercy shows his awareness that his healing is undeserved. He is the picture of the true disciple of Christ, the one who knows that he relies only on grace. Bartimaeus’ status as a disciple of Jesus is confirmed by what he does next. Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary Mark: “As soon as [Bartimaeus] received his sight, he saw Jesus, and he wanted nothing more than to follow Him to Jerusalem. . . . That is the desire of all who are given eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Coram Deo

When Christ opens the eyes of our hearts to see Him in all His glory, we are moved to serve Him out of gratefulness for His salvation. If we would grow in our obedience this day, we must see Jesus for who He is. Let us pray that God would continue to help us see Him and His glory.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 35
Matthew 20:29–34
Luke 18:35–43
John 9

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