March 23, 2023
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Mercy and Faith
As a retired teacher I love looking up the meaning of words in the dictionary. I found the following explanations in the Oxford Dictionary for the two key words in this text.
Mercy: capacity for holding oneself back from punishing, or from causing suffering
to sb whom one has the right or power to punish
1. trust, strong belief; unquestioning confidence
2. belief in divine truth without proof
3. promise, engagement; promise solemnly to support; be loyal to sb
4. loyalty, sincerity
When Bartimaeus found out that Jesus was passing by, he shouted: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” In his plea he shows clearly that he knew he wasn’t entitled to be healed, that his future was in the Lord’s hands. Yet, at the same time he was absolutely convinced that Jesus was able to heal him.
For the past 20 years I have had a paraphrase of the verse Hebrews 11:1 on my desk.
Faith is to see, what we do not see
and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
Jesus saw that Bartimaeus trusted him without any reservations and knew that whatever the Lord would do was meant for good. In a way it is strange for us that Jesus would ask a blind man: “What do you want me to do for you?” We might think that it is quite obvious that a blind man would like to have his sight restored. But Jesus wants us to tell him exactly what we lack, like children telling their parents without any reservation what they want. Children are totally dependent on their parents and know that they will take care of them, no matter what.
It is my personal prayer that my relationship with God be so intense that when I put a request in his hands, I can trust him completely.
This doesn’t mean that the reward of “seeing what we do not see” is that we get what we are asking for. I think “to see what we believe” means that we are convinced that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)