This is an interesting story in the gospels. In Matthew there isn’t one blind man, but two. In Luke, there’s one, but he’s not named. It’s here in Mark that we get not only the name of the blind man, but we also get the name of his father. Now, that’s not hard to do considering his name literally means, “Son of Timaeus.” But who is Blind Bartimaeus?
When we dig deeper into the story there are a few things that we learn about Bartimaeus.
The first thing we learn is that he is persistent. Mark indicates the persistence of Bartimaeus by mentioning multiple times that he wanted mercy.
This reminds me of the persistence we ought to have in prayer. We too have the opportunity to cry out to God for mercy EVERYDAY! We may not be physically blind today, but Mark doesn’t include this story based solely on restoring a persons physical sight. One of the things we can learn from this story is to be persistent ourselves.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Take the gates of Heaven and shake them with your zeal as though you would pull them up—post, and bar, and all! Stand at Mercy’s door and take no denial. Knock and knock, and knock again, as though you would shake the very spheres, until you obtain an answer to your cries! “The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Matt. 11:12).” Cold prayers never win God’s ear. Draw your bow with your full strength if you would send your arrow up as high as Heaven.”
The second thing we learn is that Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. I know, shocker… We can tell that Bartimaeus is a beggar simply by the location he was begging. We know that Jesus and his entourage were “leaving town” (v. 46). We also learn that Bartimaeus was, “sitting by the road” (v. 46). This is the posture and location of a person who would have been a consistent beggar. I believe, and I can’t back this up, but I believe they knew Bartimaeus name because they he was a notorious beggar. In fact, maybe he had a reputation for being a little aggressive with people when asking for alms (money). Look at the reaction of the people; “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.”
But Bartimaeus wasn’t just a beggar of alms, but rather in this story, he’s a beggar of mercy! Twice he shouts out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” During his ministry on earth, Jesus couldn’t physically heal every person who was blind or lame. This meant that there were times he would simply have to walk by. But on this particular day he heard something interesting, “Son of David!”
The title “Son of David” isn’t just an endearing title, it’s a title the would only be bestowed upon the Messiah. It’s a title that indicated to Jesus that Bartimaeus believed in the Messianic promise of Isaiah 61:1, that “the blind will see.”
Knew What He Wanted
We may think it strange that Jesus would ask a blind man what he would want with the Messiah, but none the less, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you (v. 51).”
Truth is, Jesus asked because he wanted to know from Bartimaeus. He knew Bartimaeus wanted to see… it was obvious, but in that moment Jesus was testing his faith. In fact, it wasn’t Bartimaeus’ persistence that saved him, yet it played a part, but it was his faith!
v. 52 “Go, for your FAITH has healed you.”
He Threw Aside His Coat
The last thing I want to touch on regarding this story is probably the most overlooked. Finally when Bartimaeus was given permission to see Jesus he, “threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.”
Throwing aside his coat would have been a very symbolic moment. That coat would have been placed in front of him everyday to collect the alms that would help him live. It would have been his only worldly possession! Think about what was going on in that moment!
The man abandoned everything, left it all behind, came running to the feet of Jesus with the faith to believe that Jesus would heal him; and that’s exactly what Jesus did.