They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his
disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a
blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many
sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of
David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they
called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to
him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My
teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you
well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
The backdrop of today’s gospel reading is
that Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. They were followed
by a great crowd. At this time of their journey, Jesus had already three times
predicted that dreadful would happen to him. With these predictions, Jesus
wished to prepare his disciples for the worst thing happened to him. However,
neither his disciples not the great crowd following them refused to believe
what Jesus had said. Instead, they expected that Jesus would be the triumphant
head of the messianic kingdom and that they would be the first citizens of this
new political and economic kingdom because they had witnessed many miracles
worked by Jesus.
It was on his way through Jericho that
Jesus worked his last miracle of healing as recorded by Mark. A blind man
called on Jesus as “son of David”, a title of Messiah. He had such faith and
trust in Jesus’ healing powers that he refused to be silenced by those who
He eventually received the reward of his
persevering faith. He was not only given his eyesight, but also the grace to
become a follower of Jesus.
This blind man of Jericho was one of the
very lucky men in the gospel story. He got the last chance of appealing in
person to Jesus for the gift of his eyesight. He got the privilege to have his
name, Bartimaeus, recorded in the gospel. He used the chance despite
opposition. His and trust in Jesus were so strong that nobody could stop him
from expressing them. He made his request while proclaiming his faith. He got
both the physical gift of eyesight and spiritual gift of faithfully following
Jesus passed through Jericho few times
during his public ministry. The town was on the route from Galilee to
Jerusalem. Probably, Bartimaeus was sitting on the side of the road begging for
alms when Jesus passed the town previously. It was only on the occasion of
Jesus’ last journey through Jericho that Bartimaeus’ faith moved him to appeal
aloud for help from the one and the only one whom he was convinced could grant
him his request. And his appeal was heard.
The lesson for all of us in today’s
gospel is a spiritual one. Like Bartimaeus, many of us have been sitting on the
roadside for years and not moving a single step forward to our eternal
destination. We have been blind to our true interests. Our sole preoccupation
seems to be to collect alms, whether they are physical or emotional, that this
world would drop in our laps.
Compared with Bartimaeus, what we are
worse off is that many of us don’t know that we are blind, spiritually. We
think everything in the garden is rosy and colourful when we see only the
colours that we want to see and are blind to things that really matter.
Bartimaeus might ignore the passing by of
Jesus to the town in previous occasions. We certainly have ignored the presence
of Jesus in many reminders that he has sent us up to this moment.
It is also possible that Jesus saw
Bartimaeus sitting by the roadside on his earlier journey through Jericho.
Perhaps he could not help him because Bartimaeus was busily collecting alms
with no thought for greater gift. It is certain that our Lord has always been
near to us and been anxious to restore our spiritual eyesight, but we are so
busy gathering up “alms” of this world that we do not even think of the greater
grace we need.
For some among us today this may be
Christ’s last call. Will we be so utterly disinterested in our own eternal
welfare as to ignore it? For all of us it is a call to put our house in order.
We may not have been sitting by the roadside, but have we been keeping
faithfully to the road to heaven which is marked out for us by our Christian