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.”0So 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.
This is the last healing story in Mark's Gospel and it concludes the third passion prediction section. It represents the last segment of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee And it also concludes the first section of the gospel as a whole. The next section will be Jesus in Jerusalem.
The story brings together themes that run throughout the first 10 chapters, especially concerning discipleship and healing. the narrative says that Jesus and his disciples were accompanied by a large crowd as they were leaving Jericho.
Jericho is a city about 20 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Of course, it was the famous site of Joshua and the Israelites establishing a bridgehead for conquest into Canaan hundreds of years before.
As they were leaving the city, a blind beggar was sitting by the road. We're told his name is Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. once again, here is evidence that Mark was not writing to Jews, or to anyone who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, because the name Bartimaeus means son of Timaeus. Mark follows his custom of translating the Hebrew/Aramaic phrase into Greek. In other words, Bartimaeus was not known as Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus. He was simply Bartimaeus.
So, this blind man hears that it is Jesus of Nazareth who is passing by. Remember, Nazareth is in Galilee. So, Jesus is wrapping up his ministry in his home territory before heading South to Jerusalem.
But then Bartimaeus, knowing that it is Jesus of Nazareth, shout out “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” there are a couple of things to unpack in that simple statement. Number one, it is the first time that Jesus is called “son of David.” it takes a blind man to see who Jesus really is. What I mean is that this blind man is really the first one to acknowledge the kingship of Christ, acknowledging his Davidic lineage and implying Jesus’ messianic ministry. It is a reference to 2 Samuel 7:12 which reads, “When your days are fulfilled [speaking to King David] and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his Kingdom.”
Secondly, Jesus being the son of David ties Jesus explicitly to Jerusalem, David’s city. It is a foreshadowing of Jesus making his next move in Jerusalem. Remember I told you, the Roman audience does not like surprises. They want to be told in advance, even through hints and foreshadows, what is going to happen. Mark is masterful at that.
So, Bartimaeus shouts out and he is told by those around him to be quiet. He will not be dissuaded; he will not be silenced. Mark tells us that Bartimaeus cries out even louder than before, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I love this guy. My whole life, I have never been fond of people telling me what to do. In the times when I have written articles or books, I have hated it when editors told me to change this or rephrase that. So, when those around Bartimaeus tell him to be quiet, he doubles down and shouts even louder than before. “Have mercy on me!” He's not specifically asking for healing. He's asking for Jesus to acknowledge Bartimaeus’ condition. Here is a man who once could see, we know that because it says that he regained his sight, and now he is at the mercy of others. Maybe he's ignored. Maybe he is abused. Maybe he is forgotten. He calls for Jesus, the son of David, to have mercy on him.
And Jesus hears him.
I love the way this scene develops. It says that Jesus heard him and then “Jesus stood still.” In the midst of a crowd, Jesus walking with his disciples and with a large crowd, Jesus puts on the brakes. Everything comes to a halt because someone asked Jesus for mercy.
We will see that again in the Book of Revelation, 8:1-4, when it says that people of every nation, a multitude that no one could count from every tribe and every language, cried out to the Lord. And it says there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour.
Some people have woven intricate and faulty doctrines about what happens in that space of half an hour. What the Book of Revelation is telling us here is that the prayers of the nations were coming up before the Lord and God called for silence as God listened to the prayer of those in distress.
This is what the Gospel According to Mark is telling us, also. When Jesus heard the cry of distress from Bartimaeus, he stopped in his tracks and listened. The same is true for us today. When we call out in our distress, when we call out for mercy, everything stops and God hears. That's not to say that we are delivered in the way we want to be delivered; our prayers are not always answered in the way we would choose, but God hears.
So, Jesus stands still and tells those around him, “Call him here.” That word used by Mark is the very same Greek word that was used to describe the calling of the disciples. Something is in store for Bartimaeus.
We are then told that they called to the blind man and said to him, “Take heart. Get up. He is calling you.”
Look at the difference between the request of Bartimaeus, which is appropriate, and the inappropriate request of James and John, just two paragraphs before. James and John had asked for honor and privilege and prestige. Bartimaeus asks for mercy. It is the same contrast that we see between the pharisee praying in the temple and the publican. The pharisee is touting his position and his reputation, while the publican thumps his chest and says, “God be merciful to me a Sinner.” Clearly, Jesus responds to cries for mercy.
So, our pal Bartimaeus throws off his cloak, jumps up, and comes to Jesus. He answers the call just like a disciple, with the exception that he is not looking for authority, he is only looking for mercy.
Jesus says to our guy, “What do you want me to do for you?” Mercy can come in different shapes and sizes. Jesus knows that Bartimaeus wants mercy but exactly what are the details? Bartimaeus tells him, “My teacher, let me see again.” He doesn't want power or authority or prestige. He just wants to see.
The Master says to him, “Go. Your faith has made you well.” Immediately, Bartimaeus regained his sight and followed Jesus. The call to Bartimaeus wasn’t just a call to healing or mercy; it was a call to discipleship. Bartimaeus responded in faith and he got more than he ever asked for. Bartimaeus heard the call and chose to get up and take heart.
We should take heart because Jesus hears our calls for mercy. But we need to get up.
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