This is one of my favorite stories about Jesus. It is found in the gospel of Mark.
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
I just have to say, Bartimaeus is the kind of guy I want to be like when I grow up – except for the blind part. Look at what is going on in this story. Blind Bartimaeus is sitting by the side of road begging when he hears that Jesus is passing by. Obviously, he has heard of Jesus, knows what he can do and knows that this is his opportunity to perhaps receive a touch from God. How do we know this? Because he calls Jesus, “Son of David,” a messianic title. Bartimaeus understood that Jesus was not just any man or any teacher; he was the Hope of Israel and Bartimaeus’ own hope for a different life, a new life. But Bartimaeus didn’t call out for a miracle. He didn’t demand a healing. He did not claim any “right.” What did Bartimaeus shout? “Have mercy on me!” Not only that but even as the crowd tried to shut him up, he shouted even louder. He would not be intimidated, he would not be cowed, he would not be coerced into silence. He needed God and he knew it. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
So Jesus hears him and calls for him. Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and runs to Jesus. What does he want, Jesus asks? Bartimaeus gives the best answer in the world – a request that we all need to make: “I WANT TO SEE!” “I want to see.”
If am going to be honest with myself (and with you the readers), I have to admit that I am blind. Blind to much of God’s goodness in my life. Blind to the things He is doing around me. Blind to my own sinfulness and deception. Blind to my own self-ness. Blind to all the promises, blessings, grace, miracles that God has made possible for me in Christ. I sit by the side of the world’s road and beg for meaning, for validation, for significance – all the things that the world cannot give. Why is it so hard to see? But here is Jesus, calling me, stopping to call me! even me, asking what I need from Him. There is only one answer possible. I WANT TO SEE. I want to see God. I want to see Jesus and, like Bartimaeus, I won’t be squelched. As the world tries to trample my hope, and the devil tries to stomp me into silence, and as my own doubts rise up to question my audacity at daring to reach out to a holy God, I shout out to Him, “have mercy on me. I want to see you.” I have nothing to lose and God to gain.
So how does the story end? Bartimaeus received his sight and, I believe, the first thing he saw was Jesus, full in the face! It doesn’t get better than that. That is greatly encouraging to me. Knowing, being assured, that as we cry out to Christ, we will see Him and will be able to follow Him along the road of our journey with Him.