Bartimaeus may be physically blind, but he is the only one who seems to see who Jesus really is. Last weekend James and John didn’t really recognize Jesus. There was nothing wrong with their eyes, but they didn’t see Jesus as the Messiah.
The weekend before the rich young man walked away sad because he didn’t really recognize Jesus either.
I suspect if we’re honest with ourselves, we live in a kind of blindness like them. One of the things that happens when we don’t see clearly is that we make mistakes.
We make choices that bring destruction upon us and the people around us. We wander further and further away from Jesus.
No matter what we have done or how far we have wandered, no matter how negative we have become, no matter how blind we are, Jesus still wants to be in our lives.
Let’s see if the blind man can teach us something about seeing. There are two things we know about Bartimaeus. He is blind and he is on the side of the road. From his place on the side of the road he is considered an outcast, a sinner.
Religious thinking at the time says that he is a sinner and that he or his parents have done something wrong so he deserve this blindness. His deformity is due to his or their sin.
People were told not to have anything to do with sinners for fear the sin was contagious. So he is a symbol of those who are cast out. He is blind Bartimaeus, an outcast on the side of the road who sees exactly who Jesus is. He cries out, “Son of David, would you have pity on me?”
Now the crowd is not interested in putting Jesus in touch with Bartimaeus. That’s why they tell Bartimaeus to be quiet. But Jesus steps in. I would like to talk to this man. Bring him over here to me.
Pay attention if you would to what Jesus asks of Bartimaeus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Remember the question that was put to Jesus last weekend by James and John. “Will you do anything that we ask you to do for us?”
“What do you want me to do for you?”
“I want to see.” Implied in this is that Bartimaeus wants to follow Jesus. Bartimaeus wants to be on the inside again. Bartimaeus wants to belong. Bartimus wants to be part of whatever Jesus is inviting people into.
Jesus’ response to Bartimaeus is beautiful. If you really believe that I am the Messiah then you do see. You are already seeing.
The blind man, who now sees, stands up and follows Jesus.
What can we learn from this blind man turned disciple? We can learn to see Jesus for who he truly is, the Messiah, the Son of God.
We can come to an understanding that we need to cry out for mercy because we have sinner and have wandered far from God.
Recognizing our own brokenness, we can have the humility to ask for healing when Jesus calls out to us. And having been healed, we can have the courage to follow after Jesus when we see.