The darkness vanished into blinding light
Updated: Mar 15, 2022
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
The darkness vanished into blinding light
Bartimaeus was used to scraping by. He was not starving, but he was not doing well. No one expected very much from him, and that was perhaps the most frustrating part of it all. He wanted to be needed and not to feel useless. He could not see, but he did not miss the stares of people who viewed him as a poor soul who was biding his time until death.
Although Bartimaeus could not see, he was good at listening. He had heard talk of an itinerant preacher from Galilee who had come down to Judea, to his hometown of Jericho. Bartimaeus knew what he would request if he ever got near the great healer. “Master, let me see.” For Bartimaeus, there was no theological discourse about Jesus. He was not concerned about curing on the sabbath or proper respect for the elders. He simply wanted to recover his sight. He had passed so much time as an invalid that it was hard to imagine what it would be like to be independent again.
“Jesus is calling you.” Before he meets Jesus himself, it is the disciples of Jesus who start a conversation with Bartimaeus. Poor Bartimaeus had been feeling sorry for himself and hopeless about his situation. The change begins, however, when Jesus calls him. The disciples of Jesus are the ones who give him this momentous news. The news that Jesus is calling him is proof that Jesus takes the first step in healing him and calling him to be a disciple.
“Get up.” Did the disciples not see what was going on? Did they recognize that he was blind? They had heard his cries for mercy. It seems foolish to ask a blind man to walk. However, Jesus wanted to make sure that Bartimaeus would take an active part in the process. When the disciples deliver this message, they make sure that Bartimaeus gives his assent to everything that Jesus has in store for him. Bartimaeus has to rise. He has to shake off his anxiety, his worries, and his troubles if he is going to have a face-to-face meeting with the Messiah.
“Take courage.” Jesus is going to do much more than give him back his sight. His plan is to make him a disciple. This is a challenge that requires a tremendous amount of courage. We hear that once he is healed, he followed him on the way. For Jesus, returning his sight was not merely another cure. This was the call of a disciple. Jesus is expecting something great from Bartimaeus.
The darkness vanished into blinding light. Bartimaeus once again could see. Bartimaeus did not receive his sight to return to ordinary life. He received the call to be a disciple. He followed Jesus on the way. We can imagine that he is one of the disciples who saw the Risen Lord and became a witness to this miraculous event. Bartimaeus had learned to perceive what others could not see. In a world of disbelief, he was a witness to faith. He had plenty of practice and could now teach others the ways of faith.
After hearing the experience of Bartimaeus, we can have three key takeaways.
1. Jesus knows our name. He knows what is on our heart, but he wants us to ask for it. When we ask Jesus for what we need, we prepare our hearts to receive it.
2. Jesus always wants us to become his disciples. He is not interested in being a candy dispenser. He is not some machine to hand out favors after we make a novena or pray a certain quantity of time. He wants to enter a personal relationship with us and challenge us to be his disciples.
3. Jesus wants us to have courage. Discouragement is one of the great dangers for a disciple. He is always looking out for us. Following Jesus in the modern world is hard, and so as we hear his voice that is calling, we are to get up and take courage, just as Bartimaeus did.
As a particular task to do this week, I would invite you to see how God’s grace has invaded your life and figure out the mission he is calling you to fulfill. First, he wants you to follow him. Take five minutes every day to listen to his message to you for your life.