Jesus is passing through Jericho with his disciples and there’s a blind man begging. It seems that his status is so lowly that he doesn’t even have a first name that he is known by. He is referred to by his surname “Bartimaeus” (Timaeus’ son).
Although his physical eyes are blind, he shows signs of spiritual sight. He knows something about who Jesus is. He knows that he is David’s descendent with all that means in terms of his identity as Messiah. He knows that Jesus is able to heal and he calls to him for mercy and compassion.
As before in the chapter, there are those who want to put obstacles in the way. They see Jesus as too busy and important to be bothered by a shouting beggar, just as they think he is too important to be dealing with kids. Of course, they really see themselves as too important. They don’t want their time with Jesus interrupted. This disruption is inconvenient and unpleasant for them.
There is a challenge for us isn’t there? Do we see vulnerable people who come into our services or call out for our help as a nuisance, inconvenient, disruptive? Maybe that disruption is just what is needed for the work of the Gospel.
Well Jesus stops and insists that Bartimaeus is brought to him. Then he asks him
“What do you want me to do for you?”
“I want to see.”
Our biggest need is to be able to see. Just as Bartimaeus needed his physical sight restored, so we need our spiritual sight to be able to see Jesus, to see his love and his goodness.
Did you spot how the encounter finishes? Bartimaeus follows Jesus. Now, this is important because Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to the Temple for the festival. He is also on his way to the Cross. Bartimaeus would have been barred from joining in at the temple due to his disability but now that barrier is removed. He is able to go with his saviour and so he is able to see the Gospel promise fulfilled.
This week we’ve seen so many ways in which we put up obstacles and barriers for ourselves and others to the Gospel, to going on and growing in Christ. Praise God, Jesus is the one who removes all of these obstacles.