Mark 10 recounts the story of Jesus healing a blind man named Bartimaeus. In the story we see how Jesus responded to the need of one desperate man — a blind beggar whose life had been reduced to sitting by the side of the road outside the city of Jericho, asking people for money. Jesus healed this man, fully restoring his sight. In doing so, he revealed a commitment to an others-oriented lifestyle that was the driving force behind his ministry on earth. This is the same kind of lifestyle — an others-oriented lifestyle — that I believe is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Jesus followers.
Here’s the story: (Mark 10:46-52) 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.
This is the last healing story in the gospel of Mark. Jesus had just told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to die; the rest of Mark’s gospel focuses on the events in the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus is about to make his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding into town on the foal of a donkey, greeted by a cheering crowd proclaiming, “Hosanna! Glory to the God in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Within seven days he would walk through the streets of that same city carrying his cross piece, beaten and tattered, with a jeering mob behind him, the air still ringing with the echoes of their cries, “Crucify him!”
The movie The Passion of the Christ is a brutally accurate portrayal of what Jesus endured. He knew what lay ahead of him. He had already spoken of it. This was on his mind as he and his band of followers left Jericho that day.
Bartimaeus was a blind man who spent his days begging outside the gate of the city of Jericho. Somehow he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing his way. He knew the name; he had heard the stories. Bartimaeus came to believe that this man was more than just a miracle worker; He was God’s anointed, the chosen one, the Messiah. He called out to Jesus using a name that appears nowhere else in Mark’s gospel. “Son of David,” he said. “Have mercy on me.”
Bartimaeus called out in faith to Jesus, asking for mercy. The crowd attempted to make him hush. They rebuked him for making a nuisance of himself, treating him as society often treats those like him — as one who is expendable, whose needs are irrelevant, whose intrinsic dignity need not be considered. The crowd no doubt thought that one so great as Jesus wouldn’t want to bother with a blind and helpless beggar.
The crowd, as they so often are, was wrong. Mark writes that when Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Call him.” This brings me to the simple point of this blog this morning: To Jesus there are no unimportant people. If we would follow Jesus our view of our fellow man must be that no one in unimportant.
I fail at this so often. I fall prey to seeing people as what they have instead of who they are. For me it is not so much how much money they have but how much influence they hold that sways me.
How about you? If a blind street beggar called out to you for help, what would you see? A worthless homeless man or a man in need of what you have to give?
There are no unimportant people to Jesus. On behalf of all us blind street beggars I say “Thank God!”