Lessons from a Blind Man

Stained glass window of Jesus healing BartimaeusHe was just a blind beggar. One of the unfortunate poor that lined the city streets. Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was a permanent fixture at the Jericho gate.

Every day since childhood, he’d been there. Every day, he tap-tapped his way through the rough city streets by himself. There he sat, day after day, his walking stick and his beggar’s bowl in hand. At the sound of approaching footsteps, he’d hold up his bowl and cry, “Alms! Alms for the blind!”

Sometimes a drachma or a shekel would be dropped into the bowl. More often, a copper mite would clatter down into the dish. Times were hard for beggars who earned their keep by the charity of neighbors.

Only the bold survived. Bartimaeus was not proud that he was a beggar, but he wasn’t going to starve either. Being blind had its advantages. Since he could not see those around him, he begged from prince and pauper, Roman and Jew alike. By his brashness, he had survived while the more timid beggars died of starvation.

Like most blind people, Bartimaeus had honed his remaining senses. He knew, without being told, when something unusual was happening. Like now. The muffled beat of the approaching footsteps told him a large group of people was heading toward where he sat. And a lot of people usually meant a profitable day for a beggar.

Stretching himself to his fullest seated height ,the blind man raised his bowl. “Alms! Alms for the blind!” The clatter of a coin in the bottom of the dish told him that he was right. It was going to be a good day. “Thank you. Jehovah bless you. “Another coin rattled into his bowl, then another. The crowd swirled around and the air was charged with excitement.

Jesus of Nazareth is Coming!

Painting of Bartimaeus trying to walk through the streetsSuddenly, a surge of anticipation shot through him. Someone nearby said something about Jesus. All of Bartimaeus’ remaining senses snapped to full attention. Jesus!! He may be blind, but he wasn’t deaf. He had heard about this miracle-working Prophet from Nazareth. Those passing by the Jericho gate had frequently been discussing the latest event or teaching or healing of this Carpenter-turned-Prophet.

The tales that Bartimaeus had overheard about this Jesus made his soul quiver like a cedar of Lebanon in a strong breeze. The lame had been seen dancing in the Temple. The deaf had their ears opened. Those whose voices had seemed dead forever sang his praise. Wonder of wonders, he’d even heard that this Jesus made the blind to see!!

Flinging aside his partially filled money bowl, the beggar began to shout. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 47)

The crowd pressing around the beggar’s mat tried to hush him. “Be quiet, you.” “Jesus doesn’t have time for you.” “Be still. Don’t bother the Master!” “Silence, beggar. Jesus has more important things to tend to.”

But bold and brash Bartimaeus would not be silenced. This was his chance, maybe his only chance to be healed. His one way out of the beggars’ ranks. Not knowing where the Prophet was in the milling throng, the blind man cried out louder still. “SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!” (v. 48)

And Jesus Heard Him

Over the din crowd and the excited babble of voices, and the rumble of hundreds of sandaled feet. Over the noise of the city, Jesus heard the blind man’s cry. Stopping where He was, the Master said simply, “Call him.” (v. 49a)

Word passed through the crowd until it reached those standing nearest the beggar. They relayed the message. “Take heart; rise, He is calling you.” (v. 49b) Bartimaeus, throwing caution to the winds, flung aside this mantle and sprang to his feet. Rushing headlong into the crowd, the blind man was guided along by helping hands until he stood in front of Jesus.

Statue of Jesus healing BartimaeusFace-to-face with the Nazarene Prophet, the son of Timaeus could barely breathe. A voice, both gentle and yet full of authority, pierced the silence that had descended upon the crowd. “What do you want Me to do for you?” (v. 51)

The blind man could scarcely believe his ears. Jesus, the miracle-worker was speaking to him—blind Bartimaeus of Jericho! Gone now was the boldness, the audacity, the chutzpah. Trembling with fear and anticipation, the son of Timaeus voiced the life-long desire of his heart. “Master, let me receive my sight.” (v 52)

Oh, to be able to see the swallows that whistled their way through the city as well as hear the children at play. To be able to savor with his eyes as well as his nose the bread baking in the oven and view the wine in the cup that had so often sparkled on his tongue. To see, for the first time, the muted colors of the rough homespun mantle and cloak his mother had made for him!

Your Faith Has Made You Well

Suddenly, the blackness of his world burst into glorious brilliance. In front of him stood a smiling Stranger with gentle eyes, a man who was still speaking as Bartimaeus suddenly realized what had happened. “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” (v. 52)

He could see! Pressing his fingers to his temples, tears sprang to his newly opened eyes. He could see! Never again would he grope his way along the streets of Jericho in darkness! Never more would he sit by the gate and beg!

Laughing almost hysterically, Bartimaeus spun around, trying to see everything at once. The crowd was rejoicing, singing praises to Jehovah. Jesus began to move forward again, through the gates of Jericho, out into the open country. Stumbling at first because he’d never before been able to see where he was going, the beggar-turned-disciple hurried to keep up. He would follow this Prophet named Jesus to the ends of the earth if necessary!!

This blind beggar from first century Jericho can teach us some very important lessons in faith– lessons that all of us need to learn and re-learn. Why was Bartimaeus healed? Why did he receive the desire of his heart? What was the secret behind his success—his answered prayer?

He Believed

The blind man believed in someone he had never seen. He’d heard about Jesus and rumors of what He had done. He’d heard stories of other in other villages and town who had been healed. He had no concrete proof, but he believed anyway. He believed in someone he’d never seen, enough to risk his reputation and his safety. Bartimaeus was even willing to risk failure and disappointment. This blind man was willing to risk giving up the relative luxury of his handicap to assume responsibility as a normally-sighted adult. The son of Timeaus believed in Jesus and in the Master’s power to heal.

He Asked

Etherial painting of Bartimaeus being touchedBartimaeus was not afraid to voice the desire of his heart. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to shout, trying to get the Master’s attention. Bartimaeus believed Jesus could and would help him. He knew what he wanted, and he would not be silenced. The more the crowd tried to hush him up, the louder he became. When the Master heard him and called him over, Bartimaeus was not afraid to tell Jesus exactly what he wanted. “Master, let me receive my sight.” (v. 51)

Unfortunately, most of us are not like Bartimaeus. We are more like the people to whom James wrote his letter.

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James 4:2-3

Often, our prayers are very general in nature. We hesitate to be specific in our requests. We generalize “Guide me, Lord” instead of pointedly praying, “Lord, show me the best way to study for this exam,” or “Lord, I need a job this week.”

Frequently, our prayers are wishy-washy things, often ended with the magical catch phrase if it be Thy will. In various New Testament Scriptures, we are reminded that prayers made according to the will of God will be answered. But if we don’t know what His will is, then we have no business praying for that specific thing. To constantly say, IF it be Thy will” demonstrates doubt, and James reminds us again, “Ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.” James 1:6-8

We need to ask. We need to be specific in our praying.

He Obeyed

Bartimaeus obeyed. When Jesus called for him, Mark wrote throwing aside his mantle, he sprang up and came to Jesus. (v. 50) The street was crowded. It was a mob scene. He was blind and couldn’t see where Jesus was or where he was going. But when Jesus called, his immediate response was obedience. He would not let anything or anyone stand in his way because Jesus was calling HIM! The crowd could not silence him, his inability to see could not stop him. Fear of failure did not make him hesitate for even one second!

He Followed

He turned his back on his past, his hometown, family and friends and surrendered everything that was important to him to follow Jesus. Like all of us, Bartimaeus had a choice. Jesus said to him, “Go YOUR way.” But, his way had been a way of darkness, ignorance, begging and need. Bartimaeus did not want to return to his way. He chose to follow Jesus instead.

When we believe, pray (no matter for what), obey and come to Jesus, the choice is always there—to go OUR way or to go HIS way. Like Bartimaeus, we can choose to tap-tap our way along in fear, doubt and the dark blindness of disbelief, or we can move out in obedience and faith to follow the One who would give us sight and light and life and hope.

Lessons from a Blind Man

  1. A lesson in believing without seeing
  2. A lesson in prayer—to be specific in our asking
  3. A lesson in obedience—no matter what the risk
  4. A lesson in following—HIS way rather than our own

Blind Bartimaeus. His spiritual vision was 20/20.

Scriptures Used in Today’s Message

Maple UMC Calendar

March 2023

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  • SWMi Young Marines
  • Adult Sunday School
  • Worship Service with Holy Communion
  • Worship service
  • Fellowship and Coffee Time
  • Breakfast Buddies
  • SWMi Young Marines
  • Adult Sunday School
  • Worship service
  • Fellowship and Coffee Time
  • Breakfast Buddies
  • Golden Maples
  • SWMi Young Marines
  • Finance Team
  • Amateur Radio Society
  • Leadership Team
  • Adult Sunday School
  • Worship service
  • Fellowship and Coffee Time
  • Breakfast Buddies
  • SWMi Young Marines
  • Adult Sunday School
  • Worship service
  • Fellowship and Coffee Time
  • Breakfast Buddies
  • SWMi Young Marines


%d bloggers like this: