There is much we can learn from Bartimaeus. The witness of a poor blind beggar speaks across the ages. Consider his plight: blind and destitute, to survive he had to beg. Humbled by his affliction, his cry came from the depths of his being: ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ (v. 47). Impervious to rebuke, he pushed his way forward; tenacious and determined, he was undaunted by opposition. His perseverance attracted the attention of Jesus. His request was simple and straightforward: he wanted his sight. His encounter with Jesus healed and transformed him.
Bartimaeus is a model of discipleship for us. He reveals the attitude of a true disciple. We too are beggars. Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how great is our need for God’s grace and mercy. Our confidence in ourselves makes us less inclined to cry out to the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit, however, who can help us understand ourselves.
Those who are spiritually poor are blessed: this is the truth that Bartimaeus reveals to us. He understood he could not change himself – he needed not just human help but God’s. Another quality he displayed was purity of heart. He had no hidden agenda or duplicitous motive in approaching the Lord – he simply wanted his sight.
We tend to turn to the Lord when we are in a tight spot or things are difficult. We find ourselves trying to make all kinds of promises to and bargains with the Lord. God, however, knows our every need; he also knows what is best for us. He wants us to trust in him, rely on him and, like Bartimaeus, cry out to him. The Lord wants to transform us.
In so many ways we too need the gift of sight. We can be blind to our own sin and yet inexplicably find we have remarkable insight and vision into the behaviour of others! We can be blind to the good things we have received and lose sight of our many blessings. We can give way to moaning or complaining about so many things. To avoid this trap we need to learn from Bartimaeus and ask God for the grace to help us in our need.
Lord Jesus Christ, you came to bring sight to the blind. Shine the light of your truth into my mind so that I may see you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly.
Ecclesiasticus 42:15-25 • Psalm 32(33):2-9