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Mark 10:46-52 – Blind Bartimaeus

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind? I have known several people who were born blind or who later lost their vision when they were older. It must be difficult to get around without sight. Just think of the last time you woke up in the middle of the night and tried stumbling to the bathroom without turning on the lights. Now think of what it would be like if you were like this all the time.

In today’s passage, we will look at what happened to a blind man who had become a beggar because of his condition. He wanted Jesus to heal him of his blindness. But what would Jesus do? Would the blind man be healed? We will find out what happened as we study Mark 10:46-52.

  1. What does it say?

    Before we look at what it says, consider what we studied last week in Acts 8:26-40. When Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch if he understood what he was reading, the man wondered how he could unless someone guided him. Thankfully, every Christian has been given the Holy Spirit to aid in understanding what the Bible says. As we look at this passage, let’s carefully note what is says so that we can understand it.

    Jesus and His disciples arrived in Jericho1 but nothing is recorded about what happened there. As He and the disciples went out of the city with a large group of people, a man known as blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road begging. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many told him to be quiet but he yelled even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

    Jesus stopped walking and told them to call Bartimaeus. Then they called him and told him to be happy that Jesus was calling him. Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, got up, and walked over to Jesus. When he arrived, Jesus asked him “What do you want me to do for you?” In answer to his question, Bartimaeus said, “My Master, I want you to cause me to receive my sight.” Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” At that very moment, he was able to see and he chose to follow Jesus down the road.

  2. What does it mean?

    In Romans 15:4, we learn that “whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” With that in mind, it is good for us to look carefully at what the Bible says and find out what God is trying to teach us.

    God wanted people to see the miracle (Mark 10:46).

    Jesus has been traveling toward Jerusalem for a while. In this chapter, it seems that he merely passed through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem. But as he passes through, a great multitude is going in the same direction. Why was this? Mark doesn’t answer this question directly. However, in Mark 14, we find that the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread was soon to be celebrated. So this large group of people were “probably Passover pilgrims enroute to Jerusalem.”2 As they passed through each town, more people probably joined them causing the crowd to grow very large.

    Having such a large crowd was important to God’s plan for this situation. In the past, there were times when Jesus wanted people to be quiet about His miracles. But at this point, God’s plan was to openly show who Jesus was. The large crowd would see the miracle Jesus performed and be able to verify what happened. This may explain why so many people became followers of Jesus when Peter preached in the temple because they had seen the miracles and would not have to be convinced of what Jesus had done.

    God wanted people to recognize who Jesus was (Mark 10:47-48).

    Did you notice anything about the names used in this paragraph? Blind Bartimaeus is called the son of Timaeus. That is what his name actually means. “Bar” means “son” and Timaeus is his father’s name. Together the name mean “Son of Timaeus.” Can you think of any other people in the Bible whose names begin with “Bar”?

    But we also see a title given to Jesus by the blind man. The others referred to Him as “Jesus of Nazareth,” but Bartimaeus calls Him the Son of David. And he doesn’t do it just once. He says it twice. What does this mean?

    The title Son of David is more than just a reference to Jesus’ ancestor David. Hiebert says that this “was a recognized messianic title (cf. Mark 12:35-37) and recalled the divine promises made to King David.”3 While Jesus was a descendant of King David, this title was used to point toward the promised Messiah. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel prophesied that God would raise up a descendant of David who would reign, be a righteous judge, and a Good Shepherd over Israel. Consider what Jeremiah said.

    Jeremiah 23:5-6 – “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

    Blind Bartimaeus may not have been able to see what Jesus looked like, but he recognized who Jesus was. The stories that had traveled from Galilee to Jericho had been told to Bartimaeus. And after thinking through what he had been told about Jesus’ miracles and teaching, he was convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

    Note that Jesus didn’t tell Bartimaeus to be quiet as he had the other blind man. When the former blind man was healed, it was not an appropriate time to reveal who Jesus was. But “now that the crisis was at hand, Jesus made no effort to silence this individual acknowledgement of His messianic identity.”4 He wanted people to know who He was.

    God wanted people to trust in Jesus (Mark 10:51-52).

    As everyone in the crowd was walking away from Bartimaeus, Jesus stopped among them and called for him. That must have gotten the attention of the many people around him. I would imagine that they stopped to see what was going on. There was no doubt something, in what Bartimaeus said, that had gotten Jesus’ attention. Jesus had heard the blind man addressing Him as the Son of David and recognized that the man believed in Him. But that was not enough. He wanted others to come to that same recognition.

    On one hand, Jesus was honoring the blind man’s faith. You see this in verse 52 where Jesus stated that his faith had saved him. But on the other hand, he was giving others the opportunity to believe in Him as well. The faith of the blind man was honored so that others would see the benefit of believing for themselves. As John wrote in his gospel, “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

    God wanted people to follow Jesus (Mark 10:52).

    The very last phrase in the chapter says that the man who was healed from blindness followed Jesus down the road. This was not something commanded by Jesus. He had actually told the blind man to go his way. However, Bartimaeus chose to follow Jesus instead. This, too, was a lesson for all who were there. The blind man was so grateful for what Jesus did and had such a respect for Him that he followed Him as He traveled toward Jerusalem. Why did he do this? What would this have accomplished?

    Following Jesus would have given him more opportunity to see Jesus in action. In Mark 11, Bartimaeus would have seen the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the cleansing of the temple, the withered fig tree, Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness, and Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders in the temple. It would also have given him the opportunity to hear His teaching. In chapter 12, he would have heard Jesus teach about the Parable of the Vinedresser, paying taxes to Caesar, the truth about the Resurrection, the greatest of the commandments, the Messiah’s deity, the danger of religious hypocrisy, and what true giving looked like. But most of all, it would have given him the opportunity to see Jesus die on the cross, rise from the dead, and offer eternal life to all who believed in Him.

    These were not activities and truths meant only for the twelve disciples but were something that many others would have seen and heard. God wanted many to see and hear Jesus and then to commit to following Him as His disciples.

  3. How does it apply?

    Do you believe that this event happened?

    Mark indicates that there was a large crowd of people on site when Jesus healed the blind man. To this point in the book, Mark has told us about Jesus healing many people and at least one other blind man (Mark 8:22-26). Many of these miracles were done in the presence of his disciples or in front of large crowds. To Mark there was no doubt that Jesus did these things. But do you believe that Jesus did these things?

    Over the years, people have tried to explain away the miracles of the Bible. But in doing so, they have explained away the fact that Jesus is God and can do the impossible. There comes a time and place where each of us has to believe what the Bible says. And in this instance, we are asked to believe that Jesus gave sight to a blind man. Do you believe this?

    Do you recognize who Jesus is?

    Mark tells us that some people referred to Jesus as “Jesus of Nazareth.” If you recall, it was in Nazareth that Jesus had read a portion of Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah.

    Luke 6:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

    When Jesus finished reading that part of the Bible, he closed the book and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He was telling his neighbors that he was the promised Messiah. Sadly, many of them couldn’t get past their familiarity with Him. The people of His own town did not believe Him.

    But not so with Bartimaeus. He called him the “Son of David.” The many miracles done by Jesus had led him to conclude that this was no ordinary man. He was the promised Messiah who would not only bring peace to Israel but also healing to the blind. And we learned today that Jesus rewarded his faith by healing him of his blindness.

    What about you? Who is Jesus to you? Is He just some nice person who helped the sick? Or is He the promised Son of David — the One who would save His people from their sins?

    Have you put your faith in Jesus?

    It is one thing to acknowledge the facts about Jesus. But it is another thing to actually believe Him. Bartimaeus was convinced that Jesus could heal him. He cried out for mercy from the Son of David. And when some tried to quiet him down, he cried even louder to be heard by Jesus. Why did he do this? He did this because he believed in Jesus.

    Faith is not just mental agreement to certain facts. It is a deep-seated trust in Jesus. In another part of the New Testament, we learn that faith is necessary for a relationship with God.

    Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

    In this instance, God rewarded the faith of the blind man. But that is not who I am concerned about today. I am wondering whether you have believed in Jesus for yourself. Are you actively trusting in Jesus, not only that He is who He said He was, but that He is the One who came to die for your sins, who rose again, and who offers you forgiveness of sins because of what He did on the cross?

    Are you currently following Jesus?

    When Bartimaeus was healed, Jesus told him he could go on his way. The mission was accomplished and there was no further need for Bartimaeus to call out for mercy. But the formerly blind man was unwilling to go away. He stayed with Jesus and followed Him on the journey to Jerusalem. In this way, he was able to show his appreciation for Jesus and also to learn from Him.

    Following Jesus today is somewhat different. Once you have turned from your sin and believed, Jesus wants you to follow him by learning from Him in the Bible, by praying, and obeying His commands. It is a life-long process of learning from Him and learning to be like Him. Are you following Him?

    You will find that it is not always easy. Being a Christian and following Jesus often include difficult things. There may be difficult decisions, rejection by other people, and temptations you will face along the way. But when you are following Jesus, you can be assured that He will be with you. He will lead you and protect you while you follow Him. I hope that you will follow Jesus.

Conclusion

In today’s passage, we have seen God’s gracious healing of a blind man. He believed in Jesus and was rewarded for His faith. While God doesn’t always promise to heal us of our sicknesses, He does promise to reward our faith. This is something that many people have learned over the years. They turned from their sinful lifestyle, put their faith in Jesus, and found that their lives were changed for the better. I hope that each of you will come to know this for yourself.

Bibliography

Alexander, Joseph, The Gospel According to Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980, orig. 1858.

Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.

Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Gospel of Mark, Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1994, orig. 1979.

Footnotes

  1. It has been noted that there are slight differences between the account recorded in Matthew 20:29-33, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43. Things like this happen when two different people tell the same story. Were there two blind men or just one? Mark focuses on one man whose name was probably well known while Matthew did not. Did it happen before or after Jericho? Apparently, there were two Jericho cities (the old and new one) which were both in this area. Perhaps Luke’s audience would have been more familiar with a different one than Mark’s readers. In the end, these small differences do not change the fact that Jesus healed the blind man. ↩︎
  2. Grassmick 154. ↩︎
  3. Hiebert 306. ↩︎
  4. Hiebert 307. ↩︎