Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “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.
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See, 2014, Charcoal and Acrylic on Paper, 13.5″ x 12.5″
From the Artist:
I think of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, who had not seen anything for many years or perhaps his entire life. Thought of as stricken by God, this beggar was impoverished not only in money but also in social acceptance. I picture the real poverty of this man was indicated by his weathered and worn face after years of begging in the streets under the sun and surviving in harsh conditions – a poor lifestyle that would’ve easily aged a man.
He showed his faith in Jesus by crying out to him in spite of the public’s scorn. He called for Jesus to have mercy on him. “Mercy” was his cry. Perhaps this poor man understood that his poverty was not just physical but spiritual. When Jesus asked what he could do for him, Bartimaeus did not ask for unlimited money, a castle on a hill or the pleasures of royalty, for those would’ve seemed too small in comparison to what he actually asked for! He asked for something that could only from the vast resources of God – sight. It was understood then that the only being that could make the deaf hear, the mute speak or the blind see was God. This kind of healing was a direct act of the Creator, the one who made the ears, mouth and eyes. The healing of blindness not only meant physical sight but the implication of mercy, forgiveness and acceptance by God.
So as I contemplated this incident, I captured the very moment of Bartimaeus receiving the lavishing miracle of Jesus, the moment he experienced the riches of divine glory pouring over him and his eyes began to see. As the darkness faded, the first thing he saw was his Savior Jesus. What must he have felt or thought? Red traditionally represented the blood of Christ, signifying God’s ultimate grace. The nature of the gift to Bartimaeus was founded on grace. Bartimaeus did not work for it or earn it. He simply believed that Jesus was the second person of the triune God who had the power to lavish such a gift on an undeserving man. Gold traditionally represented divinity, signifying that Bartimaeus received a divine gift from the riches of God’s hand. I’m touched by the comedic and wonderful twist at the end of the story. Jesus told him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” That is, you can go live your life now with your new sight. But Bartimaeus did not go away from Jesus. He followed Jesus. Discipleship was prompted by the lavishing of rich grace by the Son of God.
Brian S. Chan is a Church Planting Pastor of Re-Create Church in Los Angeles; professor at Biola University, teaching a theology/philosophy of beauty; author of The Purple Curtain: Living Out Beauty in Faith and Culture from a Biblical Perspective; BA in psychology & BA in sociology from UC Davis, ThM in historical theology and MA in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary, and DMin in philosophy from Talbot School of Theology; married to Ellen and foster father of two baby boys.
Image is copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.