A blind man sat by the roadside begging. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:35fff)
The blind beggar of Jericho had a name, at least in a way he did. Bartimaeus they called him, according to the account in Mark 10. However, Bar-Timaeus means “Son of Timaeus.” This tells us no one really knew his name, only that his father was a man known to some.
Bartimaeus was blind. In that culture, no options existed for a blind adult other than to beg. Perhaps someone helped him to his begging place each day, we don’t know. We may assume that he was unwashed, that he needed a haircut last year and had not had a bath in memory. By any standards of the day, his situation was clearly hopeless.
Maybe so, but….
I like to think of him as the smartest man in town.
Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was. “The Son of David” was a messianic name for the Lord. How did the blind beggar know this? I would be willing to bet a month’s salary t hat he learned about Jesus by listening. A beggar by the roadside is part of the landscape to most people, a potted plant, if you will. So, he sat there in his dark silence and heard people talking. For three years he heard reports of Jesus’ ministry–of His teaching, His healings, of His interactions with the so-called powers that be, and of His courageous rebuke of the religious bigshots. As he listened, Bartimaeus came to the same conclusion a lot of the talkers did: Jesus was the divinely promised and long-awaited Son of God, the Messiah, the Son of David. And so he called on Jesus for mercy.
Bartimaeus seized the first opportunity he had to call on Jesus–without knowing it would also he his last. The Lord was on his final trip through Jericho, making His last entrance into Jerusalem. Bartimaeus had no way of knowing that this would be his last opportunity to meet the Lord Jesus and have Him answer his prayer.
Had Bartimaeus been like some of us, he would have said, “One of these days I’m going to call on Jesus. But not today. ” He could have reasoned that the Lord had been through Jericho numerous times before and since He was still a young man, chances are He would be back many times. And so, reasoning the way many a person today does, he would have said, “One of these days, I’m going to call on Him.”
But I told you he was the smartest man in town. As soon as He heard that Jesus was there, He grabbed the opportunity and began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
He can teach us a lot about prayer, this blind beggar can.
–He can teach us to call on Jesus when He is near.
–He can teach us to call on Jesus when our case is hopeless.
–He can teach us to keep calling when no answer comes.
–He can teach us to keep calling when the very people who should be encouraging us are offering nothing but rebuke and discouragement.
–He can teach us to be bold in our praying, as well as persistent.
–And, he can teach us to be specific in our praying. The Lord said, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now, Jesus knew His need (that’s Matthew 6). You and I know his need. The man was blind and in a hopeless situation. He needed healing. But the question is not whether the Lord knows or we know. Did Bartimaeus know his own need?
He had been praying for mercy. Mercy is a broad category and might include a number of things: educational programs for the blind, a better begging place, protection from his tormentors, etc. So, the Lord asked Bartimaeus to get specific. “What do you want me to do for you?”
The Lord is asking you and me that today. Why don’t we tell Him what we need?
Why don’t we pray?