“As he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, ‘Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.’ And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, ‘Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.’”
Athletes are known for their “tunnel vision;” the sought-for prize at the other side of their competitions eclipses all else. The trophy, the cup, or the belt are all they see. I remember hearing about a certain bodybuilder who trained with such focus and intensity his friends joked that if a bomb were to go off in the gym they were sure he wouldn’t notice. A certain MMA fighter shared that he often laid awake at night dreaming up fighting tactics and techniques. We see something similar with people who fall head over heels in love. There could be a hundred people in the room but those who are smitten only have eyes for their special someone. Today’s verse passage introduces us to Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. Though he was physically blind, he nevertheless had a certain “tunnel vision” of his own. When he heard the sound of a large throng of people following Jesus, Bartimaeus became fixated on the Lord and the possibility of His helping him. “Jesus, thou Son of David,” he cried, “have mercy on me!” When those around him demanded that he be quiet, Bartimaeus responded by calling out to the Lord with even greater fervency. The episode reminds us of Paul and Barnabas as they witnessed to crowds in Antioch of Pisidia. When the unbelieving Jews arrived and began opposing them and their message, these men of God became even bolder (Acts 13:44-45). The account of Bartimaeus is filled with reflections of important spiritual realities. To begin with, Bartimaeus knew that he was blind and therefore in great need. The religious leaders in Christ’s time not only suffered self-inflicted spiritual blindness, they refused to acknowledge the fact and seek help from the Carpenter from Nazareth (John 9:39-41). Bartimaeus knew better. Believing the Scriptures, he recognized that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of David, and that in Him the kingdom of God had come. At long last the Lord’s covenant people would be fully restored (Isaiah 35:1-5; Matthew 11:4-5; 19:28; Acts 1:6-7; 3:21). Secondly, Bartimaeus reminds us, as Mary did earlier in the Lord’s ministry (Luke 10:38-42), that our every need is met in Christ. We therefore dare not, as Peter did (Matthew 14:28-31), take our attention off the Lord for even a moment. God forbid that we should ever, as the Ephesians did (Revelation 2:1-5), wander from our first love. Lastly, Bartimaeus reminds us that our Lord hears and responds to heartfelt, believing prayer (Mark 11:24; Matthew 7:7-11; John 14:13; 15:7; James 5:16). Cast your cares upon Him, dear saints, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).