As Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time he meets Bartimaeus, a young man who was blind. This event falls in Phase 5b, Section 126 of the Harmony of the Gospels and is also recorded by Matthew and Luke. The blind depended on their family and the community more than most. Bartimaeus waited for help on the side of the road from Jericho to Jerusalem hoping that a traveler to the Holy City would pass on God’s blessing by tossing him a coin or two, but when he realized it was Jesus he cried out for mercy and healing.
29 As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30 Behold, two blind men1 sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!” 31 The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, “Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!”
32 Jesus stood still, and called them, and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They told him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” 34 Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they2 followed him.
46 They came to Jericho.3 As he went out from Jericho, with his disciples and a great multitude, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road.
47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and say, “Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him, that he should be quiet, but he cried out much more, “You son of David, have mercy on me!”4
49 Jesus stood still, and said, “Call him.” They called the blind man, saying to him, “Cheer up! Get up. He is calling you!” 50 He, casting away his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 51 Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”5 The blind man said to him, “Rabboni, that I may see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has made you well.” Immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus on the way.6
35 As he came near Jericho,7
a certain blind man sat by the road, begging. 36 Hearing a multitude going by, he asked what this meant. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 He cried out, “Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him, that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “You son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 Standing still, Jesus commanded him to be brought to him. When he had come near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do?” He said, “Lord, that I may see again.” 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, praised God.
- Have you ever felt like you are struggling in the darkness, wanting to find Jesus, but not knowing how to get to him?
- How does this story of Bartimaeus remind you of your own needs and the needs of the world, your petitions to God, the encouragement and response of others?
- Who among you is in need of the hand of a friend, or even a stranger, to guide them into the presence of God?
- How good are you at being attentive to the needs and concerns of others as you go about your day?
- Why do you think Jesus was so determined to get to Jerusalem, knowing that he knew about his coming death?
- What sacrifices are you making now to fulfill your vocation in ministry?
- Only Matthew writes that there were two blind men, but the omission by Luke and Mark should not concern the reader, because their story is specifically about Bartimaeus.
- The two blind men, one of whom was Bartimaeus.
- As you can see in the Harmony Bible Map, Jericho lies west of the Jordan about 15 miles east (E-NE) of Jerusalem.
- Bartimaeus sits in darkness, and he knows that only Jesus can offer him healing and hope; but he has no way to find Jesus. He cannot see, and with all of the shouting voices in the crowd, its difficult for Bartimaeus to know which person is Jesus.
- Jesus and his disciples had been in Perea, on the east side of the river Jordan, and were on their way to Jerusalem. Even as they traveled, Jesus knew of his death and resurrection (Section 125a) and was set to fulfill his mission, yet he had time to listen to the cries of Bartimaeus.
- The journey from Jericho to Jerusalem would take about 6 hours, slowed a bit because Jerusalem is 3400′ higher in elevation than Jericho. However according to Luke 19:1-10 before Jesus leaves he will also meet Zaccheus and ask to stay at his home for the day before continuing on to Jerusalem Luke 19:11-28 making his triumphal entry on “Palm Sunday” of Holy Week (Section 128a | John 11:55-12:11.)
- As we read the three accounts and what follows, it seems that Jesus was in or very near approaching Jericho as he met Bartimaeus, and then he met Zaccheus, and stayed a while (perhaps only hours) in Jericho with Zaccheus, before going on to Jerusalem.