The Book of Luke, The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus - Lesson 202
Luke 18:35-43, And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 39And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 40And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
Jesus Christ and his disciples have left Galilee and the area beyond the Jordan River and are on their way to Jerusalem.
He has told the twelve disciples what will take place in Jerusalem, namely the fulfillment of all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man.
He has told them that he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, that he shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spit upon.
He has told them of his scourging, He has told them of his death and he has told them that on the third day he shall rise again.
Much of this of course is based upon the growing opposition of the religious authorities that the disciples have witnessed.
Now the route on which Jesus Christ and his disciples traveled took them to the city of Jericho, which in Old Testament times was known as the “City of Palms.”
Jericho is a city in the Jordan Valley about 17 miles northeast of Jerusalem and is one of the oldest cities on earth, believed by some to be the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the world.
It was so long lived because it was the site of an oasis, fed by a continual spring and one of the few sources of water in a hot dry land.
Because it was such a great water source it became one of the major trade routes and naturally was fought over many, many times.
The most notable battle of course, was the battle of Joshua when the walls came tumbling down and because of this battle the city remained in ruins until the time of Ahab.
The New Testament Jericho, built by Herod the Great, was on the road from the crossings of the lower Jordan to Jerusalem, a little south of the ancient Old Testament site of Jericho.
This miracle of the healing of the blind beggar is recorded in three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Each gospel writer tells the story with somewhat different details however the thrust of the story, the healing of the blind beggar is the same in all of the three Gospels.
Matthew 20:29-34 says that two men were given sight as the Lord departed from Jericho.
Mark 10:46-52 says that one man by the name of Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was given sight as the Lord was leaving the city.
Our passage in Luke says one beggar, unnamed, was given sight as the Lord was entering, or had come nigh to Jericho.
The fact that one writer mentions two beggars and two writers mention one beggar does not mean either are wrong.
Not all details are mentioned in a story by different authors.
Mark named the beggar and even named his father while Matthew and Luke kept him unnamed.
Mark, most likely named the beggar, because Bartimaeus became the more prominent of the two beggars as time went by.
Luke tells us that the beggar: received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God:
Most likely Bartimaeus became an active follower of Jesus and an active member of the church, and therefore he and his father were known.
I think we could suppose that Bartimaeus even gave testimony of his conversion and healing for many in the church would have been interested to learn how he first came to Christ.
Bartimaeus was probably the one of the two blind men who yelled out so loudly and forcefully so that the second (unnamed) blind man of Matthew’s account may have been healed on the coattails of Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus, we are told, followed Christ, but we are not told of the second blind man who may have simply returned to his family and disappeared from sight.
Now according to Luke, Bartimaeus was sitting and begging by the road as it led into Jericho.
We have seen from scripture that beggars were a common site in Israel.
I remember that during my youth, beggars were more prevalent then they are today.
Today the only beggars I see are those at the exits of interstates who display signs, saying “Need Work” but in reality they do not want work but are only asking for money.
I remember the beggar of my childhood who had staked his claim on a spot by the movie theater where many people dropped the change that they had just gotten from the ticket booth into his tin cup.
This beggar was without legs and rolled about on a low 4 wheeled platform putting his pencil filled tin cup out with pleas for pencil purchases.
No one took a pencil but I suppose offering pencils gave him some self respect by putting himself in sales rather than charity work.
But beggars always have certain spots picked out where the traffic is more frequent or where money is being handled.
Such was the place where Bartimaeus placed himself, along a busy trade route where many travelers who had money to spend passed by.
He could not see, so his begging would have been triggered by what he heard, footsteps and sounds of passers-by talking.
The blind man would have heard Jesus approaching Jericho for wherever Jesus went there were crowds traveling with him.
So he asked those around him what was happening and he was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
No doubt Bartimaeus knew about Jesus, perhaps from what he heard as he sat along the street.
I would suppose that a beggar who occupied the same place every day along such a busy highway knew much of what was taking place in Israel.
No doubt the news of the works and miracles of Jesus had come to his ears and perhaps had aroused hope in his heart that healing in his case would come though this man, Jesus.
It is so true that when you have an infirmity any news of a cure for that infirmity is sought and longed for.
I am sure that the fame of Jesus Christ had preceded him along this route and his miracles of healing brought hope to any who suffered infirmities especially those who were blind and unable to care for themselves except to beg.
So when the opportunity presented itself Bartimaeus was not about to let it pass and he began to make a scene by loudly calling out to Jesus.
He wanted healing and he believed Jesus was both able and willing.
He did not call to Jesus by the name that was told him—Jesus of Nazareth—but rather by the name which identified Him far more accurately—Jesus, Son of David.
The blind man may have had a physical handicap of blindness, but he knew that Jesus was more than a man; He was the long awaited Messiah.
It was well known in Israel that the terms “Son of David” and “Messiah” were synonymous.
It is obvious by the passion that Bartimaeus expressed that he
had come to the conclusion from all that he had heard that this Jesus was the Messiah and that the Messiah could heal the blind.
Perhaps he had heard of Christ’s pronouncement at the synagogue of Nazareth where He had brought to mind the words of the prophet Isaiah, especially those words referring to the giving of sight to the blind:
8The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
So Bartimaeus called to Jesus as Messiah, for He knew he could heal the sick and give sight to the blind.
The beautiful thing about this example of God’s healing is that it shows what must take place in the healing of all those who are blind and unable to care for themselves.
For in reality this is true of all mankind for all men are blind and unable to care for themselves.
All men are blind and unable to find the way to eternal life without divine help.
Bartimaeus was twice blind, spiritually and physically, but he tapped into the only communications line that God answers.
He tapped into God’s line of mercy. He had nothing to offer Jesus.
He could not come in his own merit for he obviously had no merit. He was a beggar.
Bartimaeus pled for the one thing which touches the heart of a righteous God toward an undeserving sinner, he pled for mercy.
He did not merit anything, but he did beg for mercy.
But those who were leading the way into town—probably the elders of Jericho — were irritated by the interruption and the undignified disturbance which Bartimaeus caused.
Here he was, yelling at the top of his lungs and being a nuisance.
They therefore told him, in effect to “Shut up!”
How could Jesus, an important person coming to their town, be bothered by such interruptions?
Certainly he had more important business than to stop for one blind man.
They thought this unimportant pest of a man must be silenced.
But Jesus did not think so for his ears were always open to cries for mercy.
He stopped, and commanded that the man be brought to him.
The Gospel writer Mark tells us that the man jumped up, threw off his coat, and went to Jesus.
It is interesting that Mark consistently tells us that when someone decided to follow Jesus he always left something behind to do so.
Simon and Andrew abandoned their nets (Mark 1:18).
James and John left their father with the hired servants in the boat (1:20).
Levi walked away from his tax office (2:14).
Jesus commanded the rich man to sell all his possessions and give to the poor in order to follow Him (10:21).
Peter pointed out that the disciples had left everything to be with Jesus (10:28).
In a similar way, Bartimaeus left behind what he had in order to come to Jesus.
The Bible says that when a man or woman is born again old things are passed away, all things become new.
So Bartimaeus left behind the cloak of his business, that cloak which he spread on the ground on which passer-byers placed the alms in response to his begging.
Symbolically this indicated a life change which is what always takes place when a person receives Christ.
Bartimaeus was not going to be stopped.
When asked by Jesus what he wanted, it did not take him long to speak up.
He wanted to see.
Jesus immediately healed him, informing him that it was his faith that had made him well (v. 42).
Bartimaeus immediately began following Jesus, and glorifying God, and all the people joined in, giving praise to God.