Can the miraculous restoration of sight to a blind man more than 2000 years ago have any real significance for us? Are we not just beating a well-worn drum in the re-telling of this ancient story? I suggest that these are fair questions. I, for one, believe this story and all the other Gospel stories to be timeless and therefore our story too. I hope you agree.
Bartimaeus was blind; whether as a result of disease or of injury we don’t know. He was forced to become a beggar. Asking for help had become second nature to him. He survived on the scraps of food and the pennies placed in his outstretched hand by the few who took pity on him. To most of his fellow citizens he was a divinely intended warning of the wages of sin …his own or his parent’s.
No one could give him what he really craved …the restoration of his sight. However, someone had done the next best thing, knowingly or unknowingly, for they had taken the time to speak to him of Jesus of Nazareth.
Enveloped in his personal darkness, Bartimaeus had come to think of this man Jesus as a possible last resort, a potential source of light. Could anyone reputed to be so close to God be anything but merciful? But then, God Himself had not prevented him from going blind in the first place …probably directly willed his blindness. So what was the use of dreaming? But still he must hope. If the chance were to present itself he would ask for help. Bleakly he remembered how, more than once, he had cursed God, had challenged his goodness …indeed, his very existence.
He still had his doubts. If only he could be certain that he was both known and loved by a God who really cared …perhaps then, even his blindness would be bearable. The darkness would be less dark, less fearful …not so hopeless. His inspired thoughts continued to soar. Perhaps peace of mind could come with recognition of the unseen. Could that be an even greater blessing than sight itself? He wasn’t sure of the answer to that one but he did not dismiss the possibility.
He was distracted by the sounds of a large number of people coming down the road. Perhaps he would get lucky! A coin or two would be most welcome.
A coin WAS pressed into his palm and a voice spoke to him in the deceptively harsh tones of Galilee. “From my master,” said Judas Iscariot, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Jesus, is He here, on the road? “Yes,” came the reply.
“Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
“What do you want me to do for you?”
“Let me see again!”
And immediately his sight returned.
Twice blessed and no longer in doubt as to the greater of the two blessings, Bartimaeus followed Jesus along the road. He followed Jesus who had once replied to Peter’s profession of Faith, “Blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet still believe!”