The healing of Bartimaeus highlights the disciples’ spiritual blindness about Jesus’ mission. He has spoken about it clearly in the preceeding chapters, but they just do not understand. Bartimaeus – the son of honour – lives an ironically un-honourable life, begging on the side of the road, but his response to Jesus points us to three helpful things:
1. He Had Faith
Bartimaeus believed the stories about Jesus, and – perhaps perceiving more than others did because of his blindness – understood that he was the Messiah. This faith gave him access to Christ’s power. Likewise for us, faith brings us into contact with God’s power. That doesn’t mean however that when God doesn’t give what we have asked for that we necessarily lack faith, it could also be, for example, sin or a lack of understanding about God’s purposes. If you struggle with unanswered prayer, it is good to ask God to help you to understand.
2. He was Fearless
Bartimaeus was fearless (or bold) because he recognised his own need and that he wouldn’t get the chance to ask for Jesus’ help again, and so he ignored the rebuke of the crowd and the indignity of shouting out. We also see that Jesus wasn’t too preoccupied to notice him, but just as a parent hears the voice of their child in a crowd, so Jesus heard him and responded. Bartimaeus’ response to Jesus’ question, “What do you want?” is a contrast to James and John’s reply in the preceeding verses. This should give us confidence in prayer, God loves us and delights in hearing, knowing and fulfilling our requests.
3. He Followed Jesus
Bartimaues wasn’t just happy to be healed, he wanted more of Jesus, and so followed him.
Do we want more of Jesus, like Bartimaeus? Are we following him, or are we just content to have met him and received our salvation? The life of love he calls us to is one of self-denial and service to others, it is hard, but not if we understand Jesus properly. If we find it hard, perhaps it’s because we don’t recognise how desperate our situation was without him. Or perhaps you don’t realise what’s on offer in following Jesus, a life of ever-increasing fulfilment and communion with him. Perhaps, like James and John, selfish desires stop us from following Jesus. Just as Bartimaeus threw off his cloak to follow Jesus, so we should throw off the things that stop us from pursuing love. Ask God to open your eyes so that you have the boldness and willingness to follow him.