The merciful Lord did not mind that Bartimaeus called Him “Son of David.” Bartimaeus could have said, “Son of God,” of course. But, by calling Christ “Son of David,” Bartimaeus hailed Him as the long-awaited Messiah, since “Son of David” was a title of the Savior Israel expected.
Whatever Bartimaeus meant by his salutation, the blind man certainly called out with real faith in his heart. Bartimaeus believed that he was speaking to the divine man. Bartimaeus believed Jesus could work a miracle. “Have pity on me, Son of David! I want to see.” And Bartimaeus must have called out eagerly, insistently–maybe even impertinently–since many rebuked him, telling him to zip it.
Why does St. Mark call Bartimaeus by name? Probably because some among Mark’s original readership knew who Bartimaeus was. People knew Bartimaeus’ background. And they knew the transformation he had undergone, when he met Christ. Bartimaeus had sat by the roadside begging, probably for years, eking out a wretched existence. Then this particular day came…
Most of us have eyes that work decently well. Mine struggle along with the help of the Coke bottles I wear on the bridge of my nose. But: isn’t it the case that we do not see the things we most want to see? What, after all, do we not see? Here’s a short list.
1) We do not see a united human race. We see a human race very much at odds with itself. We see a world where people kill each other, or ignore each other, or treat each other as cogs in an inhuman machine.
2) We do not see a leader we can really trust. We do not see anyone whose words communicate pure, unadulterated truth, and whose example follows his words in every way.
3) Above all: We see a world weighed-down by a long history of human sin, and we do not see a way out. Cam Newton has turned into a seriously good NFL quarterback. But can Cam Newton atone for all the centuries of human sin that have preceded us?
Before that particular day, Bartimaeus had languished in a blind rut. Each passing day meant another desperate struggle for survival, encountering unhappy people wandering aimlessly through life. Bartimaeus begged coins from them to keep from starving to death. We can only imagine that he endured this miserable existence for many long years.
If we ourselves consider solely the external appearances of this world, using these eyes we have, which for the most part work pretty well—if we walk solely by sight, in other words—we will find ourselves in every bit as much of a blind rut as Bartimaeus was, before that day when he met Christ. We can see a few things. But we cannot see what we most truly want to see. If we suffered as long as Bartimaeus, we might give up all hope.
But this earnest man Bartimaeus, blind though he was, recognized a new day when it came. He had languished long. But he heard that Jesus was coming, and the beggar knew: today is different. Today things could change for the better. He hollered “Son of David! Have pity on me. O divine Messiah! Have pity on me.”
Now, when the preacher says, “We’re all blind like Bartimaeus, unless we walk by faith in Jesus!” that sounds like kind of a cliché, a bromide. But, you know what? It’s true anyway.
Where is the Messiah? Where can we find the one who can unite all people, all the races and nations, in a bond of love? Without ancient hatreds and mistrust, without language barriers and mutual incomprehension, without alienation and hopeless anger?
Where can we find a leader whose word is truth and whose life unfolds with absolute honesty?
Where is our divine Lamb Whose blood can wash the world clean as new?
Where is the Messiah?
In faith, we cry: “Son of David! Have pity one us. We want to see.”
Jesus gave Bartimaeus his sight, because Bartimaeus believed. Bartimaeus believed in the Incarnation, believed that God stood there with him. And, can we not imagine that, when his eyes were opened, Bartimaeus saw the one thing he really wanted to see? He opened his eyes and saw the one thing that all of us truly long to see.
Bartimaeus, after all, never wound up watching a football game or going to a movie. He ever laid eyes on the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. He never watched Michael Jackson do a moonwalk.
But he saw the divine man. He saw the Creator with his own eyes. And Bartimaeus proceeded to follow Christ. Because he realized that there is actually only one cure for blindness. Not just ‘seeing.’ The cure for our human blindness is seeing the Messiah.
Lord, we believe! We believe You are God! Lord Jesus, we want to see You!