“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38)
The man sat in darkness at noonday off the road to Jericho. Hands outstretched, eyes as good as shut in his blindness, he besieged passing footsteps for bread. Positioned well along the path into Jerusalem, Bartimaeus begged for his life, day after day, alone.
He must have assumed this was how he would end his days. Until that day when everything changed.
Passover was near when a commotion began to swell along the path. Were some of Rome’s legions passing by? Footsteps seemed to stampede past with excited whispers. What could be going on? “He inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by’” (Luke 18:36–37).
Jesus of Nazareth. He, even he, had heard much of this man. This was the man who healed the sick, fed the poor, cast out demons, and even restored sight to the blind. This was the man whose teachings astonished the crowds, angered the Pharisees and scribes, and led to the forgiveness of sins — were one to believe such things. Could it be that this controversial figure now came walking toward him?
If he didn’t act now, he may never have the chance again. He cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38).
Son of David. He cried out into the darkness with the only name he knew to call him. He did not mean to flatter Jesus for a miracle. Bartimaeus, though blind, looked upon Jesus with the eyes of faith and called him who in fact he was, “The Son of David,” a King promised centuries ago, a title for the long-hoped-for Messiah. Passing by was the hope of the Israel, and Bartimaeus’s only hope. He believed all that he heard of this Jesus of Nazareth and cried out for mercy.
And cried out again. And again. How could he cease when so much was at stake?
Jesus, Only Jesus
Hearing the ruckus from this blind beggar, “those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent” (Luke 18:39). Bartimaeus had a decision. He relied upon the crowd for food. He was dependent on strangers like these telling him to be quiet. Besides, if they were serious about silencing him, he had few ways to defend himself from any physical assault, were it to come to that.
What would he do?
Luke tells us, “But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Luke 18:39).
If he would perish, this is how he would go: calling in the dark for Jesus. Drowning in the sea, he would not quietly slip under the waters, or beg politely on the side of the road, when the only one who could save him was near. He would not be convinced to cease from existence quietly. Not when the Messiah was at hand.
Your Faith Has Saved You
Then came that moment when he world turned upside down: “Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him” (Luke 18:40). This Messiah heard the cry that the crowds despised. Jesus heard the voice of faith, and with “more important people” pressing in all around him, he stopped to meet with this blind beggar sitting along the road to Jericho.
When he was led to Jesus, the Messiah asked him directly, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”
Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well” — literally, “your faith has saved you.” More was going on than just the healing of blindness.
How did Bartimaeus respond?
He followed his Messiah and gave glory to God. “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God” (Luke 18:43).
How Can We Not Cry Out?
In our spiritual need, we all are as Bartimaeus. We may think that because we have our eyesight, because we know where our next meal is coming from, because we do not squat along the road to Jericho, dusty and pitiful, that we are better off than him. But oh how Bartimaeus would sing “Jesus, Only Jesus.” He had a desperation for the Messiah that we often do not. Once he heard that Jesus was passing by, his world became about one Person. Even if the world would despise his cries for mercy, how could he not still cry out?
As Christians, we have need to be reminded that at the end of the day, we have only Jesus, and the best news in all the world is that we now have all we truly need in Jesus. He has caused us to be born again, and become new creatures in him. So let us use our new eyesight to behold our Savior, follow him, and never cease crying out his name.