Once a year the carnival showed up at Falfurrias. Since there was not much else to do, folks gathered to see the bearded lady, the fat man and the two-headed rabbit. All of us are fascinated with whatever distracts us from daily routine.
The crowd that followed Jesus was looking for a distraction. They had heard about the miraculous healings, His attractive sermons, the fact that Jesus did not discriminate. Jesus was different from typical rabbis. He touched the untouchable, not only spoke with sinners, but ate with them. Our Lord had the reputation of breaking a lot of the rules in order to heal people. A sizable crowd—could have been from 50—to 100 people. There were no microphones, therefore, people had to shout. We can imagine the scene: Jesus leading the way, the disciples following, trying to give some order to the chaos. Perhaps the time was the middle of the afternoon with the wind blowing, hot sun on their faces, the last thing that the crowd wanted to hear was a blind man begging for mercy. Because they had heard him many times before. That’s what blind people did—they begged. How else were they going to make a living? How else were they going to eat? The voice of Bartimaeus was familiar to anyone who had walked the same road. Just like the people that we see on the streets who ask for a handout. The same folks tend to stand on the same street, at the same corner every day. Not uncommon to excuse our indifference by thinking, “I gave him something yesterday.” Or we avoid going down the same road because we do not want to see a person in need. Who’s going to blame us for looking the other way? Why shouldn’t we try to avoid an unpleasant situation? That’s what the crowd was trying to do—to avoid an unpleasant situation. Bartimaeus did not belong in the parade. He was bumping into people, stumbling, and yelling!
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Bartimaeus was causing a disturbance. In essence, he was interrupting what started out to be a pleasant adventure. After all, Bartimaeus was an “untouchable” because he had a handicap. He was prohibited from entering the Temple since he was considered impure. All handicaps were the result of a sinful condition, either by the person or their ancestors. If someone gave money to the blind man, they probably just thew it into the cloak. Interesting to note that when Bartimaeus was told that Jesus was calling him, he jumped up and thew aside his cloak. With the cloak went whatever money was in it. The cloak represented his old life. Bartimaeus had no doubt that Jesus was going to heal him.
And heal him He did. But don’t forget the crowd. Everybody was looking. Everybody was watching. Do we suppose that someone guided him to Jesus? Can we imagine that some kind soul helped him reach Jesus? Not a chance! He was a nobody. The crowd wanted Bartimaeus to shut up! But the dummy only got louder. To make matters worse, Jesus paid attention to him. Once Bartimaeus stopped the parade, tripped, fell, and finally reached Jesus, everyone was shocked! Jesus asked a curious question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Wasn’t it obvious? The whole town knew that Bartimaeus was blind. What else could he want? Why did Jesus ask what sounded like a ridiculous question? Jesus wanted to hear him make a profession of faith—to pronounce what was in his heart. Bartimaeus professed his faith just by shouting out the name of Jesus, by being persistent and by throwing aside his cloak. “Master, I want to see.” A daring prayer for someone who’s income depended on blindness. For us the prayer might be, “Master, I want to stop drinking. I want to stop watching porn. I want to stop being unfaithful in my marriage.” Compete change of life is always daring. Takes courage to trust God completely.
Bartimaeus trusted completely. He received his sight—was given a new life. With God’s grace all things are possible. From our comfort zone we cry out, “Master, I want to see.”