When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So They called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. (Mark 10:46)

As Bartimaeus made his way outside the city gates long before sunrise, while the city still slept, he could tell that it would be warmer today than usual. He moved quickly through the winding streets with ease, wanting to secure his spot underneath his favorite palm tree. He may have been blind, but he knew these streets well. He had been born in Jericho, and the crossroad to the busy highway between Jericho and Jerusalem was as familiar to him as the hidden alley he called home. Jericho was an oasis for travelers, known for its numerous palm trees, but his tree was special. It was an old tree with large fronds providing protection from the relentless sunshine. It grew near the road used by everyone coming or leaving the “City of Palms,” and was also close Elisha’s Spring that bubbled with sweet, cool water. For a beggar, all these factors were important. And there were always many beggars crying out for notice. He had learned the hard way that people would pass him by without noticing him, even if they did throw a coin his way.

By the time Bartimaeus reached his tree and settled himself conspicuously near the road, he could hear the city come to life. The vibrations on the road told him that merchants and travelers were already preparing for what he hoped would be a bustling day for them and a prosperous day for him. Perhaps, he would have enough at the end of the day to enjoy a handful of dates with his meager meal. It was going to be a good day; he just knew it. Placing his cloak, the only thing he owned in this world, in front of him to catch the coins that wealthy travelers might toss at him, he tipped his face to the rising sun and waited. Others like him, some blind, some crippled or lame, but all of them poor, soon began to gather along the roadway. They were friendly now, calling out greetings to one another, but he knew that wouldn’t last. He kept his walking stick close and ready to protect himself and whatever paltry mites he could garner.

Begging was humiliating, but he had no other means of survival. He couldn’t see to work in the fields, or he would have worked gladly. He wasn’t lazy. And he was grateful, not only for the coins, but also for the bits and pieces of knowledge he gleaned from conversations all around him. Bartimaeus had finely tuned ears. He could gauge the wealth and status of people by their language and dialects, often from a distance. This was helpful for a beggar. He was also well informed about the secrets of business and politics in his city. People assumed that if you were blind and poor, you must also be stupid, and they spoke freely of things that should have gone unsaid.

For the last several years he had been hearing much about an itinerant rabbi from Nazareth. This Jesus created quite a stir no matter where he went, and he had been in Jericho for several days now. Bartimaeus wanted to hear him teach, but the crowds were so thick around Jesus that he hadn’t been able to get close. He knew the priests and rulers in Jerusalem were frightened of him. Bartimaeus heard over and over of the miracles Jesus performed, demons cast out, thousands fed from just a few fish and loaves of bread. Lepers were healed, they said, and a blind man received his sight at Bethsaida. Some vowed that even the wind and the waves obeyed his commands. He taught with such power and authority and called Yahweh his Father. Recently Bartimaeus heard several Pharisees indignant with Jesus who allowed himself to be anointed by a sinful woman and then announced to everyone that her faith had saved her, and her sins were forgiven. Only God could forgive sins. The more Bartimaeus heard, the more convinced he was that this Jesus had to be who he claimed to be, the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah. His longing for Messiah was suddenly so intense that he couldn’t catch his breath.

He was so deep in thought that at first, he didn’t hear the stirrings in the crowd as it drew close to him. Then he heard the very name he was pondering echo through the people, “Jesus.” Jesus was coming! Bartimaeus didn’t hesitate. Loudly he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Tears were pouring from his sightless eyes, and he didn’t feel the rods that struck him or hear the commands to be silent. The noise from the throng was so great, he knew Jesus couldn’t possibly hear him, so he shouted louder and louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Without warning the silence of midnight fell around him. He was conscious only of his need for Jesus, of his need for mercy, when a man called to him, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Tossing aside his cloak, and the few coins nestled in it, Bartimaeus jumped to his feet and felt his way to Jesus. With a voice of infinite compassion, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” No one had ever asked him that question. No one had ever cared for him or spoken so tenderly to him. Whispering now, Bartimaeus spoke, “Lord, I want to see,” and he felt the gentle touch of Jesus on his eyes and heard him say, “Go, your faith has healed you.” In that instant he opened his eyes to the face of God, left his cloak and palm tree behind and followed Jesus.

The road led to Jerusalem, to Gethsemane and Golgotha and finally to an empty tomb, but Bartimaeus never looked back. He received more than just his physical healing that day outside of Jericho. He had cried out a beggar and was noticed by the King. The eyes of his heart were opened, the truth of Scripture revealed, and mercy and grace poured over him. No longer a blind beggar; now he was a bondslave to the Son of God, his ragged cloak exchanged for a robe of righteousness and the riches of eternity. It had been a good day, after all.

As you begin this new year, perhaps you are sitting at the crossroads like Bartimaeus was that day so long ago. What is your heart’s cry? Perhaps you feel unnoticed and in need of a kind word. Jesus notices you and He loves you. He will not pass you by. He knows exactly what we need, yet He asks each of us, “What do you want me to do for you?” How will you answer Him?

Jesus, help me fine tune my spiritual ears to hear You. Remove the scales of worldly pleasures and cares from my heart so that I can see You. Thank You that You never pass me by, and Your mercies are new every morning. May I leave everything behind to follow You this year, wherever You lead me, with abandoned trust and overwhelming gratitude poured out in worship. ©

Published by thistleplaid

Introductions are always awkward. What words can capture the essence of character and personality? And yet, we all long to know and be known, so let me introduce myself to you. I am an introverted "fun girl" who is passionate about Jesus, family and intimate friendships. I am a wife of 50 years, whose husband now resides in heaven (widow does not define me!). I am a mother of three daughters and three sons-in-love, a Gram to eight grandchildren, and a Great-Granny to one adorable baby girl. With Scottish ancestry, I love all things plaid, bagpipes and thistles. I love tea and books and rainy days; mountains, ocean waves, and sunshine' lavender, Golden Doodles, bagpipes and country music. Most importantly, I am the daughter of the King of Kings, on the journey of being conformed to His image and desperately in need of His mercies every day. My goal with this blog is to meet other women on this journey and encourage them to see and seek Encounters with Mercy and Glimpses of Glory that will challenge and nourish their souls.

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