As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’
“He called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’
“Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’
“Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
“ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God” (Luke 18:35–43).
The fact that the blind man, who Mark calls Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46), was begging next to the road points to his precarious social and economic situation. We can imagine that his family had left him to his fate, and he had to support himself. Due to his physical disability, he had no other choice but to beg. Although he had many limitations, there were five things the blind man could do: hear, walk, speak, ask, and believe!
His face lit up, his heart started beating faster, his ears were attentive, and his mind was filled with hope when he heard that the Great Prophet and Physician of Israel was going through Jericho. This was his great opportunity, and he would not let it pass. Just as a shipwrecked person clings to a piece of wood and shouts for help, he clung by faith onto the only One who could restore his vision and screamed at the top of his lungs: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Faith can do wonderful things! The blind man recognized Jesus as the Messiah; that is what the expression “Son of David” means.
For the inhabitants of that bustling city, the poor blind man was a useless nuisance. At the time, that society believed that the sick and lame were suffering divine judgment and were completely worthless. But when Jesus restored the man’s sight, He showed that all people are valuable to God. He, who was “despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering” (Isaiah 53:3), takes pleasure in dwelling “with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (Isaiah 57:15).
Scripture records the experience of the blind man’s faith as evidence that God cares for the sick and the marginalized. This is what Jesus meant when He read from the book of Isaiah at the very beginning of His ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom
for the prisoners and recovery of
sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18).
Because of His universal love, there is a place in Christ’s heart not just for the blind man from Jericho but for each helpless and marginalized person in the world in every time and location.
The blind man was not afraid of publicly confessing Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of David. His heart was in tune with the message of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
The author has a master’s in ministry from Andrews University and writes from Cartersville, Georgia.