The highways were crowded with pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem for the annual Passover celebration. Jesus and his entourage had come south from Galilee, following the Jordan River toward the Dead Sea. At Jericho, they turned to the west, heading uphill to their destination.
In the next few days, faithful Jewish families would gather in and around the congested city to remember God’s emancipation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery. They would remember. They would celebrate. They would worship. Thousands of lambs would be slaughtered according to the Old Testament sacrificial law. Together, they would recite the story of God’s miraculous salvation. It was spring-time. It was Passover. It was wonderful.
Jesus knew what was about to unfold. He knew that this Passover would be the last... and the first. Lambs would never again be killed, because He was the Lamb being “led to slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus’ mind must have been full. His heart must have beat hard.
During their journey, Jesus had been teaching His disciples. “They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and ... he began to tell them the things that would happen to him. ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Gentiles, and they will mock him, spit on him, flog him, and kill him, and he will rise after three days’ ” (Mark 10:32–34, CSB).
Jesus was focused on His eternally important mission. He was busy.
Wham. The interruption...
Mark’s Gospel calls him Bartimaeus. Luke’s Gospel just calls him a blind beggar. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that he was with a blind buddy. They each record the story of the interruption.
“There were two blind men sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ The crowd demanded that they keep quiet, but they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ ” (Matthew 20:30–31, CSB).
It wasn’t convenient, but “Jesus stopped, called them, and said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ they said to him, ‘open our eyes’ ” (Matthew 20:32-33, CSB).
It’s then that Matthew gives us a peek into the heart of Jesus. Responding to their request for mercy, He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 20:34, CSB).
“ ‘Receive your sight’ Jesus said. ‘Your faith has saved you.’ Instantly (they) could see, and (they) began to follow him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God” (Luke 18:42-43, CSB).
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor