As I type these words into my laptop, I’m high in the mountains of New Mexico. The cabin I’m in is nestled in a forest of green pine and bright golden aspens. The air is chilly and tranquil this morning, as a thin line of crimson is beginning to appear over the mountains to the east. When I take my coffee out onto the deck, I’ll probably spot Bambi and her fawn, undisturbed in the noiseless landscape.
I can see God’s creation! It’s incredible.
Jericho didn’t have any aspen groves and it wasn’t on a mountain. In fact, Jericho, deep in the Jordan River valley, was a thousand feet below sea level. Just to the south, the Dead Sea filled the panorama. Back to the north, the ribbon of green bordered the life-giving Jordan and stretched to the horizon. Up the hill to the west, through the rocky crags, the pathway called the Valley of the Shadow of Death, twisted its way up the three-thousand-foot ascent toward Jerusalem.
In Jericho, one could see God’s creation, stark, but beautiful.
Apparently, Herod the Great could see it. That must have been why he built a home there. This winter get-away, a huge palace, was ornate, opulent, magnificent. Deep in the valley, the climate was almost tropical, making Herod’s pools and baths useful year-around. No doubt, it would have graced the magazine cover, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Obnoxious.”
Those who walked with Jesus could see all of this, but Bartimaeus could not. He was blind.
Bartimaeus was in his spot, just west of Jericho. Those travelling between the governor’s palace and the city would pass this way. Sometimes they dropped a small coin into the blind beggar’s cup.
The son of Timaeus was blind. He wasn’t deaf. As travelers passed by chattering about this and that, Bartimaeus picked up the news. There was another traveler robbed and killed on the highway last night... Herod is entertaining visitors from Rome... and the itinerate Rabbi from Galilee ate supper with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector.
Bartimaeus had heard rumors about Jesus for three years. It was just up the river where John the Baptist had called Him the “Lamb of God.” He heard about the Great Physician who healed the lame and the leper. Travelers retold Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan who compassionately cared for the broken and beaten. Many had speculated that Jesus was the Messiah. Bartimaeus believed it!
Now, Jesus was here in Jericho, and Bartimaeus knew His entourage was coming this direction. Bartimaeus prayed, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47-48). He did. Mercy and majesty filled the air as Jesus said, “Go your way; your faith has made you well” (Mark 10:52).
Can you see? Regardless... try this... “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor