Jericho was where a prostitute became a princess. Rahab, the harlot, a Canaanite in a city condemned to destruction, was saved by God’s sovereign grace, grafted into God’s chosen nation, and is found in the genealogy of Jesus, a great, great, great... grandmother of the King!
Jericho is also where Jesus found “a wee little man” hiding in a sycamore tree. The pint-sized tax collector had run ahead of the crowd and climbed out on a limb to get a bird’s eye view of the passing dignitary. But Jesus, who had “come to seek and save” (Luke 19:10), spotted him, invited himself to the almost-universally-hated tax-collector’s home, and then lovingly transformed Zacchaeus’s life. Zacchaeus, once a money hungry “chief tax collector” (Luke 19:2), humbly gave away his fortune and received a supernatural and eternal inheritance of inestimable value. That happened at Jericho.
Jericho, it seems, was a place where God’s grace was poured-out on the unworthy. So, it’s not too surprising that Jericho was where Jesus met Bartimaeus. Luke just called him a “blind man” (Luke 18:35). Matthew remembered “two blind men” (Matthew 20:30). Only Mark recalled his name.
Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was a blind beggar. That’s all. Just a blind man who sat beside the highway on the outskirts of Jericho, tin cup in hand, begging for enough to survive for one more day. You can bet that he hadn’t bathed in weeks. His clothing was tattered. His scraggly hair and matted beard were unkempt. Rank. Nasty. Repulsive. Helpless. Hopeless.
Jesus and His entourage were making their way toward Jerusalem. They had come south from Galilee, along the Jordan River. At Jericho, about a thousand feet below sea-level, they turned west. Soon, Jesus would be climbing the steep grade through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and a few days later, the more arduous path to a cross at Calvary. Jesus was on an important mission. He was focused. “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, NKJV). It would have been understandable if Jesus had ignored the needs of a blind beggar. He didn’t.
Just outside Jericho, “when (Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many warned him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, ‘Have mercy on me, Son of David!’ ” (Mark 10:47-48).
Can you hear Peter? “Shut him up! Tell him to quit bawling and blubbering!” Astonishingly, at least to Peter and his pals, “Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him’ ” (Mark 10:49). Jesus saw people differently than the others. He had a heart filled with compassion. He cared. He took time from His busy-ness to touch the least worthy. People like me.
“ ‘Rabboni,’ the blind man said to him, ‘I want to see.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go, your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he could see and began to follow Jesus on the road” (Mark 10:51-52).
Jericho is on my bucket list.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.