They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
The most interesting part of this story to me is how the people told Bartimaeus to be quiet. But the story doesn’t say why. I imagine it was probably because they thought a lowly beggar shouldn’t be bothering Jesus. Jesus had better things to do, and more important people to see.
Class was very important in ancient Jewish culture, but Jesus made it clear time and again that it didn’t matter to Him, or to God. But the people, even the disciples, had a hard time understanding this, and they often fell into the old ways. Yet these lowest of people, sometimes even non-Jews, had the greatest faith in Jesus’s ability to work in their lives. Maybe it’s because they’ve experienced the real failure that comes from depending on themselves. Maybe it’s because they have more to gain from faith. Or maybe it’s just because they have nothing else to loose. But it’s men like Bartimaeus that we can learn the most from.
And what does Bartimaeus do when he gains his sight? Does he go back to his old way of life? No! He follows Jesus. He allows his life to be completely changed by his encounter with Jesus. This, I think, is the key to his great faith. You can tell great faith by how it changes one’s life. And the greatest faith of all leads you to follow Jesus, not merely to thank Him.
Side note: Let this also be a lesson to us not to silence those seeking a deeper relationship with Christ simply because we see them as incapable of it. Clearly people are more than capable of taking us by surprise.