And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said,“Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Coty Pinckney, in a sermon, Our Need: To See the Joy Set Before Us
In order to endure suffering, we need to open our eyes and see Jesus, we need to see the joy of glorifying God, of being His own treasured possession, set before us. So Mark provides us with this wonderful picture of blind Bartimaeus, to illustrate the solution to our need.
At first glance, this story may seem unconnected to what comes before it. But as we have seen, Mark constantly interweaves stories with similar themes; the very proximity of this story to Jesus’ discussion of suffering should cause us to consider the possible links between the two.
But God through Mark provides us with two other clues linking the stories. First, Mark calls the blind man “Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.” Now, “Bar-” in Aramaic means “Son of,” like “Mac” or “Mc” in Scotland. So Mark is simply repeating himself when he calls Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus. Perhaps he is just explaining the name to his Greek readers — but he doesn’t provide any explanation when he mentions Bartholomew (“son of Tolmai”) or Barabbas (“son of the rabbi”). This indicates that there might be something important about the name Timaeus.
There is. “Timaeus” means “highly prized,” or “honored.” James and John seek honor from Jesus; then Jesus heals the man named “son of the honored one.”
Secondly, examine verses 36 and 51: Jesus responds in the same way to Bartimaeus as he responds to James and John: “What do you want me to do for you?” Clearly, these stories are linked.
So what is Mark (and the Holy Spirit through Mark) getting at through the story of the healing of Bartimaeus?
If we are to be great, if we are to live up to the name God gives us — “those who are highly prized,” “those who are highly honored,” — we too must ask to have our eyes opened. We need to see God and his goodness and glory and majesty. We need to see ourselves, completely unworthy of the mercy that God showers on us. We need to see especially the joy set before us; the joy of God displaying his character in our lives, the joy of sharing His love through our witness, and the joy and pleasure of knowing that we receive 100 times as much from Him in this life as anything we give up, and will receive great joy forevermore as we share eternity with Him.
In one sense, to focus on the joy set before us is to focus on the “real reality.” This world is passing away, and this world is not our home. We were made for a deeper reality, the reality of life with God. As Paul says:
we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:17-18)