Based on Luke 18:35-43 and Mark 10:46-52
Hi, my name is Bartimaeus, but everyone calls me Blind Barty. Oh, I can see perfectly, in fact – I have 20-20 vision, eyes like a hawk. I’ve been able to see for years. But that hasn’t always been the case, hence the nickname, and names stick don’t they? Anyway, I was born blind. The world was always darkness to me – hearing and touch were my ways of seeing the world, and being blind meant that I couldn’t work to earn a living for myself, so I had to beg to survive. My friends would take me to the best spot, which was by the roadside in Jericho, my home town. In some ways, I was lucky to live in Jericho. It was a busy town – there were always people passing through on their way into Jerusalem, especially at festival time. This particular day was the week before Passover. And I could tell something was unusual. The crowd was particularly noisy. I could hear the growing babble of voices, the tramp of feet. A number of the crowd passed me by already, and I wanted to find out what was going on. “What’s happening?” I shouted, to any one who would listen. A voice replied, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’
Jesus of Nazareth. I’d heard of this man. I’d heard about the brilliant teaching, the lives that he’d changed, the people he’d healed. Because of Jesus, lepers had been cleansed and restored, the lame walked, and the deaf hear. Could I see too? After decades of the same routine of this hand to mouth existence I’d been living, thinking that this begging would be all I would do for the rest of my life, suddenly a thrill of hope went through me. It dawned on me – Jesus could change my life. But, what if I missed my chance? It was a once in a lifetime opportunity – so I cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’
“Shut your mouth, beggar!” came the response from someone in the crowd.
“You think the teacher has any time for a beggar like you?” came another voice.
I was silent for a moment, sick of the abuse that people hurled at me. But a voice inside me told me not to give up, to shout louder. So I did. After all, I had nothing to lose.
‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’
Then it went quiet. The crowd had come to a standstill. There was muttering, the occasional, “What’s going on now” from somewhere in the crowd.
And the next thing I heard was another man’s voice, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’”
I acted immediately. I threw my cloak aside, jumped to my feet and made my way through the crowd to where I hoped this Jesus would be.
I’ll never forget the next voice that spoke to me. It was kind, compassionate. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
I replied instantly, with no hesitation or doubt. ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’
I’ll never forget his next words, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”
I blinked and suddenly my world was filled with colour and light. It was overwhelming at first, and everything was a little blurry. But once my eyes were able to focus, the first thing I looked upon was his dear face. He was smiling. I felt at his feet, praising God. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
My life began again that day. I knew that from that moment all I wanted to do was to follow him, to live my life for him. And I haven’t stopped following him ever since. I may be stuck with my old name, but he’s given me a new life.