Jesus Healing the Blind Man
Brian Jekel was born in Wisconsin in 1951 and has painted over 1,200 biblical scenes.
In “Jesus Healing the Blind Man”, the outstretched arm of Jesus coming into the canvas is very effective.
The blind man is reaching out for Jesus but he cannot see him - yet. The blurring of surfaces around the man’s face conveys the haziness of his blind condition.
But he is even now at the point of being healed and his sight restored.
Mark 10: 46-52
46“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. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 49 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’. 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 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’. 52 Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well’. Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way”.
The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus
The cure of the blind man Bartimaeus concludes a demanding section of Mark’s Gospel drama, just as the feeding of the five thousand and the cure of another, unnamed, blind manconcluded the dramatic happenings in chapters 6-8.
Persistence and Initiative
Although some people in the crowd try to quieten Bartimaeus, he is resolute about speaking to Jesus and his persistence brings reward; he cries out under his own initiative, even though he is unable to see where Jesus is, or how many surround him.
Bartimaeus’ Belief and Understanding
Bartimaeus calls out “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” This is the first public application of the Messianic title and it is the first recognition (apart from Peter) of Jesus’ true identity.
In his blindness Bartimaeus can see who Jesus is, more clearly than the disciples and more clearly than the crowd who have been following him all along!
Even Peter’s sight is hazy; he sees a Messiah but not the kind of Messiah that God wants him to see. When Jesus began to describe His coming suffering, rejection, death and resurrection, he does so plainly and Peter rebukes him. But Jesus in turn rebuked Peter “Get behind me Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things”.
When Jesus stopped and said “Call him here” Mark tells us that the man “sprang up”. We do not know his age, but his blindness must have normally made his tread cautious; but not now! He believes that Jesus is the Messiah, he trusts in His ability to help him and he takes the opportunity without delay. His belief carries him forward.
This unexplained recognition of Jesus’ true identity, reminds us of John The Baptist’s leap for joy in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, when Mary who was carrying Jesus in her womb, arrived for a visit and called out in greeting.
Entering a New Life
We are told that Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, which may have been a piece of cloth which he spread in front of him, perhaps licensed for the collection of alms.
Mark’s many references to garments suggest that Bartimaeus was leaving the ‘old order’ or his ‘old way of life’. Despite its importance to him, he left it behind without a thought.
Profession of Faith
Jesus’ question “What do you want me to do for you?” provides an occasion for a profession of faith about Jesus’ power to heal.
Bartimaeus entreats “My teacher, let me see again “.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the parallel story has two blind men calling for Jesus’ help. Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes and they regained their sight.
Here in Mark’s version of the incident, Jesus need not touch Bartimaeus, whose faith has been essential to his healing. Bartimaeus’ cry and actions reveal his deep faith. Jesus is his Master. It is this very profound trust in Jesus that Mark wants to inspire in the Christian recipients of his Gospel.
When Jesus says “Go; your faith has saved you”, Bartimaeus immediately recovered his sight. But he does not actually “go”, rather he chooses to follow Jesus “on the way”, as discipleship was referred to in the Early Church, ‘on the road that was to end in Jerusalem and Calvary’.
Having presented the very difficulty teachings of Jesus about the Christian attitude to divorce, riches and ambition, earlier in Chapter 10, this account of a miracle and discipleship becomes Mark’s rallying call to his Christian readers in their own lives and on their own way of the cross: “You have nothing to fear! Get up! He is calling you!”.
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Wait for the Lord”.
Psalm 27: 13-14
How does our own faith in God compare with Bartimaeus’?
We might say that Bartimaeus was living in the time of Jesus, hearing of his teachings and miracles, but did he have any more proof than we of the divinity of Jesus?
We have the historical proof of the existence of Jesus and of his resurrection which is the foundation stone of Christian belief.
But how many of us came to believe in Jesus with our hearts before our heads, or even without caring about what our heads told us?
That Jesus was the Messiah, could only have been revealed to Bartimaeus by God; a revelation that many will attest to as similar in their own lives. Some have been blind to this truth, despite being educated in the Church’s teachings.
It has taken a “miraculous” moment of the revelation of God’s love for us, for us to be convinced. Others have experienced these moments of revelation without the formality of Christian teaching and so have come to believe with their heart’s experience only.
Let us pray that God reveals Himself to as many as possible and let us, as His disciples, bring His Word to as many as possible, through prayer, action and the example of our Christian lives. And let us work and pray that the power of the relationship created through our own revelation is never dimmed.
Miracles performed through the intercession of the Our Lady or the Saints are scrutinised and well documented by the Church. But there are other modern “miracles”, as I think of them, which flow from the gifts God has bestowed on humankind.
These talents are God given, they are not “our own”. The skill of doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, to name a few has improved the lives of so many.
And where do we fit in, if we do not have those skills? We certainly are not able to do miraculous work, but if we respond to the second Commandment Jesus gave us to “Love your neighbour as yourself”, might not the poor, the isolated, the lonely and the sick, whether here or in other countries, see Jesus in our actions and the love we show them? Might they not consider food, shelter and education as miracles in their lives?