Who can really See? Perhaps we can see with our eyes but cannot see what a blind person may see.
Let’s discover what a blind man saw that the disciples of Jesus could not.
We’ll examine Mark 10:46-52 and Jesus’ healing of the blind son of Timaeus.
Mark 10:46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
(Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.)
A Blind Man at the Gate
Jericho is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, possibly inhabited as early as the dawn of human cities.2 Deuteronomy 34:3 describes it as the city of Palms, fed by copious springs. It has had a population usually ranging around 3,000 people. This is the last of the healing miracles in Mark. It is written as an eyewitness report. Mark rarely recorded the names of people who were healed and so it is possible that the son of Timaeus was a known member of the early church. In contrast to the rich man who had obeyed the commandments from his youth, it was assumed by a judgmental society that the blind man had been disobedient. In contrast to the disciples’ asking for positions of honor, the blind man asks only for mercy. Then Jesus came.
2Gates, Charles (2003). "Near Eastern, Egyptian, and Aegean Cities". Ancient Cities: The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece and Rome. Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 0-415-01895-1. “Jericho, in the Jordan River Valley in Israel, inhabited from ca. 9000 BC to the present day, offers important evidence for the earliest permanent settlements in the Near East.”
Are we blind to some things in our lives? Do we criticize those who worship other gods while being blind to the idols we have made in our own hearts? Do we criticize those who take God’s name in vain while we are blind to the importance of a weekly Sabbath rest? Do we criticize those who dishonor father and mother while we are blind to the murder in our hearts? Do we criticize those who commit sexual sins while we are blind to the things that we steal? Do we criticize those who bear false witness while we are blind to the covetous lusts in our own hearts? Haven’t we all pointed the finger of accusation, with three pointing back at us and a thumb pointing up at God who is merciful to all of us? Then Jesus came.
What the Blind See
The son of Timaeus heard the news and believed that Jesus could heal him. Then Jesus came. He cried, “Have mercy on me” echoing many Psalms (4:1; 6:2; 9:13; 41:4, 10; 51:1; 57:1; 86:3, 16; 119:132; 123:3). University of Montreal Laboratory of Auditory Neuroscience Research1 suggests that a blind person's brain is rewired to use the visual cortex for other senses like sound and touch. By using things like sound reflecting off of objects, many blind people have learned a kind of sonar or echolocation like bats do to “see” things. Because of heightened attention to sounds and touch, blind people often see what “sighted” people cannot. Blind people are careful with their possessions, yet blind Bart threw his cloak aside. Why? He had desire and faith to receive his sight.
1 Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "'Blindness’ may rapidly enhance other senses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508152002.htm>.
We just left James and John competing for positions of power, blind to what godly leadership is all about. Was their blindness worse than that of the son of Timaeus? His was only physical. Theirs was spiritual. As the blind man cried out for deliverance, many people were still not interested in serving others, but wanted him to be quiet. In an object lesson, Jesus tells them to call him and contrary to the disciples’ view of the man, Jesus tells him that his faith has healed him. A servant of God cannot schedule the cries of the needy. They come when we may naturally want them to be quiet. Does Jesus who is also in us hear their cry? Are we sometimes like the blind man, spiritually blind to the needs that are all around us? Then Jesus came.
Then Jesus Came
The blind man was ignored. Nobody thought that a blind person could do anything. There was no National Federation of the Blind, no Blindness Learning in New Dimensions. Blind Bart was destitute. Then Jesus came and everything changed. An insane man found no help. He lived among the tombs in a graveyard. Then Jesus came. A leper cried in torment. There was no cure for his disease. Then Jesus came. Nationally and individually, we face many troubles and our lives and are filled with the corruption of sin. Our world is polluted and our bodies are diseased. Then Jesus came. Ours is not a caring society. It’s dog eat dog. Our world did not care if we were sick, if we could live safely, or were destroyed by sin. Then Jesus came. What do we want him to do for us?
When Jesus comes, the tempter’s power is broken. When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away. He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory. For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.3