Mark’s story about Jericho’s blind Bartimaeus is so lively that he makes us part of the crowd that day.
For setting the scene, let me tell you something I heard about Jericho. I knew a man named Michael Schober who owned a Ford Agency in Jerusalem before 1946. Some foreigners doing business in Jerusalem back then found it convenient to own and register a car there; and for a trial run, some of them wanted to take a test drive down to Jericho and back.
Michael hated taking that drive. Low lying Jericho was always hot, and it was always alive with millions of flies. I never read this Gospel about Bartimaeus without remembering Michael’s description of Jericho.
Anyway, every morning of his life the relatives of Bartimaeus led him out to his spot by the dusty road, leaving there or twelve hours of calling for help and of swatting at giant flies.
Hearing tales of Jesus, Bartimaeus, for the first time ever, began seeing a way out of misery. He planned on what he would do if Jesus of Nazareth ever came his way.
Then, suddenly it was happening. Jesus was in the midst of the crowd that came close to stepping on him.
He cried out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!” With everyone trying to quiet him, he called all the louder, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”
The bustling crowd seemed to stall. Then, he heard that commanding voice, “Call him!”
People who had known him for years brought him joy, saying, “Get up, Jesus is calling you.”
See him wrenching himself from the dust, throwing off his cloak, and stumbling wildly through the crowd, until Jesus stopped him with a question. “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Master, I want to see.”
Jesus said, “Your faith has made it happen. Go our way!”
But, he did not go his way, he followed Jesus up the road..
Mark referred to him as “Son of Timaeus,” as though the Christian community had come to know him and his father as ones of their own.