GOSPEL READING: Luke 18:35-43
35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; 36 and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Meditation: Have you ever encountered a special moment of grace, a once in a life-time opportunity you knew you could not pass up? Such a moment came for a blind and destitute man who heard that Jesus was passing by. The Gospel of Mark identifies this man as Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). This blind man was determined to get near the one person who could meet his need. He knew who Jesus was and had heard of his fame for healing, but until now had no means of making contact with the Son of David, a clear reference and title for the Messiah.
Faith and persistence is rewarded
It took raw courage and bold persistence for Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus over the din of a noisy throng who crowded around Jesus as he made his way out of town. Why was the crowd annoyed with the blind man’s persistent shouts? He was disturbing their peace and interrupting their conversation with Jesus. It was common for a rabbi to teach as he walked with others. Jesus was on his way to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and a band of pilgrims followed him. When the crowd tried to silence the blind man he overpowered them with his loud emotional outburst and thus caught the attention of Jesus.
This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind man was determined to get Jesus’ attention and he was persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have ignored or scolded him because he was interrupting his talk and disturbing his audience. Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking. This man was in desperate need and Jesus was ready not only to empathize with his suffering but to relieve it as well.
The blind man recognized Jesus with eyes of faith
A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more. Jesus commends Bartimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well. Do you recognize your need for God’s healing grace and do you seek Jesus out, like Bartimaeus, with persistent faith and trust in his goodness and mercy?
Bartimaeus was not only grateful for the gift of faith and the gift of physical sight, but for the opportunity to now follow Jesus as one of his disciples. Luke tells us us that he immediately followed Jesus and gave glory to God. The crowd also gave praise to God when they saw this double miracle of spiritual and physical vision. Cyril of Alexandria, a 5th century church father, comments on this double vision:
Now that he was delivered from his blindness, did he neglect the duty of loving Christ? He certainly did not. It says, “He followed him, offering him glory like to God.” He was set free from double blindness. Not only did he escape from the blindness of the body but also from that of the mind and heart. He would not have glorified him as God, had he not possessed spiritual vision. He became the means of others giving Christ glory, for it says that all the people gave glory to God.(Commentary on Luke, Homily 126)
Do you give glory to God for giving you the “eyes of faith” to recognize him as your Lord and Healer?
Lord Jesus, open the eyes of my heart and mind that I may see and understand the truth and goodness of your word. May I never fail to recognize your presence with me and to call upon your saving grace in my time of need and healing.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.
88 In your steadfast love spare my life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The blind man knows that Jesus is the Son of David and the Messiah, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
“The blind man must have understood that the sight of the blind cannot be restored by human means but requires, on the contrary, a divine power and an authority such as God only possesses. With God nothing whatsoever is impossible. The blind man came near to him as to the omnipotent God. How then does he call him the Son of David? What can one answer to this? The following is perhaps the explanation. Since he was born and raised in Judaism, of course, the predictions contained in the law and the holy prophets concerning Christ had not escaped his knowledge. He heard them chant that passage in the book of the Psalms, ‘The Lord has sworn in truth to David, and will not annul it, saying: “of the fruit of your loins I will set a king upon your throne”‘ (Psalm 132:11).
“The blind man also knew that the blessed prophet Isaiah said, ‘There will spring up a shoot from the root of Jesse, and from his root a flower will grow up’ (Isaiah 11:1). Isaiah also said, ‘Behold, a virgin will conceive and bring forth a son, and they will call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us’ (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). He already believed that the Word, being God, of his own will had submitted to be born in the flesh of the holy Virgin. He now comes near to him as to God and says, ‘Have mercy on me, Son of David.’ Christ testifies that this was his state of mind in offering his petition. He said to him, ‘Your faith has saved you.'”(excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 126)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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