Called by Jesus
“See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame…” –Jeremiah 31:8
The Jericho Road is a seventeen-mile stretch that ascends to Jerusalem in a steep, winding fashion. In Jesus’ time it was known as a place where robbers and bandits lurked, waiting to assault and steal from their next victim.
In the story of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), it seems as if Jesus only intends to pass through Jericho with His disciples. That is, until His journey is interrupted by a loud shout from the side of the road. A blind man has heard who is coming his way. And he knows exactly what he wants.
Being blind hasn’t kept Bartimaeus from believing that one day the Messiah will come to redeem His people. And by calling Jesus “Son of David” he is saying the day has come. At least for him. The one with all authority and power to heal is on the very road that’s become Bartimaeus’s daily resting place as a beggar. This is his chance for a new life.
When the prophet Jeremiah writes that God will bring His people “from the land of the north” and “from the ends of the earth,” it’s a message of deliverance from oppression. A promise. One day there will be a gathering of God’s chosen people. Perhaps Bartimaeus knew of God’s promise. Or maybe he’d only heard the rumors about Jesus’ healing ministry. Whatever the reason, he knew as a blind man he belonged in the company of those the Lord would one day gather and set free.
“Call him,” Jesus says to the crowd that’s been less than gracious to Bartimaeus. And suddenly hope explodes in the blind man’s heart. “Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:50). When our need is great there’s no hesitancy, is there? Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted. And what he believed. “Go,” Jesus said, “your faith has healed you.” It was all he needed to join the party. The Jericho Road had never looked so beautiful!