By Russ Ramsey
To follow Jesus is to leave another world and way behind.
With the Passover drawing near, Jesus and His followers stopped in Jericho to gather supplies for the last eighteen miles of their pilgrimage into Jerusalem. As they left the city, a large crowd followed (Mark 10:46).
A blind man named Bartimaeus sat outside the city gate begging (Luke 18:35). In that day and age, his condition doomed him to a life of poverty and darkness. This was the nature of the world he inhabited. Blindness dictated that he’d be a beggar for life, helpless at the gates, living off the charity of other men and women.
Bartimaeus, who experienced the world through the sounds and the silences of the people around him, sat up when he heard the large, enthusiastic crowd flood the street by which he sat. He called for someone to tell him what was happening. “Jesus of Nazareth is coming,” someone said. Sitting up in excitement, Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47).
As he cried out for Jesus’s mercy, the crowds told him to be quiet (Luke 18:39). But Bartimaeus believed the prophets who said that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32), so he dug down deep and cried out even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Though they’d never met, Bartimaeus believed this serendipitous encounter on the road outside of Jericho could very likely be the moment where God would exchange the ashes of his life for beauty, and he did not want to let this hour of the Lord’s favor pass him by (Isaiah 61:2–3).
Jesus called for him, and springing to his feet, Bartimaeus threw down his cloak that held the proceeds of that day’s begging and took the hand of a man who led him to Jesus (Mark 10:50).
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
Bartimaeus did not hesitate: “I want to see” (Mark 10:51).
He didn’t want money. He didn’t want honor. He wanted his eyes opened. Bartimaeus saw Jesus as the one man who could do for him something no one else could. He knew he was asking for more than the gift of sight. If Jesus were to heal Bartimaeus, He would strip away the man’s means of income, his place in the community, his daily routine, his identity. Bartimaeus understood this, but who else could deliver him? (Romans 7:24). And when Jesus did heal him, He said, “Receive your sight… Your faith has saved you” (Luke 18:42–43; Mark 10:52).
To Bartimaeus, his way was now wherever Jesus was, and so he began to follow Him, glorifying God (Luke 18:43). This moment was so much more than a miracle for Bartimaeus. It was a conversion. He didn’t just put his faith in Jesus; he put his life in Jesus’s hands, leaving everything behind to follow Him.
Many come to Jesus thinking He can do wonderful things for them, but when people come asking for a new life few realize this means they must leave their old one behind. And yet, no matter what is left behind, what is given in exchange is infinitely greater.
Written by Russ Ramsey