St. Mark 10.vv.46-52
~ They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, be began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!". Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!". Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here". And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you". So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?". The blind man said to him, "My Teacher, let me see again". Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well". Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. ~
St. Mark records the lovely story of Blind Bartimaeus. Jesus was nearing Jerusalem and the Cross, yet despite the crowds on the road, it appears that only these two were communicating, so deep was the intimacy. It is a story of patience and compassion. Bartimaeus was not going to miss this heaven-sent opportunity to regain his sight.
In a strange way we become involved in the story for we identify so closely with the beggar. There is a sense in which we are all beggars and blind too. We hear the Lord passing by on his way to the Cross but because of the dullness of our blinded sight we do not understand what it means to him and to the world; our need is so clamant that we cry out "Lord, that I may receive my sight!".
Physical blindness was, and still is, a tragedy and scourge, but worse by far is the appalling lack of spiritual insight of which we are so often guilty.
Spiritual blindness may result from fear, as was the case with Elisha's Servant at Dotham, a case of blind panic or anxiety when our nerve fails and we lose trust in God's love and care.
When Mary Magdala spoke to Jesus at the tomb on Resurrection morning, in her personal grief and sorrow she was blinded by her tears until the word "Mary" restored her sight.
How blind we often are to our own shortcomings and deficiencies. Robert Burns said, "O wad some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us". Pride is often our besetting sin, as Jesus reminds us in the teaching about the mote or speck in the eye of others that we with a beam in our own eye seek to remove!
Often Jesus upbraided the Pharisees and Sadducees for their ignorance and wilful blindness. In John Chapter 9.vv.40-41 some Pharisees asked, "Are we also blind?". Jesus replied, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see', your guilt remains". On another occasion he described them as "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel" (humorous "digs" as so often) but, like "not seeing the wood for the trees", describing a common failing.
Two contrasting cases of blindness through obsession are Saul on the Damascus road consumed by his hatred of the followers of "the Way", and terrorists blinded by hate, ignorance, fear or prejudice, who see only the "sacredness" of their own cause but not the cruelty they inflict.
There is also a wilful blindness; "None so blind as those who won't see". We may shut out deliberately the misery and plight of those around us refusing to become involved because "we have troubles enough of our own".
Whatever may be the cause of our blindness, we need to echo the beggar's cry, "Lord, that I may receive my sight".
For Bartimaeus the first face that he saw was the face of Christ; so shall we too see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
When we can truly see, we shall gain increased awareness and perception in the light of Christ and follow in the way that leads to eternal life.