Son of David
Modern Israel is roughly 1/19th the size of California.[i]
Jesus spent 3 years preaching in this small area. Without traveling the world, He did more to change the world than any other person in history did.
Jesus made His home base in a town called Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. To the south of Galilee, was Samaria, and then south of Samaria was Judea. Jerusalem, the center of Jewish culture and life, was in Judea. The temple and the political and religious centers of national life were in Jerusalem.
He ministered in the towns and villages of the region of Galilee, and in Jerusalem and Judea.
The annual festivals like Sukkot and Passover took Jesus and His disciples to Jerusalem, and at these times, Jesus would preach in the temple and on the streets of Jerusalem. During these times, He would often stay in the home of Lazarus and his sisters in Bethany, which was near Jerusalem.
The Jews would not normally travel through Samaria when going between Judea and Galilee. They chose rather to take the long route around than pass through the land of the Samaritans.
John chapter 4 tells the well-known story of the “Woman at the Well.” She was a Samaritan and Jesus met her on the road between Galilee and Judea.
Mark 10 tells the story of Jesus’s final trip to Jerusalem. This time He has chosen to go around Samaria by traveling south through the lands east of the Jordan River. Because of this, in verse 46 we find Him in Jericho. It was near Jericho where He would have crossed the Jordan into Judea and headed uphill toward Jerusalem.
He had left Jerusalem to avoid being killed by the national leaders, and now He was on His way back. (At the healing of Lazarus this same issue came up, cf. John 11:8)
The people accompanying Him were amazed and terrified. (Mark 10:32) They were pointing out to each other and to Jesus the fact that the leaders of the nation were recently trying to kill Him, and now He was heading back to where they waited. However, Jesus was resolute and moving toward Jerusalem with determination and vigor.
Not only this, He was taking time to explain to His disciples everything that was about to happen. He was telling them that the leaders of the nation were going to kill Him. Mark 10:33&34 says, “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.” (NLT)[ii]
The disciples were so heartbroken by this that they refused to go – NOT! They were asking him for a favor. They were asking to sit in places of honor when He got to His throne.
Jesus tries to bring them back to reality by asking if they were able to drink from the bitter cup He was about to drink. However, they just did not understand.
As they left the city of Jericho on the way to Jerusalem, a large crowd of people was accompanying Jesus. (Mark 10:46) While they were amazed and terrified, they were expecting big things. Jesus’s determination and anticipation of the fulfillment of His mission must have been catching. This same excitement would result in the Hosannas of the triumphal entry.
Jesus was creating quite a stir.
There were a number of beggars lining the street as the crowd left town. The poor, the crippled and the lame, who could not work, would sit outside the gate and beg from those passing. A blind person sitting among this group noticed the commotion and asked what was happening. Someone told him Jesus of Nazareth was passing. “He began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:47, NLT)
This blind man shows unique perception. He is blind physically, and perhaps this has sharpened his spiritual eyesight.
They told him Jesus of Nazareth was passing, but He calls out, “Jesus, Son of David.”
In this name, the blind man shows his unique perception. This title belongs to the Messiah.
Many years before this, God said to David, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16, NIV) Based on this promise and further promises made by God, the Jewish people knew the Messiah as the Son of David.
The blind man had never seen Jesus. As far as we know, he had never met Jesus. He heard about Jesus like everyone else, through rumors, gossip and the talk of those around him. From this evidence, he was able to understand that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Even the disciples on the road with Him were missing the things that Jesus was telling them plainly, and yet this blind man could see the truth.
May I pause here to say, this is the first point I wish to make. There is enough evidence that the unclouded mind can recognize the truth of who Jesus is. The history of His resurrection, His miracles and the prophecies He fulfilled are evidence that He is the Messiah, the Son of God.
It is not a big leap of faith to accept these things.
We do not say, “I have faith that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.” We believe it. However, this is not faith. We say we know that he was the 16th president. We know. It is history, and there is a record.
In the same way, we know that Jesus rose from the dead, performed miracles and fulfilled prophecy. There is a historical record of these things.
People showed faith in Jesus’s day by coming to Him for help. People show faith in the present day by coming to Him for help. How did the blind man show faith?
Mark gives the blind man’s name. It is Bartimaeus.[iii] Apparently, Timaeus and his son were known in Jericho and thus the name is given.
When Bartimaeus began shouting, many of the people around him started yelling at him to be quiet. This only made him yell louder.
This is evidence of his faith. He would not be stopped.
This is evidence of his internal grasp of the truth. First, he realized his need. Being blind is an obvious ailment, but of all the beggars sitting there that day Bartimaeus called out. Second, he drew the connection between his need and Jesus’s ability to heal. This truth served as the motivation. He would not be hushed because he drew the connection between who Jesus was and his own need.
This kind of faith is what we need today. It is not enough to know Jesus is the Son of David. James 2:19 says, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (NLT) We need to draw the personal connection. I am a sinner. I deserve to be judged. Jesus is the Messiah. He came to save us from sin. He is more than a Savior. He is MY Savior. I have a need only He can meet.
In August of 2010, the San Jose Mine in Chile collapsed trapping 33 miners 2,000 feet below ground. While the world watched, massive rescue efforts began. Meanwhile, deep underground the miners were doing everything they could to survive.
It was not too long before they began to have daily prayer together as a group. As time passed, a time of confession and making things right became more and more a part of this time of prayer. Men would confess things like, “I’m sorry I did not do my part yesterday in carrying water.”[iv]
My point is that I believe that all of us when reduced down to the barest necessities recognize that we are not perfect, and have sins for which we cannot pay. Faith is what recognizes in Jesus the answer to our need.
I see evidence all around me that humanity tries to deny our need. We say we are wise. The ideas and standards of the Bible are old. I hear men and women speak of themselves as sinners as if it were a joke. Movies, dramas, comedians and newscasters all challenge the idea that we have to face God.
All of us can deny our responsibility for problems. We might blame others for our failings. There is a temptation to deny that the problem in my life is me, and that I need help. Recognizing one’s responsibility is one of the principles behind the success of 12 step programs.
Bartimaeus recognized his need, and saw in Jesus the answer or solution to his need. Faith moved him to call out. However, those around him thought it inappropriate. They told him to be silent.
We see in these events the attitude that Jesus has toward our condition.
The crowd around Jesus was noisy. Yet Jesus tuned His ear to the cry for help.
The crowd must have thought Jesus was too important to bother about a blind beggar. The trip to Jerusalem was too important for Jesus to stop. In the midst of all the noise and confusion, Jesus stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” (Mark 10:49, NLT)
Bartimaeus jumped up, threw aside the cloak he was covered with, and rushed to Jesus. Jesus then said, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51, NLT)
In these words of Jesus, we see His attitude toward those who would come to Him for help.
He did not pass by Bartimaeus, but he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” He amazed His disciples and terrified the crowd with His determination to get to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, He stopped and focused His attention on this one beggar. He dropped everything in response to this one man’s plea for help.
Luke 4:40 gives us a glimpse of something that characterized Jesus’s ministry. It says, “He laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.” Do not ignore the significance of this. Everyone who was brought to Jesus was healed, everyone.
John 6:37 Jesus says, “However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.” (NLT) Notice, “I will never reject them.”
No one is too insignificant or unimportant. The New Testament tells us that Jesus did not perform many miracles in His hometown because of unbelief. The truth is that they did not come to Jesus for help because of their unbelief.
It is the same today. Jesus will help anyone who will call on His name. In fact, He says, "Look! I stand at the door and knock.” (Revelation 3:20, NLT) His invitation is always for any who will come, to come. In Matthew 11:28 he gives this invitation, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (NLT)
Bartimaeus saw and understood his need. He also saw and understood where to find help.
Are we seeing, yet blind?
The one who had faith that moved Him to seek help from Jesus received healing that day.
It is still the same.
[ii] Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
[iii] The name Bartimaeus means Son Of Timaeus, and it's formed like a pretty straight forward surname, comparable to something like Timson. And since the name Timaeus means Highly Prized, the name Bartimaeus means Son Of He Who's Highly Prized, or Son Of honor.
However, there are some problems with this interpretation. First of all: some scholars object to the hybridism of Bartimaeus, consisting of the Aramaic bar and the Greek name Timaeus. But even though it's unusual, it's not a complete no-no. Our surname Peterson, to name an example, consists of the Greek name Peter and the Germanic word son. The surname McGregor comes from the Greek name Gregory and the Celtic word for son.
But then: although Mark writes for a predominantly Greco-Latin audience, his wording seems rather redundant: a man named Son-Of-Timaeus who was the son of Timaeus. That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary) circumvents this conundrum by deriving the second part of the name Bartimaeus from the Hebrew verb טמא (tame), the regular Hebrew word for to be or become unclean.
That would render the name Bartimaeus the meaning of Son Of The Unclean One, or Son Of Uncleanness, which seems a bit stretched. But on the other hand, it would neatly solve the puzzle of why Mark insists talking about one Son-Of-Timaeus, who was the son of Timaeus. This statement may now be explained as: what is high-prized in our society is really a state of uncleanness, which results in blindness, which can only be healed by Christ. (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Bartimaeus.html)