A long time ago, in Jericho, which is a city close to Jerusalem, there lived a beggar. The one thing that demarcated this beggar from the others, was that he was blind. Begging was not an option for him in those days, but that was something he had resorted to, out of a broken heart. Men, you see, are generally expected to fend for their families. Maybe now the times have changed, but in those days it wasn't so. Wearing spectacles may be a fad but being blind isn't. Though everyone showed compassion, there was a lot that he had to hear. Even good talks that grew out of pity for him, hurt his feelings even more; but this had become his everyday life now: sitting by the roadside, amid an ongoing pity-party, and doing something he would not have otherwise wanted to - begging. This blind man's name was Bartimaeus.
One day, as Bartimaeus sat on the roadside begging, he could hear a lot of sounds - like a large crowd of people walking somewhere on the road that led to Jerusalem. At first, he thought that it might be some everyday thing. "Why bother," he thought, "anyway I can't see whatever it is." Some pedestrian who walked by threw a coin on his plate. "Despicable me!" he thought and put it in his pocket. The commotion that he could hear grew louder, and unable to withhold himself he called out,
"What's all that noise I hear?"
But who listens to a beggar? More so, who would stoop down to listen or answer a blind beggar? So his voices went unheard. Nevertheless, he had great functional ears. For most people who have limited sense organs, the ones that they can use tend to work over-efficiently. Now the poor blind Bartimaeus was able to hear someone say that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by.
Now though he was blind, that doesn't mean that he did not know the gossip doing the rounds in the city.
People had been saying, talking, criticising, ridiculing and doing all sorts of things about this Jesus of Nazareth. But what most importantly got etched in his heart was when he heard someone say that this Jesus of Nazareth was the same Messiah about whom the prophets of old had prophesied, that he was the Son of David who would save mankind from God's wrath. However, the most important thing for him was that this Jesus was moving around from place to place, preaching, healing and driving out demons. How could anyone in as pitiable a condition as Bartimaeus let go of such a chance?
"But what can I do?" he thought. "I am here begging. I can't even look around at what's going on or see him when he passes by."
This was the moment when he felt the lowest and terrible about himself. But then an idea dawned on his mind. "Why not use what I have or do the best I can, to get his attention?" he thought. "I have to do something today. I cannot let him pass me by."
So Bartimaeus mustered all his courage and strength, and started shouting, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
It seems something had happened, he could hear some rest in the sound of the footsteps. Then he heard someone calling him, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." That was close to unbelievable. His efforts had worked; Jesus had heard his shout. Now everything important to him until now became as good as null - even the begged money that he had kept in his cloak pockets. He threw aside his cloak, jumped to his feet and walked up to where he knew Jesus was standing, for the disciples voice-directed his movement. Then when he was finally there, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
"Rabbi, I want to see," said Bartimaeus and his excitement knew no bounds.
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you."
Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight. After a life spent seeing nothing but darkness, he could now see light. And what more? The true light was standing in front of him. The Light of the world who could make all things new was standing in front of him; what an exceptional privilege it was to see none other but him with such newfound eyesight. Now Bartimaeus knew that his life was not null, he had had a purpose all along and how blessed was that purpose; how divine!
Now there was no turning back. He had got what money could never buy. He had got the true light himself, standing in front of him. So when Jesus continued his journey towards Jerusalem, Bartimaeus followed Jesus along the road, as far as he could.
© 2021 Lincy Francis