“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘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!’” (Mark 10:47-48)
It must have been a motley crew following Jesus that day. Among the crowd were Jesus’ disciples, as usual, staying close to their teacher and trying to learn whatever they could from Him. There were, no doubt, a great many who were there to be healed of their sicknesses and demons. More than likely, a fair number of them were following Jesus to glean from His wise sayings. And of course, there were probably the ever-present Pharisees out to trap Jesus or try to prove Him wrong.
It’s funny how little times change. Large crowds still follow Jesus, and it seems they are every bit as diverse today as they were two thousand years ago. Naturally, Jesus’ modern-day disciples are among the crowd, still trying desperately to understand and hold fast to His teachings. Then there are those who follow Jesus thinking He’s a bread king or a magic formula for health, financial success, or self-actualization. Others today follow Jesus because of His wisdom, seeing Him as a moral teacher and no more. Or they pursue Him for historical research, or as an interesting archaeological specimen, or as a juicy piece of material for their next movie or documentary. And still others tag along because they can’t stand Him, and are waiting for an opportunity to argue Him out of the way.
And what about Bart? Poor, blind, begging Bartimaeus wasn’t even able to join the crowd following Jesus around. So what does he do? He calls out to Jesus using the single most effective plea in all of Scripture: “Have mercy on me!”
Of course, this doesn’t fit with the rest of the crowd’s desires and expectations of Jesus. There are plenty of “Shooshers” there to try to silence Bartimaeus, but he just calls out all the louder. And you know what? Jesus stops, turns, and calls him to Himself.
After all, Jesus wants to hear exactly what Bartimaeus is calling out for: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Finally, someone who yearns for what Jesus came to give! As it turns out, blind Bartimaeus saw who Jesus is more clearly than anyone else in the throng. The proof? Well, what does Bartimaeus do after Jesus heals him? “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:52)
Jesus will always pick that voice out of the crowd – the one that cries out to Him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” That’s exactly what He’s listening for. Until He reaches out and touches us with His merciful hand, we cannot really follow Him; at least not the way He wants us to. As He heals our spiritual blindness and forgives our wretched sinfulness, He also enables us to walk with Him. May we be the voice that leads everyone in the crowd to join in the plea: “Have mercy on me!”
“This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6)
Prayer: Lord God, have mercy on me, a sinner! Remove my blindness that I may walk with You always; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord. Amen.