Bartimaeus the man without a name


Reading:     Mark 10: 46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means ‘son of Timaeus’), was sitting by the roadside begging. 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!’

Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him’.

So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’

‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.


  • Ewes can distinguish the cries of their own lambs from others
  • Mothers can detect when their own children call out for them
  • Every parent knows the experience of calling the name of his or her child… and waiting for an answer

Imagine not having a name!

  • No one knows or cares what your name is
  • Even the man in this Bible event doesn’t know his own name… so he’s simply referred to as the “son of Timaeus

 One technique used by interrogators is to give numbers rather than names to prisoners

  • To reduce people to non-entities
  • To give a message that you don’t matter… you’re not fully human… no one cares whether you live or die

We see how the crowd responds to Bartimaeus’ cries: “Keep quiet!

  • There were many such beggars on the streets leading to Jericho… he was just another “nobody” … insignificant … unimportant
  • But everybody is ‘somebody’ to God

Is it possible that we can fall into the trap of seeing people merely in terms of their appearance… their status… their age… their intelligence?

  • Just another face in the crowd …
  • But God calls us by name… He sees us as individuals
  • We, too, need to see others ‘through the eyes of Christ’

Perhaps everybody has two names:

(1) A name given by our parents… and (2) one given to us by God

  • Just as Abram became Abraham… Jacob became Israel… Simon became Peter

We know that everyone’s name is written in what the Bible describes as “the Lamb’s Book of Life” or in one of the “other books”

Revelation 3: 5… The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

Revelation 20: 12… And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books [plural] were opened. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

  • Note that there is a Book of Life with names… and other books
  • The dead whose names are not in the Book of Life will be judged according to their deeds as listed in those other books!
  • Where is your name written… and mine?

But there is more to this story than the man’s name… We see the character of the man, and of Jesus, revealed…

Bartimaeus was sitting by the wayside, as he had done a thousand times before…

  • There was little point in standing… he would only be pushed to the ground
  • When we are feeling hopeless about a situation, it’s difficult to “stand up” and face the world, isn’t it?
  • Life weighs us down and we can feel that everything is conspiring to make things hard for us

Yet God promises to be with us despite the circumstances

  • He is above circumstances and the Master of every situation…
  • The only limit on God’s influence in our lives is our unbelief

Then see how Bartimaeus reacts when he realises that Jesus is near… he cries out… “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me

  • There comes a time in life when we have to put aside our doubts, our scepticism, our pride… and simply cry out
  • No matter what people say or think… no matter if we invite their scorn or disapproval…
  • We shout all the louder: “Jesus… have mercy on me!

Do you and I sometimes “hold back”… anxious about what others think… afraid of our reputation… of being dismissed as “odd”?

  • But Jesus isn’t interested in societal niceties… or our sensitivities… He insists that we come to him… and He waits for us to do so
  • We can’t “play games” with Jesus… we either come to Him, trust Him and walk with Him… or we stand aside and spectate

And notice how the man threw aside his cloak… his most precious possession…perhaps his only one!

  • What benefit is it to us if we grasp onto our possessions and become separated from Jesus?
  • What benefit is there to gain the whole world and lose your soul?

And so Bartimaeus came to Jesus… the man was probably half-naked, dusty, staggering to find the way… not an attractive or sweet-smelling individual

  • Now Jesus will heal him… or will he?
  • Instead Jesus asks him a puzzling question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Isn’t it obvious!

But Jesus always probes our motives…

  • What did Bartimaeus want? What do you and I want from Jesus of Nazareth?

Jesus is not a Father Christmas figure to dispense favour like a medieval monarch… showering gifts on the lucky few!

  • We are not passive observers… Jesus invites us to be partners in the Gospel… to do the works that He did while on earth…
  • Preach the good news… warn, rebuke, explain, guide, encourage, heal… shake the society in which we live
  • Bartimaeus needed to speak out publicly and trust Jesus to do the rest

Finally, note that it was Bartimaeus’ faith that made him well…

  • Not his enthusiasm or personality
  • Not because he shouted more loudly than anyone else
  • Jesus looked into his heart and was pleased with what He saw

It’s not how clever we are… or how talented… or how well-versed in the Bible… or how faithful we are in attending meetings…

  • Ultimately, the only thing that matters is our faith in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world… as my Saviour

We don’t know what happened to Bartimaeus after being healed…

  • But we do know that his life was transformed forever after his encounter with Jesus on the Jericho road

And Jesus still “passes by”… listening to hear us speak His name… waiting as we get up on our feet … ready to speak life-transforming words … to open our eyes… to bless and give us hope for the future

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