This edited article about Bartimaeus originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 108 published on 8 February 1964.
Christ sees Bartimaeus and restores the blind beggar’s sight by Clive Uptton
Bartimaeus edged his way carefully along the road which led out of Jericho. It was a good road for anyone like himself to be seen on, and for about three miles from the outskirts of the town Bartimaeus knew every turn of it, almost every rut in it, and certainly every shady spot along its border.
Yet he only knew these places by what he could touch and hear, for since childhood Bartimaeus had been blind.
The only occupation which Bartimaeus ever had was that of begging. As a small child he had been placed by his parents at a point from which he could not easily be missed by the pilgrims as they left Jericho to attend the various feasts at Jerusalem. Other beggars also stationed themselves on this well-travelled road, but none was so well known as Bartimaeus.
As the years passed he became almost a landmark, and people nearing Jericho would say: “Look! There’s blind Bartimaeus! We’re nearly home!” Then perhaps they would give him alms as a sign of their thankfulness for having reached Jericho safely on that ever-dangerous road from Jerusalem.
Yet Bartimaeus was far from happy. He had no wish to be a beggar; he would rather have worked for a living. Most of all, he longed to see for himself the things about which people had talked to him all his life, the sunrise, the mountains across the valley, the flowers after the spring rains.
To see such things! That would be really living!
Sometimes blind people did get their sight back, and lately he had heard of quite a few cases. There was a man from Nazareth called Jesus. He had the gift of healing, and all sorts of people had been cured by Him. Even beggars like Bartimaeus himself, whether blind or lame or whatever was wrong with them.
No wonder that when someone told Bartimaeus that Jesus was coming up the road by which he sat at that very hour, he became excited. As soon as he heard the tread of sandalled feet and the noise of men talking, Bartimaeus began to cry out: “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.”
Some of the bystanders tried to hustle Bartimaeus away, or at least to silence him, but the blind beggar was determined to be heard, and shouted more loudly than ever.
Suddenly the footsteps halted, and a kindly voice was heard saying: “Who is calling my name? Bring him to me.”
Scarcely knowing what was happening, Bartimaeus found himself led into the presence of Jesus Himself.
“What is it you want from me?” said Jesus, in the same kindly voice.
Bartimaeus answered, half in hope, half in despair: “Lord, that I might receive my sight!”
“Go your way,” answered Jesus quietly. “Your faith has given you your sight.”
It was a trembling, astonished Bartimaeus, who not only saw Jesus smile, and resume His journey, but who followed Him confidently down the road he knew so well, yet had never seen before.