On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Son of David, Have Mercy
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.” (Mark 10:47-49)
The term Son of David is clearly Messianic. The New Testament begins with “a record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David” (Matthew 1:1).
However, in Jesus’ three years of ministry leading up to Passion Week, only five people called Him that: two blind men in Galilee (Matthew 9:27), a Canaanite woman in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:22), and the two blind men at Jericho (Matthew 20:29), of whom Bartimaeus was one (Mark 10:46).
The disciples closest to Jesus had not yet called Him Son of David even though they had said, “You are the Christ.” Does it strike you that the people less likely to know Jesus’ identity — four blind men and a pagan woman — nevertheless knew Him? Could it be that our close proximity to the Lord sometimes keeps us from inquiring more deeply as to His identity? You may be with Him every day, like the disciples, but there are depths in Him you do not yet know.
One of the blind men calling is Bartimaeus. Actually his name means “Son of Timaeus,” and therefore we don’t know his given name. Was he young? Middle-aged? Old? Married? Single? Blind from birth? Had he been called “Son of Timaeus” because the identity given him in life by others was, “Oh, that poor boy. He’s the son of Timaeus”? So they knew him — not by his real name but by his identity to his father. He was an object to be pitied, but not worthy of being called by his own name.
And, perhaps, that is how we often tag people with disabilities. We’re afraid to come near, to learn who they really are. So, we keep them at a distance. We say of them, “Oh, you know — that’s the person in the wheelchair,” or “that’s the person with Down syndrome,” or “that’s the person who is …”
Bartimaeus had been sitting when he called to Jesus. We know that because people tell him to stand up. In sitting and asking Jesus for mercy, was he simply hoping that “mercy” meant a generous donation? Maybe not, since he had continued shouting, and that seems out of the ordinary. I believe he’s shouting because he just got one chance to be rid of the blindness.
Observe how the crowd suddenly changes its mood. Just a moment before they were telling him to shush. After Jesus beckons, they switch gears and tell Bartimaeus to cheer up and get on his feet.
Bartimaeus immediately did so. He did not let the discouragement of a lifetime — or even the active discouragement of the people around him telling him to be quiet — keep him from trying to attract Jesus’ attention.
We should follow his example and never let others discourage us from bringing to Jesus the deep desires of our hearts.
A prayer of response
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark