Son Of David
“Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:46-47
In the tenth chapter of Mark we follow Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem. Other sources tell us it took approximately six months to walk the distance from Capernaum. Along the way he continued healing those in need, and expounding on life-giving truths. Among those truths…
“it is impossible for man to do anything to save himself, but with God all things are possible” (10: 27)
“even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45).
The Jews of that day recognized both of those titles, Son of David and Son of Man, to be references to God’s promised Messiah. According to the site, gotanswers.org, when Jesus used the phrase, Son of Man, he was assigning the Son of Man prophecy in Daniel to himself.
“In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the cloud of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
We don’t know anything about Bartimaeus’ history. But we can know something of the area he lived in. Jericho was the site of Herod’s winter palace. It was a resort town for the wealthy and political elite, protected by a garrison of Roman soldiers. The main travel route from the East to Jerusalem passed through it. Dangerous elsewhere, the road close to the city was safer and homeless outcasts took their places alongside the way. Their only hope was to receive something from the wealthy travelers to help them survive another day.
Foot traffic swelled as Passover neared. It was one of three feasts in the year mandated by God for the Jews to celebrate in Jerusalem. The approaching sound of a band of travelers would warn the roadside dwellers to get ready. According to Luke’s account (Luke 18:35-43), when Bartimaeus heard the sound he asked what was happening. He was told Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
The blind man immediately called out, but he didn’t call the name he’d been told. He persistently called out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” He was brought to Jesus and his sight was restored.
“Your faith has healed you,” Jesus said. What faith? This is most likely an uneducated man, definitely a dweller in the lowest socio-economic level of the day. But, by using the title, “Son of David,” Bartimaeus expressed his faith in Jesus—the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, the seed of David who would reign forever.
A few days later Jesus would weep over Israel as he descended the Mount of Olives, because they didn’t know what day it was. They should have known the prophecies in Daniel and been expecting him.
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three-score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” Daniel 9:25
The Priests should have known. The Pharisees should have known. The Scribes should have known. They had the scriptures and they studied them. Those who should have seen were blind.
But Blind Bartimaeus saw Jesus with the eyes of faith and received life-changing sight. He saw and followed Jesus.
With man this is impossible. But the One who was about to lay down his life as a ransom for many, accomplished it.
This holy season may we remember that our circumstances—which may seem impossible—are under the control of sovereign God. Love for us sent Jesus to the cross. May we receive his mercy and forgiveness, and walk confidently in his grace. May our hearts be full of praise and thanksgiving. With God all things are possible.
by Marilyn Allison