I have a confession to make. Bartimaeus is one of my heroes. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. I have written about him in the GES journal. See here. One of the things I point out in that article is that Bartimaeus is used by Mark to give a believer in Jesus Christ an example to follow. For Mark, Bartimaeus is important for that very purpose.
Just a few comments will indicate this is the case. In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus is the only person healed who is named. Some have probably rightly pointed out that he was known to the early church. This suggests he was a well-known believer. As support for this idea, he is the only person in the Gospel of Mark who calls Jesus the Son of David, which is clearly a Messianic title. Bartimaeus knows who Jesus is. Finally, Bartimaeus acts as a foil to the twelve disciples. When it comes to following Jesus, even though he is a blind beggar, he appears in a better light than the Twelve. He is willing to overcome any obstacle to follow the Lord. He does not let his blindness stop him. When he wants a meeting with the Lord and begins shouting to get His attention, the people tell him to shut up (10:48), but he continues to cry out all the more. They will not stop him from being with the Lord.
I love Bartimaeus because he shows us that no matter who we are, we can not only believe in Jesus, but also follow Him. If I had to guess, I would say that Bartimaeus is going to be great in the kingdom of God. He understood things that the disciples, at that point, did not. They thought they could be great in the kingdom by lording their position and status over others. Mark points that out just a few verses before we are introduced to Bartimaeus (Mark 10:37-38). Bartimaeus does not have that attitude.
But just recently I saw another small detail in the account of Bartimaeus that I had never seen before. At the end of the story, the Lord heals Bartimaeus of his blindness. The irony is that Bartimaeus, even when he was physically blind, already saw better than the disciples did. When Jesus heals him, He says, “Go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Bartimaeus believed that Christ, the Son of David, could heal his blindness. He obviously had heard that Jesus had healed others. He probably knew that the OT prophets said the Messiah would heal, and he believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Now he could see. Had he been born blind, or had he been blind for a long time? Whatever the case, Jesus tells him he can go. He can go wherever he wants to.
What would you have done? Where would you have gone? I would think the expected thing to do would be to go tell the good news to family and friends. But that is not what Bartimaeus does. Instead, we are told that he immediately follows Jesus “on the road.”
In this section of Mark, the “road” that Jesus was on was the road to Jerusalem. He was headed there to die. Bartimaeus was healed in Jericho, which was the last stop before Jerusalem. Bartimaeus could have gone anywhere. He chose to follow Jesus to the place of His crucifixion.
Earlier, Jesus had told the disciples to take up their cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34-48). Believers have a choice. We can walk in Christ’s footsteps or not. Bartimaeus is a picture of a believer who becomes a disciple of the Lord. He is a great example for all of us.