The Mantra of a Blind Man Named Bartimaeus

Gospel: Mark 10:46-52

46As [Jesus] and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

In one of the Star Wars movies, we meet a character who is blind. Chirrut Imwe is often heard repeating a mantra, “I’m one with the force. The force is with me.” – Chirrut uses this mantra to push himself to keep going under difficult circumstances. 
 
A mantra is an affirmation. Mantras can be a valuable tool to encourage positive thinking. They provide inspiration and counteract the negative and often incorrect things we might think about ourselves. Over time, our mind will accept the repeated affirmation as Truth. In today’s gospel, we meet a blind man who has a mantra rooted in Scripture.
 
We have been reading from Mark’s Gospel over the last 22 Sundays, following Jesus as he walks to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus has been visiting towns and villages of all sizes. Jesus has been teaching about the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, and predicting the Passion of the Christ (the betrayal, false trial, crucifixion, and (thank God) the resurrection on the 3rd Day.
 
In today’s gospel, Jesus arrived at the gates of Jericho, 18 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jesus was now a one or two day walk from his final destination, and Good Friday is only ten days away. The healing of blind Bartimaeus will be the final healing miracle in Mark’s gospel.
 
Jesus’ reputation as a healer was well known to Bartimaeus and to all the beggars of society. The crowd attempted to silence his constant shouting of the same sentence. but Bartimaeus powers through with his mantra, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”
 
The healing of Bartimaeus is layered with symbolism. Although he is physically blind, his spiritual eyes are open to the true identity of Jesus.
Where the 12 disciples have been showing fear and confusion, the blind beggar follows Jesus with passionate faith and belief.
 
Not too long ago, a couple chapters, Jesus healed a blind man and then ordered him not to tell anyone. Not so with Bartimaeus, he’s allowed to tell the whole world. Now that the Passion of Christ is about to begin, there is no stopping the revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of David and the One Lamb of God who brings mercy to the whole creation. 
 
The Mantra of Bartimaeus is rooted in Scripture. 
 
“Son of David” is an image of Jesus as the anointed King in the line of David. A prophecy is being fulfilled in Jesus, Zion’s King is coming to the Temple. The stage is set for Palm Sunday when the crowds will shout, “Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest!”


“Have mercy on me.” This prayer, has been repeated and prayed for centuries, especially in the Psalms. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and that God’s mercy is always present with God’s people. In the Old Testament, “Have mercy on me” is always addressed to the Lord God of Heaven. Psalms 4, 6, 41, 51, 109, and 123 all include this short prayer, “Have mercy on me.” Bartimaeus believed that Jesus is the Lord God come down from heaven. 
 
Jesus was encountering opposition from all sorts of people, especially the religious leaders who wanted to stop his message about a New Covenant. Even the 12 Disciples were full of misunderstanding and the 12 were not supportive of the passion predictions. Over all the negative noise, Jesus heard the voice of blind Bartimaeus shouting his mantra: “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” The blind man’s Words captured the attention of Jesus and his words inspired Jesus to continue on the path to the cross.
 
When Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you,” he said, “I want to see.” Jesus opened his eyes and the Bartimaeus immediately gave up being a beggar and began to live new life. He no longer sits idle by the road. Bartimaeus followed Jesus along the Way. 
 
The name “Bartimaeus” means “Son of Timaeus” – Bartimaeus is the only “named” person in the four gospels who received a healing from Jesus. Mentioning his name indicates that he became a well-known disciple and member of the early church. Perhaps his father was also well known since his name was also noted by Mark.
 
For Christian’s in today’s world, Bartimaeus offers a Christ-centered Mantra: “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” Today, it is a common prayer of the Church. There is truth in this prayer: We are the people/sinners who receive mercy through Jesus Christ. 
 
Let us pray. 
Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. Amen.