a contemporary translation by N.T. Wright
They came to Jericho. As Jesus, his disciples, and a substantial crowd were leaving the town, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the side of the road. When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out, "Son of David! Jesus! Take pity on me!"
Lots of people told him crossly to be quiet. But he shouted out all the louder, "Son of David - take pity on me."
Jesus came to a stop. "Call him," he said.
So they called the blind man.
"Cheer up," they said, "and get up. He's calling you."
He flung his cloak aside, jumped up and came to Jesus.
Jesus saw him coming. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
"Teacher," the blind man said, "let me see again."
"Off you go," said Jesus. "Your faith has saved you." And immediately he saw again, and he followed him on the way.
It is a motley crew making its way up the road to Jericho. Very soon, they will be on the very outskirts of Jerusalem.
And we will, too.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, the last week of our journey through Lent.
And I can't think of a better story to mark this important transition time than the one we've got right here, the one about Bartimaeus.
Who is kind of a hero of mine. I really like this dude. He is bold to the point of pushiness and he definitely knows what he wants and goes for it.
And he wants Jesus.
He wants Jesus to see him so that he can see Jesus.
That's how deep and real his faith is, his belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the one who can rescue him from darkness.
Even Jesus acknowledges this truth, declaring him 'saved,' or healed, without so much as a touch. No mud. No saliva. No special word. Just a declaration, a fait accompli.
Maybe that's why the early church adapted this man's prayer and offered it as a balm, an ever-ready invitation into the very presence of God: the Jesus Prayer.
It is my go-to prayer every single day, usually several times a day. The words are so true, so calming, so immediate.
And it goes like this:
Big breath in: "Lord Jesus Christ"
Big breath out: "Son of God"
Big breath in: "Have mercy on me"
Big breath out: "a sinner."
Or it can be shortened to the simple words, "Lord, have mercy." There is something calming and centering about these words, this intentional focus on the Savior and our overwhelming need for mercy.
Bartimaeus received that and more. His answered prayer changed his life forever; he picked up his beggar's bowl and threw in his lot with the carpenter-teacher from the north. For he followed him on the way, the scripture tells us.
He followed him on the way.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. That says it all, Lord, all that I want and need to say today. You are the Lord, I am the sinner, and mercy is what brings us together. Touch my eyes today, and walk with me that I might offer the mercy I have received to all those I meet, in Jesus' name and for Jesus' sake. Amen.