And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” (Mark 10:47-49)
The Fickle Crowd
Jericho was about nineteen miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jesus has spent time there and is making His way to Jerusalem, where He will soon be arrested and crucified. He knows His hour has come and begins preparing for the journey to His death. On the way, He interacts with a blind man named Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus heard Jesus coming down the road, he cried out to the Lord for mercy. By unseen faith, the blind man believed Jesus of Nazareth could heal his blindness. The faith of Bartimaeus was remarkable for the power of healing he believed could be imparted by the man from Nazareth. As he called out to Jesus, the crowd warned him to be quiet. He persisted and refused to stop calling out to Jesus. The only one who could see the power of Jesus was the blind man as the crowds sought to crush his faith.
When Jesus called for Bartimaeus to come to Him, the crowd encouraged the blind man to be happy and go to Jesus. They were excited. Jesus stopped to speak to the blind man. Seeing Jesus’ interest in the man by the road, the multitudes changed their minds and urged the man to go and see Jesus. Bartimaeus arose and went to Jesus. Seeking the grace of healing from the man from Nazareth, Bartimaeus received his sight. As Jesus turned toward Jerusalem, Bartimaeus followed Him. Tragically, the healer of the blind man would be murdered by a crowd blind to the power of the Son of God shortly after that. How did Bartimaeus take the death of Jesus? The Holy Spirit does not reveal, but it must have been a devastating blow.
As Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, the crowd sought to scold him. They must have tried to dissuade the blind man from bothering Jesus. If Bartimaeus had listened to the multitude and given in to their warnings, Jesus would have passed by, the blind man would remain blind, and Jesus would never come that way again. Listening to the crowd is a great temptation. If everyone were yelling to be quiet and not to bother the man from Nazareth, it would be easy to be swayed by the fickle nature of their taunting. Within moments of ridiculing the man, the crowd becomes a great swelling audience of encouragement. They changed their tune from rebuking to exhorting. That is the way human nature works. One moment, the crowd is putting a man down, and the next, they are seeking to be part of the joy.
Human wisdom is indecisive because of the erratic way it seeks to solve the problem. God created man to be a needy creature that cannot care for itself. Often throughout scripture, human nature is related to the character of a sheep. The sheep are indefensible, incapable of caring for themselves, and helpless. It is not in man to know how to walk with direction. In the story of Bartimaeus is found the fickle reality of human wisdom cannot be trusted. Thankfully, the blind man did not listen to the crowd. He believed with all his heart; Jesus could heal him of blindness. No one and nothing would hinder him from what he believed – including the multitudes who told him to be quiet. Here is the takeaway: do not listen to the crowd. Believe in the power of God to heal you and cleanse you. Do not let anyone keep you from believing what the Lord has given in His word. Your eternal life will depend on it.