Bartimaeus, Part I
Whether by the misdeeds of his parents or by some infantile sin of his own, the despite of Yahweh rested upon the beggar’s life. His very presence in the city gates of Jericho was a daily reminder to every passerby of God’s relentless displeasure with sin. So that others would not stray, Elohim had created Bartimaeus blind.
Or so he had always been told.
The son of Thimaeus was under the wrath of God, the rabbis said, and was therefore undeserving of their pity, much less the simple dignity afforded to any bearer of the imago dei. In the view of the sighted, Bartimaeus was the curse of Eden made flesh – a filthy, sightless corpse living out his cosmic death sentence in view of the world.
Because of this false perception, a passer-by was more likely to leave spittle in the beggar’s sightless eye than a farthing in his rusted coffer. Both practically and theologically, no employer would ever see fit to furnish him with a job. After all, what task could he do that a sighted man could not do better? And even if a kind-hearted soul would be so moved with compassion as to help the beggar at the gates, why would he risk bringing the curse of God upon himself, his family, and his livelihood? It was better to ignore Bartimaeus, and in so doing, reap the favor of God by abusing the one He seemed to despise.
Bartimaeus had been made to understand the uncleanness of his spiritual estate, but because his eyes had been dimmed since birth, he possessed no inclination that he was so visibly repulsive to all who looked upon him. His hunger he understood, but satisfaction was a concept that he could not even begin to comprehend. Abject humiliation he knew, but not compassion or friendship. To be certain, Bartimaeus realized the wretchedness of his existence, but with nothing good with which to compare it, his devastating handicap had left him broken and destroyed, filled with an unarticulated longing for the most basic human needs.
And so it was, into the never-ending midnight of a desperate man, Jesus came. Without human invitation, the Nazarene marched steadfastly toward Golgotha, and His journey took him through the streets of Jericho. But on the way to His destiny, there was one final stop to be made. This stop would serve a grand purpose – not only in the life of the beggar whose life He would change forever, but on the cosmic scale of God’s eternal glory. So that the world might know who Jesus was, His Father would orchestrate an encounter with a man born blind…