One of the senses we take most for granted is our sight. Our sense of sight determines much about how we “see” the world far beyond what our rods and cones take in and our brains process. In fact, if you talk to someone who has gone blind, they will undoubtedly share how much more they “see” in life without the limitation of sight. Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul tells us to walk by faith, not sight. When we rely too heavily on what we take in with our eyes, we can become blinded by the sight!
The story of Blind Bartimaeus, especially in the Book of Mark, illustrates the need to guide our lives by faith rather than by sight. Recall that Bartimaeus was sitting along the road to Jerusalem in Jericho. This is a treacherous road and the trip to Jerusalem was undoubtedly arduous given the rough terrain and climb in elevation. Jesus had travelled along this route several times but this time was very different because he knew it was his last. A great multitude had gathered around Him as he made his way, no doubt partially because of their increasing belief that He was the messiah and partly because they sensed trouble ahead with Jewish religious leaders.
Bartimaeus is sitting along a wall begging when he hears that Jesus is coming down his road and somehow, he realizes that this is his last chance to get his miracle. As such, he cries out to Jesus but the gathered crowd warns him to be quiet. Bartimaeus, however, will not be denied. He doesn’t care what the crowd says. He cries out even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
This passage is illuminating because Blind Bartimaeus has never seen Jesus. He has not witnessed any of the various miracles that Jesus has performed—no walking on the water, no feeding the masses with a few loaves and fishes, no blind or deaf healed, no paralytic walking—and yet he, a blind beggar, cries out with authority, describing him as THE Son of David. This unapologetic belief that Jesus was indeed the messiah without visual evidence arrested Jesus in his tracks and caused Jesus to send for him. The power in this passage is that it was not Bartimaeus’ blindness that stopped Jesus. We know from other versions of the story that there were other blind folks along the way. It wasn’t his infirmity that made Jesus stand still in a crowd of people trying to hush Bartimaeus. Rather, it was his faith that got Jesus’ attention and caused him to heal Bartimaeus. Jesus tells him, his faith has made him well.
This is precisely why Paul tells us to let faith, not sight, be our guide. Faith, faith, faith opens the eyes of the blind and it begs the question of who was more blind in Jericho—Bartimaeus or the crowd? The multitude tried to quiet his miracle, but Bartimaeus had faith. What are we missing because we think we see? What are we missing because the crowd around us doesn’t want us to receive our blessing?
Are we blind to a dead-end job we are in when God has a better one waiting? Are we blind to a dead-end relationship that is keeping us from our miracle? Are we in our comfort blind to the suffering around us or in our smiles to the pain within us? Are we begging for scraps in life when Jesus is coming right down our road with the solution and all we need to do is to cry out with authority?
Bartimaeus asked in faith and received his sight and although he was sent on his way, he instead followed Jesus down the road. Our true direction is life does not depend upon our sight, but on our faith. When we let faith guide our steps, we will always be headed in the right direction. When we let faith be our guide, we don’t have to worry about being blinded by our sight!