Summary: Bartimaeus was the blind son of a blind father. His was a life without hope. Jesus transformed his entire life when He gave Bartimaeus his sight. Jesus is still transforming lives today by doing the impossible.
46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
Blindness was a very debilitating condition. A blind person was not capable of any productive work, which meant they could not earn an income to support themselves. They literally had to beg to survive. They had to depend solely on the generosity and compassion of others. They could not own property or a home, which made them homeless and living on the streets. They were despised by society, and not allowed to loiter in the city. Bartimaeus literally lived on the street (sat by the highway). His only shelter: some old, discarded coat or cloak.
Rarely are we given the name of the person in this kind of situation, so this is important.
Bartimaeus: Bar means "son of" (Example: Simon Barjona = Simon, son of Jonas) + Timaeus, which means "blind man." The gospel writer thought it very important that we know the full condition of this man. This man was not only the son of a blind man, he was "BLIND Bartimaeus." The blind son of a blind father.
Children are named on the 8th day after their birth (circumcision). It was obvious that this child was born blind to be given the name Timaeus. So, everyone had to wonder, was this blindness hereditary?
Somehow, this man that was born blind was able to father a child. Perhaps his parents were rich and able to provide a living so that he could marry.
But, when Bartimaeus was born, it was obvious that he was blind, too. This meant the blindness was definitely hereditary. He was not even given a name of his own, but was labeled "the son of a blind man."
Who would want to marry a blind man (that could not support a family) that produced blind children? So, we find blind Bartimaeus forced to live outside of the city, sitting by the highway side, begging. His was a life without hope. Without hope of ever marrying a wife, of having children, of having a productive occupation, of having a home. Nothing. His life was meaningless and empty. Hopeless.
When one loses one sense, the other four senses are heightened. When blind, a person's hearing becomes the dominant sense.
All blind Bartimaeus could do (his whole life) was to sit by the side of the highway, and listen to the conversations of travelers as they passed by. No doubt, Bartimaeus heard about events that had taken place recently. He heard about a man, a teacher (rabbi) by the name of "Jesus", who they say could heal all manner of disease. Even blindness!
He purposed to learn all that he could about this special man, Jesus of Nazareth. Some were calling him the Son of David (Messiah?). Oh, that this Jesus might one day pass by this way! A glimmer of hope.
What would it mean for blind Bartimaeus to be able to see? EVERYTHING! He could work and earn a living. He could have a house to live in. He could take a wife. The curse would be lifted, and he could have children. He could have EVERYTHING that was missing from his life. His life of misery and despair would be transformed into a life of abundance and joy!
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
"And immediately he received his sight..." In an instant, his whole life was changed! Suddenly, he could SEE! Oh, the joy that flooded his soul! He was no longer to be known as "BLIND Bartimaeus: the blind son of a blind father." No longer was he doomed to survive as a beggar, despised and looked down upon by society. Now, his life had purpose. This was everything he had hoped for and more, when he heard about a man called, "JESUS!"