Have Mercy on Me!
Translated by Allan Liang
Today’s story has already arrived at the final stages of Jesus’ ministry, the day before the Passover week. Jericho is a city around 250 feet beneath sea level, located north-east of Jerusalem, around 25 km away. People began to gather there around 6000 BC and during the first century BC, Herod the Great began to construct a new city south of the old city, located not much distance away. There is a high chance that this miracle was performed as Jesus left the old city of Jericho (Mark 10:46, Matthew 20:29) and approached the new city of Jericho. (Luke 18:35) Three gospel books record this story, making evident the importance of the truths revealed in this story. The book of Matthew records two blind men, with Mathew’s focus possibly on the testimony they gave together (Mathew 20:30). This blind man likely spoke his name, Bartimaeus, and was recorded by Mark, or it could have also been possible that he was acting as the spokesperson. Names being recorded in the Bible possess a meaning of being remembered by God, this being the main reason for Christian parents to name their children after names blessed in the Bible. Mark focuses on this miracle in such a manner as to make clear the need for faith (Hebrews 11:6), causing the contents of an earlier passage to be recalled (Mark 5:34), the purpose being, to instruct the reader of the necessity of coming to Jesus with faith. In the book of John, Jesus heals a man blind from birth (John 9:3-5). Here, the physical blindness of the two men may be the product of sin in this world. These two blind men could be described as those of the lowest social class, representatives of the utterly destitute - blind men who were also beggars. What is precious is his realization of his own hopelessness, and his knowledge of repeatedly begging the Lord for mercy - “Have mercy on me!” The spiritual eyes of the blind man were not without sight, and despite the great barriers, he desperately sought for God’s grace and forgiveness, despite the opposition from other men, he still had faith toward Jesus. “Son of David” is what the Jewish people called the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1-13, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Ezekiel 34:23-24, Mathew 9:27, Mark 11:10, 12:35). His calling of Jesus the Son of David twice, indicated that he knew Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, God, and the Son of God. Furthermore, he believed that God would heal him. Jesus said: your faith has healed you, and we see that the spirit of the blind man was indeed saved, for he and others began to praise God and follow Jesus. This proved the words of the Bible, “seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7-8). Faith is the channel of receiving grace, and not the power which produces grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, see verses 9 -10). In verse 49 the man is called over, allowing us to see an evident characteristic in Jesus’ ministry, that is, he always provides time for the people in pain (mark 5:30-34, Luke 8:36). The specific definition of mercy is showing sympathy and concern for those in need, those in hopelessness, or those who cannot receive reasonable treatment because of certain debts. Grace is more centered around man’s sin, mercy is more in response to man’s suffering. God is a loving and compassionate Father (2 Corinthians 1:3, Psalm 86:15), his grace covers all that he has created (Psalm 145:9), and we have received his mercy and redemption (Ephesians 2:4, Titus 3:5). Consequently, as Christians, we must always have a heart of mercy (Colossians 3:12, Matthew 5:7, James 2:13). Let us reflect upon this: having believed the Lord, are our hearts still often blind, and where do the blind-spots lie? May God strengthen our faith. If this blind beggar, Bartimaeus came to our church, how would you and I welcome him? Verse 48 mentions that “many rebuked him”, would we be among that group of people? Please carefully read Mark 10:46-52 and meditate, reflect, and pray: How are we to participate in the service of care and compassion within our church and our communities? “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)