Jericho was about fifteen miles from Jerusalem: for Jesus, the end of the road was near. Jericho was situated on the main road which led to Jerusalem and Jesus was headed to Zion for the Passover. It was the Law that every male Jew over twelve years of age who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem must attend the Passover feast there. However, that was impossible for many to have the time to do this, so they would line the streets to cheer on the pilgrims, similar to the well-wishers in such as the London marathon!
As Jesus walked He would have been surrounded by His disciples and crowds of people who would be asking Him questions as He progressed. At the northern gate sat Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. He seized his chance as the crowd surrounding Jesus drew near. Some were upset because his cries distracted them from their interrogation of Jesus, but he shouted even louder and caused a stoppage. Bartimaeus was brought to Jesus and in his healing we can see some of the conditions necessary for a miracle:
1. His persistence. As with many others we have read of in this Gospel, Bartimaeus is absolutely desperate for healing.
2. He responded immediately and eagerly to the call of Jesus. These opportunities may happen only once and he did not fail to respond.
3. He knew precisely what he wanted. When we pray for ourselves may our desire for healing be as specific as that of Bartimaeus! We should examine ourselves first and then draw near to God. What is it that we desperately need?
4. Bartimaeus' conception of who Jesus is was inadequate- he called Him, 'Son of David'-a Messianic title but one associated with being all-conquering King who would lead Israel again to greatness on the world stage. However, he had faith and that more than made up for lack of theological depth! The response of the human heart to love Jesus is more than Jesus could ever need!
5. Bartimaeus proved himself a man of gratitude by following Jesus after he had been healed. He began with need, went on to gratitude and finished with loyalty- a perfect summary of the stages of discipleship for us all.