“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Oh shut up Bartimaeus!” a voice shouted.
“Jesus, have mercy on me!” he cried even louder, but his voice was lost in the crowd.
“Give it up! It’s obvious he can’t hear you,” another said.
But it did no good.
“Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
I opened my mouth, rebuke ready on my lips, but the words had no chance to fall. A clear voice, deep and sonorous as a bell, rang through the babble and hum of the crowd, stopping my tongue from sin.
“Call him,” Jesus said and so I did.
“Take heart Bartimaeus,” I said. “Get up! He’s calling you!”
The blind man threw aside his beggar’s cloak and scrambled to his feet. The crowd parted as he made his stumbling way across the square. Blind he may have been, but his path was unerring and straight as a loosed arrow.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus said.
A murmur passed through the crowd.
“What kind of question is that?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
But I wasn’t so sure. I watched Jesus, watched his eyes, and it seemed to me that he saw more clearly than any of us. I might even say there was nothing his eyes did not see, and so there must have been something more to his question.
Bartimaeus said, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”
Such simple words for so audacious a request, but my heart echoed those words, repeating them deep within.
For just a moment Jesus looked away from Bartimaeus, his piercing yet kindly eyes fixed on mine as though he had heard the words of my heart. He smiled and turned back to Bartimaeus saying, “Go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Immediately Bartimaeus could see, you could see it in his eyes. A light had appeared in them and with it came wonder and joy. He laughed then, I can still hear it today. And though I stood far apart, I laughed with him, laughed with tears filling my eyes. As Jesus continued on, Bartimaeus followed, seeing everything for the first time. I was not far behind. And even though my eyes had always seen, they too saw anew. In Jesus’ wake I saw flashes of the world as it would be, flashes of his kingdom come, before everything returned to normal. Well, not really. For everything was different. Jesus was here and soon enough he would make all things new.