Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was a hot, dry and dusty spring day, but the road leading out of Jericho was a good place for a beggar to beg. Scores of people travelled to and from Jerusalem. It was particularly good place for Bartimaeus. While he was sitting at the side of the road, he heard a big commotion. A large crowd was coming down the road. His sharp ears could pick out the voices. He heard the name Jesus. Jesus – that healer and teacher from Nazareth. Bartimaeus heard about Jesus. How Jesus healed the sick, and cast out demons, and raised the dead. He’d heard about Jesus’ compassion, His love for the lost, His call to discipleship. Bartimaeus believed that Jesus could help him. As the crowd drew closer, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The crowds of people have no compassion on Bartimaeus. All they see is someone shouting from the roadside. He’s just a nuisance. But this man knows what he wants, and no rebukes from the crowd will keep him silent. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus’ cry is a confession of faith and a prayer all at the same time. It calls on the name of Jesus, the name that is above every name.
What does it mean to call Jesus, “the son of David”? What does it mean to call Charles the son of Elizabeth? It means he’s the heir to the throne! Bartimaeus confesses Jesus to be the Son of David, which is the Jewish way of saying the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus is the Son of David; the heir to the throne of David. A king is someone who has power and authority to rule a country. God keeps His promises. He made a promise to David that one of his sons would reign as king forever. Jesus was of the house and lineage of David (Luke 2:4), and when He was born, the Wise Men from the East inquired about the new-born King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). On Palm Sunday, Jerusalem welcomed Jesus as her King (Luke 19:38), and before Pilate Jesus testified that He was indeed a King (John 18:37). But, Jesus is not an earthly king. Jesus was not the kind of king the Jews, or even His disciples, expected. Jesus was not a rival of Herod or Caesar. A king is someone who has power and authority to rule. Jesus is king of the universe—King of Kings—God’s king.
But why does he ask him for mercy? Bartimaeus’ cry is a payer for mercy to a King who can show mercy to those who trust Him. Beggars depended on the mercy of those better off. They usually asked for help by saying, “Kyrie, eleison!,” “Lord, have mercy!” This cry was familiar to everyone in antiquity and heard almost every day in every street. We are all beggars, spiritual beggars. We are spiritually destitute, aching and longing for someone to have pity on us. Now you see why this prayer occurs so often in the Liturgy: Lord, have mercy. Kyrie eleison. In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy. Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. You can pray this simple prayer in the car while driving without even taking your eyes off the road. Or when you see an accident, you can pray, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy.” You can pray this prayer while you are working. You can pray it at the doctor’s office or in the dentist’s chair or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Anytime, anywhere, let this be your prayer. Learn it well and you will be able to pray it long after you’ve forgotten every other prayer. Learn to pray this simple prayer to Jesus, and you will have it on your lips in the hour of your death.
Bartimaeus wanted to see; he wanted Jesus to fix His eyes. He believed that Jesus was God’s chosen King, David’s heir, and as such, he had the power to do that for him. And Jesus says a curious thing to him: “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Your faith has made you well. The faith that healed Bartimaeus is the faith that saved him. And that faith saved and healed Bartimaeus because it was faith in Jesus as the Son of David. What do you think Jesus, your King, can do for you? If you were in this scene, what would you ask Jesus for? Imagine that you are sitting by the roadside and listening to the crowd. What are you feeling when you discover it’s Jesus who is passing by? Imagine that you call out to him, and when he summons you, you put everything aside and go to him. And when he asks you what you want him to do, what do you ask him for? Don’t ask to gratify those small, selfish comforts of the flesh. Don’t rely on your victimhood. Ask for freedom, for salvation, ask for forgiveness and eternal life. And when you get it, be prepared to follow Jesus wherever he goes next.
Faith cries out to King Jesus for mercy; and faith receives mercy from Jesus. What does it mean to have Jesus as your king? Does it mean he gets to command you around; tell you what to do? With Jesus as our King, blind eyes see. Sinners are forgiven. The dead rise. Jesus came to fix what was broken by Adam’s fall. He came to bring a new creation with His dying and rising – a kingdom in which the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap for joy, the leper is cleansed, the dead rise to life. Jesus is the King, the Son of David, king of the universe—King of Kings—God’s king, the king who came to reverse all the damage humanity has caused.
What kind of King do we have? We have a king who pays a costly price. cost Him his life on the cross. There, like a king going out to battle, Jesus won the victory for us all, and He shares that victory with all who cry out to Him in beggar faith. The One who healed the eyes of the blind with a word, hung on a cross in the darkness to bring the light of His life to the world.
May the peace of God which, surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.