Monday, June 21

Blind Bartimaeus, Questions. Answers? – Prayerful Tuesday

Mark 10:46-52 46They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Jesus Healing Blind Bartimaeus El-Greco, 1578
Jesus Healing Blind Bartimaeus
El-Greco, 1578

We are rapidly approaching Holy Week and all of the exciting and heartbreaking moments the weeks brings.  In Mark the last story before the Triumphal Entry is of the Healing of Blind Bartimaeus that takes place as Jesus is traveling through Jericho to Jerusalem and his appointed fate.  I am offering the above painting by El-Greco for you to contemplate with the prayer practice of Visio Divina.  I have always found this story from the Gospel of Mark one of the most moving story of courage and faith in scripture. Bartimaeus doesn’t know how close he is to Jesus; he simply calls out and has faith Jesus will answer him.  The questions Jesus asks of Bartimaeus also draw me into a deeper understanding of sight and I hope you will consider those questions and the responses as well.

May your sight be deepened in preparation for the coming week as your contemplate El‑Greco’s painting and the scripture lesson.


  1. Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance and noting the colors, people, places and things.  Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.
  2. Read the Scripture lesson slowly and in meditation. Return to the painting does the scripture alter your perspective of the painting in anyway?  Do the questions and responses open new doors as you gaze at the painting?
  3. Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
  4. Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Place yourself in the place of Bartimaeus, and then in the place of a spectator, or one of the Disciples. Does your perspective Change?  What do you feel when you become Bartimaeus or a spectator?  Offer your thoughts as prayer to God.
  5. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.

May the Peace of God be with you as you travel the Holy Week Journey.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 24, 2015


  • I would theorize that Bartimaeus was the child of a mixed Hebrew-and-Greek unon, and that his father was Greek. “Bartimaeus” is actually “bar-Timaeus”. The “bar” part is a Hebrew prefix meaning “son of”: Bartimaeus was the son of a man named “Timaeus” … which is a very UN-Hebrew name, in fact, Greek. As a mixed-race child, he would have been looked down on as a “half-breed” by Jews (just like Samaritans were), especially because his father, being Greek, was about as UN-Jewish as you could get. Such were the social biases of the day. But here’s the kicker! The name “Timaeus” in Greek is derived from the Greek noun “time” pronounced “TEE-may” in Greek … which means … get this … which means HONOR. So the degraded blind beggar — the “half breed” — is in actuality “bar-Timaeus”: “son of honor” … or “honored son”. “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”.

    • Wonderful! This makes the story of Bartimeaus even more important than ever. We often only see the scriptures from our 21st century perspective and fail to recognize the importance of the looking at the world of the world of the 1st century for the deeper meaning. I am sure those who heard this Gospel in the 1st and 2nd century would not have missed the importance of Bartimeaus’ name. Thank You

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