“And Jesus stopped” (Mark 10:49). Stopping is not something particularly noteworthy unless you rarely do it. Readers of Mark’s Gospel find Jesus moving with tireless zeal. Mark makes this point with one of his favorite transitions: immediately, a word he uses liberally. But here in Mark 10, we find Jesus stopping. What’s going on?
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he would be betrayed, delivered over to death, and crucified. He knew this. As he progressed to the capital city, he was marching to his own funeral. Certainly, he had much on his mind and heart. At this point in the narrative, he was in the town of Jericho, about fifteen miles from Jerusalem. We learn that Jesus was accompanied by his disciples and a crowd of people—a large crowd according to Mark (10:46). It was not uncommon for a teacher to engage in peripatetic instruction with his disciples, teaching them as they walked along. His hour of death was at hand, and many people surrounded him as he left Jericho.
Here we are introduced to the reason why Jesus stopped. We’re a bit surprised at what captures Jesus’s attention. A man was sitting by the side of the road where Jesus was traveling. At first glance, we might not notice him, but Jesus did. He’s the reason Jesus stopped in his tracks. We learn his name and his situation.
His name was Bartimaeus, and he is the only person healed by Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels to have his name included. The name itself isn’t significant. The Aramaic term bar means “son of,” so Bartimaeus actually only tells us the name of his father: he’s the son of Timaeus. But, in light of the story, it’s noteworthy that no other name is given. In other words, he’s not Simon Bartimaeus (Simon the son of Timaeus). He was simply known as the son of Timaeus. Perhaps this contributes to the underlying relevance of what’s happening with Jesus: he takes notice of no-names.
We also learn about his situation. Bartimaeus was a poor, blind beggar sitting by the roadside asking for alms. Everything about him communicates insignificance. In a crowd, it’s not hard to overlook a guy like this. We expect him to go unnoticed.
But from his seat on the side of the road, he not only heard the crowd approaching, but he also “heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth” (Mark 10:47). The name Jesus was common, but Jesus of Nazareth was known for his power to heal and his heart to help people in need. Evidently, Bartimaeus had heard stories about Jesus because he began crying out to him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (10:47).
As we saw earlier in the story with the children, the crowd quickly attempted to silence him. Mark tells us, “Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent” (10:48). Someone today might say, “Shut up! What’s wrong with you?” We don’t know why they attempted to quiet him. Maybe they thought he was rude, a distraction, or an embarrassment. But we do know Bartimaeus wasn’t having any of it. “He cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (10:48). Their resistance only fueled his persistence. The lame man used his voice as his legs and arms to run and clasp onto Jesus from his roadside seat.
Overcoming the crowd’s opposition, the cries of the seemingly invisible beggar reached the ears of Jesus. Then Mark writes, “And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him’” (10:49). At that moment, with the cries for mercy hanging in the air, Jesus stood still. Everyone else walked past Bartimaeus, but Jesus stood still. They wanted to quiet him, but Jesus called for him. The blind beggar of Jericho stopped Jesus in his tracks. He was attentive to his cries for mercy. In his customary eloquence, Charles Spurgeon observes, “I have heard of Joshua who said, ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon’ . . . but I rank the blind beggar above Joshua, for he causes the Sun of righteousness to stand still.”
Most of us have been spoken to directly by someone begging for money. Few of us have stopped. We have our reasons, and I’m not here to scrutinize them. Instead, consider that while most people aren’t quick to honor beggars, Jesus is. He’s the King of the universe. He created the world and sustains all things in it (Col. 1:16–17). He deserves the highest honor, and yet his ear is attentive to the cry of a poor, begging man. None of us can claim that we are too insignificant, too unimportant, too ordinary, or too poor for Jesus. He stopped for Bartimaeus. He stops for those in need. He’s not ashamed of the one who cries for mercy, whatever their station in life.
The man who was hushed and hissed was now hurried to Jesus. He stood face-to-face with Christ. The scene is meant to halt us. We too are meant to stand still as our mind’s eye sketches the scene. Here we find a great contrast. Bartimaeus, a poor blind beggar, was standing before Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords. How would Jesus respond? Sure, Jesus heard Bartimaeus crying his name, but the Lord was doing more than simply being well-mannered. The way Jesus received the man and talked with him shows us how he looks at people like you and me. “And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” (Mark 10:51). Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “What can you do for me?” Bartimaeus couldn’t do anything for Jesus. He came as a needy man, and Jesus was ready to give. Jesus also didn’t insult him or belittle his condition. Unlike the crowd who looked down on him, Jesus built him up by honoring him. Far from being ashamed of him, Jesus publicly welcomed and dignified the man.
The same is true for you and me. We sit like Bartimaeus on the side of the road, unnoticed by the multitudes, feeling the weight of our burdens on our shoulders, hoping for relief. Then we hear of Jesus, one who has a history of displaying his power and mercy. “Maybe he can help me,” we wonder even as we cry and keep our distance. But Jesus’s power is equal to his compassion. He is able, and he is also willing. He hears our cries for mercy, and he calls us to himself, asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man knew exactly how to answer this question: “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (10:51). Bartimaeus wanted to see. Therefore, Jesus immediately healed him, so that he recovered his sight and followed him (10:52).
Bartimaeus joining Jesus on the path presents quite a visual. The blind man went from beggar (an outsider) to disciple (an insider). He was welcomed in as one of Jesus’s followers. But notice again the question Jesus asked him: “What do you want me to do for you?” This is the same question that Jesus asked two of his disciples in 10:36. Their answer was different than the blind man’s: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (10:37). According to Jesus, they didn’t understand what they were asking. They had missed the point of what it meant to follow him. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, was a humbled man. He had no interest in personal exaltation; he just wanted mercy. Thomas Brooks says, “A humble soul is lowest when his mercies are highest.”
At the close of this scene, with the former blind beggar walking with the others, we can see things more clearly. Jesus is not ashamed of people that others overlook because he longs to show mercy. Mercy glorifies God and makes the humble glad. Can’t you see Bartimeaus marching out of Jericho with his face beaming and his teary eyes full of joy? Jesus is not ashamed of such people. He loves them. This is good news for people like you and me.
Content taken from He is Not Ashamed by Erik Raymond, ©2022. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
 Mark uses euthus, translated almost exclusively as immediately in the ESV, forty-two times (compared to twelve in the other Gospels), which creates a cadence of quickness in his account.
 James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 328.
 C. H. Spurgeon, “Jesus at a Stand,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1881), 27:135.
 Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 3:11.