“Master, I want to see.”
As you might have guessed, today’s Gospel story isn’t about healing a blind man. Yes, that’s what happened in the story, and it was significant, but that’s not the real essence of the story and it’s not why we have this story in the Scriptures today. The story refers to physical blindness, but it implies a blindness that goes much deeper, a darkening of wisdom and understanding, from which Bartimaeus has been suffering for some time. We know this because, in the story, he is encamped, all set up, with his cloak spread out underneath him. This cloak would have caught the alms that people tossed to him as they passed by.
Somehow, he comes to know that someone important is passing by, and someone tells him that it is Jesus. He begins to call out “Son of David, have pity on me!” which disturbs some of those in the crowd. But he is persistent and Jesus hears him and calls him to come to him. At that, Bartimaeus casts aside his cloak and runs to Jesus. This detail is important. The cloak in the story symbolizes his past life, everything he had become, and he casts it aside to come to Jesus. When Jesus asks what he wants, he says, “Master, I want to see.” To which Jesus replies, “Go, your faith has saved you.”
So Bartimaeus has come to know that his life has not had the meaning he would like. He is unable to “see” with understanding, and he calls out to Jesus to save him. Jesus does so, and remarks that it is Bartimaeus’s faith that has saved him; had Bartimaeus not had faith that Jesus could heal him, no healing would have happened. Then Bartimaeus goes on to follow Jesus on the way.
The question before us today is this: what is our own blindness? What is on our cloak keeping us rooted in our past life of sin? Will we have the courage to cast all that aside and call out for the mercy of our beloved Savior? Because it is only this act of faith that will ever bring us from the blindness of our past lives, our sins and brokenness, into the light of understanding and grace.
Just as he asked Bartimaeus, Jesus asks us today, “What do you want me to do for you?” May our prayer be as full of faith as Bartimaeus’s was: “Master, I want to see.”