Blind Bartimaeus


"Jesus of Nazareth is passing by" (RSV, Luke 18:37)

For how many years Blind Bartimaeus had taken up his pitch each morning outside the gates of Jericho we do not know.  On this particular day, which was to be the most memorable of his life, he would have got there early because it was Passover time and Jericho was astride the pilgrims’ route to Jerusalem from the north.  From the large crowds passing through he would be able to beg enough to keep him going when times were hard.

His blindness had sharpened his sense of hearing so that he could distinguish and interpret varying footsteps and tones of voice.  So it was that as the sounds of the passers-by flowed before him, he picked up a new note of excitement in an unusually large body of pilgrims approaching the city gate.  He raised his sightless eyes and asked what it meant, and two or three answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by”.

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