Do Only The Sighted See?
It probably depends on what we mean by see, it can be interpreted in many different ways. To see can be the obvious, literal act of seeing with your eyes, to have sight or to see a sight.
To see can also mean to understand, or perceive something. Think, for example, about a time when someone has tried to explain something to you. How may times have you exclaimed at the end of the explanation either “yes, I see” or perhaps “no, I don’t see”. I’ve used these phrases an uncountable number of times and I’d bet that most, maybe everyone who reads this, has said the same or very similar too.
In the gospel of Mark we are told the story of blind Bartimaeus. Could it be that even before Jesus restored his sight, Bartimaeus was ‘seeing’ more clearly than the throng of people surrounding and following (literally here, not figuratively) Jesus, as he and his disciples were leaving the town of Jericho?
Although Bartimaeus could not see, he clearly knew what was going on. As Jesus passed the place where the blind beggar sat buy the roadside, Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. We were told that it was a big, probably noisy crowd following Jesus, So Bartimaeus must have shouted at the top of his voice to be heard. Some in the crowd told him to shut up but he persisted in shouting out.
What seems to me to be important is the particular words Bartimaeus called out, when trying to attract Jesus’ attention. He did not just call Jesus by name but also by title, “Son of David” which can also be interpreted as Messiah. Might it be that only Bartimaeus had perceived or ‘seen’ Jesus true nature?
Mark does not say if anyone else in the crowd used Jesus’ title too. I think it might be implied that they did not. In such a crowd, one shout would be hard to be distinguished from another by volume alone. It would need to say something different, something to catch the attention of the person who was the object of the clamour. That, I think is how Bartimaeus brought himself to Jesus’ attention, by showing Jesus that although he had not the gift of sight, he understood who Jesus really was.
“It is better to be blind and see with your heart, than
to have two good eyes and see nothing.” – Helen Keller.
With thanks to Curate Beverly for inspiring this post.