JESUS HAD now ended his work of preaching in the land of Perea, on the east of the Jordan. With his disciples and a great throng of people who were going up to the feast of the Passover at Jerusalem, he came to the river at another Bethabara, or “the place of the crossing,” because like the Bethabara near the Sea of Galilee, the river though very wide was very shallow, so that people could wade across it. This Bethabara was opposite the city of Jericho, which had been built up and made beautiful by King Herod the Great, about forty years before.
More than a thousand years before Jesus stood beside the river, the Israelites had walked across it to enter the land; when God held back the water. Jesus could have walked on the water if he had chosen to do it; but he never caused a miracle for himself, though often he did for others. At that time some of the people going up to Jerusalem waded across the river, holding their clothes on their heads, while others crossed in a ferry-boat. We are not told in which way Jesus went across the river.
Six miles from the river Jordan, on the west, stood Jericho, toward which Jesus came with a great crowd of people around him. As he drew near Jericho, a blind man was seated beside the gate, begging for the small coins of those who passed by. This blind man’s name was Bartimeus, a word which means “the son of Timeus.” Hearing the tramping and the voices of a crowd, he asked why so many people we’re coming. They said to him:
“Jesus the Nazarene is passing by.”
Bartimeus had heard of Jesus and his good works, curing many that were blind and lame and lepers. He had often wished that Jesus might pass his way and cure him. Now, when he heard that Jesus was really coming, he shouted out at the top of his voice:
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me! Jesus, son-of David, have pity on me!”
The people who were in front told him to be quiet; but he felt that this was the chance of his life, and he kept on calling, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”
Jesus stopped, and said to those near, “Go, and bring this man to me.”
Then they said to Bartimeus, “Be of good cheer; get up and go to Jesus, for he is calling you!”
Bartimeus was in such a hurry to get to Jesus that he sprang up, flung aside his cloak, and left it on the ground, while they led him to the Lord. When he came near, Jesus said to him :
“What would you have me do for you?”
“Lord,” he answered, “let me have my sight again ! ”
“Have your sight,” said Jesus, “your faith has made you well.”
And at once his sight came back to him; and he joined the crowd following Jesus, giving praise to God with a loud voice. And all those who saw this wonderful work added their praises to God.