I could tell it was morning.
I could hear the animals stirring in the pen outside my window. I lay on my mat a while longer, struggling to come up with some motivation, some believable reason to get out of bed. I could think of none. Finally the thing that got me up was the fact that staying in bed was no better.
I made my way outside and soon the children came. It was one of their chores to come and retrieve me – like some old toy they’d forgotten to put away. They weren’t unpleasant, in fact they brought me a bit of bread and a few figs, so I was grateful for their mother’s kindness. Still, it was humiliating being dragged along by some impatient children in a hurry to finish their chores.
We struggled down the path to the marketplace. It was unusually crowded and I could sense some excitement in the voices around me, but I was too busy concentrating on where to place my feet to catch what people were saying.
We finally made it to my usual spot on the main road into town. The kids trotted off, no doubt glad to be through with me. As the sound of their laughter and shouts died away, I heard the murmur of an excited crowd nearby and the sounds of feet running to join them. Something special was definitely happening!
I tried to get someone’s attention to ask, but in those days folks noticed me like they noticed a tent peg sticking up out of the ground. Then a young man running to join the crowd tripped over my outstretched leg, so I grabbed his cloak and begged him to tell me.
“Don’t you know, old man?” He said, trying to catch his breath, “Jesus of Nazareth is coming into Jericho today. I can see him, he’s just outside the gate now!” And he hurried on.
Jesus? Jesus…coming here? I had heard of this man! A healer! A prophet! A messenger from God! Some even said he was the promised Messiah! Could this be a ray of hope in my darkness? I began calling out to him, quietly at first, but in my desperate excitement I no longer had control over my voice, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy!”
Those around me told me to be quiet. I could tell they were angry, offended at my outburst, but their efforts to quiet me made me all the more eager to be heard. I shouted louder and more urgently, “Jesus!” Surely he would hear! “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
There was a lull in the murmuring of the crowd, something was happening. A woman near me touched my arm and spoke, her voice quaking with excitement, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you!”
I threw my cloak aside and jumped to my feet. I reached out my arms. “Jesus, Jesus!” My words were nearly inaudible. I could hardly breathe.
Then he was right in front of me. He clasped his hands around mine. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked. His words were gentle, I had never heard a voice so strong, yet so tender.
“Oh, Oh Rabbi.” I could barely get the words out. “Rabbi, I want to see.”
The crowd was completely still as Jesus spoke to me. “Go.” He said. “Your faith has healed you.”
The very instant he said those words, my mind was ablaze with light! I saw colors! I saw people’s faces staring in amazement! I saw trees and houses, sheep and donkeys. Then I looked into the face of my Healer. My Savior. The Light in my darkness. And he was looking back at me with dancing eyes, and a hint of laughter playing around his lips.
He let go of my hands and walked on. I followed. I began jumping and hugging everyone I could reach! I even kissed a little girl as I passed! I literally could not contain the joy bubbling up inside me!
I, I Bartimaeus, had an encounter with the Savior of the world, and I would never be the same.