Bartimaeus, the Judean Wilderness and the Jericho Road
In the days of Jesus, there was a winding path that ran through the Judean Wilderness from the Holy City of Jerusalem eastward to the town of Jericho...a distance of less than twenty miles. This “Jericho Road” was notoriously dangerous. Brigands, robbers and thieves were common on the road. As you may recall, the parable of the “Good Samaritan” which Jesus told took place on the Jericho Road. (Luke 10: 25-37)
This “road” between Jerusalem and Jericho wound its way through some of the most desolate and inhospitable terrain in the world...rugged, rocky, dry and hot. It was...and still is...a mountainous, barren, desert “wilderness “.
But there is more....
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho not only ran east and west....it also wound down. Essentially, the town of Jericho was (and is) situated on the plains of the Dead Sea at the bottom of what is known as The Great Rift Valley, the lowest region of land on planet earth some 1400 feet below sea level. (In fact, this region is five times lower than California's Death Valley!)
By contrast, Jerusalem, Israel's historic capital and religious center, is situated some 2500 feet above sea level. The drop from Jerusalem to Jericho (and the Dead Sea) is breathtakingly precipitous.
As you can imagine, the trek through this “wilderness” from Jericho up to Jerusalem was arduous and grueling. It was exhausting. If the thieves and the scorpions and the vipers didn't get you, the heat and the thirst from the uphill climb would!
It was here in this beautiful but rugged “Judean Wilderness”... among the rocks and in the caves and ravines... that David found refuge as he was being pursued by King Saul. It was here in the Judean Wilderness where John the Baptist, the herald of the king... ( “...a voice of one calling in the desert”)... first began to preach about the soon-to -come promised Messiah. And it was to this wilderness region that the Jewish religious officials at the time...ie., the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests and Levites...eventually traveled to hear the prophet's thunderous and controversial preaching. (John 1: 19-28)
It was here in this same desert wilderness that Jesus was tempted by Satan immediately before the Messiah's earthly ministry began. (Luke 4: 1-13)
It was also on this Jericho Road that Jesus began his final climb to Jerusalem. And it is where He encountered a blind and wretched beggar named “Bartimaeus” (Hebrew translation:“son of the unclean and defiled”).
Destitute, blind Bartimaeus...a man “poor in spirit” if ever there was one...a man who lived on the wilderness plain of the Dead Sea.....
"Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'.... 'What do you want me to do for you?' Jesus asked him. The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.' 'Go,' said Jesus, 'your faith has healed you.' Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road." (Mark 10:46-52)
On This Road From Jericho
Help us mourn our destitution...
Teacher, we just want to see!
Grant us Mercy's revelation;
Hear our desert valley plea!
Give us sight like Bartimaeus...
Be the lamp unto our feet.
Lift us high, Lord, from this lowland;
Shelter us from searing heat!
In this wilderness, be with us...
Be our resting place and shield.
Be our Spring of Living Water;
Bind our wounds until we're healed.
Grant us Grace to recognize You...
Help us see that we are blind!
Lord, we are the unclean beggars!
Grant that we Your Mercies find!
Rescue us from highway brigands...
Keep us from the Sin of Pride!
Help us to ascend this Mountain...
Lord, with You let us abide.
Though we falter, call us higher...
Help us, Lord, to persevere!
Sanctify each step before us;
Give us Hope and ears to hear.
Take us from the Dead Sea shoreline...
Be The Way for us to go.
Help us follow You to Calv'ry
On this road from Jericho.
“If we do not see that we are a mass of pride, ambition, lust, weakness, misery and injustice, we must be very blind. And if, once we do know it, we do not seek deliverance from them, what can we say of man?” ---Blaise Pascal
“Christ came to blind those who have clear sight and to give sight to the blind; to heal the sick and let the healthy die, to call sinners to repentance and justify them, and to leave the righteous to their sins; to fill the hungry with good things and to send the rich away empty.” --Blaise Pascal