(I am thankful that recently many of my friends here have been declaring the truth of the gospel - who Jesus is and what he is able to do, and the truth and power of God's Word. But when and how does this knowledge translate into salvation, being cleaned and healed and given new life? What "steps" still need to be taken to get to that point? This morning in my Bible study, I read this passage in Mark and believe the Holy Spirit answered my questions...)
"Son of David, have mercy on me!" I can hear the blind son of Tamaeus calling out from his dust pile at the gate of Jericho. It echoes what must have been the cries of thousands of people on that infamous day when brass and voices and a dangerous God brought down the mighty walls of that indestructable city. It certainly is a reverberation of Rahab's plea, the one that was answered with a scarlet chord in her window. Sitting at the gates, the blind man cannot see the walls that had been restored, but he surely has heard the stories of how they had fallen; sitting at those gates he must be overwhelmed and bent low by the crushing reality that he does not deserve a second glance from the Son of David, much less his mercy. All those people of Jericho, buried under stones and mortar, killed without mercy... Yet in the face of blind hopelessness there is also blind hope - for there was that bit in the ancient story about Rahab - the scandelous woman of Jericho who was spared and grafted in to the Beloved Nation because she asked for mercy. She knew the power of God, and that he was able to spare her. And the son of Tamaeus knows that power is still active; it is walking past him in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David. That is why, even when the crowd tries to silence him, he shouts louder: "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
But knowing that God is powerful and mericful, knowing who Jesus is and what he is capable of, did not heal the Blind Bar-Tamaeus. He could declare these truths all day, but he would still be blind. Until...
Jesus calls him. Jesus must have past by, walked some distance, possibly even out of earshot, because the crowd gathers around the blind man and helps him to his feet. The Son of David was calling him! He had to go! So he walks - is probably led - to Jesus. Interesting that Jesus does not come to him in his dust pile at the gate. He wants the man to take the steps.
As the son of Tamaeus hobbls to the Son of David, what is going through his mind? The master is calling me! The merciful one wants to give mercy to me! ... What would that mercy look like? ...Why do I even think I need mercy? What is my deepest need? What do I say do him? Do I say anything at all? The strong emotion of panic might tie his stomach in knots and make his knees knock, for though his spirit is compelled to draw near, he does not know what the master will say or do.
"What is it that you want?" the Son of David asks. And suddenly, the son of Tamaeus knows exactly what he wants. He actually wants two things: his physical sight and spiritual sight; to see the trees and the truth; to see faces of his family and the face of God. He doesn't just want it now, though. In the twenty paces it took to come to Jesus, he has discovered his desperate need for sight... for healing inside and out... for wholeness, restoration, for mercy. "I want to see." That is all he can choke out. This is his scarlet chord - the one that is a confession of his inadequacy and all that he knows he does not deserve and cannot earn.
This realization of his personal need and Jesus' ability to meet that need... these come together, and the blind man can hear the smile in Jesus' voice. "Your faith has healed you!" And then sight. He sees everything...