Blind Bartimaeus and the Samaritan Leper

Two men with different afflictions asked Jesus for healing. In each case Jesus responded with these comforting words: “Your faith has made you well.”

The story of Bartimaeus in the Bible is one of faith. And the story of the 10 lepers healed is also about having faith, as one of them—a Samaritan—returned to give glory to God for his healing.

Neither of these stories are parables but are stories of real-life men who were healed by Jesus. It is valuable for us to review their examples, as each provides lessons about having faith.  

Bartimaeus in the Bible

Only one of the Gospel accounts (in Mark 10) mentions Bartimaeus the blind man by name. (His story is also found in Matthew 20 and Luke 18, but his name is not given in these accounts.)

Jesus and His disciples and a great multitude had just come from Jericho, and they were on the way to Jerusalem. Alongside the road Bartimaeus the blind man sat begging (Mark 10:46).

The Holman Bible Dictionary states: “Because of their severe handicap, blind persons had little opportunity to earn a living . . . Frequently, the blind became beggars . . .

“Many things caused blindness in ancient times. One could be born blind due to some developmental defect or as a result of infection prior to birth. Usually, however, blindness began later. The most common cause was infection. Trachoma, a painful infection of the eye, is a common cause of blindness today and was probably prevalent in ancient times . . .

“In reality, almost no effective treatment was available to those who suffered from diseases of the eye and blindness. There were no antibiotics, no effective surgical procedures for most problems, and no eyeglasses. Miraculous healing was often sought.”

So, when Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was near, he called out to Him for mercy.

Jesus, Son of David

“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’ And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:47-50).

Bartimaeus was no longer blind! Jesus, our Lord and Savior, had mercy on him.Bartimaeus used the phrase “Son of David” to address Jesus. The Pharisees in particular did not use that phrase or agree with it, as we see in another account in Matthew 12:22-24:

“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible gives this explanation: “Is not this the Son of David? – That is, Is not this the promised ‘descendant’ of David, the Messiah? They were acquainted with the prophecy in Isaiah 35:5, ‘Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped,’ and they inferred that he must be the promised Messiah who was able to do this. This inference was drawn by the common people, and not by the proud and haughty Pharisees.”

Jesus healed Bartimaeus

Not only did Bartimaeus believe that Jesus was the Son of David, he also believed that He was “Rabboni.”

“So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road” (Mark 10:51-52).

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges notes: “The original word is ‘Rabboni’ = my Master. The blind man gives Him the title of greatest reverence that he knew. The title occurs only here and in John 20:16, where it is used by Mary Magdalene to her risen Lord.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says: “The blind man said unto him, Lord; ‘Rabboni’, or, as the Syriac version reads it; ‘Rabbi’; thou, great master in Israel, and Lord, of the whole world, my request to thee, and which thou, art, able to effect; is, that I might receive my sight.”

Bartimaeus was no longer blind! Jesus, our Lord and Savior, had mercy on him. It is interesting to note that after Jesus told him to “go your way,” Bartimaeus followed Jesus on the road. There is no more information on Bartimaeus in the Bible, but one lesson we can learn from his life is that we, too, must have faith and follow Jesus Christ.

That same phrase Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “your faith has made you well,” was said once again to another person who needed healing.

The story of 10 lepers healed

According to The Holman Bible Dictionary, leprosy was “a generic term applied to a variety of skin disorders from psoriasis to true leprosy. Its symptoms ranged from white patches on the skin to running sores to the loss of digits on the fingers and toes.

The leper returned and gave thanks. Likewise, when God intervenes in our lives, we, too, should never forget His mercy, but remember it with gratitude and thanksgiving.“For the Hebrews it was a dreaded malady which rendered its victims ceremonially unclean . . . Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from the rest of the community so that the members of the community could maintain their status as worshipers.”

That is why when Jesus entered a certain village, 10 men stood afar off because they were lepers. In the same way that Bartimaeus pleaded, they, too, asked Jesus for mercy (Luke 17:12-13).

In this case, when Jesus saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests” (verse 14). This is what people were to do according to the laws concerning leprosy found in Leviticus. The priests could not only pronounce someone unclean, they could also verify when someone was healed.

“When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean” (Leviticus 13:2-3).

Once a person was healed of the leprosy, he or she was to be brought to the priest: “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop’” (Leviticus 14:1-4).

As the lepers went to the priests, a miracle occurred—all 10 were cleansed (Luke 17:14).

It was at this point that “one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God” (verse 15).

Lessons from the 10 lepers

The one leper who returned “fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan” (verse 16).

There are two important lessons we can learn from this verse. The leper returned and gave thanks. Likewise, when God intervenes in our lives, we, too, should never forget His mercy, but remember it with gratitude and thanksgiving.

The other lesson to note is that the one who returned and gave thanks was a Samaritan. Most Jewish people looked down upon Samaritans, and the Samaritans were not prone to follow the laws of Moses—especially to go to the priests.

Once again, The Holman Bible Dictionary gives some further insight: “In the days of Christ, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was greatly strained. The animosity was so great that the Jews bypassed Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea. They went an extra distance through the barren land of Perea on the eastern side of the Jordan to avoid going through Samaria. Yet Jesus rebuked His disciples for their hostility to the Samaritans (Luke 9:55-56) . . . and preached to the Samaritans (John 4:40-42).”

So, it was unusual that a Samaritan returned. Even Jesus remarked about what happened: “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18).

This is another important lesson we can learn from this story. No matter who we are, or what background we have come from, God is well pleased with those who are thankful and have faith. Nine of the lepers didn’t return to glorify God, but a foreigner did.

And we then find the very same words that were spoken to Bartimaeus. “And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well’” (verse 19). So, this Samaritan had faith as well, which we all need to have in our lives.

These two miracles were astonishing, but they were not the only ones of Jesus. For a listing of His other miracles and the reasons for them, please read our article “Miracles of Jesus.”

Also, be sure to read the other stories of faith in the “Women of Faith” and “Men of Faith” sections.

About the Author

John Foster

John Foster

John Foster grew up in the Chicago, Illinois, area and began attending the Church of God with his parents in 1958.

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