And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52, ESV).
Jesus healed many people during His earthly ministry. In some cases, He healed people of possibly temporary illnesses; at other times, He raised the dead. In Mark 10:46–52, He healed a blind man named Bartimaeus, restoring his sight. Just as the nature of His healing miracles was diverse, so were the responses of those who were healed.
While Bartimaeus’ condition was not life-threatening, it certainly created hardships. Our culture is much more compassionate to those with physical handicaps, and our technology makes it easier for the blind and lame to function in society. Bartimaeus could not wear glasses or read books in Braille. Furthermore, while most people nowadays would attribute blindness to purely biological misfortune, many people in Jesus’ day would assume that the blind man deserved his affliction: He must have committed some sort of sin that earned the wrath of God.
This helps us to understand why he was so eager to regain his sight. Life as a blind man was filled with intense suffering. He needed assistance, but at the same time, he was probably ostracized by his community. It should come as no surprise that, when he tried to get the attention of the Great Healer who was passing through Jericho, his neighbors told him to sit down and shut up (Mark 10:47–48).
This should explain Bartimaeus’ response after Jesus healed him. As He healed him, Jesus said, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Jesus encouraged him to go home with his healing. Instead, Bartimaeus “followed him on the way.”
I suspect that Bartimaeus did not just follow Jesus for the weekend or until He left town. In many cases, the Bible does not record the names of the people Jesus healed. Those who are mentioned by name usually lived in the same town as Jesus and/or His disciples. I can imagine Bartimaeus following Jesus as a disciple: not as one of the twelve apostles, but perhaps on the outer ring. Perhaps he was one of the 120 disciples who were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:14; 2:1–4).
The point is, Jesus encouraged Bartimaeus to go HIS OWN way. Bartimaeus decided that JESUS’ way was HIS way. Some would thank Jesus for healing, while others would just go their merry way (Luke 17:10–19). Some would go home and tell others what wonderful things Jesus had done for them (Mark 5:12–20); others would not.
Bartimaeus was free to go wherever his heart desired. He could say, as the song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back.” There were times when Jesus invited people to follow Him, but they gave excuses for staying behind (Luke 9:57–62). Bartimaeus was not invited to follow Jesus along the road, but he did so anyway.
Many of us receive Jesus’ blessing—perhaps a healing or an answer to prayer—and continue to go our own way, not even stopping to thank Him. Instead, may we be like Bartimaeus. When we receive such a blessing, let us follow Jesus more closely: Not because He commands us to do so, but because we have received His love and choose to love Him in return.