He was known as the ‘blind beggar who sat by the city gate.’ That was his calling card. His resume. The best he could do. We don’t know if he was married or had children — I rather doubt it. The only definitives we have for certain are that his father was Timaeus and his name was Bartimaeus and that he lived in Jericho and sat daily by the gate. His story comprises about a paragraph in both Mark’s and Luke’s gospel and if you blink or yawn you’ll miss it.
Moses sent them to 'spy' because they were 'the heads' of their families. Their tribes. All 12 men were trusted, admired, respected, and their words carried weight. When they spoke, people shut up and listened.
These men had been slaves. Had the scars on their backs to prove it. Their dads had been slaves. Their grandfathers had been slaves. Everyone they'd ever known had been a slave. And yet, they'd been delivered out of Egypt. These men witnessed the ten plagues: water becoming blood, frogs, lice, flies, the dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness at noon. These are the very men who had painted their door frames with lamb's blood so that the angel of God would pass over them. Sparing their first born. And He had. These same men woke that morning to the cries and wales of the Egyptians who woke to dead children in their house. Then there was the whole business at the Red Sea where the most powerful army in the world is breathing down their necks, about to pillage, rape and kill and God parted the waters. And once they reached the other side, these are the same men who watched the waters return and then walked the shore line stepping over the armored bodies littering the beach.
These guys were eye witnesses to the greatest, most miraculous events in the history of mankind.
Good Friday is a week from tomorrow. I still don't understand why they call it 'good.' Sunday is good. Friday not so much. Anyway, these are a few of my thoughts heading into this week.
Imagine you're standing outside the wall of Jerusalem. Where they dump the refuse. Where the lepers congregate. Where, ever since Moses, they've burned the sacrifice. Over your shoulder, and up a small hill, is where they execute the guilty. This stone path you're standing on is the final stretch. It's Friday. 9 am. Today is the day they were supposed to crucify a murderer named Barabas but there was a switch at the last moment. The replacement is walking toward you. He is a blasphemer named ‘Jesus.’