Posted on June 25, 2014
#60: The Spirit of Bartimaeus
On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Jericho. The road would’ve been crowded with people traveling toward the Holy City for the coming week’s Passover feast. Many of those travelers attached themselves to Jesus and His companions, and the crowd following Jesus swelled. His fame had spread far and wide; people were anxious to see Him in person.
Read Mark 10:46-52, and the parallel accounts in Matthew 20:29-34 and Luke 18:35-43.
Beside the road southwest of Jericho sat a blind man named Bartimaeus. The local residents were used to him (and other blind men, including the one mentioned by Matthew) begging there. They probably would’ve passed him by without notice. But when Bartimaeus learned that the commotion he heard was due to the presence of Jesus, he began to make a commotion of his own!
There are four things I admire about Bartimaeus—four things I hope are always true of me.
“Son of David!” Bartimaeus began to shout. “Jesus, Son of David!” Every time he called out the title “Son of David,” Bartimaeus proclaimed his belief in Jesus as the Messiah (and consequently as the rightful king of Israel). The Jews’ understood from scripture that their Messiah would come in the line of David, as a “son” or direct descendant of David, an understanding Jesus referenced in Luke 20:41.
In full faith, Bartimaeus accepted Jesus for who He was and shouted it for all of Jericho to hear. His eyes were blind but his heart could see. May my faith be as clear and may I declare it as boldly as Bartimaeus did.
The louder Bartimaeus yelled, the more those near him tried to hush him. Mark recorded that “many rebuked him.” But he would not be silenced. When they told him to be quiet, to stop calling Jesus, he shouted louder and stronger.
What if he’d listened to the voices around him? What if he’d thought, “They’re right. Jesus has no time for me. Jesus can’t hear me”?
When I have a need may I be as stubborn and bold as Bartimaeus, not allowing myself to be deterred. May I refuse to hear the voices of doubters and discouragers, and just cry out to Jesus.
Suddenly the tone of the voices around Bartimaeus changed. “Hurry!” they said. “Get up! He’s calling you!” It was a miracle. Somehow, over the noise of the throng, Jesus had heard his cry?
In an instant, Bartimaeus was on his feet. He threw aside his cloak. That’s an important detail. For a beggar, a cloak might represent his total net worth—his shelter against the elements, his warmth on cold nights, his protection from the day’s sun, his blanket and pillow, his table when someone tossed him a bit of food. He cast away his cloak, not wanting anything to impede him on his way to Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to throw off everything that hinders us. Yet we cling to things we love, convincing ourselves we “need” them even if they interfere with our pursuit of Jesus. May I always understand where real value lies and be as quick as Bartimaeus to throw aside anything that would slow me down on my way to the Lord.
Bartimaeus groped his way to Jesus, hardly daring to believe it when he heard a firm gentle voice ask, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Grabbing what might be his only chance, Bartimaeus wasted no words. “Rabboni, hina anablepsoe”—three tight words that summed up his heart’s longing. “Teacher, that I may see.” Bartimaeus was a beggar, used to having only a few seconds to make his pitch to a passing pedestrian. He’d learned to keep it simple.
May I learn that my pleas don’t need to be lengthy or eloquent (or whiney!)—just humble, honest, and to the point. Because of Jesus’ gracious sacrifice, I don’t come to God as a beggar but as His own child on whom He lavishes His love (1 John 3:1a). If He would hear a beggar’s cry, how much more will He hear mine?
Bartimaeus believed, persevered, came running when called, clearly stated his plea—and received Jesus’ healing and His praise. God grant me the spirit of Bartimaeus!
© Diane McLoud 2014