If there is one activity the enemy will fight in your life it is the intentional calling out to God to come to your aid. Satan is not afraid of our church buildings, our colored lights, our polished eloquence, our social programs or our church-lobby donations kiosk. Hell will encourage us in much of what happens in our churches because it serves as a distraction from what Heaven is calling us to do. The primary means by which we remain discerning about what God beckons us to is via the activity of crying out to Him and listening for His response. Mark reveals an account in his Gospel that typifies what I am seeking to share:
“And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 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!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” – Mark 10:46-49
Bartimaeus had nothing to offer anyone. He was a social castaway, a forgotten man, a nuisance and likely one who lived daily in the hollow, echoing world of the unnoticed. Being blind, he could see nothing…and nobody saw him. When the renegade rabbi, Jesus, passed through the hometown of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar instantly knew that this was his only shot. He broke decorum and cried out to Jesus loudly and repeatedly in hope that He might come and heal him, bringing him out of his world of darkness. Bartimaeus’ shouts were beginning to spoil the mood of the big festival so the non-beggar crowd sought to hush him up. Non-beggars have a way about getting irritated with the begging world. I love Brother Bart because he did not bat an eye at their insistence that he muzzle himself, and he pulled a Spinal Tap move and raised the volume from 10 to 11 in his petitioning of the Messiah. Mark says that the crowd had been rebuking this beggar, seeking to stifle his expression of his deep need and helpless dependence. After all, who wants to see a good religious gathering ruined by someone with desperate need? They (and we) prefer our encounters with Jesus to be regulated by the thermostat of what is nice, neat and tidy. Yet, Bartimaeus was a mess and he knew it, so he didn’t care if he played the buzzkiller with his desperate shouts for Jesus to come to his rescue.
He was a blind man who wanted to see. He was a helpless man with nothing but a prayer. He was a man of solitude who cared nothing for the crowds. He was beggar in close proximity to a generous King.
When Jesus gave word that He wanted Bartimaeus to come forth, an amazing change occurred. The same people who had been trying to shut him up were now wanting to stand him up. It is interesting how our words and actions change toward people after we understand that Jesus has assigned value to them and brings them near to Himself. Maybe we should slow down and recognize that about every human being we see. Maybe we could start treating them the same way Jesus does because we have graduated to loving whom He loves. Maybe we should remember that we were spiritually blind beggars and would still be today if the Savior had not invited us near. Just a thought.
So the beggar meets the King and Jesus gives the man what He needed. He gave Bart his sight back. The rest of the passage in Mark 10 tells us that Jesus freed the formerly blind beggar to go about his business and continue on along his own way. Not surprisingly, Mark says of Bartimaeus that, after Jesus turned him loose to live his life with his new eyes, Bartimaeus “followed Him on the way” (Mark 10:52) That’s how it is intended to work: we cry out to Jesus, we refuse to be muzzled by people or circumstances, Jesus welcomes us to come near, we receive a personal touch from the Master, He turns us loose to go our way… and we can think of no better way to go than to follow Him wherever He might be headed.
Blind beggars become beloved brothers. I know this first-hand. Jesus, help me to remember this today.