Last night I struggled with this post and this endeavor.
I was fighting myself wondering if I was attempting this through vain conceit. When I got home from work something happened concerning one of these posts that embarrassed me. Frantically I tried to correct my mistake. And the beautiful Holy Spirit began to talk to me. My mind is often overwhelmed in his gentleness that is extended to me. You see the error that produced the embarrassment was a trivial thing. Easily fixed. Easily remedied. The change took only two or three minutes.
But my God knows me. He knew that the true root of the problem was not embarrassment, but pride. I said yesterday, let’s call these things what they are. And so there is my ugliness. Pride. And it cost me. My pride caused me to lose my focus last night. I have a very, very narrow window of writing time these days. And I squandered the time wallowing in what I delicately tried to call embarrassment. I was in a funk and on a mission. Not a good combination. So, I set my writing aside last night and went to bed. And this morning, the Spirit was beside me before I even came fully awake. He was already speaking to me.
So, if you are reading my blog today, first of all, I am honored. Second of all, if you are reading this blog today it is because of the grace of God. And because love covers over a multitude of wrongs.
He had a routine spot on the Jericho road. Old Timaeus’ blind son had nothing more than an indentation in the rocks to lay down his cloak. No more than a wide spot in the road.
He shouted and banged his clay pot on the rocks scattered at his feet. Bartimaeus called out names and listened for particular voices. His hearing was sharp. His interpretations were astute. The residents of Jericho recognized him, but rarely did they acknowledge him.
He was unkempt, tattered and dirty. His nails were grimy. Bartimaeus’ eyes were cloudy—milked over and empty, but his blindness had made him bold. And he was either brave or a little crazy because he was begging on a dangerous and treacherous road.
You see, Bartimaeus was blind, but he wasn’t deaf. And he was certainly not dumb. He heard the talk on the street. He was privy to many private conversations. People tend to ignore beggars and treat blind men like they are invisible.
And he heard that Jesus was coming. Every snippet of conversation and information about this Rabbi was tucked away for future reference. He asked questions of anyone who got close enough. Jesus was on his way. Leaving Jericho.
Bartimaeus heard them coming long before anyone else did. He measured the step counts—in his head he knew how many steps it took from the bend in the road to his begging station.
And when he reached his count he started to shout. He shouted loud. He was determined to be heard. He was going to make sure of it.
“Son of David, have mercy on me.” Oh, so much said in this short sentence.
“Son of David, have mercy on me.”
And then they began to shush him. They rebuked him—people who normally swatted at him as if he were an annoying fly, people who almost always ignored his pleas for help—they told him to be quiet.
But Bartimaeus just shouted louder. The more they rebuked the more he shouted. The louder they got, the louder he got. Oh, how I love the audacity of this man! He didn’t care what anyone thought. He knew what he wanted.
He kept shouting, and Jesus heard.
Jesus looked around at the gathering. He told the people to call the man. Tell him to come to me.
And so they went and told this blind man to get up and go to Jesus. Now, don’t you wonder who held Bartimaeus’ hand? Who led him to Jesus? Honestly, it doesn’t seem like anyone does. No, he’s too eager. He’s ready.
Remember, he’s been waiting for this moment. This is his one chance. He’s heard the whispers about what this man can do. He has heard the conversations about the healings in other places. And he is not going to miss his chance. He’s so eager and ready that he jumps up and throws his cloak behind. Mind you, he actually throws it aside, getting it out of the way so it won’t hinder him. His cloak and his begging pot are his only valued possessions. But he doesn’t care; he’s not thinking about that cloak right then. And he becomes the begging pot. He doesn’t just want Jesus to put something into the pot. No, he wants this Jesus to put something in him. And Bartimaeus doesn’t just hope, he expects.
He would bet every coin in his pot on this.
Someone does guide him directly to Jesus.
And Jesus looks him in the eye.
How do I know this?
Because this is the kind of man Jesus is. Jesus understood that you needed to look a blind man in the eye.
Remember Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem. And here he is not but a few minutes out of Jericho and someone has already stopped him. But, watch him now. Watch Jesus. He stops in the middle of the road. Adds a delay to his purpose-driven itinerary and calls for a blind beggar to be brought to him.
A worthless blind, beggar.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
Do you realize what type of language this is? Right before Jesus set out to leave Jericho there was a hard-nosed, pride-filled discussion among his closest followers. And Jesus said to them that he had come to serve, not to be served.
Jesus’ question to the blind beggar was spoken in common servant language. What can I do for you? Jesus will always embody and employ what he wants us to be. If he asks us to be servants he is going to show us how to be servants.
“What do you want me to do for you?” He asks.
Did you catch that?
Jesus asks Bartimaeus what he wants. Not what he needs. No, what he wants.
And Bartimaeus told him exactly what he wanted. He didn’t stand there and hem-haw. He didn’t make excuses and try to justify his answer. He just blurted out exactly what he wanted.
And I just want to weep with Bartimaeus’ answer.
“Rabbi, I want to see.”
Oh, Bartimaeus, how he speaks my heart.
Oh, my Jesus, I want to see.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He will not pass this way another time. He will not see Bartimaeus again.
Watch him now. Watch Jesus.
In compassion he reached out and touched the blind man’s eyes.
“Receive your sight.”
Listen carefully. There WILL come a time (more than once) when Jesus will be passing by us. And we best be shouting his name. And when others try to censor us, when they try to get us to not be so bold, so forthright, so vocal we should short louder. (Did you notice it was the religious and the disciples who rebuked Bartimaeus?)
And what will we do when we cry out his name and he turns to us, calls us to him and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Will we stutter and stammer. Will we step back and try to think of the correct thing to ask Jesus to do for us? Will we allow pride to get in the way? False humility? The voices and expectations of others?
He’s asking right now. What do you want me to do for you?
Will I follow Bartimaeus and answer honestly?
Mark 10:46-52; Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43 and Mark 10:35-45