We do not receive our sight so that we can be better beggars.
We receive our sight so that we can walk with the King!
                                                                      --John Mark Reynolds


 

Near Jericho a certain blind man [Bartimaeus] sat by the road
begging. Hearing a multitude, he asked what it meant. So they told
him Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, "Jesus,
Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet;
but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him.
[{Mark 10:49-50}Then they called the blind man, saying, "Be of
good cheer. Rise, He is calling you." Throwing aside his garment,
he rose and came to Jesus.]

When he had come near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want Me
to do for you?" He said, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." Then
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you
well." Immediately he received his sight, and followed Him,
glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

                                                             Luke 18:35-43 NKJV, condensed


                                     Blinding Conditions

The walk south into Jericho was hot, dusty, and thirsty, but fresh-water
springs awaited the traveler and relieved all those discomforts. Jericho
was an oasis in the surrounding desert, and lies below sea level, near
where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. Centuries before,
Joshua and his invading army won a victory there with trumpets and
shouts which made the walls around the ancient city came tumbling
down.

It's where Jesus heard his name called, loud and clear, from somewhere
on the side of the road. "Jesus, Son of David." That title too is rich in
sacred history; only those who believed Jesus to be the promised
Messiah would use such a kingly term. "Son of David, have mercy on
me!"
It was a plea for help, and a cry of hope that rung out over the noise
of the bustling throng.

The voice was that of a blind beggar. Not in any way a part of the passing
parade, he was just sitting on the roadside taking advantage of the
kindness and generosity of anyone who happened to walk by. As much
as he longed to move about freely like other people, what could he do but
remain passive and dependent, although with a loud-mouthed ornery
streak not bound by conventional manners. When told to be quiet, he just
shouted all the more.

Like adults telling a child to be quiet those near the panhandler told him
to hush, as though what a poor beggar said was of no importance or
interest to anyone. The observer might notice some irony here, and
question who are the blind ones in this story. And who was annoying
whom? It was easy to see that the son of Timaeus was blind, but those
who marginalized him failed to notice their own blinding condition.

When Jesus heard his name called, he stopped and engaged the crowd.
"Bring that man to me." Suddenly Bartimaeus was in luck. Those nearby
changed their tune to, "Get up and get over here. Quickly! Don't be shy.
He's calling you."

Bartimaeus threw off the covering which protected him from the
elements and served as a security blanket; he wouldn't be needing that
anymore. Then he pushed himself up from the ground, and stood on his
feet. People politely stepped aside to give him free passage. Excitement
mounted as everyone waited to see what would happen next.

Jesus rewarded his gutsy persistence by asking a question we would all
like to hear. "What do you want me to do for you?"  Without hesitation,
Bartimaeus said he wanted that same advantage which all sighted people
have. His heart's desire was clear, and precise; and he laid it at the feet
of Jesus in the presence of many witnesses.

"Go, your faith has made you well!" Those were the words Jesus used 
several times when he healed someone. Within a crowd like the one in 
this text, faith is contagious, passing from one person to another and to 
all who do not reject it. Being blind, Bartimaeus had reason to despair 
and feel down on the world. Yet even though he had never seen Jesus 
perform a miracle, he trusted the reports he heard.

We know he believed because he threw away the cloak which identified
him as Jericho's blind beggar. He left it behind when he got up to take
his first step toward Jesus. He would no longer need it to keep him warm
as he sat by the side of the road. Bartimaeus was going for the whole
treatment. He didn't just want to become a better beggar. He was stepping
into a brand new identity.

Then after receiving his sight, Bartimaeus showed everyone just how
clear his vision was. Good gifts come from heaven. So he followed
Jesus along the way and led everyone in praising God for his salvation.
Healing and salvation are one and the same word in the Greek language.
The physical and the spiritual are of one piece. His faith had made him
whole. And just in time, because Jesus in human form would never pass
that way again. Bartimaeus experienced a new beginning; Jesus was
nearing the end, his life's work almost complete.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker:  Think of a time when you (or someone else) were noisy
                        and refused to be quiet.   Describe the situation.

 

On Sept 11, 2001, I was working at a small retail nursery on the south edge
of our little town. Throughout the day I heard reports about the attacks in
NYC and Washington, D.C. and the plane crash in western PA. I heard the
news but didn't want to believe it. It wasn't until I got home in the evening
and saw the events unfold on the TV screen that the reality of what occurred
began to sink in and I could deny it no more.
            Hearing about an event or actually seeing it--How are they different
                        and what makes something believable for you?

 

Bartimaeus had never seen one of Jesus' miracles. Faith for him required
that he believe the accounts of eyewitnesses until he experienced it himself.
            How is that similar to our situation when we read the Gospels?
How does Bartimaeus demonstrate that faith is a series of bold moves?

 

The son of Timaeus could be heard more clearly than he could be seen.
            Did he, or anyone else, really think Jesus would stop for him?
We generally try not to reward "bad" behavior!
            So why did Jesus respond positively to him?

 

One lone cry for mercy trying to be heard over the noise of a million
voices--Does the story of Bartimaeus illustrate what prayer is like?
            Explain your answer.

 

Contrast the blindness of Bartimaeus with the blindness of the sighted
people in the crowd who treated him as an insignificant outsider.
            When have your felt like you were in the position of blind Bartimaeus?
                        What part of his story describes you in some way?
            When have you been guilty of "blind spots" in your attitudes toward
                        certain other people?
            In what ways do people project the message, "Jesus is for me, not you."

 

Throwing off his cloak symbolized the faith of the blind beggar.
            Is there something which symbolizes your faith?   If so, what is it?
His blindness prevented him from joining the crowd.
            What deters you from following wherever Jesus wants to lead you?

 

Bartimaeus trusted the messengers who informed him of Jesus' call, he
trusted Jesus to heal him and he trusted his own ability to receive healing
from Jesus' hand.
            Rate how well you do these three things.

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