Recently, I’ve been walking through and reading the book of Mark and have been continuously smacked with how much of Jesus story I either forgot about or didn’t catch everything going on in the scene. This story is no exception. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and ultimately his death. He is walking from Jericho and a huge crowd surrounds him when this scene takes place:
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.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52 ESV)
The first thing I notice is the beggar in this story. He is blind, but once he hears that Jesus is on the road, he shouts out to him. The second thing I notice is the name in which he calls Jesus: “…Son of David”. Here, the blind beggar declares a Messianic title of Jesus, showing the audience (both then and now) that he believes Jesus to be the King Israel has been waiting for. This man can not see, yet he sees Jesus better than most do. This man doesn’t know Jesus personally, yet he knows Jesus better than most.
The next thing to notice is the crowd. Their response to Bartimaeus always shocks me, why would they shut him down? It was as if they were saying: “Jesus is a busy guy and doesn’t need to be distracted by some blind guy”. Which, if they knew Jesus, they would know that’s foolish. Here they clearly show their lack of knowledge (sight?) about Jesus (despite their proximity).
Next, we see that the shutting down from the people in the crowd doesn’t deter the beggar…in fact he shouts all the more! He (from a cultural perspective), a lowly beggar should be subject to those above him. Not only this, but if someone who knows someone tells you (someone who doesn’t know the someone) that he is too busy, the general rule is you believe them and stop persisting. Yet, this beggar had better sight of Jesus, despite his “not knowing him”.
I think we as Christians need to pause here. I fear that we have become arrogant in our “knowledge” of Jesus and think we know Jesus better than non-Christians due to our proximity.
I think we have been the crowd that shuts those screaming for Jesus out.
I fear we feel Jesus is too busy loving us, that we can’t possibly let the beggar have some of Jesus time.
Or, our arrogance has led us to believe…truly believe that Jesus loves us more because we go to church and say we “know him”.
This blind beggar saw a Jesus that the seeing crowds surrounding him did not. The beggar called to Jesus with a knowable name “Son of David” and knew Jesus could heal him, if Jesus so desired.
Then, Jesus, hearing the mans shouts calls him to come.
This is where it gets funny to me, because the way the people respond to this. They say to the man “take heart! He’s calling you!” It almost sounds like they are trying to say to the guy: “be encouraged because he will hear you out” all the while they were the ones trying to shut him up! I sense an arrogance about this response. Almost like a “You made the cut kid! Good job!” As if they were already on the team…it just feels weird to me and I sense the Spirit saying to me: “You act like this to those who don’t yet know me. Marvin, you’ve acted arrogantly to true seekers after me. Your reaction has harmed some”.
This is me. I forget how far Christ has brought me. I forget where I could/should be without Him. I forget that the blind beggars who do not know Christ could be myself (and in fact was me at one point in time).
Then, Jesus asks the man what he desires. I always chuckle when Jesus does this…I mean seriously, a blind guy is asking you for a miracle and you ask him what miracle he desires? Jesus is God, so I know he has motives in it, I know there is a deeper probing within in it…but it’s still ironic.
The man responds that he desires to see and Jesus obliges stating the mans faith has made him well. However, in the dialogue about the faith healing, Jesus says to the man: “Go your own way”. Jesus has said this to other people he’s healed and they walk away. John 5 shows a guy who was healed, then tattles on Jesus for healing him on the sabbath…so from seeing all these ungrateful guys, it shocked me to see this at the end: “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way”.
Not only did the man see the real, true Jesus while blind, this beggar made his way, Jesus’ way. He aligned himself to Jesus then and there. He didn’t walk away and dance and skip and shout in the town…he followed Jesus, right away. No excuses, no lame conversations, he simply followed Jesus.
People need Jesus. People are shouting for Jesus. We sometimes shut them out and anticipate them getting what they want from God and as soon as they do, they will leave. Not all of them will. Let’s ask the Spirit to lead us towards these types of beggars. Let’s ask the Spirit to teach us how to lift them closer to the Lord rather than shutting them out from Him.