I came across this passage this afternoon as I was reading and was reminded of the powerful lessons that it communicates. Luke 18:35-32 (NASB) on BibleGateway says it like this...
"Now as Jesus was approaching Jericho, a man who was blind was sitting by the road, begging. But when he heard a crowd going by, he began inquiring what this was. They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Regain your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God."
1. Bartimaeus was doing what he'd always done. He's blind so his options were limited right? Not so today, but in this time in history and in this culture, the blind were somewhat helpless. He was quite literally dependent on the hand outs of those around him. His daily life consisted of begging people for charity.
As a blind man , he was doing what was expected of him. Don't miss that, "He was doing what was expected of him." That's likely where many of us spend a majority of our lives, doing what's expected of us by those around us. We achieve what's expected of us. We accomplish what those around us have spoken over our lives. We hold ourselves up in comparison to those around us; those that look like us, live where we live, experienced similar upbringings as we did, are similar in age and status to us, and we simply follow suite. We do what we've always done and what we've started to believe is really our only option.
2. As soon as he heard the commotion surrounding the arrival of Jesus on the scene he began to inquire, "What's happening?" He wasn't sure what was happening but he knew something different was brewing and he kept hounding those around him until he received an answer. Too often we become content to just stay where we are. We sense something on the horizon of life, we sense God moving in the distance but we've become so convinced that's what's possible isn't for us. We've become convinced that anything good can't be for us that we don't even bother to inquire, "What's happening?"
3. What I love about the account of Bartimaeus is his tenacity. As a blind beggar I'm sure he'd received more than his fair share of rejection.
"You don't matter."
As soon as he realizes that it's Jesus passing by he goes into full on "throw the free t-shirt my way" guy. You know what I'm talking about right? You're at a game of some sort and they're throwing out the free t-shirts to the crowd during a break. Who get's the t-shirt thrown in their direction? The guy or gal that makes the biggest scene obviously. That's basically Bartimaeus. He loses his ever lovin' mind and will not stop screaming until he's sure that Jesus hears him. Despite the voices of those around him, despite their best efforts to quiet him, he persists. If that's not a low hanging fruit for you and me I don't know what is. Go get it! Don't stop! Keep pushing! Ignore those in your circle who don't care as much as you do. Ignore those who are more concerned with maintaining the status quo, go after your miracle. St. Augustine is credited with saying, "Work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God." Be tenacious!
4. I can imagine the crowd quieting as Jesus turned His attention towards this blind beggar. Perhaps the crowd assumed that Jesus Himself was getting ready to chastise him. Instead, Jesus says, "What do you want me to do for you?" Bartimaeus could have simply asked for some change, perhaps a little food, maybe a new mat to lie on as he begged for money each day, any of which would have been much needed and more in line with what those around him expected of his big ask. Instead, Bartimaeus throws caution to the wind and goes all in. "Lord, I want to regain my sight." That's the whole enchilada! This isn't Bartimaeus just aiming high, this is Bartimaeus shooting for the moon. I wonder what thoughts were running through his head as he made this ask.
What do I have to lose?
Am I even worthy of something like this?
Did He even hear me?
Is He still there?
Whatever doubts may have been running through his head, all his questions were answered with the next words Jesus uttered, “Regain your sight; your faith has made you well.”
I wonder what my faith has afforded me lately? Where have I lacked faith? Where have I scaled back my ask for a lack of faith? What have I settled for because I'm simply doing what I've been told I should be doing? What's expected of me. What have I settled for simply because I haven't been tenacious enough to scream for something more? The people at those games who never get the free t-shirts are the ones who never stand up and act like a fool. They never scream at the top of their lungs nor stretch out their hands as if their lives depended on it.
It's my prayer that you and I would never settle for what's always been. That we would keep our eyes on the horizon anxiously awaiting a move of God and that once we see it, we would lose our ever lovin' minds until we manage to get some of it.
Be encouraged and keep moving forward.