The story of Blind Bartimaeus occurs in the Gospel of Mark and concerns the healing of a blind beggar called Bartimaeus. We pass by him every day. He sits under the 1-5 overpass in Seattle with his head down, his tent behind him and his cup of change outstretched before him. We pass him by and ignore him and think to ourselves, look how dirty our city has become, so much garbage everywhere, homeless living on every street corner begging for change. Something has to be done.
What would happen if Jesus were to show up in the flesh in Seattle? Can you picture him walking under the 1-5 overpass, on his way out of the city, surrounded by a throng of people, along sidewalks lined with the city's homeless population? Now, rewind back to Bartimaeus. Perhaps this 'ruffian' heard the crowds shouting or maybe he simply caught wind of the name, 'Jesus of Nazareth'. We do not know. We do know that his finely trained hearing alerted him to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by and he was not about to let this once in a lifetime opportunity go to waste. This was the last time that Jesus would journey into Jerusalem before being crucified, and thus the last opportunity to receive his healing.
Bartimaeus called out to him, shouting above the roar and noise of the crowds. He addressed him as 'Son of David', affirming his belief that Jesus was the Messiah (see 2 Samuel 7:14–16). He called out for mercy and for healing. Perhaps Jericho was not so different from Seattle, however surely this man would have been stoned for calling out the name of Jesus so fervently in my city. The crowds shouted back at him, yelling at him to be silenced, but he ignored their scornful remarks and called out even louder.
Jesus took notice of his cries and called him over. Immediately, Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and ran over to Jesus. Can you even picture this? A man throwing off one of his only possessions and probably one of the only things he had to keep himself warm and running toward the man he believed was worth giving up everything for. How often do we even come close to living with such faith? with such abandon? When he came to Jesus, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" Bartimaeus could have asked for anything. Instead, his request was simple. "I want to see". I can't help but believe that Bartimaues was asking for much more than just his physical sight. I think he wanted to see the world with fresh eyes, to fully see himself and to know that he was valued and not forgotten in the eyes of the creator, even though he was seen as nothing in the eyes of the world; passed over every day as people made their way in and out of Jericho. Bartimaeus came to Jesus with his desire, trusting that Jesus was both willing and able to fulfil it. When we come to God with our prayers and desires, how often do we really believe that Jesus is both willing and able to grant our requests, our pleas, the desires of our hearts?
Go!", Jesus said, "your faith has healed you". We are told that he immediately received his sight. Did he return to the roadside to continue begging? Did he return to his group of friends or his way of life? No. His response was immediate. He followed Jesus, and I don't mean that he figuratively followed Jesus, no he actually began to walk alongside him, following him along the road as it led out of Jericho.
This story is profound because it gives us a window into God's nature and sheds light on the type of faith and prayer that are pleasing to God. Bartimaeus took a great risk. He did not care what others thought about him. He was not held back by pride. Bartimaeus's cry of faith stemmed from his belief that this 'Jesus' was not like other religious leaders. this 'Jesus' cared for people like him, people cast off from society, the poor and the needy and the beggar. Whereas other religious leaders believed that an individual's misfortune, poverty or physical ailments were a result of God's judgement, Bartimaeus believed that this God was FOR him; a God who cares for the poor and brokenhearted (Psalm 34:6, 18).
The story of Bartimaeus is a story that calls us to throw off our 'security', just as Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, his one item of comfort and security. It calls us to 'live in the dirt', to take risks, to not care what those around us may think. It is a story that radically challenges common perceptions concerning success, identity, status and life priorities. More importantly, it is a story that calls us to great faith and to great action.
Go now and play in the dirt. Live with Bartimaeus Boldness.
I am a Registered Nurse, MPHer, Global Health junkie, humanitarian, artist, dreamer, wanderlust laden-adventure seeker, Christ Follower, friend, sister and daughter. I like dark chocolate, micro brews, Wild Alaskan Salmon, yellow curry, cinnamon, chapstick, mountains and oceans. I am passionate about seeking justice in our communities, society and the world. I long to see people reconciled to their fellow man, their environment and to their God and have a specific interest in the healing, restoration and reconciliation of those who have experienced deep trauma.
I have been traveling and volunteering abroad since I was 14 years old and these experiences have radically changed my life. It all began in the small community of Ruiz, Mexico. Click 'here' to read the story. Over the years I have traveled to 30 countries, 10 of those of which I have lived/worked. I am passionate about helping others to do the same, especially the younger generation. I love making connections and bear witness to the fact that real life cannot be lived within the confines of your four walls of comfort. Faith is uncomfortable. It requires wading into the water until you are nearly submerged. It is only in those times when you are truly in over your depth, where your character is formed and refined. It is in these deep waters where God meets you. Just as the repetitive crashing of waves make smooth the jagged ocean stones, so will your character be refined. He will not let you drown. You however, will never come to this realization unless you wade into the water and let it rush in over your head. I've included a download/link below, to one of my favorite songs, which is all about being 'in over your head'. The Bartimaeus Boldness that Christ asks for does not mean that everyone needs to move to Africa. This boldness can occur upon walking out of your front door, in the very neighborhood that you live in, but you must allow yourself to become uncomfortable. You must step out, you must be willing to learn and to see the world from a lens other than your own. What are you waiting for? Get out there! Start where you are at. Love those around you. Meet your neighbors. Find a cause that you are passionate about. Advocate for those on the margins, the oppressed, the outcast, the forgotten. Call your representatives. Pray for your city. Seek Justice. Love Mercifully. Walk Humbly with your God. Micah 6:8. Now Go!