I was humbled today by the story of a blind man from 2000 years ago. A man who was known for being a beggar. A man that probably didn’t dress or smell like a “respectable” person. I bet he was the type of man that many of us would avoid on the street, but his wisdom, humility and desperation for Jesus stopped me in my tracks this morning.
So what was this incredible story? One day Jesus is coming into the city of Jericho. (The fact that this is the city where the people of God tore down walls with obedience and a shout of praise to God is more than appropriate.) When this man, Bartimaeus, recognizes the presence of Jesus he does the only thing that can be expected in the presence of a Holy God….He shouts for mercy. It seems that he was more than aware of his imperfections. The people of Jericho are bothered by this desperate cry for mercy, I assume because they feel it isn’t a befitting welcome to a rabbi, so they tell him to hush. After all, an outright disregard for one’s dignity is inexcusable in respectable societies. But Bartimaeus doesn’t stop. “He shouted all the more.” I knew I liked this guy when I read that. He didn’t give a crap about the opinions of other people in the face of His need and desire for God. I want to be more like that.
So Jesus stops and calls for this guy – which is interesting in and of itself. Jesus could have walked over to him. After all, he couldn’t see. But Jesus let him find his way. Maybe He wanted these people that had such decorum to see what a passionate desire for the things of God looked like. Scripture tells us that “Throwing his cloak aside, he (Bartimaeus) jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.”
For some reason that triggers something in my heart.
To see the passionate response of a man in need of mercy.
To imagine the decisive response to Jesus’ call.
Bartimaeus jumped up so fast that he lost his coat and didn’t even care. I wonder if he ran right out of his sandals too. He wasn’t going to waste any time or energy on respectability when it came to getting what he knew Jesus had. And he got it. Jesus asked him what he wanted and he laid it out. “I want to see”. And Jesus healed him because of the faith that compelled Bartimaeus. Because he was desperate. Because he didn’t worry about pleasing those around him. Because his desire for Jesus was greater than his desire to act “appropriately”. Bartimaeus floored me this morning with his unashamed, loud, persistent cry to be touched by Jesus all because he knew his need and he knew Jesus’ ability to meet that need.
I wonder if we really recognize our needs. I wonder if we really believe that Jesus can meet those needs. I wonder why we worry more about being embarrassed than we do about crying out from the depths of our souls for the mercy and touch of Jesus in our lives. I wonder if we realize how much more of God there is to receive each day of our lives. I wonder if we will ever be willing, as the church of Christ, to kneel in his presence, shout out our desire for more of Him, and throw aside anything that keeps us from running to all that He has for us as His children.
I wonder if I can live that way today…and tomorrow…and for the rest of my life. I wonder what I would see and experience and know if I did.
“Have mercy on me, Lord” so that I can see!