This summer, as part of my internship, I have been leading a Bible study on the Gospel of Mark. Last night we were studying chapter 10. The discussions have been lively and engaging. There has been no fear in dialogue and difference. I was pretty exhausted and worked up in the same breath by the time we got to the healing of Bartimaeus.
I was there blind, begging by the roadside. I was tired, weary, and dirty. I smelled and people did not treat me like I was human. I am tired of just getting by. I want more. I feel no hope. I have no future outside of my dirty little spot outside the gates.
Inside I have given up. I occupy nothing more than a shell. I have gone somewhere else. Decency and order are no longer elements I have the option of wielding. Injustice has weathered my face and time has cruelly crept by.
I have been here many times before in my life. I have felt abandoned. I have been blind. I have begged on the side of the road. I have left decency and order on the wayside.
As I was teaching I found myself deeper and deeper into the text. I read, 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!” I had tears in my eyes. I was crying out, HAVE MERCY ON ME!
Here was the hope. Present is the miracle that society dangled before his nose. Jesus has healed many before this. What do I have to lose? I am a blind beggar on the road side…something primal stirs inside me.
I do not think to cry out. I just cry out. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” From the depths of my soul floods these words. I offend people around me. They all try to stop me. I too want to stop. But I cannot. I am being yelled at and some try to hold my mouth. I cannot stop crying out. I am beyond worry or concern. I will be heard or I will die. I cry out again and again. The more I cry out the deeper my bellows reach into my heart.
Jesus stops. Regardless of his motivation, he stopped. Jesus calls Bartimaeus. Now with tears streaming down his face and dust clinging onto the tears he fumbles to get up and he approaches Jesus. Bartimaeus blindly and distraught comes to Jesus.
Jesus says, “What do you want me to do for you?” After all of the spectacle there is no wild response. Jesus calmly asks a question and Bartimaeus calmly responds, “Master, let me see again.” Bartimaeus’ experience of life has steeled his response. There is nothing else to contend with his desire. His restoration within the culture rested in his ability to see. He had faith in the power of Christ Jesus to restore him in society. Most of all Jesus restored Bartimaeus as human. Jesus gave the will to life to him.
Bartimaeus blindly came to Jesus when he was called. He spoke honestly absent of empty candor with Jesus. He departed with his eyes opened and followed Jesus on the way to death. It sounds important.