There are so many of us, who like blind Bartimaeus, have spent the majority of our lives sitting beside a road begging for the freedom to live our lives to the full. Begging for freedom from guilt, deep hurts, unforgiveness, addictions.
As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”
Some of us live our lives blinded by our prejudices, jealousies, religious beliefs, addictions. Blinded in the sense that we only see what we want to see and yet we long to be set free from this blindness but don’t know how to achieve our sight. Some of us are trapped in our pasts, in our childhoods of hurt and pain. As I read the sentence ‘Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus)’ my heart was saddened that a father would allow his blind son to beg in the streets, and yet, who am I to judge – I don’t know what the father’s life was like. Between the ages of twelve and twenty-six I saw my father six times and I have spent a lot of my life sitting on the side of the road begging for his attention. A lot of grownups are still begging to be released from the hurts of their pasts.
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”. Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
Bartimaeus knew of Jesus because he called out ‘Jesus, son of David’ and he also knew that Jesus had the power to help him because he begs ‘have mercy on me’. A lot of us know about Jesus, pay lip service to Him but remain sitting at the side of the road crying out for mercy. We are too busy bemoaning our fate that we do not hear His voice saying ‘Call him, call her’.
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you”. Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see”
We are so often caught up in our own self-pity and misery that we do not hear others, together with Jesus, calling out to us. It is often far easier to remain sitting, covered with our cloaks, being blinded by our own self-pity at the unfairness of life. It is often far easier to be trapped in our own addictions then to acknowledge those addictions and have to fight to be free of them, much less effort to allow our emotions to run gamut then to learn self-control and self-discipline. Sometimes we are not even sure what exactly it is that we want Jesus to do for us.
For our lives to change we need to physically ‘throw our cloaks aside, jump to our feet and run to Jesus.’
“Go”, said Jesus, “your faith has healed you”. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
It is at this point that many of us acknowledge our sight (our salvation in Jesus Christ) and even walk beside Him for a little way but then the cares of the world start to weigh us down and we find we are still trapped in our addictions/lack of self-control/feelings of worthlessness, and so we end up sitting at the side of the road again, begging for freedom from the chains that bind us. We will always have our salvation in Christ but we will not be living in the fullness of Him because of our own pride. We are too embarrassed to admit that we are addicted to alcohol, gambling, pornography, drugs, over-eating, to losing our temper to anger to depression …our pride stops us from seeking help. It is only at the point when we seek help, acknowledge to others that we are struggling and start to fight against these feelings and addictions that we will receive our healing. Many of us live secret lives of shame because of our pride. Often praying and begging God to heal us is just not enough – we need the help of others together with God to change our lifestyles.
There is a song by Van Morrison that sums it up perfectly:
When will I ever learn to live in God?
When will I ever learn?
He gives me everything I need and more
When will I ever learn?
Whatever it takes to fulfill his mission
That is the way we must go
But you’ve got to do it your own way
Tear down the old, bring up the new
Throw off your cloak and start living in the fullness of the life that God has ordained for you.
Story of Bartimaeus, Mark 10:46-52