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“Many 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 said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the man who was blind, saying to him, ‘Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.’ And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And replying to him, Jesus said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And the man who was blind said to Him, ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.”—Mark 10:48–52 (NASB)
Let’s revisit the scene which took place nearly 2,000 years ago. A religious parade trailed toward Jerusalem. Thousands of people made the long trek to Passover, participating in ceremonial feasts and long-held traditions. Following one another through the dusty roads of Jericho, they passed by a blind man named Bartimaeus. Some gave him slight notice, but one Man stopped and called him over.
Mark’s retelling of what happened to Bartimaeus that day is a definitive example of the calling of Christ, genuine faith, and true discipleship. He is a humbling antithesis to the two disciples who were more interested in their prestige in the kingdom of God when Jesus asked them, “What do you want Me to do for you” (Mark 10:36 NASB). Because when Jesus posed the same question to Bartimaeus, his response was simply to be made whole. We sometimes do that–we follow our carnal desires rather than the desire of God.
Bartimaeus may have been physically blind, but those around him were spiritually blind. It’s rather ironic, because as people mindlessly traveled to usher in Passover (which celebrated the future Messiah and salvation), they were blindly unaware the Messiah was already in their midst! Yet, this blind man knew. He saw. He cried out.
Not only did Bartimaeus cry out, but when led to Jesus, he left his cloak behind–a decision born from faith. Think of it this way: You’re in Times Square at Christmastime. Now, close your eyes, drop your wallet, and walk away. What are the odds you’ll find it again with your eyes closed? But if you knew you could retrieve it with your eyes opened, you would faithfully let it go. Bartimaeus cast off his most treasured possession knowing he would be healed.
There’s a lovely paradigm in the life of this blind man, and it’s one of Mark’s motifs in his writing. Mark conveys the idea that many people who believe they are following Jesus are merely following an idea, a crowd, a tradition. They are spiritually blind. Yet, Bartimaeus comes on the scene with no premise, no motive, no shallowness of religiosity . . . just an awareness of who Jesus is, faith He will meet his needs, and the desire for true discipleship by following Him.
I think of the apostle Thomas after Jesus’ resurrection and his disbelief. Thomas had spent three years with Jesus, participated in the religious parade, yet he needed proof. Jesus’ words to Thomas resonate in light of Bartimaeus, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29 NASB).
Pause: How would you describe Bartimaeus’ faith?
Practice: Genuine faith is something the Lord delights in. I think we all can tune into God and practice real faith.
Pray: Heavenly Father, faith in Jesus Christ is a gift given only by You. I want it to be very real in my life. If I lack it, I ask for it; if I am weak in it, I ask for strength to embrace all that it entails. That it would be tested and purified, proved and strengthened. Thank You for the blessings that come from faith. For Your glory, I pray. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.