Imagine yourself in a room that is completely dark without the least flicker of light. Then, imagine staying in that room for years, constantly groping in the dark as you navigate your way around to find food and to do other needs. If you can entertain that imagination, then you are close to sharing the experience of visually challenged people.
Most people consider blindness as the worst among the other impairments in our human experience. But, of course, the curiosity that goes with seeing is very powerful as it gives us visual information on how to act or react to our external stimulus. So, which would you choose if you have just one option: blindness or deafness?
The “Interruption” of the blind Bartimaeus
The Gospel of Mark (10:46-52) gives us an interesting narrative about Bartimaeus, a blind man. Earlier in the same Gospel (Mark 8:22-25), people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to heal him. We could recall that Jesus took the man outside the village and healed him after rubbing saliva on his eyes and touching them twice.
The story of the blind Bartimaeus comes with some peculiarities. He was sitting by the roadside begging as Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem through Jericho. Suddenly, he could hear a crowd approaching, and his inquiry confirmed that Jesus was passing and instantly acted in a way that would leave us with so many lessons.
The first thing he did was to call upon the name of the Lord, which is a biblical principle. The prophet Joel and St. Paul both affirm that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13).
Furthermore, he chooses to use the name that identifies the mission of Christ. So, he says, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” Son of David is the functional description of the Messiah or Anointed One. So, Bartimaeus was saying, “Christ the Savior, have pity on me!”
The crowd hushed Bartimaeus to be silent, but the narrative says that he shouted even more. So quick lesson, do not allow anyone or any situation to shut you up. Keep calling and do not give up or grow weary, for you will get an answer in due time if you do not despair (Galatian 6:9).
The persistence of Bartimaeus made Jesus stop and invite him over. Now, the crowd asking him to shut up turned around to encourage him to meet the Lord. Notice that people would change their views when your story changes; it is human, don’t worry about it.
Furthermore, Bartimaeus had first to throw aside his cloak, and springing up, he goes to meet the Lord. The cloak here represents all the things that constitute comfort zones in our lives. It could be a position, rank, or any material platform. You may not encounter the Lord unless you step away from your comfort zone, as your comfort zone may not be your conquer zone!
The Lord asked Bartimaeus to state clearly what he wanted, and he said, “I want to see .” The answer shows that he was not born blind, and he was not seeking alms because he was also a beggar. Here we learn how to be specific and clear in our requests to God. You can predict what followed next; Bartimaeus got his sight back and followed Jesus along the way.
Moving Forward: Adopting the Faith Pattern of the Blind Bartimaeus
Bartimaeus was blind, but he saw Jesus before that historic meeting that restored his sight. How did he see Jesus? By his steadfast faith. He only needed to hear that Jesus was passing that way, and everything changed for him. St. Paul would tell us that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), and in another place, he says that we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
Pay attention to the fundamentals of divine restoration we see in the story of Bartimaeus; if you care to receive the same in your life, they include hearing, believing, confessing, and then receiving. St. Paul would say:
The word is near you on your lips, and in your heart; if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and is saved. (Romans 10:8-10).
Going back to our point of departure, the blind Bartimaeus saw Jesus with the eye of faith though he could not see him with the physical eye. On the contrary, the hushing crowd showed blindness in their faith as they could not see what the blind man saw, namely, the saving power of the Son of David who was passing. Bartimaeus couldn’t have been the only blind person on that street, but he was the only one that saw the Son of David, and he had mercy on him as he requested.
Did you know that Jesus is still passing by you daily? How much of the Lord do you see in the people and events around you? You could be sitting on the roadside of life like Bartimaeus, hoping to get help, but would you be able to recognize the real help when He comes?
Challenge your faith today, rise from your comfort zone and meet the Lord who would surely deliver you from your spiritual blindness and give you a transformed life and new sight!
God bless you!