Christ the Healer: Bartimaeus

Christ the Healer: Bartimaeus

Christ the Healer: Bartimaeus.

Please read Mark 10:46-52.

  1. Bartimaeus. He is  a blind beggar pleading for food or money outside of Jericho. We don’t his real first name, because Bartimaeus simply means “son of Timaeus.” We do know his name ironically means “highly prized” or “esteemed.” He is outside the city gates, by the side of the road, an uncomfortable embarrassment to the town folk. Jericho is a wealthy resort town run by the Romans, and they all find him repulsive. He is also a living reminder that by Jewish law he shouldn’t even have to beg. The Mosaic Law (Lev. 25) states clearly that the Jewish people should take care of anyone in their midst with a disability. God didn’t like the idea of one of His chosen begging to survive. If someone now is barely surviving, and needs a helping hand, should people take care of this privately or should the government take care of it? Who should provide the safety net?
  2. Cherished. Are there times when you don’t feel especially cherished or esteemed or prized? We all just might depend too much on other people for our affirmation. Maybe we should take our cues from, and focus our self-worth on, the Creator of the universe, who says that each of us is made in His image, and thus have dignity, and worth, and are sacred. According to God, we are all prize packages! Now that’s the vote of confidence I can depend on. What situations tend to take away your self-respect or make you feel less than prized?
  3. Hope. Bartimaeus has probably heard that this roving healer/rabbi named Jesus is coming thorough town, and that He has already healed a blind man in Bethsaida (Mark 8). Bartimaeus thinks He may be the Messiah we’ve all been waiting for, so if he just sits there by the side of the road, maybe this Jesus will see him. The dust in the air is so thick, he can barely breathe. There must be a big crowd with Jesus. It doesn’t help that all the town dogs are barking in excitement as they scamper around all these people. Bartimaeus surely hears them as they approach nearby.
  4. The Side of the Road. Do you ever feel like Bartimaeus, pushed aside, benched, put on the sidelines away from the normal life of ordinary people? Have you ever been rejected like him, made to feel like an outsider looking in, on the side of the road in a busy world, away from all the action? That’s a lonely and uncomfortable place to be. Well, let’s follow the story and see what hopeful Bartinaeus does as he chokes on everyone’s dust. There is no one willing to speak for him in all this chaos, so he shouts. Did you ever have to  do that to get everyone’s attention?
  5. Shouting. We can approach Jesus the same way, boldly and with confidence. Remember that God’s judgment throne is actually called the Throne of Grace. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. Of course, Jesus will hear you even if you whisper. And if all you can do is groan, He will hear that too, and even understand your groanings. If you are lonely, afraid, needy just like Bartimaeus, approach Jesus and tell Him what’s on your mind. Jesus is the best listener in the world. You don’t even have to shout. Have you ever approached God and didn’t know how to say what is on your mind? Have you ever felt that you were having a hard time getting God’s attention?
  6. Faith. Even though he is now covered in dust, and swallowed up by the noise, Bartimaeus figured out how to get Jesus’ attention. He decided to give loud voice to his little bit of faith. He acclaimed Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, and did so without embarrassment. So he shouts those words that he hopes will stop Jesus in His tracks: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Have you ever had a little bit of faith that led to hope in your life?
  7. Messiah-Mercy. All the Jewish people knew that the anticipated Messiah, the Savior of the world, would come from the family line of King David. So, Son of David meant Messiah. They also knew that one of the main signs telling of the Messiah would be that He would bring sight to the blind (Isaiah 29, 35, and 42).  The Messiah would heal blindness, which was considered maybe the most spectacular miracle. Bartimaeus didn’t stop with calling Jesus the Messiah, though. He followed up with those two words that will stop Jesus every time: “Have Mercy!” Jesus loves to show mercy wherever He goes, and when you ask Him for it, it’s almost like you’ve put a wall in His way and He can’t go around it till He shows mercy. You ask Jesus for mercy, and you definitely have His attention. What do you want mercy for in your life right now? Can you think of someone else who needs His mercy?
  8. Jesus Stopped. Despite all the noise and confusion, Jesus heard his cries, and He stopped. All of a sudden, the crowd grew a bit quieter, wondering why the whole train of people have stopped too. What did all the people around Jesus start to say? They kept telling Bartimaeus to be quiet, for He was considered a big sinner who was cursed by God with blindness, unworthy to approach Jesus. So they kept saying things like,
    Shush, shush! Jesus is a busy man and doesn’t have time for a sinner like you.” But Bartimaeus ignored them. After all, this was the chance of a lifetime for him! He will not be denied. He will holler at the top of his lungs, forever, if that’s what it takes to get Jesus’ attention. But Jesus heard, and He stopped. That in itself is a miracle. Have you ever had to show the same determination as Bartimaeus?
  9. Talk On. Do you know that when you want to talk to Jesus, instead of having people telling you to be quiet, you have a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on? You have a Christian family of brothers and sisters urging you to talk to Him. They won’t discourage you or tell you to pipe down. You might run into people who say things like, “Don’t waste your breath, you may as well not say anything.” But don’t listen to anyone who would discourage you to talk with Jesus. Be like Bartimaeus.  Talk to Him all you want, and don’t worry about making a scene.
  10. Trust. Because Bartimaeus hoped in Jesus, he kept shouting. He didn’t give up. He trusted somehow that Jesus would actually heal him. Even though he never saw Jesus or any of His miracles, he believed in Him. He didn’t hold back, he kept making a scene. He trusted Jesus even though he didn’t see Jesus. Think about that. You too can trust Him even though you haven’t seen Him. So he then heard Jesus call out to him, and his friends brought him to Jesus. Bartimaeus was so excited that he threw off his tattered and filthy coat and jumped up onto his feet in hope and joy. And then, there he was, standing right in front of Jesus. What would you, still blind, be thinking right now?
  11. Interruption. Jesus was walking along, and then He stopped. He stopped in the road to talk to a blind beggar. It seems Jesus was always ready to be interrupted. He was patient and observant in His kindness. Here He was, walking steadily down the road, probably thinking about His coming Passion in Jerusalem, and He still was ready to change His agenda. Jesus, always interruptable.
  12. Healed. Amazing! Jesus stopped to heal Bartimaeus, and He didn’t even have to touch him. He just gave the word, and Bartimaeus could see! Isn’t that just like in creation, when all that was needed was a word, and it was done? Well, this is a new world for Bartimaeus, that’s for sure. Despite the jostling crowd, He surely looked at Bartimaeus as if he was the only person in the world. What was the first thing Bartimaeus saw with his new eyes? What would you like to see first?
  13. Blindness. Aren’t we all blind in some way? We simply don’t see as well as we should. Blind to God’s goodness and wisdom, blind to God’s power and glory, blind to the needs of others, blind to our own needs. Blind to truth. We can be blind in understanding Scripture, in how to worship. We all need to be healed of blindness. Praise the Lord, Jesus can bring us from darkness to light and heal our blindness, just as He healed the blindness of Bartimaeus. In what ways are you blind?
  14. Up Close and Personal. It’s interesting… The closer Bartimaeus got to Jesus, the more personal Jesus became to him. Bartimaeus went from stating a general statement of belief, “You are the Messiah,” to a personal statement, saying “My Master.” A general belief statement was not good enough. Bartimaeus wanted a personal relationship, he wanted more of a friendship with Jesus, not accepting a merely abstract acceptance of Him. The closer Bartimaeus got, the more personal Jesus became to him. To Bartimaeus, Jesus was generally the Lord, but He was also specifically MY Lord. To believe in a creed is one thing, an important thing,but having a personal relationship with Jesus is another thing entirely. And now, because the general Lord is his personal Lord, Bartimaeus does feel, finally, highly prized and esteemed.
  15. Healing. Jesus restored the sight of Bartimaeus, and He is offering the same to us. He wants to heal our spiritual blindness, our social blindness, to bring us back from the sidelines, to show us mercy. Nobody is an outsider with Jesus, everyone is on the inside of God’s love and friendship. Our eyes can now be open to the world, to God, and to His presence in and around us. He can open our eyes. “I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.” In what ways are you seeing better than before?
  16. Style. It’s fascinating that Jesus healed the blindness of Bartimaeus with just a word. Not long ago (Mark 8), He used quite a process to heal another blind man. He literally spit on the man’s eyes, and then touched them. The healing still wasn’t completed, so Jesus touched his eyes once again, and finally the healing was done. Then another time (John 9), Jesus healed a blind man by spitting on the ground, making mud, and then spreading the mud on the man’s eyes. Jesus then asked this man to wash off the mud in a nearby pool of water. Finally, that blind man could see. And then again (Matthew 9), Jesus simply touched the eyes of two blind men who were following Him everywhere. So that’s four scenes of Jesus healing the blind, and he healed those men in four different ways.
    Apparently, there is no one formula for His healing work. God is creative in His healing style, and so we shouldn’t expect all His miracles to look the same. He loves to do the unexpected. Do we sometimes put God in a box? In what ways?
  17. Following Jesus. After Bartimaeus was healed, he immediately started following Jesus as they all walked down the road. The healing was not the end of the story. He started a new life of friendship with Jesus, following Him, obeying Him. He was healed in order to follow. And now with his new sight, he knew the right direction to walk in. Right at Jesus’ heels. Did he follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem? Did he find other healed blind men on the road? Was he at the Cross when Jeus died? We don’t know, but Id like to think so. When Jesus heals us of our blindness, let’s be like Baritimaeus and follow Jesus down the road, to wherever that takes us. Do you believe that Jesus can still heal in our day and age?
  18. Big Question. What did we learn about Jesus in this story?