I Am Bartimaeus
Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. Mark 10:46
Today’s passage tells the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who sat by the road as Jesus happened to pass. Destitute and desperate, he had no difficulty recognizing his profound need. Bartimaeus knew he couldn’t fix himself, and so, when he heard Jesus was near, he did what he could to pursue him, crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! (Mark 10:48).” He made such a ruckus that he was chastised by the crowd, but Jesus heard him.
Jesus didn’t go directly to him though. Instead, he called Bartimaeus to come to him. The blind beggar wasted no time. Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus (Mark 10:50). Believing in Christ, he asked for healing. And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way (Mark 10:52).
I have been – and in some ways still am – Bartimaeus. I’ve been blind, lost, hopeless, and unable to fix myself. Bartimaeus’ story then, offers several lessons for me – and for us.
First, Bartimaeus had to boldly admit his need. This probably wasn’t difficult for a blind beggar, but many of us have been profoundly slow in admitting that we’re a mess and that we need help. As long as we stubbornly refuse to recognize our struggle and insist on keeping it a secret, we’re destined to remain enslaved to it.
Second, Bartimaeus believed in and pursued the answer to his condition. Jesus didn’t just go find Bartimaeus and force him into a life of discipleship. Jesus called Bartimaeus to come to him. This wasn’t easy for a blind man, but it was necessary for Bartimaeus to act out his faith. We also, in our struggles, must do whatever it takes to pursue the answer to our greatest needs. As Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, we too must violently abandon whatever attachments prevent us from following Christ.
Finally, after his encounter with Jesus, Bartimaeus didn’t just go his own way. Rather, he gladly gave up the old life to follow Christ. We may or may not get the miracle we think we want, but either way, it’s only in daily following the new life that we are able to abandon the old, which is the miracle we truly need.