Lessons from Bartimaeus

classroom

Following Jesus means sitting in the classroom of Christ for life.

At various points in our spiritual journey, we are reminded of this great truth of Scripture: “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24 NIV).

Jesus, of course, is both teacher and master, speaking these words to his disciples in reference to himself. It seems, though, that while the Christian vocation of being a “servant” is emphasized within the church, there is not as much said about our call to be “students.”

The vary nature of being a disciple of Christ is taking a posture of learning. Jesus’ mission was very much reliant upon his vocation as teacher. If he was to inaugurate the Kingdom of God through his death, burial and resurrection, he would need adherents who could embody how the Kingdom was supposed to look and function. This was so important to Jesus, that he spent 40 days after his resurrection further instructing his disciples about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3).

Christ’s ministry of teaching was unique. He did not use lesson plans or confine his methods to words, but spent his life with his disciples, using the situations that arose on a daily basis as opportunities for his students to learn. His miracles were indeed no exception.

While the variation in the type and method of Jesus’ miracles is indicative of his desire to convey truth, it is also Christ’s intent for the reader to see himself in the recipient. In so doing, we not only find ourselves learning from the Master, but from those with whom he interacted.

To this effect, the Gospel of Mark presents us with the story of a man named, Bartimaeus. It reads:

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 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 10:46-52 ESV)

Bartimaeus teaches us several lessons in this account, more than I believe can be contained in this post. For this reason, I will be taking the next few posts to delve into how we can emulate a man whose life was radically changed. The first lesson is one that is pertinent to every believer’s personal journey with the Lord:

LESSON 1: WHEN WE DON’T SEE JESUS, CALL OUT TO HIM

. . . Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

Let me begin by stating the obvious. Jesus, we know, has ascended to heaven and can no longer be seen or touched. The one who is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) is no longer visible to us, though he has sent his own Spirit in his stead. (Admittedly, I cannot say that I have ever seen the Holy Spirit either.)

How, then, can a blind man be used as an illustration of how we should call to Jesus when we cannot see him, if no one can see him anyway? Well, we also know that Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14), and that his coming meant that he was revealing the true nature of the Father to the world; whatever the Son did is what the Father would do (John 5:19; 6:38). Consequently, we are assured that the exchanges Jesus had with those during his ministry in Palestine are reflexive of how God interacts with us now.

Again, we might not be able to see Jesus, but in our case, there are times where he evidences himself more than others. Our inability to see him could be a bout with depression, going through a divorce, being diagnosed with cancer or any other plight of life.

To clarify, these situations do not mean that he is not present! What often results, however, is an inability to detect his presence.

Acts 17:26-27 gives this interesting commentary: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (ESV).

Paul, addressing a group of unbelievers in Athens, tells them that God has orchestrated the circumstances of their lives in order that they would seek and find him. Though blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), Paul acts as the voice of God to his audience, with the hopes that they will follow the voice towards the one who is ultimately speaking. While he knows that they cannot see, God gives them a means to “feel their way toward him.”

If God orchestrates the life circumstances of those who do not even believe in him, how much more can be said for those who do believe? In fact, Psalm 37:23 reads, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (NLT).

God often uses situations in our lives to draw us closer to him. Even when we cannot “see” him, though, we have this assurance: “he is actually not far from each one of us.”

Like Bartimaeus, we must grab ahold to the voice of hope! Once he “heard” that it was Jesus who was in his vicinity, he did not hesitate to lift up his voice and cry out to the Lord. Just as he grabbed Jesus’ ear, we know that we have the ear of our God. As Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.”

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~ by christianballenger on May 4, 2015.

One Response to “Lessons from Bartimaeus”

  1. […] Previously, we noted that Bartimaeus’ example teaches us to call out to Jesus when we do not see him. Though blind, he cried out to the Lord for his mercy. His ability to call upon the Lord was not impaired by his vision. […]

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