More lessons from Bartimaeus

When Jesus is asking, I seldom know the answer.

When Jesus is asking, I seldom know the answer.

Don’t you just love when the Lord wants to teach you something?

There is never a dull moment when you are sitting in the classroom of Christ. His curriculum is unpredictable and his methods unconventional. Perhaps nobody knew this better than the twelve men who spent the most time with Jesus during his three years of ministry.

Whether he was cursing a fig tree or leaving leftovers from a feast, everything Jesus did had a point to it. Even in his interactions with people, Jesus wanted his disciples to come away with a measure of understanding. For instance, after an exchange with the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus says to his disciples, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6).

Yes, it is even the Lord’s intention that we learn from others. Scripture is full of accounts for us to learn from, either of what or what not to do. We find, then, a few compelling reasons to imitate blind Bartimaeus in his exchange with Christ. The account is as follows:

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)

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.

We, though, learn still more lessons from Bartimaeus based on this account, including this one:

LESSON 2: WE MUST LET GO OF THE THINGS WE DEPEND UPON TO DRAW NEAR TO 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.

Someone recently made a comment to me that made me stop and think: “We may love God, but we don’t always trust him.” When I heard that, especially as it pertains to the conversation where this statement was made, I had to really examine myself. Even now, I have to ask myself, “Do I trust God enough to truly turn this over to him?”

Just as the air gets thinner the higher one goes into the atmosphere, approaching God necessitates lightening the load the closer one gets. Throughout Scripture, we see this truth espoused.

For Abel, it meant offering the “firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions” (Genesis 4:4). In the case of Abraham, it meant being willing to give his “only son” Issac (Genesis 22). Moses gave up the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26). Gideon abandoned military might (Judges 7). Many of the Twelve, themselves, gave up their careers (Matthew 4:18-22, 9:9).

Bartimaeus reached a similar moment of decision. Was he to cling to his cloak or go to Jesus?

You may ask, why is this “cloak” even significant?

In essence, his cloak was representative of his livelihood. Being blind, Bartimaeus was reduced to the only occupation he thought feasible for a man in his situation–a beggar. With the blind, lame and anyone else with a physical defect all pronounced as outcasts, there was not much room for climbing the social ladder. The only means of security for Bartimaeus in his current line of work, then, would be to have a cloak to battle the elements and keep warm.

Surely, this was no small decision for Bartimaeus. He saw his one opportunity to entreat Jesus’ presence into his life, but knew it had to mean letting go of the old to embrace the new. In the end, it didn’t seem like a very hard choice at all.

According to Mark, he not only abandoned his cloak, but threw it off, and “sprang up” to come to Jesus. From experience, I know that even if something is unpleasant it can be hard to leave after becoming accustomed to it. After all, comfort is comfort; just ask the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:6-7).

For Baritmaeus, though, it wasn’t about comfort, it was about Jesus making a grand appearance on the stage of his life. The apostle Paul had this understanding, and articulates it to the Philippians:

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:4b-9a)

There is truly nothing worth more than knowing and gaining Christ. Our basic call as disciples is to count up the cost of Christ’s invitation (Luke 14:28), which is to take up our own cross and follow him (v. 27), and evaluate for ourselves if this is a worthwhile decision.

We know, however, that this is a choice that we must make everyday, not just once in a lifetime. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Hebrews 11 chronicles many of the feats of faith accomplished by the saints of old, some of which have been identified in this post. In the midst of this chapter, we are told, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (11:6).

While faith is the basis on which we approach God, the fact remains that our pursuit requires that we shed some weight. Fittingly, after Hebrews 11 concludes, the writer goes on to say:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Since we have these examples, let them be an admonishment to us to not let anything hinder our pursuit of Jesus. Whether it is a relationship, career or sin you’ve found comfort in, let’s follow in the footsteps of Bartimaeus and make the better choice today and the days that follow.

It may be hard to relinquish the things we’ve leaned so heavily upon, but we have this assurance: “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced” (Romans 10:11 NLT).

Advertisements

~ by christianballenger on June 30, 2015.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: