Final lessons from Bartimaeus

The test-taking portion has never been my favorite part of the class; so it the case in Christ's classroom.

The test-taking portion has never been my favorite part of the class; so is the case in Christ’s classroom.

So…I have this recurring dream, or nightmare if you prefer.

I am in the last semester of high school and there are about two weeks left in the school year. While I am anxious to complete this leg of my educational journey, I am aware of the fact that my grades are not good enough to make the transition. (For whatever reason, English is one of the classes that I’m failing — go figure!)

What I always remember most from these dreams is calculating a way to earn at least a ‘D’ in the classes I am insecure about, leaning on some final exam or term paper to boost my final grade. After apparently slacking for much of the semester, I am resolved that I can compensate for it in the span of a couple of weeks. At this point, I would do anything to avoid going to summer school!

In reality, when the time came for me to graduate high school, there was no such doubt. I can say, though, that there where many times in my academic career where I took shortcuts, and even lauded myself for doing so.

I was a frequent procrastinator. During college, a close friend and I were in the same class. By this point, I had given up on purchasing expensive textbooks for my classes, so whenever we had a quiz I went to her room to skim the chapter the same morning. What often resulted was me receiving a higher grade than her, though she spend the entire night reading and highlighting. I thought my major was Mass Communication, but it very well could have been “Taking Shortcuts.”

There are no shortcuts in Christ’s classroom. Because he is the Master Teacher, he assures that all of his students thoroughly comprehend the lesson he is teaching before allowing them to proceed. Jesus even spent 40 days after his resurrection talking to his disciples about the Kingdom of God, the same Kingdom he had been preaching for the three years prior, before finally ascending to heaven and passing the baton (Acts 1:1-9).

The story of Bartimaeus has certainly presented us with some lessons for our consideration. We have been on a journey of unearthing truths from this story that will, today, come to an end. I don’t, however, profess that this list of lessons is somehow exhaustive. Take some time to read the story and see how the Lord speaks to you.

Let’s refresh our memory:

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)

The first of our final two lessons is this:

LESSON 3: DO NOT HESITATE TO MAKE A REQUEST OF HIM

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.

I have found that people can be embarrassed to have to ask for things. Personally, I don’t like having to ask anyone for anything (don’t judge me). There are times, though, that I have to swallow my pride and do the simple work of asking.

In Bartimaeus’ case, it did not seem like there was much hesitation on his end in his encounter with Christ. It doesn’t come to my surprise, however, that someone who was a beggar for a living would have any problems asking Jesus for something. He had a realization, though, that I think often escapes us in our walk of faith: God wants us to ask!

While Bartimaeus, perhaps, initiates the exchange with Jesus (I say perhaps because Christ had a way of knowing where to be and when, i.e. John 4:4-7), he gives Bartimaeus an invitation to make a request of him that is gladly accepted. My brothers and sisters, we have this same invitation extended to us!

James 4:2 records, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask” (ESV). There are things that we reduce ourselves to strive to attain simply due to our apprehension to ask God. Why scheme to acquire what God could easily give us?

We can, though, ask with wrong motives as James goes on to say (4:3), resulting in not receiving what was requested. But God weighs our hearts and knows our desires. He is able to align our desires with his will as we delight ourselves in him (Psalm 37:4).

LESSON 4: ASK IN FAITH

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.

Lessons 3 and 4 and very closely related. God desires us to ask of him, but there is one condition that has to be met: we must ask on the basis of faith.

It is interesting to note that Jesus did not say to Bartimaeus, “you are well” or even “I have made you well,” but that it was his own faith that made him well. We know very well that the other statements are true, but those were not Jesus words. He placed an emphasis on faith that was not uncommon in his teaching.

He says in Mark 11:22-24, “And Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in GodTruly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours'” (ESV).

Conversely, James 1:6-7 states, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (ESV).

If we are going to approach God with our requests, we have to believe that he can fulfill them. He doesn’t ask us to earn what we are asking for, to cover the costs, or devise a way for him to bring our request to fruition. The only thing he requires is faith.

I think that this deserves further emphasis: we cannot earn anything from God. God is the giver of gifts, and he gives liberally without finding fault (James 1:5). If he did decide to find fault, none of us would get anything!

Our walk of faith follows the pattern of Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV). Just as our salvation is a gift, so is everything that follows.

As I am writing this post, I cannot help but think about the things I may not have received because I did not ask in faith. I must confess, sometimes I have doubts and am afraid to be disappointed, but that is not faith. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

Don’t be afraid to believe God for something that is beyond yourself. It may not happen as quickly as it did for Bartimaeus, but because we know that there is nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17), we can ask with great expectation.

Just believe God.

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~ by christianballenger on August 24, 2015.

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