“Cheer up! On your feet! He’s Calling You.”
When Jesus left Jericho, a large crowd traveled with him on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Near the outskirts, a blind man, Bartimaeus, sat by the side of the road and begged coins from passersby. His name meant “Son of Honor.” His station in life meant shame and humiliation—his life collapsed in shambles.
By this time in life, Bartimaeus’ ears were his best asset. He heard that Jesus of Nazareth was among this excited and noisy crowd, and his voice became ally to his cause. He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” However, many in the crowd shushed him with warnings: Don’t bother Jesus. He’s traveling to Passover. Stop your shouting. The lame aren’t welcome. God wants the whole to serve him. Be quiet!
Determined, Bartimaeus shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus had fought the demons of Self Pity and Why Me, too many years to let the crowds’ censorship stop him.
The whole and happy walked with the Shepherd out of Jericho. The discarded sat by the side of the road. A crowd of noises collided around Jesus: shuffling feet, chitchat, donkeys braying, and carts groaning—but Jesus heard the one. So much commotion. So much clamoring. Jesus halted. There it was again. A blind lamb bleated. Jesus instructed his disciples “Call him.”
Jesus’ compassion became contagious. The crowd did an about face, and they invited the fallen to join the whole, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside, jumped to his feet, and groped his way to Jesus. His heart beat rapid. His breaths came in quick succession, and then a question pierced his darkness.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
Without hesitation, he said, “My Master, I want to see.”
“Go. Your faith has healed you.” The instant he pledged allegiance, his gained sight, and he saw Jesus. How could he go away, even though Jesus gave permission? His old life held no appeal. That old cloak was gone; Jesus had draped him with a new mantle. He wanted to follow the one who could turn the whims of a crowd, the one who instantly destroyed demons of Blindness, Self-Pity and Why Me.
Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, could now live up to his name. He could follow Jesus, the Light of the World. Perhaps he trekked all the way to Jerusalem. Maybe he was among those who shouted praises to Jesus later that same week.
Blind “Son of Honor” hadn’t let bad advice stop his journey to Jesus. The crowds enjoyed the merriment of journey, the impending spectacle of Passover lambs, the presence of celebrity Jesus, but wrenching cries of the needy hadn’t fit into their plans-of-the-day. Blind lambs weren’t fit for Passover. Damaged lambs weren’t fit for service.
More than one healing took place at the roadside that day. Even deluded crowds can be steered when they yield to the altar call of Jesus. The crowd saw humility in action when Jesus stopped his journey for the weakest among them. In addition, the greatest surprise of all, the pause in the journey didn’t water down their numbers. No. It strengthened their cause. One more came into the Jesus witness program.
When nothing-to-offer Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside and fumbled toward the voice of Jesus, he asked that beggar, “What can I do for you?”
Bartimaeus plainly spoke his request, “My master, I want to see.”
The humble Jesus still asks that question today. How will you answer: “What can I do for you?”
Hunger for Humility (25): “My Master, I want to see” (Mark 10:51).