Our Friend Bartimaeus

The past couple weeks have been pretty busy, which has kept me from writing and dumping some thoughts and ideas out on y’all.

I kind of took a short hiatus to study and prepare for both this past Sunday’s and both Wednesdays’ talks, which took up a solid amount of time.

So, this week, I want to let you in on what we’ll be talking about tonight at Next Level Students. Now, I don’t normally do this because I don’t want to spoil anything, but this idea has been laying heavy on my heart.

We’re asking the question, Who is Jesus when you can’t see?

Mark, who was following and listening to Peter tell the stories of Jesus, wrote down what Peter had told him, and chronicled this story of Bartimaeus the blind beggar.

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 hmade you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Now, this normally would be just a story of one of Jesus’ miracles. Not much other fuss made, just a blind guy receiving his sight for the first time.

But there’s something deeper in this story that hit me in the gut.

This whole instance occurs right before the Triumphal Entry, where Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. So that was Jesus’ whole point in passing through Jericho: it was on His way to His destination. Nothing else is said about His time in Jericho, just that the group made it there and left.

Jericho was just a passthrough for Jesus and the disciples, but as they left, this beggar calls out to Jesus asking for his sight. So what does Jesus, the Great Physician, do? He gives the man the gift of sight.

This is where we would usually just pass on through to the scene of palm leaves and a donkey and move on our merry way.

But we forget about Bartimaeus.

All that Bartimaeus knew to do was beg right outside of the gates of Jericho and hope people dropped some change in his basket. That was his only skill, his only means of income, and his only hope for staying alive. It very well could have been his dream to see, but he probably didn’t put much stock in having his dream come true.

Then Jesus shows up, and fulfills his dream. Uh oh.

Why uh oh? Bartimaeus knew nothing other than begging blindly. He couldn’t build things, or teach the Scriptures, or tend livestock. He was a grown man who was well past the age in that culture where he could learn a new trade or skill. So it kind of ruined Bartimaeus’ life.

Bartimaeus had to learn how to be a contributing, beneficial member of society. He didn’t have a choice anymore. So what did he do?

He followed Jesus. He went with Jesus on His way and joined His crew. Not the 12 disciples, but the numerous others that followed Jesus around.

What does this mean for us? We aren’t blind. We can see. We are contributing members to society, and maybe even contributing church members who give financially, pray for the health and growth of your local church, and/or serve faithfully on a volunteer team.

Let’s look back at our original question: Who is Jesus when you can’t see?

Jesus is the one restoring our sight.

That’s not all though.

Jesus is the one restoring our sight and changing our way of living.

You might be able to see 20/20, but you might be spiritually blind. You might know about Jesus, but you really don’t know Him.

So for those of us who haven’t called on Jesus to forgive them of their sins and to be Lord of their lives, that what Jesus is doing: opening your eyes and letting you see His beauty.

But what if you’ve done that already? What if you’ve sought forgiveness of your sins, but you still live the same way you used to before Jesus forgave you?

Just like how Jesus giving sight to Bartimaeus meant that he couldn’t live like he used to, that’s the same implication we have: we can’t live like we used to once we see Jesus.

This idea, this heartbeat of transformed living, has really been on my mind since I first noticed the depths of this story. We can’t live the same life we used to live before we met Jesus. There’s no way it’s spiritually possible, since we are no longer the same.

Parents, I hope that, with your help, we can teach our students to live transformed and be new.

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