April 14, 2020 by Bob Whitaker
The many miracles of Jesus happened for a reason, namely to illustrate that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. However, beyond that primary message of these miracle stories there are always spiritual lessons for life. This is certainly true for the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52.
As you read the story it is immediately obvious that Bartimaeus is a persistent character. He is not the kind of man who would take no for an answer. Furthermore he is not concerned about what people would think of him. Actually the crowd tells him not to be annoying, to be quiet, but instead of worrying about his etiquette he shouts even louder – “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Perhaps it is his persistence that catches Jesus’ attention. It reminds us of another occasion when Jesus recommends persistence in prayer by illustrating this with the persistent widow and the judge.
Once Jesus turns his attention to Bartimaeus the people begin to encourage him – “Take heart, get up, he is calling you.” Then Jesus asks him an odd question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Obviously the man is blind and Jesus knows it so why ask the question? It may be that Jesus simply wants the blind man to speak the obvious. He wants him to say it out loud for his sake and for the sake of the others. Jesus wants him to be honest.
There is something painfully obvious about this story. Bartimaeus is a beggar and beggars beg. They are always in a position of need. They are at the mercy of those who are charitable towards their desperate situation. Whatever pride they have has been decimated by their overwhelming need. Remember, Baritmaeus lived in an era before the invention of braille. There was no such thing as a “national disability act” established in 1st century Palestine. Bartimaeus is destitute, unemployed, ignored, helpless and brutally honest – Jesus, I just want to see.
We often view ourselves as self-sufficient. It is important for us to do it ourselves, not ask for help, keep a stiff upper lip, work hard and earn it. What is not particularly flattering is neediness. In fact, it can be embarrassing and unfortunately this transfers to our spiritual life. But notice something about the teachings of Jesus, he consistently suggests that we need to recognize and admit our poverty. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. The beginning of spiritual growth is recognition of spiritual poverty.
So the question for you and for me is, what do I need from Jesus? What do I need to admit to Jesus? Maybe we need to say it loud enough so that others can hear it. Maybe our pride is standing in the way of admitting our need. There is nothing to be ashamed of because we are all beggars.
Be honest. Tell Jesus what you need. He heals the broken-hearted. He makes the blind to see. He sets the captive free.