Blind Bartimaeus is a beggar on the outskirts of Jericho. He hears that Jesus is passing by and begins to cry out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He understands from the stories he had heard that Jesus is able to heal him. So even though the crowd tries to shut him up he keeps on crying out until Jesus stops and pays attention. Interestingly, Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” You would think that the answer is obvious. Bartimaeus voices his need, “I want to see.” Jesus heals him saying, “Your faith has healed you.” (Mark 10:46-52 ).
There are four words I glean from this story that would help us as we seek God to break into the impossibilities in our lives: faith, desperation, mercy and specific.
Blind Bartimaeus believed that Jesus could heal him. He had insight into who Jesus was because he called him, “Son of David” – a title for the long-awaited Messiah. Others had seen and heard Jesus but didn’t believe. The more we get to know who Jesus is the more faith we have in him and what he can do!
It is true that faith is spelled “risk”. It’s also true that faith is spelled “desperation”. Bartimaeus demonstrated his faith by his persistence. He was so desperate for Jesus to do something in his life that he did not cave into the pressures of the crowd telling him to be quiet. He was not limited by his lot in life – being a blind beggar. When you are desperate enough you will go after God at all costs. Don’t let anyone – the voices inside your head or the ones outside – convince you to settle for less than what you know God has for you as his child!
Bartimaeus was desperate but he did not have a sense of entitlement. He didn’t convey the impression that he was owed anything by Jesus. Instead, he cried out for mercy! You have to have a posture of humility and vulnerability in order to cry out for mercy. And this is good. Very good. Here is what the once-impetuous Peter learned in his lifetime, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5).
Jesus asked him, “What do you want?” Do you think that Jesus did not discern what Blind Bartimaeus wanted? He wanted Bartimaeus to get in touch with his core need. When you are seeking God for an answer, get in touch with your real, deepest needs. Be specific. God will meet those needs when he sees your faith by your specific ask.
The story ends with Bartimaeus following Jesus along the road. He became a follower – a disciple. This is what people who have radical encounters with Jesus do! They want to follow him. Let’s press into God for breakthroughs so that we become better followers!
Image: The Healing of Bartimaeus, Eustache Le Sueur 1625-1650