Were You There When Bartimaeus Received His Sight?


There is a story that comes out of Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 9:27). As Jesus traveled doing healing, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Please note that the two are blind. They follow Jesus wherever He goes. When he went indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Why does He ask such a question? The fact that two blind men have followed Him (with difficulty) should answer the question. “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.

As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city of Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging.
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Almost like Jesus words, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Jesus invites us to examine our lives to find the blindness that exists within. The tragic irony is that we can remain by the roadside (as “Blind Bartimaeus” could have) continuing to beg. We can ignore the presence and the power of Jesus if we desire. To do so is to continue in our blindness. It’s possible to be surrounded by the wonders of God’s grace and complain bitterly about not getting what we want out of life. It’s possible to complain about our bills and unhappiness while Jesus has the potential to bring meaningful wholeness to our lives if only we will turn to him with our need.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

It is frightening to look within – to allow the darkness to disappear and the light to reveal everything. We lose our innocence and come face to face with reality. A summer visitor was asking a local farmer how to get off Southport Island in Maine and find his way back to Boothbay Harbor. The farmer began to explain how to find the road back to the bridge. The visitor insisted, “But I didn’t cross any bridge to get here.” The Farmer looked at him skeptically and replied, “Well, now, if you didn’t cross any bridge, then you ain’t here in the first place, so you got nothing to worry about.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:15-20)

There is an old Sufi story about a blind man and a crippled man who stumbled into each other in a forest. They were both lost, and they struck up a conversation sharing their stories about wandering through the forest for as long as they could remember. The blind man said, “I cannot see to find my way out.” The crippled man nodded and responded, “I cannot get up to walk out.” As they sat there sadly talking, the crippled man cried out, “I’ve got it! You hoist me up onto your shoulders and I will tell you where to walk.” Together, they found their way out of the forest.

An elderly gentleman was out walking with his young grandson. “How far are we from home?” he asked the grandson. The boy answered, “Grandpa, I don’t know.”
The grandfather asked, “Well, where are you?” Again the boy answered, “I don’t know.” Then the grandfather said good-naturedly, “Sounds to me as if you are lost.” The young boy looked up at his grandfather and said, “Nope, I can’t be lost. I’m with you.” Ultimately, that is the answer to our “lostness” too. We can’t be lost if He is with us.

(John 8:31-32) To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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