“Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said, ‘Teacher, I want to see.'” Mark 10:51 (CEB)
Bartimaeus was a blind man who was ousted by his society because of his physical challenge. He was forced to beg for everything in order to survive. One day as he sat by the side of the rode, he heard a commotion, and when he asked what was happening, someone told him that Jesus was passing by. Somehow Bartimaeus knew about Jesus, and he decided to muster up his courage and call out to him. After all, what did he have to lose? He had basically already lost nearly everything: his family, friends, home, position in the community, and livelihood.
So, he shouted even when the crowd told him to be quiet. Jesus heard him. Not only did Jesus hear him, but he paid attention to him and asked what he wanted. “Teacher, I want to see.” Blindness in the scriptures has more meaning than just not being able physically to see things; it also refers to the inability to see situations or understand something. Jesus periodically indicated that the temple leaders were blind to the true message of God’s grace and love. He also recognized the lack of insight and vision his own disciples displayed because they couldn’t grasp what he was trying to teach them.
Spiritual blindness is another form of not being able to see. Bartimaeus may have been able to see spiritually far better than most sighted people. So, what can we learn from this story? Well, I think one thing is that we shouldn’t give up on praying because it continues to open doors so we can connect with God. Prayer opens us to God’s presence even as Bartimaeus’ shouting opened the door for him to meet Jesus and be healed. Perseverance in prayer as well as in building our relationship with God helps us to find strength in the tough times.
Another lesson we can learn is that we might have our own blind spots in our lives when it comes to God, to Christ, to church, to someone in our family, among our friends, or with our co-workers. Maybe there is a habit or behavior that “drives us crazy” from another person, and that’s all we can see in them. What if we asked God to show us the good qualities? Someone once reminded me that one behavior “does not the person make.”
Bartimaeus also showed the qualities of courage when everyone else was trying to tell him that he was out of place. Change is hard for so many people. When we have a vision for changing something that isn’t working or that can improve our lives, our churches, our work places, our homes, we can pull the courage out of somewhere to make the change. If it doesn’t work after all, at least we tried!
Maybe this also teaches us a lot about taking inventory of places where we may be blind to God’s call in our lives or God’s working through us and others. We tend to pass off every day events as just normal stuff, but we hear often that God’s miracles happen in the ordinary events of life. Maybe doing an assessment of our own behaviors as well as living mindfully of our interactions with the world and people in our lives will help us to be aware of the complete presence of God with us even when we might not see it.
Where have you seen God at work?
How have you been part of bringing healing to someone else?
In what ways can you be courageous and proactive to make a difference in your own life as well as the lives of others?