Seeing Like A Blind Man
I love this reading. It's one of my favorites. Bartimaeus, what a legend. It's interesting. Jesus, throughout the Gospels, He takes these people from the very fringes of the scene and from the fringes of society, and He makes them absolute rock stars. They are the rock stars of the Gospels, and Bartimaeus is one of them. Jesus is walking down the road and the blind man, Bartimaeus, starts calling out to him. He says, "Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me." And the people say, "Oh, be quiet. Be quiet." All the people are telling the blind man, "Be quiet. Be quiet." And he just cries out more, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me." The people keep telling him to be quiet. Finally, Jesus stops, and He walks over to the blind man, and He says to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" I love that. I love how direct it is. "What do you want me to do for you?" And Bartimaeus says, "Lord open my eyes so that I may see." So many great lessons here. So many great lessons here. So, first thing is, when is the last time you begged God for something desperately? We're all more desperate than we think we are, and we're all desperate for something. But, when is the last time you came to God and begged God to do something for you that you desperately need? Why don't we do it? Because we're proud. We're arrogant. We're not like Bartimaeus. His humility. He was not confused about his desperation. And everyone's telling him to be quiet and shut up and leave Jesus alone. And he just ignores them. Why? He's not confused about his desperation, and he's not confused about the fact that Jesus can fix his problem. There's no doubt about that whatsoever.
We talk about faith. We talk about trust. We talk about these things. This guy, he had it. He had absolute faith that if he could get to Jesus, Jesus could get the job done. So many great stories. Jesus says, let's have a look at it again, "What do you want me to do for you?" If Jesus showed up in your life today and just got in your face and said, "What do you want me to do for you?" What would you ask him for? What would you ask him for? Do you know what you'd ask him for? Would you ask him for the right things? Because very often we ask for the wrong things. We ask for the wrong things from God. We ask for the wrong things from people we're in a relationship with. We ask for the wrong things from life. But if Jesus showed up today and said, "What do you want me to do for you?" Bartimaeus had piercing clarity, right? He was 100% aware of what his deepest, greatest need was. He didn't have to think about it. "Lord, open my eyes so that I may see." One of the mistakes we make when we're reading the Bible is that we think of these people as other, rather than as part of ourselves, as an extension of ourselves, as a representation of ourselves. We think, "Oh, it must be hard to be blind," when the reality is that we should know what it's like to be blind because we all have blindness. What is your blindness? What are your blind spots in relationships? What are your blind spots when you're judging other people? What are your blind spots when you're judging yourself? What are your blind spots? What is your spiritual blindness? Because we all have it, and so, to think of Bartimaeus as different to us is a mistake. To think of people in the scriptures as different to us is always a mistake. It's by recognizing, "Okay, in what way am I like Bartimaeus?" That's where we come to the rich banquet of the scriptures.
So Bartimaeus is this blind man. He's on the side of the road. Everyone tells him to shut up. Be quiet. Leave Jesus alone. But he persists. Do you have that persistence? Sure, yeah, we come to God, and we say, "Hey, God, we need this," or cry out to God for this or that, but do we have the persistence to keep coming back and saying, "Help me. Help me." And so, what are the overarching lessons we take away from this? Number one, Bartimaeus was not confused about what Jesus could do for him. He was not confused. He knew it. He trusted it. He believed it. Are we confused about what God can do for us? I think sometimes we are. And number two, Jesus takes these people in the scriptures from the fringes of society, places them right at the center of the gospel. And what is the lesson there? So many lessons. I think one lesson is that how a community treats its most vulnerable members says everything about that community. And that is true if that community is a family, it's true if that community is a neighborhood, or a school community, or a church community, or a business community. How a community treats its most vulnerable members tells us almost everything about that community.
And I think the other piece of this is that if Jesus is constantly taking these people from the fringes and placing them at the center of the Gospel, isn't He also asking us to do that? Isn't He also asking us to take people from the fringes of society and place them in some way at the center of our lives? And it's all too easy to stay in our spiritual blindness and pretend they don't exist and carry on with our lives. Lord, open my eyes so that I may see.