Must We See to Believe — By Dean Marini
Try to imagine Bartimaeus sitting on the roadside begging from strangers. Unfortunately, an all too common site in our world today. So common in fact, many of us have developed a sort of “situational blindness” — allowing us to ignore our neighbor in greatest need.
Centuries before the Americans with Disabilities Act, the development of braille, and other aids, a person born blind had little recourse but to panhandle. So imagine then the life of Bartimaeus … no doubt filled with darkness, despair and very little hope. This new day, however, would prove to be very different…
Jesus Christ was walking by where the blind man was sitting. When He passed, Bartimaeus cried out, “Have mercy on me!” Those around him quickly hushed him and told him to be still. After all, Jesus shouldn’t be bothered by someone as worthless as he. The more they tried to quiet him however, the louder he became. While the other passerby’s ignored him and hurried past, Jesus did not. Jesus heard his faith. He turned to Him and called the blind man over. Mark 10:50 records Bartimaeus’s response to the call with, “throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.”
Make note, it was no small thing for Bartimaeus to throw his cloak aside. That cloak was the garment fashioned to be spread out and catch any monies people had tossed his direction. It contained secret pockets to hide money, food and anything else of value. Essentially, most (if not all) of his earthly possessions would have been kept in this cloak. But when Jesus called him, what did he do? He “cast aside” his old life and went straight for Jesus — believing without any doubt He was about to do something brand new.
Bartimaeus approached Jesus with the right attitude. An attitude we are all called to possess — one of expectation and willing transformation. Notice how the blind man didn’t hesitate or hold back or think small. He did not say, “Rabbi, I’ll believe it when I see it.” And, Christ is asking the same question today as He did then, ‘What do you want me to do?‘ and ‘Do you believe?’
The Lord responded the way He always does to a sincere request for redemption — above and beyond. Not only did He open Batimaeus’ physical eyes, he opened his spiritual eyes as well. Mark finishes the story in verse 52 by telling us, “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” The man received his gift and immediately followed Jesus! No questions asked, no rushing back to grab his cloak. He wanted nothing to do with his former life, and everything to do with his new one.
We can learn a lot from this story (and many others like it). It begs the question, are we living our lives in spiritual blindness? Are we allowing our worldly desires, lifestyles, and basic lack of understanding to keep us in darkness? Many of us face the same struggle’s Bartimaeus did only in different ways. And I’m sure many of us can hear that inner voice telling us we’re not good enough to call out to God. Or, maybe our cloaks have become too comfortable. We fear what we’d have to “cast aside” in order to truly follow Jesus.
Jesus wants to give us the fullness of life. So He is asking us to cast aside our old cloaks without reserve, and receive the fullness of His blessing. 1 Corinthians 2:19 reads, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” We have the same decision to make as Bartimaeus: A life of hopelessness, defeat and rejection? Or a life of great mercy, grace and rebirth?
My prayer is that our response will always and forever be, “Lord, I may not see it all, but I’m following You.“
Written by Dean Marini