Devotion: Mark 10: 45-52 – “Keep me travelling…”
I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED THE STORY OF BLIND BEGGAR BARTIMAEUS RECEIVING HIS SIGHT FROM THE LORD JESUS…
I have always associated this story with my own conversion and call, when I saw the light and committed my way to Him. Come August each year I always find myself returning to the August day I first really cried out to God – to Jesus – and found him there. I still look back with astonishment and thanks. He’s still there, as he said he would be.
But, in truth, as the years have passed, I sometimes wonder just how “present” I have been, to Him. Have I travelled with him the way I should?
In his little book of meditations entitled “Disguises of Love”, Eddie Askew says,
“I feel a bit uncomfortable when people who have been Christians for many years insist on telling their conversion experiences. It’s not the stories that make me uncomfortable, but the thought (somehow) that they ought to have something much more recent to communicate about their Christian life.”
Askew quotes the poet and hymn writer, Sydney Carter:
“Your holy hearsay is not evidence: give me the good news in the present tense.
The living truth is what I long to see. I cannot lean upon what used to be.
Show me how – the Christ you talk about is living NOW!”
And so we revisit the encounter between Jesus and a blind man – and see something of the Good News in the PRESENT tense.
There are in the account lovely little details we might miss.
Verse 47: When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus was blind – but there was nothing wrong with his hearing! How often it is the way with blind people that they have developed a sharp sense of hearing; over the tumult of the crowd he could hear that Jesus was near, and nothing was going stop him “seeing Jesus”.
He could ‘see’ his opportunity as Jesus passes by. He would seize the opportunity.
“Bart” may have been blind – but there was nothing wrong with his lungs, either!
While others told him to “shut up” Bart shouted all the louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Verse 48)
Bart may have been physically blind but spiritually his sight was 20/20. He may have been blind but he was not stupid. People with handicaps are often treated as though they are stupid – or beyond help (usefulness).
The Son of David, none other than the Messiah himself, was the one who would open his eyes. Bart has the ears and the eyes and the heart of faith. Bart knew who Jesus was; he knew what Jesus could do. Bart knew also who he was – a sinner – in great need. As a blind man and a beggar (in his culture), Bart would have lived with that constant sense of unworthiness – that his plight was his fault or that of his sinful parents. But,
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
Jesus stopped. On his way to Jerusalem where he had “important business”, Jesus stopped right there in his tracks. He stops. He doesn’t mind the interruption. It is no accident he meets one person in need, in pain. At the cry of a single heart, Jesus stops. He always does!
Like the camera which pans across a stadium of 100,000 people and comes to rest for a few seconds on the face of one person, here is a moment frozen in time, where the crowd is hushed.
It is a lovely detail that Jesus instructs the “rebuking” disciples to call the man, to bring him…to Jesus.
Bart may have been blind but there was nothing wrong with his legs!
50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
Bart knew who to come to. He came to Jesus and asked him for help. So each of us needs to come. Bart comes believing. Before any healing or any miracle, the blind beggar sprung to his feet – in a leap of faith…
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. (Strange question!)
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”
He loses (discards) his cloak – that symbol of his life as a beggar – he loses the cloak even before his eyes (physically) are open. He is a man of faith. Bart is a rebuke to his rebukers!
What a beautiful thought it is that the first thing Bartimaeus will see is the face of Jesus!
That is the conversion experience, after all…
And that’s where Bart’s life begins. But it doesn’t end there.
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Bart didn’t look back – he didn’t, we can be sure, “dine out” on his experience of that day when God (Jesus) opened his eyes. He would never forget it, of course; and there is no reason he should – but the real, lovely detail is this – he could have stayed at the roadside but Bart used his newly-acquired sight to walk in the footsteps of Jesus:
“And he went down the road with Jesus…” (CEV)
Sydney Carter wrote this hymn, focusing on the present tense.
I can’t help but see Bartimaeus, sight restored, following Jesus up hill and down dale:
“One more step along the world I go,
One more step along the world I go,
From the old things to the new
Keep me travelling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.
As I travel through the bad and good,
Keep me travelling the way I should;
Where I see no way to go
You’ll be telling me the way, I know:
Give me courage when the world is rough,
Keep me loving though the world is tough;
Leap and sing in all I do,
Keep me travelling along with you:
Here’s a prayer of commitment inspired by Mark 10:46-52, where Jesus heals Bartimaeus of his blindness.
Prayer of Commitment (inspired by Mark 10:46-52)
Take heart, get up, he is calling you. (Mark 10:49)
Bartimaeus shouted when he heard you coming,
sprang up, cast away his cloak and ran to you,
asked you only for what he needed,
And when you restored him,
immediately, he followed you.
We give thanks for the people
who hear and wait for us,
who do not flinch at our humanity,
who do not turn away from our vulnerability,
who really see us with the eyes of love,
that different way of seeing.
May we too see in a different way
not just the condition of people but their capabilities
not just what they need but what they can offer
not just as labels but as lovable and loving people.
Help us to learn from those who know their need of God,
and to follow with their faith.
Prayer: Lord, I am blind
Lord, I am blind –
for I am afraid.
Lord, I am blind –
for I do not want to see.
You promise to heal the blind –
and that terrifies me.
I have seen the light –
and I want to close my eyes.
I ask you to shake me,
but I fear being broken.
I ask you to bless me, but I fear being made whole.