Being blind is a terrible condition. Nestled in the Gospel According to Mark is a brief narrative describing the departure of Jesus and his disciples from historic Jericho. The end of Chapter 10 tells the story of a blind man identified as Bartimaeus. Sitting by the road as Jesus and his entourage passed, it is recorded that Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (10:47) Many in the throng rebuked Bart, telling him to be quiet! Not dissuaded by the crowd, the blind beggar cried out with more intensity, “… have mercy on me!” (10:48) With the second appeal, Jesus stopped and said simply, “Call him.” (10:49) The voice of the multitude changed because of Jesus, they now responded with amazing clarity, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” (10:49) Imagine being singled out by Jesus with a direct call! The truth is: we are called! We are called primarily to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. Secondarily, we are individually called by Jesus to serve his Kingdom with our time, talents and treasure by glorifying God in everything we do. Followers of Jesus do not have careers (mere jobs), we have vocations (from vocal or calling). Bartimaeus’ response to the call was immediate by “throwing off his cloak” springing up and rushing to Jesus. (10:50) There was no hesitation.
The question Jesus met Bartimaeus with is insightful: “What do you want me to do for you?” (10:51) Think about this question. A blind beggar is asked to identify what he wants Jesus to do. The deep respect Jesus has for individuals is revealed in the dignity expressed by the simple question. Can we imagine Jesus asking each of us that question? The Scripture is clear: he does. “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father will be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14) The context of Mark notes in several places that things impossible with man are certainly possible with God! (see Mark 9:23 and Mark 10:27) Bartimaeus identifies his greatest need, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” (10:51) Physical sight is symbolically connected to spiritual insight. To see, to be enlightened and to have vision spiritually is a noted path of human flourishing. Without expanding the context too much, it is possible to tweak Bart’s request to read, “Teacher, let me recover my vision.” Calling enabled vision ignites passion. We need to see, to have a vision of something better and even greater than our own limited scope. Human flourishing to the glory of God is directly related to an increased spiritual field of vision.
Jesus responded to Bartimaeus with “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” (10:52) The imperative is used: Go! Avoid the stagnant, static and passive in favor of the moving, risk taking and courageous. Immediately, Mark records, Bartimaeus recovered his sight and followed Jesus on the way! (10:52) Bart’s trusting faith in Jesus made him well. He recovered his vision and followed Jesus wholeheartedly. The take away from this story is inspiring. Consider the following in terms of personal spiritual journey:
There was a cry for mercy (10:47, 48) There was the initiative of Jesus to the cry for mercy: “Call him” (10:49) There was the invitation: “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” (10:49) There was the immediate action of throwing off, springing up and going to Jesus (10:50) There was the probing question by Jesus: “What do you want me to do for you?” (10:51) There was the request of the blind beggar: “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” (10:52) There was the recovery of sight both physically and spiritually by faith. (10:52) There was the transformed life courageously following Jesus in the way (10:52)
Without vision we perish. I am attracted to this story. We want our lives to count, to flourish and to have meaning. “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you” is an amazing, awe inspiring threshold. The fact that Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” is humbling. Rabbi, I want to see. Help me recover vision of what is real, important and true. Restore my vision as I follow you in the way wholeheartedly.