As we come to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter these next two weeks I have been reading Mark’s account of Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem. Even though I have read it many times before, as well as preached from it, I was struck by the account of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52.
Verse 46 tells us as Jesus, His disciples, and a large crowd were leaving Jericho there was a blind man named Bartimaeus “sitting by the roadside begging.” Like today, it was not uncommon in Jesus’ day for people to be at high traffic areas begging. What was uncommon was what Bartimaeus shouted when he heard that Jesus was coming by: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The title he used for Jesus indicated his high regard for Him.
Verse 47 tells us many in the crowd scolded and quieted him, but that only caused him to shout even louder. Hearing the shouting, Jesus stopped and instructed those with him to “Call him.” Now those who were previously quieting him began telling him to cheer up and get on his feet because Jesus was calling him. And Bartimaeus did not need to be told twice as he threw his cloak aside, jumped up, and went to Jesus.
Jesus’ question in verse 51 is what struck me: “What do you want me to do for you?” In his initial calls to Jesus he asked for mercy, but in response to Jesus’ question he was specific: “Rabbi, I want to see.” Then Jesus granted his request telling him in verse 52, “Go, your faith has healed you.” The account concludes with “Immediately he received his sight and followed along the road.”
The fact that Bartimaeus is one of the very few named that Jesus helped suggests to me this is an important account. I note the boldness, persistence, responsiveness, openness, and faith of Bartimaeus. And once he received his sight, Bartimaeus followed Jesus.
Hopefully you and I know who Jesus was and is even more clearly than Bartimaeus did. We know Him as Jesus; we know what the title Son of David means; and we look to Him as our teacher (Rabbi). We also know Him as our Savior and Lord.
I’ve been looking to Bartimaeus as an example and encouragement for me in prayer. In addition to the elements of praise and thanksgiving, one of my general requests lately has been for mercy. The Bible is clear that God is a God of mercy and I know that I need His mercy even when I am not aware of my need.
I am most intrigued by Jesus’ question: “What do you want me to do for you?” In his book Jesus: A Pilgrimage James Martin makes three statements that challenge me to do some serious thinking. First he suggests “Jesus sees something liberating in identifying and naming our desires.” Two paragraphs later he says “Notice that Jesus does not say, ‘Bartimaeus, just accept the way things are’.” Then the takeaway for me, “when we stand before God in prayer we should feel comfortable expressing our longings.”
In addition to asking the Lord for mercy, I also have a few specifics; in your prayers today what are you asking for?
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