Updated: Aug 14, 2021
Get up, he's calling you! (Mark 10:49)
These were the words Bartimaeus heard from those around him who suddenly realized that the man he was shamelessly shouting out to for help actually stopped and called him to come. They had just told Bartimaeus to be quiet, "Stop bothering him!" But Bartimaeus shouted all the louder, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
He had heard the Master was coming through his town, Jericho. He had begged on the streets of this town all these years. He was blind. Ridiculed. Despised. Rejected. But he persisted. He had no reason to be cautious. He would be shameless. So, he shouted. And shouted. And now, he was being told, "Get up, he's calling for you!"
Not long ago, I met with some new believers from among our neighbors to read through this story from Mark 10:46-52 together. A total of seven verses. Simple. Straightforward. There were six of us. We read aloud, taking turns reading and hearing from God’s word.
A lot of my discipleship involves reading, listening, praying, and expecting to hear from God from his word together in small groups like this. This helps us bond as brothers as we dive into the Bible, but also helps us learn to digest God’s word by ourselves. The practices are simple. Meditating, perhaps writing (journaling), and then testifying (sharing) what God reveals to us from his word. Because he does. I’ve learned from my local community of faith that these disciplines, these spiritual practices, are never to be done in total isolation. Together, they help us to grow in our faith. They help us to edify one another.
We went around the circle, one by one. One young man asked whether Bartimaeus ever fully believed beyond just Jesus healing his physical blindness. Another asked, “What about those who may not have the faith to be healed?” Like most times, with most people, if in fact it is faith that heals us? We desire this, so why doesn't it happen more often? I thought of Nelli in our house church who has no use of her arms and legs. We pray for her healing. Aren't we healed, saved, and rescued by God's grace through our faith? These were just the kind of thoughtful questions many new believers I disciple regularly wrestle with.
As I was considering how to respond, the next young man spoke up to remind us all - and remember, this is what God reveals to us as believers from his word - as he read what he had just written down during our reading-and-listening time (I quote), "Jesus heard Bartimaeus. And Jesus answered him. It's simple. Bartimaeus was bold to beg Jesus for sight and had no idea what Jesus would really do for him. That was his faith. And sight was his reward." I was stunned. But why should I have been? This young believer had simply responded to what God had shown him. So timely. So insightful.
When my turn came. I shared three simple truths from God’s word:
1. Bartimaeus was a shameless, loud, persistent beggar who had enough boldness to keep shouting and begging Jesus to listen to him while others told him to shut up. I have despised beggars like this in the past, in places I've been, to my shame. Truth be told, I am that beggar. Or maybe I'm just too proud to see that reality. Which most of the time, sadly, I am blind to.
2. The distance between where Bartimaeus sat begging, and where Jesus stood calling to him, was "get up." I just need to get up and come to him. Today. Everyday. And he will fill me. Heal me. Give me sight. And take me where he wants me to go to do his will.
3. Why did Jesus even ask Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" Wasn't it obvious? To them and everyone else? To all of us? And yet, he wanted to hear it from Bartimaeus. Just as he wants to hear from all of us the answer to the question, "What do you want me to do for you?" Just as with Bartimaeus, Jesus already knows we are blind, maybe even more than we do ourselves, or others around us. We need to learn to say, "I want to see!" Just say it! Out loud! Jesus is just that kind and compassionate. He wants to hear it. He wants to hear us say these words, "Please Lord, all I want to do is see! I'm begging in faith, give me sight! I want to experience life in your presence like never before!"
I love times like these with new believers where I live. I so often learn more than they do. This time, I was reminded how important it is to just “get up” and respond in simple, bold faith when Jesus calls. To come to Jesus when I hear him calling my name.
My young disciple was about to throw away the paper he had just read from. I asked him for it and stuck it in my Bible. I read it often to remind me how much I need to just beg Jesus for sight, “Lord I want to see!” I definitely need this every day where I live! Do you? And one day God may just have me return this little piece of paper to my brother when he needs to be reminded of this, too.