The One Thing
We all have needs that we can’t seem to fix on our own, no matter how hard we try. We do what we can to adjust and make the best of things, putting on a happy face for others. We can continue on this way month after month, year after year.
Until we just can’t anymore.
Nothing may appear changed on the outside but on the inside, we reach a point that enough is enough. It no longer matters what anyone else thinks about our choices. We don’t care what they say to us or about us; we’ve had enough and we won’t settle anymore.
Blind Bartimaeus was like that in the New Testament.
Bartimaeus had an encounter that changed his life forever because he found the courage to ask Jesus for the one thing he needed. As we get into his story, let’s pause and look at how Bartimataeus’ story is reflected in our lives.
Bartimaeus had been without sight and reduced to begging for handouts to survive. Then he began to hear the stories of this man who crowds gathered to see.
Can you imagine the hope welling up inside of this blind man as he hears testimony after testimony of healings and miracles?
This is one of the most powerful reasons we need to speak up and share our testimonies. Others are listening; hearing how God moves in our daily lives inspires hope and faith.
Then Bartimaeus heard murmurs of excitement in the crowd. The Son of David was headed his way. This was it!
In their excitement to see Jesus, the crowd would have easily pushed Bartimaeus aside until he found himself shoved to the back.
Unfortunately, when someone has a disability they are often either ignored and treated like part of the wallpaper or pushed aside and told to be quiet. Satan always tries to use our weakness against us, doesn’t he?
Bartimaeus would have had to go where the people hung out to beg for handouts. One of those places would have been the temple. Perhaps it was during one of those visits that the seed of faith had been planted in Bartimaeus.
But the seed of faith wasn’t just planted. Week after week of hearing the Word of God read in the Temple would have allowed that seed to fall on good soil and take root.
Bartimaeus did something those around him didn’t expect. Maybe he even surprised himself. He began to call out for Jesus.
I imagine his faith build until he just couldn’t contain himself any longer and couldn’t help but call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus was a believer!
Think about the faith Bartimaeus displayed. It would have taken tremendous faith to believe the stories he was hearing of Jesus and his miracles. He couldn’t see the miracles to verify them for himself. He had to take what they said on faith.
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
It worked! Jesus stopped and turned to Bartimaeus, calling him to come forward. The temperature of the crowd swiftly changed from trying to shush Bartimaeus to encouraging him to step forward and go to Jesus.
In one of the Bible translations, it says Jesus heard Bartimaeus and stood still. That phrase caught my attention. Jesus and the disciples had places to go and people to see. Excited crowds kept interrupting their journey. I’m sure it was hot, tiring, and a bit frustrating for the disciples. But when Jesus heard Bartimaeus, it says He stood still. Maybe He paused to listen to the Father.
I think we need to realize that when we are being pressed on every side we need to slow down and focus. We need to take our time and be still so we can talk with God before we act.
Bartimaeus’ story could have ended very differently at this point. Being freaked out by the crowd’s reaction he could have gone quiet as they tried to intimidate and hush him. He could have thought, “never mind, they are right. I’m not worthy” and turned away.
We’ve all done it. Maybe we have prayed for direction but as God revealed it we got scared and allowed doubt to creep in. Maybe it was healing we were asking for but the healing didn’t come the way we thought it should.
God knows that there is a multitude of reasons (internal and external) that we back away even after we approach Him. And yet, He still makes himself available then patiently waits for us. The fact is, nothing stops us from receiving from God except ourselves.
Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and went to Jesus.
There is so much symbolism in throwing off our old identity (our cloak, our covering) and leaving ourselves bare for the new that Jesus will place upon us.
Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted from him.
Jesus encouraged Bartimaeus to open up, be vulnerable in front of all those people, and share his greatest desire. Doesn’t Jesus have a way of setting aside the messiness of life to get to the heart of a matter? Do you realize He asks the same question of each of us when we call out to him?
“I want my eyes to be opened! I want to see.”
Notice how Jesus responded? He didn’t rebuke or chastise Bartimaeus. He didn’t laugh at him or lash out. Instead, Jesus was moved with compassion! It makes my heart smile to be reminded that Jesus is never immune to our thoughts and feelings. They matter to him too. But he doesn’t allow emotions to dominate and take control.
Bartimaeus’s response shows us he had had enough of his life situation. He could have named many physical things that he needed (a home, a helper to get around, provisions, etc). He could have asked for spiritual favor (remember me when…). He could have focused on the emotional baggage from his life situation (Lord, make them pay!).
But he didn’t. Maybe because ultimately none of that stuff matters. It is the past.
“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13)
In that instance, Bartimaeus went from darkness to sudden light, which I’m sure was a bit confusing at first. We seem to assume that when we have an encounter with Jesus that we will be clear-minded and completely sure of what is happening. That isn’t always the case though.
Maybe Bartimaeus was a little shocked that Jesus would choose to help him. Back then, it was thought that if you had a disability it was because you or your parents sinned and your disability was justified punishment.
The crowd probably reminded Bartimaeus of that as they shushed him and pushed him out of the way.
I also notice that Bartimaeus seemed to be ultra-focused on Jesus (and vice-versa). The noise and distraction of the crowd would have continued but it isn’t mentioned again in Bartimaeus’ story so we have to believe they (Jesus and Bartimaeus) tuned the crowd out. Learning to tune out the noise around us and keeping our focus trained on Jesus is vital to our receiving from God.
I’m sure Jesus knew how overwhelmed Bartimaeus was and gave him direction on what to do next. He told Bartimaeus to go, that his faith had healed him.
But Bartimaeus didn’t leave Jesus. He became one of the many who chose to leave everything behind and continue on with Jesus.
This very public healing was for the glory of God. This man reached out to Jesus and trusted the truth of Scripture that said Jesus had come to save and heal. Because of his faith, Bartimaeus was no longer “blind Bartimaeus” but “eyes-wide-open Bartimaeus” (spiritually and physically)!
Bartimaeus chose to follow Jesus. Because of hearing the testimonies of others and the impact they had on his life, I would bet that Bartimaeus shared his testimony with anyone and everyone!
And Yet Again…
It didn’t take long before Jesus came upon another crowd with another desperate man. According to the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus and his followers left town another man was desperate enough for Jesus that he climbed a sycamore tree just to catch a glimpse! This man was small in stature and had a public position. He would have had to overcome both getting into the tree as well as setting aside his pride and discomfort to make it happen.
As with Bartimaeus, Jesus called Zacchaeus to come to him. The crowd wasn’t happy. They responded by muttering among themselves and indignantly complaining. Can’t you just hear them grumbling? Here were two men they thought were unworthy men; a blind man who obviously had sin in his life to cause his blindness, and the scum of the earth, a tax collector!
But that didn’t stop Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, or Jesus. And the opinion of others sure shouldn’t stop us either!
What Is It You Want Jesus To Do For You?
Both Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus used the one thing they had (voice and a nearby tree) to reach out to Jesus. What is the one thing God has blessed you with that you can use? Whatever it is,
- You have to get to the heart of the matter…what do you want?
- You have to get to the heart of the healer…what is it you want Jesus to do for you?
- You have to get to the point of single-minded determination…Do you believe?
In the past, did you find yourself at a point that you refused to allow your situation to continue? What did you do about it? How did God bless you through it? How has your life changed as a result?
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Remember, there is power in our testimony!
*To find a complete account of the healing of Bartimaeus read Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-48.