In chapter 10 of Mark’s gospel, we meet a third blind man. This man is not passive like the man born blind or the blind man from Bethsaida. The man born blind sits quietly on the side of the road and does not ask Jesus for healing. Later, he will be impudent to the pharisees, but in the beginning, he is a silent witness to his own miracle. The man from Bethsaida is brought to Jesus by friends. He is less than passive as he is led about, spit upon, and silenced. Neither of those men asks for healing for himself. All three of these blind men can teach me. I can learn about trusting and following from the blind man from Bethsaida, who first sees “people looking like trees and walking.” (Discussed in this post.) I can learn empowerment and the importance of speaking with honest integrity from the man born blind. (Discussed in the post Miracle and the post Man Born Blind.) But from this new blind man, Bartimaeus, I can learn about real, deep faith.
In Mark 10: 46-52, a blind man, Bartimaeus, calls out to Jesus and keeps calling out louder and louder, even after “many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.” He is a blind beggar and surely knows his place, but he will not allow this opportunity to pass him by. He cries out and will not be silenced. When he hears that Jesus has called him, he does not hesitate, but THROWS off his cloak and SPRINGS up to go to Jesus. He speaks his request, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus grants him his miracle. He receives his sight. And then he follows Jesus.
I find this to be such a joyful story. To me, it’s an example of simple and perfect faith. I want to have this kind of faith. I want to be able to take the same steps Bartimaeus took:
1) Call out to Jesus and keep calling out, no matter what is happening around me.
2) Be ready to THROW off my encumbrances, SPRING up and GO to Jesus.
3) Ask for what I need in a simple and direct request.
4) After all is said and done, I want to follow Jesus.
What is stopping me from living this life of simple, pure faith? First, distraction and fear keep me from continuing to call out. The crowd crushing in on Bartimaeus is like the consuming distractions that keep me from noticing the divine One right beside me in my daily walk. Their taunts to be silent are like my fears of inadequacy and unworthiness, which jeer at me when I want to cry out for mercy. Second are the encumbrances. For Bartimaeus, it was a cloak that he had to throw off, but that cloak was probably one of his only possessions. My encumbrances are many and tangle around me, tripping me up as I try to run to receive my miracle. Third is the difficulty to ask for what I need. Fear enters again and makes it difficult to speak aloud the needs buried deep inside me. Self-sufficiency and independence override my desire to beg for grace. And finally, all of my encumbrances and distractions and fears combine to keep me from leaving my expectations behind and following Christ into new life.
I am learning. The blessing of this journey into low vision is that it is helping me to overcome my fears and distractions, to throw off my encumbrances, to turn to Jesus and ask for what I need, and to follow the path of grace and light and life. I have a long way to go, but I am traveling. The man born blind and the blind man from Bethsaida and blind Bartemaeus are good companions, teaching me along the way. I know that, with them leading me, mercy will find me and strengthen my faith and make me whole.