The Church is apparently at a crossroads as Millennials grow more and more discontent and the world sees us as more and more irrelevant. While we have the natural reaction of getting defensive or dimissive, certainly we must examine what our critics are saying. Is there truth in their rants? Should we be concerned?
We’ve been disccusing how our attitudes, actions, and lives can nullify the redemptive Gospel that we preach. To be Christlike means to follow in His footsteps, live by His Word, and love as He loved…correction: LOVES. The very Son of God who was willing to spend time with the outcasts and rejects of his day. Even with his last breaths, he brought comfort to a criminal and embraced him with His words.
But as the culture wars continue to escalate, perhaps we have the tendency to throw rocks and tear people, ideologies, and lifestyles down, simply to elevate our own position. All this instead of loving and embracing those who are different from us. The ones we’re turning away are the ones who need Jesus the most. Without love and compassion, we lack relevance with those around us. We ignore their inner cries for help, turning a deaf ear and a blind eye. Yet, Jesus notices…and is attracted to weak, hurting, rejected, and the ignored.
“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road” (Mark 10:46-52).
It was common to belief that those stricken with physical limitations were “that way“ because of sin and disobedience. The person was cursed and God overlooked them. Oh how they must have looked down on Bartimaeus because he was totally helpless and couldn’t earn a living. His position in life made him: untouchable, unlovable, and unmarketable.
Are we in the way of people “seeing?”
Jesus was traveling “with a large crowd.” These were the cool ones, the in-crowd; the Rabbi’s clique. They were too focused on their self-importance and elevated stature because they were with the great Healer. It’s strange, that despite his hundreds of miracles, they still wanted to pass this helpless blind man by. There’s never a Samaritan around when you need one.
Do we dismiss people because they’re “different?”
While Bartimaeus was offering a plea for mercy, ”many rebuked him and told him to be quiet.” They felt his actions were inappropriate, improper, and unacceptable. They were conveying that he didn’t belong with them.
Jesus sees the helpless
While the crowd tried to push him away, Jesus tried to pull him closer. Jesus saw Bartimaeus in the midst of the crowd and was attracted to his desperation and cry for help. He was willing to be identified with a “reject.” This acceptance and recognition did something to Bartimaeus’ soul.
Jesus’ compassion wins trust
Bartimaeus stood up boldly and expectantly, “throwing his cloak aside.” This is highly significant because his cloak was issued by the Romans, identifying him as a beggar and allowing him to beg. It was his livelihood. To throw it away was a death sentence. But he wanted Jesus more because probably for the first time in his life he felt safe and cared for.
God, help us to love and care for people.
Who was truly blind in this story?
Who is the last person we’ve looked past because they were “unmarketable?” or unlovable?