Mar 19, 2012

Bartimeus: From Darkness to Light

One of the most powerful accounts in the gospels is that between Jesus and Bartimeus, the blind beggar of Jericho as recorded in Luke 18:35-43.  Bartimeus was a disadvantaged man.  His lived in Jericho, the accursed city (Joshua 6:26).  Not only that, he was the least of the least and the poorest of the poor of Jericho.  In Karmic terms, Karma was against him.  But yet on this day Jesus visited Jericho.  Bartimeus saw his opportunity for hope and he seized it.  He broke through from a life of darkness into Light.

Bartimeus did four things that heralded his breakthrough from a life of darkness to the Light.  First is that he recognized who Jesus is.  He inquired from friends, neighbors, and the multitudes who the Person passing through town was. You see, Jesus does not discriminate.  And on this day, He passed through Jericho the accursed city.  As many as would lift their voices to Him in Jericho, He would take their curse upon Himself.  For Bartimeus, beyond inquiry, he believed the report about Jesus.  That He was the Messiah who was to come, the Hope of Israel, and the Savior of the world.  Hence he called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

To experience God's power in our lives, we must recognize who He is.  We must recognize Him to be LORD, Messiah, Prince of Peace.  We must be willing to make Him the LORD of everything in our lives.  He is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.  We must welcome Him into our lives as Savior and Master.  Then when we call, He will hear us because we rightly recognize His Person.

Secondly, Bartimeus recognized his own need.  He acknowledged his blindness and disadvantage in life. He was blind.  He was poor.  He was the least of the least of the least.  He was a sinner. 

Beyond acknowledgement, he put desire for change into his situation.  He resolved to do something about his condition.  He would call out to Jesus in faith, the only one with power to change his life.  He believed that Jesus would hear him and give him the time of His day.  He trusted that he would be heard.  Bartimeus could not see but he could speak.  He resolved to use what he had going for him...his voice.

Sometimes we come to God desiring Him to bless us.  Yet we hold proudly onto our situations and conditions.  We want to be in control. We want to appear dignified.  We do not want anyone to know our short-coming lest we lose our respect, position, or face. We pretend that all is well.  And so we chase one lie and cover it up with another.  We might even engage in some good work and give to a good cause because, afterall, we want to impress others and show that we are good people. 

The truth of the matter is that we are blind and we are needy.  We are sinners in need of a Savior.  Bartimeus did not showcase how well he had managed to live with his disability.  He was not out for an applause.  He was out for a miracle. He vied vehemently for it taking the pain and risk of being trampled by the crowds in order that he may encounter the Savior.  He was not to be disappointed.

Thirdly, Batimeus defied the opposition in order to fight for his blessing.  Evil rarely goes down without a fight.  The Scriptures reveal to us that beyond our sinful nature we have an array of demons; principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places, that stand in opposition to us (Ephesians 6:12). The inhumane acts of men and women toward fellow humanity in our world are often inspired by a source other than human.
For Bartimeus, this evil inspiration was manifest in all the other voices telling him to be quiet.  There were those telling him he needed connections to be introduced to Jesus.  There were those powerful individuals that told him to get out of the way because to them he wasn't important enough for Jesus.  Then there was the voice of his own condition inspired by his sinful nature.  He could not see, how could he hope to catch the attention of Jesus? He would be better to stay as far away as possible and wait for his sealed fate rather than attempt to join the maltitudes and he might lose his legs in addition to his eyes. 

But as we see from Jesus' response, Bartimeus was the most important person in Jericho that day.  He had open access to God.  Because of him and for him, Jesus stopped.  Whereas we have no mention of the names of those other people that told him to be quiet; neither the richest man in Jericho nor the city mayor, we have the record of Bartimeus. 

He defied the opposition and shouted even louder because he was desperate for Jesus.  Suddenly, this Jesus who everyone had told him a moment earlier that he had no hope of being heard by Him, stopped.  The King of the whole universe, creator of the billions and billions of stars and galaxies, commander of the Armies of the Living God stopped for a blind beggar on the streets of Jericho.
Persistent prayer in pursuit of God's promise always pays off.  When we stand our ground and defy those defeating voices of opposition from within and without, we gain a great deal from God beyond the immediate reward.  For more than two thousand years and all the way into eternity, Bartimeus' example of faith is a lesson to all of humanity as to what it means to be persistent. 

To God, so long as we have breathe, there is no one with a sealed fate...there is no karma.  No, all may enter in freely and all may partake of salvation and of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  In Christ there is only amazing grace.

Finally, when Jesus asked Batimeus what he would have Jesus do for him, he was specific in his request.  "Lord, that I might regain my sight."  He did not leave it to Jesus nor to the maltitudes to tell him what to ask for.  He did not try to narrate how he lost his sight or the kind of misery he was in for the luck of sight. 

He did not engage in the blame game either. He knew his need and he seized the moment to tell it to Jesus. "Lord, that I might regain my sight,!" He said.  What do we need from Jesus today?  Is it salvation?  Is it healing?  Is it restoration of a broken relationship?  What is it?  We must tell it to Jesus.  We must be specific.  

This Jesus is no ordinary guru.  In the words of one African American preacher, "No means or measure can define His limitless love.  He is the sinner's Savior and friend.  He stands in the solitude of Himself, magnificently unique, unparalleled and unprecedented.  He is the highest personality in philosophy, the fundamental doctrine of true theology.  He is the coral necessity for spiritual religion.  He is the miracle of the ages...the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Savior...proclaimed of God.  Acknowledged by angels.  Adored by saints and feared by devils."  This Jesus is our Lord and our Savior.