As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Lk. 18:35-38 NAU)
I asked what do we want earlier, but I wanted to point out that here that the “beggar” didn’t stop begging once he heard Who was coming along. He had been begging before, for money from those passing by. Once he hears Jesus is passing by, he still begs, but this time louder and with more vigor. Like last time, he’s after his sight. But I missed the change (pun unintended, but I like it).
The change to which I refer is the change from begging for coins to begging for healing. Either way, he’s a beggar. And keep in mind he’s a beggar because that’s what he’s doing, not because he’s blind. He only chose to beg because he was blind, but he had a very limited number of other options. Begging was actually fairly risky for a blind person.
The thing is, I’m supposed to see myself in this blind man. He’s important. Mark 10:46-52 (therefore Mark’s source of info on Jesus) actually has his name (Bartimaeus) and his father’s name (Timaeus)…okay, so that’s a translation of his name, but still, it has this sense of familiarity. The sense in Mark is that this guy is known within the church in Jerusalem or Judea at any rate.
The irony is that this guy is known forever after his healing as Blind Bartimaeus. Here’s what I’m seeing in this guy’s status, he was a beggar and blind. And after being healed, he was remembered as blind but not a beggar. He asked for his sight, and those who knew him later remembered his story, the story of Blind Bartimaeus, but not the story of Beggar Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar. Now’s he’s not. Poof.
See, one of the things that’s so hard to help people get is some sense of what they don’t know. I deal with this at work all the time. It drives me nuts. On the other hand, I’m honing a skill in helping people get a sense of what they don’t know, can’t see, and have no idea is even possible. It’s amazing, and I love that part.
In one instant, some poor guy (or gal) is moping along saddled with a regulatory requirement. The next, they have this potential to know the background about the regulatory implications of any random occurrence their clients spring on them. One instant they are the victims of the random business choices of their clients, the next they have the business agility to appear as magical sages of all things business.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get clients to see this. Most of the time they only see the regulatory compliance as a necessary evil. They remain on the roadside begging. And many times, so do I. I hear of great things Jesus is doing in the lives of others, and I look over and smile, but assume that’s not for me. I’ve heard too many faddish stories of wondrous things that never happened or never materialized in my life.
After trying to replicate the work of God in my life I heard about in another’s, I give up and keep begging by the roadside. I remain a beggar. I remain blind. But on the other hand, I’m vaguely aware that there is more. I have heard of this Jesus who heals. There is this ridge line of spiritual life that I dare not ascend and cross. He calls me up to it, and I shrink back from the effort, having been disappointed so often by the strain of it and pain.
But on the other hand, sometimes the crowd passing me by gets my attention. I perceive the commotion, the fervor, the excitement, and hope begins to well up. Maybe this time. And once more I begin the ascent. But along the way, I am forced to give up resentments, to stop behaviors I’ve come to love, to see myself for all the accumulated garbage that has begun to define me (I’m a beggar?). As that begins to fall away, the entanglements and sin of Hebrews 12, I find the climbing easier, the ridge line comes into view once again. I’m repenting.
And on the other side will be another valley, and another ridge line. But a better valley, and a higher ridge line. I will be stronger, know my Jesus more, and I will be remembered as blind, but no longer a beggar. I’m okay here in this valley, but I know there’s more. I want to be more than an okay beggar.
What do you see through your knothole? What does the former blind beggar teach you?