If it weren’t for Hebrews 11:1, perhaps the case of blind Bartimaeus would be most fitting. How much further could it get than a blind man’s hope for being able to see.
The Bible says that Bartimaeus was doing the regular daily “exercise” – sitting at the city gates and relying on the pilgrims’ mercy for his dinner. There must have been a decent amount of dust on his clothes… over his body… And the heat certainly couldn’t have made his situation any better. But what else could he do? He’s an outcast after all – a cast out one.
But Bartimaeus isn’t just any outcast. Not just any blind guy. He isn’t just any beggar either. Bartimaeus is a believer, but not just any – a true one he is. The Bible says he heard Jesus approaching and began to shout – perhaps a usual picture given the popularity of the Lord. He was an emerging star for many of his time. The picture becomes unusual when a minute goes by and blind Bartimaeus is still shouting. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some from the crowd tried to shut him, but apparently whatever he had lost with his sight had now turned into a voice amplifier.
“Jesus stopped and said, Call him.” I have to pause here and wonder if he really didn’t hear him the first time. Never mind, perhaps the crowd around him was far too big. So, they called Batrimaeus – “Cheer up!” they told him, it’s your day today. And oh, boy, did he run! In fact, he was so determined that his sole possession didn’t concern him. His roof and blanket, his mat and jacket – his cloak… thrown away for the by-standers to have, should they wish. For he knew there was something of much greater value waiting for him.
Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1, NIV
“What do you want me to do for you?”, Jesus asked him. Man! What kind of a question is that – from the One who ought to know everything? That didn’t seem to bother Bartimaeus though, not even a bit. “Rabbi, I want to see.” Period.
Have you realized that nowhere in the stories of Jesus’ miracles do we read “Lord, you know, perhaps, if it’s possible and won’t be too much to ask – could you heal me… But, really, just the basics – I’ll take care of the rest with some herbs.” The people in need which Jesus came across seemed to know what they want. Recall the woman with the bleeding – she was telling herself, only if I touch his cloak I’ll be healed. And, and that Roman centurion – he said, listen, Jesus – I, like you, am also a man of authority. I say “do this” and it gets done. Don’t even bother coming over, just say it and my servant will be well again.
Have you ever wondered what you would answer to Jesus if he was to ask you that very same “What do you want me to do for you?” I’d understand if you say “no” – I hadn’t thought of it myself either. After all, how often do we get asked such a question these days. But now that you know the question – what would your answer be? Would your answer reflect where your hope really lays… or would it reflect where your hope should really lay? Or would it reflect something completely different?
See, Bartimaeus knew what he hoped for. He also knew that Jesus could give it to him, although he had probably only heard about him… rumors and stuff. Remember, he was blind – couldn’t have seen it done before, that’s for sure. Yet all this, combined with an immeasurable certainty and conviction gave him the power to shout all the more when people told him to shut up. Getting to Jesus just became a whole lot easier – no possession held any importance at all… If he had anything else which could potentially make him run slower, he would have abandoned that as well, giving it no second thought. That’s faith – a blind man’s certainty that he will see again.
The more I read his story, the more I wish I would be as blind as Bartimaeus, so that I may have the hope that one day I will see; the power to not stop shouting even when everyone tries to shut me up; and the certainty that knows no obstructions.