Summary: Sometimes a story is more than a story. It is true with Bartimaeus story. It is our story as humans. IT is our story as seekers. It is our story as followers. It is the story of what Jesus can do in the life of a willing and surrendered person.
Theme: Once I was Blind but He Makes Me
Proposition: The Story of Bartimaeus is a multi-leveled story: It is the Story of sinful humanity, the story of a true seeker and the story of a transformed disciple
The Story of Bartimaeus is the story of Humanity - 1. Blind/Powerless/Outcast/vagabond
The Story of Bartimaeus is a story of a true Seeker - 1. He recognizes/reaches out/receives
The Story of Bartimaeus is the story of a Disciple - 1, Whole/Transformed/Surrendered
Sometimes a story is more than just a story. For example, if you have ever read The Chronicles of Narnia or one of J. R. Tokien's books like Lord of the Rings, you know will understand. Even if you have had the chance to pick up the little book The Velveteen Rabbit you know what I mean. And for those business types if you have ever read, Who Moved My Cheese? you know what I mean. There are times that an author is able to take a simple story and while they are sharing truth on one level, they are simultaneously opening up volumes of truth and insight on a whole other level.
Our Gospel lesson parallels that same principle. It is on the surface just another miracle story centering on Jesus and His disciples. This time the healing involves a man by the name of Bartimaeus. Jesus is on His way to Passover, meets the man and subsequently heals him. End of story, or at least that is what we can read on the surface.
However, if we allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us we see much more than a simple healing story. This is Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover as the Incarnate One. This time the paschal lamb slain for the sins of the Jews will be the ultimate Paschal Lamb slain for the sins of all mankind. This Passover will be much more than just the celebration of an ancient ritual commemorating how God rescued the ancient Israelites to bring them into the Promise Land. This time Jesus will rescue and redeem all mankind from the power and penalty of death and lead them to experience the baptism of His Holy Spirit. This time Passover will open the door to the ushering in of the New Age of Salvation and Sanctification. This time Passover will involve a rejection, a condemnation, a death but also a resurrection which will lead to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
On His way to accomplish all of this once again Jesus is stopped. And once again Jesus does what Jesus always does. He pauses to meet the needs of those that need Him the most. Only this time in the life of this one man we see the lives of all men. In the story of Bartimaeus we see represented all humanity.
1. The Story of Bartimaeus is the story of sinful humanity
Notice carefully, all the definitions that are used to describe this man.
Bartimaeus is blind,
he is powerless,
he is an outcast
and he is a vagabond.
He is what happens to a man who has lost his ability to see the world around him. He is what happens to a man who can no longer take care of himself. He is a man who no longer has the position and power that he once possessed.
Listen again the Bartimaeus words in verse 51 - "Rabbi, let me recover my sight." (ESV)
Let me recover what I once possessed. Let me recover what once was mine. Let me recover all that I have lost. Let me once again enjoy the life that I once lived. Let me enjoy the ability to see and experience fully the world around me. Let me once again enjoy going to Temple and being with family and loved ones.
Bartimaeus is asking for what all humans have lost. We have lost our ability to see. We have lost our ability to enjoy the fruits of the life God had designed for us in the Garden. We have lost the ability to experience and worship our God freely and wholly. We have lost the ability to be at peace with one another. We have lost the ability to be at peace with ourselves. Bartimaeus is a perfect example of what it means to be a post-Eden human.
He is blind. He is powerless. He is an outcast. He is a vagabond.
Mark reveals to us more than just a picture of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Mark paints for us a picture of all who live this side of Eden. Humanity in its wretchedness is plagued with blindness. Humanity in its wretchedness finds itself powerless to change and transform. Humanity in its wretchedness experiences the life of an outcast, an outcast of Paradise. Humanity in its wretchedness is a life parallel to that of a vagabond; that of a life going nowhere.