Summary: What keeps us from responding to Jesus when we have the opportunity? What beggar’s cloak are you unwilling to let go of?
Why Cling to a Beggar’s Cloak?
“Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped
to his feet and came to Jesus.”
Mark 10:50 NIV
INTRODUCTION: The story of Bartimaeus tells of a man who had been blind for many years--perhaps all of his life. He wore the official beggar’s garment, and his life was reduced to sitting beside the roadside day after day begging. He had probably been shunned and ignored by people. He had heard negative remarks so often that his self-esteem had dropped to zero over the years.
It would have been easy for Bartimaeus to “hug his hurts” and pull the beggar’s garment more tightly around him. Self pity and dejection could have engulfed him more as the years went by. Deep down within Bartimaeus, however, was a spark of faith which arose every time he heard about Jesus.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Bartimaeus lived near Jericho which was a town 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem, and it was on the traveled route for people going to Jerusalem. This story occurred when religious people were going to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. You might think that these people who were considered “religious” would have wanted to help him, but it only annoyed them when he shouted out, “What’s happening?” Because of the constant flow of traffic, Bartimaeus picked up quite a bit of information. He stored it away in his heart, and it served as a preparation for what was to happen later. He was probably better prepared for the day he met Jesus than a lot of other people were.
When the opportunity to meet Jesus presents itself, do we first have to work through our fears, doubts, and preconceived ideas? Do we have to spend so much time working on the basics that we can’t cry out to Him quickly? Sometimes we may not be able to respond at all. Or have we, like Bartimaeus, been able to learn who Jesus is and know what He can do for us? If we are having difficulty believing and responding, we can do something about it. We can begin to make daily, small decisions that will prepare us for better future responses.
Some of the things that Bartimaeus learned was:
1. He heard how Jesus had healed other blind people.
2. He had a conviction in his heart that Jesus really was the promised Messiah.
3. He knew that Jesus had not refused people when they came to Him in the past.
4. He knew that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover and He would be coming that way.
5. Bartimaeus knew he was on the right road.
Even though Bartimaeus couldn’t see what was going on in the crowds, his sense of hearing was sharpened, and he began gathering these faith-building nuggets over a period of time.
This reminds me of the following legend:
One night a group of nomads were traveling down the road when they were surrounded by a great light, and they knew they were in the presence of celestial beings. With great anticipation they awaited a heavenly message of great importance to them. Finally a voice spoke:
“Gather as many pebbles as you can. Put them in your saddle bags. Travel a day’s journey and tomorrow night will find you glad and it will also find you sad.”
They were disappointed and angry at the message. They were given a menial task that made no sense. However, the brilliance of the visitor caused each one to go ahead and pick up a few pebbles and put them in their saddle bags.
They traveled a day’s journey and that night reached into their saddle bags. They discovered that every pebble had turned into a diamond. They were happy they had diamonds, but they were sad that they had not gathered more pebbles.
Bartimaeus had been gathering these nuggets or “pebbles” as he heard people talking about Jesus, and his faith began to grown. When he finally met Jesus, these “pebbles” all turned into diamonds for him. What a happy day when he received his sight.
How often do we fail to pick up “pebbles” that will later turn into diamonds for us, and it makes us a little sad to think that things could have been better for us.
Bartimaeus dreamed of such a day when Jesus would come by. For some reason, today seemed a little different to him. He couldn’t see, but he could overhear the crowds talking. There were more people than usual. They were talking louder. The crowd pushed and shoved each other as they went by.
“What’s going on?” he asked. He found out that Jesus was coming this way on his trip to Jerusalem. The crowd became noisier. Something was happening. The crowd pushed by him, ignoring him. He felt an intensity rise up within him. One thing he was sure of. He didn’t want to miss Jesus. He had a need. With his heart pounding, he cried out in a loud voice, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”