One of my favourite passages of scripture can be found in Luke 18:35-42
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. 36 When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him that Jesus the Nazarene[f] was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”
42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.
I love this story because there are a couple of things about it that really stand out to me.
First off we meet this man named Bartimaeus (see Mark 10), who has obviously heard about Jesus.
He has an idea of who he is, and has heard about his amazing power, and knows that he may be able to help him. BUT THEN, Bartimaeus actually has the opportunity to encounter Jesus.
Look at the distinction between hearing about Jesus and encountering him. When it’s just hearing – it is head knowledge. It gives hope, but it does nothing for him. BUT, when Jesus is there in the flesh, when there is an opportunity to encounter him, this man seizes the chance. So much so that he is willing to embarrass himself if it means having an encounter, because if he can just encounter Jesus, then things can change.
It’s also worth noting that when this man is on the verge of a breakthrough, on the verge of an encounter, there is resistance. People are telling him to be quiet, to let Jesus focus on other things. I mean this is Jesus, he is important, and this man is a beggar who is blind, why would he be worth Jesus’ time? It would be easy for the man to take this stance, and say sorry and go back to begging. BUT, he shouts louder! He doesn’t listen to the voice of opposition, he doesn’t just accept the status quo or the accept his current situation as all he’ll ever know.
And then Jesus say’s something strange “What do you want me to do for you?”
I mean it would have been pretty obvious that Bartimaeus is blind, so Jesus – take a wild guess. BUT, Jesus gets him to display his faith. Faith that Jesus can change things. I mean look at how he responds to Jesus; “LORD” – in authority, powerful, supreme, “I WANT TO SEE.” – He isn’t just asking for mercy, he is laying claim to a miracle that he BELIEVES Jesus can perform. He is declaring his faith by confessing with his mouth.
So here’s the question… Where do you find yourself in this story?
The truth is that all of us can easily relate to aspects of this story, in fact, there is a good chance that we can relate to more than one. Maybe yesterday you were reading the devotion and it hit you right between the eyes. Your heart is a mess – the question then is what are your interactions with Jesus like? Are you stuck at a point in your relationship where you have just heard about him? Heard about the amazing things he has done, but even though you have faith – that’s all it is head knowledge. The truth is that if our messy hearts are ever going to get sorted, we can’t just hear about Jesus – WE NEED TO ENCOUNTER HIM. When we encounter him that’s when things change. To be sure, we are going to make time for encounter at conference… but why wait until then. We should follow the example of Bartimaeus “JESUS! SON OF DAVID!” This guttural cry comes from him, there is a desperation for encounter. It wasn’t the perfect setting, it wasn’t in the temple, or in a congregation – but Jesus was there and that’s all that mattered.
Or maybe you have cried out, and you have heard that voice. “Be quiet,” “Just be happy with the blessings you have.” Maybe you have asked for a breakthrough, and whether it’s the voice of someone else or your own voice of doubt…. you have been silenced.
It’s all too common that as Christians we give into that voice (regardless of where it comes from) before we reach our encounter. Bartimaeus, however, models the perfect response to the nagging doubt, the silencing reproach – shouting louder.
If you are being made to doubt, cry out for Jesus all the more. He is faithful to encounter you, he died on the cross to make it possible.
And lastly… How’s your eyesight?
Not your physical eyesight that is but rather, your spiritual eyesight. Encounters with Jesus are not just meant to benefit us. Whenever we encounter Jesus, we are always left in a better position to reach others. Sometimes, though, our eyes are shut or blind to the opportunities that God has put before us. Our encounter with Jesus is meant to open our eyes so that as we go about our day to day lives we can see those desperate enough to be needing mercy, and from a place of encounter, with our eyes wide open, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who need it.
Be like Blind Bartimaeus, crying out for an encounter, not being silenced, and receiving eyes to see.
I pray for you that when you cry out, you are met with a life transforming encounter. Remember it doesn’t have to happen in an ideal location, it just needs Jesus. I pray that you walk into conference having encountered eyes wide open to more encounter, and desperate to go deeper with Jesus.
Extra reading: Mark 10