In this three part series we have been looking at the healing of Blind Bartimaeus. We discovered that Bartimaeus, realising his inability to overcome his uncleanness by his own strength, was begging to come into a covenant relationship with a Stronger One, who was none other than Jesus our Lord and King.
This desire to enter into Covenant had practical consequences in the life of Bartimaeus, as he sought a different path. But this action also had a strange effect on the people around him. Although they were first openly hostile – as they felt their own way of life was coming under attack – the crowd transformed when Jesus took note of Bartimaeus and called him to Himself.
The crowd now encourages Bartimaeus to draw close to Jesus, almost begging him to enter into this Covenant with Him and His Way. In this final episode we will look at how Bartimaeus responds to this encouragement, and how that led to his complete healing.
The response of Bartimaeus
Blind Bartimaeus responds in a very odd way when Jesus calls out to him:
‘And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.’
So what’s with this throwing off of his cloak? In scripture the removal of one’s cloak eludes to an imminent event that is characteristically dramatic and emotionally charged. It indicates a decisive step prior to action. Think of it practically, you would throw off your outer garment in order that you are free to move, to take action and not be restricted in your movement.
The throwing off of one’s cloak also has reference to proclaiming allegiance to a King. In the account of Blind Bartimaeus, this is what the throwing off of the cloak symbolised. What could be more dramatic and emotionally charged than Bartimaeus openly proclaiming his allegiance to Jesus as his King?
As this throwing off of cloaks and its connection with proclaiming allegiance may be somewhat of a new concept to many, let’s just take a moment to see another place in the scripture where this is alluded to.
Cloaks and allegiance to Kings
In 2 Kings 9 we read of the servant of Elisha anointing Jehu as King over Israel. Upon this fact becoming known, we read in verse 13;
‘Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is King.”’
The men each took off their garment, proclaimed their allegiance and were immediately ready for service.
Bartimaeus, by casting off his cloak is taking a decisive action and is saying “You are my King… my allegiance is with You”. He is leaving behind his ‘old ways’ which has led to uncleanness and he is now fully investing in the King and His Kingdom. This decisive action on the part of Bartimaeus is further evidenced by the fact that he sprang up, he literally leapt into that space and came to Jesus. This took great courage and faith… remember that he is believing and taking this action whilst still in a blind state.
Seeing the way to righteousness
Jesus then asks a very odd question. He asks Bartimaeus what He can do for him. You think it would be obvious that Bartimaeus is blind and in need of healing. However it is here that we need to remember the type of begging Bartimaeus was engaged in… he is asking for help with a situation that has gotten out of his control… he has come to the realisation of his own fallen nature, which has resulted in his blindness and it is from this state that he is seeking healing from Jesus. Bartimaeus is not only asking for his physical sight to be restored, but also his Spiritual blindness.
He desires to see the way of righteousness, the way leading to Jerusalem, the city of peace, and he realises that only Jesus can grant him that vision by faith. In verse 52 of Mark 10 we read;
‘And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.’
His way becomes your way
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus says “Go your way” and that immediately Bartimaeus followed Jesus on the way? As a result of this healing, Bartimaeus’ way had become Jesus’ way, and Jesus’ way had become Bartimaeus’ way. They had one vision, they were united. There was no more ‘my way’ and ‘your way’ there was just ‘the way’.
It is now that Bartimaeus not only walks in the Way, but builds it, through the Word and Wisdom of God, thereby manifesting the Kingdom.
Roads are very important in a society. They link towns and people. They provide for trade and communication. Just as our society would not function without roads, so the Kingdom of God will not function without roads.
In our modern day, a lot of money is invested in the infrastructure of roads, as it is believed that this will bring security and progress through increased economy and trade. However, the roads of the Kingdom of God are not built with money but through the application of His Wisdom and His Word.
Building the Kingdom by His Word
The question that arises is how does His Word and Wisdom lead to growth and progress? This is foreign to our flesh minds, yet it is a concept we need to embrace if we are to build His Kingdom… and this will only be achieved by faith, trust and a full commitment to His Covenant.
This is what it truely means to become a follower of Jesus, and this is what the account of Bartimaeus outlines for each and every one of us. Just as Bartimaeus, we need to come to the realisation of our own fallen nature which has resulted in our blindness – a condition from which we also need to be healed, as only then will we be able to see and follow Jesus on the way, the way of righteousness. Yet to take this step requires enormous courage and faith as one needs to break with the covenant with man, a covenant with which we are so familiar and that we know so well, and invest fully in the covenant of God and Jesus Christ. As only then will our way be His way and can His Kingdom be built.