Some of you have heard me say that I am a world class asker – I am asking Jesus to share a particular burden or for help in a certain situation all the time. I, probably like you, find that life can be a grind and exhausting… so my petitions to Jesus grow in urgency when these burdens are particularly heavy. I used to feel a little guilty about it or felt like he would tire of me always asking, but I was so very wrong. In our relationships with our spouses or family this is what we do – we talk to each other about our fears, needs and hopes and it is no different in our relationship with God. We should pour out our hearts to him with our most desperate needs. That’s what Bartimaeus did.
Bartimaeus impresses me in so many ways in this Gospel because I see a little of myself in him and, more importantly, see a little of who I should be also. He asks for help with his tremendous burden, is rewarded and makes an important choice with that reward.
Let’s revisit this Gospel story. Bartimaeus “sees” only through his ears and what he hears is people passing by as he calls out. The crowd is big, and he asks who is it, who is coming? Jesus of Nazareth, he is told. He has heard of him, he knows he is the one who is sent from God and has performed miracles across the land! He knows in his heart that he can be cured if only Jesus of Nazareth sees him. He now calls out in desperation – he can’t miss this! It is his only chance! He calls out frantically, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me” over and over again. He is told to shush by a passerby, the Master cannot be bothered with you. But Bartimaeus calls out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”
But then he hears something different, the crowd slowing, some murmuring, and then a lone man’s voice that says, “Call him.” And before he knows it, people around him are telling him, “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you!” He springs up and is brought to Jesus who asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” and he says simply, “Master, I want to see.” Scripture tells us he immediately received his sight.
And what is the first sight that Bartimaeus sees in his life? A pair of dusty feet in sandals because he has bowed as low as he can in front of his Savior. Jesus tells him his faith has saved him and he can go on his way.
But what did Bartimaeus do then? Did he go on his way? Did he go to celebrate this priceless gift he was given? No, he chose to follow his heart and he followed Jesus on his way to Jerusalem to be nailed to a cross. Bartimaeus may be been physically blind, but he was most certainly not spiritually blind. He had faith that the Son of David could and would save him, and he did, and he chose to celebrate that by following him.
So, what about us? What would we ask for if our Savior was walking past?
The two other readings and the Psalm this morning all point to a Savior that walks not past us, but with us. In Jeremiah, the Lord says, “Behold I will bring them back from the land of the north… I will console them and guide them” showing us that we have a Lord that longs to walk with us and share our burdens. In the letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul teaches us that Jesus Christ is our mediator to his heavenly Father. And the Psalm celebrates what God has done for the people in our response, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.” We too can be filled with that joy if we but let Jesus act in our lives.
If our Savior was walking past, what would we ask for? Most of us have good eyesight so we may not be asking for a cure for blindness, but that doesn’t mean we should not ask him for something, nonetheless. We feel the pressure of life’s worries, the burden on our shoulders and we make the mistake of trying to go it alone.
But there is, as we know, a more perfect option. We easily forget that our Savior is not walking past us, but with us. He longs for us to offload that burden to Him, to lay it at his dusty feet. He wants to hear our problems and we should never feel guilty nor tire of turning to him. They told Bartimaeus to be quiet and not to bother the Lord, and he ignored that sentiment and asked for help anyway.
But why does Jesus want this, for us to walk with him, to off load that burden to him?
Jesus Christ knows the grind of life that we all live with, he walked among us and experienced it himself. I mean, look at his life! He was on the way literally to be humiliated and crucified in Jerusalem, yet he stopped to open the eyes of Bartimaeus.
Jesus loves us all the time. Not some of the time, not most of the time, all the time! Even when maybe we forget to love him, or when we do things we regret. There he stands waiting for us to ask for help with our burdens.
He shares those burdens and gives us hope if only we would let him in. Bartimaeus made a call for help. His faith saved him, and he chose to walk with his Savior from that moment onward. Jesus Christ is waiting for us to do the same. Why would we ever try to go it alone?