Now Bartimaeus is a man of extraordinary faith, faith that could move mountains. Probably even continents. He was bold enough to stand and run to Jesus and tell him what he wanted despite a whole bunch of people telling him he wasn’t good enough.
When I read this chapter, what stood out to me was that Jesus tells Bartimaeus ‘Your faith has healed you’ but what does that mean? Surely Jesus heals Bartimaeus – he doesn’t heal himself.
Well looking at Bartimaeus’ circumstances I believe helps answer the question. At the time it was a common belief that sin caused blindness, so Bartimaeus had the equivalent of a big red siren blaring “I’m a sinner”.
The blind often couldn’t make a living and so ended up begging. There was even a law made against the blind becoming priests. So, when Jesus healed Bartimaeus, he transformed his life not just by restoring his sight, he was making a statement, He was showing that your sin is not your identity. It’s not who you are. Just because I have lied to someone, that doesn’t mean I should get “liar” tattooed to my forehead. Because our sins don’t define us. Jesus defines us.
So Bartimaeus, was in a pretty tough and dark place. And that is the key. Because light shines so clearly in dark places, places of utter desperation are the easiest place to see kingdom activity. The enemy thinks he’s already claimed those places so he’s not bothered about them. And he’s convinced us that the darkness is just too dark for us. But we are the light of the world, it’s not just “this little light of mine”. No, inside you, you carry the THE light of the world.
But what we can learn from Bartimaeus, is that he put Jesus in exactly the right position in his life. He placed him first above everything, because he had nothing else to get in the way. No possessions, no relationships, no money nothing!
He had nothing distracting him between himself and the Lord, all He had was a belief that Jesus can transform his life, His belief that Jesus is who he’s says he is. Jesus was His only hope, his only saviour, Bartimaeus placed Jesus at the number one spot in his life. That is the place where Jesus needs to be for us. And that is what it means to have faith: having faith in Jesus means putting Jesus first. That was easy for Bartimaeus because he had nothing else to get in the way, he was desperate – it’s much harder for us, unless we are also desperate, but that’s what faith is.’
Now I’m not saying you’ve got to get rid of everything you own to be in that place of desperation. But if they’re causing you to stumble cut it off! And Jesus did tell the rich man to give away everything and that’s because his riches would get in the way between him and his relationship with God.
And although the things we love are often very good things, CS Lewis says ‘The truth is that ‘God is love’ may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God.’ And then he says, ‘Our loves do not make their claim to divinity until the claim becomes plausible.’ In other words, the things which are most precious, pure and wonderful are the most dangerous loves because they are the best and highest things in our life, and so they are the most likely things to take God’s place.
We can’t let those things cloud our vision because before we know we have a wall of to do lists between us and him and we think that if I just earn that little bit more money, if I just do this if I just do that it’ll all be fine. But all we’re really doing is pushing Jesus to the side and forgetting that He is the only one who can transform the situation.
Time is a big one, who worships time rather than Jesus!? I know I do, I let time control my life rather than accepting the life of freedom from one who made time itself. Yup, it’s so easy isn’t it. To live totally dependent on Jesus is a very uncomfortable and does not conform to the pattern of this world…but guess what, I’m pretty sure that’s the place the bible says we should be. You know, that’s why the Holy Spirit is known as the comforter, because as Christians, as little Christs we are not supposed to be comfortable! To be Christ like is offensive, we were not made to blend in.
And Bartimaeus understands that too, he gets that persecution and the expectancy of the world. He was shouted down at, because he didn’t fit their mould, told to be quiet by people who thought they knew better.
How often in your life has some told you to be quiet or that you’re not good enough? We even tell ourselves that, and actually it’s probably societies biggest fear, that you’re not enough.
Because, the truth is we aren’t good enough, and we don’t deserve God’s love – but that’s completely irrelevant; the lie is the ‘therefore’, and that’s where the devil sits whispering: ‘I’m not good enough therefore Jesus won’t turn aside for me.’ And by turning aside, by coming to us, Jesus shows us he values and loves us, whoever we are.
The flip-side lie is telling ourselves that we are good enough, that we are fine – when in fact we are as spiritually blind as Bartimaeus was physically blind. We all need Jesus, and we all need healing – and we all need to know that he loves us anyway.
But, what would have happened if Bartimaeus had listened to those voices telling him “you are not enough”!? A big old nothing, nothing would have changed, he would remain blind without anything.
But instead Bartimaeus pushed passed the lie the He wasn’t good enough and shouted even louder, because he knew who Jesus was, he believed what Jesus could do and he was expectant that transformation would happen!
So when the world tells you “you’re not good enough” how as little Christ’s, should we respond? In submission to the lie of the enemy!? I don’t think so. You tell the world “I am a son, a daughter of the king! And he determines my worth and the King says I am His, I am chosen, I belong, I am loved because he came and died for my sins which means you have nothing on me that He hasn’t already dealt with and He loves me”
My favourite worship leader, Jason Upton writes in one of his songs:
“There’s a power in poverty that brakes principality and brings authority down to its knees.”
I’ll say that again ““There’s a power in poverty that brakes principality and brings authority down to its knees.”
And I love that because, the world can take away everything we own materialistically, it can judge us, it can place us at the bottom of society. But the world can’t take away the one who died so we could live, the one who made us and loves us and the one who gives us a hope for the future. The only one, and that is the power of poverty, when we have nothing and surrender our lives to him.