This past Sunday we had an interesting experience at church. It wasn’t a bad one, just interesting since we had to listen to the sermon with our eyes closed. The teacher (or preacher, whatever you prefer), Chris Campbell, was sharing about the interaction between Jesus and Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Like I said, it was an interesting experience to hear a sermon about a blind man while pretending to be blind (it’s all about imagination, watch Mr. Rogers).
Anyway, while reading the story of this encounter I noticed something that intrigued me a bit. The focus of the sermon was on the fact that Bartimaeus was blind and trying to get Jesus’ attention and finally doing so, but there is something in this story that caught my eye. However, first, I must tell a story of my own.
When I was, I don’t know, maybe 9, I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain with my uncle and a couple of my cousins. Now, I was shorter than most of my cousins, in fact, I still am, and this was my first time to a “BIG” amusement park. I had gone to Disneyland, but let’s face it those kiddie rides are nothing compared to roller coasters with drops in excess of 100ft. Anyway, my cousins, my uncle, and I walked up to the first ride we found, COLOSSUS (said in a thundering, echoing voice…remember, imagination), and we got in line.
At one time, Colossus was one of the fastest and largest wooden roller coasters in the WORLD, and to an eight year old kid it still was. As we kept creeping forward, I became even more anxious and tried to pretend like I was really excited, but in reality I was wanting out. We got to the front of the line and had to make the decision, we all know what decision that was, front or back! I chose…neither. I ran out of that line so quick and, I think, my uncle came with me while my cousins jumped on the ride.
I started to cry! However, now that I think back, I wasn’t crying out of fear, I was crying because I missed out on something great. An experience I heard so much about the rest of the day and it took me awhile to gain my composure and try to get up the guts to ride it later when my cousins said, don’t worry, we will try it again and it will work for you, trust us! So I did, and I got the chance to experience something I thought I had missed out on!
Now, let’s get back to Bartimaeus and Jesus. Bartimaeus tried to get Jesus’ attention, but wasn’t getting anywhere with it. He cried “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” twice to no avail. In fact, he was even told to be quiet. Then, something miraculous happens in the crowd; Jesus actually stops and tells the group with Him to call Bartimaeus. This is where I became intrigued because the people calling him said “Take courage, stand up!” (NASB) or “Cheer up! On your feet!” (NIV) or “Take heart. Get up” (ESV). Why would they say that? I think Bartimaeus was visibly shaken or even crying a bit. I think they saw this blind man, realizing he had possibly missed out on something that could be life changing, crying and sitting in his brokenness. But, these words come after, “he is calling you”. Now, to give credit where credit is due, Chris touched on this phrase and made sure to focus on the “he is calling you” concept. Bartimaeus “sprang to his feet” and received his sight, and got the experience he thought he missed out on.
How often do we feel that Jesus has passed us by? How often do we feel like Christ is missing our call? Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. I have been sitting in my brokenness, feeling like I did at Magic Mountain, realizing that I might have missed out on something that is life changing. I am here to say, “Cheer up! On your feet!” and know that at times it may be hard to see that Christ hasn’t passed us by, but we have to be open to his call to cheer up and open our eyes. He is here, He is near, and He is not leaving!