46Now they came to Jericho, and as he was coming out of Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sat by the road. 47And when he had heard that Jesus the Nazarene was coming, he cried out and said, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me.” 48And some folks began to rebuke him so that he would shut up. 49But Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Calm down! He’s calling you!” — Mark 10:46-49
This is part of the featured text for the Bible Pacesetter Podcast today, in which I’m dealing with what we need to do in order to heal our blindness to spiritual things.
The story isn’t explicitly about spiritual blindness. In it, Jesus encounters a blind personâ€”physically blindâ€”along the way, and heals him. I believe, however, that in the way the story is placed in the gospel of Mark, Jesus is trying to get across to his disciples, and Mark is trying to tell his readers, how they can get past their own inability to see what God is doing.
In Mark, starting with Mark 8:31, Jesus has tried to get across to his disciples the nature of his kingdom. Each time the disciples display how thoroughly they misunderstand him. In Mark 10:32-34 Jesus again tells his disciples that he is going to die. Immediately afterward, James and John ask for the seats on the right and left. In our 21st century 20/20 hindsight, we can picture Jesus on the cross with someone crucified on either side. Could those â€œseatsâ€ have been reserved for James and John?
We’re all ready to ride up to Jerusalem with Jesus for him to take his throne. Are we also ready to go there with Jesus to get on his cross?
It’s an important question. Judging what God is doing based on opposition and hardship is very dangerous. You can undergo opposition and hardship because you are on the right track and the enemy wants you stopped. You can undergo similar hardship because God is training you for a new mission. You can undergo difficulty simply because there is evil in the world, and here you are.
In the movie Bruce Almighty, there’s a scene in which Bruce is trying to manage the prayers that are coming in, and they’re overwhelming him. God tells Bruce he’s only dealing with the prayers in a few block radius. When a hurricane is coming in, we tend to yell to God, â€œWhy are you letting this happen to me?â€ I sometimes picture God saying, â€œIt’s nothing personal. It’s just a hurricane.â€
But sometimes it feels like your life is a wreck, and the incoming hurricane is coming directly at you, and it is personal. What do you do?
Well, take a lesson from Bartimaeus. Cry out to Jesus. Don’t be afraid of bothering the crowd. Don’t let them stop you when they tell you to shut up and quit bothering the master. Keep on crying out!
But when Jesus comes and touches you, don’t be surprised if he heals your blindness, your lack of understanding about his purposes, rather than taking away your personal hurricane.
I think about 90% (or more) of God’s answers to our prayers does not involve performing a physical miracle or changing someone else. It involves changing us and our perspective. It involves putting us in the right place and getting us oriented to what God is already doing. We want to change God; God wants to change us.
Are you ready to let him work?