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I wonder what has happened in Bartimaeus' life to give him the faith we see in him on this day. How many other times has he strained to listen as people passed by his place along the road before disappearing from earshot? What gives him the faith to proclaim Jesus as the Son of David? Has he heard testimonies from others who have been set free from their darkness? What questions has he tossed out boldly from his place on the side of the road: Who is this man? What is his name? Whom has he healed? Who would have the power to do such things?
"Jesus, Son of David." Such boldness. Such quickness to speak. Perhaps Jesus has passed by him on another trip through Jericho and this time he is not going to miss the chance to make his request.
"Have mercy on me!" Bartimaeus asks for mercy and receives ridicule. The master is engaged with people far more important than he. He is busy, on his way to establish his kingdom. Who do you think you are asking for his attention? Quiet, beggar, of course he doesn't have time for you!
Yet the ridicule only emboldens Bartimaeus. In spite of the rebuke, he shouts all the more.
Jesus stops. The conversations are interrupted. A hush comes over the crowd. "Call him to me." By including the crowd, it would be a lesson they would never forget. Immediately their tone changes. "Cheer up, man! On your feet! He's calling you." Incredulity. Jesus always surprises. Even at this moment which is ripe with the excitement of his burgeoning following, Jesus stops for the needy individual who calls to him.
Throwing his cloak aside, Bartimaeus jumps to his feet and comes to Jesus. Getting up takes some effort and finding his way through the crowd requires some assistance, but this man, full of energy, anticipation and faith is not to be stopped. He knows exactly what he wants and he has absolute faith that Jesus can do it for him.
"What do you want me to do for you?" "Rabbi, I want to see."
"Go, your faith has healed you." The words are spoken before the act is accomplished. Warmed by Bartimaeus' simple faith, Jesus is filled with joy. The joy doesn't come from the thrill of the miracle but because of the boldness of his faith.
The story begs the question: What do you want Jesus to do for you? In your heart of hearts, what is your deepest desire? Would you be so bold as to bring your request to Jesus and to ask him to meet you in it?
Lenten reflections for anytime of year