Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Throw your cloak away

A blind man, a beggar, Bartimaeus, hears of Jesus passing by (Mark 10:46-52).  Jumping to his feet to meet Jesus he "throws his cloak aside".  The episode concludes with Bartimaeus being healed by faith.

Bartimaeus boldly broke through a number of barriers to ensure an audience with Jesus:  

i) He could not see Jesus, only hear of his presence.  

ii) His infirmity put him in a poor position in that others crowded Jesus in preference to providing Bartimaeus an audience.  Many of those in the crowd where following Jesus from far away locations so they would not have known this local beggar.

iii) Jesus was on a passage to Jerusalem and his disciples were eager to ensure he did not deviate from his path.  At this point in the journey, "leaving the city" Mark 10:46, it would have been common for beggars to gather to target those who were travelling the Jerusalem road.  As people were making the journey to celebrate Passover the beggars were hoping to benefit from seasonal generosity.  The disciples were perhaps particularly weary of such groupings of beggars as they presented as a very needy group for healing ministry.

Against all these barriers Bartimaeus threw away his cloak - a most remarkable thing to do as his cloak was his sole means of worldly protection.  Bartimaeus was literally throwing away all he had so that he could follow Jesus - a message that had earlier pained the rich young man in Mark 10:21.  That the cloak was of importance as a means of protection is identified here:

"This cloak would have been his only protection from the cold at night, and his only shade from the hot sun during the day"

Source: http://bibleillustration.blogspot.com/2007/10/blind-bartimaeus.html accessed 16 May 2011

Bruce Robinson, an Episcopal priest, of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Highland Park, Pitttsburgh, Pennsylvania,  captures the essence of Bartimaeus' contribution to Mark chapter ten very well:

"He first calls out as the party comes by, and when Jesus asks him what he wants he cuts right to the chase. No bargaining for position and status, like James and John. No trick legalistic questions, like the Pharisees. No playing to the crowd, like the Rich Young Man—who wanted to be sure that everybody knew, we’ll remember, that he had kept all the commandments since he was young. "

Source: http://revbmrobison.blogspot.com/2009/10/twenty-first-after-pentecost-2009.html accessed 16 May 2011
referenced from Wikipedia page: "Healing the blind near Jericho" accessed 16 May 2011

Many who read this will most likely identify themselves more with the rich young man than a poor blind dependent beggar.  However, it is Bartimaeus who is the last that comes first (Mark 10:31) and who is like the little child (Mark 10:15).  Bartimaeus while blind had seen (Isaiah 42:7), when others who had sight were blind.  Bartimaeus who left everything behind to join Jesus on the journey to the cross.

What cloak are you gripping onto?  Can you cast it aside for the sake of the kingdom?


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