Today is Thursday in the fourth week of Lent, and we are reading the end of Mark chapter 10. A man who wants Jesus to help him keeps crying out, even after other people tell him to quiet down. But Jesus hears him, brings him close, and heals him.
Can I put myself in this story right now? Can I feel the hot, dusty air on my face and in my lungs as I make my way along the road out of Jericho? Can I feel myself jostled along by the crowd as we follow Jesus towards Jerusalem? How do I feel as we make our way towards the great city? What am I hoping will happen when we get there?
Now imagine that I hear the voice of a man, calling out from the side of the road, trying to get this big crowd and all of our excited movement to stop. I look over and see that he is a blind beggar, a man who sits by the side of the road asking for people to toss him a coin. How do I feel about his demand for Jesus — and the rest of us — to stop and help him?
I wonder how Bartimaeus felt when he heard that it was Jesus who was passing by? I wonder what he hoped for? I wonder how he was able to believe that Jesus would help him?
Bartimaeus yells out loudly to Jesus, and calls him "Son of David." That's like crying out, "Jesus, King of Israel!" But Israel already had a king, and a Roman governor too. I wonder if that was a dangerous name to call Jesus? I wonder if that is why people wanted him to be quiet?
Can I imagine being Bartimaeus, with all of the people around me saying "be quiet! hush! stop crying out!"? What would I do, as Jesus and the crowd came close and began to pass me by?
How did it sound to Bartimaeus, I wonder, to hear those words: "Cheer up! Get on your feet! Jesus is calling for you"?
Can I imagine Jesus looking straight at me and asking, "What do you want me to do for you?" What would I say to Jesus, if he asked me that right now?
Jesus gives Bartimaeus his sight. Now he no longer has to sit and beg: he can have a new life; he can see his friends and family; he can be back in the world in a new way. I wonder why he chooses, right then, to join the crowd and follow Jesus on the way he will go?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to talk with God about right now?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to carry with me into the rest of my day?
Jesus of Nazareth, son of God: thank you that we have a book filled with your words and deeds. Give us the wisdom and understanding that comes from your Holy Spirit, so that we can know you better and follow you all the days of our lives. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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