I’ve been there, maybe you have been too. You know you need to do something like change jobs or say something about an injustice or maybe you need to stop doing something but as soon as you voice it those around you discourage it. Maybe they even scold you for considering the change on your heart. They may be trying to protect you or they may just think they know better but it defeats your spirit. Sometimes it just slows you down. Other times it literally stops you from doing what you wanted to do. Sometimes you persevere but quietly, maybe even with less joy because of what others said or did. You would think that discouragement would come from someone who is not on your side or doesn’t know you well. Unfortunately that is not always how it happens.
“And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus,a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it wasJesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And manyrebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him,“Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off hiscloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him,“What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him,“Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way;your faith hasmade you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” Mark 10:46-52 (ESV)
What really struck me when I read this story of the healing of the blind man in Mark 10 (also in Matthew 20) was that it was someone in the crowd of Jesus’ followers and disciples that rebuked Bartimaeus .Someone who was following Jesus probably because they had seen what *He could do. Someone who had listened to Jesus teach. I don’t know what those people were thinking. I just know they rebuked this blind man from calling out to Jesus. Maybe they thought Jesus was too busy or too tired. Maybe they thought Bartimaeus wasn’t worthy. Maybe they just believed that Bartimaeus needed to approach Jesus in a different place or time. or maybe they just didn’t want another diversion from their plan for the day. They were on their way somewhere after all. But I believe many of the people following Jesus that day knew of his ability to heal. Why then would they rebuke someone for asking for healing?
I see this kind of injustice going on in our world today. Sadly, I see it in the church as well as outside of the church. It makes me very sad to think that there are people who call themselves Christ followers and yet they will rebuke someone for reaching out to Jesus in a way they deem inappropriate. A way that does not work for them.
I love that Jesus stopped. Jesus asked for the people to bring the man to Him. That just makes me smile. I know that Jesus could have spoken from where he was and called the man to himself or even healed him with His words. But, He involved the very people that rebuked Bartimaeus for calling out. When the people told Bartimaeus that Jesus wanted him to come to him the Bible says he “sprang up”. I love this too. That makes me think he was ready, even eager, not intimidated by the people. Once in Jesus presence, in front of everyone there, Jesus asked this man what he wanted him to do for him? Jesus asked, even though being God incarnate, He knew this man’s heart. In fact that is probably why He asked. Jesus knew that this man believed He could help him, heal him and that he was ready to declare his faith in front of everyone. When Bartimaeus asked to recover his sight he was immediately healed.
I believe that our God is limitless. I believe He created each of us. Here in America we make a big deal about the fact that we are all individuals. God did not create us all exactly the same like factory made dolls all stamped out of the same mold. Why? I do not know. But if God created us as individuals does it not stand to reason that He calls us to Himself in different ways, at different times? Don’t get me wrong. There is only one way to salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 (ESV)
We are saved through Christ not our traditions or our preferences of when or how to call out to Jesus. The older I get the more I realize that our unlimited God loves all of us, yes all of us. He wants to have a relationship with each and everyone of us. The way we learn that is as individual as we are.
Can you think of a time when someone discouraged you from doing what you knew to be right? As a follower of Christ, can you see that we must extend grace and encourage others to reach out to Christ in their own language or way?
*This author chooses to capitalize all pronouns referring to any part of the Trinity as a show of respect and to differentiate between God and man in the text.