In my reading of the gospel of Mark, I came across a very interesting difference of how people reacted to Jesus. In the 10th chapter of Marks account we find two very different guys both of whom want something from Jesus. It is within these two accounts that we can see the way of the world, and the way of a true follower of Christ.
In Mark 10:17-21, Mark relates in his own words the story of what has been called “The Rich Young Ruler.” We all know the story of how a young man who supposedly “has it all” came to Jesus asking “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” and how Jesus ends up telling the young man to obey the laws of God, to which the man replies that he has always done this. But then Jesus does something amazing,
“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him…
Mark writes that Jesus, after hearing this young man’s response, was looking at him and loved him. He didn’t judge him even though He has every right to do so with the answer this guys just gave. No our Lord loved him. And it is in that love, that deep true love, that Jesus tells him the truth about what it is that this man really needs to do in order to inherit eternal life.
“Give it all up!”
He says! “You say you’ve kept all of God’s laws from your youth? Well young man, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21) There, now is it really that simple? Is it? All you have to do is ‘Choose’ whom it is you are going to follow. The only thing Jesus is asking this rich young man to do is to give it all up! Why?
“No one can serve two masters;”
Our rich friend here now does what many people throughout all of history have done when faced with the choice of not just listening to His commands but following God. They hear the ‘good news’ but when they realize that they have to choose between the world and it’s ways, or God and His ways, a lot of them eventually turn from God and go back to the dyeing way of the world. Jesus put it this way, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money, or the world). (Matthew 6:24)
“We have to be willing to let go of everything!!!”
When we hear the gospel message of life and hope we are then faced with a challenge. We have to choose whether to die to ourselves and our old lives, or continue in the life that is only bringing us death. Whom shall we follow? What are we really willing to let go of? Jesus told this guy, “Dude, you have way too much stuff that is keeping you tied up and bound here on earth and you need to purge your life of all of the ‘Worldly Junk’. Once you’ve done that, give to those around you who have literally nothing, that you have seen yourself as, “better than” for your whole life. And once you have done ‘All that’, then you will have more treasure than you can imagine because you will have the eternal life your so longing for, then come and follow Me and I’ll show you the way of life that is truly free!” (This is my own paraphrase of course.) Jesus is telling him/us that we have to be willing to let go of everything, not just some stuff but EVERYTHING!!!!
“A matter of heart”
So what does that look like? Giving up everything? I mean does God really want me to sell everything I have and give all my money to the poor and live a life of complete poverty? If that was so how could I then help people? If I don’t have anything to give to others because I’ve given it all away, how can I help others and be a follower of Jesus? I don’t think that Jesus is asking us to sell everything we have and live a life of going without. But we must be willing to!!! Our Father is the God who blesses us beyond all that we can believe. Look at Abraham. God called him out of his well to do family and sent him off to be a nomad but he still had some of his things. All alone in a new country he had his wife and small group of workers and some livestock. Did he have to leave all that behind? No he brought his workers and livestock (money) with him. But he did have to leave everything else behind. His old life and family. This young man before Jesus, had a great choice before him. Because the real question Jesus was asking him was about his heart. The choice we have when choosing to follow Jesus or not, is a matter of heart. His was with his money. Where is your heart at?
So let’s look at the other guy I mentioned that Mark wrote about in this chapter. His name is Bartimaeus. He is blind. He can’t work. His’s a beggar. Has no real life to speak of. So what is it that he wants? Let’s take a look.
“Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. (Mark 10:46-49a)
Our friend Bartimaeus, wanted something from Jesus. He knew that Jesus had healed many people in the area, I mean, it was the talk of the town everywhere that Jesus went. So this guy knew that Jesus could heal him and bring back his sight. He knew in his knower that Jesus is the man that can give him what he really wants and he is not going to let anyone tell him different! Just look at what the people around him are saying. “Then many warned him to be quiet” “Shut up dude, He doesn’t want to talk to the likes of you! Your just a beggar who do you think you are? Look man, just sit there and be quiet!”
But our buddy Bartimaeus isn’t listening to the world or these people! He wants Jesus! “…but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” He has his eye (albeit a blind one) on the One who can change his life, and Jesus “stood still and commanded him to be called.”
“Shut down or shout out!?”
Our friend has yelled and shouted out so much that Jesus stopped and commanded that Bartimaeus be called to Him. Wow! I mean, how loud did he get? Everyone was telling him to be quiet, and that was just fuel to the fire. He shouted louder and louder and then at last got the response he was hoping for. Jesus, the One who could heal his eyes stopped. And everyone with Him watched as He “commanded him to be called.” Note that Jesus didn’t say, “Who’s making all that racket?” or “Tell him to be quiet.” No our Lord stood still and “Commanded” that these people who were trying to keep our friend quiet bring Bartimaeus to Him. How often do we allow those around us, or the view of the world to keep us quiet, from shouting out to God what it is that we need? Bartimaeus got louder and louder as those around him tried to shut him down. When people around you try to shut down your dreams of a new life, in your response to Jesus, and the life He is calling you to, do you shut down or shout out!?
“A Proper Response”
It would seem that we can learn a lot from a blind beggar. Let’s take a deep look at this short piece of scripture. “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. They called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.” (Mark 10:49-50) These people who were telling him to be quiet, have now been commanded by Jesus to call Bartimaeus to Him. So now they are all like, “Hey be of good cheer, get up, Jesus is calling YOU! Wow we didn’t think He would ever do something like this but wow man, He is calling for you!” I imagine that they might even be asking our friend to not say anything bad about them telling him to be quiet to Jesus as well when they are saying, “Be of good cheer”. But I really want to look at the response of Bartimaeus. He hears Jesus call for him to come to Him and man he gets excited! I mean look at what he does, he throws aside his garment! (Uh yeah, so?) I know, that’s what I first thought until I found out what this garment was.
In the time of Jesus, there were many people begging for money and food, but not all of these people were, well, completely honest about their need (What? Go figure right!). Some would act lame or blind just to gain a buck. But our friend Bartimaeus was for real. And His “Garment” was his proof. This was his “beggar’s cloak”. It signified him as a bona-fied beggar. It was who he was. It permitted him to beg for alms. In a way, in pretty much every way, it was his identity, it was who he was. “Bartimaeus- the blind beggar”. So when he threw this cloak, his “Garment” aside he was leaving his life, his everything, behind! He no longer wanted to be identified with that life because he knew that Jesus could heal him and restore him into a useful man of society! Not just some guy asking for handouts but one who could use his hands to work and make a living! Can you see in this blind man, this beggar who just gave up everything he had to make any kind of living, what a proper response to Jesus is?
“Do we have that kind of faith?”
When we call out to God with all that we are. Ready to give up everything we have. It is then that Jesus, stops and commands for us to be called to Him. It’s that call on our lives that we feel and hear in our very souls. And what is the reward? What do we get out of this deal? Remember what Jesus told the first guy? “…and you will have treasure in heaven;” Bartimaeus didn’t know this. He just wanted to stop being the beggar that he was. He wanted to see! So Jesus asks our friend, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Mark 10:51-52a) Treasure! “You have given up everything to ask me this knowing that I would do this for you, therefore, be healed, your faith in Me has done for you that which you could not do for yourself. Go and enjoy the new life I’ve given you. (Again, my own paraphrase) Do we have that kind of faith?
Can we give our all for Jesus? Can you commit everything you have for Him so that He can give you your treasures in heaven? Sounds like a great trade-off but are we ready for it? If we look at this message from God, and then look at the world around us we can see many similarities. I’ve seen video’s and heard some truly amazing, God filled testimonies of people in some of the poorest countries in the world, who give up what little they have to follow Jesus. Many end up giving up their families, and some even their very lives, for the treasures promised by the Lord Jesus! And then I see many, who like the rich young ruler, hear the gospel, and just are not ready to give up their lives for the freedom and treasures that we find in the blood of Jesus Christ. It is the latter that truly pull at my heart and bring me to tears. It is this response that Bartimaeus gives Jesus that rocks me to the core. “And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” (Mark 10:52b)
“God has such a better life waiting for us.”
This simple blind man who wanted nothing to do with his old way of life, shows us, (who have so much) what a proper response to Jesus calling to us looks like. Calling out to God, and calling out even louder when the world tries to quiet us by telling us we are not worth it, just give up and be content with the life that the world has given us, when in truth, God has such a better life waiting for us. To truly give up our all and allow Him to heal us and restore us to who were meant to be.
Made in His image, a royal priesthood, children of God, hidden in Christ Jesus, seated at the right hand of the God of the universe! To live a life worthy of His calling. Let us stop listening to the world and like our friend Bartimaeus, shout all the louder… “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!