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#Arise Boldly

By Kolleen Lucariello

As we continue to explore what it means to anchor ourselves to God's mercy, this month, we focus our attention on the encounter Jesus had with a man Mark introduces as Blind Bartimaeus. It’s interesting to note that this probably wasn't his real name as "Bar" means "Son of." So, in essence, Mark is saying, please meet the blind son of Timaeus. And, because Timaeus isn’t a common Jewish name, it seems likely he was a Gentile.

Of course, we don’t know what his life was like before he’d lost his sight, but blindness seems to have stolen much from this man—including his personal identity. Doesn’t it seem reasonable to assume he had a name before he was defined as the blind son of Timaeus? Had he become a man who been disqualified and now spent his days sitting on the side of the road longing to be known for who he was? Perhaps.

One day he heard a large crowd coming his way, and then when he realized “that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'" (Mark 10:47, NET). This was a bold act on behalf of Bartimaeus—the blind outsider was now begging for the attention of the Jewish Rabbi. Many in the crowd scolded him and told him to keep quiet. Shush yourself! Be quiet son of Timaeus. What do you have in common with Jesus? 

Instead of cowering to their demands he increased the intensity of his own and began to shout “all the more ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (vs.48). It's a good thing he didn’t allow the crowd to shut him down and silence him because his bold outcry stopped Jesus in His tracks. “Call him,” Jesus said. Bartimaeus wasted no time. “He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus” (vs.50).

"Jesus said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man replied, “Rabbi, let me see again"'" (Mark 10:51, NET emphasis mine). Again. Bartimaeus was bold enough to ask for the return of what he once had—his sight. We will never know what his life was like before he lost his sight, but blindness had certainly stolen the life and the identity of what he once had.

I don’t know what it is like to experience physical blindness; however, blindness doesn’t always need to present itself with the loss of our physical eyesight. We can be blind in other ways and just like Bartimaeus, blindness can steal who we once were, what we once had and push us to take a seat on the sideline.

In my life ‘fear blindness’ has clouded my judgment and perception which has made it difficult, at times, to see another—or even God's—perspective clearly. When fear becomes a stronghold, it blinds us to the realities of who we are in Christ and who he is within us. When have you allowed fear to move you to the sideline rather than motivate you to move forward with God? What have you said “no” to because of fear blindness?

Pain blindness can also be a big identity thief. When emotional pain or trauma blocks our ability to see beyond our suffering it’s become a stronghold that prevents us from focusing on anything other than on our own struggles. If all we see is me, how are we to have empathy or understanding for the experiences of others?

Prejudice blindness can prevent us from seeing the inherent worth and dignity of all people and hinder our ability to build meaningful relationships. When prejudice becomes a stronghold, we will miss God ordained opportunities to love and serve one another in the unity Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians.

Spiritual Blindness has the potential to occur when we are unable or unwilling to see the deeper truths and spiritual realities that God intends to use to mature us in our faith. Rather than allow God to challenge a possible false belief system, we push back a challenge of our own. A stronghold is built when a lack of faith, doubt, or disconnection is able to move us away from our spiritual beliefs or practices.

I recently heard someone speak of clutter blindness. We become clutter blind when we’ve grown so accustomed to its presence that we no longer see clutter around us. This can become a stronghold in different areas: it may be physical clutter (think Hoarders), emotional clutter (think unresolved conflicts, negative thoughts, or unprocessed emotions), or relationship clutter (think overlooking or ignoring signs of conflict, neglect, or dysfunction in your interactions with others). This can strain relationships and hinder communication and connection. 

The writer of Hebrews invites us to come, “boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrew 4:16. NLT).  Bartimaeus shows us how to apply this to our life.

He was determined to get Jesus’ attention and persisted in his efforts. If he had allowed the crowd to choose what was acceptable for him, he would still be the blind son of Timaeus.

            Can we become resolved to go after Jesus regardless of what others may think of us? We may just discover God’s mercy is for us when (and if) we are willing to cry out boldly for Jesus to help us regain what our blinders have caused us to lose.

Bartimaeus knew Jesus was the answer to what he needed. How many times do we waste our time shouting at or pursue the things of this world when ultimately Jesus is the answer to what we are missing?

Are we wasting our time by asking for the immediate, temporal needs we have rather than asking for the deeper need to be met by Jesus?

Bartimaeus threw off his cloak—the one thing in his possession that he clung to for comfort—when he made his way to Jesus. What do you need to throw off?

When we become blinded by the painful and challenging circumstances life throws at us, shame, bitterness, and resentment become possessions of comfort that we wrap around us. God never wants us to get too comfortable with these unhealthy emotions. They are quick to sidetrack and sideline us.  

Some of the questions you can ask yourself as we seek to #AriseBoldly this month are:

·      Do I remember life before I became blind to my own bitterness?

·      Have I been blinded by disappointment?

·      Have unmet expectations left me bitter?

·      Am I blind to the drama I cause when I gossip?

·      Have I allowed my blindness to sideline me?

·      Am I sitting on the side of the road afraid to call out to Jesus in fear of what the crowd might think?

·      Am I blind to another perspective because I am so convinced my own is right?

·      Am I blind because I view life through a wounded lens?

Jesus responded to Bartimaeus with these words, “Go, your faith has healed you. And immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road” (vs.52). 

Could this be your time to #AriseBoldly and call out to Jesus and be met with his mercy? I pray so! And when you see clearly again, stand up and follow him on the road. As you take your place be sure you reach out and help someone who may be stranded on the side of the road longing to be known again.

We hope you will join a chapter this month and discover more about Bartimaeus and how we can help one another #AriseBoldly.


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