Mar 2 2013 - Mark 10:32-52 – Have mercy on me
Jesus and his disciples are leaving Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. A large crowd is accompanying them for they know where Jesus is going and want to see what he will do when he arrives in the city of the Great King.
As they leave Jericho they pass by a blind man who is sitting beside the road, begging. Bartimaeus hears the crowds and asks what's going on. When he learns that Jesus is passing he calls out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47). The crowd tell him to be quiet. They do not want Jesus to be distracted from his journey to Jerusalem. But Bartimaeus will not be silenced; he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" (10:48). At last Jesus heard him and called Bartimaeus over to him. His eagerness in calling out is now matched by eagerness of action, “Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus” (10:50). Nor is his pleading finished for he begs Jesus, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (10:51). Jesus immediately healed him from his blindness.
The point that struck me this morning was the persistence of Bartimaeus. He would not be silenced, not even by a crowd shouting at him to shut up. Bartimaeus recognised something of who Jesus is for he addresses him as "Son of David." He must have heard something of the things Jesus had been doing and has reasoned that this must be the Messiah. The one thing of importance to him was that Jesus should have mercy on him. He would not stop his shouting until Jesus heard and responded – or until the crowd had entirely passed by and all hope was lost.
We need to have the same single-minded focus. We continually need the healing touch of Jesus; we are in continual need of his mercy, forgiveness and blessing. We need continually to call upon him for the help that we need. We need to ignore the thousand clamouring voices that tell us to be quiet and remain satisfied with our beggarly state.
More than that, we need to be persistent in our prayers for others. We all too easily become discouraged and give up praying when our requests are not quickly answered. Maybe there are friends or members of our family who have drifted away from God and we have prayed for them again and again – maybe for several years. We begin to fear that our cries are not being heard and we are tempted to give up praying. Maybe there are friends or family who suffer from chronic illness and we have prayed for them many times but without any discernible effect. Perhaps we have begun to feel that further prayer is pointless. The urgency and persistence of Bartimaeus encourages us to go on calling to the Lord for help – to pray and not grow weary.
Lord Jesus, it fills me with wonder when I read that you came into this world not to be served but to serve and to give your life as a ransom for many. It is because of this that I am bold to cry out with Bartimaeus, “Son of David, have mercy on me! ... Son of David, have mercy on me!” Lord, have mercy also upon those who are dear to me and who are in need. Help me to not grow tired of crying out to you in prayer on their behalf. I have heard of your power and compassion; may I now see it with my own eyes and rejoice in your goodness and love.