“Immediately he recovered his sight and followed (Jesus) on the way.” (Mark 10:52)
Remember that scene from Rocky 2 where Rocky is running through the streets of Philadelphia. Before long he is joined by some neighborhood kids… and then a few more… and then a lot more. Eventually, Rocky is leading a massive crowd of runners, joining him in his run. Everyone has joined him because Rocky is the rising star of the whole city – and those who run with Him, run because they want to be near him, and connect with him, in his quest for boxing glory.
Now, journey back in time to Jesus’ day… and Rocky is a picture of what Jesus faced nearly every day of His ministry (minus the running!). Crowds of people followed him around, wanting to be near Him, and to connect with Him – as He went about doing wonderful (and miraculous) things for people. Everywhere Jesus went, the crowds were sure to follow – in a glorious, expectant parade, from town to town.
You and I would probably be walking right along with them. Wondering aloud about what we might witness today. Hoping to see something that no one had ever seen before – and WE would be there to see it. We would be talking openly about this Jesus, and enjoying every moment of this expectant parade.
What we wouldn’t want is for something to happen to rain on our parade.
In Mark’s gospel record, we see just such an occurrence (Mark 10:46-52). There, we meet a man by the name of Bartimaeus. He is identified as “a blind beggar,” but that is not the worst of his issues. He is known, by name, as Bar-Timaeus. Literally translated, he was called (labeled) “son of unclean.”
In Jewish culture, the “unclean,” were outcasts. Disdainful. Irrelevant. They were to be purposely ignored. They were to be (lawfully) treated as an annoyance, and undeserving of anyone’s time or attention.
Mark sets the scene… Bar-Timaeus is begging, beside the roadway, and the Jesus-parade is approaching. When Bar-Timaeus hears that it is JESUS coming, he begins to make such a commotion that everyone around him is seriously perturbed. The Bible says they “rebuked him” and repeatedly told him “to be silent.”
This is what I find fascinating: Everyone in the parade was hoping to see a miracle. Yet, when the opportunity was presenting itself, they wanted no part of it. This tells me that the crowd of people that followed Jesus’ every step – wanted miracles ONLY for the deserving. Outcasts need not apply. The unclean do not merit the attention of holy men. The contemptible are not welcome in this parade.
There are so many lessons here… But the main point of this whole account was that someone who was labeled as “son of unclean” DID merit the attention of the Lord of all. He was an outcast to everyone… but Jesus. What the crowd was trying desperately to quell, found Jesus right in the middle.
In the end, the Redeemer redeemed an unwanted annoyance and restored not only his sight but also his dignity. Because of the touch of the Master, “son of unclean” left his identity behind him on that roadside – and discovered a new identity… as the recipient of a miracle and as a follower of Jesus!
We have talked, previously, about the labels that have been attached to our lives (by ourselves, or others). Those labels have been OUR identity. But Jesus came to give us a new name. A new label. He came to let us know that it doesn’t matter what this world thinks of us – He came to let us know what HE thinks of us. That we are worthy of His time and attention. And that we are the focus of His love and affection. No matter how we have felt. No matter how many times we have been “kicked to the curb.” Jesus will hear our cry. He will touch our life. He will heal our condition. And He will welcome each of us to follow after Him.
There is no label placed upon us that He cannot change… in an instant… forever.
Prayer focus: God, may my heart seek to find the fullness of Your love for me… and leave all that I was, behind me.