Why Bartimaeus matters

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.”Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. - Mark 10:46-52

Talking about this text with my wife and co-pastor, she mentioned how commentaries point to this story as a story of great discipleship. And it is. 

But why?

This was the question she and I thought about for a bit. Then something dawned upon me, it is this insight that I want to share.

It could be imagined that as a blind person, Bartimaeus was always following people. He had to in order to survive. he had to follow people to food, water and even the temple. Being blind at this time meant that you were, by definition, a follower. 

And so when Bartimaeus was healed and able to see, he no longer was bound to be a follower. He could find his own food, water and place of worship. He was free to be a leader for the first time in his life free from following anyone. And yet, Bartimaeus chooses the life of a follower even though he is no longer dependent as he once was.

Choosing to relinquish freedoms is the ultimate expression of freedom. Christianity is about choosing to follow Christ when you do not have to.

We call that freedom in Christ.