“Rise, He is calling you.” Mark 10:49c (NKJV)
Many of us are familiar with the story of Bartimaeus, but, just like with all of scripture, there is no complete understanding, no full revelation, no “the end.” The day we forget that is the day we stop hearing the voice of the LORD.
To summarize the story, Bartimaeus is a blind beggar on the side of the road who cries out to Jesus as He is passing by. Jesus stops in spite of the people silencing Bartimaeus, and calls for him. When Bartimaeus finally comes to Jesus, he is healed of his blindness, the bonds of his generational curse broken. I’ve heard countless renditions, interpretations, extrapolations, explanations, and even applications of this example of the mercy, grace, and power of God.
But I wonder: what actually happened?
If you look into the original Greek (with the specific diction God intended for His Word), when Bartimaeus is told to rise (Mark 10:49), the Greek can also translate “awaken.” Every revival and return to God always involves awakening; every time God raises up His chosen, it starts with awakening. “Rise, He is calling you.”
Awaken, He is calling you.
Bartimaeus responds by throwing aside his cloak (or outer garment), rising, and coming to Jesus. The Greek (and God’s vernacular) paints a much more theatrical and realistic picture. Throwing aside in this sense is a violent action. One possible translation could be “thrust down.” By vehemently thrusting his cloak away with no regard for where it lands or what happens to it, Bartimaeus forsakes his former life, his subpar and unsatisfactory lifestyle, and comes to the feet of Jesus exposed, the result of sin that God had warned us about out in the open for all to see.
Speaking of coming to Jesus, here it would be more accurately translated as “rushed to Jesus” or “leapt to Jesus.” Bartimaeus was blind, not lame. He used what he could to get to Jesus as fast as he possibly could, desperate for His healing touch.
And there he was: at the feet of Jesus, open and exposed, walls down, for all to see. Much like the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14, circumstances no longer applied. Decorum didn’t apply. After all, he was a blind beggar. It’s not like anyone thought highly of him anyway.
It’s just pride; it’s not like anyone feels any special esteem for you. Cigarettes, drugs, porn, alcohol, sex, low self-esteem, poor self-worth, lust, greed, envy, religion, politics, withheld tithes, bitterness, wrath, unholiness, lying, half-truths, twisting the Holy and inerrant Word of God, editing the Gospel, forsaking the Law which God has written on our hearts, disobedience to God, idolatry, false worship, perversion, murder, stealing, doubt, fear, corrupt communication, or negativity. It’s just sin; it’s not like God warned us of the consequences time and time again.
And then Jesus answered. Bartimaeus had said nothing to Jesus, and yet Jesus answered. It was the action Bartimaeus took, in addition to state of his heart. And Jesus answered him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Earlier in this chapter (verses 35-40 to be exact), Jesus asked the same thing of James and John, two of the disciples that were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13). These were two of the first people to follow Jesus and had been with Him throughout all of His ministry. And yet, their request is one of conceited selfishness.
But Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, trapped in torment, desperately seeks freedom from his bondage and chains. Much like James and John, alongside the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, the American church is too wrapped up in itself to think about anything other than its personal gain. Part of the church holds a semblance of wanting to change, but the change is in the wrong direction: they rush toward the world and acceptance, attendance, and tolerance instead of the delivering power of the Blood of Jesus. They, the seeker-friendly and no-holiness movement, seeks to be a “force for good” by ignoring the One who is good. They want a community, but not a nation under God. They want grace, but not the blood.
But Bartimaeus, he knew that acceptance was not enough. What he needed was not friendliness or people saying it was okay to be blind. What he needed was not accommodations or awareness. What he needed was a deliverer. What he needed was a savior. What he needed was freedom.
Not the blind leading him.
Bartimaeus’ response is one foreign to the modern church: “Rabboni–” Wait, let me stop there. Rabbi is a term used for teachers, masters, scholars, and those of great social stature (specifically the Sanhedrin). Jesus is called Rabbi several times, even by Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel. One who was high in stature and highly recognized and esteemed referred to Jesus as Rabbi. And yet we consider His name, the Name above all names, as a expletive.
There’s more to it than that, though. Bartimaeus says Rabboni, not Rabbi. This is far more than a linguistic sidenote, as many would have you believe. Rabboni, in actuality, literally translates “high-Rabbi,” signifying a Rabbi above Rabbis. Not only is Jesus King of all kings, Lord of all lords, and Priest of all priests, He is also the Rabbi of all rabbis. In fact, Rabboni is reserved specifically for the top religious leader (namely, the President of the Sanhedrin).
Isn’t it strange that blind Bartimaeus, the worthless beggar who only knew of Jesus because he heard people talking about Him as they passed by while refusing to help him or even acknowledge his very existence, recognizes Jesus as Rabboni when we can’t even accept that He even exists even though science, history, and anthropology alike affirm His Word at every turn?
There is another who proclaims Him as Rabboni: Mary Magdalene, one who was once indwelt by seven demons (Mark 16:9). Let me say it again: it’s amazing that these individuals recognize Jesus, and yet we’re too busy quarreling, gossiping, slandering, and backstabbing each other and counseling, compromising, and sleeping with the enemy to even look up or awaken.
Awaken, He is calling for you.
Much like in the days of King Amon of Judah (2 Kings 21:19-26), we’re going deeper and deeper into sin. But revival is coming; God’s elect are awakening, and they will not compromise or accept defeat. They will serve, fear, and worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and in the beauty of holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 1 Peter 1:16, Psalm 29:2; 96:9). They will thrust away their cloak, much like Bartimaeus, and will rush to the feet of Jesus, to worship Him as Lord. They will stand for the truth of the Word, and they will give up everything, even their life if need be, for the cause of Christ their Savior (versus an ideal or a non-applicable and dated suggestion).
Bartimaeus asked for his sight, and his faith in Jesus Christ made him whole. After Amon, Josiah reigned in Judah, and he brought the people back to the LORD. However, the judgment for Judah’s sin would still come, just not during Josiah’s lifetime. We know this judgment as the Babylonian captivity.
Imagine what it’ll be for America.
“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48b (NKJV)
Awaken, He is calling for you.