Archive for April, 2014

Lenten Monologue-Blind Bartimaeus

Wednesday night’s Lenten monologue was the character of Blind Bartimeaus and came from Mark 10:46-52 and was based on the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

This is the fourth in Underwood Lutheran’s series of Lenten worship services held on Wednesday evenings through the season. The overarching theme for Lent is the questions of Jesus. Each week we will hear a reading by a different Biblical character who was questioned by Jesus in their encounter.

My name is Bartimeaus…which is Aramaic for Son of Timeaus, and this is the only clue I have to my past…just my father’s name. Since the time that I was born, I was blind…completely unable to see and therefore…completely unable to care for myself.

I don’t know anything about my parents or my family, other than the man that I was named after. Like many other’s like me, I was abandoned when I was very small…and the only thing that I could do was beg.

It was easier when I was small. People take pity on children, and so I could usually count on someone helping me every day…giving me a crust of bread or a drink of water…but as I grew older, that became less common…and so I had to get smarter about things.

I learned to use my ears since my eyes were worthless to me…I would listen…all the time…I’d listen for the sounds of water as I stumbled around…so that I could get a drink…I listened for the creaking of doors, so that I might be able to find shelter…but most importantly I listened for the sounds of people.

Because I was completely dependent on others…and so I had to be around others. If I could find a town, I had better chances…but often times I was driven out of the towns…because people didn’t really want me around…to them, I was a nuisance…an eye sore…and so I was never allowed to stay in one place very long.

But when I was driven out of a town, I did my best to stay close to the roads…and again, I did that with my ears…I listened…I listened for the sounds of footsteps walking by…or the sounds of animals pulling carts up and down the road…these were the sounds that I depended on…and when I would hear them, I would cry out…That’s what I had to do to get their attention.

“PLEASE…HAVE MERCY ON ME!!! PLEASE…GIVE A POOR MAN SOME FOOD…DO YOU HAVE AN OLD CLOAK, FOR I AM COLD…CAN YOU SPARE SOME WATER…WOULD YOU SHARE A COIN WITH A POOR MAN?”

All too often, I was ignored, though that’s not the worst thing that happened. Many times I was berated…screamed at by whoever was passing by…I’ve been called so many bad names I’ve lost track of the insults…or sometimes, if I stumbled into the road and blocked their way, they would strike me or push me…or they’d kick me as I laid along the road…so few cared.

In truth, I would rather hide my head and crawl away to safety when I heard the sounds of people coming by…but I had no choice…this was the only way for me to survive…to try over and over again to plead to complete strangers…to beg for my life…and eventually, someone would take pity on me and give me a scrap of food or a splash of water…that was how I survived, day after day.

And so I listened…using my ears to survive…and by listening I also heard conversation…people talked about different things…sometimes I’d hear something important, like people talking about the clouds building in the west, and I would know that I needed to try and find shelter from a coming storm…or other times I would hear of a battalion of Roman soldiers that were coming my way and I’d know to crawl off the road and hide myself from them…but one of the things that I remember hearing about was this holy man traveling around the countryside with a batch of followers…I’d heard rumors of him while people were passing by…how he was some sort of teacher…and that he was working miracles…and how some people thought he was the Son of David…one of the names that we Jews would call the coming Messiah…I heard these rumors a lot…and I’m glad I did.

Because one day, everything changed for me. I was laying alongside the road outside of Jericho. How I came to be there, I’ll never know, it was just where I ended up that day…and I thought this was a day like any other. I laid there along the road, listening like I always did…listening for the footsteps or the sounds of a cart being pulled.

As the day wore on, I did begin to hear footsteps…and not just an isolated person or two…but at one point I heard a large crowd stepping past me. As usual, I tried to appeal to the people as they walked by, but to no avail. After the first few in the group ignored me, and then one threw a kick at me, I just cowered…thinking that these people wouldn’t help me, and I would wait for the next group to come by on the road…but as I cowered there, I began to hear their voices…and my ears perked up when I heard someone say the name Jesus.

Could it be? Could this really be the one that so many had spoken of? I had nothing to lose so when I heard the name one more time…Jesus of Nazareth…I cried out in a loud voice “JESUS, SON OF DAVID…HAVE MERCY ON ME!!!” Now, it wasn’t surprising that many in the crowd hushed me, their voices gruff and mean. “QUIET YOU FOOL…DON’T DISTURB THE TEACHER!!!”

But I wasn’t going to be cast aside this time…if this really was Jesus, and the rumors were true, then I had to get his attention and I cried out again “SON OF DAVID…HAVE MERCY ON ME.” After this second time of calling out…I heard the crowd get quiet…and suddenly I heard a calm kind voice say “Call him here.” Footsteps came towards me, and the gruff voice said, a little kinder, “Get up, he is calling you.”

I jumped to my feet and stumbled in the direction of the kind voice I had heard. I was afraid…but I was determined…if this was Jesus, perhaps he would have mercy…when I finally came close to him, I heard his kind voice speak again…and this time, he was speaking directly to me. “What do you want me to do for you?”

I have to admit, I didn’t know. What did I want? I could have asked for anything in that moment. I was hungry and thirsty…I could have asked for bread or water. Or I could have asked him to bring me along with his group…perhaps they would have cared for me…or I could have asked for clothes…what I was wearing was tattered and ragged…but somehow, that didn’t seem like the thing to do. Something in his voice told me that this was no simple act of annoyed mercy towards yet another beggar alongside the road.

And so, rather than ask for any of those things, I asked for the one thing that could solve all of my problems…that could end my time as a beggar…I asked him for my sight…something I had never had. “Teacher…let me see.”

I don’t know what made me ask this…perhaps his question had stirred up in my awareness that it was not simple mercy from others that I needed, but that my entire existence could be changed by him. This wasn’t just about receiving care from a stranger…the kindness in his voice as he asked me that simple question helped me realize the truth in the rumors I had heard about him. Jesus was no simple teacher…this was the Son of God standing before me…the miracles that I had heard about were true, because of the power that he possessed.

And I knew that not only could he give me my sight back, but that the mercy that I had asked for…the mercy that I had cried out seeking, was the mercy of God himself…and that this encounter would change me forever. I believed that he could do this for me…I believed it with every atom of my being simply because of the power in his voice.

And then he said the words that I will never forget. “Go, your faith has made you well.” And the instant he said those words, my eyes were opened for the first time and I could see. I could see the world in all its beauty…but more importantly I was looking in the face of the man that had saved me…the man that offered me the mercy of God himself…the man that was God himself.

And so, rather than simply going on my way…I joined the crowd following Jesus. He had given me everything, even when I didn’t know what I was seeking. And so today, if you encounter Jesus and you find yourself crying out to him for mercy, he may just ask you the same question…and help you realize that what he offers goes far beyond what we could ever dream of.