Monday, December 13, 2004

Jesus Stopped

It was just an ordinary day. He got up and made his way to work. The city was coming to life; men taking animals to market, women chatting, children running about. The rising sun bathed the landscape in a beautiful warm glow.

Taking up his usual place he felt the warmth of the sun on his face. He couldn’t see it but he could feel it. He was blind; a blind beggar. He had heard many talk about the sun. They described a yellowy orange ball, like fire, set against the blue sky. But none of those words meant anything to him. He had never seen yellow, or orange, or blue, or a ball, or fire. He had been blind for so long that the thought of seeing didn’t really occur to him that much.

Until recently.

One day he heard the passers-by talking excitedly. He asked them to tell him the news – and they told him about a man who raised the dead, and healed lepers, and who had restored the sight of a man who had been born blind. Watch Bartimaeus as he hears the story, he drinks it in, and cries, “There’s hope for me. If he passes by, I’ll beg him to open my eyes too.” But that was weeks ago, and so far there’s been no sign of this man.

Suddenly Bartimaeus tenses and lifts his head, for his sensitive ears hear the noise of a great crowd approaching. He asks what was happening. "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by!" It’s happening – Jesus is passing. “This is my big chance,” he thinks and he begins to call out. But his voice is lost in the crowd. There are hundreds of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. All the beggars are clamouring for their attention. Street traders bellow. There is a great babble of excitement from the crowd. Bart has difficulty making himself heard. And he can’t see where Jesus is.

Panic rises in Bartimaeus’ heart. He tries to get to his feet, but the thronging crowd keeps him down. His voice is muffled and lost amidst the din. And all he can feel are people passing. Has he missed his chance? How could Jesus ever hear him?

Jesus himself is hurrying to Jerusalem. It was a few weeks before his death. He has a lot on his mind. What hope is there for Bartimaeus? Jesus, focused and sorrowful, his own life about to end, heading resolutely to Jerusalem. Nothing will deter him. Bartimaeus, wanting to speak to Jesus, his voice lost in the crowd, unable even to see in which direction to shout. Surely a hopeless case.

But to the ears of this burdened man, whose own heart is heavy with sorrow, come the faint cries of a man looking for help. And what does Jesus do?

We read in Mark 10:40, “Jesus stopped.”

What beautiful words. They sum up the tender love and compassion of Jesus to the heartfelt needy cries of people.

“Jesus stopped.” What a window into our risen Saviour’s heart.

And he still stops today. Jesus hasn’t changed. Do you feel that your voice is just one of many clamouring for his attention, that with the world to run he might have more ‘serious’ things on his mind? Are you hurting? Do you feel helpless? If so, understand that your plea will be sweetness to his ears. This passage says to you, ‘Call on him, he will stop and listen.’

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