Blind Bartimaeus: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The crowd: “Shut up! Don’t bother the teacher.”
Jesus: “Bring him to me.”
The crowd: “Great news, Bartimaeus! Jesus is asking for you.”
Have you ever laughed at this moment from Mark 10:46-49? Have you ever chuckled or scoffed with just a twinge of self-righteousness when you read about the crowd’s wishy-washiness? When the blind beggar cried out to Jesus for help, the crowd shut him down in unison only to immediately change their tune once Jesus showed interest in the man. Why did they change so quickly?
How could those people have been so heartless and then so kind in the space of a few heartbeats? At first glance, it is easy to miss the underlying truth in this text, a truth that reveals the profound power of the Gospel.
This is not a story about indifferent people who wanted to stay on Jesus’ good side or fake people who really didn’t care. It is a story about what happens when people actually follow Jesus. The people never took an interest in the blind man until Jesus did. But once Jesus showed interest in Bartimaeus, everyone else was concerned for him too.
That is what the Gospel does. It changes us from the inside out. One of the greatest evidences for the reality of God in our world is the changed hearts of Jesus’ followers. There are things and people I never cared about until I got close to Jesus, but when I learned that He loved them, I started loving them too.
Following Jesus is risky because if you get too close you will start feeling what He feels. Your heart will beat in sync with His and you might even begin carrying His burdens. You will love people that are different from you. You will be concerned about causes that have never touched you personally.
Can I prove that God exists? I think so. I think millions of changed hearts are evidence.
And what about all of those so-called-Christians whose hearts have not changed? Well, if they are truly following Him they will change. If they never change, then, sure, I would question the closeness of their following too. But this I know, to follow Jesus is to become increasingly like Him. And even if I don’t care about Bartimaeus, if Jesus says, “Bring him to me” I want to be first in line to tell Bartimaeus the good news that Jesus is calling for him.