For Sensitive Eyes
“. . . with a great multitude . . . Bartimaeus, was sitting by the side of the road . . .” Mark 10:46
Jesus is on His last journey to Jerusalem. Calvary is a week away. A surging crowd moves along with Him. They have just passed the gates. Beggars line the entry shouting for assistance from passers-by. There’s an atmosphere of deep, urgent need for temporary relief. Bartimaeus is among the rabble.
There’s a striking contrast in this passage between the great multitude and the individual, as low in the social order as one could get, a blind beggar. Even more stunning, Jesus turns His attention from the many, to the one. Jesus was never blinded by the crowd, or tone deaf to the needs around Him. Jesus had an amazingly sensitive ear and eyes to the needs of others.
Jesus never turned anyone away or put them off. He never said, “I’m on my way to speak to a big crowd, maybe I’ll see you later.” or “Hey, wish I could help, but this isn’t your day, sorry, but I gotta go.” Instead, with Jesus, the individual was never lost, the value He placed on one person in need is one of the great needs of our time.
This dramatic narrative is relevant to our generation. We think and act in terms of the masses. Fashion, sports, church, and life habits are all determined by the size of the crowd. We settle major questions with opinion polls and popular surveys. The individual gets lost, particularly when he sits as Bartimaeus did, on the lowest social ladder where the sick, lonely and destitute are multiplied.
How the church needs desperately to see beyond the masses, to hear above the roar of the crowd, the cry from the roadside, “Have mercy on me!” To us who are His disciples, this picture of Jesus creates a tension. Even in church, one can be lost in the many. It’s possible to be blind in the sanctuary and deaf at the altar, no creed, no liturgy, no song, no prayer will let us off the hook for not noticing.
Practice being aware of the individual’s around you, notice the needs they have.