“And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?'” v. 51
I think I know why you and I rarely see miracles. It’s not, as many arrogantly suppose, that we have advanced beyond the need for God and the miraculous. It’s not, as many church folk suppose, that God simply stopped healing after the apostles died, but we don’t need that anymore since we have the Bible. Quick note: The Bible was meant to bear witness to the power of the Holy Spirit, not to replace it. So why don’t the majority of us believers see miracles that confirm the gospel? The Story of Blind Bartimaeus can help us with that. Here was a poor blind beggar sitting beside the road, who met Jesus and experienced a miraculous recovery of sight, because of his faith. I want you to take a look at what happened in this account, but pay special attention to what “Bart” did not do. You may want to read along in your Bible to get this.
- He didn’t accept blind begging as “God’s will”. The story begins with Bart sitting by the road, begging, like he had done, presumably for a large chunk of his life. The main thought of the day was that the blind were likely suffering because of their own sin or the sin of the parents. They were encouraged to accept blindness as God’s will. The way some people talked then and now about God’s will in these matters sounds more like the Hindu caste system than Christianity. Bart would have none of that. He had heard of this man called Jesus, who was going around setting people free and he wanted a change. He got sick of sitting by the road and decided to call out to Jesus. Many don’t expect miracles because they assume that every problem must be the will of God. That assumption keeps way too many of us sitting by the road needlessly.
- He didn’t let the religious people shut his passion down. As Bart begins to call out for Jesus help, you would expect his disciples to encourage him, and even help him get Jesus attention. But for some reason there are those times when we forget what the church is for. The followers of Jesus began to rebuke the man, telling him to be quiet. Today there are those who will do the same. I’ve seen it way too many times. A desperate person poorly dressed, walks into church looking for help, and the followers have nothing to offer but a cold glance of disapproval. Sometimes it makes a person wonder where the real church is. Friend if you are looking for a miracle, be advised there are those in our midst so steeped in their own “sanctification” that they will try to stop you on your way. Don’t let them shut you down. Be obnoxious. Be passionate. Be persistent. Such things are the fuel of faith. Keep seeking him. Keep showing up. Keep asking for a miracle.
- He didn’t keep his cloak. When Jesus gave his followers an attitude adjustment and told them to stop rebuking him and start calling him (now that’ll preach), he did something even more courageous. He threw off his cloak. His cloak was his protection from the elements and his only comfort. He could have kept it, but the scripture tells us he threw it off. In a sense we have to do that. Many of us don’t see miracles because we want to keep our cloaks. In other words we want to hold on to our old ways and still get God’s help. We want God to heal us so we can get back to our usual way of life. But healing is meant to go deeper than that. He doesn’t do miracles for our convenience, but for his glory. He wants you well, but he also wants you whole from the inside out. If you want to find his help you need to throw off whatever cloak you’ve been hiding behind. It may be sin, fear, pride, self centeredness, or unforgiveness, for example.
- He didn’t generalize his need. Next we see Jesus asking an amazing question. As said previously, here is Jesus on his way to be a sacrifice. Instead of spending his last days asking for special favors, or pity, he is asking, “What can I do for you?” And when he asks Bart this question, Bart simply says, “I want to receive my sight.” He doesn’t make some generalized, Sunday school answer like we often do. He could have been tempted to say something like, “I just want you to be with me now.” or “Lord, just make the load a little lighter.” As appropriate as that request may be in some cases, it’s not specific. It’s often a covering for unbelief. I can say all sorts of religious tings to God without really asking him to DO anything. That way I don’t have to risk having faith. Many of us miss miracles, because of our “prayerless praying” (see E.M. Bounds book, “Prayer”) We say all sorts of prayers, but never really pray. Don’t just spout off a lot of churchy sentiment. Talk to God from your heart. Say what you mean. Be specific. Be bold. Stop playing and start praying.
- He didn’t miss the point of power. Finally, after Bart receives healing from the Lord it says, “immediately he recovered his sight and followed him (Jesus ) along the way.” v. 52
Bart didn’t just grab his miracle and go. He got the point. Miracles aren’t about me. They are about God. His power is given to me, not to waste indulging myself, but to lead me in my journey with him. Remember, Jesus was on his way to the cross. Many had deserted him as he drew near Jerusalem. But Bart was so grateful that he took up his cross and followed his healer. Many of us miss the miracles because we miss the point of power. We think God ought to keep fixing us while we live for ourselves. But if we would truly experience God we must follow him along the way. If you want to see God at work in your life, then get to work in his. You’ll find that he was already calling you before you started calling him.