I have always loved the story of Bartimaeus’ encounter with Jesus. At my wedding service, I shared it with the guests, as I described how I had spent most of my twenties in the sad condition of a prodigal far away from God. By the time I was thirty-one I was much like Bartimaeus – sitting by the side of life’s pathway as life and the world passed me by, living on state benefits. To my amazement and wonder, one day Jesus Himself passed near me again, after all my years away in that far off land, and as I cried out,“God have mercy on me”, He heard me, just as He heard Bartimaeus all those years ago on that road out of Jericho.
As we read of Bartimaeus being called by Jesus, we see him throw off his cloak, as he responds to that call. That cloak was part of his life as a beggar – it was his warmth in the cold of night, perhaps there was something distinctive about it that caused others to say, “O here comes Bartimaeus!” In the town where we live there are a lot of homeless and broken people who sit in their favourite locations to beg each day. I can think of one young woman who sits wrapped in a red blanket in the same place, every day. Yet, as Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and rises to go to Jesus, it’s as if he’s already leaving his old life and identity behind. When he received his sight, we read that he followed Jesus, probably leaving that old cloak by the side of the road where he sat for so long, without a backward glance of his now seeing eyes.
In so many ways, we, like Bartimaeus can have our own cloaks from our old lives before knowing Jesus. They can be cloaks of shame, guilt, fear, rejection, addiction or many other things. Jesus wants us to throw those cloaks off to follow Him freely and He will even help us do that. Can you hear Him passing by you today? If you’ve never really come to know Him, today can be the day when you do – He’s calling you by name right now! If you do know Him and still feel as if you are wearing the cloak of your old life, not knowing your true worth as a precious son or daughter of God, He’s calling you too, out of the crowd, out of the sidelines into His purposes for your life. Whether you’re hearing Him calling you for the first time or the millionth time, don’t hesitate – just come!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that I am not just a voice in the crowd to You. I rise up in my heart and come to You right now throwing off the cloak of … (put your own words) that I have worn for so long. I want to follow You with all my heart. Please help me to do that. In Your name I pray. Amen.
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