Friday, September 21, 2012

Cast off the garment of whatever is unreal.

Today I am thinking about the healing of blind Bartimaeus which is in this week's Bible Lesson on Reality. This story occurs in three of the gospels but it is only in Mark that we are told his name. Jesus is entering or leaving Jericho, the gospels do not agree on this but he is, as usual, surrounded by a crowd clamoring for his attention. We can assume the disciples were with him which makes Matthew an eye witness and Mark would be telling Peter's memory of the event. Luke was not a disciple of Jesus and wrote his gospel from eye witness accounts but Luke was a physician as well as an historian and he paid special attention to physical healings. No one had healed blindness before Jesus came on the scene and it was one of the special attributes that the Messiah was prophesied to have.

So as this noisy crowd appears blind Bartimaeus is sitting  along side the highway begging. Being blind he is unable to earn a living and must beg. We do not  know his age but he is not a child. He could not see what was going on so he asked what the fuss was about and is told that it is Jesus of Nazareth. He must have been hearing about the teaching and healing Jesus had been doing for he immediately recognizes and believes that he is the Messiah. He begins to call out to him, addressing him as Son of David and asking for his mercy. Those around him tell him to be quiet and not disturb Jesus but he just cries out louder for his attention. Here is an important point for us to notice. Despite those around him trying to prevent him from seeking this healing he just asks for it with more determination. And this perseverence is rewarded.

Jesus, always aware of those who are true seekers and filled with faith, hears that voice above the clamor and he stops. He stands still with the result that the whole crowd also stops. He commands that this man be called. Now those around Bartimaeus change their tune and begin to urge him saying to be of good comfort for Jesus has heard him and is calling for him. Wouldn't you love to get an answer to your prayer like that!

It doesn't seem like anyone rushes to help him however, he who has always needed to be lead now does something extraordinary. He rises up, stands on his own two feet with confidence and he casts aside his garment.  A Bible commentary once explained the tattered garment worn by beggars helped to identify them in that role. Bartimaeus now shrugs off that identity and goes to Jesus.

Notice that Jesus does not identify him as blind, he simply asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him. Bartimaeus asks that he might recieve his sight. The gospels do not say if he had been born blind, suffered some injury or disease, or what had caused this blindness. That didn't matter to Jesus who already saw him as perfect and whole just as God had made him. He simply says 'go thy way'. This man who had needed others to lead him was free to go on his own. Jesus follows that up with an acknowledgement that his faith had made this healing possible. Can we do that? Can we pray to God or ask a practitioner for metphysical treatment and have that absolute faith that the healing would happen? Do we insist on our wholeness?

Immediately the blindness is gone and Bartimaeus could see and from there on followed Jesus in the way. We can take that literally or possibly that he became a follower of Jesus words and lived his life in accordance with his teaching. That should be the result of any healing, a change of thought about who and what we are and following on in that way.

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health that 'Truth is affirmative and confers harmony".   She says 'we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing; which enables us to work out our own salvation". Bartimaeus' story is a wonderful example of that.

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