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NOTED AND NAMED
by Philip Owen

            How many of the people who met Jesus remain anonymous though their encounters with Him have been recorded?  Though I have not taken the occasion to count them, they are legion.  Names (or their omission) never occur in holy writ without purpose, though we are rarely told the reason.  An arresting example of the inclusion of a name is that of the beggar that Christ encountered as He departed Jericho.  Mark informs us not only of his name—Bartimaeus—but also his father’s name—“the son of Timaeus,” which seems redundant because that is the meaning of the beggar’s name.  This was as complete an identification as might be made of someone in an age before surnames existed.  It is further made noteworthy by the fact that the individual so named appears to have been altogether un-noteworthy:  (1)  He had a handicap that severely limited him:  blindness;  (2)  He had been reduced to begging, probably as a result of his blindness; (3)  If the meaning of his father’s name (Timaeus= “polluted”) reflected the character or standing of the family, then Bartimaeus was anything but a member of the Fortune Five Hundred; (4)  All those around him, whether family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers had so little respect for him as a person and so little concern for his sad plight that, when he cried out to the Lord, “many were telling him to be quiet” (Mk. 10:48).  In short, Bartimaeus might well have been the poster child for the hapless, helpless, hopeless crowd.  And yet—he is identified as thoroughly as it was possible to identify anyone in the Lord’s day.  We might well suspect that he was a titled nobleman given the honor conferred on him by way of identification.  And yet after all, he was just a blind beggar, a nobody.  Scripture does not explain the reason Bartimaeus has been singled out for such identification, so we must not speculate regarding the reason.  But what we can observe is that Christ took singular note of this poor man.

            When our Lord heard Bartimaeus call, Scripture reveals that “Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here’” (v. 49).  The Lord, Who never did anything without holy deliberation, Who never meandered or took a casual stroll, and Who, in fact, was at that very moment on His way to Jerusalem for His triumphal entry and His eternally scheduled appointment with death, stopped in His tracks when the beggar called.  The beggar’s fervor (“he [Bartimaeus] began to cry out and say”—v. 47), his importunity (“but he kept crying out all the more”—v. 48), and his faith (“Go; your faith has made you well”—v. 52) could not be denied.  It did not matter to the Lord that Bartimaeus was an apparently friendless man, virtually an outcast, without one thing to recommend him.  The Lord saw that he believed, that he was zealous in that belief, and that he would persevere against seemingly insuperable obstacles.  For those reasons, Christ favored him with healing, and the Holy Spirit gave him a place in the eternal Word.

            Apart from the grace of God, none of us is in a better position than Bartimaeus.  But surely God has included this account in His Word to encourage us to emulate the characteristics that He regarded in the beggar.  Nothing honors God as much as does simple, absolute, unshakeable faith in Him and His Word.  Nothing pleases Him more than zealousness in seeking Him.  And nothing delights Him more than holy, reverent persistence in what is right and good.  The Lord does not honor presumption or belligerence, but He does bless genuine faith that puts its entire confidence in Christ and in “thus-saith-the-Lord.”  Surely, we must take encouragement from this account of blind and beggarly Bartimaeus.  Surely, He would be pleased to have an exceptional faith arrest His attention.  Surely, He would delight to say in response to our reverent petition, as He said regarding Bartimaeus, “Call him here” (v. 49).  May we be stirred up to so honor the Lord.                

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