Grace and peace be to you. I stand humbly before you in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Please God let this message be Your Words and not mine, in JESUS Name. Amen.
Contrary to the expression, “blind as a bat”, bats are not blind at all. The misconception that bats are blind comes from their nocturnal nature and enhanced hearing abilities. Because they hunt mostly at night, in the dark, bats rely on echolocation to find their prey. Most bats can’t see color as well as we do but overall, they see better than us especially during times when the light is dim.
Would you buy a car that a blind man recommended? In 1994, Peugeot thought you might. Their marketing team came up with the idea to bring Ray Charles out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Northwest Utah. Have him driving around their latest Peugeot 306 convertible with a great big smile on his face while the song “Georgia” is playing in the background. Because nothing says top-down fun like a blind man behind the wheel. The ad ended with Ray Charles looking to us, the audience, and asking, “Could I drop you off somewhere?”
Ray Charles was the type of person who wouldn’t let his blindness prevent him for doing what he wanted to do. He once wrecked a family Corvette because he was determined to feel the experience of driving. It’s too bad Ray Charles wasn’t born 50 something years later because with todays self-driving cars, he would be able to drop us off somewhere.
In this weeks Gospel, we read about Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus. A blind man who can teach us how we should see Jesus and how we should identify as Christians, as children of God. To truly open our eyes and embrace our true identity.
Bartimaeus is one of the very few recipients of a miraculous healing whose name is revealed to us. And Bartimaeus is actually bar Timaeus, two words meaning the son of Timaeus. And Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David. Let’s dig a little deeper into the names. Bar Timaeus in Aramaic (which is what Jesus spoke), translates to the son of shame. In Greek, it translates to the son of the honored one, a son of fame. So we have two ways to look at it. With the Aramaic we have a son of sin in desperate need of being saved by the Messiah. And with the Greek, we have a son of honor, worthy of being ransomed by the Messiah.
I even researched it using Paleo Hebrew. Quick side note: We get the name alphabet from the combination of the Hebrew words Alef and Bet. Alef often translates as Father and Bet can be translated as Son. One way you could look at that is that all of our words come from the Word of God. Just a thought I wanted to drop on you. So with this ancient language (back to Paleo Hebrew), I came up with this translation: Depend upon Jesus to honor You as His son and remove your shame.*
Today we have Timothy which is the current version of Timaeus. So instead of bar Timaeus we would have the son of Timothy. Timothy, today translates to one honoring God and honored by God. Valuable Time given to God and value returned in God’s Time (eternity).
Back to Jesus being referred to as the Son of David. David translates as Beloved. Again, I turned to the Paleo Hebrew and I translated it as humbly opening yourself and reaching for the door to God’s house*. With these translations we get a deeper look into the meaning of the message.
Bar Timaeus hears about Jesus and he reacts immediately. He cries out from the dark. He calls out to Jesus as the beloved Messiah. And Jesus stopped. Such a beautiful verse. Jesus stopped. Others told him to be quiet but he ignores them and calls out even louder to Jesus. Jesus tells His disciples to call to bar Timaeus. That’s a message for us. Jesus tells His followers (that’s us), “You go and call them.” We invite them to come to Jesus. We are called to find those blind in faith and bring them to Jesus.
And what does bar Timaeus do next? He throws off his cloak and sprang to his feet to go to Jesus. In those days, it was common practice for the Roman government to issue someone with blindness or any individual that was in some way legitimately lame the identification of a “legal beggar”. Many times that identification was literally a “beggars coat”. This coat gave them the legal right to beg for money on a daily basis. Bar Timaeus throws off his beggars coat. God’s Grace was already at work. His faith gave him the foreknowledge that his life was about to change. His identity was about to make a complete transformation. And he sprang. What do you picture with the word sprang? He moved pretty fast right? He sprang to Jesus now that the weight of our world was thrown off of him.
Jesus calls bar Timaeus into the Light. His eternal Light. Jesus, our all seeing Son of God gives a no longer seeing beggar, a human son restored sight. The Light of the World invades the total darkness of this man’s old world. And this man responds perfectly to that light. He lunges for it! Hoe goes after it! And he gets it!
Our scripture states that bar Timaeus had his sight restored which means at one time he could see. Our faith may also ebb and flow at times. We need to constantly tap into the Grace of God that is always in us. Constantly shed our earthly veil that may cover our eyes and our hearts. Strip off our earthy garment, the way of the world and spring to God. Give your entire being to God, our heart, our love, our mind, body and soul! He will accept our honest sacrifice! We are all blind beggars knocking on the door to Heaven. Be relentless and keep knocking!
Just like Jesus spoke to Bartimaeus, He speaks to us, He calls to us, He’s standing before all of us today. We can’t settle for spiritual blindness. We need to open our eyes to what we all NEED to see. Again, what we all desperately NEED to see. See past the brokenness of this world we’ve made for ourselves and open our eyes to our God. KNOW HE IS THERE FOR US! Standing before us ALWAYS. Cry out to Him in persistent and relentless prayer! Open your heart to His Love and grow in His Grace. Open yourself to His Love! It’ll be an eye-opening, heart-filling soul-fulfilling experience!
There’s a hymn titled “The Love of God” that was written in 1917 by a pastor named Frederick Martin Lehman. The chorus goes “Oh love of God, how rich and pure; How measureless and strong; it shall for ever more endure; the saints and angels’ song.” He adapted the third stanza from a Jewish poem “Akdamat Millan” written by Rabbi Meir Ben Isaac over one thousand years ago. To appreciate the meaning, you must remember it was written at a time when scribes had to use quill pens with feathers and the tips dipped in bottles of ink in order to write words on parchment. With that background, listen to the stanza: “Could we with ink; the oceans fill; And were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill; and every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above; Would drain the oceans dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole; Though stretched from sky to sky.”
Imagine the oceans filled with ink – 326 million trillion gallons of ink. A roll of parchment that covers the 12 billion cubic miles of sky we have. Then give each one of the 7.75 billion people on earth at least 125,000 quill pens to write with and have them use all of this to write about God’s love. They would drain all the water from our little planet and fill up our sky. And yet it would NEVER compare to the truth of God’s love. NOT even close. All that would add up to virtually NOTHING. It’d be like comparing one millisecond to infinity. Back to the translation of Timothy, we give our valuable time to God and He gives us everything in His eternity. KNOW HIS TRUTH! WALK HIS WAY! GROW IN THAT INFINITE PERFECT LOVE! SPRING TO JESUS!