The Gift of Courage
Beloved Members of St. Martin's,
What would you say if Jesus was standing before you right now, asking you, "What do you want me to do for you?"
For the second time in two weeks, we hear Jesus ask that very question. Last week we had James and John asking for preferential treatment and honor; this week we see a humble beggar, who sees with his heart and soul what the disciples cannot see despite long experience, asking for his vision to be healed.
Jesus acknowledges the appropriateness of the request in his response: "Go; your faith has made you well."
Yet, Bartimaeus doesn’t "go." He stays, and follows Jesus rather than returning home. Here's the other thing, then: Bartimaeus didn't ask for his sight to be restored so that he could then go on about a hum-drum life. He didn't ask and then turn around and run home. He used his gift of sight to then become a disciples of Jesus. He usd the gift of healing and restoration he had been given to testify to what God had done for him.
Bartimaeus is shown to be the model of a disciple, proclaiming Jesus as Savior without fear, boldly, courageously, even in the face of possible rejection; one who hears the call, and asks only for what will make him a better disciple, so that he may follow in the way of Jesus.
The difference between the disciples and Bartimaeus is that Bartimaeus knows he needs to be healed of what stands in the way of his discipleship. And isn’t it that way with us, too? Sure, when we pray, we often bring with us a list of worries and intercessions and requests for the thousand things that pray upon our minds. But what if we also brought before Jesus a request for him to eqip us with the courage and insight to become better witnesses to Jesus as savior, redeemer, and healer?
Bartimaeus has the faith that he CAN be healed. Bartimaeus has true courage—and remember, the word "courage" comes from the French word for "heart." Bartimaeus casts off his old life like a cloak, and courageously embraces his agency as a disciple and as a beloved child of God.
So perhaps, we might consider asking Jesus to help us to cast off our cloaks-- the way we hide our deepest fears from ourselves, the way we anchor ourselves to the wounds and fears of the past, the way we put on blinders rather than consider that a fuller life-- a life of joy and true freedom-- awaits us if we cast off the fears of scarcity and hopelessness that too often inundates our daily lives and relationships with both loved ones and strangers.
Can we take heart, and be courageous like Bartimaeus? Can we continue to demonstrate to the world that God is indeed good, gracious, merciful, and always, always generous and loving?
What would it be like if we answered Jesus's question about what he can do for us with a request to make us bolder witnesses?
Imagine it. See it.
Throw off what weighs you down, and seize the healing that Jesus offers.