Have you been Bartimaeus?

(Mark 10:46-52)

Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. He is the least of beggars we might say, as he sits outside of the prosperous, yet cursed city of Jericho (Josh. 6:26). He has nothing. He is not treated with kindness, which should be provided according to the Torah. He has suffered a medical incident that has caused blindness (I want to see again). He also suffers because of his name.

Bartimaeus is a Hellenized rendering of, not a proper name, but an Aramaic phrase used as a pejorative. “Bar” meaning “son” and “Tamai” meaning “unclean, defiled, contaminated or a fool.”

His condition in the flesh was understood to be the result of a curse, or ritual defilement or unconfessed sin, or a defect of some sort inherited from his father- and people like this were to be avoided. While he would be allowed to beg, few would reach out their hand to him – until Yeshua/Jesus.

When Bartimaeus heard that Yeshua was coming, he called out. Yeshua heard him. While those around him shushed him, Yeshua rebukes shushers by having them bring to him the vary one they attempted to silence.

How did Bartimaeus respond when called? He threw off his cloak, he jumped up, and he went to Yeshua.

Bartimaeus had one possession before Yeshua called him: his cloak. The cloak protected him from the elements. It identified him. He used it to beg. It was his only home.

When Yeshua called Bartimaeus, he tossed the cloak aside, and never returned to it; as he immediately began to follow Yeshua as a new man. The “son of the unclean one” received back his humanity from the author of life itself.

Many of us spend a great deal of time ensuring that we do not become a Bartimaeus – rather than considering how we can reach Bartimaeus; but we also need to remember the time when we were not all that different from him.

We need to ask ourselves: What is our cloak, our covering, our protection that we hold onto that we need to throw aside?What are our possessions that keep us from faithfully following Yeshua? What is in our name, our history, our identity that keeps us from following Yeshua?

When Bartimaeus threw his only garment aside, the source of his livelihood, he was blessed, and perhaps his spirit cried, “I greatly rejoice in Adonai, my soul exults in my God. For He has put garments of salvation on me, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).

Garments of Yeshua/Jesus.

Paul writes, “Let us walk properly as in the day – not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and envy. Instead, put on (as a garment) the Lord Messiah Yeshua, and stop making provision for the flesh – for its cravings” (Ro. 13:13-14).

Let us leave behind how we were defined, and walk in how Messiah identifies us – leave behind your cloak and put on Yeshua.

After Yeshua called and healed Bartimaeus, he was clean, and he was called by a new name; a name not known to us, but certainly known to Yeshua. You, dear reader, are not who you once were, laying aside your old identity, He has given you a new name, and clothed you with Himself.

Be well. Shalom.

Healing the Hidden Hurt

There is an old story of two men sitting and discussing life. One man says to the other, “I really love you brother, you are my best friend.” The other responds, “If you really love me, tell me where I hurt.”

Messiah Yeshua/Jesus has called us friends; He has called us brothers; and He has assured us of the love that He has for us.

It isn’t always possible for those close to us to know where we are hurt – as we, believing that we are protecting ourselves, continually work at keeping the hurt hidden.

Messiah, however, knows exactly where the hurt is and how to heal that hurt; as it is part of the promise of His coming:

Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to announce good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives, to let out into light those bound in the dark…”

Be well. Shalom.

Forgive them…

It was said: unforgiveness caused the holy altar in the Jerusalem Temple to weep. Why? Unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness, from an intentional act or something unintentional, separates; it divides.

The altar is the place where sacrifice was offered. One word for sacrifice קָרְבָּן/qārbān, means to draw near, and is from a root meaning to approach or be near to; it is also the root of cherub. The altar is where man approached God; and then, from a place of His forgiveness, he would then reconnect to man. Drawing near to God will inevitably draw us nearer to others.

The first sacrifice listed in Leviticus 1 is the עֹלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ, the Burnt Offering, or raising up and near to sacrifice. It was a total offering to God, representing the worshipper giving himself totally to God (Ro. 12:1); but it could not be given while in unforgiveness. As one draws near, and the other divides.

In that divide we dwell alone, giving not to God or others, but only to ourselves; as we cultivate the fruit of unforgiveness in our lives. The heart principle of godly sacrifice was giving our best to God, not ourselves. When we give we draw close. When we give the best of ourselves, we then invest ourselves, our lives, not in ourselves, but God.

In Genesis 2:18, the Torah says:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, לֹא-טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.”

When we are alone, in unforgiveness, we give to ourselves, and only ourselves. In fact, we take, rather than give. Isolation breaks us down, drives us inward, not outward.

Messiah Yeshua/Jesus taught:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).

Additionally, at the conclusion of the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35): “So also My heavenly Father will do to you, unless each of you, from your hearts, forgives his brother” (Matt. 18:35). Note the word “torture” in verse 34, not that God Himself will torture us; but rather, we will actually become our own torturers. Allowing torment to reside in our hearts and minds.

Why would He not forgive us in our unforgiveness towards others? We can answer this in many valid ways, but it is simple: unforgiveness not only divides us from those we are not forgiving, it separates us from Him. We turn, as it were, not to Him, but away from Him. We can rationalize unforgiveness in many ways, but in the end, extending forgiveness is not for them but for us. They may not want it, ask for it, or know they need it; but the act of forgiveness releases us from holding a debt that accrues bitterness, resentment, anger, and hatred. Yes, there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Ro. 8:1), but neither would we be living rightly by the Spirit of God in Christ while walking in unforgiveness!

If the sages conceived of the altar crying due to unforgiveness, how much more does our Father in heaven weep at unforgiveness? How much more does He agonize over our separations?

There is so much unforgiveness in the world; and surprisingly, it is rampant in the congregation of God as well. No matter the reason, it is not good for man to be alone; but especially alone in unforgiveness. It’s time we trust in the grace that God has extended in forgiveness, and experience the power of the Gospel in our lives once again. We must learn to place our hurt, and the cause of it, upon Messiah, whereby we draw close to Him and every promise found in Him (II Cor. 1:20). He gave us the example, while nailed to the cross, bloodied and beaten: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Yes, we are not that strong, and we are not Him; BUT, we are in Him, therefore, we can, we will, and we must. Yet, it takes humility. Listen to Peter’s words:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Pet. 5:6-7).

Be well. Shalom.