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.