Pastor, author, and painter Brian S. Chan’s work See reflects the theme of "poverty" from Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43.
(Matthew 20.29-34; Luke 18.35-43)
46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartime´us, the son of Time´us, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
(Matthew 20.29-34; Mark 10.46-52)
35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the wayside begging: 36 and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
Brian S. Chan
I think of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, who had not seen anything for many years or perhaps his entire life. Thought of as stricken by God, this beggar was impoverished not only in money but also in social acceptance. I picture the real poverty of this man was indicated by his weathered and worn face after years of begging in the streets under the sun and surviving in harsh conditions – a poor lifestyle that would’ve easily aged a man.
He showed his faith in Jesus by crying out to him in spite of the public’s scorn. He called for Jesus to have mercy on him. “Mercy” was his cry. Perhaps this poor man understood that his poverty was not just physical but spiritual. When Jesus asked what he could do for him, Bartimaeus did not ask for unlimited money, a castle on a hill or the pleasures of royalty, for those would’ve seemed too small in comparison to what he actually asked for! He asked for something that could only from the vast resources of God – sight. It was understood then that the only being that could make the deaf hear, the mute speak or the blind see was God. This kind of healing was a direct act of the Creator, the one who made the ears, mouth and eyes. The healing of blindness not only meant physical sight but the implication of mercy, forgiveness and acceptance by God.
So as I contemplated this incident, I captured the very moment of Bartimaeus receiving the lavishing miracle of Jesus, the moment he experienced the riches of divine glory pouring over him and his eyes began to see. As the darkness faded, the first thing he saw was his Savior Jesus. What must he have felt or thought? Red traditionally represented the blood of Christ, signifying God’s ultimate grace. The nature of the gift to Bartimaeus was founded on grace. Bartimaeus did not work for it or earn it. He simply believed that Jesus was the second person of the triune God who had the power to lavish such a gift on an undeserving man. Gold traditionally represented divinity, signifying that Bartimaeus received a divine gift from the riches of God’s hand. I’m touched by the comedic and wonderful twist at the end of the story. Jesus told him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” That is, you can go live your life now with your new sight. But Bartimaeus did not go away from Jesus. He followed Jesus. Discipleship was prompted by the lavishing of rich grace by the Son of God.
Brian S. Chan is a Church Planting Pastor of Re-Create Church in Los Angeles; professor at Biola University, teaching a theology/philosophy of beauty; author of The Purple Curtain: Living Out Beauty in Faith and Culture from a Biblical Perspective; BA in psychology & BA in sociology from UC Davis, ThM in historical theology and MA in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary, and DMin in philosophy from Talbot School of Theology; married to Ellen and foster father of two baby boys.