By John Blase
It’s been a while now since I was knee-deep in parenting little people. Our children are older now, high school and college-aged. But I can still remember the lessons we tried to teach their malleable minds. One of them (and it actually still continues to this day) is summed up in a familiar phrase: “Use your words. What do you want?” As toddlers and young children, they would often point, or cry, or utilize any number of other non-verbal behaviors to communicate to us what they wanted or needed. And while we could sometimes interpret, our goal was to get them to speak their desires clearly, to use their words. The crying and tantrums have since stopped, but in some ways, it’s a lesson we continue to emphasize now that they’re older. Truth be told, it’s still a lesson I’m learning in my fifties.
Luke 18 tells us that as Jesus made His way toward Jericho, He told parables. He also met an interesting cast of characters, one being a blind man. It wasn’t the first blind man Jesus had come across, but this man’s story is rather illuminating. There’s a lesson to be learned.
After hearing that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, the blind man—named Bartimaeus according to the parallel account in Mark’s Gospel (see Mark 10:46)—began crying out for mercy. Much to the frustration of those around him, Bartimaeus persisted, not unlike a child who desperately wants something. The people tried to shush him, but he was having none of that. He kept on crying out.
Jesus heard the ruckus and commanded the man be brought to Him. Everyone reads Scripture’s tone just a little differently, but I read this interaction as that of a loving father to a son, essentially saying, “Use your words. What do you want?” To which the man answered, “‘Lord… I want to see’” (Luke 18:41).
Funny, isn’t it? Wasn’t it obvious what Bartimaeus wanted? Jesus could clearly see the situation for what it was. But He also knew that to give this man his sight back was also to give him a world of new responsibilities. No longer could Bartimaeus beg to get by. He’d have to work. A blind man is no one’s apprentice, and therefore has no skills. A blind man owns no property, no land to till. In the ancient world, a blind man got by on the compassion of others. Jesus wanted to know: “Is being made whole what you really want? Use your words.” Gracious as Jesus is, He gave this man a choice.
It’s a lesson we continue to learn over the course of our lives. The consistently loving voice of our Father saying, “Use your words. Tell me what you want.”
Written by John Blase