Reversing Course

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. — Mark 10:49-50

So there was Bartimaeus, a blind, old beggar, sitting along the road outside of Jericho, just as he had likely done every day prior. However, that would come to an end once he learned that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. For Bartimaeus, urged on by the crowd around him, would throw aside his cloak and run to Jesus, changing his life forever. And while that act of faith, is what most discussions of this passage focus on, Bartimaeus was not alone in casting aside cloaks that day.

Consider the crowd. When Bartimaeus initially cried out to Jesus, they were anything but supportive. Many of them harshly insisted that he be quiet. Sadly, that is not surprising. Afterall, haven’t we been conditioned as a society to accept and maintain the way things have always been? We generally don’t appreciate those on the periphery making a commotion, so we hush them. Why is that? What is it about their commotion that threatens our sense of what could or should be?

Although those within the crowd saw Bartimaeus’ state and heard his cries, they were perfectly content in ignoring him, in reminding him of his place and even in rebuking his desire to change. Their cloaks were woven of historic conditioning rooted in apathetic acceptance of the status quo and resistance to change. However, once Jesus responded to Bartimaeus and called for him, many in the crowd immediately reversed their stance. They chose to cast aside their own cloaks, which allowed them to encourage Bartimaeus to do the same.

So what caused that change in their behavior? Faith. A faith born of a lone man’s desire, and emboldened by a leader’s call to action. On that day: Bartimaeus recognized an opportunity for growth and committed himself wholly to achieving it; Jesus called upon the lowest among the crowd to come forth and see anew; and the crowd responded with a renewed sense of purpose.

In our daily interactions, we may not be the focal point of change like Bartimaeus, but we certainly will find ourselves somewhere within the crowd. A crowd which may be helping us cling to old cloaks, hindering our growth. Therefore, it is crucial that we are able to recognize the signs of these old cloaks in use, take action to cast them aside, and then help others to do the same.

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