An open-minded reading of the four gospels leads to patterns, and this is one: Jesus has an abiding affection for those who recognize him as the Son of God and who press through whatever obstacles might prevent them from seeking his mercy. The Syrophoenician woman, the lame man whose friends tear through a roof, and Bartimaeus in the Gospel of Mark: all of them want a measure of what they recognize in Jesus.
These stories are bound to warm our hearts and souls if we are paying attention. They show Jesus fulfilling such assurances as these: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29); “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink” (John 7:37-38); “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
What qualities might we see in the figures of the four gospels? A few come to mind readily:
Childlike trust. Heed the adjective: childlike, not childish. Childlike trust does not mean believing the claims of any supposed miracleworker or redeemer who wanders by. Jesus warned his followers about false prophets. Childlike trust does mean taking Jesus at his word if we believe that he is who he claims to be: the Son of God. We might think of Jesus as the antithesis to modern politicians. We will not find him subjecting the words gentle, humble, rest, souls, is, or thirsty to a hermeneutic of suspicion or caprice.
Vulnerability. Bartimaeus and the lame man lowered through a roof both risk ridicule and rebuke for their assertiveness. They are undeterred because they know that their redeemer lives and that he (unlike a mere conjurer, fortune-teller, or snake-oil merchant) has the power to heal their brokenness. They show vulnerability in naming their burdens aloud, in asking for Jesus’ mercy, and in believing that Jesus’ power is worth the risk of his saying no or failing to deliver.
Sanctification. We remember figures like Bartimaeus to this day because they do more than receive the transformation Jesus offers. They follow through. Mark’s gospel tells us that Bartimaeus “received his sight and followed him on the way.” Not everyone touched by the Lord did this, as Jesus notes after only one of ten lepers thanks him for a healing (Luke 17:17-19). If we are spiritual beggars, if Jesus has delivered us in a way that nobody else can, how can we do any less than give him thanks and, like Bartimaeus, follow Jesus on the way?
Look It Up
Read Mark 2:1-12 for the account of the lame man being lowered to Jesus through a roof.
Think About It
If you were convinced that Jesus was ready to meet your greatest need, what obstacles might you have to clear to ask for his mercy?