My father once said to me, “Truth is what Jesus is; mercy is what Jesus does.” He went on to explain that many people miss the mercy of God because they reject the truth of God. So many people live in spiritual blindness to the wonderful bounty that is theirs for the asking.
Over the many years that I have travelled to and worked in Central Asia, there are always beggars found along the streets. They are not hard to find. They sit and wait for someone to drop a few coins their way. When they see someone approaching they often look up expectantly, hoping they will be given something to ease their hunger of the day.
There is a story in Mark 10 about a beggar. His name is Bartimaeus. He was poor and he was also blind. The story goes that one day Jesus came to the town of Jericho. Bartimaeus lived on the outskirts. When Bartimaeus knew that Jesus was walking by, he did not hesitate; he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” There were those standing nearby who tried to quieten him, but he would not relent. He shouted louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
We don’t know how Bartimaeus ever heard of Jesus, but one thing is evident; he knew who Jesus was, and he believed in what Jesus could do, so he called to him. What follows is important for us to pay attention to: In verse 49 Jesus said, “Tell him to come here.” Next we read of the response by Bartimaeus as we see in that same verse, “Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.” What is vital here to our understanding? Bartimaeus knew he had a need. He was blind and he was poor. He also knew who could help him. He believed Jesus to be the truth; therefore, he called upon Jesus for mercy.
In this world, you and I are the very same in a spiritual sense. At some point in our lives we become aware that we are blind to the truth of what can satisfy us in this life, and we are poor in what we need. Then there comes a time when we hear about Jesus. Suddenly, our blind eyes are opened. We believe in the truth of Jesus and we know we need His mercy. We have a choice: call out as Bartimaeus did, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Or, we can ignore the opportunity and remain in our blindness and poor state.
Take note that when Bartimaeus called, Jesus invited him to come. Jesus didn’t say, clean yourself up first. He didn’t say, you are not worthy. No, Jesus said to Bartimaeus what He is still saying today — come as you are and I will make you whole. Notice also that when Jesus called for him to come, Bartimaeus “threw aside his coat.” In other words, he threw aside his old life, ready to receive the new life that Jesus had available to him.
In verse 52 we read that Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” That incident is a physical picture of what is available to us spiritually. We are all born blind and poor. There is a void in our lives. We try so many things to fill the void, grasping for something or someone to bring us lasting peace and contentment. We search and search until finally, one day, we hear the good news that Jesus is near! What must we do to be rid of all the burdens that weigh us down? How can we be free of the confusion that fills our minds? Like Bartimaeus, we only need believe and call out, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” When a sincere heart calls to him, the answer will always be, “Your faith has made you whole.”
Jesus always takes us as we are; amazingly and lovingly, He never lets us stay that way.