Read Mark 10:46-52.
Living in West Africa exposes one to beggars such as we rarely see in our modern developed world. So many folks who were seeing them for the first time asked us, “So what do you do? Do you give to all of them? Do you try to help them? How do you know who to help with so many crying out?” We have seen quite a few in the States and in Europe, but not like Africa. How did we deal? Well, the correct missionary answer would be to say, “We discern through observing who to help or give to.” The truth is that after a while you become immune to it and you turn a ‘blind eye.’
Day after day Blind Bart sits on the road hoping for help. He doesn’t really cry out much anymore unless he hears something that alerts him to a potential giver in the crowd. That didn’t happen often. So he sits there hoping someone will throw a coin his way. But no one does. They’ve all learned to ignore Bart. He is not even seen by them. They may as well be blind themselves. Then along comes Jesus! Wow! Real potential here. Bart knows it. He finally gets someone’s attention (no easy matter) and he learns it is Jesus. Bart knows what he wants. He has been thinking of it and dreaming of it. Though neglected, ignored, defeated and demoralized, he hasn’t quit hoping that just maybe someone will come along. He has heard of Jesus and he knows Jesus is that someone. And so he begins to cry out for mercy.
The crowd rebukes him. How dare Bart steal Jesus’ attention? How dare Bart draw attention to himself? After all if he does that, how does one continue to neglect and ignore him? We don’t want the Barts in this world to cry out because then we can’t go our merry way with a clear conscience. Ah, but Jesus hears Bart. Above the crowds. Beyond the faces. Jesus hears. Jesus sees. And Jesus calls for Bart to come. Jesus had ears, eyes, and heart for the neglected, the ignored. “Cheer up,” the crowd says. You can almost hear the resentment as though Bart is getting more than he deserved. As though Bart is getting the attention they themselves wanted.
“What do you want me to do for you?” This is an important question. It is not rhetorical nor does it have hidden meaning. Jesus is ready to act in Bart’s behalf. He just wants to hear Bart spell out his desire. And Jesus takes care of it. As a result Bart becomes a follower and a cause for praise (see Luke 18:43).
What does it mean for us to be Jesus to the Barts of our day? It means we must look at them and not turn a blind eye. It means we must listen to them and not turn a deaf ear. It means we must not hush them. It means we must be willing to act in their behalf. If we do, perhaps they will follow Jesus and be a cause for praise.
Question: Who is the Bart that has received your blind eye and deaf ear?