Identity Crisis

Bartimaeus (Mark 10 v 46-52)

Bartimaeus knew about Jesus and knew what he would do for him, yet he also was aware that he did not deserve to be healed as he called out “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Herein lies another key, which is knowing our frail spiritual state. As Bartimaeus showed, we really don’t deserve anything: all that we receive is by the Lord’s mercy. But because of what Jesus has done on the cross for us  we can boldly enter the throne room of our Father and ask for what we want. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

Bartimaeus recognised Jesus and not stop calling out to Him.  Even when he was told to be silent he was persistent and called out even more, and when Jesus called him he  threw off anything that was hindering him, jumped up  and went to Him.  Then jesus asked him what he wanted.  Bartimaeus simply said: “I want to see,” not “if it’s your will,” or “It would re really nice if I could see…”

So we can see how much he wanted to see and be healed: he threw his cover off and jumped up;  he didn’t just get up on his feet and tentatively wander over in the hope that he might be noticed.  Bartimaeus had one thing on his mind, and his actions expressed it. Although this story is used for healing, I believe we can do the same with whatever we want from the Lord. The writer to the Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12 v1))

These weights could be things that we have held onto from the past that we have allowed to  become part of our identity. This could include illness, disability, even sin:  essentially anything that we hold onto that means that we are not fully accepting our identity In Christ. Are we willing throw off everything, even things that have become our identity, like Bartimaeus’s begging bowl?  We don’t need them: we are new creations, as 2 Corinthians 5: 17 makes absolutely clear.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!

Our identity is in Christ and not things of the past; whether it’s our wealth, our position in our job, what we have given away, our house, our reputation, even our healing.  It has all gone, and the new has come. We are hidden in Christ.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God .(Colossians 3: 3)

So our identity should be focused who Jesus says we are; and since this is hidden in Him, nothing can take it from us.  It will always be true.  How we process this truth is our choice: we can either throw everything off to fully take hold of it in faith; or we can put some of our eggs in different baskets, maybe because we don’t want to let go of something else that has become our identity due to fear, or maybe we are just hedging our bets because our experience hasn’t matched up to the  truth. However, the truth remains, whether we choose to believe it and act on it or not, much like the sun is always shining even if it cloudy. If our experience is not matching the truth we need to take hold of the Word fully, letting go of everything that hinders us. 

Now go back to the sub-title of this article. I left a word out. What was it?

So anything that stops us remembering and living out these truths could be classed as part of the identity of our old self; the one that has gone.   Are we willing to throw them all off and jump up, making ourselves look  foolish, shouting louder than the noise of the distractions around us? Are we prepared to stumble blindly towards Jesus, through the mocking and the catcalls, despite all the adversity, until we hear Him say to us: “What can I do for you?”  Will we speak the truth that is in our hearts and say directly and plainly, “I WANT TO SEE!”

Our Father in Heaven doesn’t mince His words. Jesus tells us to let our “yes be yes, and our no be no.” I believe we need to follow His ways in this, and tell Him what is on our hearts without wrapping it up in formulae.

John Wesley and Billy Graham.
Two more recent examples of calling out earnestly and in desperation are John Wesley and Billy Graham.  In John Wesley’s house there are two knee sized marks in the carpet next to his bed where he cried out to God for revival. When Billy Graham was a student at Wheaton College he was one of a group of students that visited the building. When the lecturer returned to the coach he counted the students and found one missing, so he went back into the building to find Billy Graham kneeling in the same knee marks as Wesley, his face flat the bed, calling out: “Do it again lord!” Do we have this passion? How much do we want to know Jesus and do what He asks of us? Will we long for and cry out for healing and revival? Do we cry out for God to touch us again? And the big question: what are we willing to sacrifice to gain these things?

If we want to learn from Bartimaeus and Billy Graham we must be willing to shut ourselves away and lock into the Lord, to become more like Jesus and to let his holy fire refine us. In so doing we in turn will be set on fire for him.  If it only takes one man to stand in the gap for the Lord to do what He did through John Wesley and Billy Graham, just imagine what one church can do. Jesus said when two or three are gathered in my name I will be there in the midst.

Bartimaeus’s old identity.
Bartimaeus’s old identity was “blind.” This was the word I missed out earlier.  He knew who Jesus was, and not caring what he sounded or looked like he approached Him boldly and in complete faith that Jesus would meet his need. His identity was Bartimaeus, not Blind Bartimaeus. And yes, Jesus healing him was an awesome miracle, but there is more written about Bartimaeus than the miracle here. I think that the fact that he was blind is secondary to the fact that he was persistent and didn’t hold onto his disability. I think Mark is making the point that it was persistence and desperation for Him which caused  our Lord to stop. He wants to see how much we really want what He has for us.  He wants us to be utterly reliant on him and desperate for Him. In His presence all of us are beggars.

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