Reclaimed: Who Are You?

This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled “Reclaimed” which is all about becoming who you were created to be.  This series begins our focus on the work of the Holy Spirit and His ministry, the third core value of New Hope.

1 Timothy 1:15  (ISV)

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves complete acceptance:

To this world Christ Jesus came,

sinful people to reclaim.

We were each created uniquely and intentionally by God.  We were created on purpose and for a purpose.  The process of being reclaimed is all about reaching that full potential that we were created for.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded this incident

Mark 10:46-52 (NLT)

46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road.

Now we don’t know a whole lot about Bartimaeus, but just his name reveals quite a bit.  In Hebrew and most eastern cultures, a name was not just a name. 

A name held significance that often defined who a person was and their life purpose beyond just a way to identify one person from another.  For example, God renamed Abram which meant “exalted father” to Abraham which meant “father of multitudes” when he gave him the prophetic word that he would be the father of many nations.

Bartimaeus’ name was of Chaldean origin being formed from two root words.  The first is the Hebrew word, “bar” which means “son” and the second word, you guessed it, “Timaeus.”  Actually, most of your Bibles probably already defined that meaning of his name.  Why?  Because this is incredibly significant!

Bartimaeus was born and was never really given a name of his own; no identity or purpose.  It is reasonable to assume that he was born blind for this reason.  What is the Hebrew meaning of the name Timaeus?  “Highly prized.”  Although neither the Bible nor extra-Biblical texts give us any definitive history behind this man’s life leading to this moment, the fact that it records his name and this account in 3 of the 4 gospels is significant. 

So much can be inferred just by his name alone.  His father was a highly prized individual and he was nothing more than a blind beggar.  The way that he was treated by those who knew him confirms this assumption.  To many, he was little more than an annoyance – someone to overlook and marginalize.  That guy that you pass every time that you pass through the gate of Jericho.

Unlike the culture that we live in, this culture was not kind to those who were disabled. They were considered to be cursed by God and many would treat them as such.they were a burden to society and their only purpose in life was to beg, it was their only way of supporting themselves and their only hope for survival.

I’m grateful for the country that we live in and the culture that we live in that still overall honors life and values it. A culture that provides opportunity for all no matter their lot in life.

Maybe you can relate to bartimaeus, though?  After all, who are you?  To some, you might be a nobody, you might be little more than a screw-up.  You might not measure up to much in the eyes of others, in fact, you may even annoy them.  Maybe you are also better known for your problems than for who you really are.  That’s OK, Jesus absolutely sees something far greater in you!

Despite Bartimaeus’ disability, however, he did have one keen ability – his hearing!

47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

I think it is interesting that the Son of Timaeus called out not, “Jesus Christ!” not “Jesus of Nazareth!” not “Son of God” not “Son of Man” not, “Master!” or “Lord!” or “Teacher!” or any other name which Jesus was commonly referred to as.  He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David!” 

This name was the name that was used for the long awaited Messiah, the savior coming in the line of King David whose kingly reign would last forever.  A nobody shouted out for help from the son of somebody.  How did everyone respond?

48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

Like Bartimaeus, maybe you’ve been yelled at to shut up about your hopes and dreams as well.  Maybe you’ve cried out for help just to be put down even further.  Everyone knew the reputation of Jesus and His ability and willingness to heal even the blind.  Why didn’t the crowd see Jesus coming, grab Bartimaeus by the hand, and take him to Jesus?

Like Bartimaeus, it’s time to stop sitting by the sidelines quietly just waiting for everyone to do everything for you.  It’s time to stand up on your own two feet, take responsibility for your own life, and shout out to Jesus no matter what everyone else has to say about it!  That’s exactly what Bartimaeus did!

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

He may have been blind, but his abilities far outweighed his disabilities!  Hearing is what made Bartimaeus aware of who Jesus was.  Hearing is how he heard the good news about Jesus and what He was able to do.  Hearing is what gave Bartimaeus all of the faith that He needed to be convinced about Jesus and to believe in Him.  It was hearing that enabled him to know that Jesus was literally passing by right nearby.  Hearing is also what caught the attention of Jesus as well.

49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

Now I don’t know about you, but if you noticed a blind man who needed help on the other side of a large crowd, would you tell him to come to you?  Probably not.  You’d probably make your way over to meet him where he was.  However, there was a purpose behind why Jesus stopped and had Bartimaeus come to Him.

That crowd?  Well, they were now forced to change their tone.  Jesus loves to work through others.  He’ll even use grouchy naysayers like you and I to work a miracle in the life of someone desperate for one.  Their yells to be quiet were changed to words of encouragement.  Their snide remarks that wounded were transitioned to bring healing.

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Can you imagine the joy that must have overwhelmed him in that moment?

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

Now at first, this question from Jesus might seem a bit sarcastic or even a tad humorous. However, after all the screaming and shouting, I’m sure that all eyes were on Jesus and Bartimaeus and that everyone had grown quiet as they carefully observed what was about to happen.

If Bartimaeus had been blind from birth as we assume, this moment would change everything for him. It would introduce him to a world that he had never known, though he had lived in all his life.  He would now be required to be self-sufficient and no longer depend on others for most everything.

Those who were here last week heard my testimony about offering to pray for a man at KFC for healing, but he did not want it. If he were to be healed, he would lose his disability income and the forced to provide for himself.  Though it may be easy for most to scoff in unbelief at such a statement, it is a very serious matter and consideration for a man like Bartimaeus to also make.

Bartimaeus, if he was healed, would then be able to choose for himself his life purpose; his identity.  No longer did he simply need to be someone’s blind son, he could be so much more!  He could reach his full potential that he was created for!  This decision brought on by Jesus’ question was an incredibly weighty one.

Bartimaeus now had a choice.  He would no longer have to be blind Bartimaeus. He could begin to dream again and start living life brand new.  I’m sure that the thought of it was exhilarating!  However, I’m sure that the thought of it was also quite frightening!

I’m sure the Bartimaeus spent much time in life considering what he would do if it weren’t for his blindness.  I’m sure that he imagined what it would be like and what his life would be like without it.

Many of us may be able to relate here this morning.  It is so easy to shape your identity around an issue or problem that you have in life.  Although it may be something negative, even something crippling and disabling, it still is familiar and even a bit comforting.  It has defined who you are.

Jesus had a similar encounter in Gerasenes with another man that no one wanted anything to do with.  In fact, the people of that town tried to bind him, but no chains were strong enough to hold him down.  He spent his time wandering in the tombs and hills cutting himself with stones.  When Jesus asked this man what his name was, his problem answered instead.  He said that his name was legion because he was possessed by many demons.  His problems had defined him, they had become his identity, and everyone else knew him by his demons alone.

However, Jesus saw the man beyond the demons.  Jesus saw Bartimaeus beyond his blindness.  Jesus sees you beyond your past, beyond your hurt, beyond your shame.  Jesus sees our full potential!

What did Bartimaeus truly want Jesus to do for him?  Well, I don’t believe that he had to think about it very long!

“My Rabbi (Rabboni)” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.

This morning, the question is being posed, “Who are you?”  Is your life defined by your problems, by your past, by what others say about you?  Or like Bartimaeus, will you choose to shout out to Jesus, go running to Him, and allow Him to define who you are?

Will you allow the crowds to shut you up, or will you choose instead to shout out all the louder to Jesus?

Today can be the day when you leave your past behind you, ignore what others say, and allow the voice of Jesus to drown out the shouts of the crowds around you.  Be who God created you to be, allow Him to lead you into your full potential.  Like Bartimaeus, choose today to follow Jesus wherever He may go and wherever He may lead you.