Sitting by the roadside begging, wrapped in his cloak, Bartimaeus had become a familiar site. Upon hearing people coming down the road, he would quickly unwind his CLOAK from his shoulders and lay it out in front of him to catch the coins people dropped for him. After the crowd passed, he would push the cloak’s frayed corners together in order to gather up the coins that collected in its center. The cloak was dusty from using it like this, but that didn’t matter to Bartimaeus. The smell of the dust and wool brought comfort to him; a touchable reminder that someone had cared about him. He had had the cloak so long it was part of his identity; he couldn’t imagine life without it.
And then, one day, everything changes. A large crowd approaches. Such a crowd was nothing new on this busy road, and yet, today, there is something different, animation is in the air. Bartimaeus strains to hear what people are saying as they come closer. He hears mixed voices, muffled words, fragments of stories, laughter of men and women….and then one word in particular, more specifically, a name: Jesus. Bartimaeus has heard this name before. He has heard about the man by this name; Jesus of Nazareth has the power to heal.
Bartimaeus might be blind, but he is definitely not deaf….he has ears to hear and faith to see….so he cries out…rather loudly and with violent desperation, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me; and when he is shushed by the people in the crowd, when he is told to be quiet Bartimaeus shouts out all the more loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus stops and says to those near him, “Call him.” And they do, saying to him,“Cheer up. On your feet. He's calling you.”
And Bartimaeus? What does he do? The Bible tells us the first thing he does when he finds out the Lord is calling him is “throw his cloak aside” (v. 50).
We all have a cloak. All of us have a cloak of some kind that we carry around. Something within us that we cling to, something that we just can’t seem to shake, some bad habit that, for whatever reason, we return to again and again. All of us have a cloak that we wear, a cloak that, in the long run, weighs down our spiritual journey.
In throwing off his cloak Bartimaeus embraces the new life he knew Jesus could give him; in throwing his cloak aside he lets go of the false sense of security that his old cloak provided; in throwing aside his cloak Bartimaeus was setting aside the past and putting more trust in the future, knowing God would provide something better.
Notice Bartimaeus never turns back to get his cloak....he just followed Jesus along the road.....forward.....faithfully into the future.