Monday, December 21, 2015

Blind Bethimaeus


Many moons ago, when i was in college, i had the wonderful benefit of spending most of three summers in Germany, as part of a short term missions program from my college.  One of the things we would do while on missions, is perform street dramas.  Some of the skits we did were ones we were taught while at home, and sometimes we would make them up on the fly.

One such made up skit we performed my last summer in Germany, came to called by us, Blind Bethimaeus.  It was re-enactment of the Mark 10 story of Jesus healing the blind man, name Bartimaeus.  Only, in our skit, i played the part of Bartimaeus.  For this reason, and because i think my team leader really enjoyed saying, "Bethimaeus," the skit came to be known, by us, as Blind Bethimaeus.

In the skit, to demonstrate my blindness, i would wear a rag, tied on my head, so that it covered my eyes, and i would begin the skit by wandering, literally blind, with my hands stretched out in front of me, feeling my way where there was nothing to feel.  And calling out, just as the Bible retells, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

In the Bible, it says that crowds tried to hush Bartimaeus, "sternly telling him to be quiet."  I guess our team took some creative liberties with this part, because in our re-enactment, the "crowd" was a bit angrier, and would actually push me down on the ground.  And i would keep calling out for Jesus.

I think that we must not have been terrible actors, or terrible German-speakers, because i had learned my few lines in German, and more than once, while performing on the street, an innocent passerby, would see the abuse the blind girl was taking on the street, and attempt to come to my rescue.  This is something that will make an already emotional moment, become much more real.

In our skit, the actor playing Jesus would have me brought to him (this was a relief, because wandering literally blind on the streets of a foreign country can get a little hairy.  Not to mention confusing, after you've been pushed down on the ground and pushed around while blind-folded.)  Jesus would put his hands on my face, gently push me backward, i would fall a little bit, into the helpful arms of my team-members, who would push be back up, my blind fold would be released to show the crowd i was healed, i would hug Jesus and follow him and everybody else off the "stage."

The scripture reference for this part of the story says,

"And Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has made you well.'  Immediately, he regained his sight and began following HIM down the road."

It's that very last line that struck me this time.  Jesus gave Bartimaeus his sight.  (!!!!!)  And told him to go.  Just go.  Bartimaeus could apparently not think of any better place to "go" than with the man who just gave him back his sight.  This seems perfectly reasonable from Bartimaeus' perspective, but what really really struck me is i guess the possible double meaning of Bartimaeus receiving his sight at this point of Jesus life on earth.  What happens next is Jesus Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday), Jesus' turning over the merchants tables in the temple, some very important instructions, and Jesus eventual death on the cross and resurrection.

Boy, would i like to see some journal entries from Bartimaeus after he received his sight.  He had been blind, presumably for years.  Then Jesus healed him, and the first things he sees are the most important events in human history.  I tend to think that Bartimaeus continued to follow Jesus through the end of his time on earth, and i just imagine how much the words, "receive your sight,"came have double meaning for Bartimaeus.  As he saw new truths, spiritual sight became his.  And this was way better than the physical sight.

This, by the way, is the point of what we celebrate at Christmas time.  The baby in the manger is only a piece of the story.  Unto you is born a Saviour... Jesus came to save us, to give us spiritual eyes. as he told Bartimaeus, to make us "well," or "whole."  You can't be whole just by getting the physical fixed.  The physical is a house for the spirit and the soul. Jesus came to make all of us whole.

That's all for now.  Just musing.

Happy Almost Christmas, y'all!

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