Have you ever noticed how the little things in life can often make the biggest difference? How many times have we read the famous story about blind Bartimaeus, recorded in Mark 10:46-52? I recall first hearing it in Sunday School as a child. There’s even a southern gospel song about it:
There is one seemingly insignificant detail in Mark’s account of this famous story that might be easily overlooked by the casual reader. Once Jesus responded to Bart’s persistent pleading for healing and called him to Himself for a more private encounter, Mark writes”
“And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.” (Mark 10:50).
One thing I’ve learned over many years of studying the Bible is that nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) is written in the Bible by accident. Every “jot and tittle” has a divinely inspired purpose (Matt. 5:18; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). As such, we have a responsibility to avoid being casual readers. We need to pay attention and think about the significance of every word and phrase. Why did Bart “throw aside his garment” when Jesus called? Why did the Holy Spirit think this was a critical detail for Mark to include in his Gospel account?
Here are a few potential implications to ponder. I think they’re all complementary. They could all be true. You may think of others.
Don’t let anything weigh us down or get in the way of our relationship with Jesus
When Jesus calls us, we want to be free of every encumbrance so we can run as fast as we can to be with Him (cf. Heb. 12:1-2). No doubt Bart wanted to get to Jesus as fast as possible and didn’t want to be slowed down by his heavy coat. I like the NLT version of Mark 10:50. It says “Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.” He “jumped up”! Now I’m on the wrong side of 55 and my muscles and joints are telling the tale of my age. I can’t remember the last time I “jumped up” for anything! But old Blind Bart was so excited by Jesus’ call, he couldn’t help himself. Like an excited little kid who’s just heard the sound of the approaching ice cream truck on a hot summer’s day, Bart was on his feet in a flash! There was no stopping him. He had a divine appointment with Jehovah-Rapha and nothing was going to get in his way! (cf. Jer. 17:14; 30:17; 33:6).
Our joy and excitement at the prospect of being with Jesus should so dominate our attention and focus
Indeed, so much so, that by comparison the comforts of this world become like filthy rags! The things of this world should lose their appeal by comparison. Like the words of that beautiful hymn “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”. For a blind beggar in 1st century Palestine, the outer cloak was a most prized possession. It was his only source of warmth and protection from cold nights and his only shade against the hot dessert sun in the day. It was essentially his ‘house’. The fact that Bart cast it aside without a second thought demonstrates how precious Jesus and His saving power was to Bart. Is Jesus that precious to us? Are we willing to leave behind our worldly possessions to be present with Him? (cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-10).
True faith in Jesus means we no longer depend on the (false) security of worldly things
This is true for even ‘good’ things like family, jobs, retirement funds or even our favourite coat 😉. If we truly believe that Jesus can supply all our needs, then we can hold the things of this world loosely and be prepared to let them go for the sake of His glory:
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19).
It is interesting to note that Bart referred to Jesus as the “Son of David” (Mark 10:47-48). This was a distinct Messianic title (cf. John 7:42; Mark 12:35; Matt. 21:9), indicating that Bart believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God in the flesh who came to save the world (cf. John 3:16). None of these details were lost on Jesus. He knew immediately that Bart had genuine faith in Him, by what Bart said (“Son of David, have mercy on me”), and by what he did (“And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus”).
Bart’s faith in the healing and saving power of Jesus was so strong he knew he would be healed. Trusting that his sight would be restored, Bart would no longer need his ‘beggar’s coat’, or if he did, he would be fully capable of finding his coat again himself, using his own eyes.
As we read the beautiful conclusion to this story, we see that Bart’s faith was profoundly rewarded:
"And Jesus said to Him: 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed Him on the way.” (Mark 10:52)