Then Jesus stopped. “Call him,” he said. So they called the blind man. “Have courage!” they exclaimed. “Get up; he is calling you.”
how quickly we change our tune
when suddenly herr leader says jump
war becomes peace enemy turns friend
our hearts jerked our brain scrambled
the hand we have held out against
crooks a finger to beckon a hug
all the calf-building we’ve been doing
turns to mass production of bronze snakes
who will be our benefactor
in this strange new economy
without any certainty
we just follow a next rule
Literally, “Stopped” is, “Standing”. Have you ever stopped mid-stride because you heard or saw something that stopped you in-your-tracks or played Statues. This is a moment of heightened attention. What is going to happen next?
We have the movement of a movement moving toward its conclusion. A not-still voice cries out and shouts again and again. Amid all the excitement of the beginning of the last leg of their journey, that voice was heard and the crowd stopped. Instead of Jesus going forward to Jerusalem there is time for Bartimaeus to be called forward.
While there may have been a hope of being heard, beggars are accustomed to being ignored and hope against hope may have been more the case than any expectation of being heard. Bartimaeus may well have faltered when his moment came. “Me? Really, me?” and led to those around him saying, “Courage. Steady on, old man.” And the community, acquainted with a recent scene where the disciples were rebuked for keeping children away, anticipated yet another reversal of the disciples tendency to rebuke by turning it to mercy.
As you read the verse, did you also feel Bartimaeus freeze when called upon? Did you hold your breath, and then breathe courage into him? Perhaps there was a more recent time you did that in an otherwise ordinary day? Even as a paralyzed person was carried by their friends who also broke through a ceiling for him, a miracle was already beginning with the simple act of encouragement. It is time to practice encouragement: “Courage! Get up! Move forward!”