Going through the Gospel of Mark, I noticed the healings of two blind men – one at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26) and another at Jericho (10:46-42). Reading keenly, I realized there is a difference, a sharp contrast in the way both these healings take place.
At the Bethsaida healing, Jesus took the blind man by hand, led him out of the village, put saliva on his eyes and laid hands on him. The man could now see, but not clearly. So Jesus laid hands on him again and looked at him intently. The man’s sight was restored and he could see everything clearly.
The Jericho healing, on the other hand, was quick and easy. Jesus heals the man with just a few words – “Go, your faith has made you well.”
At Bethsaida, the blind man was brought to Jesus by the surrounding people and they urged Jesus to heal him. As opposite to this, Bartimaeus at Jericho, on hearing that Jesus was around, eagerly called out His name and sought Him out. When people tired to hush him up, he shouted out all the more loudly. And when Jesus asked for him he threw away his cloak, which was his only source of income and protection – the beggars used their cloaks to ask alms by laying it out during the day and used it for warmth in the night – and ran to Jesus. His undoubting faith is evidently shown in his enthusiasm in calling out to the Lord and in his confidence in throwing away his cloak. He knew that he would not need the cloak anymore as his life was going change.
It is because of Bartimaeus’ profound faith that we know him by his name in the Gospel, whereas so many of the blind, sick and deaf have no mention of their names. When people rebuke him, he ignores them and doubles his efforts. He had a very clear, concise objective in his mind. He wanted to be healed, and got it. Whatever others had to say didn’t matter to him.
God is ever ready to intervene and do things in our life. If only we would have faith! Jesus could not perform many miracles in His hometown because the people there did not believe in Him, while at Gennesaret those who touched the fringe of His cloak were healed (Mk 6:5-6, 56).
To Martha and Mary, Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” They believed, they obeyed, they removed the stone and their brother, Lazarus, was brought back to life. (Jn 11:38-44)
The disciples were unable to heal the boy with the mute spirit and his father seemed skeptical about Jesus’ powers to do so – “...if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us” he tells Jesus. Jesus tells him “All things can be done for the one who believes.” (Mk 9:23)
While going from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus curses a fig tree. The next day, it had withered to its roots. (Mk 11:12-14, 20). Why would Jesus do such a thing? Didn’t He know that it wasn’t the season for figs? Why, then, would He expect it have any fruits at all? Why would He curse it? And in any case, wasn’t Jesus a far too bigger person than curse a tree for not satisfying His hunger? Surely, the one who had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert could go on a little longer without food on His way to the Jerusalem temple?
This is where Jesus teaches us a very important lesson – probably one of the most important lessons in our entire faith life – “…if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:23-24)
So believe and have faith because faith can move mountains, literally!
I have written this blog with great conviction and with a deeper understanding of faith. But many a time, I do falter and waiver in faith. I would be one of those who greatly lack in faith. On many occasions, I would have doubts and wouldn’t be sure if my prayers would be answered. Sometimes I ask with an attitude of “I would keep on asking until it is granted”, which, in a way, is saying that I don’t believe it would be done on my first asking. How I wish I had the faith of Bartimaeus prompting me to jump up and pray “Son of David, have mercy on me!” How I wish that Jesus would tell me, “Go, your faith has made you well. Your faith has done for you what you asked.”
I pray to the Lord for the gift of unwavering faith and a sense of self-confidence emerging from the protection and security guaranteed by God to all those who believe.
Oh Lord, help my unbelief! (Mk 9:24)