He threw off his coat.
Mark was telling the story of Bartimaeus, a man who was blind.
During this time period, history points toward a Roman practice where some with disabilities were issued what was known as a “beggar’s cloak.” It was likely similar to a blanket, though today we might think of it as a coat or uniform. The beggar’s cloak was identifiable within the community and alerted others of one’s societal position. It offered some protection from the elements and a meager means of survival.
Bartimaeus would never be viewed as anyone other than a “beggar” while wearing his cloak.
It defined him.
One day Bartimaeus heard Jesus was nearby.
He began to shout for him.
The people around Bartimaeus told him to be quiet. They tried to silence him. He was expected to “know his place.”
Yet his response was to “shout all the more.” (Mark 10:48)
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Bartimaeus received his site.
With his beggar’s cloak cast aside, he followed Jesus.
Is it possible this easily overlooked detail is actually very important? Might Bartimaeus’ cloak represent a common human experience?
Though your journey may have differed vastly, perhaps you were offered a cloak. Your coat may have met a need in some way or started out as a means of protection.
It may have been draped around your shoulders by others, yet over time it began to define your identity.
People may have even silenced you along the way when you attempted to cry out to be something other than what your cloak represented.
Slowly most of us accept our coat and the identify it represents. We see no way for our circumstances, our frailties, or our brokenness to change.
Our coat labels us and limits us.
Yet still, Jesus calls.
Jesus saw past Bartimaeus’ cloak, and he sees beyond yours too.
When Bartimaeus was called, he JUMPED to his feet and cast his coat aside. He didn’t set it down or toss it. He forcefully threw it!
Bartimaeus stood up on that day and risked what little protection, provision, and possession he had.
And then, he used his voice and told Jesus what he wanted. This wasn’t easy for someone who had likely been silenced over and over.
Jesus responded, “your faith has healed you.”
Bartimaeus’ choice to throw his cloak represents a casting aside of his old identity. He would be entering a new defining of self, a new way of being. Bartimaeus didn’t have any guarantees, but to the best of his knowledge at that time, he figured it was worth the risk.
Are you hanging on to an identity you don’t really want, and perhaps even know is not truly who you are; yet throwing it aside brings with it a certain level of vulnerability or fear of the unknown?
Maybe your coat was handed to you at a young age and you’ve worn it for a very long time.
Perhaps you’ve heard that still, small voice, whisper, “come.”
You want to jump, yet find yourself clinging tightly to your coat.
Many of us find ourselves asking questions like:
What if I run to Jesus and nothing happens? What if I still need my coat?
As parents this story is worth pondering even more deeply, because we tend to pass our coats on to our children.
This week, I encourage you to take a moment and envision yourself in this same scene and consider your coat. You hear that Jesus is going to be walking by:
What does your coat represent for you? Are you ready to throw it away? Might it be worth the risk?
Can you find your voice to call to Jesus, or is that difficult?
When he says “come” and asks you what you want, what will you say?
If you’re not quite ready to cast it aside, I encourage you to talk to Jesus about your coat. He would welcome you where you are.
I’ll be asking myself these questions too,