In Mark 10: 46-52, Jesus heals him from blindness. But not without a little drama. You see, the crowd didn't like that Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. He was just a beggar, and a blind beggar, at that. "Be quiet!" they told him. "Hush now, the Teacher wants nothing to do with the likes of you."
But they were wrong.
The people standing in the crowd that day thought that Bartimaeus was beneath Jesus' love, when, in fact, it was those like Bartimaeus that Jesus came to save. After all, weren't we all once blind, before Jesus came and restored our sight?
Bartimaeus persevered in calling out to Jesus, in spite of the crowd's angry yelling for him to stop.
Then Jesus stopped.
"Call him," he said.
At that, the tune of the crowd swiftly changed! "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you!" (Mark 10:49)
They watched in amazement as Bartimaeus and Jesus talked and the miracle occurred. He could see! His eyesight restored! His life changed forever! It takes little imagination to know how Bartimaeus felt. His gratitude knew no bounds!
I wonder how the people in the crowd felt as they witnessed. Did they feel guilty for denying Bartimaeus the right to call out to Jesus?
The author of Hebrews speaks of a different sort of crowd than Bartimaeus battled with that dusty day in Jericho.
"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
This crowd supports rather than scorns. This crowd cheers instead of criticizes. This crowd believes instead of bullies. This crowd is the crowd that surrounds you and I.
Think of the people in your lives who inspire and encourage you. Your family? Your friends? Your leaders? Your mentors? Heroes of the faith?
That is the kind of crowd that Jesus is proud of, the kind of crowd He wants His church to be.
Here's the hard question: which crowd are you a member of?
Do you pass by the broken under the pretense of "following" Jesus as the crowd in Mark 10 did that day?
Or do you cheer until your voice is hoarse for the abused, mistreated, hurting, and hopeless that Jesus came to save?