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The Call of Faith

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”

Mark 10:51-52 (NIV)

Jonathan Edwards’ titles were wonderfully detailed, none more than An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People, in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, Pursuant to Scripture-Promises and Prophecies Concerning the Last Times. In this 1747 call for a concert of prayer, Edwards drew attention to a fascinating passage in Isaiah 62, where the Lord commanded those who called upon Him to give Him and themselves no rest. God treasured persistence in faith, and He told His people not to worry about tiring Him out. He could handle it.

The blind beggar Bartimaeus was a case in point. In earthly terms, the timing of his request for healing was not great. Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to go to the cross with plenty on His mind. Chapter 10 showed Him dealing with prickly Pharisees on the matter of divorce, rebuking His followers for their treatment of children, breaking the heart of a rich young man, foretelling His own agony, and adjudicating a dispute between ambitious disciples. Chapter 11 took Him into treacherous Jerusalem, where, after a gratifying reception by fickle crowds, He cleansed the temple and endured insulting questions from religious leaders, who would soon press for His execution.

Risking his dignity Bartimaeus cried out to the Lord in desperation; Jesus’ followers told him to hush (v. 48), but he would not stop. The poor fellow believed, first, that Jesus could give him sight, and second, that Jesus was the sort of man who would be pleased to do so; he trusted both in the Lord’s ability and in His character, and his trust was rewarded with a miracle.

The Bible does not say Jesus saw in Bartimaeus great potential for leadership in the Church. It nowhere suggests that Jesus was impressed with the beggar’s contacts or the credentials of his intercessors. Bartimaeus provided no handy object lesson to settle an argument with Pharisees. His healing was no reward for consistent, fastidious observation of moral or ceremonial laws. Neither was it the random affect of Jesus’ miraculous power. It was a pointed, precise response to the poor man’s faith.

Isaiah 62 teaches that God is not annoyed by the interruption of trusting prayers. On the contrary, He is annoyed at the lack of them and at His followers for giving Him rest. The Omnipotent Being needs no rest, and so He stands ready to answer the call of Bartimaeuses throughout the ages. His answer may be No, but the petitioner can be sure this disappointment serves higher purposes.

Whether in the study, the counseling session, or committee meeting, God’s servants are pressed for answers, and in these moments, the Lord invites them to join Bartimaeus in calling for His help. They need not rehearse their seminary record or previous exploits in the ministry, for the Lord has not promised to reward professionalism. No, He listens for the call of faith, a sound most pleasing to His ears.