For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by an episode recorded late in the book of Luke about an unnamed blind beggar. The story is recorded at the end of Luke 18. It is most likely the same story that Mark records in chapter 10 of Blind Bartimaeus. Mark, however, not only names the blind man, but gives some family history. For Mark, this is a very specific person tied to a very specific time. Luke, however, leaves out many of the identifying details. For Luke, he is an unnamed beggar on the side of the road, begging for mercy.
There’s really not much to the story, and the miracle in itself is not unique in any way. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the final week of his life, and he happens to pass a blind man on the side of the road. Jesus doesn’t necessarily notice the blind beggar, but when the beggar hears that Jesus is passing by he starts to shout in order to grab Jesus’s attention. While the crowd tries to quiet the beggar, his shouting has the desired effect as he draws Jesus’s attention. What do you want, Jesus asks? I want to see, the man replies. Jesus grants his wish, and the man can now see. He immediately started following Jesus and glorifying God.
While there’s not much to the story, there’s something about the plain simplicity of what happens that encourages my faith. There is no other information ever given about this blind beggar. According to Luke, he has no real beginning, and we know nothing about his future except that he left following Jesus and glorifying God.
Perhaps he followed Jesus to Jerusalem: was one of the ones who laid down palm branches and shouted Hosanna. Perhaps he saw the Temple cleansed, or heard Jesus debate the religious leaders who were trying to trap him. Maybe he was in the crowd during the trial, or even one who passed by while Jesus hung on the cross.
We don’t know his future, just that he was healed and followed Jesus. His only response to healing was to praise God and follow Jesus. In this sense, he was a true disciple.
There’s something about this unnamed beggar that resonates with me. He is who I want to be; or perhaps how I see myself. I want to see myself simply as one who is healed by God, and spends the rest of my life following and praising. It’s a simple future, but it’s a good future.
I’ve had dreams of more. When I was asked growing up which character in the Bible would I want to be like I often thought of the big names; John the apostle, Peter, Joseph, Gideon. When I was a teenager I dreamed of being on the circuit; invited to speak at churches and youth rallies all over the country. I was going to do something great for God. But the invites never came, and my idea of what constituted greatness started to change. As I matured I started to realize that it’s not about doing something great for God, it’s simply about faithfulness.
Which is why I like this blind beggar so much. This unnamed follower who was healed by Jesus and left changed. This unnamed man, who upon receiving sight, did the only thing that made sense; he praised God and followed Jesus.
For many of us, that’s us. We’re not going to be rich and famous. We may end up with a handful of Twitter followers. We may even find some small level of fame in our small circles of influence. In the big scheme of the world however, we will go down in history as unnamed disciples. Yet, there’s nothing wrong with that. In many ways, the pursuit of fame or prestige is a meaningless pursuit. As the writer of Ecclesiastes makes clear, it will lead to nothingness, a chasing after the wind. The long road of obedience taken by disciples, on the other hand, leads to a life of flourishing. A life with meaning and purpose. A life in which we can experience joy even in the difficulties of life, because our joy comes not from our present circumstances, but our hope in the good future promised by the LORD our God.
An unnamed disciple who finds healing and follows Jesus: that’s what I want to be. I hope that when all is said and done (which theoretically will be many years from now, but no one really knows); people will look at my life and say “he praised God and followed Jesus.” I know I’m not going to be famous, and I don’t need to be. I’m content to be the one who has been healed by God, and is now praising and following Jesus. I still have dreams in life. There are still goals I hope to accomplish. But ultimately, what is most important, is just following Jesus.
I’m happy to just be a blind beggar, as long as it means I’m praising God and following Jesus.