I don't know how much significance Luke put on two words he wrote in Luke 18:40, but they sure have an impact on me. The words, "Jesus stopped" cause me to wonder at what it means for the Son of God, who at the time was on His way to Jerusalem to accomplish God's awesome long-promised epic plan of saving the human race from the consequences of sin, to stop. What would He stop for? What stopped Jesus from continuing such an infinitely important journey?
Well, the fact is, Jesus stopped for what the people around Him found annoying. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus was shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him, and the people around him were "sternly" telling him to shut up. But he persisted. And that caused Jesus to stop.
Jesus could've stopped the first time Bartimaeus called out, but He walked on until the man's determination was obvious. And then He stopped. Stopped to talk to a poor, blind beggar. And having stopped, Jesus asked the strangest question to a man whom I'm sure Jesus could see was blind... "What do you want?" Why ask such a question of a blind man? It's obvious he wants his sight. But Jesus seemed to love hearing expressions of faith! For upon hearing Bartimaeus ask that his sight be restored, Jesus immediately opened his eyes and said, "Your faith has made you well." Faith was persistently expressed, and that persistence caused Jesus to stop and pay attention to someone no one else was interested in.
It's interesting that this story is told shortly after Luke writes of Jesus' parable of the unrighteous judge who responded to the widow because of her persistence (Luke 18:1-5). Jesus' application is, "Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?" Persistence stops God -- especially persistent faith. But that's not something that I, for one, am very good at. I want quick answers -- quick resolutions to problems. And I wonder, would Bartimaeus have received his sight if he'd called out to Jesus only once? This story, and the parable before it, tell us that it's as we persist in calling out to God that we'll find the God of the universe willing to stop what He's doing for us. Jesus will stop, for you.
© 2009 by Ken Peters