Left On The Side Of The Road

September 18, 2012

Belonging

Have you ever been left on the side of the road?  Your car had a flat tire or perhaps you ran out of gas or experienced some type of engine trouble.  So there you sit.  On the side of the road, watching as car after car speeds right on by you.  You’re hoping that someone is compassionate enough to pull over to the side of the road, stop, and help you in your time of need.  But people just keep on passing you by.  Have you ever had that happen to you?

Travel back in time with me and imagine being with the disciples and the crowd of people walking with Jesus along a long stretch of the Jericho Road (see Mark 10:46-52).  You can feel the heat of the noonday sun beating down upon your shoulders and the crunch of the rocks and pebbles beneath your feet with each step that you take.

Off in the distance you hear a faint voice:

“Jesus, Son of David, help me.” 

As you continue to walk and draw closer to the voice, you recognize the tattered coat and long disheveled beard of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar sitting on the side of the road.  “Jesus, Son of David, help me!”

You observe that some of the disciples walk over to the side of the road and stop in front of Bartimaeus.  One of them says:

“Bartimaeus,  Jesus is talking, so why don’t you be quiet so that we can hear him!”

But that makes Bartimaeus shout all the louder, “Jesus, Son of David, help me!”

“Shut up, Bartimaeus!” 

You’re so focused on the scene unfolding before you that you almost fail to realize that Jesus has stopped right beside you.  He’s heard the conversation too.  Jesus looks at his disciples, then Bartimaeus, then back to his disciples and says:

‘Tell him to come here.”

And suddenly the disciples have an attitude change:

So they called the blind man.  Cheer up! Come on!  He’s calling you!”

And the Scriptures tell us that Bartimaeus jumped up, threw off his cloak, and came to Jesus.

Jesus:  “What do you want me to do for you, Bartimaeus?”

Bartimaeus:  “Rabbi, I want to see.”

Jesus:  “Go Bartimaeus, your faith has healed you.”

Verse 52 tells us that Bartimaeus immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

I often wondered why Jesus told the disciples to tell Bartimaeus to “come here” rather than speaking to Bartimaeus directly?  Jesus made it a point to speak directly to people.  But not this time.  This time I think He was using this occasion as a teachable moment.  A moment to teach his disciples, the others who were in the crowd, and you and I that:

He doesn’t want anyone left on the side of the road.      

Jesus asks us to invite people with disabilities to “come here” and meet Him.  When we are intentional about inviting people with disabilities to come to church we’re creating the opportunity for them to meet Jesus.  And by doing so, they might make the same decision that Bartimaeus did…to follow Him.  And that choice will change their lives forever.

But here’s the flip side of that coin:  when we fail to invite people with disabilities to come to church we’re responsible for leaving them on the side of life’s road.

I’d encourage you this week to take the next step in being that person who’s compassionate enough to stop, pull over to the side of road, and help someone in their time of need…someone who has a disability.  Your church doesn’t have to have a disability ministry in order to do this.  It just needs to be a community of faith that’s intentional about being a place of welcome for all people.

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Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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