“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Take courage!’ they said. ‘Get up! He is calling for you.’ Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus.” (Mark 10:49-50)
The Beggars’ Cloak
In Biblical times, those who were disabled and unable to earn a living frequently became beggars in the streets. They were often identified by their ‘beggars’ cloak.’ A bit like their modern day counterpart, who uses a cap, hat, or a old tin, the ancient-time beggar who was fortunate enough to possess a cloak would typically spread it on the ground in front of him in order to collect coins tossed by passersby. Bartemaeus’ cloak would have been as important to his livelihood as a boat to a fisherman.
We don’t know how long Bartimaeus had worn the ‘stigma’ of the beggars’ cloak. He lost his sight in his youth, so he possibly had some sketchy memories of being able to see. (See verse 51) Can you imagine his suffering? The pain of his loneliness? His hopes and dreams of one day having a career, a wife, a family had been dashed forever, when he was forced to beg for a living; his sense of masculinity stripped away, as he became known merely as “Blind Bartemaeus.” I find it interesting that his name means ‘Son of Honour’ (Bar – son, Timao – honour.) His circumstances were at odds with his name, as he lived on the margins of society. But Jesus was about to restore both his sight and his honour!
When Jesus called him, Bartimaeus leapt up and threw off that cloak. And after Jesus had healed his sight, Bartemaeus followed Jesus, leaving his old, beggar’s life behind.
Imagine if, after his encounter with Jesus, Bartemaeus had gone back to where he had sat in misery and loneliness; picked up that old cloak, and put it back on again. Verse 52 says that he was instantly healed, and followed Jesus.
“‘And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” (Mark 10:52 NIVUK)
Do You Still Wear Your Beggars’ Cloak?
So often, we try to follow Jesus while burdened down by the heavy cloak of our past. Why? Jesus has given us a ‘robe of righteousness’, a new name, why would we want to wear the tattered, burdensome remnants of the old life? (See Isaiah 61, especially verse 10)
Today, if you are still wearing the cloak of your past, make the decision, like Bartemaeus, to throw it off! Walk away from it, leaving it in the dust behind you, where it belongs.
You are not defined by your past. If you bear the name of Jesus Christ, your identity is found in Him. Who you are is defined by Jesus and no one else. You are a brand new person!
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)