I’ve always held a deep-rooted disdain for the name Harry. (My apologies if you are reading this and your name is Harry). I’m not sure where this disdain came from or when it showed up, all I know is that it’s there… and it’s been there for awhile.
Growing up with the name Harrison, it of course, didn’t take long for other kids to begin to shorten my name to the dreaded “Harry.” In all honesty, I should have probably seen it coming. Harry was the obvious choice.
I guess the thing that bugged/bugs me the most about being called Harry, is simply that it’s not my name. Sometimes, when I was younger and was called Harry, I would scream back at the person, “That’s not me! Don’t call me that!” I had resolved that I would not be defined by that name.
As I read the Gospels and their accounts of Jesus, I am consistently struck by the story found in Mark 10. There we are introduced to a man named Bartimaeus… He, too, has an awful nickname; but his is not Bart (or Harry), it’s Blind. Bartimaeus is officially and affectionately known to all of Jericho as “Blind Bartimaeus.” (When I read this, it tends to put things in perspective for me). Blind Bart has things rough. It certainly doesn’t help that he was born into the culture/context of the day… At that time in history, he would have undoubtedly been the outcast and scorned of society. He wouldn’t have had many friends (if any) to help with even the most basic of daily needs… like crossing the street or cooking dinner.
It’s of no wonder the resolve we see in Bartimaeus as he cries out for help when he hears that Jesus is in town and walking down his street. “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” I can hear Bartimaeus shouting it now… “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” At this point, the crowd tells him to be quiet, but this is Blind Bart’s moment. It’s his moment to shake off all that had come to define him, and he wasn’t about to miss it.
His cries grow louder and louder to the point where Jesus stops the procession in order to accommodate this poor, blind beggar, Bartimaeus.
Verse 50, “and throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus…” Did you see it?? What a powerful statement! If you missed it, don’t worry, I missed it for a long time. Here it is again, “and THROWING ASIDE HIS GARMENT, he rose and came to Jesus…”
That garment that he tossed aside was actually and in fact his begging permit. You see, being blind, begging was Bart’s only way to earn/make a living. And in order to beg, Bart (sorry I keep shortening his name), would have had to stand in front of Jericho’s city council and petition to have the right to panhandle. Once they agreed, the city council would have issued Bart a “begging garment” and a street corner from which he could petition people for money. This was his life. His title (blind) and his garment (beggar) defined who he was.
But then suddenly Jesus shows up and everything begins to change.
Jesus calls for Bartimaeus to come, “and throwing aside his garment” he went to Jesus.
I believe it was Blind Bartimaeus’ way of saying, “I refuse to be defined by this title any longer. This garment is not who I am!” and he goes to Jesus and receives his sight. From that day on everything changed for the better.
What are those garments that we have in our lives? What are those defining things that we continue to hold on to? Is it the garment of the past? Past mistakes… Past hurts… Past offenses? Is it the garment of the present? Present hurts… Present habits… Present hang ups??
Whatever your garments are, can I remind you- You are not, nor do you have to be defined by them. “Oh, but Harrison, I’m a product of my environment… You don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve seen… You don’t know!” You’re right, maybe I don’t know where you’ve been or what you’ve done, but I DO KNOW that if you can get to Jesus, everything can change.
He’s changed my life for the better. My sins, disappointments, and titles no longer define me.
I have found new definition and I have found it in him. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the apostle Paul: “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed, everything has become new.”
Let Christ provide you with a new definition.