My Sunday School lesson for this week is about the story of Jesus and Bartimaeus. My class is first and second grade.
The background for this story comes from Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43.
For those who may not be familiar with the story, it describes the day that a blind beggar, named Bartimaeus, was sitting beside the road. He never knew that today would be any different than any other day. But it was.
Even without his sight, Bartimaeus began to hear sounds and scuffles and sense that something was up with the crowd. As he started to ask around to find out what was going on, he found out that Jesus was passing by.
Although we don’t know how long, Bartimaeus has been sitting here, we can assume that it has probably been a long time. The people in the crowd seem to be familiar with him — possibly even annoyed by his begging.
Bartimaeus begins to do the only thing that he knows to do. He calls out for Jesus. The people in the crowd know that Jesus has much more important work than to be bothered by a common beggar; so, they scold Bartimaeus and tell him to be quiet.
Instead of being putting off by the crowd, it says that their shushes incited him. He cried out even louder — possibly to be heard over the very crowd that was trying to silence him.
When Jesus heard Bartimaeus, Jesus responded as he always does to someone who is in need and has faith. He called Bartimaeus over. When Bartimaeus came to Jesus, his request was simple — I want to see again.
There was no hesitation — no prescription of how to earn his healing — Jesus heard the words and healed him instantly. The rest of the crowd now became Bartimaeus’ biggest fans, as they joined him in the street, praising God.
Some have used this story as a admonition to press on. Bartimeaus could have given up; but he didn’t. He kept pressing forward, even though everyone else told him to stop. If he had given up, he would have never been healed.
Some use this story as a simple booster of faith. Jesus healed Bartimaeus and he can heal us.
My Sunday School curriculum urges us to use this story as an illustration of kindness. To the crowd, Bartimaeus was annoying. They wanted to just leave him alone and they wanted him to be quiet. He was loud. He got in their way. He couldn’t participate in anything with them. He wasn’t popular.
But, jesus saw Bartimaeus differently. Jesus saw him as someone who needed to experience kindness; so Jesus gave him the ultimate kindness — healing. We need to recognize the Bartimaeuses in our lives and reach out to them with kindness, just like Jesus did.
The problem is that my Sunday School curriculum ignores its own objective. Instead of focusing on the kindness that Jesus extended, every activity focuses on eyes, sight, blindness, etc. Yes, the healing is a good story. However, I feel that this curriculum never gets the point across to the students.
My goal for this week is to develop a lesson plan that will use the story of Jesus and Bartimaeus to illustrate how we should emulate the kindness that Jesus showed to Bartimaeus, even when the crowd says differently.
Be sure to check back for other posts this week as I continue to develop this lesson for Sunday. And, in the meantime, if you have ideas for activities, object lessons, etc., be sure to post those in the comments.