The Beggars Garment
Edgar F. Parkyns
It was ragged, dirty, old, that woolen ‘abaye’
that covered Bartimaeus as he sat by the busy road. Well-meaning
people had given him better ones for which he had been grateful,
but he kept those at home or passed them on.
This was his beggar’s robe. Its warm, personal smell
was pleasant to him; its tattered fringes semaphored additional
appeals to passers by, as, lifting sightless eyes, he begged
for a mite. Foreigners would sometimes drop a whole denarius
into his upturned palm. He had found long ago that returns
were better when he was wrapped in that worn-out garment.
It was the badge of his trade.
Jericho was a comfortable place for beggars. Warm all the
year, hot and dry most of the time, with sycamore and fig
trees, palms and balsam trees for shade, and Herod’s
winter palace attracting the rich visitors, it was far better
than Jerusalem for those of his profession.
Although shut in to sound and touch, smell and taste, without
vision natural or spiritual, with little concept of the glory
of the Creator’s handiwork, or of those subtle warnings
written by sin and greed and cunning on the countenances of
men, he had to catch the almost imperceptible inflection,
the smothered word, the perfume and perspiration, the gait
shuffling or striding, to teach him what others might learn
more easily. He was not unhappy: all men had their allotted
tasks: his was to give to others the chance of earning dividends
in Paradise. So he begged without shame, and loved his threadbare
Then Jesus came. There was a new excitement in the air, a
breath of life stirring through the gossip; there were stories
of mighty healings, of vast crowds, hopes of a new kingdom
This Jesus of Nazareth—could He be the expected Messiah?
Was He the true scion of David’s line? Would He bring
deliverance in this urgent hour to Israel?
He had arrived at Jericho. He was passing through. He was
drawing near. The excited crowd was surging past the beggar’s
shady corner to line the road. Bartimaeus was no longer begging;
he was questioning, eagerly, pathetically, and received the
answer that changed this life.
As the crowd stilled to observe Jesus of Nazareth passing
by, the beggar’s whine changed to an urgent cry: “Jesus,
thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Louder and more impassioned sounded the repeated, desperate
appeal. He was told by orthodox citizens to be quiet. He shouted
A quite word was spoken: someone said: “Rise. He calleth
Leaping up, he cast aside his garment, and was brought to
He cast it aside; the very symbol of his profession, the
familiar accompaniment of his way of life, and with that gesture
he was giving a joyous farewell to the past. He would never
What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?
What did he really want? Some beggars love their life pattern
and do not desire anything more strenuous.
“Lord, that I might receive my sight.”
It was his true heart’s desire, deeply stirred, defined
in hope, and uttered in the presence of the Son of David,
Messiah, the Son of God. And the declaration of that desire,
that hope, in the presence of Jesus, transmuted hope into
“Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”
And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus
in the way.
Young Mark, writer of the Gospel knew him and his father
very well and no doubt heard his testimony in the church at
Jerusalem. He could perceive with others that desperation
plus the presence of Jesus had produced a heart cry that would
not be denied. That cry in that Presence had become faith
by that grace that Jesus gives. That faith had made Bartimaeus
whole. If you have a heart cry like that in His presence you
can have faith like that, for although God resists the proud
He gives grace to the humble.
But Mark noted something else. The beggar had cast aside
his garment while still blind, as though to say: “Be
gone, beggar’s garb! You shall not earn a mite more
for me!” It was probably trodden underfoot by the crowd.
And Bartimaeus was a new creature by faith in Christ Jesus.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become
new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Do you keep a beggar’s garment in your drawer? Do you
make provision for the flesh just in case following Christ
should demand too much? Or have all things become new?
Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. It is good to know that He
is near. Good that hope should arise in your heart to oust
your secret despair. Good for a cry to formulate your inmost
heart’s desire. Better to know that He invites you to
come and receive.
It is better still to fling aside the garment of reserve;
to say farewell to past limitation and assets and to venture
into Christ’s fullness. Better yet to define your heart’s
desire in His presence.
And is receiving that heart’s desire the best of all?
The best is to see His face . . . and to follow Him on the
uphill road to Calvary.