October 25, 2015 - Mark 10.46-52

“Let’s Beat Feet”

 Mark 10:46-52

October 25, 2015

 

46They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

 

He had been blind most of his life, could not remember seeing the sun rise, and never gazed into the face of his children, or been able to support himself by the labor of his hands. He was blind. "Blind Bartimaeus" that's what they called him was the son of Timaeus. His whole life was named by his disability. Bartimaeus made his way to the roadside, hoping to get near Jesus, because he had heard that Jesus was a healer, a doctor who could cure him of his disability.

Most of his friends and family stayed home that day. After all, they were in reasonably good health, reasonably well fixed. Bartimaeus was desperate. He desperately needed something that only Jesus could give. He badly needed a healing touch.

And miracle of miracles, Jesus saw the blind beggar standing by the roadside and healed him. In a wonderful instant Bartimaeus was given his sight. In a moment he saw the world that everyone else had been seeing. Jesus, the worker of wonders healed him.[1]

 

Why is this story so significant?  Jesus healed lots of people.  This is the last miracle in Mark before Jesus gets to the Cross.  Here’s a funny thing I’ve noticed about Jesus’ healings – none were in private.   And he did not heal everybody.  Look at John 5, and the others, didn’t heal everyone, just a specific few.  WHY?

 

Is it possible that Jesus is doing more here than just healing physical ailments?  What is really going on here?   Context -  “What do you want me to do for you?”  Does that ring a bell?  It would if we were reading the book of Mark straight through.  Read back up to Mark 10.35.  James and John.  Jesus asks them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 

Jesus asks the same question to Bartimaeus.  Why does Jesus grant one and not the other?    There is a lesson being taught to us here about what we should want, and how our desires may be shaped.  James and John’s answer is almost embarrassingly selfish.  Bart’s answer could also be considered selfish, but is understandable.  One thing is common with both – Jesus uses them as an opportunity to make a statement, to teach a deep, profound truth. 

 

This man was not simply healed, but he also followed. He becomes one of the first disciples. He becomes a model for true belief in Jesus he followed along the way.

Bartimaeus must have followed Jesus, become a disciple, been known and remembered whenever Mark wrote this Gospel. Why else would this healing story, unlike all the rest, have remembered Bartimaeus's name? We know the only name he was ever given: Bartimaeus.

"Bartimaeus? Sure, we remember him. He used to teach at First Church Galilee. He met, and was healed by Jesus, and was never the same. We remember him."

Bartimaeus, though he had been blind, really saw. He saw that Jesus was about more than simply healing. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” His cry out is actually incredibly important here.  The title that Bartimaeus uses here is “Son of David”, which is the Messianic title.  Bart is proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, right in front of the whole world.  Bart wanted Jesus to know that he believed in him.  Among all these people, Bartimaeus was considered blind, but in fact, he was the only one that could truly see.  Everyone had ideas about Jesus.  Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was and saw him clearly.

Jesus was about discipleship. Bartimaeus saw that Jesus, in healing him, had invited him to follow along the way.  Bartimaeus followed on the way. And that's why we remember his name, even today. He really saw who Jesus was.

To know, to see, and to believe in Jesus, is to follow him on the way. His way is not meant simply to be praised, to be admired, and adored. His way is meant to be walked.

Bartimaeus is remembered by us as the one who "got it." He followed on the way.

 

Clarence Jordan, the founder of Koinonia Farm, the interracial commune outside Americus, Georgia, grew up in a prosperous family, received a traditional theological education (a Ph.D. in Greek New Testament from Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky), and, known for his brilliance as a writer, was en route to becoming a professor.

Instead, he left seminary to establish an interracial community in segregated Georgia in the mid-1950s. Opposition was not unexpected, but it was led by his own people, the Southern Baptist congregation that eventually excommunicated the whole Koinonia Community. The charges leveled against them read: "Said members. . . have persisted in holding services where both white and colored attend together" (McClendon 1986, 96).

The excommunication was followed by vandalism, cross-burning, legal pressures, beatings, bombings, a comprehensive economic boycott, and shootings by snipers who aimed at any available target on the commune. Clarence turned to his brother, attorney Robert Jordan, for legal counsel and asked him to become legal representative of the Koinonia Community.

Robert, who later served as a Georgia state senator and a justice of the Georgia State Supreme Court, declined.

"Clarence, I can't do that. You know my political aspirations. Why if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything I've got."

"We might lose everything too, Bob."

"It's different for you."

"Why is it different? I remember, it seems to me, that you and I joined the church the same Sunday as boys. I expect when we came forward the preacher asked me about the same question he did you. He asked me, 'Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?'"And I said, 'Yes.' What did you say?"

"I follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point."

"Could that point by any chance be the cross?"

"That's right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. I'm not getting myself crucified."

"Then I don't believe you're a disciple. You're an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his. I think you ought to go back to the church you belong to, and tell them you're an admirer not a disciple."

"Well now, if everyone who felt like I do did that, we wouldn't have a church, would we?"

"The question," Clarence said, "is do you have a church?"[2]

 

Jesus calls us to himself, not only to heal us of what's wrong with us, but also to make us his disciples. To stress only the benefits of Christ, without also stressing his demands and commands, is to have a perverted gospel. Jesus calls us not only to believe in his way but also to walk with him on his way. Jesus is on the way; will we follow?

 

Jesus just won’t let us settle in and become too comfortable. That’s why Christian thought and doctrine is never final, finished, or static. God is alive, in motion toward us, in movement beyond us, not only two thousand years ago but now. Jesus is a journey. It’s probably a good thing for believers in Jesus to maintain a degree of modesty and tentativeness in what we claim to know about Jesus. If he is who the scriptures say he is we’ll never completely grasp him, for he is bigger than our ability fully to hold on to him. He holds on to us.[3]

 

How can one tell the difference between a true and living God, and a mere idol, that is, a mere figment of our imagination? Here is a reliable indicator: only a living God can surprise you. A false God is dependable, predictable, stable, and tends to be easily located, safe and secure in one place.
     But a living God is always on the move. Dead things can’t move. Dead things never surprise us. I must say that after 26 years of Christian ministry, one of the best parts about my vocation is being fortunate enough to serve a living God who is always on the move. Just when I think I have encapsulated God in my ideas and my cherished concepts, God makes a sudden lurch to the left or the right. I am surprised that even at this point in my life there is something new to be revealed to me; some delightful or troubling and challenging aspect of God to be revealed.
     And this also implies that one of the best parts about my vocation is that a living, moving God demands that we move as well. We cannot worship Jesus Christ without following Jesus Christ, going where he goes, obedient to his movement into the world. This makes the Christian ministry a demanding vocation, particularly as one enters that time of life when one would like to settle down, settle in, and take things easily. However, it is also a great way to stay alive! In loving and serving a living God, we are given life as well.[4]
 

The modern world has many ways of tempting us to settle down, usually by turning us in on ourselves, eventually to worship the dear little god located within. Christianity, the religion evoked by Jesus, is a decidedly fierce means of wrenching us outward, of getting us in motion, of putting us on the road. We are not left alone peacefully to console ourselves with our sweet bromides, or to snuggle with allegedly beautiful Mother Nature, or even to close our eyes and hug humanity in general. A God who we couldn’t have thought up on our own has turned to us, reached to us, and is revealed to be someone quite other than the God we would have if God were merely a figment of our imagination. God is a Jew from Nazareth who lived briefly, died violently, rose unexpectedly, and made a way to us.[5]

C.S. Lewis quote – “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are halfhearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mudpies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”[6]

 

Bartimaeus’ sees what we don’t – our true need for Jesus.  We, as humans, can think of nothing more ominous, nothing more scary or important than the prospect of failing health and death.  And yet, our physical well being was something that Jesus used as a teaching tool – it was not his goal.  His goal was the forgiveness of our sins, which is much more of a miracle.  Our sins are much more deadly than any disease, because they separate us from God.  What do we think God offers us?  A physical cure?  Those are temporary at best.  Jesus offers us a permanent cure in his salvation, and abundant life on the level of which do not even dream.

 

The forgiveness of our sins is a miracle of such supernatural power that it dwarfs all other miracles.

 

Rudolf Bultmann says that this story is structured not like a miracle story, but as a story of one being “called.”   V. 52 Bartimaeus follows Jesus.  In response to his healing, Bartimaeus responds with his life and follows Jesus.  Your sins can/have been forgiven.  What if Nikki or Rachelle were suddenly healed right now of their chronic pain?  You’d be astounded – proclaiming a miracle.  Our sins being forgiven is an even bigger miracle than that.  People, we are not healed through Jesus’ miracles; we are healed through his wounds.  You have been given that great miracle.  How will you respond?

 

[1] Will Willimon, Pulpit Resource, Oct. 25, 2009.

[2] David Augsburger, Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor, Brazos Press, 2005, pp. 191-192.

[3] Will Willimon, Pulpit Resource, October 28, 2012.

[4] Will Willimon, Pulpit Resource, October 28, 2012.

[5] Will Willimon, Pulpit Resource, October 28, 2012.

[6] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, Walter Hooper, ed. [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980], p. 26.

  December 2017  
SMTWTFS
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31    
Bible Search