Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52
46 They 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.
Afterthoughts: Seeing is Believing, and Hoping and Loving
This week I shared about the importance of seeing life correctly.
So much of our well-being is determined by both our willingness and ability to see things as they are; to see things as God has created them.
An example from Scripture is seen in the Gospel reading from Mark chapter 10 this week.
In this section of Mark, we meet Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus is blind.
Bartimaeus is a beggar.
But, of all the people healed by Jesus, Bartimaeus was named.
This probably means he was known in the early Church.
Which would mean his story is important.
And I think it is.
As I said on Sunday, I think his story matched up against some of the earlier stories in Mark 10 are meant to be compared with one another.
Earlier in Mark 10,
the Rich Man came to justify himself before Jesus,
He thought that he had understood what was required for eternal life,
but we (along with him) realize that he has not seen things clearly.
Specifically, he had not seen Jesus clearly.
He had envisioned this Teacher as one who would give him an “Atta boy” for his keeping of the Law, not as the one Who would justify him before God.
He sought to justify himself before the One who would justify him.
So, it turns out that the man who had sight could not see.
As was true in the story of the Sons of Zebedee in Mark 10.
James and John made a bold request of Jesus: a seat of honor.
Of all the disciples of Jesus, they wished to be declared “The Greatest.”
A predictable request for earthly folk.
But not a request one would make of Jesus.
They didn’t really quite see Him clearly yet
(but eventually, they would).
Contrast this with Bartimaeus.
The blind beggar.
Once he realizes that Jesus is near,
he will not shut up.
Nothing could quiet this man.
He knew that he had to do whatever was needed to get to Jesus.
So, even though he was blind,
He could clearly see Who Jesus was.
The Son of David.
A term used to denote the Messiah.
He saw Jesus as more than a teacher.
Even though he was blind.
He understood that Jesus would save him.
So, the question for us is this:
What do we see?
Who do we see?
Do we see Jesus for who He is?
Do we see ourselves for who we are?
Do we see our community for what it is?
We are the children of the Living God.
We are joint heirs with Jesus.
We are God’s ambassadors of love, kindness, grace and mercy.
And our seeing Jesus as He is gives us great confidence.
It puts us in a place of security knowing that we know our place.
And Who is the securer of that place.
As opposed to continuously searching for our identities and security.
Seeing rightly opens our eyes to our mission in this world.
To be kind in the midst of world where many that are not.
To extend grace and mercy when the world around us grants no quarter, cancelling all who do not fit its narrative and its ways.
But what happens when our sight is off?
What happens if our vision is not clear?
What is we are like the Rich Man Jesus dealt with.
He clearly had missed the mark.
Where do things go from there?
Realize that Jesus will love us into true sight.
Look at what happens after Jesus realizes the Rich Man’s sight is off:
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
God will give us the opportunity to see things as they are
when our own sight is unclear.
The Rich Man had a need to understand nothing he did would ever justify him before God.
God requires a heart change.
Which, unlike checking boxes off, is not transactional.
Jesus challenged him to change his vision through the act of loving him.
But, this may be difficult.
Jesus’ challenge to the man was to sell all that he had.
To be a “sell out” for God.
Which, for him, would be asking everything.
For he was rich.
Which is why the story describes him as going away sad.
Which is not to say that he refused the challenge from Jesus,
Just that what he was asking to do would be the most difficult thing for him.
Much more difficult than following some rules set up to give the appearance of righteousness.
It would require him doing away with all the things he had placed around himself to make him feel secure.
And allow God to possess him.
I like to think that, eventually,
this man took Jesus up on his offer.
I don’t know that he did.
But, I am sure that if he did,
he would have found that which he was looking for.
Because what I know is this:
Seeing leads to belief.
Given the eyes to see clearly,
our encounters with God produce a faith; a belief.
We know this is true from the many stories in the Gospels of the many encounters people had with Jesus.
I think of, most notably,
Thomas’ encounter with the risen Jesus in John 20,
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas had a moment with the Risen Lord.
It was a faith moment for him.
And, we are reminded that we have these faith moments too.
It establishes belief within us.
Which leads to the next thing that I know:
Belief leads to Hope.
Thomas’ had his moment of doubt.
Then he saw Jesus clearly
(after being very confused after the crucifixion…
like most of the disciples).
And he believed.
Which gave him a hope.
Hope is the thing that we strive for;
the thing that we move towards in faith.
It is an intentional act of the heart motivated by a deep belief.
The deeper the belief, the more intense the hope.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
The faith that this passage expresses is one that I believe deeply.
My belief is borne through many trials and tribulations and has been validated over and over again.
It continues to be my hope.
I continue to believe that in midst of things that I wish were not true,
God is present in working it out for our good.
As I mentioned in the sermon on Sunday,
The tone of our conversations culturally have, as of late, been unkind.
People seem to be mad at everything.
And if one person believes differently that another,
Harsh words follow.
It is all very unkind.
And this is being seen among Christians too.
Which breaks my heart.
But, because of my belief in the truth expressed in Romans 8:28,
I have hope that God will redeemed this conversation
and make us all stronger because of it.
I am not exactly sure how,
But I have hope that God will.
And because I have this hope,
And because I believe that a deep faith requires a purposeful intention of the heart,
I move in that direction.
In the direction of kindness.
Of being an example of what God calls us to; each of us.
Which leads to the next thing that I know:
Hope leads to Love.
A heart set in faith,
motivated by hope,
responds in love.
It is the outworking of faith.
A true love.
An agape kind of love.
A love that shows unmerited favor to those around us.
That stubbornly believes God is in the business of changing hearts,
Starting with my own.
And through that,
This will change others as well.
May God us all eyes to see,
Ears to hear
And hearts willing to obey.