Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means "son of Timaeus"), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. -Mark 10:46-52
We're in the Gospel of Mark this morning, chapter 10. And I had planned on returning to the lectionary for this Sunday to preach. And this is the text that was there. And as I started looking at and reflecting on this text, I realized that this text actually kind of is a good conclusion to that series I just finished on Jesus's... I am statements that we saw in the Gospel of John, and as we look at this text, I hope that it'll become evident why I'm choosing to use this as kind of the capstone for that series. After last Sunday, I still felt like, Alright, we've talked about these I am statements of Jesus saying, I am this and I am that. And some deep and heavy things and meaningful things that Jesus had in there, but I still felt like it kind of left me thinking, Alright, where do we go from there? What do we do with all of this information? What do we do with these statements that Jesus made about who he is, and then I encountered Bartimaeus. Now, a little bit of background on Bartimaeus. Some scholars speculate that Bartimaeus as that passage ended, it said immediately he regained a sight and he followed him, that Bartimaeus became one of the disciples who followed along with Jesus, and the fact that of all of the many people that were healed in Scripture, very seldom do we know who they are? And yet, Bartimaeus is named here, and the scholars, we point to the fact that because he's named, he was probably one who was familiar with Mark's community, Mark's community of people who follow Jesus. And the Mark who put all of these stories together.
Oh yeah, Jesus, all these people. But you may remember Bartimaeus, he's one of us, Jesus healed him too, that there's some significance to that being included in here, it's also a little bit possible of a play on words with Bartimaeus name now, in the language bar actually means son of... And so it says, Bar is son of tomeus well. His name literally is son of Thomas, and I don't like to get a whole lot of heavy... Here's the Greek and all of this, but there's a little bit of a play on words here as well, because when he is rebuked, that timaeus epitome is the word for rebuke. Now, EPA is a prefix. And to me, who is a word that means honor, and so his name literally means son of the Honored One, but then when he's rebuked, the play on words comes in because it's in the core of that word as well, and so to be put aside or to be rebuked and sat in your place. He is also connected to his name, so there's a lot of things woven together in the midst of this, that this one who is named son of the one who is honored, comes out along the street begging.
And it just so happens that Jesus is coming along. Now, the man named son of the honor one probably doesn't feel that honor, he's blind, he's a beggar. He has to sit at the street asking for charity from those who passed by, in fact, his father who's named the honored one, probably feels a little bit disgraced to have a son, they can't fend for himself, and they're quite possibly as some tension in that family. Bartimaeus is by himself, he doesn't have a wife or children, he can't support them, he can't support himself, he's a little bit of an outcast. And yet here is the one who before he even shows up, has already put his faith in Jesus. And I said when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, when he heard that it was the one that he knew could make a difference, he started calling out, saying Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. But those in the crowd rebuked the son of the honored one. They told him to be quiet. You need to stop all of that nonsense. Bartimaeus, we're called out all the more Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.
And Jesus, Jesus says, calling him here, great, bring him over here. Now, this blind begger, we're told throws his cloak off, probably one of the few possessions that he had to his name, a rather significant one, because it was his shelter, it was what kept him warm at night, 'cause he didn't have a home to go to. And yet, upon hearing Jesus called for him, he throws it off, he jumps up and he goes to Jesus. And Jesus looks at him and says, What would you have me do for you? And Bartimeus says, I wanna see. And Jesus says, Go, your faith has made you well. Now, for Bartimaeus, it wasn't that his faith suddenly came about because Jesus healed him, it wasn't that a miracle prompted him to say, Oh, my word, you are the son of God, you are the son of David. He knew that before he came to Jesus. And often, when we encounter these miracle stories, we worry about the situation or the condition of the person, but what is significant in this particular story isn't the fact that Bartimaeus can now see... It's his disposition. You see, Bartimaeus came to Jesus with faith already.
Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. He saw and recognized in Jesus one who could make a difference, one who could not only restore his sight, but by seeing he could be restored to community, he could support himself, he could live as everyone else who could see. But for Bartimaeus, his disposition was one in which he already saw spiritually, he already saw that Jesus was the one that had the answer, that Jesus was the one that could make the difference in his life. He didn't come to Jesus saying, Hey, you owe me this. Or, I deserve this. He came in faith, saying, Jesus, I know you're the one, I know with you, it's possible. Have mercy on me. He trusted that it would happen, and it did. Now, the placement of this story is one of many contrasts as well, because the verse is immediately preceding, the text that we've heard this morning are the story of James and John coming to Jesus saying, Jesus, when you come into your kingdom. Can you promise us the seats that you're right and left hand... Now, when they came to Jesus, he knew they were coming and wanting to ask him something, and he asked them as well, what can I do for you? And they said, Give us those places of honor.
Now, these are two who were already counted among the disciples, these are two who had already been there following him and listening to him and hearing him, they came with an agenda, unlike Bartimaeus, who came with faith. And when Jesus asked them, What can I do for you? They said, Oh, you're gonna do something for us. This is what we want. What's in it for us? And Jesus had a conversation with them about what it was they were really asking.
But Bartimaeus came in faith. Bartimaeus came trusting and believing in the one who was the son of David, the one who could show him a mercy beyond all mercies. And so Bartimaeus then when Jesus had called him over, not only had said twice, Jesus son of David, he then says, Raboni, my teacher. The statements that Bartimaeus makes, tell us just how strong and deep his faith was in Jesus, He recognized him as the promised one, the anointed Messiah that was to come. He not only said, Yeah, you're a teacher. He said, Jesus, you are my teacher. I submit myself fully and completely to you, and he received the blessing of Jesus.
So when we consider this morning, all of the things that we've heard about Jesus in the last few weeks, all of the things we've read are reflected upon in those statements Jesus makes about, I am... I am the bread of life, I am the resurrection in life, I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the light of the world. All of these are wonderful things and give us great images and understandings of who Jesus is, but with all of these thoughts and ideas...
What do we do with them? Well, how do they make a difference in our life? Which brings us to Bartimaeus us when we understand and recognize who this Jesus is, we begin with faith, but that faith isn't the end all be all, that faith is what prompts us to seek Jesus out all the more, to see him and to call to Him and say, Jesus, have mercy on me. Have mercy on me. We profess our faith when we make those statements, Jesus, You are Lord, Jesus, You are my teacher, and we make those statements because we recognize that in Jesus and through Jesus, there are answers to things in our lives that we cannot find anywhere else.
Bartimaeus took that a step further, and it's the step that I'm encouraging us to make as well, we've heard and listened to all those statements where Jesus says, I am, but at some point we need to take the next step of faith and say, Yes, you are and name who and what Jesus is in our lives. Bartimaeus, you are the son of David, you are my teacher. For us gathered here this morning, you are my hope, you are the promise of salvation, you are the gift of life eternal, you are the one that is there for me when I've been through some really dark days. You are, and fill in the blank. Because that's the thing. Jesus is a very personal Savior, because He meets us where we are. He met Bartimaeus on the side of the road as he's leaving a town, and yet in that place and in that space, he called to Bartimaeus and said, Come, and he meets us where we're at as well.
We may be sitting in a beautiful sanctuary, we may be sitting behind the steering wheel in her car, on a lawn chair in our backyard, walking through the grocery, in those places where we are, that's where Jesus meets us. And in those moments, we respond by saying, Jesus, You are what I need right now. Bartimaeus took that next step of faith, it wasn't just about believing, it wasn't just saying, Oh yes, Jesus said, I am this and this and this, and I'm gonna nod my head and agree with those, Baram has acted upon his beliefs and convictions about who Jesus was. Bartimaeus not only acted upon them, but he continued to act upon them, and he moved from being a believer to being a follower... You see, a believer. We can sit back and say, Yep, I agree with that, I agree with that. And things move on. But for Bartimaeus, he became involved. After Jesus said, Go, your faith has made you well. It says Bartimaeus regained his sight and followed him on the way. Chapter 10 of Mark points to a transition because it's after this verse where Jesus then begins that Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem with each step drawing him nearer to the cross, His followers knew that, Bartimaeus had to have picked up on that as they began traveling.
And yet he went with him nonetheless. Last week, I had mentioned that song, “My Jesus”, and my own theological challenges with it. Anna took me to task on that, and I have to agree with her that it's actually a pretty good song. While the song talks about, Let me tell you about my Jesus. He could just as easily be bar to me as sharing this story as well.
When asked how he got his sign back, Bartimeaus could easily say, My Jesus, my teacher, showed me mercy and my sight was restored, my faith in the one who makes all things possible. Made my faith even stronger in the song, the chorus goes on and says,
Let me tell you about my Jesus. He makes a way when they're at no way, rising up from an empty grave, a... No sinner that he can't save. Let me tell you about my Jesus. His love is strong, His grace is free. And the good news is, I know that he can do for you what he's done for me. Let me tell you about my Jesus and let my Jesus change your life.
Friends, I guess that's the thing that I would have us all to take away from this today, is that we can talk in all kinds of lofty academic terms and theological terms about who Jesus is and his identity, but at the end of the day... What changes your life is what changed Bartimaues’ life, what changes your life is having a personal and intimate encounter with Jesus, and what's more... It's your story to share.
It was Bartimaeus' story to share about how his sight was restored. It's your story to share about the hope and the confidence that Jesus has given you.
And so we first respond by saying to Jesus, you are... You are what I need right now. You are the answer I've been looking for. You are the one that fills the void, you are... And fill in your blank. Because that is your story. And how Jesus has changed your life is part of your witness and part of your way of sharing that love with others, because we have the opportunity to tell this world about our Jesus and how he's changed our lives, and how he's in the business of continuing to change lives. Each and every day.