Text: Mark 10:46-52
46 Then they came to
I invite every one of you to close your eyes for a moment, and keep them closed until I ask you to reopen them.
Imagine you are blind. Now that you can’t see, what is more concerning and important for you: What has happened in the past, or what will happen in the future? Could you keep your eyes closed and leave this place blind, doing things you planned for the rest of the day? I suspect even the most determined would have to peak to see what is coming.
Imagine driving home, going for a walk, working, watching television, reading a book, or being involved in any entertaining activity… blind. All you could do is imagine doing these things from times when you could see. Doing these things would be more difficult, if not impossible, now. Therefore, the desire to look forward and somehow see would become far more important than what has happened in the past, even though the chance of seeing in the future probably wouldn’t exist and be just a memory from the past. Now you can open your eyes.
Picture blind Bartimaeus sitting just outside
But then he hears about one who heals; the one who gives access to the kingdom of God; the one whose greatness is kin to that of King David, even more so, who claims he has been sent by God the Father, and who claims of himself that he will be crucified and raised in three days. Suddenly all the listening to what has transpired in the past is forgotten, all the down heartedness of his condition is gone. These new words have given him life; he waits in anticipation, hoping this man of God will walk past him, hoping this healing King will hear his cry for mercy. Faith and hope have become the destitute and hopeless one’s new joy as he anxiously waits to hear from the one walking to
“Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus shouts. “Be quiet Bartimaeus, you have no right to speak or be heard”, was perhaps the crowd’s response as Jesus fixed his eyes on his royal entry into
Instead of walking by and ignoring Bartimaeus, the King of creation stops and calls this broken piece of creation to come to him. This is a feat in itself for someone blind, but Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and springs to his feet, looking to Jesus with the eyes of hope and faith. And it is this faith—not faith in himself born of the past, but faith found in the future, trusting in only what Christ can do—that raises, heals, and saves blind Bartimaeus.
We are the same as Bartimaeus. We are broken pieces of creation; broken because of sin. Every one of us needs daily reformation by creation’s King. Each of us, like Bartimaeus the blind beggar, is called to faith as we hear the good news of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit gives us faith and hope to sit up knowing Jesus Christ and the salvation he freely gives — first given at baptism when we heard the Good News. Baptism places Jesus in front of us every day, and calls us to come abide in him. “Lamb of God I come!”
Just a week later after Bartimaeus stood and had his eyes opened for the first time; the people of
Do you think that after the events of Bartimaeus’ miraculous healing, the death of his Healer on the cross, and his extraordinary resurrection from the grave, that Bartimaeus ever let the cross be put in the past, out of his sight? Or for that matter anyone else who witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection? Then nor should we who have been baptised into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Nor should we who, at our baptism, have seen and received the same grace witnessed on the cross two-thousand years ago!
You are united to Christ in baptism. You and I can never move past the acts of God given there, or his biblical word he first called us to trust there. Because we live double lives, eternally freed from sin but not free from sinning, we live post-baptism with the cross as our end point, not as merely a start point. Our lives don’t make much sense unless the cross comes at the end too. Life struggles and pressures, drought, disease, and death make no sense unless the cross comes at the end of it all. So as you struggle with your sin in this sinful world, picture your life paralleled under Christ’s life; see his life placed as template over your life, as he lives in you and with you.
See in your baptism, Jesus’ baptism — where the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and the Father says of you, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased!” (Mark 1:11) See in your confirmation and subsequent trips to receive the bread and wine of Christ’s body and blood, Christ standing transfigured — in celebration with the prophets, apostles, and the whole company of heaven. See in your sinfulness, Jesus approach you with his word — willing you to believe you can hand that sin over and have peace, time and time again. See Jesus say to you, “Go and sin no more” — just as he did to the Samaritan adulteress. And see all these things in the context of your death and entry into heaven — with Jesus’ death at
This is the grace of God: That he walks with us today, and gives his life in exchange for ours. Through his death on the cross, at your death you will receive his glorious resurrected life.
Sing with Bartimaeus and all believers: I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see. This grace has brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home. Christ and the cross will lead you home, even as you still struggle with blindness. This is what makes grace so amazing!
I invite you to close your eyes and open the eyes of faith and your heart of hope as we pray: Dear Heavenly Father we believe; save us from our unbelief. Continually send your Holy Spirit to give us faith to live holy lives and trust in the amazing grace Christ won for all people on the cross. Amen.
The faith to which we are called is one in Christ; therefore, it is a living faith. This faith is both, corporate and personal, but never individualistic, different, or separate from others in the body of Christ. If Christ lives with us and in us, we can’t help but want to do the right thing, even as we struggle to do so. This faith moves us, to be compassionate to those who like us struggle with sin, and, to be repentant for the many things we get horribly wrong each day. Faith also calls us to actions of sacrifice; sacrifice of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, and also the sacrifice of our selves, our time, and our talents. As we focus on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the end point we are able to bear our crosses under which we are called to suffer in this world.
Such personal faith also calls us to be accountable to the whole church gathered under Christ, past, present, and future. Faith enables us to abide in Christ and his way in the Word of God. We are accountable to the Word of God and in drawing near to God we freely welcome hearing and reading the Word of God, as well as other literature that points us to the cross. This accountability calls us from individualism and anti-intellectualism into a willing reception of Christ in his word that is neither stagnate, lifeless, nor impersonal. And this faith calls us to be accountable to each other, to bear each other in love. After all, Christ bears each of us in love, even as we continue to sin day after day.
We need Christ’s baptismal reforming every day. Although sin has no power in our lives anymore, the forces of evil never stop trying to place us back under the power of sin. Therefore, we need the cross in front of us, as the finishing point. We can never move past Christ, the cross, or his word, if we are to uphold the faith he personally places in each of us. As God’s children we can never stop praying the beggars’ plea, “Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of David, Son of God, and/or Lamb of God), have mercy on me/us!”
What is a sign of personal faith? When I strive to make the interests of God’s Word the determining factor in my life, and when I continually and repentantly seek forgiveness when this doesn’t happen.