Saturday, October 27, 2012

B, Post-Pentecost 22 Proper 25 – Mark 10:46-52 “Blind Sight”

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A farmer goes out to seed his crop. "What's the weather going to do?" he wonders. "If I plant too much I set myself up for a failure; if there is good rain and I put in little I set myself up to get back little as well!" So the farmer is cautious and puts in what he can afford to lose but enough to sustain him till next harvest.
It must have seemed a big risk for those who first farmed this country to see what return they might get for their toil. All the work clearing the land sourcing seed and putting it into the virgin soil, most likely still dirty with sticks and stumps. And after all that, then the wait to see what the weather might do.
At least here in Australia at this time, we only have to worry about the weather, and other natural occurrences. In some parts of the world one might get shot just venturing out into open country. Or after putting time into your farm, military might move across your country and flatten your crops, seize your farm, your machinery, and imprison you and your family.
I imagine it takes much more faith to farm in a situation like this as opposed to our farming situation. Blinded by seeming impossibility many don't bother putting in a crop in these war torn countries.
The blight of blindness stops many from faithfully doing what they have been called to do. Are you one of those who decide it's just too tough to toil on, not having the power of foresight into the future?
Blind Bartimaeus sat by the road, impaired in what he could do. He was going nowhere; he had no power, therefore no opportunity, nor ability, to change his situation. He could do nothing. In fact he was a beggar; this is all he could do.
Like a farmer he had no foresight at what lay ahead. His blindness was his weakness and it could very well have been his trap. I imagine for most of his life it was, as he sat there on the side of the road grovelling for morsels of food to survive.
So too for us! The things we cannot control; the things we have no power over expose our weaknesses and ensnare us. How do they trap us? We see we have no power, so we become like a farmer that plants too little through fear of failure. But why this fear of failure? Behind all the financial problems of failure, the real reason lies. We fear being seen as failures, as being weak.
And so the opposite can happen too. Through fear of being seen to be not up with the rest, some over extend themselves with debt and pressure far beyond what is reasonable. They seek to empower themselves and work themselves into a position of power and success. Until the bank forecloses and the rest realise it was just a house of mirrors reflecting greatness off itself, and like a house of cards comes tumbling down.
These are the traps we all face, and struggle with, every day of our lives. We want to be seen to be successful, priests of perfection, for others to follow. Yet we are numbered with those like blind Bartimaeus. If we have our weakness pointed out we strike like a snake to put the offender off guard while we quickly slither away to hide from hurt.
But this time Bartimaeus didn't do what one who wanted their weakness hidden would do. You see he was a beggar, we can imagine that he was not the only one begging there along the road. Others who had more power than Bartimaeus, with sight, would have been begging too. They unlike Bartimaeus would have been able to discern who to pick on as they walked by. The better dressed; the one who looks like a soft touch; one who has given something to someone else! Just like the people selling stuff in the corridors of the shopping centre, looking for someone to lure into giving up their wealth!
No! Bartimaeus had no powers to discern! He was the weakest of the weak, the most despicable of the despised, and the most powerless of the poor! When Jesus came by, blind Bartimaeus had no way of knowing if this man might have something to give to him that would be of advantage, to give him the edge; a bit more over the next beggar or the one before.
Yet something had happened in this weak blind man. He cries out to Jesus! He calls him "the Son of David". He has no eyes to see royalty coming. And this title in Mark's Gospel is special. Here only is Jesus addressed as the "Son of David" by someone else in Mark. The only other occurrence where we here the "Son of David" is when Jesus alludes to himself while teaching in the temple in Jerusalem saying…
"How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.' David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?" (Mark 12:35–37 ESV)
So the weakest of the weak, confesses Jesus as the Son of David. And this Son of David proved not only to be Jesus of Nazareth, but the Christ. Bartimaeus encountered and received something that no other could give. He received mercy, pure compassion from his Messiah, the one anointed to walk by the weak and heal those who are willing to be real about who they really are.
Are you blind? Do you have sight? What is it you see? What is it you hear? What are you desperate for in this life? What do you beg for? Are you ploughing on in your own strength wondering why you are bothering to do so? Are you toiling in fear of failure?
Perhaps you are like Saul before he became Paul, zealous in your efforts, tenaciously toiling, straining to see into the future to get the edge over everybody else. Maybe so focused on your journey, Jesus needs to blind you, so you stop looking at everything else but him! After all he is royalty right in front of you. Perhaps like Saul you have been blind the whole time and not willing to admit it and it's only through explicit blindness that your ears will be opened and the scales fall off your eyes.
I imagine if Bartimaeus was a beggar with sight, he would have given Jesus the once over and thought, "Na! I'm not even going to bother with this guy, he looks too poor, too weak to be of any advantage to me!" But Bartimaeus' blindness, his weakness, was the avenue through which Christ opened his eyes, first to his own weakness, and then to the power of his salvation at the cross.
Take heart, Jesus is calling you! Shut your eyes to the images of this world, the deceptive desires of your heart, and here him coming. He is coming again! It's amazing how quickly your ears open when your eyes are closed! Or when you come to understand you are blind!
Call out to him to have mercy on you, and he will. You will then see you have been under the veil of his power since the Holy Spirit came on you in baptism. That your toils and troubles are trials to test you and show you your blindness and need for a Saviour!
After all powerful people don't need saving! Well at least they don't think they do!
Let God your Heavenly Father make you walk by brooks of water, let him lead you so you do not stumble, and drown in the seas of greed you try to traverse.
You who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! You who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing Jesus' sheaves with you.
Jesus Christ, son of David, Son of God, have mercy on us, Amen.