|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||January 13, 2019||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Isaiah 43:1-7, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22|
|The Epiphany||January 6, 2019||The Epiphany, Year C||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Eve, Year C||December 24, 2018||Christmas Eve, Year C||Luke 2:1-20|
|Advent 3, Year C||December 16, 2018||Third Sunday of Advent, Year C||Luke 3:7-18|
|Advent 2, Year C||December 9, 2018||Advent 2, Year C||Baruch 5:1-9, Luke 3:1-6|
|Advent 1, Year C||December 2, 2018||The First Sunday in Advent, Year C 2018||Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Psalm 25:1-9, Luke 21:25-36|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year B||November 25, 2018||Christ the King, Last Pentecost||John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8|
|Pentecost 26, Year B||November 18, 2018||Proper 28, Year B||Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13: 1-8|
|Pentecost 25, Year B||November 11, 2018||Proper 27, Year B||1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44|
|All Saints, Year B||November 4, 2018||All Saints’ Day, Year B||Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-a; John 11:32-44|
|➤Pentecost 23, Year B||October 28, 2018||Proper 25, Year B||Mark 10:46-52|
|Pentecost 22, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 21, 2018||Proper 24, Year B||Psalm 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45|
|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 14, 2018||21st Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 23, Year B||Mark 10:17-31|
|Pentecost 20, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 7, 2018||Proper 22, Year B||Genesis 2:18-24, Hebrews 1:1-4,2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16|
|Season of Creation 5, Year B||September 30, 2018||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-7, Mark 16:1-8|
Pentecost 23, Year B
Sermon Date:October 28, 2018
Scripture: Mark 10:46-52
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 25, Year B
“Healing of the Blind Man” – Carl Bloch, 1871.
Are you looking for anything these days?
And if you are looking for something, what is it?
Your car keys? A more fulfilling job? A better relationship with someone you love? A different house? A new vehicle? An easier life? A peaceful death when that time comes?
I’m going to pause for just a minute so you can think about this question—”What are you looking for?”
Or maybe, “What are you hoping for?” might be an even better way to state the question.
With that question in mind, join me now on a dusty roadside in Jericho.
As Fred Craddock states in The People’s New Testament Commentary, the city of Jericho, which is located on the West Bank of the Jordan River, served as the gateway to Jerusalem for pilgrims going to the Holy City from the north and from the east. Jesus and his disciples are headed for Jerusalem, which is about fifteen miles away, for the observance of the Passover.
The blind beggar, Bartimaeus, sits alongside the road, probably mostly unnoticed, and ignored by the crowd. He is a stationary presence in the midst of people on the move.
Since Bartimaeus is blind, his other senses are working overtime. He can feel the ground vibrating under him as the large crowd passes, he is aware that the dry dust that fills his nostrils is also settling on his skin and coating his cloak with yet another layer of grime.
And he no doubt is listening carefully to the the footsteps and conversations of the people passing by.
His sharp ears soon detect that a certain person is in this nameless crowd—Jesus of Nazareth, whose reputation precedes him, since Bartimaeus knows of this man—because this Jesus of Nazareth is not just Jesus from Nazareth for Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus has been sitting by the roadside waiting for more than just enough coins to buy food for the day.
Bartimaeus has also been looking for and hoping that the Messiah will come his way–The Messiah –who has brought the Kingdom of God near throughout Galilee.
Bartimaeus has heard that Jesus has fed thousands, cast out demons, healed people, and has described and made real God’s kingdom of love and mercy, not in some far off place, but present here and now.
Bartimaeus has heard about Jesus, and knows that he not just the man named Jesus from Nazareth, but also the Son of David, the promised Messiah—and I’m willing to be that if Bartimaeus hadn’t been blind, he would have been off looking for Jesus already!
But as it is, he has been sitting by the road, counting on the fact that sooner or later Jesus must pass by, because Jericho is on the way to Jerusalem.
And now that long awaited for moment has come. Jesus is passing by.
Bartimaeus doesn’t waste a minute.
He shouts out and then cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And he’s persistent, even as the crowd, intent on the journey, and not wanting to pause, tries to silence him.
Bartimaeus, a good Jew who knows that the God of Israel is a God of mercy, first and foremost, cries out for mercy from Jesus.
Jesus also has heightened hearing, because he is Jesus.
And so in the midst of all the sounds of a crowd of people moving along on a busy roadway, Jesus hears Bartimaeus, crying and shouting and calling to him.
And so Jesus stands still and returns the call of Bartimaeus.
Jesus tells the disciples to call Bartimaeus to him.
Bartimaeus must be aware of the slowing and then stopping of the footsteps, the settling of the dust, and the sudden hush as Jesus speaks. And then directly in front of him, he hears these words from people he cannot yet see.
“Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
Bartimaeus has been waiting for so long for God’s mercy!
And so with no other thought than that the moment has arrived, Bartimaeus springs up, dropping his grimy cloak in the dust, and he comes to Jesus.
Jesus asks this question of Bartimaeus. “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus, now in the presence of this Son of David, calls Jesus teacher as he answers.
He calls Jesus teacher, because Jesus has been teaching those with ears to hear and showing those with eyes to see what it means for God’s kingdom to have come near.
This is the kingdom that this faithful Jew Bartimaeus has been watching and waiting for—the kingdom described long ago by the prophet Isaiah,
“a kingdom in which slaves would be freed, exiles would return home, springs would flow in the desert, abundance would mark the fields; justice would be established and mercy reign,” a kingdom in which the lame could leap like deer and the blind could once more see, a kingdom in which a table is set and a banquet prepared for all people.
Jesus is the one who has made this kingdom visible to all who are following him.
And so when Jesus says, “What do you want me to do for you?”, no wonder Bartimaeus says,
“My teacher, let me see again.”
Teacher, teach me to see again. I want to see you, Jesus, and I want to see with my own eyes the kingdom of heaven that is drawing near because you are with us.
And Jesus says to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.”
Bartimaeus is made well in a way that few people ever get to be well.
He can now clearly see, not just in his mind, but with his own eyes, that the kingdom of God is present, all around him.
And now, Bartimaeus, his physical sight restored, can physically follow Jesus instead of just sitting by the road and waiting for Jesus to pass by.
And so, that’s what Bartimaeus does. He immediately follows Jesus along the way.
Bartimaeus was blessed by his blindness. Because he was blind, he had to listen hard to all that went on around him for hints and whispers of God’s presence in the world.
Bartimaeus lacked sight, but he had insight.
Because he did not already live with all that he could ever need or want, with no lack of anything, he had the insight to hope that someday the kingdom of God, with all its healing promise, would become a reality.
And Bartimaeus had faith.
Although he could not see the kingdom of God with his own eyes, he had the insight of faith in the promise made so long ago of God’s kingdom come to earth. He had faith to believe that God is indeed a God of mercy and justice. He had faith, that he, a person with nothing, not even his physical sight, would be heard by God if he called out.
Sometimes it takes losing something, or never having had something that we desperately need, to give us the desire to listen for God,
to give us the hope for the kingdom of heaven to become a reality, and the faith to cry out, over and over, for God’s kingdom to come on this earth, and that when it breaks forth, we will be able to see it for ourselves.
Sometimes it takes owning up to the discouraging fact that God’s kingdom seems far away, only a mirage, and that we are blind to it, to give us the hope and the faith and courage to wait patiently, to go out and sit by the road day after day, hoping that Jesus our teacher will come by and restore our sight once more, and reveal to us the wonders of his love, love given for all time and for all creation, for all eternity.
We are the blessed in this world.
But sometimes our blessings can blind us.
I pray that instead of simply being content with all our blessings, that we, like Bartimaeus, will go out and watch and wait with hope for the Kingdom of God to come in our midst, that we too, will cry out for mercy,
And that when God restores our sight,
We too will follow.
Boring, Eugene, and Craddock, Fred. The People’s New Testament Commentary. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.
Johnson, Elizabeth A. Creation and the Cross: The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018.