22nd Week of Pentecost

22nd Week of Pentecost

October 24, 2021 | Bryan Simmons

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    All right. Well, you always gotta love Seth's insight, huh? I don't know if I'll be talking about Jesus bombs, but hopefully it feels the same here. So if you don't remember last week or if you weren't here last week, you know, it's really amazing how Mark puts these stories back to back in this conversation. So earlier in this chapter, earlier in Mark 10, we've got Jesus saying that he is going to do what Messiah does and be betrayed, handed over killed on the third day, he'll rise again. And then after that you've got James and John, you know, the disciples are kind of talking amongst themselves and Jesus says, you know, "what can I do for you?" James and John say "we want you to let us sit at your right and left hands. We want you to hold us in high regard and put us in a position of prestige above the others." It was just after Jesus had said he's going to sacrifice everything for the sake of all people. And the disciples couldn't understand they couldn't get, that Jesus was going to do this, they couldn't understand that concept at all, to the point where James and John, one of kind of Jesus's inner circle, these two that are in there, completely don't understand to the point of asking for this position of power and prestige. And then as they leave Jericho, they're on this road. And they come across Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. We're getting a little better in our society about blindness and disability and things like that.

    You know, we have a term called ableism now where we assume that there is this standard level of being and you can achieve that. And if you're short of that, then you were somehow lesser. So we at least acknowledge our faulty thinking in this now. But back in Jesus Day, it was, it was, you know, so wholly opposed to, you know, someone like poor Bartimaeus here, who because he is blind, not only did they consider Bartimaeus less of a value to society, can't contribute economically, things like that. But they considered it a victim, not a victim, but a punishment of sin -- either Bartimaeus or Bartimaeus' family must have been horrible, horrible sinners, didn't take care of what they needed to take care of, didn't do the right sacrifices, things like that. So this is the result. So you don't really have pity on Bartimaeus in this day and age, you almost have a little bit of scorn. That's what Bartimaeus was dealing with on the side of the road outside of Jericho. But the thing in Mark is you've got this what's called the messianic secret in Mark is that that nobody really claims Jesus for who he is. Nobody understands who Jesus is, really only except the demons. The demons seem to recognize Jesus right away. But then you also have these healing narratives. Where the people needing healing recognize Jesus for who he is and Bartimaeus comes out right away and says, Son of David, have mercy on me.

    Recognizes Jesus for who Jesus is, the son of David the promised Messiah to come. And then all the people that are following Jesus, right? They get a little upset. They get upset to the point where they're actually shushing him. Yeah, don't bother Jesus with your blind stuff, right? Don't bother Jesus. But he calls even louder, and they call him there. And then the same people that were shushing him all of a sudden, get excited -- hey, take heart, he's calling you! Then, of course, Jesus heals him. But this man Bartimaeus doesn't just get healed and walk away. But follows Jesus on the way, is what Mark says. Follows the path of Jesus. It's a truly remarkable story being juxtaposed to the story of James and John, who Jesus asked the same question, "What can I do for you?" And instead of recognizing Jesus as Messiah, who's going to be betrayed, murdered and then on the third day, rise again. Recognize Jesus as Messiah, King of Kings is coming with power to restore Israel, so we want that power too. We want to be on your right and left hand. It is interesting how the ones closest to Jesus seem to misunderstand Jesus the most. And I think that is a danger for us as well in this cycle that I've been talking about of humanity where we we, you know, we trend towards comfort and we want that the most.

    We want the security of thought, we want this physical security. And so we don't tend to think of Jesus in the right light. And I feel like those of us that have been in the church the longest, those of us that have been in the church since birth, hearing these stories in this pattern of worship, in this pattern of doing what churches do. I think we have the most to fight in our complacency. Because it's not the pattern of what we do as a church that is supposed to be central and reign supreme. But it is constantly evaluating who Jesus is. And how do we allow Jesus to speak to our hearts and our minds today? Sometimes we look at these texts and we think we come to a conclusion, we think we come to an answer and we move on from it, not wanting to think about it again because it's solved right? But scripture is the word of God speaking to us. An ongoing conversation in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And in doing so, we do encounter these texts differently every time we come to them. And it ought to affect us differently every time we read them. Because in this divided world that we live in, where people have become so entrenched in their way, have taken such a stance against the other. We need to hear this story strongly in the direction that Mark intended. It would be great to say that we are all like the blind beggar begging Jesus to open our eyes.

    But Mark knew better when Mark was crafting this story. And says we are more like James and John, we are more like the crowd that shuns Bartimaeus for daring to cry out to Jesus for healing. But it is not lost for us, either. God so deeply wants us to have our hearts and minds opened to the reality of the ultimate love of Jesus. In our lives and in the lives of others, and particularly in the lives of those shunned and scorned by society. Jesus wants us to see Jesus for who Jesus truly is. Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and the only way to earn that title is to die in utter weakness. Sacrifice total power. Something we cannot do ourselves. And Jesus invites us to follow him on the way. Jesus invites us to follow this path of love for all people. In all seasons. Jesus invites us to choose the path of mercy and forgiveness. And acceptance. So much so that Jesus did do what Messiah does. He goes willingly to the cross. And on the third day rises again. So that you and I may know the ultimate act of love by our creator. And so Jesus poses the question for you. What do you want me to do for you? Let us boldly asked Jesus to open our hearts and minds to the reality of what God is doing in the world. Amen.