Mark 10:46-52Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
The Sermon: Who is blind
This reading from Mark should be pretty easy on which to write a sermon. Bartimaeus was a blind beggar and was such a fixture in Jericho that many people didn't even see him anymore. Now of course he was making himself heard and he was embarrassing them. He was asking Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus called him over and Jesus asked him what he could do for him. Bartimaeus says he wants his vision back and Jesus grants it. Jesus uses a phrase that he commonly uses, “your faith has made you well.”
There are two messages I get from this passage from Mark. One is that the people of the prosperous city of Jericho turned a blind eye to a blind man and that faith is an important component to healing.
Lets look first at this message of blindness. This story of the blind man makes me reflect on the times I have turned a blind eye to someone or something. I have shared with many of you the story of my interaction with a beggar in India.
For those of you who have heard this story before please bear with me. I had been in India for several months studying yoga. I was meditating several hours a day and frequently traveling with holy men. This particular day found me alone in a train station waiting for the arrival of my connection. While I was waiting, a beggar came up to me, held out his hand a said, “baksheesh”. I waved him away firmly. You frequently see beggars in India and I guess I had become indifferent to them. It was evening and I sat down on a bench and looked in my shoulder bag for something to eat. I found a ripe banana and proceeded to peel it. There was a bruise on it and I don't like to eat bruised bananas so I went over to a nearby waste can and threw it away.
The beggar had been watching me from a respectful distance. When he saw what I had done, he walked over to the waste bin, retrieved the banana and ate it. That was a life changing moment for me.
I had gone to India to grow spiritually and I had shown indifference to a fellow human who was probably starving. That moment taught me more than any book or meditation could have. We should never be blind to human suffering. There is a saying, 'think globally, act locally.' I encourage all of you to reflect on the blind spots in your own lives. We as Christians are called to do what we can to help those in need. That is what loving your neighbor is all about.
The other message I would like to talk a bit about is the importance of faith. Faith and trust go hand in hand. Bartimaeus had a trust in Jesus. Bartimaeus opened himself up and begged for God's mercy. In my life I too often I think I can go it alone but it is when I let go of my ego and ask for God's mercy that I am truly at peace. Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, “let go and let God”.
I have faith that if you are struggling with a problem and if you stop wringing your hands and worrying over it, and offer what ever it is that is bothering you up to God, the solution will come. Your faith will make you well.