Bartimaeus

What do you want? (pause) “What do you want me to do for you?” is the question Jesus asks of the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51). However, the question lingers in the air. It’s not the first time Jesus has asked this question in the Gospel according to Mark. It bears noting that Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. If Mark has repeated this question then perhaps it is a question we should ask ourselves. What do we want? So I’m asking y’all this morning. What do you want? (Pause) Common now; what do you want? (pause)

I confess it is a question I am afraid to ask because of the dangers of the answers I might receive. If our answer is something other than Jesus then we have likely become blinded to just how good it is to be loved by God. We will have become focused on other things; making money, buying houses, filling pews, having nicer cars, paying bills, acquiring stuff, stuff and more stuff. However, there is also danger if our answer is Jesus; Jesus and nothing but Jesus. If we have tunnel vision on Jesus we walk around like a horse with blinders – refusing to see the needy in our midst. We wind up refusing to see those who are suffering from loss and depression, poverty and addiction, divorce and heart ache. In both situations we the Church, like the crowds coming out of Jericho are all to eager for want of Jesus, and are unwilling to suffer any distractions in the form of those who are lost or in need; or just – not like us. As a pastor I should not be afraid to ask this question, but I confess I am. I am afraid to ask this question because I am as afraid of my own answers as I am of yours. However, the question needs to be asked for this simple reason. Asking what we want helps us all to better understand what we are not able to see. What do you want? What do you want to see?

Let’s approach it this way. Church, what did Jesus want? (pause for answers) Jesus wanted to do the will of His Father. Jesus was not just walking around looking at heaven and not caring about this world. Jesus did the will of Jesus’ Father in heaven. The will of Jesus’ Father in Heaven was to save the world by serving those the world was too blind to see. In this passage Jesus heard the voice of Bartimaeus calling out for mercy. The crowds from Jericho were focused on Jesus and did not want to be bothered by a blind beggar. The crowd was too blind to see Bartimaeus’ worth. However, Jesus was focused on doing His Father’s will. Jesus focuses on service; service to God and service to others. Jesus was not so focused on what Jesus wants as much as Jesus is focused on what God wants. God wanted Jesus to serve. God wants us to serve. Do you remember the great commandments?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5). The second is like it. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18).

Y’all may remember another passage from Scripture with this same theme. In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats. Do you remember which group went to heaven and which group went to hell? Church, which group goes to heaven? (The sheep go to heaven.) The sheep go to heaven because they are the ones who did more than talk about their love for Jesus. They acted upon their love for Jesus by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger (Matt 25:37-38). What does Jesus do in this morning’s passage? Jesus shows His love for the Father by stopping in the midst of the adoring crowds to serve someone the crowd saw as a nuisance and a pain in the butt. Who was more blind; the crowd or the beggar sitting by the side of the road? How did Jesus begin helping this beggar? Jesus asked a question.

“What do you want me to do for you” (Mark 10:51)? What is remarkable is Bartimaeus’ response. “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” Now, why do I think Bartimaeus was talking about more than just being able to see the beauty of trees in the fall, and the stars on a clear summer night? I think Bartimaeus was asking to see the broken hearted right in his midst.

There is a song by a guy named Brandon Heath that’s called “Give Me Your Eyes.” The second verse and chorus of that song are very appropriate for this morning’s message.

So this morning I’m asking y’all to really take a moment and think about this question. What do you want? What do you really want? Do you want to follow Jesus? Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about a lot more than just learning about Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means living our lives as Jesus lived. Discipleship means wrestling with the forces within ourselves to not only see the broken-hearted and the ones who are far beyond our reach, but to make an effort to see beyond the crowds, and our personal fears. In this morning’s passage Jesus sees the people the crowd wants to ignore. Jesus sees the blind beggar who is not worth the crowd’s time. And Jesus hears Bartimaeus’ call; “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47)! It means seeing the world as God sees the world. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means finding the courage to step past all of the ugly stuff we see on the six o’clock news. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means reaching past the decades of racism which still exist in our community toward African Americans; Hispanics and Asians. It means looking past the stereo types about country people, and city people. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means overcoming the biases we were brought up with about the differences between women and men. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means we have to see the world in a whole new way. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to see the world as God sees. If we are going to be more than a social club who gets together to go through the motions on Sunday morning – if we are going to be the hands and feet of Christ we have to get really serious about what we want. So let me ask you, Do you want to see the world as God sees the world and serve others the way Jesus serves God? What do you want; and what do you want to see?
In the Name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

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