Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My teacher, let me see again...

I heard a great sermon tonight, from the Rev. Dr. James Bushfield. He preached on Mark 10:46-52:

10:46 They 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.

10:47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

10:48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

10:49 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."

10:50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

10:51 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."

10:52 Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

He likened the blind man to beggars we see today. In fact, he made it a reality for those who were worshiping, as he had one person "play" the part of Bartemaeus, crying out "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" as the rest of us tried to silence him. The parallel carried throughout the whole story as Jesus is teaching not only the disciples but calling out to the church today:
  • Those we see on the street have problems and needs. They cry out for help. But many times we pass them by. We silence them by not making eye contact, by not talking with them, by not seeing what their needs are.
  • Jesus did not call Bartemaeus. He called the disciples to call Bartemaeus. This is Jesus' call to the church today: to bring those in need to Him.
  • Bartemaeus left his cloak. He threw it off. This cloak, his livelihood. His home. The cloak that caught the coins and food that people gave to him. The cloak he might have made with his own two hands. Because being with Jesus was more important than the one thing in the world that meant the most to him. What do we keep in our clutches that's more important than running to Jesus for our needs?
  • Then Bartemaeus asked Jesus if he could see, again. [Nota Bene: the NIV leaves out, "again"!!]This means at some point in his life, he could see before. He knew what it meant to see, how beautiful the world was around him. He yearned for the restoration of his sight. Those we encounter in need remember what it was like to be whole, to be healed, and are looking for that restoration. How can we help them to be whole before Christ again?
  • The blind man's faith in Jesus' healing powers opened his eyes so that he could once again see.
Dr. Bushfield then related this to our call as seminarians, as professors, as whoever we were sitting in the chapel at Garrett this evening. At one point, we were called by God to be where we are now. But we need to remember that call, just as Bartemaeus remembered what it was like to see. So we prayed that God would open our eyes once again to the call that God has placed upon our lives to love and serve in His name (at least, that's what I prayed!). To put my whole trust into the God who created me to be who I am today-no matter where I serve, if it's a church of 20 or 200 or 2,000. If it's people who are 8 or 18 or 80. If it's in an open field, on a mountaintop, in a crumbling building, or in a gym. That God has a plan for me and my gifts in ministry, and that I could remain faithful and true in that calling. And that there would be people who support me along the way, and that they would affirm those gifts and this calling.

Thanks be to God, who somehow thought I had something to offer the world by means of a ministry that hopefully will someday bring glory to God's holy name!

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