Pentecost 22 Year B

Hebrews 7:23-28

 

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but Jesus holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

 

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

The Gospel Mark 10:46-52

 

Jesus 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.

 

 

Sermon

 

Today we heard, again, from the Gospel of Mark.

 

If you check out both Mark’s Gospel and St. Paul’s[i] Epistle,

You may notice that they have several points in common,

Including their focus on Jesus’s earthly work.

 

For Paul, Jesus is the highest priest,

holy, blameless and undefiled.

He’s always there to stand up for us.

 

For Mark, He’s the holy Son of David,

empowered by His Father, to heal us all …

even a blind social outcast named Bartimaeus.

 

I relate to Bartimaeus and today’s story,

about a blind man healed by faith. It’s always moved me.

 

But for God’s grace and my good fortune,

I might be in the same shoes as Bartimaeus.

 

I’ve had glaucoma for years. It’s quite treatable. Nowadays.

But I’ve had lots of time to think about what it’d be like,

to lose my sight.

 

Every morning and every evening is “eye drop time.”

I’m quite faithful to my regimen.

I’m grateful for that medicine.

Twice a day I use that time to pray.

 

It’s a quiet moment to reflect and count my blessings.

And to count the costs of daily life.

 

So, today’s Gospel about Jesus curing poor blind Bartimaeus,

really gets to me.  I can relate to Bartimaeus.

 

The Gospel tells us that Jesus cured Bartimaeus,

with scarcely a thought.

Just another day at the office for the Son of God.

 

I’ve lived with glaucoma for more than 30 years.

I’m grateful for the medical miracle that keeps me going.

 

I’m really grateful  that just a few drops a day,

saves me from what, just a generation ago,

was certain blindness. [ii]

 

It’s easy for me to imagine being Bartimaeus.

It’s easy to understand why he was desperate to be healed.

 

Imagine never see fish leap up out into the sun,

Shining on the water of Lake Galilee.

 

Imagine never seeing a doe and her fawn,

scampering away from your camp site,

in the Hill Country.

 

Imagine never seeing the fiery red sun set,

on the cold gray granite Sierra peaks.

 

Imagine never seeing a gray whale breach the glassy Pacific.

 

Imagine never seeing the Louvre, or the Lincoln Memorial,

or Mt. Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty.

 

Each of those can capture your spirit and lift you up.

But seeing those beautiful earthly things,

is just the beginning, of living with the Lord.

 

That’s the message Bartimaeus still had to hear.

It’s a message that we’ll all eventually have to learn.

 

Jesus came not only to heal physical blindness …

he came to heal blindness of the heart.[iii]

           A hard heart is a blind heart.

Haven’t we all closed our eyes when we don’t want to see,

what Jesus is asking us to do?

 

Haven’t we all pushed back when Jesus asks us to do

Something that’s scary or hard or risky?

Or that goes against our politics or our instincts?

 

Haven’t we all knocked heads with folks at work,

or at Church or at School,

when we think someone has pushed us too hard?

Mea Culpa.

 

Haven’t we all closed our eyes? Haven’t we all pushed back?[iv]

Haven’t we all swung our fist, or fired off a smart word?

 

Haven’t we all bruised our shins in the game of life?

And then bruised someone else.

We’re only human!

 

It hurts when we stub our toe.

]       It hurts when we bump our heads.

 

It’s hard to let go of our hurt feelings, and our bruised shins,

and our headaches, as we — blinded and bruised —

navigate our darkest moments.

 

But today, just like in Bartimaeus’ days,

Jesus always offers us shelter.

He offers us a safe, healing place.

He was there for Bartimaeus. And he’s there for us.

He’ll always be there.

 

Jesus still opens people’s eyes.

Jesus still opens people’s hearts.

 

Jesus wants us all to see, and to know how to live

as God’s free people.

 

Free to move forward, serving our Lord and His Kingdom.

Even when the path is dark, and the road uneven.

 

In the 1st AD, people like Bartimaeus were up a creek.

The Roman world and government didn’t look after them.

They couldn’t do much work. All they could do was beg.

 

Bartimaeus was a survivor, but like everyone else,

he wanted to live a full life. He wanted to see!

 

So, he located himself on the busy downhill road,

between Jordan and Jerusalem,

where he knew there was lots of foot traffic.[v]

 

It seems like he expected Jesus and his crew, to walk by,

With all the other Jewish pilgrims, on the long, dry road[vi]

to Jerusalem, for the Passover.

 

Bartimaeus planned to run into Jesus.

He was definitely listening to what was going on,

And, he knew Jesus’ voice, when he heard it.[vii]

 

Imagine when Jesus saw Bart, and stopped, and said

the words we all hope to hear the Son of God say to us:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

 

Jesus listened to Bartimaeus. It took just a moment.

Bartimaeus’ dream came true. He could see.

 

Jesus healed Bartimaeus,  and he showed all the world,

that even the least of us matters to the Son of God.

We all matter to Jesus.

Even the least of us is God’s beloved child.

 

Don’t we all want to matter to Jesus?

Don’t we all want to count?

 

Don’t we all want Jesus to heal our bruised shins,

and our broken hearts?

 

Aren’t we all counting on seeing Jesus one day?

 

Don’t we all want to hear him say, to us,

“You matter to me.  What can I do for you?”

 

That can happen. That will happen. That does happen.

Right here.

 

Every person matters to Jesus. But that’s just the start.

 

Because when Jesus says, “You’re healed,” He will also say,

“Now, go out to the World. And get to work.”

 

Jesus stopped in the road, and said to the crowd,

“call Bartimaeus over to me.” [viii] And that’s our clue.

That’s the part we often miss when we claim Jesus.

 

The Kingdom isn’t only about us getting saved.

The Kingdom is about each of us doing God’s work.

 

“Get of the way” Jesus might say,

“and work with me to build the Kingdom.”

 

We all want to see Jesus working in our lives.

We all want to see this world a better, happier place.

We all say that we want to be part of building the Kingdom.

So we need to get out of Jesus’ way.

And we need to lend a hand.

 

“Will you persevere in resisting evil”?

“I will, with God’s help.”[ix]

 

“Will you proclaim by word and by example,

the Good News of God in Christ?”

“I will, with God’s help.”

 

“Will you …serve Christ … loving your neighbor as yourself?”

“I will, with God’s help.”

 

Jesus wants to know.

 

AMEN

 

[i] Or whoever the author of Hebrews was. Due to variations in the Greek writing style most scholars think that Hebrews was written by someone other then Paul, but the style of Paul’s theology, in the latter half of the 1st Century CE.  The letter was probably intended for a new community of  Judeo/Christians, whose faith was faltering, perhaps because Jesus had not come back as King, as most of his followers expected.

[ii] Thank you, Jesus!

[iii] Don’t you know what I mean?

[iv] And sometimes that’s the right thing to do!

[v] … and where lots of money changed hands.

[vi] A long, dry fifteen-mile, downhill journey, to Jerusalem.

[vii] Will we know his voice when we hear it?

[viii] See, vs.  49.

[ix] Book of Common Prayer, Baptism Covenant, pp. 304-305.