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Your One Answer

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Last week during the children’s sermon, Lance shared a passage that directly precedes the text I’m going to preach from today. To refresh your memory, he shared from Mark 10:35 and following, where James and John come and ask Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
Does that sound manipulative to you? It does to me. I’m not sure we can be sure how it came across in the cultural context of the day, but even in the original language it comes across the same way to us today. Yet still Jesus asks them, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Let’s listen to this encounter on person had with Jesus at the time.
Drew, can you come read for us?
Mark 10:46–52 ESV
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
A reading from Gospel of Mark,
Thanks be to God.

Your One Answer

Let’s pray:
Lord Jesus, as we have read of your encounter with Bartimaeus, reveal to us what you would have us learn. Help us to understand the impact it had on his life, and then better understand how you’ve changed our lives. We ask this in Your Name. AMEN.
There are some passages of Scripture that can raise questions that are never answered. Our passage this morning begins with one of those.
Mark writes:
Mark 10:46 (ESV)
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples...
When we read Scripture we need to note what is there and what is left out. What happened in Jericho? We don’t know, Mark obviously wants to connect the prior passage and this one, and he then introduces us to a blind man, who is only identified by whose son he is, “Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus...” That is what Bartimaeus literally means, son of Timaeus.
We learn that he’s blind and a beggar. Remember being blind was seen as “unclean” at the time. In fact blindness was the considered one of the lowest degradations that a person could endure. So consider the boldness of Bartimaeus when he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Knowing the way the blind were labeled at the time its no wonder the people rebuked him, telling him to be silent. I love his boldness. He cries out “all the more.
Mark 10:48 ESV
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Then the unexpected happens. Jesus stops and says, “Call Him.” and their attitude towards him changes.
Mark 10:49 ESV
And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”
Not only does the crowds attitude change look at what Bartimaeus does
Mark 10:50 ESV
And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
Years ago I was teaching this passage to a group of students, and as part of it I was having them re-enact the scene. The young man I had playing Bartimaeus began running aimlessly around the room knocking over the folding chairs as he went.
I stopped him and asked, “What are you doing?” His response opened my eyes to something I hadn’t thought of as I studied this passage.
He said, “I’m blind, I don’t know where I’m going.”
This man, considered “unclean” by the religious of the day, ostracized and having to beg by the side of the road. Now he “comes to Jesus”. Was it that simple?
Coming from Jericho is Jesus, his disciples and a large crowd...
Mark 10:46 (ESV)
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd...
There is a reckless abandon here. Bartimaeus is not concerned about that. Imagine the crowds reaction. Yes, Jesus is calling him, they’re excited that they might see a miracle and they are also very aware that they’ve been taught he’s unclean. They don’t want him touching them, nor do they want to touch him. Yet is there any other way for him to “come to Jesus?”
And then that powerful question Jesus asks,
Mark 10:51 (ESV)
And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
And what would seem like an obvious answer, but with much deeper meaning. Bartimaeus responds with:
Mark 10:51 (ESV)
And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”
What would that mean to recover his sight?
He would no longer be considered, “unclean”, or among the lowest degraded of people. He would no longer be an outcast, or need to beg. He would know he had value, he would be accepted by the culture around him, he could be loved and know that he was loved.
In other words, if Bartimaeus’ request is granted, it would change everything for him. Now that we know the cultural background this is not just a request to be able to see, this is a request for everything in his life to be changed.
And then we see both Jesus and Bartimaeus responses:
Mark 10:52 (ESV)
And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Jesus doesn’t say, “Go, get your life straightened out, and then you will be made well.” He simply says, “Go, your faith has made (past tense) you well.”
Look at the rest of that verse:
Mark 10:52 (ESV)
And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Bartimaeus receives his sight, and thought he is told to “Go [his] way,” he follows Jesus on the way.

Your One Answer

Last week I shared about how a speaker had used this passage to invite us to pray with our youth groups about how we would answer the question if Jesus asked us, “What is it you want me to do for you?” What I didn’t share was that there in the midst of our youth group was a young man in a wheel chair. Jimmy (not his real name) had been born with cerebral palsy, and had been in a wheel chair most of his young life.
When we turned to him and asked, “Jimmy, what would you have Jesus do for you?” As leaders we had the very Christian ideals in mind, but we also dreaded what he might answer. To our chagrin his answer came in his slurred speech , “I want to walk.”
Dutifully our youth group and we as leaders bowed our heads and prayed for Jimmy to be able to walk. Later the leaders gathered and expressed how uncomfortable that had been praying for what we knew was unlikely to happen. Jimmy was not going to walk again, and we knew it. We felt like we’d be lying in our prayer requests.
I don’t remember how the pastor answered those questions to our leadership team. I do remember the feeling that something just wasn’t right.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half later, I had graduated, and received my first call. On my drive east I visited that youth group again. Hearing that I was there, Jimmy came into the room very excited to see me. He kept asking about when he was going to be able to come to my apartment for a visit (something I’d promised him because it was handicapped accessible but had never been able to arrange).
As I was leaving I was getting into my car when it hit me. Jimmy had walked into the room.He was using crutches, but he had walked into the room. For the first time he had stood looking me in the eye. I was overwhelmed. Imagine how that had changed things for him.
Jesus had asked a question. Bartimaeus answered. Jimmy answered. What is your answer?
What is Your One Answer?

Your One Answer

In many years of reading this passage over and over again, there is a depth that is so often overlooked.
The son of Timaeus - we don’t even know his given name other than he is his father’s son. He was blind, an outcast, a beggar, discarded and discounted by most in his time, unclean. When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth, he know who Jesus is. He knows that he is the Son of David - in other words, he recognizes him as the Messiah.
Having faith that Jesus was the one that could make hm whole, he cries out, not worrying about everything that would mean: the jeers, the rebukes, the demands for his silence. No, he continues to cry out even louder.
When Jesus stops and says, “Call him” Mark records, they called the blind man. Again, no name. He’s just a blind man.
And in closing the passage he receives his sight and notice the very last part of this.
Mark 10:52 ESV
And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
He followed him on the way. The way?
If you continue reading you will see that the very next passage in Mark is regarding the passion narrative. Beginning with the Triumphal Entry.
Clearly his life has been changed. So was Jimmy’s.

What are our take aways from this passage?

I think for one is that most of us can think back to one time where we stepped out in boldness despite what the crowd might have been telling us.
Perhaps you were even going a direction you weren’t sure where it would lead.
Have you asked for what you REALLY needed?
What the son of Timaeus asks for is something that changes his entire identity.
And so the question comes to us, what would you ask Jesus for?
What is Your One Answer?

Your One Answer

Bartimaeus’ answer seems obvious, and yet as we’ve explored this morning it was much more than just his sight.
Jimmy’s answer was obvious, and yet I can tell you his answer and the result have changed my prayer life and clearly have changed his life.
What would be your answer to that question? Are you asking hedging your request, thinking that it really won’t change anything? Or are you asking with reckless abandon.
The juxtaposition of the same question being asked of Jesus disciples, James & John and then of an unnamed blind beggar, the son of Timaeus clearly shows its not about our glory. This is not prosperity Gospel. This is core faith.
We’re going to take a few minutes to pray, in silence. I invite you to talk to Jesus and share with Him what you would have Him do for you.
To God be the glory.
AMEN.
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