29th May 2023
Read - Mark 10:46-52 (Focus 46-47)
Message Alan Burke
I’ll start with a local history lesson today. You may or may not know that Crossgar was originally called ‘Everogues Bridge’ and grew from a hamlet of just a few houses into a village because of its location. Even though Kilmore village around a mile away predates Crossgar it was Crossgar that Kilmore that saw rapid growth in the 1800’s primarily because Crossgar lay on the main thoroughfare between Downpatrick and Ballynahinch. It was a way station, a stopping point on the journey in the days before the internal combustion engine when you walked unless you had a pound or two and had your own horse. The later arrival of the Railway line added to that growth. Jericho likewise in our passage today was a way station for travellers, a stopping point on the way and at the time that Jesus was journeying towards Jerusalem it would have been a hive of activity because of pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for the passover, it’s main significance was that it was a thoroughfare to Jerusalem.
Now before we move on it’s important to not that this isn’t the Old Testament Jericho whose walls fell, this is a new Jericho, same name different place that was built by Herod the Great and he had his winter palace there. Notice the things that Mark here tells us how Jesus came to Jericho and it seems that almost as suddenly as arriving he is leaving, for Mark wants the focus to be on what happens when he leaves. We are told Jesus, the disciples and a large crowd. Now this crowd is different than the crowds of people we are told about at the beginning of chapter ten as we are told again, crowds of people came to him and was his custom he taught them (10:1). There crowds were coming to him here that he together with a large crowd were leaving the city.
Jesus was leaving Jericho because he was along with others making his way to Jerusalem going to the passover feast. The large crowd that is now with Jesus (46) in the main is made up of people who were making their way to Jerusalem. This would have been a festival like atmosphere, people singing, chanting on the way as they journeyed together, and on the way we are told of a blind man Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus was really just one of a multitude of faces that there would have been on this main tributary to Jerusalem, insignificant people who were at the side of the road, many who were too poor, sinful, diseased, those who were seen as unclean and unable to go to the passover. While the law of God had made provision for the the marginalised of society, for the weak, sick, for the injured but the problem is that while God’s word made provision, the deceitful human heart often does another thinking it knows best. This man, when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was in the crowd travelling past began to shout; “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”. The shout of Bartimaeus is that of, Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me. Son of David is a title of the Messiah, the Christ, the promised one of God. In his shout he is making it clear that he believes that Jesus is the promised one of God not just some mere travelling miracle worker.
When you think back to the confession of Peter, that Jesus is the Christ in Mark 8 and how Jesus had warned the disciples ‘not to tell anyone about him’ (8:30) it makes the cry of this man even more striking. Even though the disciples had not told, even though Jesus had not openly revealed his messianic identity Bartimaeus knew, and he cried out, “have Mercy on me”. Bartimaeus knew that the only right response to the messiah is to seek his mercy, to call on Jesus to have pity on him, to be merciful, to show him mercy in what he faced. This is the only right response for all people, to call to Jesus to have mercy, for we are dependant on his mercy. It is what we are all dependant on daily, if you have cried out for mercy know that it has been given to you, you have been forgiven, your greatest need has been dealt with, your sin has been forgiven through Christ Jesus.
Q58 What is required in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself. (Deut. 5:12–14)