31st May 2023
Read - Mark 10:46-52 (Focus 48)
Message Alan Burke
Here we have a man Bartimaeus, sitting at the side of the road, just another face for those travelling to Jerusalem or to Jericho, maybe even a regular fixture who people saw, mocked, avoided, a man who was depending on others to survive, listening for the footsteps of travellers asking for alms. Alms is an old word that has fallen out of use because in the UK as a welfare state we no longer need it but alms is a word that means food or money that is given to those in need. We’re not told whether he was blind from birth or it was something that had happened because of a degenerative condition or due to an accident, what matters is that he is blind. When he heard that Jesus was passing he cried out “Jesus, Son of David, 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. At this stage while we are not told the reason for his call of mercy we can assume it was for his blindness but he needs more than mercy for his blindness, he needs the mercy of the Son of David the Messiah, the Christ for his sin.
Notice though the response of the crowd towards Bartimaeus in v48, we are told that they rebuked, they tell him to be quiet. Basically they are telling him to shut up, the reason to why is a simple one, for he was a nobody, insignificant, an undesirable. While he sat on the side of the road he was to be pitted, he could easily be ignored but now that he was shouting they were being confronted with their failure to live as they should as God’s people. He was a no one, he was in need, and the disciples and the followers of Jesus were there among the crowed and instead of going to him there are those who simply rebuke him for making a nuisance of himself, they do not bring him to Jesus like those who brought the blind man at Bethsaida in chapter 8 to Jesus where there they begged Jesus to heal him, Bartimaeus instead is told be quite.
While rebuked by the crowd, Bartimaeus in response shouted all the more. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” There was no one and nothing that was going to stop his cry for Jesus. He was a man who knew that the only place of help was in Jesus Christ. Even though the crowds rebuked Bartimaeus, Jesus stops and said call him for the cry of the man, Son of David, have mercy on me had been heard by Jesus.
If you think back to chapter 9 where the disciples were arguing among themselves of who is the greatest, Jesus teaches whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me. Then the following account of the disciples stoping the man casting out evil spirts, someone who was on the outside stoped by the disciples and Jesus challenged their attitudes, then about the seriousness of causing the ordinary believer to sin. Chapter 10 when Jesus taught on divorce and how he challenges the hardness of heart because in a patriarchal society women especially vulnerable, then the little children who were being brought to Jesus and their parents were rebuked yet Jesus is indigent by this and he said the kingdom of God is for such as these.
Now we come to this account of Bartimaeus who is insignificant, unimportant, the marginalised and again Jesus is challenging that perception among his followers by inviting the man to come. The church should be a place where those who are insignificant, unimportant, the marginalised are welcome, who are at home, it is a place of them. Ask yourself this, are we as a people interested in the insignificant, unimportant, the marginalised? God’s people should be those who welcome insignificant, unimportant, the marginalised, where they know that they are at home and that worship is a place of them. We need to be a place where the young, old, disabled as well as the abled are welcomed, our saviour called this man to himself.
Q60 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, (Exod. 20:8,10, Exod. 16:25–28) even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; (Neh. 13:15–19) and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’ s worship, (Luke 4:16, Acts 20:7, Ps. 92, Isa. 66:23) except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy. (Matt. 12:1–31)