Clergy Blogs

Periodic contributions from Revd. Giles King-Smith, Vicar of the three coastal parishes. We also continue to show contributions from the late Associate Minister Revd. Linda Walters
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6 minutes reading time (1130 words)

Ask for what you want

Gospel reading and online sermon for Sunday 24th October - hopefully still of interest...?                                                                                                Mark 10: 46-52    They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus, 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. 

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Such a simple story, tucked in at the end of the chapter, easy to see as just another of Jesus' healing miracles. But there's so much there. Here are 5 quick thoughts: 

Bartimaeus shouts. He knows that he needs to shout, or he will be passed by. He can't afford to be polite, because his need is urgent. So, while I'm not (literally) blind, or in desperate need at present, there are people, and issues, about which I feel strongly, even passionately. Am I able to shout, to beg, in order to make sure I'm heard? Not that God is deaf; but, as with Jesus' meeting with the Canaanite woman, perhaps he wants to draw out of me passionate, determined, and - if necessary - impolite prayer. No use murmuring "Help!" - you have to shout, and if necessary go on shouting.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bartimaeus embarrasses those who want to ensure that the Rabbi's visit to Jericho goes smoothly. So they try to shush him up, just as Jesus' disciples had tried to keep the children away from him. But stage-managed processions are not Jesus' thing - in other words, they're not God's thing. When we try to make things go well, for appearances' sake, God sees through it and cuts through it, to get to what really matters: ordinary people who need to be healed, accepted, loved.                                                                                                                                                       

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asks Bartimaeus the same question he has just asked James and John, drawing out of them their wish for the best seats in heaven. Bartimaeus gets his wish; but Jesus doesn't always give us what we want, as the two disciples discovered. He does, however, want us to answer that question honestly - to tell him what we really want. Not to second-guess the right thing to ask for, but to be straight with him. And then, whether it's actual healing of some kind, or (as with James and John) a lesson to be learned, or (as so often in our lives) the strength to endure suffering or loss, he will give us what we need, what our souls need.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Not for the only time, Jesus tells the person he has just healed, "Your faith has made you well." You dared to ask, to step out in faith, and now you have not only physical healing, but also wholeness, salvation. You are put right in every way, and all you needed to do was ask, long and loud if necessary, without letting others discourage you, and bringing the thing you really want.                                                                                                                                                                   

And finally - often we don't know what the people Jesus met did next. But here, we learn that Bartimaeus "followed him on the way". Remembering that the first Christians were known as followers of "The Way", we imagine for Bartimaeus not just a physical journey, but a faith journey, walking on to whatever God has in store for him. To follow the One who makes us whole - we are in that company, with all the other blind beggars who have been given sight and joy and hope.

 

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