Sermon 10.28.18 Pentecost 23

October 28, 2018 – Pentecost 23 (St Paul, Appleton)                                                                                                                                 Mark 10:46-52
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
            At this moment we are in the stadium and are walking past the locker room.  As we walk past, we hear the coach talking to his players: “The team we are playing today is very good,” he says.  “Winning the game will not be easy; but we can do it.  The bottom line is this: ‘Believe in yourself!’  If you believe in yourself, we can beat any team in this league!” 
            It is always good to have a positive attitude.  But “believing in yourself” is not always the answer.  If a man has been blind for 10 years, and if that man says, “I firmly believe that I can make myself see again” – his faith in himself is not going to help.  Or, if that same man says to himself, “I have made a few mistakes in my life.  But I am a good person, and I firmly believe that God will accept me on Judgment Day.” – That man’s faith in himself also will not help him.
            This morning we meet a man who was blind.  He was also a sinful human being, just like the rest of us.  This man understood that “believing in himself” would not restore his eyesight; and it certainly would not permit him to enter eternal life.  Therefore this blind did not believe in himself.  He believed in someone much greater.  He believed in Jesus.  At the end of this story Jesus praises this man’s faith and says to him,
YOUR Faith Has Saved You!”
This morning we notice two exceptional things about this man’s faith:
1.  His faith rested on Jesus, the “Son of David.”
2.  His faith requested mercy from Jesus, the “Son of David.”
I.  His faith rested on the “Son of David.”
      A.  Jesus – and a blind beggar
            Jesus and His disciples were on their way up to Jerusalem.  He knew exactly what would happen to Him there in just a few more days.  Just recently Jesus had once again announced the details to His disciples: We are going up to Jerusalem.  The Son of Man will be betrayed by one of His own disciples and will be handed over to the Jewish leaders.  The Jewish leaders will condemn Him to death, and will then hand Him over to the Gentiles, to Pontius Pilate.  They will mock him and spit on him; they will beat Him and kill him.  Then three days later he will rise again from the dead.”  Our Lord is true God.  He knew exactly what was about to happen.  He was also a true human being.  Knowing all these details surely rested heavily on His heart.  We would not be surprised if Jesus wanted to be alone at this moment, if He wanted some peace and quiet. 
            But that is not the way it was.  At this moment Jesus and His disciples were passing through Jericho. A large crowd was traveling with him.  And there in Jericho was a particular man who needed Jesus’ help, a man who insisted that Jesus help him.  The man’s name was Bartimaeus, “Bartimaeus the blind beggar.”  There he was, sitting at his usual place at the side of the road, begging for coins from anyone who passed by.
      B. “Son of David, Jesus”
            1.  The prayer of Bartimaeus
            Bartimaeus could not see.  But there was nothing wrong with his hearing.  He heard the commotion and asked, “What’s going on?” The people answered, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  When he heard that, Bartimaeus immediately began to shout, “Son of David!  Jesus!  Have mercy on me.” (47)
            There is something unusual about that prayer.  The people in the crowd had said, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  But Bartimaeus deliberately changed the words.  He does not call our Lord, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Instead he shouts, “Son of David!  Jesus!”  (And by the way, that is the correct word order.)  This is the only time in the gospel of Mark when we hear a man addressing Jesus as “the Son of David.” {Note: The other 3 gospels tell us about 2 additional times.}
            2.  Who is this “Son of David”
                  a.  God’s promise to King David
            What did Bartimaeus mean by that?  Why did he call Him, “Son of David”?  Great King David had lived in Jerusalem a thousand years earlier.  He had a large family.  Now, at the time of Jesus, many descendants, many sons of King David were still living in Jerusalem.  But when Bartimaeus called Jesus “Son of David,” it was more than a lucky guess about Jesus’ ancestry.  The Bible talks about one particular man, one particular “Son of David.”  When David was still living, God told him that one of his descendants would be greater than any other king.  This “son of David” would establish and rule over a kingdom that would last forever.  (2 Samuel 7:16)
                  b.  Gabriel’s words to Mary
            The Bible identifies that particular Son David.  It is Jesus. 
            When the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary, he told her that she would become the mother of the Savior.  The angel added, This child of yours “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Lk1:32)  That is, He will be the Son of God.  And, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32f)  Jesus, that Son of the Virgin Mary, is that special “Son of David” who would rule over an eternal kingdom.  He is the Messiah, the Son of God.  Mary and Joseph knew that.  Apparently Bartimaeus knew it too.
                  c. Jesus and the Pharisees
            More than that.  A week later, just a few days before His death, Jesus was in Jerusalem and was talking to a group of Pharisees.  He said to this group of unbelievers, “What do you men think about the Christ?  Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42)  The Pharisees answered, “That’s easy.  The Christ is the Son of David.”  Jesus replied, “Yes, that’s very true.  But what about the time when King David referred to this particular son as his “Lord”?  What about the words King David wrote back in Psalm 110.  There in Psalm 110 David referred to this ‘son of David’ as the Lord God, the Son of God, who sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. (Psalm 110:1)  If this ‘son of David’ is no more than a human being, then why does David call him his ‘lord’?  And why is it that this Son of David is seated at God’s right hand?”  
            The Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ question.  They refused to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  But Bartimaeus is different.  He does not use the name “Jesus of Nazareth”; but deliberately addresses Him as the “Son of David.”  Apparently Bartimaeus knew and understood a lot more than the Jewish leaders.  Bartimaeus did not put his faith in a mere man from Nazareth.  For that reason Jesus could say to Bartimaeus, “Sir, because you rest your faith in me, the Son of David, the Son of God, who rules at God’s right hand – because of that faith I say to you, ‘Bartimaeus, your faith has saved you.’” 
      C.  This is also our confession
            The Psalmist wrote, “I believed; therefore have I spoken.” (Ps 116:10; Yalm115:1; 2 Cor 4:13)  The words of Bartimaeus were a confession of faith.  Bartimaeus did not simply speak those words; he shouted them!  
            By the grace of God you and I believe the very same thing.  We confess our faith loudly and publicly every time we recite the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. … The third day he rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”  When Jesus hears that confession of faith, He turns to us also and says, “That’s right!  Your faith also rests on ‘the Son of David.’  Dear people, your faith has saved you also!”
II.  His faith requested mercy from the “Son of David.”
            But there is more.  The faith of Bartimaeus the blind beggar rested on “the Son of David.”  It also requested – requested mercy from “the Son of David.”
      A. A bold prayer for “mercy”
            Unfortunately the people in the crowd did not share the blind man’s excitement.  They scolded him and told him to “Be quiet!” (48)  Perhaps they added, “Bartimaeus, Jesus does not have time for you.  No one has time for you.  Here in Jericho, you are a worthless human being.”  But even a harsh rebuke from the crowd did not stop the blind man.  The more they told him to “be quiet,” the more he kept shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Bartimaeus spoke a bold confession of faith.  He also spoke a bold prayer.  He demanded God’s mercy – like, right now.
            But, when the crowd ordered Bartimaeus to “Be quiet,” one Man in the crowd disagreed.  That man was Jesus Himself.  Yes, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to suffer and die for us.  But He was not too busy to help a blind beggar.  Jesus always hears the prayers and the shouts of His people.  He always hears and answers our prayers for mercy.  That’s the way God is.  We know the Bible verse, “His mercy endures forever.” 
      B. Jesus’ response          
      When Jesus heard that prayer for mercy, He stopped immediately right there on the road.  He said to the people, “Call him.” (49)  “Tell the beggar to come over here right now.” 
      The people followed Jesus’ directions.  They called the blind man and said to him, “Don’t be afraid.  Get up on your feet.  Jesus is calling you!”  He is calling you.  Of all the people in this crowd He is calling you.  The beggar was overjoyed.  He threw his coat to the side; jumped to his feet; and (probably with some assistance) walked over to Jesus. 
      In his prayer for mercy Bartimaeus had not said a word about his blindness.  But now Jesus invited the blind man to state specifically what he wanted.  “What do you want me to do for you?” (51)  Bartimaeus answered, “Rabbi, teacher, I want to see.  I want to be able to see again.” (51)
      Jesus answered that prayer by speaking simple words: “Go your way.  Your faith has saved you.”  What happened next?  “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (52) 
C. Jesus answers our prayer for mercy
            As part of our liturgy we often sing the words of Bartimaeus, “Lord, have mercy on us!  Christ, have mercy on us!  Lord have mercy on us.”  Those words are our general prayer.  With those words we ask God to give us all that we need for our life on earth.  No, God has not promised to give eyesight to everyone who is blind.  But God always shows mercy to those who ask for it.  He gives us the earthly help we need in whatever way is best. 
            But more than that.  In Psalm 51 King David prayed for something much more important than good eyesight.  He prayed, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; … blot out my transgressions.”  Because of His mercy and because of Jesus, God forgives our sins. 
            Yes, God promises eternal life to all who confess their faith in Him.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “With our heart we believe in Jesus and are counted righteous before God.  And with our mouth we confess that faith and are saved.” (Rom 10:10)  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)  Bartimaeus is already in heaven.  Someday we will meet him there.
      So what about the locker room pep talk?  What about the coach’s words, “Believe in yourself!”  Those words might motivate the players on a team to do their best.  But believing in ourselves will not solve our problems.  And it certainly will not help us gain eternal life.  Bartimaeus believed in Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God.  So do we.  Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Your faith has saved you.”  On Judgment Day Jesus will say to us also, “Come and enter eternal life.  Your faith has saved you also.”  Amen.                                      ajw