June 21, 2014
“A Fork In The Road”
I’ve got a question for you at the end of this message today, but let’s look at the story of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 first:
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “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!” “Come over here!”
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.
This may sound like a simple story here, but there is a lot of background that is very important to understand and will bring an important consideration to us today. First, Bartimaeus was not only blind; but was a Jew, and needed help constantly to remain alive with food, a place to stay, and just about everything in life’s road that we take for granted. We don’t know how long he had been here in this spot, nor do we know if he had and help getting there. Today, there is much help for someone in this situation, but here there was little to none. His life was over except to somehow exist until death. He was needy and destitute. Here he was on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere heading into the desolate hills, in the way of a huge group celebrating Jesus heading to Jerusalem, which he had no idea was about to happen, when all of a sudden a fork in the road of his life is about to happen to him. All of a sudden he hears a commotion approaching him …and he hears it is this Jesus of Nazareth from someone nearby. Noting it is Jesus he starts screaming “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy of me!”
This is where you need to understand some things:
He obviously knew who Jesus was. Remember just a few weeks ago the talk was about Jesus healing a blind man in Bethsada, about 65 miles away. Talk travels fast. In this guy’s situation you can imagine that he would think that if he ever hears of this Jesus around here, he want to go there. So, you can imagine his excitement when he hears this is that Jesus! Would you shut up in his situation? Would you do differently?
Next note that Jesus, asks Bartimaeus a question that to us likely seems like a no-brainer …”What do you want Me to do for you?” God is always asking us questions like this, here in scripture and in life. Bartimaeus didn’t have to think hard …”I want to see.” And Jesus simply says “Go, your faith has healed you.” And Bartimaeus, now healed, follows Jesus along the road to Jerusalem with the crowd.
But how did Bartimaeus know this part about “Son of David?” He didn’t call out Jesus of Nazareth. Let me explain because we do the same thing today without even thinking when we know the lyrics to a song like “Y.M.C.A.” or some advertisement like Trix’s “Silly Rabbit, ….” Out comes the arm actions to Y.M.C.A. and …” Trix is for kids.”
Well, Bartimaeus knew what he was hearing from the crowd from being a kid and a good Hebrew about the coming Messiah promised. He knew every word to the song the people sung on the way to Passover every year on this very road, in Isaiah 35. He knew that “Son of David” was a title reserved for the Messiah only. Nobody in their right mind would call just any Rabbi or anyone that title lest he wanted to be stoned for blasphemy! He knew the part of Isaiah 35: verse 2 where it says “they will SEE the glory of the Lord.” Bartimaeus was the “SEE” visual as it would turn out this day.
Have you ever felt in your life that you are just sitting in darkness? And the darkness has been brought on your decisions or someone else made? You ever felt what the mystic writers call “the dark night of the soul?” Have you ever felt blind? I mean you have your sight faculty but you just feel like you’re fumbling around here and can’t see your way through this. I can’t see what You are trying to tell me. Isn’t that odd?
You know blindness and poverty is what every one of us inherited from our father Adam. Blindness and poverty describes the sinful existence and state of mind. One day the Messiah is going to come and He’s going to say “Do not fear, your day’s over, I’ve come to save you.” And the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped, the lame will leap like a deer and the mute tongue will shout for joy, and water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams will flow in the desert.” Man, isn’t that cool?
I believe with all my heart that when Bartimaeus heard the words Jesus of Nazareth his words of shouting out “Son of David” was something that he instinctively knew from repetition and memory he heard his whole life. The Messiah is going to come and He is going to deliver me from darkness. My poverty is over, my blindness is healed, and I am going to leap for joy and I am going to follow Jesus in this parade on the road of life. And in that moment the Word of God informs his decisions.
You know, when you are blind there are not a lot of options. It’s not like you can read a book sitting on a beach enjoying life as it goes by. In these moments of darkness, like Bartimaeus, all you have to inform your decisions are all the self-talk that goes inside of your head that became instinctive over the years of paying attention… that all of a sudden makes sense, …or maybe the way out and you just know you gotta try because of other peoples’ experience that you witnessed over the years. You know what? … that would be something going through my head, going through me head, my head… You know, I heard other people talking about this. I’ve heard Bob & Kathy say this for years… I’ve heard this story before …I’ve heard Isaiah 35 before. I remember Bartimaeus’ story…
So… Now my Question to you and myself:
In your blindness the next time that you are in that season of darkness with no answers, no peace, seemingly no hope and you get to the fork in the road …what is going to inform your decision? Both paths go through the woods. Both look good from here at the fork. And there is no sigh to tell you which one is right or wrong. Your mothers not there. Bob or Kathy are not there. Hey, maybe we are at a different but just as blind fork right then!
Listen, my life and your life are gonna be a sum total of our decisions and we serve a sovereign God over all the affairs of men but listen, that sovereign God has allowed us to choose and allows us to make decisions in the earth. We don’t make choices in a vacuum. Like it or not, it makes a difference.
What informs your decision when that fork in the road comes?
Church on the Hill, Salem, Oregon: