(Posted Oct. 24, 2015)
If the truth be told, every single one of us, like the people who trail after Jesus, need a healing of one sort or another. It may be minor. It may be deep and scarring. But we all need Christ’s touch.
This week’s Gospel introduces a man who may be familiar to so many of us: Blind Bartimaeus. He is the one who sits in the shadows of the city gates of Jericho, begging for sustenance, his only worldly possession being his cloak. It is his only armor against the disapproving gaze of those passersby who, in this time, saw physical disability and illness and thought it had to be punishment from God for being a bad person. Blind Bartimaeus couldn’t see their disapproving glances, but he surely heard the crowd when he called out for Jesus, and they shushed him. Be quiet, you less-than human cripple.
Even the disciples tried to quiet Bartimaeus so they could better enjoy their time with Jesus. How ironic is this! These Jesus followers, who had only a short time ago in the gospel been told by him that the last shall be first and the first, last, had so quickly forgotten that he had tasked them to care for and elevate the disadvantaged. Just like us, sometimes.
The question here is, who is truly living in the dark – Bartimaeus, or the disciples?
Bartimaeus, who is familiar with the darkness but knows that Jesus is his way out, hears his voice and cries out for salvation. He has faith that his cries will be answered, even though the darkness still swirls around him. Jesus demands one stunning thing from him: that he get up, in the darkness and walk to him. This is the ultimate act of faith – walking in the dark to an unknown future. Not only does he get up and walk; he springs up and runs, discarding his cloak, his only worldly possession. How different this is from the young man who Jesus asked to divest himself of all his worldly goods, but could not bring himself to do it. Bartimaeus has actually done it, throwing off his only cloak to answer God’s call for discipleship. Bartimaeus, stumbling with outreached hands reaches Jesus.
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.
You see, Bartimaeus’ healing, and our own, begins by stumbling forward in faith. Stumbling forward when the future is still dark, traveling blind in the darkness while being nibbled by doubts that God is really out there in the darkness. Faith is like that. It was that way then, and it is now. This Sunday we will explore stories of people who took the walk in darkness and discovered amazing ways that God fulfilled their cries for help. -- Pastor Pat Kriss