English-speaking supporters of: "Sentieri Antichi Valdesi" ("Old Waldensian Paths"), for the recovery of the original message and spirit of the ancient Waldensian and Reformational movement in the Waldensian Church and beyond.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
Mark 10: 46-52 The Blind Man's Great Reward
Sermon by Rev Paolo Castellina
Many people pass us day by day, people known and unknown people. Some might harm us - and we have to be careful, especially children in relation to strangers. Others it could be fortunate to meet. Would you like to meet your sports hero, movie, entertainment, and maybe get from him or her an autograph? An autograph, however, is a poor reflection of what we could receive from the wonderful person - Jesus Christ.
When Professor Joad, the famous philosopher was asked what character from history he would like to meet and ask a question, he said, "I would like to meet Jesus Christ and ask him 'Did you rise from the dead or not?'". A legitimate question - but a little silly one, because you can meet him because he is risen - and that is enough proof enough.
Today, I start by telling the story of an encounter between Jesus and the blind who lived in the city of Jericho, in Palestine. Then, we will think a little wider.
"They came to Jericho. And Jesus went out from Jericho, with his disciples and a large crowd, a son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus the blind, sat by the roadside begging. Now he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me." Many rebuked him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me." And Jesus stopped and ordered it was called. They called the blind man, saying thus: "Have courage, rise, he is calling you." And he threw away her dress, stood up and came to Jesus. And Jesus, asking him to speak, he said, "What you want me to do? ". The blind man said to him," Rabboni, that I receive my sight. "And Jesus said," Go, your faith has healed you. "Immediately he regained his sight and He began to follow Jesus in the way. "
An opportunity of blessing
This man lived in Jericho, a city which was once cursed because it is founded on pagan principles. Its people lived in a way very displeasing to God. Some children had been killed as sacrificed for good luck and to idols, when they laid its foundations. It was a beautiful city - but lost. Nevertheless it had been visited several times by Jesus. When Jesus passes through, it is an opportunity for extraordinary blessings. The first thought, therefore, that concerns us is this. Where do we live? Where do we dwell? Is our street, village or city lost and far from God, or as the Bible says, "The shelter of the Most High"?
Lives can be based on false foundations and built with principles contrary to the will of God. Then they are in a state of condemnation and discontent overwhelmed by alienation, guilt and loss of identity. The Bible says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it." The most beautiful thing is that the Jesus "passes" our street, village or city and gives us an opportunity to be saved. He gives us an opportunity of his blessing. Do we take the opportunity, like the unhappy Bartimaeus or let it pass us by?
Bartimaeus was blind. He could not see. This was a curse and still is (though not on the person, in particular) despite the help that technology can give to the blind today. Blindness is a symbol of the power of something in our world that prevents us seeing our authentic need, which are our spiritual need. We believe that we need so many things in life, but do we realise that we have a vital basic need, which is to live in communion with God - to be reconciled with him, gain his forgiveness, to live according to His will. This man was not like this. The blind man knew his basic need was for Jesus.
1. Blind. He could not see either himself, or others. He could not enjoy the benefit of the light, and was ignorant of what the light reveals. Jesus knows that those who are blinded by the temptations of this world can not see their real state and the deformity that sin effects on their being, or the condemnation that rests on them - or the beauty and preciousness of himself, and what he offers.
2. Poor. "He sat on the road begging." A man sits begging certainly must be aware of his poverty as he knows it better than most. Those who think they have no need of God are not seen frequently in church - perhaps once a year or less. The Bible says, "... you say, I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need anything, "and do not know you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." The blind man could see: he was aware of his inner spiritual poverty.
3. Without hope. The blind man could not hope to receive his sight which would be a miracle of divine mercy. Surely he thought that he would remain blind until death. None other than Christ could free him from his inner need. Thank God, one day Christ was passing him by. The Bible says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near. "
Now when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing, "he began to shout". He was rebuked to be quiet (!) but he shouted all the louder. It is not easy to keep quiet when you are hungry and spiritual bread is near you, for free. It was a cry from his deep inner need that did not invoke divine mercy in vain. He asked for grace.
1. The right thing. "Have mercy on me." He called for 'mercy' which is God's forgiveness and he knew that if he found that, through it he would find everything he really needed. Many, when they understand their need for mercy, call on God to give them peace, joy, consolation. The mercy of God is needed because we need to be in communion with God since without it, we are lost. Peter said: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in his great mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
2. At the right person. The blind man cries out, "Son of David, have mercy on me." The name of Jesus was a sweet name to the ears of this blind believer. All his hopes were centred on Jesus because he believed Jesus was authentic and divine. "Nowhere else is there salvation, for there is none other name given among men, whereby we must be saved." He knows that if Jesus passes him by without stopping, he has nothing but despair and black darkness to look forward forever. The disciples of Jesus were telling him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life " We are commended to "Let your requests be made known to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving."
3. In the right time. The blind man did not wait for a more convenient time. He knew that in calling to Jesus any moment's delay was critical. We must make sure that the opportunities that are offered to us do not slip away - never to return. Use the opportunity to shout to him, for mercy. The one who "provides food to the cattle and to the young ravens which cry" will not be deaf to the cry of the soul in need of his comfort and release and is confident that he is the one who can give it.
1. Jesus stops . The target of all prayer is to pierce the ear of God. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard. Christ stops to devote himself to helping this poor but believing beggar. Every soul who seeks Him with confidence, to him or her, our Saviour Jesus gives his all.
2. Jesus calls him."And Jesus stopped and ordered him to be called. So they called the blind man, saying: "Have courage, rise up, he calls you. ' The blind man calls Jesus. Jesus in turn calls him, giving him his personal invitation. We can certainly call upon Jesus - but Jesus must agree to turn to us. Salvation means to respond to his invitation - the personal call of Jesus. The blind man gets excited. He gets up quickly even throwing aside the cloak that prevents him from running freely towards Jesus. It would be futile if you cry, then you refuse get up and go to Him without the things that hold you back.
3. Jesus offers his help. "And Jesus, asking him to speak, he said," What you want me to do? Jesus was, in effect, laying at the feet of the poor blind man all the riches of His grace! All his love, all his power, all his availability, all before this destitute man. Of course, he replied, "I'll take this: I will receive my sight.” Jesus did not reject the plea of a blind, empty-handed man.
1. He believes. "And Jesus said," Go: your faith has healed you. '" The Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," and "For you, you have been saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." The prayer of complete trust in the Saviour is the one that leads to salvation.
2. He receives. "And immediately he recovered his sight." Those who place their faith in Him no longer walk in darkness but in light. The power and grace of Christ are fully sufficient for those who believe to walk by faith.
3. He follows. "He began to follow Jesus in the way." The Lord had ruined the blind man's pitiful earnings as a beggar, receiving alms but the man no longer wishes to beg, now that he has met the Lord and his life chances have been renewed. His love and his gratitude for Christ now forces him to follow him down the street. He walks away from Jericho and its lost, condemned status. His face is turned towards Jerusalem - home of the blessed (like Christian in "Pilgrim's Progress"). Following Jesus is evidence of being blessed by him. The blind (spiritually speaking) cannot follow him.
The most important meeting we can do in our lives is call on the Saviour Jesus Christ. Only He can give us the things that meet our critical need which is reconciliation with God. Though Jesus is not physically with us today, we can find him by reading His Word of Grace - and He calls us through it. Without Him we are, in effect, blind, poor and in darkness and despair. He is the right person to whom we must call on for mercy, at the right time, when he passes us. When we cry out, he stops, calls us and offers us his help, and blessing. Then we believe, receive and follow him. Will we then, like the blind man of Jericho, follow Jesus, the Lamb of God (long predicted in 352 detailed messianic prophecies in the Old Testament) who came to “take away the sins of the world”?