Bible Study October 15 for Worship October 28Posted: October 12, 2012
Bible Study October 15 for Worship October 28
Mark 10: 46 And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; rise, he is calling you.”
50 And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.”
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
Jesus was on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem. This was his last journey. In Jerusalem he would be arrested, tried in a kangaroo court, and executed. He had to pass through Jericho on his way. Jericho is an ancient City that claims to be the oldest walled City in the world. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of walls that date back to 9,500 BCE. Jericho was a City before there was writing at the very dawn of the age of agriculture.
Jericho is 846 feet below sea level and is warm in the winter and hot in the summer. The climate today is relatively arid, although the River Jordan and other fresh water springs provide plenty of water. The climate of Jericho has been much moister at times in the past explaining the early development of agriculture. The Dead Sea is also a short distance away providing a reliable supply of salt. In ancient times salt was extremely valuable, and the salt trade helped to make Jericho wealthy. In fact Zacchaeus, the short tax collector of Jericho, probably became immensely wealthy by collecting taxes on the salt trade.
Today’s lesson is about a blind beggar in Jericho by the same of Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus. In many gospel stories the names of persons who were healed are omitted. The inclusion of the name Bartimaeus and even the name of his father suggests the possibility that the blind beggar indeed followed Jesus to Jerusalem (see verse 52), was a witness of the crucifixion and resurrection and became a member of the early church.
Verse 47 suggests that Jesus’ reputation had preceded him, for when Bartimaeus was told that the commotion passing by his begging place by the City Gate was Jesus and his entourage, Bartimaeus began crying out. The blind beggar was familiar enough with Jesus’ reputation that he used the messianic title: “Jesus Son of David.”
Our story tries to teach us something about faith, for when people tell Bartimaeus to “shut-up,” he calls out all the more. Persistence can remind us of the Parable of the Friend at Midnight, who gets what he wants, because of his continual knocking at the door – ask, seek, knock. He finally got Jesus’ attention, who said, “call him.” And now the people who previously told Bartimaeus to “shut-up,” said, “take heart; rise; he is calling you.”
How easily we move from despair to hope, or hope to despair. Persisting faith is the bridge that can see us across the chasms of hopelessness. Take heart indeed. Without the heart of hope we die. Take heart!
Please notice that Jesus asked Bartimaeus the same question in this week’s lesson, he asked James and John in last week’s lesson: “What do you want me to do for you?” Maybe that is the question each one of us needs to be able to hear Jesus asking of us? “What do you want me to do for you?” If we can articulate what we would like to have, we begin to be able to claim greater happiness. When we articulate the desires of our heart, we have the opportunity to decide whether or not we really want those things. Sometimes, when we finally succeed in articulating our desires, we realize how foolish or impossible they are. Other times when we articulate the desires of our hearts we have to acknowledge the price we might have to pay to realize those desires. It is like the woman who came up to the great pianist Paderewski after a concert and said, “Oh I would give my life to be able to play like that.”
And Paderewski replied, “I have, I have.”
Articulating the desires of our hearts also helps us to establish priorities. So often, we allow our true goals to get lost in the mad scramble of daily living, and the push and pull of everyone else’s wants and needs. If we are clear about our priorities, we will not come to the end of our lives regretting we never really did want we wanted to do.
Articulating the desires of our hearts can lead us to pray. And when we pray about the desires of our hearts we become open to hearing God’s desires and priorities. And since we will never rest until we rest in God’s heart, we will ultimately come to terms with what God wants for our lives.
Bartimaeus wanted his eye sight, and he was willing to say he wanted to be healed. The most important question physicians need to ask patients is: “Do you want to be healed?” Healing is possible when we ask, and when we understand what the costs of healing will be. Healing isn’t magic. Healing means we have to be willing to change, transform our lives to bring our spirits more in line with God. Healing usually involves, diet, exercise, changes in habits and addictions. Many changes we have to make are hard. We won’t be able to make those changes without God’s help.
Pastorally, I know that if someone comes to me for help, I can probably help them. But when people expect the pastor to call on them, without their asking for help, there is very little I can do to help them find healing. Do we want to be healed? Are we willing to acknowledge we are sick and in need of a physician? Jesus can help us, when we ask.
When Bartimaeus was finally healed, Jesus told him, “your faith has made you well.” Healing is not some magical trick, it is the calling for of the healing power that resides within us. In a Still Speaking Devotion on Hebrews 3:7-19 William Green uses an old rabbinic tale to illustrate the power of God that already resides within us:
In his book Souls on Fire, Elie Wiesel retells the old tale of a poor Jew named Isaak who dreamt he would find treasure in a distant city under a bridge that led to the palace. Isaak decided to make the journey. Arriving at the palace he ran into a soldier guarding the bridge. He demanded to know what Isaak was looking for. Upon learning of his dream the soldier laughed. He said that if he paid attention to dreams he would have traveled far to the house of a poor Jew named Isaak and dug for treasure beneath the stove. So Isaak journeyed back home. Beneath his stove he discovered a great treasure. He hadn’t realized he already had what he was looking for.
We start with “treasure” gifted us by God that we often think we don’t have but hope to acquire: talent, strength, and the capacity to surmount hardship and challenge. As one everyday example—since according to surveys public speaking is feared as much as money trouble and almost as much as death—many of us are terrified to speak in public. But even if you think you’re a miserable public speaker, something of God’s spirit will speak through you regardless of how you judge and attribute this capacity. You won’t know this until you do it and sometimes not until afterwards.
We’ve got more treasure now than any we want to obtain. We can’t “hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at the beginning” if we don’t have confidence in the beginning. We have so much more going for us than we’ve realized!
The power of God already resides within us. Jesus was right. Our faith can make us well. We may need to go on a journey before we find it within ourselves, but it is there, if we open ourselves to ask Jesus. Let us find the healing power of Jesus within us, and then follow him.
LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF THE TEXT
1. When Jesus passed through Jericho, where was he coming from?
2. Where was he going?
3. If Bartimaeus was blind, how did he know Jesus was passing by?
4. What title did Bartimeaus use for Jesus?
5. When people told Bartimeaus to “shut-up,” what did Bartimaeus do?
6. When Jesus called for Batimaeus, what was the reaction of the crowd?
7. What questions did Jesus ask the blind beggar?
8. What did Bartimaeus ask for?
9. How was Bartimaeus healed?
10. To what did Jesus attribute Bartimaeus’ healing?
LET’S ALLOW THE TEXT TO ASK QUESTIONS OF US
1. Have you ever cried out for help?
2. How desperate to you think Bartimaeus was?
3. How persistent is your faith?
4. What do you think it might mean to be persistent in prayer?
5. If you had the chance to ask Jesus anything you wanted, what would that be?
6. If someone said to you, “take heart,” what do you think they would mean?
7. Can you think of any ways that you or people around you are blind?
8. What would it mean to receive your sight?
9. Can you think of any ways that your faith might make you well?
10. If the gifts and graces we need are already within us, then what do you think you need to do to access those gifts and graces.
Week of October 22 – October 28: Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost – Mark 10:46-52 – Take Heart – Job 42:1-6, 10-17, Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22), Jeremiah 31:7-9, Psalm 126, Hebrews 7:23-28.