10 Aug

What we can, and must, do

Taken from the intimation sheet: 10 August 2014

Luke 18:35-43 

35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,  41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.  42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

On Wednesday at the prayer meeting, I allowed myself the luxury of one last Commonwealth Games illustration! It was a story that really must be mentioned; the impact the para-sport athletes had on the games. One man in particular remains in my memory – Bob Love. Bob Love is an English bowler, he has no arms and so must manoeuvre the ball onto his left foot with his right, then push it away with a kick. He not only manages to do this, he does it very – very – well.

I listened to Bob being interviewed after he had won a match, he was very polite and personable throughout, but at one stage he did seem to become a little frustrated that the interviewer was focussing so much on his disability. To paraphrase him slightly he said “it’s not about what I can’t do, it’s about what I can do.

That’s the attitude which enabled all of the para-sport athletes to compete and succeed – they have learned to focus on what they can do, and they’ve made sure that they have done it. That’s why they’ve been able to achieve so much.

Step back two thousand years into Luke 18 and we meet another man disabled. Mark tells us his name – Bartimaeus. His disability in his culture is more disempowering than it would be in ours; he’s not able to work (other than by begging), he’s not able to read, he’s not able to live with dignity.

But there are things he can do. And he makes sure he does them.

That’s why he’s in our Bibles, that’s why we remember him all these years later.

What can he do, what does he do?..

Firstly, he can hear- and he does

He heard the crowd (v36)

Presumably he’s able to sense not just that there are a lot of people, but that there’s a buzz. Something (or someone) special is nearby.

He heard the explanation (v37)

He asks what’s going on, and the crowd respond “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by”

He heard the voice of the Spirit

The text doesn’t tell us this explicitly, but it’s the Holy Spirit that reveals who Jesus truly is. Bartimaeus addresses Jesus as “Son of David” (v39) not just “Jesus of Nazareth” like the crowd. Ironically in this scene it’s Bartimaeus who truly sees Jesus. ‘Son of David’ is the title given to the promised Saviour, the Messiah.

Secondly, he can call on the Christ – and he does (v38)

He calls for mercy (interestingly he sees himself primarily as a sinner needing mercy, rather than a victim needing justice)

The crowd, rebuke him, maybe keen for the esteemed visiting rabbi not to see a beggar on their streets, but the man will not be silenced. Jesus responds with a question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

It seems so obvious, but there is one more step of faith the man must take- he must ask to be healed, he must declare that he believes Jesus is loving enough and powerful enough to help him, to heal him.

Lastly he could follow Jesus, and praise God (bringing others with him) and he did! (v43)

As we step into a new season of ministry, there is a lot we can’t do. We are very aware of our weaknesses and limitations. But we will grow in faithfulness and fruitfulness if we do what we can do.

We can hear from God as we reflect on his Word in the power of his Spirit

We can speak to God in Jesus name, assured of his love and power

We can praise him for his faithfulness, and as we follow Jesus, ask that others would come to join us

Let’s re-commit ourselves to the Word of God, to prayer, and to praise as we continue to follow Jesus to the glory of God this Church year.

Yours in His service

Ross