Faith in Jesus heals now and forever!

October 28, 2018

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

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!”

 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.

Mark 10:46-52

The people of Jericho were confident that whatever threat came up to their high city walls and barred gates would not be able to break inside. Jericho was a city in the land of Canaan, modern Israel, that God had promised to give his people Israel, but after scouting out the city, it was hard for Israel to picture their army infiltrating the walls. However, Israel had someone on the inside. Rahab, a prostitute, hid the Israelite spies from the king of Jericho when they came to scout the city and shared with them that God revealed to her that the city would be destroyed by Israel. Trusting what God had revealed to her, Rahab asked the spies that her family be spared from death when the attack came. The spies promised her a life for a life and assured her that if she kept a scarlet cord in her window during the attack, anyone inside her house would live. In the days after her talk with the spies, Rahab hoped her faith in the scarlet cord, the spies’ promise and God would keep her family alive. The man from this morning’s gospel from Mark 10 had a similar hope that Faith in Jesus heals now and forever.

The man who hoped his faith in Jesus would heal him was a blind man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus lived in the city of Jericho around 1400 years after Rahab making a living as a beggar. In his gospel, Mark took the time to explain that the Aramaic name Bartimaeus means “Son of Timaeus,” because his gospel was written for the Gentiles, who were unfamiliar with the Hebrew language. One day, as Bartimaeus sat begging on the roadside, he heard that Jesus of Nazareth had come to Jericho. After hearing it was Jesus,

he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

This is the only time in Mark’s gospel where Jesus is referred to as the Son of David. It was a name that resonated with the Jews who could recall the promises to King David by God that the Savior would be his descendant like Jeremiah 23,

5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.”

The name resonated with Jews, but for Gentiles, they had no world history course about old Israelite kings, so the name, Son of David, had little value until they saw Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus was passing through Bartimaeus’ hometown of Jericho to get to Jerusalem where in little more than a week he would be put to death on the cross. He was accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd because they believed Jesus was going to Jerusalem to reestablish the earthly kingdom of Israel by making himself King and overthrowing the Roman government.

When Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, the Son of David, to have mercy,

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The crowds surrounding Jesus were eager for him to reach Jerusalem. It was only another 15 miles. They could almost hear the Roman soldiers marching out of the city as Jesus took his place as King and began to make good on their idea that he would put a lamb on every spit and a donkey in every stall for the long downtrodden Israelites. No one wanted Jesus to stop and help this poor, blind beggar.

We’ve all had moments like the crowd following Jesus on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem. It was an intense political time for the people of Israel as they struggled to hold on to their power and identity as a people, while being subject to the rule and taxation of the Roman Empire. The crowd clung to Jesus fueled by false hope in a rejuvenated Israel utopia ruled by the miracle working healer and bread King. They were blind to the needs of the weak and eager to satisfy their own selfish desires. Today, as we approach the November 6th mid-term elections, crowds are forming behind candidates that they hope will cater to the kind of country they believe will serve them best, but if anyone puts all their eggs in the political basket hoping it will solve all of their problems, then they will be disappointed. No candidate is perfect or powerful enough to solve the problems in this country or in any county or city because our problems go deeper than what any person can solve. That problem is sin.

The problem of sin cannot be solved by anything we can come up with as human beings. Sin showed itself in the crowds who were angry at Bartimaeus, blinded by their false hope in Jesus. On the other hand, Bartimaeus did recognize Jesus for who he was, which is why he had the faith to cry out to him for mercy. You and I fall into the trap of acting like the crowds who told Bartimaeus to be quiet when we need healing in our lives from physical things like cancer or a disability like Bartimaeus’ blindness, and other hardships like losing a job, losing a friend or worrying about the elections, but don’t call out to Jesus for his mercy.

The crowds were too caught up in what Jesus would do for them in this world that they failed to realize the big picture of Jesus as the Savior who had come to bring them eternal life. We often fall on the opposite side of the coin and focus so much on what Jesus has done for our eternal lives, that we forget he is our King now and has power to bring us healing in our daily lives in this world. Jesus wants us to put aside any false hope that he is only beneficial for our eternal life in heaven and trust he is able to show mercy to us now. Ultimately, the devil wants us to have this false hope in Jesus that doesn’t trust him to handle both our eternal and temporary consequences of sin, so that we end up turning away from faith in God. Thus, turning to our own ideas of who God should be for us, which is then no god at all.

When those false hopes fill our hearts, Jesus is the only one who can heal us.

Bartimaeus would not stop calling to Jesus because he trusted in his power to heal now and forever.

After hearing Bartimaeus continue to call to him,

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.

Notice how quickly the crowds changed their position. At first, Bartimaeus was the blind beggar bugging everyone by calling out to Jesus, but as soon as Jesus noticed him, the crowds rallied to him like moths to a flame. Some of the crowd even helped the blind man come to Jesus.Mark 10:52

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.

It was Bartimaeus faith in Jesus that connected him to his healing powers both now and forever. If Bartimaeus had only believed in Jesus’ power to forgive sins and provide eternal life, but was no good to him this side of heaven, then he would have missed out on Jesus giving him the gift of sight. Instead, Bartimaeus had true faith in Jesus just like King David, faith that Peter summarized in our second lesson from Acts 2,

29 Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.

David was confident that his Savior would rise from the dead almost 1,000 years before Jesus was born. Bartimaeus was also confident Jesus had the power over life and death, and he would see and hear of Jesus’ resurrection days after meeting him outside the walls of Jericho.

2,000 years later, you and I share the same faith as David and Bartimaeus that Jesus has the power to heal us now and forever. Our faith in Jesus has the power to heal because it connects us to what Jesus did. It is not the strength of our faith that saves us, but what our faith holds on to. A few chapters later in Mark 15, Jesus is hanging on the cross

34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

God forsook or abandoned Jesus to die on the cross because he put our sins on him. Jesus experienced the pain of being separated from the kindness, love and healing power of God to die. Jesus did that so that you would not have to experience that pain and eternal suffering. His perfect life is now yours and you can be confident that God accepted his sacrifice, that your sins are paid for and that you will rise to eternal life just like Jesus rose from the dead as we hear in Mark 16, as the angel spoke to the women the first Easter morning

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.

The women could hardly believe what they were seeing, but it was true, Jesus made good on what he had said, as impossible as it sounded, in Mark 10,

33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

Shortly after the spies returned from scouting out the city of Jericho, God shared his plan for destroying the city. He told the Israelites to march around the city for six days with the seven priests blowing ram’s horns before the arc of the covenant, followed by Israel’s army. Then on the seventh day, the priests were march blowing their trumpets before the arc and followed by the army, but this time the army was to give a loud cry. And on that seventh day after the army shouted, the walls fell down and Israel was able to take the entire city, except for Rahab and her family. The Israelites may have thought God’s plan sounded foolish, but after crying out and seeing the wall fall down, they believed. The crowds who told Bartimaeus to stop calling out to Jesus, did not understand Jesus true power and purpose as our Savior. Jesus came to heal us from our sins and he did so by taking the punishment of our sins for us on the cross. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are now free from our sins and waiting to enter eternal life in heaven. Until then, the same Jesus who healed so many hears our prayers and works to provide us with healing from our earthly suffering. Call out to Jesus with all your troubles and for forgiveness with confidence for your faith in Jesus heals now and forever! Amen.

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