And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. (Mark 10:50 ESV)
Blind Bartemeus sat by the road begging until the day he heard that Jesus was to pass by. It was an important day. He called for The Lord and despite the attempted interference of the mob he was able to connect with him. Jesus called to him.
It is when Jesus called to him that Blind Bart did something that made all the difference. Forgetting his disabling circumstances, the blind man threw aside his trappings, jumped up, and went to Jesus. Then Jesus healed him, and he immediately began to follow Christ.
I am convinced that often when we are in life’s difficult times that Jesus is calling to us. He is calling, and all we must do is throw off some of life’s trappings and run to him. Sometimes the faith of a motion made toward God is all it takes to change a circumstance.
They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” (Matthew 20:33 ESV)
The two blind men sat on the roadside, probably much like they always did, and heard the crowd stirring. Jesus was passing by. They had heard about Jesus. He was the miracle worker. The guy who had been causing such a big stir with his healings and controversial teachings.
The blind men began to call out to Jesus. The crowd tried to deter them and silence them, but they would not be quieted. They cried out all the louder. And, Jesus took notice. He stopped. He asked what they wanted. They answered. And he aHealed them.
Now, imagine you were one of those guys. The first sight that you had perhaps ever seen was the image if the one that had enough mercy to reach down and touch you and heal. The first face you would eve know. The first bit of light to ever penetrate your world of perpetual darkness was that of Christ Jesus.
Much in the way the miraculous healing changed their physical blindness it changed their spiritual blindness as well. From that day forward they followed Jesus. Jesus does the same for us as well. He opens our souls to see him clearly. He opens our hearts to love clearly. He opens up our strength so that we can serve fully. He takes us from a world of broken darkness and despair and interrupts it with his wonderfully marvelous light. And it all starts by seeing, truly seeing, who he is. It all starts by seeing Jesus.
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
In life there are those moments when you arrive at a situation and it seems daunting. It seems impossible. You feel inadequate, underprepared, unqualified, and unable. The situation seems beyond you.
Sometimes we come up against those moments and are faced with an inadequacy borne of our own failures, fallen nature, or frailty. There are also occasions when life’s many hardships back us into a corner and the climb out seems like something we are incapable of. Jesus knows that we need help. He is the help.
Following the story of the Rich Young Ruler the disciples were amazed at the standard for followship that Jesus had set. If someone like that young man, who seemed to have his life together, could not follow Christ, then who could?
Jesus cautioned against bringing, or keeping, things in your life that could distract or distance you from God. He knew that we can not possibly follow after him under our own power. The power to live for God is a power only found in Christ. For man alone walking the Christian walk is impossible.
Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21 ESV)
I am pretty convinced that most of us have a fairly selfish streak that runs right through the middle of who we are. It affects our thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. It often keeps us from stepping fully into the kind of richly selfless life that Jesus is calling us to live.
That was the experience that the man often called the Rich Young Ruler had with Christ. He was devout. He was dutiful. He was prosperous. But when Christ called him to enter into a new kind of selfless living and thinking, the young man balked at the prospect of losing all that he had. In his words he had kept all of the laws and rules of God, but in his failing to obediently give all that he had away he missed the point of following Jesus.
Today, just like during Jesus’ days of public ministry, it is really easy to allow dogmatic religious observance to cloud authentic Christian caring. Jesus didn’t want the young man to give all of his stuff away because he wanted the guy to be poor. He wanted the rich young guy to extravagantly give away his many possessions because they had become more important to him than obedience to God.
There are still days, even after all my years in ministry, when I need to take a good look at my self. I have to ask myself if I have done more than keep the moralistic rules that I know to follow. Yes, Jesus sets out a guideline for behavior through his teachings, but often it is all about giving it all away.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
Jesus emphatically and repeatedly declared that the disciples were to serve God by serving the people. It was the climax of his teaching after chastising the sons of Zebedee for their misplaced enthusiasm. They were to serve by giving and give by serving.
Our charge today is the same. As harbingers of the Gospel we are to take the message of the good news of Jesus Christ to e lost, hurts marginalized, and destitute. We are to take it to everyone. We are to give it to them by serving them.
Too often Christians polarize around the implied possibility of potential Christian martyrdom. Either we embrace, seek, and expect to give our lives to Christ, or we shy away from any form of reverent selfless sacrifice. What if the example demonstrate by Christ was his attempt to teach that we are to find a balance in both?
Jesus wished to serve, and his service was culminated in giving his life. But his work did not end there. In fact, his ultimate sacrifice was really just the launching point for two millennia of building. He gave to serve. He served to give.
What are we doing?
Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” (Matthew 20:22 ESV)
Have you ever met someone with an incredibly inflated idea of their capabilities? I know I have definitely been that guy from time to time. Sometimes assurance of what you can do is dangerous, but not always. Confidence can be great especially confidence that is grounded in Christ.
James and John were confident in their ability to follow Christ. Their mother was also confident. Probably too confident as she asked Jesus to seat her boys at his side in his kingdom.
How confident are you? How do you feel about your ability to follow Jesus? There are days when it certainly seems easier than others. There are days when it seems difficult. The truth is that Jesus helps us. Jesus gives us confidence. We need only receive it. In Jesus, we are able.
And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:16 ESV)
One day some kids were coming up to Jesus. Some of his disciples seemed not to like it very much and started hindering them. Jesus wouldn’t stand for it and used the opportunity as a teaching point. He told them that the kingdom of God must be received as a child would receive it. And then he continued to accept children and bless them.
Mark, writing Peter’s account of things, said that he took them in his harms. The children enjoyed Jesus. He just have been fun and funny. He hugged them. He showed them innocent affection born of deep love for their young hearts, and pure spirits.
For many of us it is far too late in life to contemplate existing with a pure and innocent spirit. Because of bad choices or terrible circumstances many of us have either given away or been robbed of innocence. But Jesus came to this earth to restore it to us. And just as he took the children up in his arms, he draws us into his majestic presence to restore to us the purity of spirit with which we were created.
Believing in Christ as Lord takes us into his presence. It begins our life with him. It as an action of desired innocence. It is childlike. And as a result he takes us in his arms. He blesses us. He puts his hand over our lives. A life lived with the Hand of God on it is a blessed life indeed.