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10.25.09 Jesus Still Heals Today Mark 10:46-52 Sermon Summary

by on October 26, 2009

Today’s gospel reading closes the central section in Mark dealing with what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The section ends as it begins, with the healing of a blind person. The bottom line for Mark is that being Christ’s disciple begins with an illumination, and continues as we follow Christ on the path.

Today’s blind man is known as Bartimaeus. At the beginning of the story we find him begging on the roadside. By the end of the story, Bartimaeus is a disciple of Christ, walking with Jesus on the road.

Many of us find ourselves on the side of the road. Life has relegated us to the margins. We find ourselves in the gutters. If we want to get back into the flow of the mainstream, we have some things to learn from Bartimaeus.

First, Bartimaeus was honest about his weaknesses. He was also honest about his hope that Christ could heal him. When he learns that Jesus is passing by on the road, he stops begging and instead cries out to be noticed. Jesus stops and calls him, and Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and steps onto the road.

If we want to be Christ’s disciple today, we have to be honest about our own weaknesses, and hopeful in Christ’s power to heal. In my own life, as a leader in the church, I’m confronted by my weaknesses all the time. Here is my opportunity to be Christ’s faithful disciple. I could fight my weaknesses as a leader and try to appear competent to do everything myself. Or I can embrace my weaknesses, seek Christ, and let him heal them. In my case, my weaknesses are “healed” as I walk alongside Christ and trust others to assume responsibilities and positions of leadership in the church. It is in the community of faith, among Christ’s disciples and as one of them, that I am healed.

Christ will heal your weaknesses in a similar way. It takes your accepting them and joining Christ on the road.

Second, we follow Bartimaeus’ example by approaching Jesus as “Rabbi.” Christ has something to teach us. God desires to lead us. If we would leave the roadside of life and enter the road to eternal life, then we are called by Christ to be taught, to be led. “Rabbi” means teacher, and discipleship literally means—to be taught.

When Bartimaeus called to Jesus from the roadside of his life, out of his weakness, and addressed him as “teacher,” he received his sight and followed him on the road. This is the beginning of discipleship according to Mark, and this passage invites us to follow today.

Mark gives us an interesting contrast to remember. Earlier, Jesus spoke with a wealthy man who could not leave this many things to follow him. Here, Bartimaeus throws off his only possession, his cloak, in order to join Jesus on his path.

In some early church practices, when new disciples were baptized, they received a new garment to replace the one they were “throwing off” to follow Christ. Sometimes they were called “photozomenoi” which means the “enlightened ones.” Those of us who would be Christ’s disciples, who would join Bartimaeus on the road to eternal life, are called to live the baptismal life. We are called to put off our old selves and to put on Christ. We are called to leave the darkness and to follow the light. For Christ still calls us from the roadside to the road. He still heals us today, if we will embrace our weaknesses, call out to him, follow his teaching, and join his disciples.

Questions for Deeper Reflection

Being a disciple of Christ entails letting him heal your weaknesses. What weakness has sidelined your life? How are you trying to compensate for it all by yourself? How might Christ heal you of this weakness in the community of disciples?

Christ is a teacher. What are you being called to learn from him as his disciple today?

What darkness in your life needs the light of Christ? If Christ gave you enlightenment, what difference would it make to you and others?

What cloak do you need to throw off before you can follow Christ? Are you willing to do it?

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