“Can Faith Make Us Well?”

Mark 10: 46-52, October 24th, 2012

Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard


“Hear now these words from the gospel account according to Mark, chapter ten, verses forty-six, thru fifty-two.”

Mark 10:46-52

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 

47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 

50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 

52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

“Having listen with our ears to this message, let us now open our hearts as we reflect on the meaning of these words in our lives today.”

“Can Faith Make Us Well?”

Frequently, the gospel accounts have Jesus saying to someone He has just healed “Your faith has made you well!”  Having read these words and heard these words more times than one can count, we all must, most certainly we must – pray – that our ‘faith’ is indeed enough!  As a pastor I pray that my efforts to help others is enough. Sometimes my faith is stretched to the limit.  Yet, now… and then, I get some insight into God’s work through our efforts as a faith community.  Just this past week I had a conversation with a waitress at a local restaurant.  As she approached the table to take our order she stopped, looked at me and said I know you.  Then she asked are you a pastor?  “Yes, I replied, I am.”  I told her about being a retire pastor from the local church and was now in Palm Bay.  She then went on to tell me that ten years ago a pastor from my old church had helped her children have a Christmas when there was no money for presents.  I confirmed I was the pastor at that church back then.  She went on tell of how, out of gratitude for what had been done for them that Christmas, the children buy presents and give to charities like ‘Toys for Tots’, each year, thus ‘passing it forward’ to others in need.  My heard melted as I listened to her. 

Having faith that our efforts will make a difference is so, so important.  Bartimaeus had faith, he believed Jesus could take away his blindness and make him see.  Many tried to stop him from bothering Jesus, as he was but a poor old blind beggar, nobody of any special worth to those around him.  Yet, his faith and belief in this man named Jesus, could not be quieted.  As he continued to call out… his faith grew and grew as Jesus approached where he was.  Despite the disbelief all around him he continued his plea for help from Jesus “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  As the theologian B.W. Johnson clarifies for us.  “Bartimaeus’ faith was shown, (in many ways.)  (1) by his going to Jesus; (2) by his belief that Jesus was the Messiah; (3) by persevering against opposition; (4) by casting away all that hindered; (5) by obeying Jesus when he was called; (6) by following and praising Jesus after he was cured.”  The children of the waitress I encountered also ‘persevered’ as they looked to their mother ten years ago to make the magic of Christmas come alive for them.  Their mother swallowed her pride and came to the church asking if we could help her with a few gifts for her children as she explained her plight.  Due to the generosity of that faith community, the children we are speaking of, their response, over these ensuing years… has been to help other children enjoy Christmas.  All because their untarnished childlike faith, caused a chain of events that touched their hearts to their very core; and thus, those children had a Christmas celebration.  They and their mother never forgot how good that made them feel and they ‘passed it forward’, out of a ‘heart felt’ gratitude. 

Another scholar, Karoline Lewis, tells us simply that “Bartimaeus – won’t be told to shut up.”  “Good for him,” she said!  “I like this guy.”  I especially like the tenacity of old Bartimaeus!  If he had not spoken up asking Jesus for help, the disciples may not have learned the lesson that Jesus was seeking to instill in them about faith!  Truthfully, I do not remember much about that Christmas event, which the waitress spoke of last week.  But, having been reminded it happened, “’I like the tenacity of those children to have asked their mother, thereby blustering her own faith that that small town church might actually help her children!”  If she had not come to me and asked – we would not have known of their need.  If she had not swallowed her pride and asked if per chance, I was that pastor ten years ago, we would not have this tremendous affirmation that our kindness ‘changed the hearts of an entire family!’  Causing them to pass that ‘simple act of kindness’ to others as they are able.  How beautiful!  How different this story would play out if the local church did not have a discretionary fund for the pastor to work with; or an outreach committee willing to set up a Christmas fund for needy families.  And what if the congregation, the members, and friends, of that church had not been willing to allow the voices of the children to be heard?  What if their hearts had been closed to the needs of those who were not members of their ‘particular’ church?

David Lose, tells us that this passage is about liberty, self-determination, and independence.  Bartimaeus had a choice that day, because “It’s about freedom!”  He was free, despite his blindness, regardless of his poverty, and notwithstanding the condemnation, the abuse of those that wanted to silence him, so they could have Jesus all to themselves!  Wow!  Reverend Scott Hoezee is ‘spot-on’ to bring our attention to the communal subtleties and undercurrents that are within this story of Bartimaeus.  Pastor Scott tells us that “…there are a lot of social dynamics going on in this story, most of which are instructive for the Church today.  But for us, we should not wait until Jesus calls a poor person over and we surely should not, in the meantime, be silencing the voices of the voiceless.”  This faith community is part of a larger community.  When we speak of this faith community we are speaking of the members, and the friends who come to the sanctuary in which many of us are sitting.  We are also speaking of those that are still self-quarantined at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Many of you tune into our weekly worship services via our broadcast over Facebook and others of you stop in at our website and listen to the weekly message.  The number of you who join us via our broadcast, you are perhaps just visiting or are new to our fellowship via this modern phenomenon called ‘cyber-space.’  Be assured we also consider you a part of our faith family – our faith fellowship.  We pray you feel the same about us.  Don’t allow your voices to not be heard.  Speak out via your ‘contribution of time’ to be with us on Sunday’s and likewise through your weekly comments and your on-line ‘PayPal’ or ‘postal’ contributions.  Your gifts help us keep our funds fluid so that we may continue to reach out to those in need.  Your feedback helps us grow in our acts of ministry.  Our faith community also includes the multitude of neighbors who live around our church building and grounds.  Our ministry includes this larger group of voices – including that of their children.  It is such a joy when the join with us in our annual Fall ‘trunk or treat’ and our ‘Easter Egg Hunt’ in the Spring.  

The Reverend Doctor, Karl Jacobson speaks to us of the healing power of our personal faith.  “Faith” he tells us, “Faith can make us well.”  As we started our discussion today, we acknowledged that we surely pray our faith will make the difference between being ‘well’ verses being un-well.” Pastor Karl goes on to explain “This is not magic, or superstition, or some simple fix of course.”  Let us reflect on this simple point.  If our faith is not magic, then what is it?  Magic is often considered an enchanted fairy-tale.  A magician who performs astonishing acts, somehow fooling the viewer as to the authentic of their trickery, or their slight of hand, is not the same as a genuine healing at the hands of God, or the ‘Son of God’.  No, magic is not what Jesus was or is offering.  If you want a good magic act or a show, go to the Circus or sit and watch the magician on television.  Many are quite well-polished at their professions.  Faith in the power, and in the love of God is a way of life!  The difference between being healed by faith and magic is what causes Pastors and Preachers heartache when they try to talk about yet another ‘’mystical healing’, at the hands of our Biblical Jesus, the Son of God!  Many of us want ‘magical’ solutions to life’s realities and problems, and we desire that they be removed – at the snap of our fingers.  If that were so, our churches would be filled, and bigger ones would need to be built!  No, faith is about our humble willingness to seek out the power and love of God without wishing away our illnesses and troubles, but rather ‘inviting’ God to walk with us as we seek healing, true healing for that which ails us. 

When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, he was offering a heartfelt prayer.  Just as surely as the children of that waitress who spoke to me about the gift of presents for her children that Christmas ten years ago; the children had faith that the love of their mother would help them have a special Christmas.  They were pleading with her, praying to her, as she was the power, and the love, which they knew in their youth.  Frederick Buechner speaks to us about prayer.  “If your prayer isn’t answered, this may tell you more about you and your prayer than it does about God.  If God doesn’t seem to be giving you what you ask, maybe he’s giving you something else.”  The children we have spoken of were too young to understand the fullness of God through Christ – yet it would seem their mother did.  She knew how to pray correctly… as she asked for help for her children.  She was ‘selflessly’ asking on behalf of the children she loved and was responsible for.  She was not wishing her ‘real-life’ issues to magically disappear.  She knew changes would have to be made to fix her financial problems.  The fact that she was waiting on tables in a restaurant when I spoke with her last week, speaks to her willingness to humbly accept her responsibilities.  Her cry for help was a sincere and humble act of faith.

Today, as we reflect on Bartimaeus and his cry for help from Jesus, let us be reassured that Jesus heard and answered his prayer.  Indeed, Bartimaeus’ Faith made him well.  His gratitude and devotion to Christ Jesus as he “‘followed’ him on the way” – speaks volumes.   

Amen.

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