A circle of friends on pilgrimage for the love of God

Healing Blind Bartimaeus on the Way

Rev. Aaron Wright

Pentecost +21

We need you Lord, more than anything, we need to hear your word. We need you to speak to us. So Lord, we submit ourselves to that. So guide my tongue, open our ears that we may hear from you on this road that we walk. Amen. Well, good morning.

I am Father Aaron, and it is a joy to be here with you this morning. I am the Rector at Old North Abbey in Knoxville, Tennessee, and it is a joy to be here, like I said, and I’m very thankful to be here with Father Doug and Father Isaac. And if you were here a few weeks ago and Dr. Clint Burnett, anybody was here for Dr. Clint? I mean, he’s a great speaker. If you’re here expecting anything close to that, go ahead and leave and just come back for communion. He’s a remarkable guy, but it is wonderful to be here with you this morning. Our passage in Mark, that we get in Mark 10:35-45 is probably one of the most profound pieces of literature ever.

And that means it’s one of the most profound pieces of literature in the Bible, right? It is remarkable, but it’s also part of something larger than just 10:35-45. It really should go back to about verse 32 and really should end a little bit later on with the story of Bartimaeus. Now, I want us to quickly, before we go any further, I want us to look back because it’s really important in the gospel of Mark to do this. I want us to go to Mark chapter one, the very first word spoken in Mark. So if you would, if you have your Bible, if you don’t, I’ll read it to you so you can hear it.

But if we go to Mark chapter one, here’s how Mark opens up his gospel. He says, the beginning of the good news. Does that grab your attention? The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God. And he says, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, see I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his way strength. Now in the very beginning, did you hear anything that was sort of repetitive? Any word that stuck out to you?

It’s a word called way. And now you may often hear it as path or road. In some ways, if you own possession of this word, it becomes your journey. And Mark uses this word and we’re going to practice saying it. Hodos, right? On the count of three I want everybody to say hodos with me. One, two, three.


Now, if I get into the text and I point at you, I want you to say hodos for me, but it’s one of the most important words in all of the gospels. And for Mark the hodos or the road or the path or the journey or the way is essential to understanding what Jesus is asking us to do.

So if we move ourselves back to chapter 10 for just a second, but just very quickly to point out how important it is, even on the path of the sower sowing the seed that says that he tossed some on the road, on the hodos, and what come on the road or on the hodos and takes it away? The birds. Satan is always trying to take away the gospel news on the path that we walk. There’s always a challenge in following Jesus that Satan is always coming to take away the good seed of the gospel that Jesus has tried to plant into our life. Amen.

Am I alone? How often do we hear the good news of Jesus and instantly it’s taken away from us. On chapter 10, verse 32, if you would join me there. It says they were on the-


Yes. All right. They were on the road and they were going up to Jerusalem and Jesus was walking ahead of them and they were amazed. And those who followed were full of fear. Have you ever noticed that? Why? They’re walking down the road and A, they’re amazed and at the same time, they’re full of fear. And he took the 12 aside again and began to tell them what was about to happen to him. Saying, see, we’re going up to Jerusalem. And the son of man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes and they will condemn him to death.

And then they will hand him over to the Gentiles and they will mock him and spit up on him and flog him and kill him. And after three days, I will rise again. Here begins the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, right? Every single time in the gospel of Mark, that becomes the stumbling block for the disciples. Whenever Jesus says something like I’m going to go and be crucified, I’m going to be handed over to the Gentiles, the disciples become blind, completely blind. They can’t see it. Remember this, when this happens with Peter and he says, you’re the Messiah. And he says, yes and I’ll be handed over and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And Peter says, no, Lord, this can’t happen to you. And what does Jesus say to Peter?

Get behind.

Get behind me, Satan. Why? Because the good news that he’s trying to sow is being taken off the road of Peter’s life. And so they’re still on the road and they’re walking. Now the road is a metaphor for all of us. All of us. I went on a little walk out here this morning. I came out to get some fresh air and walked on that little path to remind myself of this truth. And so James and John, the son’s of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, teacher, listen to this question. We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you. Do you guys approach Jesus like that? Do we do that in our callings? Lord do for us whatever we ask of you today. Well, it’s a little bit arrogant to be honest. And he said to them, just as he says to you today, just as says to you all the time, these are the words of Jesus. What is it that you want me to do for you?

What is it that you want me to do for you? And in their wonderful moment, they have Jesus’ attention, they have broken away, they’ve gotten Jesus alone as he’s getting ready to go into Jerusalem. And they have grand ideas about what that will be like. Grand ideas. We’re going to overthrow things. You’ll be set up as the king, and you’re going to need two guys at least to sort of run the show with you. So Jesus, as we enter into Jerusalem, and as you take your position of glory, we want positions of honor, one on your left and one on your right, to help you rule.

But Jesus said to them, you do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they reply. We are able, we’ll do whatever it is that you want us to do. Yeah. And then Jesus said to them, the cup that I drink, you will drink. And the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right or my left, that’s not mine to grant, but it is for those whom it has been prepared.

Now, as they’re walking along the road, the other 10 kind of get an idea of what’s happening, don’t they? Can you see them doing that? Being like, James and John, those two brothers are trying to steal our glory. So they get angry. And so Jesus does something that only Jesus can do. He calls everybody together and church, listen. He says to them, you know that among the Gentiles those who they recognize as their rulers lord it over them and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you, whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.

And whoever wishes to be first must be the slave of all. For the son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom. There’s the stumbling block again. St. John Chrysostom, in one of his homilies said, why are you worried that you’ll lose something if you humble yourself? Jesus is calling his disciples into a life of humility. He’s paving the way for them. No pun intended. To show them that the road that they are on is a low road. And they came to Jericho as he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus was sitting by the road.

He’s not on the road with the disciples. He’s sitting by them. He knows nothing of Jesus except to say, Lord have mercy on me. And so when Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, son of David have mercy on me.” And I love what happens here. The disciples are like, quiet down. It’s the same terminology Jesus uses to cast out demons. They think they have some sort of new power. They’re still so puffy in themselves that here is a man who they can’t determine if he’s just being a or whatever, but he’s embarrassing himself. And he’s embarrassing them.

He has no honor. And many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly. No, I won’t. “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” And Jesus stood still and said, call him here. And they called the blind man saying, take heart, get up. He is calling to you. So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And then Jesus asked him a question. It’s the same question he asked his disciples. Now I want you to imagine James and John sitting there, just following their encounter with Jesus. They’re watching this blind man, seeing what’s going to happen. And Jesus says to Bartimaeus, what is it that you want me to do for you?

It’s the same question that was just asked. And what does Bartimaeus say? My teacher, I want to see. I want to see. Bartimaeus is a very interesting character. We always pass over him. We look right past him, probably like many have. But he is the absolute archetype of all of us. His name actually means son of honor. It’s the very thing the disciples are asking for and looking for, and here by the side of the road is Bartimaeus, the son of honor, who has fallen. Once elevated, now just sitting by the road, waiting. You and I are all Bartimaeus. Waiting by the road for Christ to come and to save us. And Jesus says to him, go, your faith has made you well. But in this translation on your ESV, read that for me in your ESV. Oh no, it’s not in there. He says, go your way.

He says go, your hodos. The invitation to Bartimaeus is to go your hodos, go find your journey, go find your way. And immediately Bartimaeus’ eyes regained their sight and he followed Jesus on Jesus’s-


What a beautiful, beautiful demonstration of the power of the gospel. Not just to take Bartimaeus’ eyes and heal them, but to invite Bartimaeus into the road of Christ. Our passage this morning out of Isaiah is super important for this passage as well. Right after this, Jesus enters into Jerusalem on the road. It’s everywhere. So I’m going to talk about road a lot, right?

None of this makes sense to us unless we have a cross, unless we have a suffering servant, unless we have someone who goes so low to meet us and to lift us. I’ve always thought about the apostle John sitting there at the crucifixion of Jesus and looking up and seeing his question being answered. Lord, can we sit in places of honor next to you when you enter into your kingdom? And looking up and beholding two thieves beside Christ, one on his left and one on his right when Christ enters into his glory. A gospel without a cross is nothing. It’s nothing. And I think of Bartimaeus, who has been blind, like all of us. And the one thing that Christ gives him eyes to see is his crucifixion, for it is his saving grace. Church. We are a church. We are the church who proclaims first and foremost the crucifixion of Christ as the turning point of all of history. That is where our saving grace comes from. From a Lord who saves us and invites us to follow him on his road.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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