Summary: In the Gospel Lesson for this sermon, it’s a bit hard to tell who the real Blind Beggar is. Is it Bartimaeus or is it the disciples or the rest of the crowd?
“Will the Real Blind Beggar please Stand Up”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
There’s an old t-v show called To Tell the Truth where contestants are challenged to figure out which of three or four persons are the Real Plumber or Doctor or whatever…
…and oftentimes it’s hard to tell.
Similarly, in our Gospel Lesson for this evening, it’s a bit hard to tell who the real Blind Beggar is.
Is it Bartimaeus or is it the disciples or the rest of the crowd?
You know, it’s easy to take people for granted.
There’s a story about a frail older woman standing at the street corner.
A young man comes and takes her by the arm and propels her across the street, brushing off her feeble protests.
Safely on the other side, she glares at him and says, “Now take me back over there before I miss my bus!”
It’s also easy to slap some people down.
Little kids, poor people, beggars, the handicapped, foreigners, old people, minorities…
…and the list could go on and on.
“Sit down and be quite!”
“Just be happy with what you have!”
“What do you know?”
“Who asked you?”
“You should be seen and not heard.”
Those are things people sometimes say or maybe have said to us!
And that’s assuming the person in question isn’t being ignored into oblivion.
We sometimes waver between abusing and ignoring someone who offends, disturbs or makes us uncomfortable.
Sadly, the input of poor people is often not sought when folks talk about welfare reform, new bus routes, or urban renewal projects.
Sometimes people “talk past” a person in a wheelchair or hospital bed.
Many people have been patronized, talked down to…
Suffice it to say, there are scads of people who are regularly abused, ignored or insulted because other people deem them unworthy of respect or recognition.
And this is nothing new!
Just look how the Passover crowds treated the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, as Jesus began the last part of His journey to Jerusalem.
As soon as Bartimaeus started shouting to Jesus, “many rebuked him and told him to be quite…”
In other words, “Sit down beggar! Shut up! Be happy with the coins we throw you! Don’t bother the famous Rabbi with your problems!”
You’d think the crowd would have known better by now.
You’d think they’d have seen Jesus healing the sick and caring for the outcast.
You’d think they’d of heard Jesus’ Words.
And at the very least, you’d think that Jesus’ disciples would have remembered the conversation they just had: “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”
You’d think they’d have known.
But it appears that everyone in this story is “blind”—not just Bartimaeus!
Actually, Bartimaeus may be the only one who is not truly blind!!!
For he alone, appears to understand Jesus best of all!
When he was told to be quite, “he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
He seemed to know that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, and to open the eyes of the blind!!!
Are we blind or can we see?
In the mind of the crowd, Bartimaeus was an embarrassment, an interruption, and annoyance.
Maybe they thought Jesus was just as blind and deaf to Bartimaeus’ cries as they were!
And that is an easy way to think.
I know, I, can be completely oblivious to what Jesus is all about…
…how about you?
Would we squirm uncomfortably if odd-looking people wandered into our worship services or interrupted the sermon or prayers with some question or plea that was overwhelmingly important to them?
Maybe not here, but a very human impulse is often to try and shush them, hustle them off to the side, and make sure they’re under control.
It can be a struggle to push past our fears and discomfort enough to remember that our Savior stops to hear and respond to their cries!
It may be even harder to ask ourselves how we can help bring them to Jesus’ side.
Sometimes, like the crowd that followed Jesus but shushed Bartimaeus, we can be very blind.
It’s so beautiful and moving how Jesus stopped in His tracks when He heard the cries of Bartimaeus.
And oddly enough, Jesus kept standing still!
Jesus could have pushed through the crowd to Bartimaeus’ side.
Instead, He gave the crowd a command, a task, and a dignity.
He invited them to participate in what He was doing!
He said to them, “Call him.”
And as they took Jesus up on His command, Jesus began to heal them as well!
It’s like Jesus was saying to them, “Call him here. You, who did not or could not see or hear this man…