By the Rev. Garfield Wu
October 28, 2018
Today’s sermon is composed of three stories.
The first one is the gospel story itself, As Jesus was leaving the city he encountered some of those desperate people with nowhere else to turn. Let me describe this to you. Ancient cities were surrounded by a wall to protect them from attack. At nightfall the gates in the wall would be closed for security, sometimes with curfew. During the day, you could always find beggars just outside these gates. They were the forgotten people, cut off from their family and friends. Their only hope was that a stranger passing through might stop, take pity on them, and give them something to eat or possibly even a few coins. The situation was not unlike our present time with the homeless living in the streets of our cities. And, like today, the beggars back then were an embarrassment to most people. They weren’t what residents wanted important visitors like Jesus to see.
But Jesus did see them, and they stirred his compassion. There was one man in particular who got Jesus’ attention ” a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was crying out louder than all the rest, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stopped to see what he could do.
BARTIMAEUS WAS DESPERATE TO CHANGE HIS SITUATION. That is the first thing that we need to see. Bartimaeus was tired of how he was living. Begging was all Bartimaeus knew. But he didn’t want to beg. He wanted to work. He wanted to support his family. He wanted to live with dignity and pride. That takes a certain amount of courage, doesn’t it ” change the course of his life?
The second Story…a couple of centry later after Jesus time, there was a woman named Annie Johnson. Her husband had left her, and now she had to raise their sons alone. She had very little money, and some slight ability to read and add figures. She knew that there was no way she could ever be hired at the town’s cotton factory or lumber mill. Besides she didn’t want to leave her small sons alone all day. So she prayed to Lord Jesus for help and decided to cut herself a new path.
Early one morning Annie went outside the cotton factory with meat pies she had made the night before. Her plan was to heat them up so the aroma would entice the workers to buy them. At first her idea didn’t catch on because most of the workers packed their own lunch, but gradually more and more of the workers bought her pies at a nickel apiece.
For the next few years, on balmy spring days, blistering summer noons, and in cold, wet, and wintry storms, Annie never disappointed her customers. The workers came to depend on her and her delicious meat pies. Before too long her simple basket became a store carrying meat and cheese. Annie had stepped from the road which seemed to have been chosen for her and cut herself a brand new path. That takes courage. That’s what Bartimaeus was saying he wanted to do when he called out to Jesus.
The third story is about myself, is how I ended up as Bartimaeus, follwded Jesus along the road.
Some of you may know my personal story…I was Bartimaeus in my time,
When I was 29, I was put into prison for 6 years, I carried a felony name in communism world, I was despised by people, I was abanded by most of my friends…I am wondering if any of you had the experience that you are totally …
The biggest thing happened in my life is like what Gospels…I didn’t remember how I loudly cired for help, it wasn’t exactly “son of David, have mercey on my” , I was told by some people, “ stop that, it is useless, there is no God, he won’t come to you”.
But just as today’s gospel described, Jesus stopped to see what he could do for me.
Today, I am standing here, telling you and doing a tesomony that Jesus has been doing similar things from generation to generation, it could happen to you or anyone who call jesus for help .
Bartimaeus, Annie and I did the same thing, called Jesus for help. Let’s go back to today’s Gospel,
By all definitions Bartimaeus was a nobody. In society’s eyes he was a worthless blind man who begged for food and money outside the city gate all day. No one really paid much attention to him. It was almost as if he didn’t exist. But he was determined to change his situation.
The truly amazing thing was that Bartimaeus called out to Jesus “Son of David, have mercy on me.” It is ironic: Blind Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was while the people who surrounded Jesus did not. When the crowd heard this nobody calling out to Jesus, they did everything they could to try to silence him. Like I said, he was an embarrassment. He didn’t need to bother Jesus. Notice how Mark records the incident, “Many sternly ordered him to be quiet.” But this just made Bartimaeus call out all the more loudly. Jesus heard Bartimaeus, stopped, and asked his disciples to call the blind man to him. This was what Bartimaeus was waiting for. He didn’t waste a single second. He threw off his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus. No one had to help him up; no one had to lead him. Bartimaeus was ready for a change.
JESUS ASKED BARTIMAEUS, “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?” That’s a powerful question. Imagine, just for a moment, that Jesus were here in the flesh, and that he approached each of you and asked you that simple question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Your answer would reveal much about your values and where you stand in your relationship with Christ. Would you have him change your family life, your health, your situation at work? Would you have him help you pay your bills, help you find the right person to love, help you pass some exam? What would you have Jesus do for you?
I will leave the questions to each of yourself to answer , but I would tell you, If you really want to change, it can happen. You can begin a new life. Jesus told Bartimaeus, “Go, your faith has made you well.”