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Worship, prayer and Bible resources

30 Sunday in Ordinary Year B, Green


Introduction

The important things in life cannot be seen with physical sight

We cannot begin to understand the plight of those born blind at the time of Jesus. Yet whilst James and John are arguing about who is going to be the biggest boss and have most authority, it is a blind beggar who rises above the dreadfulness of his condition to see who Jesus really is. Bartimaeus must have had a dreadful life as person with blindness, it meant that he would spend the whole of his life regarded as a drain on the resources of those around him. Somehow he believed that all this would not matter to Jesus.

So we are all encouraged to believe that, no matter what other people might think of us, we matter to Jesus. There is no prison from which we cannot be set free, no oppression from which we cannot be released. This is what being the messiah is all about for Jesus. It was with a statement about healing the blind that Jesus had started his ministry, with this last healing miracle in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus shows that he is still on track to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. Bartimaeus was blind but there was nothing wrong with his spiritual vision, he recognised who Jesus was, do we have his vision?
 

Opening Sentence

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. I will glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and rejoice. Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord, let us exalt his name for ever. Psalm 34

Luke Chapter 4:18
 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."

Collect Prayer for the Day— Before we read we pray

O God, forasmuch as without you we are not able to please you; mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
 

First Bible Reading Jeremiah Chapter 31:7-9

This is what the LORD says: "Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, 'O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.' See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labour; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

Second Reading Hebrews Chapter 7:23-28

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Gospel Reading Mark Chapter 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Post Communion Sentence

Holy and blessed God, you have fed us with the body and blood of your Son and filled us with your Holy Spirit: may we honour you not only with our lips but in our lives dedicated to the service of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

God of all grace, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen


Commentary


"Bartimaeus shows that God doesn't solve problems for us. God solves problems with us"

As Jesus progresses toward Jerusalem, he teaches his disciples and demonstrates what discipleship entails. But while Jesus' message seems almost painfully clear to us, his followers repeatedly appear to miss the point. They don't recognise the significance of the "visual aids" Jesus offers along the way. Now, as the "way" to Jerusalem grows ever shorter, we have today's text about Jesus' miraculous healing of the blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52). It is in this final scene before entering Jerusalem and the inauguration of a new stage of Jesus' ministry that the elements of passion, discipleship and miraculous power all come together.

Jesus and his disciples come to Jericho and leave it all in one short breath. Obviously the significant thing about this point in the journey to Jerusalem, which is less than a day's walk from Jericho, is what lies just on the other side of this village, not the village itself. Mark alone among the gospels identifies the blind beggar outside the town, naming him Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus. Bartimaeus is apparently sitting in his usual begging spot , "by the roadside" between Jericho and the way that leads toward Jerusalem. But when Bartimaeus hears who is approaching his roadside perch, he begins to make a fuss. Jesus is identified to the reader, and supposedly to the blind Bartimaeus, as "Jesus of Nazareth." But when the excited Bartimaeus begins calling for him it is for "Jesus, Son of David" (v.47). The name change is significant. Bartimaeus' enthusiastic confession suggests that, though blind, he sees something else in the identity of this Jesus. Like the crowd that will soon welcome Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, Bartimaeus identifies Jesus with the messianic lineage of David. As the "Son of David" Jesus is heir to the coming kingdom, not just a wandering healer/teacher/preacher from Nazareth.

Everything about Bartimaeus' healing story is emphatic and decisive. Bartimaeus' insight is sharp (calling Jesus the "Son of David") and his conviction is unquenchable. When others try to "shush" him down, Bartimaeus responds by shouting louder. His faith in Jesus' ability to heal him is so great that it in effect stops Jesus in his tracks (v.49, "Jesus stood still"). When told Jesus had called him, Bartimaeus springs into action. What had been a dusty lump of a beggar sitting by the roadside is transformed into a vital, vibrant man, who first springs up and then throws off the cumbersome cloak that slows him down. Bartimaeus comes to Jesus just as quickly as he can. Bartimaeus' request, however, is based on his unquestioning faith in Jesus and his recognition of Jesus' unique being. The form of address Bartimaeus uses here, ‘Rabbouni’, is an especially formal, respectful term for rabbi or teacher and is used just this once in all of Mark's gospel.

Now again, unlike the first healing of a blind man, Jesus simply says to Bartimaeus, "Go, your faith has made you well" (v.52). There is no miraculous spitting or eye-rubbing or deep stares here, only faith. And Barti-maeus' faith is evidently more than enough. Just as this blind man's faith enabled him to raise his voice above that of the crowd, to persist in his demands, to eagerly come to Jesus, so his faith has healed him. That Jesus' faith in Bartimaeus is well-placed is evident by the fact that, having regained his sight, Bartimaeus now follows Jesus on "the way" to Jerusalem.
Bartimaeus is therefore an example of faith to us all. (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 him after he was cured.

Time to test our spiritual sight

In first century Palestine there were no government benefits or charities to help blind people, you were inevitably useless to society, a drain on resources and subject to poverty. You were subject to begging for all of your life and at the mercy and the generosity of others. Listen afresh then to the words of Jesus who began his ministry with those beautiful words

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." Luke Chapter 4:18

So it is that today we read of Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, the City of David, when on his way he is acclaimed by a blind beggar to be the ‘Son of David.’ This is a big story, the last healing miracle in the gospel and Mark is making an important point. Last week we were told about James and John who asked Jesus for power. They could not see what Jesus was about in his ministry. Herein lies the irony in the structure of Mark’s Gospel, for just as we have been shown how the disciples are spiritually blind, now we are told about Bartimaeus who is literally blind but sees. Bartimaeus has the vision to use the messianic title, ‘Son of David’ when he calls to Jesus. Nobody has used this title and Jesus has discouraged people from seeing him as the messiah, not least because they would see him as one to use military power to overthrow the Romans. Now it is Bartimaeus, an insignificant blind man, who announces that the messiah, Jesus, has arrived at Jerusalem the Holy City. The impact is forceful, Jesus might not be what people expected, but nonetheless he is plainly visible as Messiah to all of those who have the eyes of faith like Bartimaeus.

We are told that Bartimaeus ‘threw his cloak aside.’ The cloak was important and Jewish law forbade taking the cloak as payment for a debt, because a poor person would need it to keep warm. Mark is reminding us that Bartimaeus had little, but even his cloak he was willing to leave behind to follow Jesus. Mark had told his readers about the rich man who lacked the faith to follow Jesus, contrast that with the spiritual focus and singleminded determination showed by Bartimaeus. The reader is meant to be challenged not to consider any sacrifice too big for the sake of following Jesus.

The crowd wanted to silence Bartimaeus, he was presumed to be too unimportant to speak with Jesus. We should not be surprised that once again in his ministry Jesus turns the attention away from those who expect to be important and makes the marginalised person the centre of his attention. The people we expect to be important are not, it is those who are often neglected that Jesus wants to draw attention to. Mark will tell us the story of the widow's mite in Chapter 12: 41-44, teachings such as this are meant to encourage those who think that their contribution is too small, their part a minor one in the drama of the life of Jesus. The mere fact that we are able to remember ‘Blind Bartimaeus’ testifies to the importance which Jesus and the early Christian community gave to him — his name has been preserved. It is an encouragement to us all to leave our places and to follow Jesus. Charles Royden

"Christ, 
when he was lifted up, 
did not say
'I draw some people to myself.' 
He said 'I draw all,  all, ALL!' John 12:32 Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 

Meditation

The home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with us as our God; we will be God's people. And God will be with us, wiping every tear from our eyes. Death will be no more; Mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the former things will pass away. All things will be made new. Revelation

Do not care much who is with you and who is against you; but make it your greatest care that God is with you in everything you do. Have a good conscience, and God will defend you securely; no one can hurt you if God wishes to help you. (From ‘The imitation of Christ’ by Thomas à Kempis)

   

Hymns and Psalms

1. O Christ the healer we have come Song 34 MV

2. Your mercy flows upon us like a river.
Your mercy stands unshakeable and true.
Most holy God, of all good things the giver,
we turn and lift our fervent prayer to You.
Hear our cry, O Lord, be merciful once more.
Let Your love Your anger stem,
remember mercy, O Lord, again.

Your church once great, though standing clothed in sorrow,
Is even still the bride that You adore;
Revive Your church, that we again may honour
Our God and King, our Master and our Lord.   Chorus

As we have slept, this nation has been taken
By every sin, ever known to man;
So at its gates, though burnt by fire and broken,
In Jesus' name we come to take our stand.  Chorus


3. Jesus took a piece of bread, he shared a cup of wine.
'eat and drink with me,' he said, 'because you're friends of mine!'

We eat and drink with Jesus
because we are his friends,
remembering his promise
of life that never ends.

We share with one another,
the bread and wine he gives,
and celebrate together,
the special life he lives.

We rise up from the table,
and go where Jesus sends,
to tell the world the gospel
of love that never ends.     Tune   Royal Oak


4. It is a thing most wonderful      Tune Heronsgate

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead


God, our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity, new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity; that the eternal message of your Son, undefiled by human tradition, may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through him who makes all things new, Jesus Christ our Lord.   Percy Dearmer (1867-1936)


Gracious and all merciful God - we give thanks to you today for your compassion and your love. We proclaim your goodness and your strength and we call upon you in praise and thanksgiving. Bless us and bless your people everywhere this day with your holy presence. Help us to worship you in a manner worthy of our calling and to render to you the tribute due to your name. We ask it through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 

In the silence of the stars, in the quiet of the hills and in the heaving of the sea, you speak O Lord. In the words of the prophets and the message of the apostles, you speak O Lord. Now we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.
 

Eternal God, You have been our resting-place through the ages. Generations come and pass away, but You abide forever. We praise you for Your presence among us. You bring us comfort amid our trials - clarity where confusion persists - peace in the midst of conflict - and hope of eternal life. Hear us now as we pray for Your Church and the needs of the world, for You are the God of our lives. We pray for the Church of Jesus Christ; that, begun, maintained and promoted by the Holy Spirit, it may be true, engaging, glad, and active, doing your will. Let Your church be always faithful, O God, and ready to promote the cause of compassionate love and peace
 

We pray that as Christian disciples we may be a faithful witness in word and deed to the Good News of Christ's Love. We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the word. We pray that everywhere upon this earth there may be justice and peace. We pray especially today for the well being of people in parts of the world affected by drought and famine. We continue to pray for peace in the Middle East. Lord, we pray for all people in their daily life and work - for our families, friends, and neighbours, and for those who are alone. We name before you individuals and families experiencing personal hardship or facing and uncertain future, those who are separated from loved ones, those who grieve this today, and those who are sick in hospital or ill at home. Hear us Lord as we now lift up those people and those situations you have placed upon our hearts.


Eternal God, giver of love and peace, you call your children to live together as one family. Give us grace to learn your ways and to do your will, that we may bring justice and peace to all people, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lord of creation, you give a new strength to our faith. Grant that we may recognise your presence in all life and history, and face our trials with serenity and peace. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

O Jesus Christ, teacher and healer, you heard the cry of the blind beggar when others would have silenced him. Teach us to be attentive to the voices others ignore, that we might respond through the power of the Spirit to heal the afflicted and to welcome the abandoned for your sake and the sake of the gospel. Amen.
 

 

Additional Material

A Servant of All
There is a stark contrast between the picture of Christ we get from the readings from Isaiah and Hebrews and the demands of James and John in the gospel. In the Old Testament reading and the epistle we see Christ portrayed as the suffering servant, crushed, oppressed, afflicted, a humble, obedient, submissive and gentle servant who is called and anointed by God to be a priest of the order of Melchizedek and the saviour of the world. In the gospel, we see James and John making the outrageous demand to this saviour of the world to do for them anything they ask. Its almost as if James and John have not understood quite what Jesus is about at this stage, misunderstanding what it means to be with the Messiah. But instead of suggesting to them that they must be joking or querying whether they really mean ‘anything’, Jesus merely asks them what they want Him to do for them. And whilst the demand of James and John is in contrast with the earlier readings, Jesus’ response is not. When He hears what they want He does not chastise them for asking but explains, as a gentle servant, what they ask is not His to grant but that the places to the right and left of Him in glory belong to those for whom they have been prepared.

Not surprisingly the other ten disciples were indignant with James and John for separating themselves from their company in the hope of obtaining the highest honour. Jesus continues in His gentle theme and explains to them that in the Gentile, worldly rulers lord it over their people, and holders of high office make their authority felt. This must not happen among Christ’s followers. On the contrary, whoever wants to be first among them must be last of all.

John Chrysostom, one of the early Christian Fathers commented, ‘The fact is that before the incarnation and self-abasement of Christ the whole world was in a state of ruin and decay, but when He humbled himself He lifted the world up. He annulled the curse, put an end to death, opened paradise, destroyed sin, flung wide the gates of heaven, and introduced there the first fruits of our race. He filled the world with faith in God, drove out error, restored truth, caused our first fruits to ascend a royal throne, and gained innumerable blessings beyond the power of myself or anyone else to describe in words. Before He humbled himself He was known only to the angels, but after his self-abasement he was recognized by the whole human race.’

In a world that is so competitive and status oriented it is difficult for us to understand the upside down personal economics of an incarnate God who whilst being the Messiah was also the servant of all, but was the Messiah because He was the servant of all. As Isaiah states, it was God’s will to crush the Servant, Jesus; but as the New Testament makes plain, it was that same Jesus’ obedience that made Himself the guilt offering for all and through whom we have our salvation.

As we focus on the church’s mission this Sunday, the challenge is perhaps not so much what we do with our time, our talents and our financial resources, but what we do with our own self will. Are we prepared to listen to God to hear His call on our lives and to be obedient to that calling in the same way that Christ was? Are we prepared to become the servant of others, to put our time, talents, resources and will at God’s disposal so that they may have God revealed to them?   Sam Cappleman

Alternate Hymns

  1. When morning gilds the skies

  2. Go tell it on the mountain

  3. Take my life and let it be (Tune:624 Mission Praise Nottingham)

  4. Out of the depths

  5. Forth in thy name

  6. All praise to our redeeming Lord

  7. One more step

  8. Brother sister let me serve you

  9. It is God who holds the nations

  10. For the healing 

  11. King of Glory, King of peace

  12. O Christ the healer we have come

  13. O God beyond all praising

  14. We cannot measure how you heal

  15. Joyful, Joyful