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This Gospel passage clearly features a Blind man…..

A woman goes into a large retail chain store to buy a rod and reel for her grandson. She doesn’t know which one to get so she just grabs one and goes over to the register. There is an “associate” standing there with dark shades on. She says, Excuse me sir ….. can you tell me anything about this rod and reel?”

He says, “Ma’am I’m blind but if you drop it on the counter I can tell you everything you need to know about it from the sound that it makes.”

She didn’t believe him but dropped it on the counter anyway. He said “That’s a 6′ graphite rod with Zebco 404 reel and 8 lb. test line……It’s a good all around rod and reel and it’s $20.00.”

She says, “That’s amazing that you can tell all that just by the sound of it dropping on the counter. I think it’s what I’m looking for so I’ll take it”

He walks behind the counter to the register. The woman opens her purse and drops her wallet while reaching for a credit card. When she bends down to pick it up, she unintentionally passes gas.

At first, she is embarrassed but then realizes that there is no way he could tell it was her … being blind he wouldn’t know that she was the only person around.

He rings up the sale and says, “That will be $34.50.”

She says. “But didn’t you say it was $20.00?”

He says, “Yes ma’am, the rod and reel is $20.00, the duck call is $11.00, and the catfish stink bait is $3.50.


This passage is about a blind man… and I have a story

Aiden, a blind farmer was often taken for a walk in the fields by his kind neighbor George.

However kindly the neighbor might have been, he was undoubtedly a coward. When a bull charged towards them one day, he abandoned his blind friend Aiden. The bull, puzzled by a lack of fear, nudged the farmer in the back. He turned very quickly, caught the bull by the horns and threw it to the ground with a bump that left it breathless.

“Aidan,” said the neighbor, “I never knew you were so strong.”

“George, if I could have gotten that fella off the handlebars of the bicycle I’d have thrashed him properly.”

I Want My Sight Back

Or do we?

Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
The Rev. Dr. Dianne Carpenter
24 October 2021  

For the past several weeks the dialogue between people and Jesus is in response to their desire for something.  The rich young ruler wanted to know how to ensure eternal life.  The Zebedee brothers wanted to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in the Kingdom and today a blind beggar wants to see!  The common thread is that God is the source of our desires.  This is, however, clearly a miracle account… or is it.

This summer I shared with you the power of God asking King Solomon what he wanted when he became king. [What did King Solomon want?…]  It is the precious question that God repeats down through the ages-how do you want to be “reformed” and “reshaped?”  How do you want to be renewed and made more…. Perhaps this is a story of discipleship.  Being “reshaped” in Jesus’ image.

The situation:  In today’s story Bartimaeus is line-camping outside the walls of Jericho as an outcast member of the have not class, waiting for Jesus, an angel investor who may be able to give Bartimaeus the hope he needs.

Now a couple of rousing choruses of Joshua fought the battle of Jericho [let’s sing it….]  may come to mind but that account takes place as Israel coming out of captivity in Egypt and wandering in the Sinai crosses into the Promised land in the dim history of Israel occupying the area.  Some people actually believe the Battle of Jericho to have been folk lore or myth. 

In whatever way the Jews laid claim to the area, we know that it had been a walled city for many centuries. Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the city with the oldest known protective wall in the world.    Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history. Jericho was thought to have the oldest stone tower in the world as well, until excavations at Tell Qaramel in Syria discovered stone towers that were even older.

Many springs in and around the city have attracted human habitation for thousands of years.  Jericho is described in the Hebrew Bible as the “city of palm trees”.  From the time of Joshua to the time of Jesus, Babylonians and Persians occupied the city until it served  as the private estate of Alexander the Great  after his conquest of the region.  In the middle of the 2nd century BCE Jericho was under Greek rule as part of the Seleucid Empire, The Syrian General Bacchides built a number of forts around Jericho against the revolt by the Macabees. One of these forts, was later refortified by Herod the Great, who named it Kypros after his mother.

Herod had to lease back the royal estate at Jericho from Cleopatra, after Mark Antony had given it to her as a gift. Then Octavian assumed control of the Roman Empire and granted Herod absolute rule over Jericho, as part of the new Herodian domain. 

Jesus has been followed by the disciples for 3 years and now He is only 5 days out from Jerusalem.  And crucifixion.  Out of this rich history, from his spot in the Jericho dirt, Bartimaeus shouts, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”  Remember Jesus often tells people not to tell what they have seen but this blind man has figured it out and he is shouting…  Jesus is the MESSIAH!!!!  Bartimaeus’ behavior is a lesson in how to have a successful spiritual startup and how to search for, find and develop a growing relationship with God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  We have been talking about how we grow in spirituality from basic tenets of faith to harmonious kingdom living, a faith JOURNEY.

The Bartimaeus Principles are as follows: You must refuse to stay put, to slow down or shut up.  If you want to model the Jericho Startup, this is where you begin.  The crowd, including the 12, are shocked by Bartimaeu’s outburst.  They tell the upstart startup to be quiet.  But Bartimaeus refuses to stay put; he is not going to let others put him in his place-, what others, even the disciples, think is his proper place.  It would have been easy to follow the conventional wisdom that says that everyone should stay in their place.  We do that today, people should stay in their place… or place a glass ceiling over them…

But Bartimaeus ignored the crowd and called out even more loudly, addressing Jesus as the son of David thus acknowledging his royal lineage- which was politically risky-and also explains what he wants: “have mercy on me.”  There are spies everywhere….   Bartimaeus sensed correctly-that Jesus is willing to make an investment in people when they are determined to seek spiritual wholeness.  Something akin to being “reshaped”

Jesus stops dead in his tracks and says, “call him here.” Bartimaeus, refusing to stay put, immediately throws off his cloak, springs up and comes to Jesus –  [we are getting older… do we understand what an acrobatic feat this was ]no easy maneuver for a blind man.   He throws off his ONLY protective clothing… Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” and Bartimaeus replies, “My teacher, let me see again.”

The word “again” catches my attention.  Could Bartimaeus have been the victim of an accident or violence?  Does he understand what he has lost?  Is he seeking “restoration?” We have all lost things, started to doubt things – little things like “was the world really created in 7 days”  and big things like “Is there really a God” In any event It’s a stunning request, one that must have made the crowd gasp, but Jesus doesn’t hesitate. “Go” he commands. “Your faith has made you well.” No pre-requisites as for the young ruler…

Bartimaeus could have sat in the dirt content to be on the sidelines as an observer.  It might have happened that Jesus comes and Jesus goes and opportunity is lost.  Like it is so often for people in our world.  Imagine a busy street full of going and coming….  But Bartimaeus knew that in order to be an overcomer, he must be willing to come on over.  He could not stay put when Jesus passes by.

Of course, Bartimaeus regains his sight instantly, but the next comment of the gospel writer is telling: “He followed him on the way” (52).  He didn’t know where Jesus was headed. No knowing…

He had been sitting; then he is standing. Now he is following. He refuses to slow down. Bartimaeus understood that “following” was the natural and necessary product of “seeing.” That one follows the other.  He would not be like those who want to grab and hoard whatever spiritual blessings they can without expressing gratitude in the form of discipleship and service.  He will not slow down. Although the text doesn’t say so explicitly, it is likely that Bartimaeus continued to refuse to shut up.  People have certain characteristics…

We know that the crowd attempted to silence him. We know he was not afraid to speak against accepted standards of protocol.  

It’s not plausible to assume that, given his sight, and reveling in his new life as a follower of Jesus, he kept his good news to himself. 

It is inconceivable that Bartimaeus would shut up, never to offer a testimonial, never to express “customer satisfaction”, never offer thanks and praise to the

One who has so radically changed his life.

As a follower of the way, he is someone who has learned how to make a go of his new life.

Jesus is willing to invest spiritual capital in those who are blind and want to see, who will not stay put, slow down or shut up.  He sees the potential for a return on his investment.  Which brings us to the question of the extent to which Jesus puts his investment at risk when he invests in us.  Creation was God’s investment.  Do you invest for the long haul or pull out when things drop?

When you are someone who cannot see, who is sitting in the dirt among the spiritual have nots and Jesus passes by, you do not let him get away.  You do what Bartimaeus did.  You do not sit back and let things happen to you.  You go out and happen to things.

Do we want to be able to see? This is the precious question that God repeats down through the ages-how do you want to be “reformed” and “reshaped?”  Perhaps this is a story of discipleship.  Being “reshaped” in Jesus’ image.

Jesus grants Bartimaeus’ wish because Bartimaeus had hope against all hope and faith in god’s power to change his life drastically, dramatically.  His gratitude caused him to become a follower right at the moment that Jesus was entering the city for the last time-to be crucified.  If he had not experienced the power of Jesus in his life…


Mark 10:46-52 NRSV The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

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. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher,[a] 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.

Job 42:1-6 NRSV Job Is Humbled and Satisfied

42 Then Job answered the Lord:

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you declare to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:10-17 NRSV Job’s Fortunes Are Restored Twofold

10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money[a] and a gold ring. 12 The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17 And Job died, old and full of days.

Hebrews 7:23-28 New Revised Standard Version

23 Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save[a] those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other[b] high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a

The Blank Check 
17 October 2021
Mark 10:35-45
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter

Have you ever been approached, as Jesus was, by someone asking for a blank check?  Who would dare ask for a blank check?  Do you even use checks instead of money transfers? It’s a metaphor… That’s what the sons of Zebedee did one day when they said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  Who would dare approach any of us ask any of us for carte blanche?  Well, our children, our grandchildren… zoey… the IRS no they have a formula.

Jesus did what I would do… He asked for a little more information, “Well, what do you want?”

And they said – without embarrassment – “We want to be greater than any of the other disciples!  We want more power than the other 10 disciples… We want to be Great among men – oh and by the way you can choose who is at your right hand and who at your left, but just keep it in the family and that will be fine with us.”  Translation from the Greek…

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had traveled with Jesus for three years and still they wanted to assume positions of leadership that would give them great prestige, satisfy their egos, and give them power over others. They were filled with themselves and confident. They sure didn’t need any courses in self-esteem, did they? And yet, they are not very different from many of us who desire nothing more than to follow Jesus, if only He will give us what we want and not challenge us to change the way we live.

Jesus says, “Sorry… not up to me- there is no vacancy to apply for and no appointment to be made.

But the wheels have been set in motion.  The others heard the request and began to ask: “Who do they think they are?”

Great! A recipe for discord 101! – Ambition to grab the glory, regardless of your colleagues.  Nepotism, hiring relatives who are not particularly qualified because you can.

But Jesus did go on to describe the job vacancy that was all too vacant. People who want to be in control need not apply, the only opening at this time is for workers, servants, people with hands on gifts and minimum wage aspirations!  People who love the Kingdom call and God more than they love themselves.  That’s the job description!  Being co-workers with Christ.

While Jesus was modeling humility, the Zebedee brothers were jockeying for the best job, lifetime security with benefits!  If anyone was going to be in the top 1% it was going to be them…  Sign the check and leave the glory to us…

Ever heard: “It’s lonely at the top?”  I know, I’ll cope somehow…

“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them.  And then he asked, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  There’s the challenge… give away your shirt, walk the extra mile…

“We are able,” they said.

Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Little did the sons of Zebedee know, at this time, that Jesus was speaking of his own death as well as of their martyrdom.  But these two men, who were so interested in assuming positions of leadership, did go on, after Pentecost, to become martyrs. In other words, they eventually drank from the cup that Jesus drank from — and they learned what it means to serve.

But that’s just the point.

Jesus called his followers servants.  If we are truly striving to be a follower of Jesus – if we are striving to be a successful follower of Christ – we must become servants.  As Christians we are striving to be successful servants.  Aspirations of being #1 have no place in servanthood.

  1. Develop a Servant Mentality: not our social training – take control, ignore the need of others VS My purpose on Earth is to serve God
  2. Have a determination to serve: To be the one who gives – not necessarily from abundance
  3. Make a commitment to Following God: We all follow something – science, authority al a military [If I was supposed to have a wife…] commitment is more than coming to God.  Baptism as an infant was not our commitment so we ask teens to take on that commitment at confirmation. Getting married is great, exciting – how many have recommitted their vows years later.
  4. Start serving where we are: Now, Do people know why you serve the world – have you told someone about Jesus… Talk about our faith

Last week we heard about the rich young man who wanted it all — the worldly wealth and prestige he already possessed — as well as the gift of eternal life. You can have eternal life if you follow me, Jesus told him, but first you must sell all that you have and give the proceeds to the poor. A sacrifice was required of him, just as it was required of the sons of Zebedee, and just as it is required of us.

To become a servant takes sacrifice. Not somebody else’s sacrifice, but our own. Leadership in this world is often based on who you know, on fame, on wealth or access to wealth, and a willingness to make what are often referred to as “tough decisions.” This usually means the decisions you make are tough on other people, but good for you.

Corporate CEO’s are often called upon to make tough decisions and they do. They will lay off hundreds or thousands of workers, close manufacturing plants in America and open up new shops in foreign countries. These decisions result in great profits for the CEO and for stockholders, but they lead to joblessness and homelessness for their former employees. Very brave people in government make tough decisions all the time about American troops, while the decision makers are thousands of miles away from the front lines, and we see their bravery as they march from one press conference to another.

We might say, “Well, I am not interested in being great,” and that’s wonderful — but if we want to follow Jesus we will still have to learn how to become a servant and to make the sacrifices that have been appointed, for us to make.

Paul tells us that Jesus Himself had to learn obedience and it was a painful experience, even for him. As Paul says in v. 8 of today’s lesson: “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” And though He has taken our sins upon Himself, He has not relieved us of our responsibilities. …., “And having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Obedience & faithfulness — these are flipsides of the coin that belongs to God — the coin of the realm — the currency of the kingdom.  No blank checks even for the omnipotent, powerful God who takes on our human form.

“The story in today’s gospel, with two brothers jockeying for positions of power in the Kingdom, takes place five days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Four days before his betrayal and trial. One day before the clearing of the temple, and a few hours before the Triumphal Entry.  If the Disciples were going to start practicing the teachings of Jesus in their lives it ought to be now. But it doesn’t happen. Moments before the most crucial events in their life they are a bickering, petty, bad-tempered quarrelsome lot. We need to learn from this not-so-flattering moment in the life of the disciples.

How is it that critical moments can be so close at hand and we are off wondering what’s in it for me?”

Today Jesus is inviting each of us to let go of all of those things — those desires for things we think we just have to have — those things we think we most definitely deserve — and to come and walk with him.

Instead of saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you,” we still have time to say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” A number of cups are laid out before us — wealth, power over others, prestige, bitterness, resentment, or the cup that Jesus drank from. The choice is yours and Jesus is simply asking you and me today: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

The greatest sacrifice, and the only sacrifice that leads to our salvation was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And the greatest sacrifice that we can offer to him is the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart — a heart softened by the love of God. It is easy to stand up for Jesus and carry signs condemning the sins of others. But to stand up for Jesus and serve the least among us, with joy in our hearts, that is the mercy that Jesus Christ desires. All the money, power, and prestige in the world cannot prepare you for this adventure — but with His love burning in your heart, there’s no telling what might happen next. . . Let the journey begin, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


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