Sermon delivered by Anand Peter during the English Service at CSI Church, Kzhakoottam, Trivandrum 3 weeks ago.
Collect: Restoring God, Who out of Your great love for us, releases us from all kinds of captivity, Forgive our transgressions and make us alive, So that our sight is restored to know You as our Lord and follow You, Through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever more. Amen.
Christian Priest and a Socialist were sitting on a park bench one evening. poor, drunken beggar walked by dressed in rags. The Socialist pointed to the beggar and said, "Socialism would put a new coat on that man!" To which the Priest responded confidently, "Maybe so, but Jesus Christ can put a new man in that coat." Such is the restoring power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will, today, meditate on the theme ‘Cross and the Restoring Christ’ as assigned by CSI. Last week we deliberated on how Christ liberates us by His grace. The end result of His liberation is the transformation or restoration of humankind to a state acceptable to Jesus.
Have you ever been in total darkness, so dark that not even a single ray of light is visible? I experienced it last year in a restaurant in Hyderabad called Taste of Darkness, for about an hour. They make you leave all that may generate light or reflect light, such as your watches, keys, mobile phones etc. in a locker, make a choice from the menu and then you are led into total darkness. You are guided by people who are blind themselves. One of the thoughts that occurred to me while struggling with my plate of food was about Bartimaeus, narrated in Mark 10:46-52, read to us today.
You see, the choice of time of our restoration is not ours. The only time we can come to the Lord is while He is calling us to come to Him. When we feel that pressure on our hearts. When we know, we are lost and know that we are headed in the wrong direction and want to change, then is the time to come to the Lord. To delay may mean that we will never get a second opportunity to be restored. Isaiah's advice in Chapter 55:6 is still good today, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” That is exactly what most fail to do. But that is exactly what Bartimaeus did and that is why I want to describe him as the Blind man with a 20:20 vision.
If you want to think about the life that Jesus is granting you, just walk through this account of Bartimaeus and see how life changed for him. Bartimaeus was most probably born blind; he was a beggar as he was prevented from finding and performing any work in order to earn a living; There were no NGOs or government programs to which he could turn to. He was totally dependent upon the generosity of others in order to survive. Bartimaeus is a good portrait of every person who is yet to accept Jesus and is lost to sin. A lost person is spiritually blind, (2 Cor. 4:4.) They are blind to their condition, to their sin and to their impending eternal doom. Only Jesus can open their eyes and restore them! The lost person is also a spiritual beggar. They can do nothing, and they have nothing within themselves to produce salvation. It is as if they are simply sitting by begging as Jesus passes by, totally oblivious of Him.
Bartimaeus must have heard about Jesus and he knew what Jesus had done for others, and believed that He could do it for him as well! The fact that he called Jesus the Son of David shows that he recognized and accepted Jesus as the Messiah. His faith in Jesus as the Messiah brought about his healing, his restoration. This is the first step in coming to Jesus for our own restoration. Besides, this poor blind man saw things that most of the people who were in that multitude never saw. As a matter of fact, he saw some things that many of us have never seen. Some things that we need to see today.
He saw that his greatest opportunity had come and relentlessly sought after Jesus to restore him. When we do some serious introspection, we will realize how many such opportunities we missed out by letting is pass by. Every lost person needs to understand that Jesus Christ loves him or her so much that died on the cross to save us and He will do just that today if we will only come to Him. However, He will not force Himself into our lives. Therefore, the challenge before us today is to obey that call. If we refuse, then this golden opportunity will certainly pass us by. Bartimaeus also saw that Christ’s way was far better than his own. After he had received healing from the Lord, he was told to "go his way", but he preferred to follow Jesus and according to Luke 18:43, he praised the name of the Lord as he followed Jesus in the way.
In the backdrop of this incident we see that our Lord was on the final leg of His journey towards the Cross. He is entering Jerusalem knowing that crucifixion awaits him. The disciples and other followers were astonished and afraid. Nevertheless, He is purposefully proceeding, even though that means walking into danger, persecution and suffering. In the midst of all that He is ready to shower His blessings on a poor, blind beggar.
As I read the narration about Bartimaeus again and again I sometimes wonder how many other people who were there cried out to Jesus for help. We may also wonder how many dying souls there are today, still not calling on Jesus for mercy. How many people still have enough of that spiritual breath left in them? Or are we perhaps so busy, so excited, so involved with being a follower of Jesus that we are, much like the people around Jesus on the road at Jericho, tell such people to be quiet!
I suppose you will agree with me that there are many people walking around in this world today whose eyes work just fine, yet they cannot seem to see that the way they are living will eventually lead them into eternal damnation. If there is anyone out there today who still walks in that darkness, such people are invited to come to Jesus Who is the only One Who can lead them out of their darkness into His glorious light, and receive complete restoration.
Bartimaeus trusted Jesus to heal him. Hear what Jesus said, “your faith has healed you.” Bartimaeus got far more than physical healing that day; he also got spiritual healing as well. This is what happens when the lost person responds to the Gospel of grace. Immediately, when faith is exercised, the power of Jesus moves in to that person's life and He saves that person completely and eternally! May we have the insight to do a serious introspection during our quite times and establish a right relationship with Jesus and live a restored life with our spiritual vision fully restored. AMEN