Jesus demonstrates a beautiful lesson in this week’s Gospel reading: do not assume that you know the needs or desires of another person. Bartimaeus called out to Jesus for mercy. He could have asked Jesus for any number of things. Though he’s known to us now simply as a blind beggar, certainly there was more to Bartimaeus than those two descriptors. Rather than guessing what Bartimaeus was hoping for, Jesus asked him.
And then – this is just as important to the lesson – Jesus gave him what he asked for. How often have we experienced the well-intentioned gift-giver whose generosity actually ends up being a burden? It might be a sweater that you get in the wrong size or color for Christmas, or it might be the box of toys someone leaves at the church door “for the nursery” – which definitely aren’t up to current safety and sanitizing protocols. Jesus asks Bartimaeus first what he wants, and then he delivers. It’s so simple. What an excellent example for us all to follow!
Elsewhere in this week’s Revised Common Lectionary readings, we hear the ending of the book of Job. This part of the story has always baffled me. “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (42:12). OK, that’s a reasonable ending to the extended parable. But how does getting new children make up for the loss of the children Job had before? On the other hand, we see an incredible reversal of standard ancient storytelling when Job’s new daughters are named in the next, but his sons aren’t. And then in a single sentence (at least in the NRSV), the daughters are described as the most beautiful women in the land, and Job gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. Was their inheritance given because of their beauty? What do the two things have to do with each other?
There’s also the option of a reading from Jeremiah this week, where God talks about gathering together the remnant of Israel, offering them consolation. And then there’s Hebrews 7, which talks about Jesus as priest, but not like human priests, but actually the son of God.
Where is your writing taking you this week? What is important to your community right now? Please share your questions and reflections in the comments below. Any ideas for a children’s sermon or liturgy? Need help reaching a conclusion? You and your worship prep process are welcome here. Blessings to you!
12 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Listening before Giving”
I am wondering if Bartimaeus would have been healed had he listened to those in the text who tell him to be quiet. How many times do we hear about people who are hurt because nobody offered them help but then again they never expressed a need? Sometimes we need to make room for squeaky wheels. SOmetimes we may need to squeak a little bit ourselves.
Here are my early thoughts on the passage:
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Thanks, Gord! I appreciate you naming that stories of people asking for healing and receiving it will always bring us questions about those who ask but do not receive.
I posted on your blog as well, your thoughts are really helpful! I just need to maybe “be real” and put it all out there…admit that it IS hard to understand why some people get this miracle or that miracle, etc. I need to keep reminding myself of that quote from Evelyn Underhill:, “If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.”
I’m pairing the story of Bartimaeus with Hannah in 1 Samuel. Both kept asking until their needs were heard. Also asking in what ways we are the townspeople, silencing those on the margins until someone we admire notices them. Right now, my sermon title is ‘Refusing to Be Silenced.’
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Oh, this is great! Not just “ask and you shall receive” but “ask until you receive” as spiritual discipline/promise. Don’t listen to those who would silence you but remember that God tells you to keep on asking. Thanks for this insight!
I’m pondering a sermon on the role of the bystanders/crowd in this story. In the previous healing of the blind man, Jesus carefully removes him from the crowd first. Now, it’s all out in the open. Not sure where I’m going with that, but it’s a start (!) on a Tuesday morning (!)
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Thanks for that perspective, Monica. I wonder what our role is as bystanders too, hearing this story after the fact….
I am going with a sustainable sermon. the deadline is tonight, and while I would love to engage with the story anew, I don’t have the time or the energy, so 6 years ago sermon it is. and I still have a funeral sermon to write for tomorrow. We are coming out of over 100 days of stay at home orders and are stills ending out worship and not meeting in person until December.
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Praise God for sustainable sermons! Best wishes with the funeral and with the continued distanced worship.
I’m looking at this story as a metaphor for how the church should be in the world. https://beachtheology.com/2021/10/22/we-are-bartimaeus-when-we-need-to-be-jesus-reflections-on-mark-1046-52/
I am having the hardest, hardest time with this…I am preaching on the Mark text in the senior living residence where I serve as chaplain. So many have lost their eyesight, their memory, their ability to walk, hear, etc. I mean, we are talking about a group of people who range in age from 73-101. How do I preach “different ways of seeing” being more important than actual sight, when I am a sighted chick? How do tell them to “keep asking” “keep praying” when they, like all of us, know that every prayer isn’t answered…healing miracles are tough for me, you know? I know they happen, and that is wonderful! But still…why doesn’t everyone get the miracle! And I know we all get THE miracle, and oh man, I know that IS way better than anything for which we could ask! But I just have no idea where to take this…what is that God wants me to say, you know?