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LSB Proper 25B Sermon – Mark 10:46-52

October 26, 2015

October 25, 2015 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA

“And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to Him, ‘Rabbi, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’”

“What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asks that question to Bartimaeus. You heard the blind man’s cries for help in the Gospel Reading: “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” He is persistent in his begging, even when people are perturbed at hearing him: “Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” His cries get noticed by Jesus, and he is summoned to Jesus’ presence: “Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’”

That’s when the situation reaches its critical point. Bartimaeus has Jesus’ full attention. The crowd notices this: “They called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” Bartimaeus stands in front of Jesus: “Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” The opportunity of a lifetime now presents itself, as Jesus poses the question: “What do you want Me to do for you?”

So what will Bartimaeus ask for? How will he answer Jesus’ question? His answer depends upon what he desires from Jesus. It depends upon what he thinks Jesus can give him. Bartimaeus has begged Jesus to have mercy on him. But what does mercy look like in this case? Does he want money in his hand? Does he want a new cloak? Does he want Jesus to assign him a place to live where his physical needs will be accommodated? All of those options would be merciful acts. Any of them would benefit Bartimaeus.

Jesus asks: “What do you want Me to do for you?” And Bartimaeus answers: “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” The blind man’s request is rooted in what He believes about Jesus’ identity, will, and ability. He had confessed his belief that Jesus is the Messiah—“the Son of David.” Bartimaeus’ repeated begging,—“Have mercy on me!”—even while being rebuked by people in the crowd, showed his trust in Jesus’ merciful nature. And his request—“Let me recover my sight.”—reveals his faith that Jesus can make the blind able to see, just as the LORD had declared through the prophets of old.

That request is what receives Jesus’ great response: “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus’ request is answered in full: “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed Him on the way.” His request is the expression of true and correct belief in Jesus.

The same question that Jesus asked Bartimaeus is posed to you on this day. You have gathered here, because you have heard that Jesus is present. In your worship, you have stated various things about Him: “Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God: You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.” You have come looking for something. Like Bartimaeus, you have repeatedly cried out: “Lord, have mercy.” You have Jesus’ full and undivided attention.

So Jesus asks: “What do you want Me to do for you?” How will you answer that question? What will you say in response? Just like it was for Bartimaeus, your answer will be rooted in what you think about Jesus’ identity, will, and ability. Your answer to that question will depend upon what you have heard and have come to believe concerning Jesus. Your answer will be based upon the promises that have been made to you by Jesus, what has been revealed by the prophets and the evangelists.

This morning, there are several answers to that question Jesus asks. But they are all connected by faith in Jesus. For example, we have witnessed Everly’s baptism. When she was baptized, several requests were made of Jesus. We wanted her to be made part of the kingdom of God. We wanted Everly to have new life created in her. We wanted her to be recognized as a member of the divine household. So one answer to Jesus’ question is: “I want You to baptize Everly.” That answer is based upon the gracious statements made by Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…. Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” 

This morning, we will distribute Bibles to some children in our congregation. That is our custom here: parish children who have entered 3rd Grade receive Bibles on the last Sunday in October. During that distribution, several requests will be made of Jesus. We want Jesus to open the eyes and ears of their soul, so that they can see and hear what He has done for them, as they read of His words and works. We want them to be guided in their lives by the wisdom that comes from above. So another answer to Jesus’ question is: “I want You to bring these children salvation through Your Word.” That answer is based in the gracious statement made by Jesus: “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

This morning, we will make all sorts of requests of Jesus in the Prayer of the Church. We will ask for the Gospel to be purely proclaimed. We will ask for our church officials and governmental rulers to be guided in their duties. We will ask for the sick to be healed. We will ask for the grieving to be comforted. So another answer to Jesus’ question is: “Lord, have mercy on us and on those for whom we pray.” That answer is based in the gracious statement made about Jesus: “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

And this morning, many of you will receive the Sacrament of the Altar. In that sacrament, several requests will be made of Jesus. We want Jesus to grant us forgiveness, life, and salvation. We want Jesus to bring us the benefits of His all-availing sacrifice of His body and blood on the cross. So another answer to Jesus’ question is: “I want You to feed us with your sacred meal.” That answer is based in the gracious statement made by Jesus: “Take, eat; this is My body given for you…. Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus asks the question: “What do you want Me to do for you?” When He does, He has no desire to hear only silence from His people. He doesn’t want His followers to be afraid to ask Him for anything. He doesn’t want to have you think that your requests aren’t important to Him or that your situation is too minor to be concerned with. And He certainly does not want any thought that you have some sort of condition that is too much for Him to address. No such responses are to come from you.

Instead, Jesus wants you to be like Bartimaeus. Get His full attention. Be bold and persistent. Keep asking, even if others might rebuke you or call you to silence. But even more importantly, be like Bartimaeus who exhibited the true and correct faith in Jesus’ identity, will, and ability. Those have been revealed to you. That revelation comes through the Old Testament texts which foretold what the LORD’s Messiah would do. That revelation comes through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ words and works. That revelation comes through the Epistles which proclaim the result of Christ’s accomplishments for humanity. In that revelation, you hear the gracious statements that Jesus makes, including what He desires you to ask of Him.

So you have the answer to His question: “What do you want Me to do for you?” You can say: “Lord Jesus, Son of the Father, eternal High Priest, Lamb of God: You have made atonement for the sins of the world; You continue to make intercession for mankind. I want You to fulfill the promises that You have made. I recognize my sin; forgive it. I know my mortality; give me eternal life. I understand that this world will come to an end; make me part of Your eternal kingdom. I believe that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life; guide me in the path of righteousness. I trust that You are my Redeemer; restore me completely, so that I can be with all others who have trusted in Your identity, will, and ability.” And when the Lord Jesus hears such requests, the answer will be: “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And like Bartimaeus, you can follow Jesus on the way to salvation.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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