We are on Day Eight of quarantine.
I don’t know if any of you have gone through this at all. But…
Quarantining when others aren’t?
It makes you feel like an outcast.
Sometimes I just look out my front window and think:
“Oh, dog walkers. Wish I could be included in your dog walk.”
“Oh, pizza deliver guy. You don’t know how good you have it.”
“Oh, Amazon delivery person, you lead such an exotic life. You’re probably doing something amazing and exciting…
…like delivering Baking Soda.
Must be nice.
But if I had it bad, I think Julianna has had it worse.
She’s been quarantining from us.
Not able to touch Daniela.
Not able to hug her.
Not able to just sit and enjoy a meal with the family.
When she comes to the door to request some water, we back up.
Go back to your bedroom, outcast.
Maybe you understand.
COVID has a lot of us feeling like outcasts.
But to be fair…
Feeling like an outcast was a thing long before COVID.
Today we are going to see how Jesus deals with outcasts. Before we do, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth. Your word is the truth. Open our eyes to see how you want us to see, to hear how you want us to hear, to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Outcast
The true account starts in Mark 10:46, “As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road begging.”
It notes that Jesus and his disciples are in Jericho. It’s a fairly large city in the ancient world. Jesus has gathered a fairly large crowd from this very large city.
I bet that crowd was made up of lots of people.
Merchants and farmers.
Scribes and teachers.
Mothers and fathers.
People who live on the North side.
And people who live on the South side.
But there is one person who was not a part of the crowd.
His name literally means, “Son of Timaeus.” It’s like the Ancient Jewish way of saying, “Junior” or “Timaeus the Second.”
I don’t know what Bartimaeus’ dad Timaeus was like.
But dads are part of the genes, so they tend to pass things on to their kids.
Maybe, Timaeus passed on his blue eyes.
Maybe, Timaeus passed on his love of corn bread.
Maybe, Timaeus passed on his receding hair line.
But there is one thing that Timaeus passed on in his genetic code.
Whether Timaeus himself dealt with it or not.
Bartimaeus couldn’t see.
As a result, he was an outcast. You can see it highlighted in the text.
He was an outcast by LOCATION. Notice that verse 46 starts with Jesus entering Jericho. Then, a crowd develops around him in Jericho. Then, Jesus and the crowd leave Jericho.
It isn’t until the crowd is leaving that Jesus crosses Bartimaeus’ path.
That means Bartimaeus was outside the city.
By the gate.
At the city.
But not in the city.
He was an outcast by OCCUPATION. As verse 46 notes, he was a beggar. That was his job.
And begging is a unique occupation.
Because when you are begging, you don’t offer a good or a service in return.
In fact, this mentions that Bartimaeus was sitting.
He wasn’t on his feet pretending to be a robot.
He didn’t offer anyone some candy at a discount price.
He wasn’t playing on his violin with a donation hat on the ground in front of him.
He wasn’t doing anything.
Because he didn’t have anything to offer.
Other than the offer to leave you alone, if you only gave him a dollar.
He was an outcast by IDENTITY.
Because did you notice what comes first in verse 46?
Not his name.
I’m sure that’s how people knew him.
“Did you see that blind guy on the side of the road?
“Yep, the blind guy asked for money.”
“Man, I’m sick of the blind guy asking for money.”
He had a name.
But I wonder how many people used it.
II. The In Crowd
When Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus…, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v.47)
I wonder how Bartimaeus realized it was Jesus.
It doesn’t seem like anyone reached out to tell him on purpose.
I doubt anyone ran to get him.
I doubt anyone shouted out to him.
I know that nobody texted him: “Hey Jesus is here. Where are you?”
He probably heard some noise.
More noise than usual.
A crowd full of noise.
He started asking, “Hey! What’s that noise? What’s going on? Somebody tell me?”
And it wasn’t until he almost bumped into a member of the crowd that he heard, “Get out of my way. I’m trying to follow to Jesus.”
Bartimaeus quickly responded:
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
David was a legendary Old Testament figure. He’s the kid who killed Goliath, the king that secured Israel’s prosperity, and the poet that wrote more than half the book of Psalms.
He also was prophesied to be the great, great, great, great, many times over, grandfather of the Messiah:
I will raise up for David a righteous Branch…In his days Judah will be saved…This is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’ (Jeremiah 23:6)
Bartimaeus knew this prophecy.
Bartimaeus knew of Jesus.
And Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, knew that Jesus, the son of David, was the Messiah.
He’s shouting, because he’s confident!
Unfortunately, the crowd is just as confident… that he is being a nuisance: Many told him to be quiet. (v.48a)
Quiet. He’s busy with his crowd.
You don’t belong with him.
Stop bothering him, will ya.
But he kept shouting all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v.48)
Jesus heard him.
And Jesus said, “Call him.” (v.48b)
Bartimaeus got up.
He couldn’t see, but he was going to let that stop him from getting to Jesus.
He threw his cloak down.
He bumped into person after person.
Jesus wants to speak with me!
Finally, he reached Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
“Rabbi, I want to see again.” (v.51)
And did you know….
Those were the last words that blind Bartimaeus ever spoke?
Because when he spoke again, he was no longer blind Bartimaeus.
Jesus told him, “Go. Your faith has made you well.” And immediately, he received his sight. (v.51-52)
III. Authority that Cares about Outcasts
This account is more than just a nice story for Bartimaeus. It is filled with important lessons for outcasts and former outcasts.
(1) While Others MOVE ON, Jesus STOPS.
In his lifetime, I wonder how many people had simply passed Bartimaeus by?
Sorry, no money.
Sorry, I don’t carry cash.
Sorry, I gave my last dollar to the other beggar.
I say that because I wonder in my own lifetime how many beggar I’ve passed by.
Sorry, I’m busy.
Sorry, got pastor things to do.
Sorry, no cash – at least easily accessible.
But not Jesus.
Verse 48 said, “Jesus stopped.”
Do you feel like an outcast?
Maybe it’s cause of COVID.
You had it.
You have it.
You’re sequestered because of it.
Maybe it’s depression.
Or a disability.
Or a lack of funding.
Or your background.
Or the color of your skin.
Or because you struggle with a sin that, in your opinion, most don’t struggle with.
What do most do when they see your struggle?
They move on!
They minimize it.
They get back to their lives….and leave you behind!
But not Jesus.
Actually… Jesus is stopping.
He is speaking through this lesson, through these words, through this message:
Jesus cares about you.
(2) While Others REBUKE, Jesus Shows MERCY
I was downtown back when going downtown was a thing.
I remember that on Fayetteville street, there was a beggar sitting on the side of the road.
He was asking people for money as they walked by.
I was a couple 100 feet back, but watch this unfold:
As the beggar asked for money, another pedestrian got in his face.
“Listen buddy. You better back off. Get out of our way. Leave us alone. And get a job.”
Thank goodness Jesus didn’t do that.
He didn’t do it for Bartimaeus in our story.
He had mercy.
He healed him.
And he didn’t do it for us.
He had mercy.
And healed use.
Because the truth is that Jesus saw you.
He saw you in your loneliness.
He saw you in your sadness.
He saw you in your guilt and shame – an outcast - far apart from his kingdom.
And Jesus showed mercy.
He showed mercy to outcasts by becoming an outcast.
He became an outcast from heaven as he walked this earth.
He became an outcast on this earth as he was hung on a cross.
He became an outcast from his Heavenly Father as he took on your sin.
He became an outcast from the living when he died.
He became an outcast from that too.
Because Jesus did that, you are no longer an outcast.
Because Jesus became an outcast, you are no longer out.
Because Jesus became an outcast, you are in.
(3) Jesus Brings the Outcast IN
That’s what he does for Bartimaeus. Did you catch this?
Because look at what happens after he heals Bartimaeus.
Immediately, Bartimaeus received his sight and began to follow Jesus. (v.52)
He was in.
He was in the crowd.
He was in the group of disciples.
He was in God’s kingdom.
Friends, because of Jesus you are in.
By faith in your Savior..,
You are IN his kingdom.
You are IN his family.
You are IN his church.
You are IN his graces.
You are IN his forgiveness.
You are IN his crowd.
You are IN his disciples.
You are IN eternal life.
And because of Jesus,
You will be IN heaven.
IV. What Now?
Let’s shift gears then.
We are IN God’s kingdom.
We are IN God’s family.
Jesus, the head of this family, is obviously concerned about bringing outcasts into his family.
Shouldn’t we be that concerned about it too?
Like this Easter, we should have more than just concern to get that one pleasant looking church friend of ours into church.
To be fair, we want that pleasant lady. Absolutely.
But we also want the outcast.
Here’s some ideas from the text on how to do it:
(1) See the Person
Because our world loves labels. We insert labels onto people and think we know everything about them because of that label.
This is the same thing so many did with Bartimaeus.
They just called him “blind guy.”
He saw a soul.
He saw Bartimaeus.
See the soul too.
Don’t see the homeless guy; see your brother.
Don’t see the single mom; see your sister.
Don’t see the foreigner; see God’s child.
Don’t see the drug addict; see someone else Jesus loves.
See the soul, that Jesus saw…
And died for….
And wants in his family…
And might work through you to bring into his family.
Because life is busy.
We’ve gotta get the vaccine, get the kids online, get on the ZOOM call, get the email sent, get the Doordash order in, get caught up on and get to bed, only to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
But there was hustle and bustle for Jesus too.
He was surrounded by a crowd.
In the middle of teaching.
On the road to die for our sins.
Yet he stopped to help Bartimaeus.
There’s two weeks until Easter. Ready for the challenge?
Stop to talk to the one without a home.
Stop to encourage the refugee from another country.
Stop to help the man on the side of the road.
Stop to listen to the person with language difficulties.
Stop to hug the one with special needs.
Stop to converse with physically needy.
Like Jesus stopped.
(3) Take Action
That’s what Jesus did.
He didn’t just care about Bartimaeus.
He took action that showed he cared.
You aren’t Jesus.
You might not be able to fix things in that exact moment the way that Jesus fixed things for Bartimaeus.
But Jesus works through even the smallest faith filled actions.
Buy someone a lunch.
Give ‘em coffee.
Drop off some Easter candy.
Invite them to Easter worship.
Get their number, text them, and check in on them.
In order to accomplish Jesus’ mission, we need to reach those who are out…
In order to reach those who are out, we need to do some outreach…
Which leads to the final point…
(4) Make Gethsemane a Place for Outcasts
Because church is our community’s connection to Jesus.
Like it or not, they see Jesus through US.
Are we ready to show them a Jesus that WELCOMES outcasts?
It’s been difficult to make church feel welcoming during COVID.
A lot of things we do during COVID are things that we would have made a very lousy outreach plan prior.
If you aren’t on the list, you can’t get it.
If you aren’t wearing a mask, you can’t get in.
If you’re temperature check out, you can’t get in.
If you were near certain people, you’d better not even come to the door.
We need to go out of our way to make people feel welcome at a time when many will naturally not.
If you see someone at church, you haven’t seen before…
Say “Good morning”
Smile, (if it’s behind a mask) smile with your eyes!
Welcome them to church.
Show them to the coffee mugs.
Communicate to them that they belong.
Before they do.
Did you catch that part in the story?
Jesus told the man, “Go. Your faith has made you well…
Before he made the man well.
Jesus saw past his problem.
Jesus saw past his blindness.
Jesus saw past what made him an outcast.
Jesus already saw him as healed.
He saw HIM as part of the crowd…
Before HE was.
Just like he saw YOU as part of the crowd…
Before YOU were.