Go Jesus is Calling You

I was reading this week about a study on the difference between turning points in our lives and transitions in our lives.

The study states that a turning point is a time when you make an internal decision or change that may not become immediately obvious to others or perhaps even yourself.  A turning point may be a time like meeting your future spouse or applying to college or grad school.

A transition involves a change in external circumstances, something that you and other people can easily point to at the time.
December 10, 2015, British Psychology Society Research Digest

One of the turning points in my life occurred when my father spoke with me one evening about attending college.  I was 17 and had not applied myself to my studies as I should have in high school.  My father valued education because he had to drop out of high school at the age of 14 to work and help provide support for his family during the Great Depression.  I was not planning to attend college, but through my conversation with my father, I made a decision to apply to the local community college.  It was because of this internal decision, this turning point in my life, that I would eventually attend Radford College where Beverly turned my head when she and I met each other three years later.

One of the transitions of my life occurred after a conversation I had, at the age of 20, with Chacko Mani, an Indian pastor and founder of a school for the education and training of Indian pastors.  As Chacko and I were eating dinner, he told me he thought God was calling me to become a pastor.  I agreed with Chacko and the course of my life visibly changed as I changed my major from accounting to philosophy and religion in my junior year of college.  A second transition in my life occurred when Beverly and I were married on May 21, 1978.  Our marriage was a transition from our engagement to each other to a visible commitment of our lives with each other as the course of our lives visibly changed as wife and husband.

George Matheson was a Scottish minister, hymn writer, and author who encountered a transition in his life as he began to experience loss of sight at the age of 17 and total blindness at the age of 20.  In 1886, he became minister of St. Bernard’s Parish Church in Edinburgh, Scotland.  A story is told of an elderly woman who was a member of that church who lived in a cellar in filthy conditions.  After some months of Matheson’s ministry, communion time came around.  When the elder went to this woman’s cellar to share the elements, he found she had moved.  He tracked her down and found her in an attic room.  She was dirt poor and there were no luxuries, but the attic was as light and airy and clean as the cellar had been dark and dismal and dirty.  He said to her, “I see you’ve changed your house.”  She replied, “Aye, I have.  You cannot hear George Matheson preach and live in a cellar.”

Today’s scripture reading is about a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, one of the few persons who was named in the gospels as being healed by Jesus.  I invite you to hear the transitional story of Bartimaeus as told in Mark 10:46-52.

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. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 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.”  So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

This is a story about transition in Bartimaeus’ life, a visible moment when the story of Bartimaeus’ life changed from blindness to sight as Jesus said, “Go, your faith has made you well.”

The story of Jesus’ healing of Bartimaeus in the 10th chapter of Mark is the last healing story recorded in the Gospel of Mark as the 11th – 15th chapters of Mark record the last week of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry that extends from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.

If we are able to see with eyes of faith today, we shall see that this story is about a transition for both Bartimaeus and Jesus.  It is the visible moment when Jesus shares a new invitation to follow him as the path of the cross defines him as the Messiah.  Prior to this healing story, Jesus’ invitation to discipleship has been given with the words “follow me.”  “Follow me” was the call that Jesus extended to Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Levi in the first and second chapters of Mark. “Follow me” was the call Jesus extended in Mark 8 as Jesus extends the second invitation to discipleship as he invites his disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow.  “Follow me” was the call Jesus extended to the rich young man earlier in the tenth chapter of Mark, but the whole narrative of Jesus’ invitation to discipleship changes in the transitional story of Bartimaeus and Jesus with these words:

“Go, your faith has made you well.”  Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.”

The next time the word “go” is used in Mark is the 7th verse of the concluding 16th chapter as the women who went to Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning meet a messenger from God who gives them a transitional message to share with Jesus’ disciples:

“But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

Why did the invitation to be a disciple of Jesus change from “follow me” to “go” with the story of Bartimaeus?  I believe the reason for this transition is because the healing of Bartimaeus contains the first occasion in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus allows his identity as the Messiah to be revealed by someone other than himself.  Until the story of Bartimaeus, Jesus had rebuked anything and anyone who had tried to identify him as the Messiah.  The 25th verse of the 1st chapter of Mark tells of Jesus telling an unclean spirit to be silent after the spirit attempted to define Jesus as “the Holy One of God.”  The 33rd verse of the 8th chapter of Mark tells of Jesus rebuking Peter by telling Peter to “Get behind me, Satan!” after Peter tries to get Jesus to change his teaching about his crucifixion.  When Bartimaeus called Jesus the “Son of David,” he was not trying to control Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, he was confessing the identity of Jesus as the Messiah.

I mentioned earlier that the story of Bartimaeus is one of the few times that the name of a person who is healed by Jesus is recorded.  I think the reason the name of Bartimaeus is recorded is not because Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus.  I think the reason Bartimaeus’ name is recorded is because Bartimaeus became a disciple of Jesus as he followed Jesus after Jesus commanded him to go.  It was a transitional moment when Jesus told Bartimaeus to go that Bartimaeus followed Jesus.

Don Larson is the CEO of Sunshine Nut Company.  He tells of the transition that occurred in his life when he started this company after enjoying a successful 25-year career in the corporate food industry.  In 2011, he gave it all up and moved his family to Mozambique to start this company.  He says it was not an immediate decision.  During his time as Director of Cocoa Operations at Hershey, he traveled to developing nations to secure cocoa and witnessed the effects of extreme poverty firsthand.

He had worked for years as the go-to “turnaround guy” at Hershey solving seemingly insurmountable problems in varying departments. This role led him to a problem that truly felt impossible – but that didn’t stop him from wanting to solve it.  In 2007, he turned down a major career move and left his corporate life for a spiritual journey to discover God’s true purpose for his life. It was in this season of listening and waiting that Larson reports that God spoke to him with clarity that was almost audible – saying, “Go and build food factories in developing nations to bring lasting economic transformation.” Through prayer and solitude, he then developed the Sunshine Approach business model, focusing on transforming lives at every level of the business.

Not long after, he was led to Mozambique and its abundance of amazing cashews to start this grand adventure. Faced with a calling he had little desire to fulfill, he chose to be obedient to God’s call to go.  His wife and he sold everything they owned and moved their family to Mozambique.

Larson reports that since they transitioned to Mozambique in 2011, they have found their own lives transformed. In the past nine years, they have built a world-class food factory hiring primarily adult orphans. They have developed relationships with orphanages and other community organizations throughout Mozambique where they support and develop projects with 90% of their profits. In 2014, they landed on US shelves and today, they have an all-African staff of 30.

Where is Jesus calling you to go?

by Pastor Marc Brown
October 24, 2021

Accompanying Scriptures: Mark 10:46-52

(full online service video below)

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for October 24, 2021


The Good News                              “Go”

Scripture Lesson                          Mark 10:46-52


Closing Music                           “Show Us Christ”         Doug Plank


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