Today’s first scripture reading from Mark 1:16-20 is about the time when Jesus invited Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become his first disciples as they followed him and learned how to fish for people. Leaving behind all they had ever known and living with faith in following Jesus, these pair of brothers leave behind all they have known and follow Jesus as he began his public ministry by the Sea of Galilee.
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
While today’s first scripture lesson contains the requirements for becoming fishers of people, today’s second scripture lesson is the culmination of a new set of requirements for following Jesus as taught by Jesus in Mark 8:34-36:
He called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If any wish to come[i] after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
In the light of this teaching by Jesus, I invite us to hear the story of Jesus’ concluding invitation to discipleship as found 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.
Jesus was walking the path of the cross as he came upon Bartimaeus who was shouting Jesus’ name and identifying him as the Son of David. Hearing Bartimaeus, Jesus stood still on the journey that began by the Sea of Galilee and concluded at Calvary. Hearing Bartimaeus, Jesus performed the last healing account in the Gospel of Mark as Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus on the way of the cross.
Like Peter, Andrew, James, and John, Bartimaeus began his walk of faith by leaving behind all he had ever known. Where Peter, Andrew, James, and John left behind their fishing nets, Bartimaeus left behind his beggar’s robe which he had cast off when Jesus called him.
To appreciate the significance of this act of faith, it is important to understand that in biblical days, being blind was often seen as a curse. Since there was really no way to support themselves financially, beggars were given cloaks, which gave them permission to beg. Beggars were defined by the cloak they wore.
From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ ministry is about calling people to follow him. Whether it was Jesus beginning his journey to the cross by calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow or Jesus stopping on his journey to the cross to heal a blind beggar and tell Bartimaeus to follow, the calling was the same – to follow Jesus as we live into a new identity through Jesus and witness into a new identity as we follow Jesus on the way.
Rev. John Barr was an African American clergy member of the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church. One of his appointments included being a chaplain at the Veteran’s Hospital in Richmond. In a newspaper interview, he told of his work and the “intensity” of being with someone at a significant time in life. John stated that on too many occasions, that significant time is before death.
He said, “I remember a man who had all of the worst racial attitudes toward me. But before he died, we eventually hit it off.” At first, he called Chaplain Barr by racial terms which were less than complimentary, but John did not reject him. Instead, he accepted this man in God’s love. John reported that “eventually the man worked out, Chaplain Barr said, “he worked out his anger as he cast aside the identity of hatred and prejudice that had defined his life. John reported that at 4:00 a.m. on the day he died, the man pulled John to the level of his bed, hugged him, and whispered, “Thanks.”
Where is Jesus calling you to follow?
by Pastor Marc Brown
June 19, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Mark 1:16-20, Mark 10:46-52
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for June 19, 2021
Scripture Lesson Mark 1:16-20, Mark 10:46-52
The Good News “Following Jesus”
Music “Jesus, I Will Follow”
Closing Music “A Father’s Quiet Strength” by Lani Smith