Friday, January 1, 2010
The responses of blind Bartimaeus and the grace of God..How a blind man’s encounter w/ Jesus 2,000 years ago became mine..
“He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind.”Luke 4:18
Have you read it? Mark 10:46-52, it’s awesome. I’ll say a lot about it, but you should go see what God says about it. This all begins with morning 1 of Christmas break. My mom has this legit leather chair in the corner of our living room and I had parked myself there for the morning and read. Going into break I tried to avoid what I have commonly done in the past and bring with me a seminary library. Mostly because it’s always been cool to come back from break with a few more C.S. Lewis and Piper quotes under my belt. I did ok this break, I think. I brought a few and a commentary that was proving helpful as I journeyed through the first century Middle East w/ the King of Glory (I will have a few points from it intermingled in this). The six verses grabbed me and raddled my cage. As I finished reading I prayed that I would respond as Bartimaeus would. Here’s how He and he did.
In the gospel, we meet Bartimaeus , a blind beggar, on the side of the road as Jesus and His disciples are going from Jericho to Jerusalem. The commentary I am reading kindly explained that this was a strategic place to get his beg on. Merchants and the prosperous as well as the poor would be on their way to Jerusalem to worship and would use this road. Along the way they may be inclined to give him change. It says that he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth and, “he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
1.His first response is to Jesus. He cries for mercy. Before he gets to saying anything else, he wastes zero time and the first words out of his mouth are for mercy. My prayer was that over break this would be my response to the Son of God. For the mercy that I need.
“Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?” Proverbs 20: 9.
Blah, I wish I hated sin more. There are particular ones in my life that I am more than aware of the need of cutting myself off of. Over break the Lord did a big work to show me how casual I am about the sin that is in my life. As came up in a convo w/ a good friend of mine,
“If we treat our sin as casual we must treat the cross as casual.” There is nothing less biblical than a casual cross.
Through the rest of break my eyes and heart were directed to scripture that expressed the reality of believing that I am no longer enslaved to sin;“For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:10-11. And the necessity of bringing it to light, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship w/ one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
I was starting to see that I failed to respond to Jesus by crying for mercy because I felt I had no need for it.
There is a certain type of callus that forms over the heart when there is no need for mercy. The kind that turns your heart cold, hard, and impenitent (unrepentant) and when that happens of course there is no need to cry for mercy from the One who embodies it. Nothing will destroy you faster.
The account in Mark continues w/ a crowd of people trying to hush Bartimaeus, “And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, Son of David have mercy on me!”v48 This struck me deeply. This blind beggar, was crying over the hush of crowd for mercy. In the face of serious adversity to cry to Christ from others that this man probably felt lower than and had been treated w/ contempt from, he pushed aside the scorn of these people to continue his plea.
And I was barely putting up a fight.
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6.
This is a life and death situation. My friend asked me during our conversation, “What are you willing to do? What are you willing to give up in order to bring these things to light? To Christ?” John Piper calls it a “wartime lifestyle”. This was one of the many things that I sought to grip again as reality. Until this life and death reality sets in, our hearts will remain hard and our lips silent and the hush that we hear around us is all we hear.
This is one of the many things the Lord has begun in my heart and continues to as I hope to do as Bartimaeus. I pray this will be true for many of us that have grown silent. Growing in my understanding and thankfulness for the mercy shown me on the Cross and that it’s all I can do to cry out for it knowing that w/out it I would still be in the dark w/ my sin. I pray this would happen for more of us. That we would see that Jesus is “the true light which enlightens everyone..” John 1:9 and exposes us for what we really are.. “and this is the verdict: the light has come into the world (Christ), and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who doe wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light..”John 3:19-21.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love..”Psalm 51:1a
That we would never cease in knowing Jesus. To know that His gospel is and cross is love (1 John 4:10) and pleading for mercy and bringing our sins to the light of Christ and the body of Christ.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
My thoughts that follow are a silly attempt to make sense of the wisdom of Christ, but bear with them. My hope is that if anything, this will help us join the multitudes that marveled at the wisdom of the Jesus. I won’t expound this whole incident so know that’s not my attempt.
For a few days now, I have been chewing on the interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes in Mark 7:1-23. The whole altercation between the Pharisees and Jesus’ disciples for not washing their “defiled” hands is incredible. Quick run down; the issue of Jesus’ disciples not washing their hands meant on the one hand that Jesus Himself did not abide by this tradition either. That didn’t sit well with them. Second, that the Pharisees’ frustration came not from a refusal to wash their hands to obey God, but that they did not follow the tradition set by men from history of old. What happens next is Jesus accusing these religious men of being “hypocrites” and using the OT to define them, “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Jesus was using God’s words through the prophet Isaiah 29:13 and then summed up it for them. The Pharisees and scribes were well acquainted with this text and probably would have never thought to hear it used against them. You can practically hear the voices in the streets in the distance as those who stood in close proximity drew quiet with the silent blazing gaze of the man who was God cutting straight to the hearts of these religious men as He does to me as well.
Since I’ve read that some days ago my heart continues to wrestle with the reality the Pharisees were in and the accuracy of Christ’s words about them and I. It’s a dangerous place to be; to attempt to give honor to the perfect God of the universe with your lips and yet have your heart remain distant from the one who knows its condition best(v14-23). I’ve asked the typical question before of, how could I respond to God with honor if my heart is far from him? Later Christ explains that there is nothing more deceptive in me than my own heart; “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”v21-23. The adherence of hand washing to not be defiled before God was like trying to put a band-aid on a cancer patient and telling them they are well.
What haunts me is the place I have often found myself lately and that’s the tradition of words. Trying to sprinkle my defiled self with them to be clean before God, but my attempts have and will always be futile. My fear brothers and sisters, is the creation of a Christian culture and a tradition of Christian words that are easy to fling around. For example I was in a conversation with a friend that used the word, “theological” several times in a phrase and never once properly. Words such as sanctification, propitiation, and repentance are precious, beautiful words that convey a powerful testimony of the work of God, but are in need of us looking into before we show them about. For others, this may sound like the “typical” bible answer you give that you’re sure is correct, but hold no conviction in. Either way, it’s easy to hide behind a barrage of terms and just get to the edge of the real issue; our ugly defiled hearts that soil us entirely and much more than any amount of dirt on our hands.
We are not saved by the amount of grace we can discuss. But by grace you have been saved through faith. (Eph 2:5)
What is beautiful about the whole interaction in early Mark 7 is the relationship between the phrases, “and their hearts are far from me [God]”v6 and “for from within, out of the heart of man,….they defile a person.”v21-23. The relationship is that God wants these ugly, nasty, putrid, evil, lustful, idolatrous, murderous, prideful, foolish hearts close to Him, to honor Him. Not our words!!! Our ability to talk will never justify us enough to bring our hearts to God. What does?
At this point (and daily) we can relate well to the words of David in Psalm 51; “create in me a clean heart, O’ God.”v10.
Praise God for this next truth, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”Hebrews 9:13-14
O precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow…
I’m not at all against using words that are more than one syllable and end in “tion” when talking with people. But when used for the sake of trying to convince ourselves and others we are near to God when all we do is mask the reality that our hearts were and are far from God without Christ and can fog the gospel.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It's taken some time now to really attempt to cultivate any desire to write. In the past, I've written my thoughts and they've either found their way to the recycling bin on my desktop, my saved documents, or maybe if I would gather the cahonez to post it on facebook and sort of wait for some sort of response as if that was it's purpose in the beginning. What is interesting to me is already I am milling over the thought of "success". Maybe a better word is popularity.For this.For some reason a blog seems to be a source of gaining that sort of "casual popularity" people enjoy so that they and I could find minimal boasting in it and write it off as nothing. But boasting is boasting to call a spade a spade.
After some time though I was wanting an "out" for some of my thoughts,the one's I may think matter or make sense really haha. I've come to a point where I am not really concerned with popularity or success over my thoughts. I understand that probably sounded arrogant. I've become aware that I have had this attempt for some time of trying to come up with an "original thought" in regards to Jesus, the gospel, Christianity, life, etc that might make people take notice. Why? My sin says, "be original". My God says, "I'm original". or rather,
To call a spade a spade.
I enjoy talking. I enjoy writing. I wish I had time to talk more to people. So this is the grind of this brew.
To do so because all I can or would want to do goes back to Him despite my attempts to do otherwise..
Welcome! I look forward to what comes..