Desperation and the Kingdom of God…

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Mark 10:46 (Jesus) 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. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 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.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 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.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. 

I can’t help but contrast this story with one earlier in the chapter about a rich man asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. In this story a “blind beggar” calls out to Jesus in desperation. He knows this is a singular opportunity to be healed by Jesus and he would not be deterred as “Many sternly ordered him to be quiet…”. The story suggests that the man’s persistence is what got Jesus’ attention.

The blind man is clear on what he wants “let me see again”. He doesn’t say, as others did, “If you are able, let me see again.” There is no doubt in this man. He is clear on his desperate need and clear in Jesus’ ability to heal him. And so his wish is granted “Go; your faith has made you well.”

Where this blind beggar had nothing to lose in approaching Jesus, the man of wealth had much to lose. Jesus told him to sell his possessions (and the privilege that comes with wealth), give the proceeds to the poor, and follow him. But the man leaves disappointed, unable to do what Jesus asked. Again we see desperation as a key dynamic in drawing the power of the Kingdom of God.

Years ago I was pastor of a church in urban San Antonio which had a Saturday morning ministry among homeless people living near downtown. When you go to such places on a regular basis you get to know some of the people living there. I heard many stories of how people became homeless. Each story is heartbreaking in its own way. No one decides one day to become homeless. There is usually a series of unfortunate events that compound in a person’s life resulting in one living on the street. These are desperate people with few options.

And yet there were many times when the Kingdom of God would manifest as we prayed for people there. Like the blind man in our passage, these people were out of options. We would cry out to the Lord together and see people be healed or demons come out of them. Or both. Not all the time. Not on every visit. But regularly the Kingdom would come in ways that were discernible – and unmistakable.

I don’t wish desperation on anyone, myself included. But desperation happens. Maybe you are desperate as you read this blog post today. If so, cry out to God. He has a particularly sympathetic ear for the voice of those in need. Lord let it be so. Let your Kingdom come today for many who call out in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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