The Grapevine



“When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’. ‘Be quiet!’, many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’…’What do you want me to do for you?’, Jesus asked. ‘My rabbi’, the blind man said, ‘I want to see’. And Jesus said to him, ‘Go, for your faith has healed you’. Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.” (excerpts from Mark 10:47-52)

August 9, 2020

Aloha Church Family and Friends,

A classic story tells us about a man who went through his annual medical check-up, and after his tests results were in, the doctor called him to his office and announced, “You are a very healthy man, and you can have a wonderful fulfilling life, as long as you try not to enjoy it too much.  But what is the point of life, if it is full of misery and has no joy? This week’s message is from the gospel of Mark and it is an amazing and deeply inspiring story of a blind, underprivileged man by the name Bartimaeus who overcame incredible odds and moved from being a blind outcast to the glory of new life, miraculous healing, wholeness, peace, fulfillment and true joy. Before his encounter with Jesus, his life was desperate and joyless: the beauty of sunshine, a smile on a friendly face, the glimmer of stars in the sky- none of it was known to him. Since there was no social network to help persons with disabilities, Bartimaeus had no choice but to live in shame, beg for a living and rely on other people’s random kindness. Often circumstances beyond our control determine who we become! For many, this could have been a hopeless situation of living life permanently broken down and depressed, yet for Bartimaeus it was the time for a miracle and a life-changing break-through.

            The beauty of this story is that Bartimaeus had a strong spirit and refused to accept the misery and hopelessness of his situation; he was blind indeed and lived full-time in the world of physical darkness, but the light of hope was burning bright within him and that light propelled him into action with determination and persistence. On our journey of life, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our everyday experiences, God challenges us to recognize and take advantage of the many opportunities to grow that God provides for us; Bartimaeus understood that they didn’t last forever and required immediate and decisive action. Once he discovered that Jesus was close to him, he shouted out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” How did he know that Jesus could heal him? Who told him about God’s miraculous power? Was it just intuition or, was it most likely mysterious work of God’s Spirit reaching out to all who lived in the darkness and guiding them towards the greatness of God? We can’t know for sure, yet whatever it was, the blind man recognized the opportunity of a life time, boldly acted on it and went straight to the source, the only One, the living Son of God. My friends, no matter what our circumstances may be, at some point in our lives we too need to experience a fresh encounter with God, so that our eyes may open to the reality of His presence and the light of God’s truth. For some, it may happen in a dramatic way during a public worship or prayer, others may encounter God’s presence in more subtle and subdued ways. God works with us differently towards the same purpose that we may “know Christ and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10)

            Bartimaeus made another important decision that ensured the positive outcome: he disregarded the negative voices that tried to prevent him from reaching out to Jesus. The crowd tried to put him down and told him to be quiet. Perhaps, in their eyes he could never amount to anything more than a blind and pushy beggar, a poor and wretched outcast suffering because of his sins. In spite of that, he knew better and was not going to allow a bunch of idle bystanders to rob him of his dream. God’s challenge for us all is to stand firm, not cower under pressure, believe in God’s promises and not allow negative thinkers and naysayers to prevent us from reaching our full potential, but instead move forward in faith and use unfair criticism to help us refine our character and grow in our reliance on God’s strength.

            And finally, the story of this blind man is your story and mine as well. Since the time of Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden of Eden, we too are born into the world of darkness to a life of wandering around in the midst of fleeting shadows, craving for something better, yearning for meaning and higher purpose, searching in all the wrong places and trying in desperation things that leave us empty and wanting for even more. And then by the grace of God, if we don’t give up, a life changing miracle happens in our lives: God calls us out of the world of shadows, our hearts and our eyes open to the presence of His awesome power, and as we respond in faith, leave behind our old beggar clothes, draw closer and trust Him, His light of Love and Truth changes us forever.

            Keeping you and your loved ones in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless us all!

Pastor Alex Tychkin, Lihue United Church