I started work on Mark 10:46-52 early this morning, preparing to preach the 10th and final week of Jesus Uncensored this Sunday at LifePoint. It is turning out to be one of my favorite texts in the entire gospel of Mark thus far. There is some amazing stuff in these seven verses. Every time I read through it again I see something new.
It’s a pretty well-known story, as it chronicles the blind beggar Bartimaeus, who called out to Jesus, refusing to be quieted. As Jesus passed by, he called out loudly “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those around Jesus immediately attempted to silence his boisterous plea, but instead of ‘getting back in line’ as it were, Bartimaeus only grew louder. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Half-way through the passage, as the tension builds, the first three words of verse 49 just exploded on my face today.
“And Jesus stopped…”
If you’ve been neck-deep in the gospel of Mark for the last nine months, as we have at LifePoint, those three words come as no surprise to you. It seems like Jesus always stopped. I almost said it out loud as I sat at a coffee shop near my house reading this text, “Again!”
I started to wonder: how many times does Mark report that Jesus turned a seeming interruption into a redemptive encounter? How many times was Jesus headed somewhere, engaged in teaching or focused on something specific; only to be interrupted, stop what he’s doing, change plans, and compassionately meet a need or perform a miracle?
So I counted.
In the first 10 chapters we see this happen at least 19 times.
Chapter 1: 4 times
- Demon-possessed man in synagogue who interrupted his teaching
- Simon’s mother-in-law laying sick as they entered the house for dinner
- Sick and demon-oppressed brought to him at Simon’s house until the late-night hours
- Leper on the road as he travelled through Galilee to teach
Chapter 2: 1 time
- Paralytic man carried to him by 4 friends let down through roof as he was teaching
Chapter 3: 2 times
- Man with withered hand in synagogue
- Healed various diseases from great crowd that almost crushed him as he taught
Chapter 4: 1 time
- Woken up from nap in the boat and calms the storm
Chapter 5: 3 times
- Confronted by and delivers Gerasene demoniac
- Stopped by and heals woman with issue of blood on his way to perform another healing
- Approached and recruited by Jairus’ to heal his daughter
Chapter 6: 3 times
- Healed a few sick in home town despite unbelief
- Fed 5,000 after teaching when disciples brought up issue of crowd’s hunger
- Healed various diseases at Gennesaret after a boat ride there
Chapter 7: 2 times
- Heals Syrophoenician woman’s daughter
- Heals deaf man on the road
Chapter 8: 1 time
- Heals blind man at Bethsaida
Chapter 9: 1 time
- Heals boy with unclean spirit at foot of the mountain when disciples couldn’t do it
Chapter 10: 1 time
- Heals blind man Bartimaeus after he calls out to Jesus passing by
And Jesus stopped..
As I was chronicling all these events from the first 10 chapters of Mark, I suddenly felt an enormous sense of conviction, followed by an amazing feeling of hope. The conviction was accompanied by this thought: How often do I stop? Ouch. How often do I even take the time to slow down and observe to see if I can discern a need in those around me every day? I’m really good at heading certain places and checking items off my daily and weekly agenda. But how well do I do with “interruptions?” How often do I stop? How about you?
That sense of conviction was followed by an amazing feeling of hope. That hope was accompanied by this thought: Jesus still stops…every time. He stops for me, he stops for you, he stops for every person who, like the blind beggar Bartimaeus, calls out to him.
Jesus is calling those of us who follow him to follow him. If Jesus stops, we need to stop not stopping.
Jesus said it this way in the Sermon on the Mount:
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.