First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, August 14, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“When Jesus Passed though Jericho!”
As you already know, our summer sermon series has been taking us to places we encounter as we read the gospel narrative. What we’ve been doing is simple, yet profound at the same time. As we get to visit all those different places, we get the chance to reflect on the events took place in there and what they mean to us today. As stated several times, my hope for all of us is to get a glimpse of the greatness and the awesomeness of our God.
We have already visited Cana of Galilee, Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethany, Bethesda, and the town of Nain. Our journey this morning takes us to the town of Jericho. Located in the Jordan valley with the Jordan River to the East, and Jerusalem to the west, Jericho was known as an oasis city. In fact, Herod the Great built his winter palace near Jericho because of its perfect climate and freshwater springs. Since Jericho catered to the rich and powerful during the time of Jesus, homeless outcasts often lined the roads in and out of town asking for help.
Luke tells us an inspiring story that happened in Jericho during Christ’s last visit to the city. Luke tells us as Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man, named Bartimaeus in the other gospels, was sitting by the roadside begging. Upon knowing it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Lord, let me recover my sight!” Luke tells us that, “Immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”
So as we reflect on this story today, I would like to underscore two lessons; two ways this healing story speaks to us today:
First: There are Opportune Spiritual Moments
There are opportune spiritual moments when Jesus passes by. Every day was the same in Bartimaeus’ darkened world. He would get up, grope around for a crust of bread, then take his staff and tap-tap his way from his shack out to his normal spot. When Bartimaeus heard people passing by, he would cry out, “Alms for the blind! Alms for the blind!” Somehow, he eked out enough to survive.
But that day was different. A larger than usual crowd was making its way past Bartimaeus. When he asked what was happening, he was told, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Bartimaeus must’ve said to himself, “I’ve heard of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Son of David, the Messiah! I’ve heard about His marvelous teaching and how He has healed the sick, raised the dead, and opened the eyes of the blind!” Maybe he can help me today.
Bartimaeus knew that this was his window of opportunity. Jesus was passing by. Soon He would be gone, never to pass that way again. Bartimaeus plunged through. He began to shout at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus wouldn’t be silenced. This was his only chance, and he wasn’t going to miss it. Just as Bartimaeus had his opportune moment to cry out to Jesus, I truly believe this is an opportune moment for the church to seek the Lord. Jesus is passing by, and He is the only one with the power to open eyes that have been blinded by sin. Let’s call out to Him while He is near! “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near,” says Isaiah 55:6.
Second: Like Bartimaeus, We, too, Need to Cry out to Jesus
In the face of our spiritual blindness, apathy, and timidity, we need to cry out to Jesus. When Jesus passes by, we should cry out to Him with bold, persistent faith. Bartimaeus wasn’t shy! He cried out for mercy and help. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” I am sure those near him said, “Shut up, old man! We can’t hear what Jesus is saying!” Yet, Bartimaeus shouted even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The ones leading the way yelled, “Tell that beggar to be quiet! The Master has more important things to attend to.” But Bartimaeus wouldn’t be silenced.
When people told Bartimaeus to shut up, he yelled all the louder! He kept shouting until he heard that Jesus was calling for him. His bold, persistent faith obtained what he was after. The Church today should learn many lessons from Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus would tell us don’t be shy to cry out for mercy. Don’t give up. Isaiah 62:6-7 says, “Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen; all day and all night they shall never be silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth.”
Bartimaeus would also tell us, beware of seeking help from all the wrong places. Where you place your help matters. It really does. In Psalm 121:1-2, the Psalmist says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Friends, our visit to Jericho this morning reminds us to take advantage of God’s visitations with us; to seize those opportune spiritual moments. In the past, God visited with His people through the prophets. His ultimate revelation was through His Son, Jesus Christ. God continues to visit with us today through the faithful proclamation of His Word. As Jesus was carrying the cross down the narrow streets of ancient Jerusalem, Luke 19 tells us that Jesus wept over the people of Israel because they “missed the day of God’s visitation.” Unlike the people of Jerusalem, Bartimaeus of Jericho was willing to do whatever it takes to bring himself to Jesus and ask Him for help. “Lord, I want to see,” was the cry of Bartimaeus. May it become our cry too. In the Name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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