Open Blind Eyes
Passage: Mark 10:51–10:52, Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:22–2:36
Pastor Ray Lorthioir
Trinity Lutheran Church
W. Hempstead, NY
Open Blind Eyes
Before we get into the Word of God today, I want to share some things that pertain to God’s left hand — government in this world — and God’s Law, the righteousness He has commanded us to live in. The reason is that it’s election season.
Dennis Prager, a devout Jewish columnist, radio talk show host and the founder of Prager University, recently ran an article on the difference between classical liberalism and leftism that attracted my attention. Here’s part of what he wrote:
“As I have noted repeatedly, liberalism and leftism have virtually nothing in common. In fact, leftism is the enemy of liberalism — as a handful of liberals such as former New York Times writer Bari Weiss, former Young Turk Dave Rubin, and others have come to recognize. The left has never believed in free speech and has suppressed dissent wherever it has assumed power. Free speech is a pillar of liberalism, and it has always embraced dissent. The left rejects the anti-racist ideal of color-blindness. Colorblind is the liberal racial ideal. The left supports racial segregation — such as all-black [college] dorms and separate black graduations. Liberals have always advocated racial integration. The left has always loathed capitalism. Liberals were always major advocates of capitalism — recognizing that only capitalism has lifted billions of people out of poverty. The left has always been anti-Israel. Liberals have always been fervent supporters of Israel. The left has always held America in contempt. Liberals loved this country. A liberal wrote, “God Bless America.” No leftist would write such a song. Leftists want to defund the police. No liberal does. The list of liberal-left differences is as long as the list of left-wing positions. Yet, it is liberals who keep the left in power. Were it not for the liberal vote, the left would have no power . . . . The fate of America and the West lies largely in the hands of liberals. There are simply not enough leftists to destroy our most revered institutions. They need liberals to serve as fellow travelers to accomplish their ends. . . .”
In the course of the article Prager asks a very important question, “why do liberals vote for the left, for the very people who hold them and their values in contempt?” I’m not going to present Mr. Prager’s answer here. I’m simply going to let the question hang in the air. Why, indeed, do liberals vote for those who hold their values in contempt?
Unfortunately, one of the two historic parties in the U.S. is now captive to the left. The only thing classical liberals can do is fight to retake that party or abandon it. The fight to retake it will be a long hard upward climb. I suppose it can be done, but I don’t see anyone actually trying to do it. Therefore, in the mean time, for America’s sake, for the sake of our state, county and town, let liberals stand up and be liberals — and either just not vote for leftists and leftist sympathizers or vote against them. I would repeat this challenge to all Christians, as well. The left hates the church of Jesus Christ. Christians, for the sake of the church, don’t vote or vote against these people.
Christians, there are two other good reasons to reject the leftists. First, they believe in the sacrifice of unborn children to the gods of fornication. Second, they reject the fact that Yahweh has created us male and female. In public schools, they would poison the minds of children — even the youngest — with gender confusion. I heard none other than Russian President, Vladimir Putin, wonder in a recent speech what on earth the West thinks it’s doing trying to wipe out a basic concept of reality like gender. He then pointed out that altering basic concepts of reality is precisely what the radical Bolsheviks attempted in Russia in the 1920’s to the cheers of the world and to Russia’s great harm. To my way of thinking, if anyone knows Marxism and the dangers of Marxism when he sees it, it’s Putin. Therefore, we have been warned by an expert on communism.
As someone has said, all politics is local. And this year’s elections are all local — town and county. Who do you want for district attorney, for instance? One candidate for DA wrote the law that eliminated criminal bail in New York State. What’s the purpose of that? What will he do as DA? If we look at leftist DA’s in other parts of the country — some of them funded by George Soros — the result is a disastrous rise in crime. Therefore, even at the local level we need to tell the party coopted by the Marxists, No. You will not rule us. The destiny of our country and the preservation of our precious freedoms depend on the rejection of the Marxist political left. Just tell them — No.
Now, there’s a reason why I’ve begun this sermon preaching on the Law and God’s left hand of government. Next Sunday is Reformation Sunday. That’s not a good occasion for politics. The following Sunday is All Saints Sunday, and it’s also after the elections. So I’m saying these things today.
Let’s turn now to God’s right hand and what He’s doing through His Church through Law and Gospel. Our gospel lesson today, the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus, records the final event and miracle of Jesus’ three year public ministry. In Mark, the very next events are Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and from there the events of Holy Week, Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Because of Reformation Sunday and All Saints Sunday we won’t be back in Mark until November 14th. And then there will be only one more reading from Mark on the 21st, the final Sunday of the Church year. That Sunday will also be our Thanksgiving celebration. The readings on the 14th and 21st will be from the 13th chapter of Mark where Jesus prophesied during Holy Week about the very last days of this earth and His triumphant Second Coming in glory. So beginning today, we’re looking forward to the Second Coming of Messiah.
Are there supposed to be two comings of Messiah according to Moses and the Prophets? When Lord Holy Spirit was poured out on the Apostles they found the place it’s written in Psalm 110:1, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’”
Psalm 110 was long recognized as a Messianic psalm. David wrote it. And Jesus taught about it this way in Matthew 22:41-46, “41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ ‘The son of David,’ they replied. 43 He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him “Lord”? For he says, 44 “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” 45 If then David calls him “Lord,” how can he be his son?’ 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
The reason no one could answer was that they were adamantly unwilling to admit what Psalm 110 clearly teaches. Whoever the Son of David is, he is greater than David himself. For a king never calls his son, Lord. The son of a king always calls his father, Lord. Yet, in the psalm, David calls His Son Lord, because Yahweh says to call Him that. And so David does. Therefore, it’s clear the Son is someone far greater than David, the father. Just how much greater was the question. And the Pharisees absolutely refused to entertain the idea that this psalm applied to Jesus of Nazareth in any way. So, from their stubborn hearts they could say nothing in reply to Jesus’ question.
On the other hand, on the Day of Pentecost 33A.D., the Apostle Peter strung Psalm 110:1 together with Psalm 16:8-11. So we read in Acts 2:22-36, “22 [Peter preached] ‘Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, [that would be the Roman gentiles] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: “I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” [That’s Psalm 16:8-11] 29 Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. [In other words, David wasn’t referring to himself in Psalm 16:8-11] 30 But he [David] was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. [This is found in 2Samuel 7:11-13] 31 Seeing what was ahead, he [David] spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” 36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’”
That’s the tremendous role of Psalm 110:1 in the narrative of Yahweh’s Son, Messiah Jesus. But did you notice the word, “until” in Psalm 110:1? Messiah will sit at the right hand of Yahweh until all His enemies have been conquered and are destroyed under His feet. The word “until” clearly indicates that there will be a period of time on earth between the time Messiah ascends to sit at the right hand of Yahweh’s throne and the time all His enemies are finally subdued. This is the time between the first and second coming of Messiah. For, Messiah will return in powerful, divine victory over all those who have hated, despised and ignored Him down through the centuries.
Now, the enemies of Yahweh are clearly described in Scripture. It’s every creature, angelic and human, who has risen up in rebellion with a desire to be their own god. Horribly, that would include every human on the planet — all of us born in original sin.
But the Gospel good news is that in spite of us, God has made this Jesus whom we crucified, both Lord and Christ. We put Jesus to death so that we would not have to come under His authority and have Him as Lord. We definitively showed Yahweh that we would not have Him or His Messiah.
However, nothing can stop Yahweh. So, He made Jesus Lord and then poured out Lord Holy Spirit upon us so that we might believe the good news, be delivered and healed of our original sin, have the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth as both Lord and Messiah and be transformed from God’s enemies into obedient children of our heavenly Father. Glory be to our loving Father in heaven for the incomparable riches of His grace!
But we have not been completely healed in this life. We remain at the same time both saints and sinners. For this reason we remain dependent upon the immeasurable grace of God throughout this life. And it’s for this reason that we have come here this morning to receive anew forgiveness of our sins, life and salvation by faith in the Word of God and in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In Christ, we have come here to pray for one another, encourage and be strengthened by one another as we wait for the return of Messiah. For, redeemed by the blood of Messiah, we await the return of Messiah, not as enemies of God expecting judgment and wrath, but as children of God expecting eternal righteous life with our Creator.
However, we’ll have to wait until the full number of the children of God are gathered into God’s Kingdom from Israel and all the nations. And that might yet be a long time. So, in the meantime, the children of God, freed from sin, death and the power of the devil, are given grace through the Holy Spirit to live free from sin and the power of the devil and to do the good works appointed for them by God.
So in the time of the year when we look forward to Christ’s return, we’re introduced to a man named Bartimaeus in this morning’s gospel. Unlike the nameless rich man who never became a disciple, this man’s name is remembered for all time in the gospels. I’m going to guess this is because he became a well known disciple of Jesus Christ.
One thing is for certain, although Bartimaeus was a blind beggar, he knew more about Jesus than any pharisee. This is clear because he called Jesus, “Son of David.” That’s the title of Messiah, the very title the pharisees avoided a few days later.
Jesus responded to that title and called Bartimaeus to Him. What happened next is one of several incidences where Jesus recognized that a person had faith in Him. Mark 10:51-52, “51 ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ 52 ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”
Bartimaeus did not have some kind of random, nebulous faith in some kind of whatever. Rather his faith had a specific object. It was targeted on Jesus. By calling Jesus, “Son of David” it’s obvious he believed Jesus was the long expected Messiah. And apparently he knew from Moses and the Prophets that when Messiah appeared, He would make blind eyes see. That was the kind of faith Bartimaeus had. And that’s the faith that brought home the healing he desired. It was faith in Messiah Jesus. Period. That’s why Jesus said, “your faith has healed you.”
Now by saying, “Go,” Jesus gave Bartimaeus permission to go anywhere he liked. But our text says that receiving his sight Bartimaeus followed Jesus. That’s why I’m guessing that Bartimaeus became a well known disciple of Jesus, even though we don’t hear anything further of him in Scripture.
Of course, Bartimaeus followed Jesus right into Jerusalem with the Palm Sunday crowd. That was a very expectant crowd. They thought Messiah had come, and they were correct. Only they didn’t know that the Suffering Messiah had come to Jerusalem. After His resurrection, Jesus left Jerusalem, ascending into heaven as the Victorious Messiah. And He will come from there again to Jerusalem as the Victorious Messiah. Only this time every eye will see Him as He truly is.
I wonder if Bartimaeus witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. I wonder if he might have been among the 500 who at the same time witnessed Jesus resurrected from the dead. One thing is for sure. Whatever Bartimaeus may have seen, we know it was with God’s gift of sight.
Upon the occasion of the healing of another blind man in John chapter 9, Jesus said in John 9:39, “. . . ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’” Bartimaeus received the gift of physical sight because he had already received spiritual sight. On the other hand the pharisees in Jerusalem who claimed to be spiritually sighted were made spiritually blind by Jesus. They refused to see that Jesus was the fulfillment of everything written about Messiah in Moses and the Prophets. And so it remains with the rabbis to this day.
But it’s predicted in Isaiah 32 that a day is coming when a King will reign in righteousness and every person will have righteousness flowing out of them like streams of water. That sounds like the Church. And it predicts in Isaiah 32:3, “Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen.” That’s what is needed for Israel and may this prophecy apply to Israel in due season.
But it’s also needed by many gentiles in this nation. For many in this land have turned their backs upon their Creator. And that’s why we’re in danger of an atheist Marxist takeover as a punishment from on high. In the cold war we thought we were the nation that could see. Ironically, thirty years after its end, Russia is becoming a nation that can see their Creator, even as we go blind. May the Lord have mercy. May He open blind eyes before it is too late. Amen.
All Bible quotes are from the NIV.