SCRIPTURE: Mark 10:47 (TM) – larger reading Mark 10:46-52
When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, "Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!"
A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.
"But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."
"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.
"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."
"Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son.
Blind Bartimaeus cried out for mercy… undeserved mercy. Is there any other kind? He had sat by the roadside begging. The crowd following Jesus tried to hush him. Yet he cried. Not because he was special or important or worthy… for no other reason than he was person in need and the one who could meet him at his greatest need was passing his way. “Have mercy on me!”
In our “work-righteousness” way of thinking we develop long lists of “brownie-points”, storing up merits for those times when we need mercy. Boy have we got that all wrong. We’ve twisted the biblical revelation to our way of thinking. In our diluted and misguided way we cry out for mercy. We expect mercy to be granted not because of who Jesus is, but because of what we have done for the Kingdom… as if what we have accomplished for God earns us the right to mercy. Hmmmm…
As in the Napoleon story – mercy wouldn’t be mercy if it were deserved. It is mercy because that is the way God chooses to work in our world. We spend a good deal of our time trying to get our ticket punched for heaven, but miss out on the mercy of God. Why? Mercy only needs to be requested… nothing more… nothing less.
And so these questions: Where do I need to slow down and stop my religious busyness? Where do I need God’s mercy applied to my spiritual blindness? And, where do I need to stop trying to manipulate others into my way of thinking just to make myself feel religiously better? Superior?
Okay God, I get the point that I’m blind just like Bartimaeus and I need your mercy applied to my heart and mind. I get that, but giving up this “brownie-point-earning” thinking is going to be way harder that I can even imagine. Maybe that is where I need your mercy more than at any other point in my life.