Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 2 2013 - Mark 10:32-52 – Have mercy on me

Jesus and his disciples are leaving Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. A large crowd is accompanying them for they know where Jesus is going and want to see what he will do when he arrives in the city of the Great King.

As they leave Jericho they pass by a blind man who is sitting beside the road, begging. Bartimaeus hears the crowds and asks what's going on. When he learns that Jesus is passing he calls out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47). The crowd tell him to be quiet. They do not want Jesus to be distracted from his journey to Jerusalem. But Bartimaeus will not be silenced; he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" (10:48). At last Jesus heard him and called Bartimaeus over to him. His eagerness in calling out is now matched by eagerness of action, “Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus” (10:50). Nor is his pleading finished for he begs Jesus, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (10:51). Jesus immediately healed him from his blindness.

The point that struck me this morning was the persistence of Bartimaeus. He would not be silenced, not even by a crowd shouting at him to shut up. Bartimaeus recognised something of who Jesus is for he addresses him as "Son of David." He must have heard something of the things Jesus had been doing and has reasoned that this must be the Messiah. The one thing of importance to him was that Jesus should have mercy on him. He would not stop his shouting until Jesus heard and responded – or until the crowd had entirely passed by and all hope was lost.

We need to have the same single-minded focus. We continually need the healing touch of Jesus; we are in continual need of his mercy, forgiveness and blessing. We need continually to call upon him for the help that we need. We need to ignore the thousand clamouring voices that tell us to be quiet and remain satisfied with our beggarly state.

More than that, we need to be persistent in our prayers for others. We all too easily become discouraged and give up praying when our requests are not quickly answered. Maybe there are friends or members of our family who have drifted away from God and we have prayed for them again and again – maybe for several years. We begin to fear that our cries are not being heard and we are tempted to give up praying. Maybe there are friends or family who suffer from chronic illness and we have prayed for them many times but without any discernible effect. Perhaps we have begun to feel that further prayer is pointless. The urgency and persistence of Bartimaeus encourages us to go on calling to the Lord for help – to pray and not grow weary.

Lord Jesus, it fills me with wonder when I read that you came into this world not to be served but to serve and to give your life as a ransom for many. It is because of this that I am bold to cry out with Bartimaeus, “Son of David, have mercy on me! ... Son of David, have mercy on me!” Lord, have mercy also upon those who are dear to me and who are in need. Help me to not grow tired of crying out to you in prayer on their behalf. I have heard of your power and compassion; may I now see it with my own eyes and rejoice in your goodness and love.

Mar 2 2019 - Exodus 20:1-21 – The Ten Commandments

At Sinai, God gave Israel his law through the mediation of his servant Moses. The Ten Commandments are both an introduction to the law and a summary of its key principles. The law covers every aspect of human life; the Israelites relationship with God, with one another and even the thoughts of their hearts.

The law is given as a pattern of life for a redeemed people; it begins with the reminder, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). The Israelites are to live by this pattern not that they might become the people of God but because they are the people of God. Obedience is the response of God's people to his goodness, grace and love poured out upon them.

The law is a revelation of God's holy character and requirements, given to teach Israel to fear their God and to keep them from sinning against him (20:20). More than that, the law is also a gracious provision for God's people. Not only is it designed to create a harmonious society in which every member is able to flourish, it also provides for their rest. The Sabbath is a gracious provision of God which looks forward to the time when God will provide his people with rest from their labours and welcome them into his perfected work of redemption.

A life shaped by God's law would make Israel distinctively different from the nations around about them. They would be a people whose individual and corporate life would reflect and commend the character of their God and enable them to become the envy of the nations and a light to the nations. Their law would commend their lawgiver to an unruly world.

The law is good, but there is something in the human heart that rebels against it. Don't you long to crack open that door that says, "No Entry" and look at what may be inside the forbidden room? So the law becomes a reminder of what we are not – it reminds us that we continually fall short of all that God calls us to be. It easily provokes resentment as, like Adam and Eve, we ask why God should tell us what to do; we want to be gods and lawgivers to ourselves – and, of course, to others.

But there is one who has lived in perfect obedience to all of God's requirements, who has not rebelled against him. Jesus did not remain at a distance from us but came to live among us. He lived the life we are called to live and died in our place that our sin might be forgiven. By his resurrection from the dead and gift of the Spirit he gives us life and calls us to follow him. We are no longer kept at a distance (see 20:21) but are embraced by God. The Spirit of Christ living within us enables us to meet fully the righteous requirements of God's law.

God of grace, I have no other god but you. I thank you for Jesus, my Saviour, my advocate, my example, my strength and my Lord. Thank you that his perfect sacrifice for sin has rescued me from slavery to the gods of this world, freed me from the terrors of the law, sin and death. Thank you for your great love for me. Help me to love you in return and to live to please you in thought, word and deed. May Christ's Spirit shape my life and the lives of all your people so that together we may reflect and commend the character of our gracious God to a rebellious and unruly world.

Peter Misselbrook