The gospel reading this week is from Mark 10:46-52 - the story of Bartimaeus, “a blind beggar”, a man of faith who was bold enough to cry out to Jesus and ask for what he needed. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He cried out not just once, but twice. Even when people told him to be quiet, to stay in his place, he called out again. Even louder than the first time. “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Then something amazing happened. Jesus called for the man to come close. To come out of his usual place. To stand before Jesus. Bartimaeus did not have to be asked twice. “So throwing off his cloak [the sign that he was a beggar], he sprang up and came to Jesus.”

When Bartimaeus cried out, Jesus responded. When Jesus called, Bartimaeus responded.

Bartimaeus cried out in faith and responded in faith.

Bartimaeus knew something that perhaps others in the crowd that day - those that could see Jesus with their eyes - did not know: that Jesus has the power to heal, to make whole, to change us and make us fully alive. To transform us into a new creation, ready and willing to follow Jesus along the way to eternal life and freedom. To turn us from beggar into disciple.

Martin Luther said that we are all beggars before God. Though we are created in the image of God, still we all sin and fall short of the glory God intends for us and for the world. We are all broken and vulnerable, each in our own way, cast off to the side of the road, alone, in our usual place, sitting quietly. God wants better for us. God promises better.

Through the free gift of God’s grace, we have been justified (made right again with God) through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. It is a gift - from God - through Jesus - to us. All. The gift of new life. Of relationship with God and with each other. Of well-being and peace.

Bartimaeus recognized this gift as Jesus was passing by him. Jesus passes by us all the time. Do we see the gift that he offers us? Do we accept the gift and - boldly - allow it to change us?