What do you think of yourself?
The more important question: What does God think of you?
In our human nature, we make the first question the most important question, the only question, what do I think of myself. But in truth, what matters most is what God thinks of me. We have to wade through the first question, because confronting our own nature is part of letting go and letting God…but we need to get to the second.
What do you think of yourself… listen to a A video of a wonderful song by Peter, Paul and Mary Song, “Right Field.” The reason this song is so fun is because so many of us can identify…. (Video)
All Pilgrims were greeted with a standard greeting, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord,” yet when Jesus entered the city, there was something different. The symbolism of the donkey, humble but stately, the elaborate preparations. What I want to focus on today is who Jesus brought with him to the party, who was on his guest list to join him at the party…
Want to hear something incredible. Blind Bartimaeus. A blind man, or a former blind man, is on the guest list…the central event in history is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, talking to Jim Jeffries earlier this week, and he rightly says that he doesn’t think most people understand that without the Resurrection we are nothing, we have no basis for eternal life, we have no hope. Absolutely…
That Jesus died and was raised again is amazing, but equally amazing is who he has on his guest list. Blind Barimaeus, Right Field, if you were the captain of the team, Bartimeaus would be the last one picked. He’s blind. Nothing to offer. Jesus created a huge stir wherever he went, he was on his way to Jerusalem, gaining attention, celebrity status, everyone wanted Jesus’ autograph, Jerico was just a piece…
Jerico is that ancient city in which Joshua marched around the city for seven days and the walls came tumbling down so that God’s people could enter the city, transforming the city into a city of God, and now a new Joshua, (Jesus in Hebrew is “Joshua” is passing through on his way to the big party up on Jerusalem, others pilgrims no doubt were passing through, but Jesus was the celebrity, and a large crowd was accompanying him… a large team… (Mark 10:46). And as they were going through, there’s Blind Bartimaous, sitting by the roadside, he raises his hand and says, “Pick me” I want to join the party, I want to be on the guest list… … (Mark 10:47)… and the crowd recognizes Bartimaeus, and rebuke him (Mark 10:48) he’s too small, don’t pick him, he’s the last one you’d ever pick, he’s the right field guy….
Mark 10:49. Jesus stopped and said, “Call Him.”/// I want him on my team. A blind man, in those days, was not worthy, a blind man was secondary, unimportant, “Call Him” Jesus says. You can read what happens in the next few verses (Mark 10:49-51). Bartimeous accepts the invitation of Jesus to join the party. And then this wonderful verse… (Mark 10:52). I have a hard time fathoming the depth of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the fullness of what it means, but I can understand a blind man following Jesus on the road. But this was no ordinary road, this was an invitation to the big party. In all likelihood, as a blind man, Bartimeous had never before gone to Jerusalem, to be blind was to be an outcast, to sit outside the gates, to be tainted, to be secondrate, to not be worthy, and now he was invited by Jesus himself to join him in the grandest party of all…
“As they approached Jerusalem” (Mark 11:1). Who is they? Jesus, the disciples, the crowds, and the recently healed blind man, Bartimeous. Who is “they?” “They” includes you and me, for Jesus invites us to join him to the grand party…
What you think of yourself is an important question, but it’s not the last question. Sometimes we never get past that question. …the lack of confidence, inferior… sense of unworthiness… but what God thinks of you is more important. I cannot help but wonder what was within the blind man that he literally saw something in Jesus that he knew he would be invited to the party… to join the pilgrims.
What do you think of yourself? Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest in Monte Carlo /////// he came in third. How would you like to be this guy: Lindy Chappoten, a pitcher of average talent played for the Shawnee Hawks in the Class D Sooner League. Lindy was once traded to the Texarkana Bears for 20 uniforms.
What do you think of yourself? Norman Vincent Peale tells the story of walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, “I came upon a tattoo studio. In the window were displayed samples of the tattoos available. On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever. But what struck me with force were three words that could be tattooed on one's flesh: Born to lose. I entered the shop in astonishment and pointing to those words, asked the tattoo artist, "Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, Born to lose, tattooed on his body." He replied, "Yes, sometimes." "But," I said, "I just can't believe that anyone in his right mind would do that." The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English, "Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind."
What do you think of yourself? It’s a good question, but please don’t put that tattoo on your forehead, or anyone else. God’s answer is not “born to lose” it’s the opposite, “born to win” -- you are on the guest list to join the greatest party of all time. The blind man, the one the crowd wanted to stay on the sidelines, was invited to join the parade to Jerusalem.
Turn to Job. A bruised heart, wounded, a good man, struggles, even God himself commends Job at the beginning, a man undeserving of the tremendous losses he face at at the hands of Satan. And as Job listens to his friends with their hollow answers, time and time again he proclaims he is innocent and God is unjust. Finally, the youngest and wisest friend cannot stand it any longer, so he opens his mouth and shows Job that in an effort to justify himself, he has been pushing God away, and the solution was not to find a rational answer to his problems, but the answer is to go to God himself… Out of the whirlwind, God speaks – (God’s response is the sermon in two weeks), at last, when Job is faced with God himself, his response is most remarkable: What do you think of yourself, Job? “I am unworthy” (Job 40:4) I am unworthy. It’s an important question and one we must all face. Only as Job at last honestly looks within, is he ready for the Lord to bring restoration. Clearly Blind Bartimeaus had already looked within: “Lord, have mercy on me” he shouts to Jesus (Mark 10:47). Mercy, he asks, and with that word he understands he is inferior, he understands he is unworthy, he understands that the Lord Jesus Christ has the power to change his life…and in the next verse, after the crowd rebuked and told him to sit back down, what does he do… He shouts all the louder (Mark 10:48), shout: “Son of David, Have Mercy on Me”
Job confesses: “I am worthy….” And then when God finishes, Job has this wonderful response of understanding who he is compared to God, Job 42:1-6. Restoration for Job, the healing of his bruised heart, comes only after he comes to a true understanding of who he is… that is always an important question, what do you think of yourself, but then, to be transformed, to look to God, and the more important question….
What does God think of You? For Job, the question is settled, as he humbles himself and in a wonderful understatement, “The Lord blessed the latter part of his life more than the first” (Job 42:12). The Lord thought a lot of Job, he restored him, he blessed him, he gave him peace.
For blind Bartimeous, the answer is simple, he healed him and welcomed him to join the parade. Who’s on the guest list: Bartimaeous, the man who was blind.
What does God think of you? Settle the first question: what do you think of yourself? Do you belong off in right field? Do you have a tattoo on your mind: Born to lose? Do not stop with that question. You cannot stop with that answer. The healthy answer is to see yourself not as inherently bad, not inherently unworthy like nothing can ever be done, the healthy answer to the question of what you think of yourself is a response to who you are as compared to God: “I am unworthy” says Job. “Have mercy on me” says Bartimeous. I have no power to save myself, I am a sinner saved by grace, I am powerless without the help of God…Let the first question, What do I think of myself, become an invitation for God to answer the second question. And I already know his answer: you are on the guest list. The Lord will mend your bruised heart, the Lord will invite you to follow him to join the party – walk with him, the entry to Jerusalem greeted by the crowds, upsetting the tables of the moneychangers in the temple, the Last Supper, the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest, the trial, the flogging, the cross, the death, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection, the ascension. We are unworthy, yet in his great mercy, the Lord chooses us and puts us on his guest list. Amen.