The Approach of Kingdom Stewardship
Topic: Biblical Verse: Mark 10:46–52
The Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
October 24, 2021
Fall Stewardship Series
“The Approach of Kingdom Stewardship”
Next door to my wife’s parents lives a man who is blind. He has lived in this same house for many years. He lives by himself and does very well. The ability of blind people today to live full and productive lives differs greatly from previous times. In today’s Gospel lesson, we meet a blind man, Bartimaeus, near the city of Jericho. Unable to work and support himself, he is forced to be a beggar, relying on the kindness of others to live. But his life changes dramatically as he hears the approach of a great crowd. Learning that the crowd was following Jesus, he cried out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). All of this sets the stage for today’s message. Based on today’s Gospel lesson, our Fall Stewardship series continues under the theme “The Approach of Kingdom Stewardship.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.
By way of review, the title for this preaching series comes from the book by Dr. Tony Evans, Kingdom Stewardship: Managing All of Life Under God’s Rule (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2020). I am using the 4-part division in his book for our 4-week Fall Stewardship series: “The Foundation of Kingdom Stewardship” (Oct 10); “The Scope of Kingdom Stewardship” (Oct 17); “The Approach of Kingdom Stewardship” (Oct 24); and “The Benefits of Kingdom Stewardship” (Oct 31, Reformation Day). As we heard last week, the definition of kingdom stewardship found in this book is that it is“the divinely authorized responsibility for believers to faithfully oversee the protection and expansion of the assets (time, talents, and treasures) God has entrusted to them to manage on His behalf” (pp. 12-13).
Jesus was on the final stage of his journey to Jerusalem, where he would be betrayed, suffer, die and rise again. On his way, he passed through Jericho, the ancient “City of Palms.” The distance between the two cities is about 14 miles, as the crow flies. To get from one city to the other was and is not a straight shot. It involves going along a winding, twisting road, so it was actually more like 18 miles by foot. But Jerusalem is also 2500 feet above sea level, and Jericho is 825 feet below sea level (How far is Jericho Israel from Jerusalem? – MVOrganizing). For Jesus, who would soon enter Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday amidst shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and waving of palm branches (Mark 11:1-10), it was an uphill walk all the way from Jericho to Jerusalem. On his approach to Jerusalem, blind Bartimaeus approaches Jesus.
Seeing a poor beggar by the side of the road was a common sight in the ancient world. This was a busy road on which many people traveled to and from Jerusalem. No doubt, Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus, and based on what he heard, he believed that Jesus could help him and restore his sight. Did Bartimaeus fully understand who Jesus was as the promised Messiah? We don’t know for certain, but clearly he believed that Jesus was God’s own instrument to bring healing and blessing. As a blind beggar, Bartimaeus had nothing to offer Jesus. He had no wealth or power to fall back on. No reputation or name to impress. He could only cry out in all his need: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). In truth, we are all Bartimaeus. We have nothing to offer Jesus. Our wealth and power, our reputation and name do not impress him. Like Bartimaeus, we can only cry out in all our need: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). That is where saving faith begins: heart-felt repentance. As with Bartimaeus, there may be people in the crowd today who tell us just to be quiet. “Don’t be bothering Jesus with your petty issues. He’s got more important things to worry about than you.” And sometimes we may be very tempted to listen to nonsense like that. But Jesus had time for Bartimaeus who cried out to him in faith for help, and Jesus has time for anyone who cries out to him in faith for help today. What was said to Bartimaeus is said to each and every one of us today: “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you” (Mark 10:49b). Jesus is calling you today! He is inviting you to come to him with your needs and problems; with your distress and difficulties. Don’t delay, but like Bartimaeus, get up and come to Jesus with all confidence and boldness. In Jesus, there is “mercy and grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). That is how we are to approach our Lord Jesus Christ: with all boldness and confidence.
We may wonder about Jesus’ question to Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51a). Isn’t it obvious? Of course, the blind man wants to see again. Who wouldn’t? But Jesus asks this question for a reason, and that is to strengthen the faith of Bartimaeus by encouraging him to make his request not timidly, but directly. And Jesus graciously grants this request: “Go your way; your faith has made you well. And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52). Now, instead of just sitting along the way, Bartimaeus is following in the way of Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Can we fully grasp the transformation that Jesus brought about in this man’s life? Bartimaeus was forever changed. He most certainly viewed his life and the whole world around him in a dramatically different way because of what Jesus did for him. Do we fully grasp the transformation that Jesus has brought about in our lives? We may not have experienced such a dramatic gift from the Lord like Bartimaeus did, but this doesn’t mean that we have not been richly blessed by the Lord in other ways. The One who lived and died and rose again to make us his own now calls us to follow in his way; to see all of life through the lens of his redeeming love. This is the approach of kingdom stewardship: our selves, our time, and our possessions are at the disposal of the Son of David, who loves us and laid down his life for us.
Next Sunday, October 31, will be the Festival of the Reformation (remember to wear red – the color for Reformation!), and we will conclude this 4-part stewardship series under the theme, “The Benefits of Kingdom Stewardship.” In advance of this, I encourage you to devote prayer and discernment to what your support for kingdom stewardship at St. John’s will look like for next year. The approach of kingdom stewardship is not about giving back to the Lord the leftovers of our lives; seeing what remains after we have taken care of everything else. That is not honoring the Lord. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we in joyful response for all that God in Christ has done for us give to the Lord an offering that is the first fruits of our lives; what is the best of our selves, our time, and our possessions. Through this, the Lord will be honored and glorified in the lives of his people. May God make it so for Jesus’ sake. Amen.