Sunday School Lessons
Commentary by Walter Albritton
God Rewards Bold Faith – If We Are Bold for the Right Reason!
Key Verse: Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Boldness in faith may be prompted by a desire for power or by a desire for the grace of God. James and John wanted advantage for themselves – choice positions of power in the coming Kingdom. Obviously, they were out to lunch when Jesus taught the disciples about servanthood.
Blind Bartimaeus, on the other hand, felt a great need for mercy. He was convinced no one else could help him. His only hope was the Messiah, so he turned boldly to Jesus. His great need awakened in him a great faith.
The self-seeking of James and John may nauseate us but it does not really surprise us. We see it all the time – in ourselves and in others. We are all tempted to curry favor with those in authority, in the hope that we may gain an advantage over others.
Our churches are sometimes torn apart by dissension and discord as otherwise good men and women struggle for power to “run” the church. Often “the old guard” leaders are reluctant to share their authority with newcomers. Sadly, in some churches new people still feel like newcomers twenty years after joining.
The “power brokers” in some churches act as though God has called them to protect their church from change. Their divine mantra is “We want everything to remain the way it has always been.” New ideas are squelched – all in the name of Jesus.
One pastor told me, “My years in this church have been the hardest years of my entire ministry. There is a constant struggle for control among my leaders. My ‘Baby Boomers’ have the worst attitude – they insist on having their own way, no matter what others think.”
Those whose goal is to control the church have made a crucial mistake – they have forgotten that Christ is the Head of His Church. Worse still, they have forgotten that he has called us to serve others, not “lord it over” others.
This was the lesson James and John learned. Their grasping for favor caused immediate dissension among the disciples. The unity of the small band of men was broken by anger and envy. Instead of serving others in love, they were squabbling among themselves.
Lest we judge James and John too harshly, we must admit that we also forget our calling to live as servants of others. We too engage in petty struggles for power rather than finding simple ways to serve others without fanfare.
Perhaps the story of blind Bartimaeus is linked to this incident with James and John for a reason. Who had the greater blindness – Bartimaeus or James and John?
At least Bartimaeus realized he was blind and needed help. James and John were blind to the nature of genuine discipleship, but did not realize it. They were blind to their mission in life as disciples of Jesus. Though they walked in the presence of the Light of the world, they could not see the truth of Jesus’ teaching.
Bartimaeus was not timid. With bold faith, he cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus stopped, engaged Bartimaeus in conversation, and met his need. His boldness in faith was rewarded as he recovered his sight.
Whose example shall we follow? Surely that of Bartimaeus. However, before we act boldly in faith, making our requests known to God, perhaps we should ask the Lord to reveal to us wherein we are blind. Then we may demonstrate bold faith for the right reason.
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see daily ways to live in the world as servants, not rulers, of others! + + + +