Even more loudly

By December 3, 2021Sermons

Meadowbrook Congregational Church 

Even more loudly, by the Rev. Joel Boyd

Edited & formatted for publication by J. Tucker, MPH

October 24, 2021

The Book of Jeremiah 31:7-9 (NRSV)1

7For thus says the LORD: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O LORD, your people, the remnant of Israel.” 8See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Have you ever been to a concert where the music is so loud you can’t even hear yourself let alone your friend excitedly shouting right next to you? I had a silly experience with a cousin of mine a while back which was similar. We met at a pub and caught up on things going on in our lives. After about thirty minutes or so, music started picking up in the background. Not long after, the music got louder; so loud that eventually I became [like] that person at the sold-out stadium show screaming across the table to my cousin, the whole time with him leaning in more and more, trying fruitlessly to hear anything I said. A bit exasperated, I looked up at the stage and found, to my surprise, one guy with his acoustic guitar. I couldn’t believe he’d been so loud. But he was.

As I’m sure most are already aware, I’m a musician myself, as is my wife, and these fine people right behind me here, and several of you as well. While I’ve attended no small [number] of loud concerts myself, I do not in any way mean to suggest that music is always loud or to degrade it in any way. Music is one of the most beautiful things we have; both in the church and anywhere else.

This aside, what I do mean to suggest is that not being heard is a real thing. It happens to us. Try as we may, we just can’t get through. And sure, many times it may be about our not being audibly, literally heard, it is often the case that we are not acknowledged; that we are not understood or not known. It’s not all by accident either, is it? Sometimes we are not heard, ignored, or worse yet: we have something taken from us, or erased from memory, both our memory and the world’s. It has often been said that all the sins referred to in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:2-17 & Deut. 5:6-21) represent one form of theft or another (stealing life, the respect owed to parents, the truth, or God’s glory, for example).

In today’s passage, the Markan author paints a vivid picture (the end of Mk. 10). After having spent time in Jericho, Jesus leaves. He is [neither] alone nor with only his closest companions (i.e., his disciples). Jesus leaves Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd (Mk. 10:46), meaning that there were many people to witness events that happened along the way.

Sitting by the side of the road, we find the blind beggar named Bartimaeus (Mk. 10:46). It is worth pointing out that this is the only appearance of the name Bartimaeus in the Bible. The Lukan writer tells a similar story about an anonymous blind beggar (Lk. 18:35). We might wonder why [the author] didn’t include the name Bartimaeus. At the end of our passage in Mark, Bartimaeus regains his sight and follows Jesus (Mk. 10:52). In [the Lukan gospel], however, [the blind beggar] is healed, follows Jesus, but also praises God, and the people who witnessed all this praise[d] God, too (Lk. 18:43).

The name Bartimaeus means “Son of Timaeus.” (a) Scholars have suggested that the Markan original audience may have associated the name Timaeus with the praise of sight which appears in Plato’s dialogue2 of the same name. But is sight always about seeing with our eye, we might ask ourselves?

It has been suggested by some biblical scholars that the cloak which Bartimaeus had would have, at that time, typically been used to keep him warm in the cold, provide something to sleep on at night, and may even have been laid out before him as a way of receiving anything he would beg for during the day. If this all does apply to this story of Bartimaeus, then just imagine the faces of all those around him when he jumped up and cast away his cloak to go to Jesus. What those witnesses would have seen is a blind beggar throwing away all that he had, his warmth, bed, and even his means of income, all to come to Jesus. And friends, Bartimaeus does all this before Jesus heals him, not after. He gives up that which is most precious to him just to get to Jesus.

[The author] then shows us that Jesus is open to what Bartimaeus asks of him: the blind beggar, this person who threw all he had away just to get to Jesus, Bartimaeus, asks Jesus, “My teacher, let me see again.” (Mk. 10:51b) Now, this last bit is worth digging into. As we see here, the NRSV reads “let me see again.” Well, the NIV reads,“Rabbi, I want to see,” and the NASB,4 the most literal word-for-word English translation of the original languages, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” Now at first, these various translations may appear to be saying essentially the same thing. But looking at the original Greek shows us how the word ἀναβλέψω can, in some cases, mean simply “to gain sight,” or, “to be able to see.” When the first portion of that Greek word is emphasized, however, this renders as “to regain sight,” meaning that this blind beggar pleads with Jesus to restore the sight that he once had.

While this may initially seem to be like splitting hairs, the idea of regaining that which was lost does cast this passage in a different light, both for [the author’s] original, first-century [hearers] and for us, his twenty-first-century readers.

Picture an individual or group of people who no longer have that which they used to have, and not just some fleeting, insignificant thing, but imagine them having lost something of great importance to them. Maybe they lost it because they got sick or didn’t have enough money. Perhaps this thing was lost because they no longer had the strength to fight for it, or that others stole it from them, that it had been taken. Just think how meaningful, how life-altering it would be for that person, that group, to have suddenly been given back that great thing, that long-missed piece-of-my-heart thing, which they just now received again. It’s as if they had been made anew, granted a new opportunity, or even that they had been made whole again, after so many years of being made to feel empty, broken, forced to wander, wondering where they’d end up, yet not having a clue as to where or when they’d arrive.

Maybe you have your own mental pictures. As for me, I think of our many friends or even groups of people in Christ that long for the return of that which has been taken from them, be it safety, be it dignity, welcome, hospitality, or understanding; be it freedom, be it liberty, be it land.

This week, I received my copy of the First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament.Aside from the fact that this just came out at the end of August, one of the things that struck me was that it wasn’t until just now that we have a translation of scripture from English-speaking Native American sisters and brothers. The Bible, as we know, has always been translated in some way or another, given its original Hebrew, Aramaic, and koine Greek languages. Not only does translation make scripture accessible, but it also allows a people, an accent, a voice, to be heard. Amazing, isn’t it, that we only now have a translation of the New Testament from a First Nations perspective? After all, members of First Nations communities have long experienced the theft of their language and land, they have also witnessed the silencing of their voice as people. I thank our indigenous sisters and brothers for the gift of their voice in this translation, even if it is not in a language that is native to their various, diverse communities.

So, we certainly can understand why Bartimaeus called out to and ran towards Jesus, but we might wonder why it was important that Jesus stopped to listen to Bartimaeus. Remember that Jesus was on the road, traveling, with not only his best friends but a large crowd as well.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” called out Bartimaeus (Mk. 10:47).  Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” (Mk. 10:48-49)

Though Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, we do not read anything of Jesus’ response the first time. Instead, we witness how many people told Bartimaeus to be quiet. Course, we do not know if any of the disciples were among them, just as we do not know Jesus’s response at first. Did Jesus hear Bartimaeus? Maybe he did and simply held off responding; perhaps, knowing how this would all turn out, that folks around him would be bound to get it wrong and try to keep the beggar out, to silence Bartimaeus. Maybe he did; maybe he didn’t—the author is silent on the topic. But we do know that Jesus reacted to the second cry from Bartimaeus. Jesus stands still, first. Then he says to call Bartimaeus to him.

After being shushed by those around him, Bartimaeus cries out even more loudly for Jesus. He is undeterred. Whether Jesus hears him at first or not, we do not know, but Bartimaeus kicks it up a few notches to be heard, for his needs to be heard, that he may finally get the healing he most deeply needs.

So throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” (Mk. 10:50-51)

He asks a lot of Jesus, doesn’t he, this Bartimaeus? Yet he appears to be quite confident he’ll receive what he’s asking for. Remember how he knew who Jesus was when Jesus was on the road and that he called out to Jesus for help. We might consider that Bartimaeus already had a faith in Jesus that was quite strong, and all before even meeting Jesus.

Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately Bartimaeus regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way. (Mk. 10:52)

Jesus didn’t only hear Bartimaeus. He listened to him. A blind beggar though he was, Bartimaeus knew in his heart what had been taken from him, and so he brought it all before Jesus, perhaps believing that Jesus would answer his prayer, longshot as it was.

And Mark shows us that Jesus did hear Bartimaeus’s prayer—that he did heal him. While Bartimaeus had to loudly project his needs over contemptuous shushing of others, we know that Jesus did hear, and he did bless one in need. We might say that where Bartimaeus called out even more loudly, Jesus listened even more closely.

In what ways are we called to listen even more closely to those in need, to those crying out for help? What might our intentional listening lead us to? What form of action may we take to truly hear and bless our sisters and brothers in need? Indeed, how might we acknowledge our call to listen to the call of others?

I’ll close with a reading of verses 51-52 as we have it in the First Nations Version. Here you’ll note that Jesus is referred to using the name Creator-Sets-Free.

“What do you want from me?” Creator-Sets-Free said to him. “Wisdomkeeper,” he answered, “make me see again!” “Be on your way,” he said to him, “Your trust in me has made you whole again.” Right then and there his eyes were opened! So, he began to follow after Creator-Sets-Free as they continued on their way down the road.

May God bless us all to be instruments of God’s peace, that we acknowledge our call to listen and love even more, always remembering that we are bound together in Creator-Sets-Free. AMEN.


  1. Society of Biblical Literature. The HarperCollins Study Bible: Fully Revised & Updated. (Meeks WA, Bassler JM, Lemke W, Niditch S, Schuller E, Attridge HW, eds.). HarperCollins; 2006.
  2. Plato. The Timaeus of Plato. (Archer-Hind R, ed.). MacMillan and Co.; 1888.
  3. Biblica Inc. The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. 4th ed. Zondervan; 2011.
  4. Lockman Foundation. New American Standard Bible. 2020th ed. Zondervan; 2021.
  5. Wildman T. First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament. (Belindo B, Brunoe G, Campbell G, et al., eds.). InterVarsity Press; 2021.


(a) The name is an Aramaic-Greek hybrid. “Bar-” (בַּר), meaning “son (of)” and “Tímaios” (Τίμαιος), the given name of his father (assumedly named Tímaios).