Decision Making

Decision Making

Sermon Text

As you move to a new area, you need to find some good GP, hairdresser, fresh vege and meat butcher and so on. Finding a reliable car mechanic is also what you want. About June last year, one of my old car’s window stop working. S Up until that point, I have not found a good car mechanic and I googled and found one car service in Waitara. He checked my car and said, if I get Honda genuine part, it will cost $700 or he could get a second hand part, which is about a half price. My car is 12 years old and it does not need a new genuine part, and I said to him, can you get a second hand part and he said he will ring me when he get window part is delivered. He seemed to be nice and I came home and he rang saying, there are many different Honda models, he wanted me to take the photos of my car and window. That’s a moment that I felt unconvinced. He just looked at the car and didn’t get the model number and part number correctly. At the moment, I have not paid anything yet, and I could simply tell him that I might like to cancel this order, but I didn’t, because I didn’t have time to bring thar car to another mechanic and all those things. I ended up going there four times to have a left window fixed. On my third visit, he fixed it and as I was driving home, window stopped again. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. After fixing that window, I plan to sell that car, and my dad needed a car, so gave it to my parents. They did not drive and about three months the window stopped again. And I took it back and both driver side window and left one both stopped. It stopped when they half opened and you might have seen Inae put umbrella. And then I had to bring that car to him three more times and again he got the wrong part. I suspect if he fixed main window control part, initially that had a fault, it would have been easily fixed. S I ended up paying much more than getting a genuine Honda part and I had to go there nine times and it took me more than six months to have my window fixed and I am still frustrated about it. What have I done wrong? Have I missed the right decision making timing? Should I have done more research? Should I have asked him more firmly?
In our Bible reading today, we have many different characters, and they all make their own decisions and their decision making makes a difference in their lives and it influences the lives of people around them and even to us today.

Jesus and his disciples are on the road again. Jesus is walking fast, ahead of everyone, perhaps troubled by the feelings of anxiety and fear. They are now in Bethesda (2km away from Jerusalem), closer to Jerusalem, and that proximity to Jerusalem might have made Jesus’ heart more anxious. So much so that he starts talking about his death again and all he gets is silly questions from them, this time from James and John. It is a flashback to what had happened not long ago. Jesus asks what it is that they want, and they say: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (verse 37). The disciples are relentless in their self-centeredness. Here Jesus is talking about a violent death, and all they could think about was their place in heaven: “Well, if you are dying, can we sit next to you when we die too?”
I find it interesting how the disciples are just like us. We are all self-centered like disciples. We many times are all about our own recognition, honor, and entitlements. Like the disciples, we keep repeating the same things that divide us, destroy us, and break us.
It seems Jesus can’t believe what they are asking. He says to them, “You do not know what you are asking.” Then he asks: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (verse 38). This is something like “You want to go to heaven, but can you go through hell first?” And yet they say, “Yes, we can!” Jesus turns to them and says, “Great, you will do that.” However, “to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (verse 40).

Again, the measure of Jesus’ life is servitude, the ability to live the inside faith so vividly that it will be an outward sign of God’s love.
Grace! Compassion!
To serve is the key to understanding Jesus’ life and ministry. The life given to a community, the care of a people in need, the service to those in pain and sorrow, the deep care for the land, animals, plants, rivers, the earth—that is what marks one’s life with Jesus.
What about the decision making of James and John here? Blinded by their instant reward and recognition, they completely miss an opportunity to acknowledge the idea of ‘whoever wants to be first must be slave of all’ and S make their decision to serve others, not to be served.

Decision making becomes even more important in our second story. The location of today’s gospel story is the city of Jericho.
Jericho is the place of decisions. We all remember the story of destruction of the city of Jericho in the Old Testament. Joshua and his army marched around Jericho city for seven days, then a strong wall of Jericho collapsed. Having been rebuilt, it was then destroyed a second time by the Babylonians around 590 BC.
Again it was rebuilt, S around the time of Nehemiah – and it was this town in which Bartimaeus, blind man met Jesus. Zacchaeus was a chief tax-collector at Jericho in the Bible. So when you spot the name of city, Jericho in the Bible, you would want to expect to read some remarkable things happening in that story!
Blind man, Bartimaeus existed on the charity of others. He would always be dutifully grateful to ensure that next time the visitors came, they would donate again. To offend them was to go hungry and risk a kicking.
So when Jesus of Nazareth came into the town, not only was there an opportunity to capitalize financially, but there was also just a chance to see that miracle happening for himself – but it meant taking a risk for him. Bartimaeus could either stay quiet, let the town enjoy the visit by Jesus and pick up the donations or he could start making a noise, risk upsetting regular givers by his shouting to attract the attention of a man who might just restore his sight.
Which option would you choose? The safe option that did not risk the income and friends that you had or the dangerous option that could ensure you got far less income, but put you in front of the greatest miracle worker that Israel had ever seen?
Bartimaeus started shouting, the locals asked, then demanded that he kept quiet. Bartimaeus shouted all the more.
Two arms caught him up, then the voice came to him “What do you want me to do for you?”
‘I want to be able to see again’, said Bartimaeus and we know the rest as history, but it was never history for Bartimaeus. Jesus transformed his life.
From this chapter 10, Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem: the place where he knows he will confront his accusers and face death. This encounter with Bartimaeus is the last narrative before the dramatic entry into the holy city.
Jericho is a strange place that no longer exists except in story and on a map but it had another set of questions to offer. For Jesus, who now was nearing the end of an earthly ministry after three years with disciples, there was a big decision to make that would change the course of His life and ours,
but it was a very real choice for him to make at Jericho.
Andy Campbell makes a great description of Jesus’ decision at this point of his ministry. Once I talked about this briefly before.
Jericho sat in a valley just above the Dead Sea.
If Jesus took the southern road down the Dead Sea coast, he would come to a place that would welcome him, understand him and accept him, for this was where the Essenes dwelt.

The Essenes were one of the four pillars of Judaism with Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots. The famous contemporary biblical discovery, dead sea scroll is the product of the Essenes. Spiritually aware people, sometimes hermits or mystics, and scholars of scripture. Here there was a place of safety.
If Jesus took the road north, it would lead him home to Galilee up the side of the river Jordan. S Home – friends – people who knew him from childhood, far away from the glare of publicity. He could practice carpentry here again.
Taking the road to the east would have allowed Jesus to make a new life for himself across the wilderness. He could keep going by saying it was an outreach project to people, who had not yet heard of the God of Israel. He could go East in search of those wise men, who had brought Him gifts when he was born.
West lay Jerusalem. S West was the Temple and the politics of Rome. West was the religious centre and the controversy and the chaos and the cross, – He knew it. Would you have chosen to go west ?
It was a real choice and He had it in His power to choose. He chose to go west.

Jericho is a place of decisions. In today’s reading we are in Jericho with Bartimaeus and Jesus.
What decisions do you feel you want to make this day?

Disciples still do not get the message. James and John are one of closet friends to their leaders and their mindset and decision making still rely on their own interests and desires.
On the other hand, Bartimaeus, marginalized blind person displays an enormous faith and make the right decision at the right time.
Jesus also was able to make any decision he wanted, but he did not forget his vocation and why he was sent to this world and continued his walk towards Jesuralem.
What about your journey to cross. We have removed any obstacles stopping us moving towards cross. Will you continue to walk towards cross with Jesus? Will you continue to make a decision to follow Jesus and be the servant for others? Will you? Will you? Amen.