Blind Bartimaeus figured out that Jesus was passing by. Imagine there was a commotion in the lobby of your church next Sunday. All of a sudden, many people would begin streaming into the church. People of every race, old folks, young adults, teens, children. These people would all be animated, excited. Some would be shouting. Children would be kind of skipping along. And as you are sitting in church, suddenly you realize because you hear snippets of conversations, that Jesus, the Son of the Living God, somehow is here on earth again in the flesh. And he has decided to pass right through your church. You don’t know where he is headed. We don’t know what is in his mind. But it is really Him. You can hear various songs of praise from the crowd that is following him. And then suddenly he appears in the doorway of the sanctuary. He doesn’t come in and wave at everyone. No, he is walking at kind of a brisk pace. He is making his way through. Someone else has opened the back door. It is obvious that he is going to walk right through your church and then be gone. You have exactly 48 seconds before he is gone. What would you do? Move to the side to let people through? Maybe jump up and down? Obviously this isn’t going to happen.
However, that is exactly the scenario that happened in Mark 10:46-52. “Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”
Most believers love this story. It is such a precious, warm story that shows the loving care of Jesus toward a man in desperate straits. Here is an interesting fact. This is the only person healed by Christ that is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, whose actual name is recorded, Bartimaeus’.
It is as though, by the time Mark wrote this gospel, this man had become one of the well known members of the church of that day. Maybe Bartimaeus never got tired of telling the events of that never to be forgotten day when he first saw the Lord. By the way this is not a myth that we read. It is a true story that happened in the beautiful city of Jericho, 18 miles north-east of Jerusalem. This event took place just ten days before the Lord Jesus was crucified.
Bartimaeus obviously responded well to the fact that Jesus was passing by. As we break down this passage we can learn from a man who could not see exactly what we should do.
WHEN JESUS IS PASSING BY, LIKE BLIND BARTIMAEUS…
- WE MUST UNDERSTAND OUR NEED
I have been in some situations with people that I have pastored and there have been moments when I have asked them, is there anything that I can pray with you about? I have had numerous people tell me, “Nope, I’m good. I don’t need anything.” Maybe they didn’t expect the pastor to ask them that question. Maybe it was too personal. Maybe they didn’t have time to think. But I wonder today. Maybe today, that’s you. Maybe you have nothing that you need from the Lord, and so if Jesus were to come through here, you would be content to push your chair back and make room for him to go by without asking anything.
But I have a feeling that there are some who are reading this and you have some needs. It doesn’t take you long to think of those needs. They pop into your head. It might be your job or economics. It might be you need healing. It might be you need help overcoming something. I noticed this week as I was listening to YouTube worshipping. That there are about five songs that I listen to, that have something about needing God in the very title of the song. i guess I am drawn to those songs. Why? This pastor needs God.
And blind Bartimaeus understood his need. Mark 10:46 “…blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.” There are three things that we see from this statement that reveal Bartimaeus need. First of all, he was blind. Bartimaeus was not partially blind. He was totally blind. He had never seen the look of love and kindness in his mother’s face. When a pile of camel dung was in the road he could not see to step across it. He could not see the ditch.He could not see the low-hanging branch. He was unaware of the angry dog. When the night sky above Jericho was bright with a million stars it was all darkness to him.
The beauty of birds and butterflies and rainbows and flowers and trees and little children were all withheld from him. At night when he closed his eyes and in the morning when he opened them again it was all alike utter blackness. That was the world he lived in. He was blind.
The bible tells us this. 2 Corinthians 4:4 “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” There are many in our world that are blind to the gospel. Satan has placed on their spiritual eyes a think secure blindfold so they cannot see. They live in the darkness. Tell them John 3:16 and it means nothing. Give them your testimony and they shrug their shoulders. Tell them that Jesus is the answer and they look at you like a deer in the headlights of a car. They don’t get it. They are blind. Satan has blinded them. Is there anyone that is grateful, that you have seen the beauty of the light of the gospel?
Secondly, he was impoverished. It says he was begging. This was not of his own doing. Some people are born blind in a wealthy family. They don’t find themselves on the street begging. This man was completely dependent upon those who would toss him a few coins so he could by enough food to survive another day. He had nothing to sell. He had no service he could perform. He was stuck.
Thirdly, he was marginalized and sidelined. He was on the side of the road. Like those who beg at the street corners today, he got used to the idea that he really wasn’t important and that he had no value. Most looked at him with disdain. He was viewed as being stupid and ignorant, actually kind of a nuisance to society. They didn’t see his struggle. In fact, they didn’t care.
But Bartimaeus was not a moron.
How many of you realize sometimes that handicapped people can get treated as if they were simpletons when in fact, they are intellectually much brighter than the people shouting at them? The most important thing about Bartimaeus was that he was a man created in the image of God. He could think and reason. He’d heard about Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, it seemed like everyone was talking about him. The ladies as they passed by on their way to market were telling of his wonders. The men as they gathered on the street to do business were talking of his miracles asking who he was. Everyone had a cousin or aunt or friend whose life had been transformed by Jesus. He knew that lepers had been healed. He knew that fish and bread had multiplied. He had even heard that he walked on water and calmed the storms. Bartimaeus heard all this with his keen sense of hearing.
He had time to reflect about all of these things. He had witnessed none of our Lord’s mighty miracles. He’d not had the opportunity to talk with the widow of Nain’s son, or with Jairus, or with Mary and her sister Martha. He had never seen dead people raised with a word, and lepers healed with a touch. But he had his ears opened and the wheels of his mind revolved furiously in his life of darkness. He took seriously the hearsay of many conversations and put together all the information he’d gathered, these wonderful sayings and deeds.
At one time someone must said to another in his hearing that Jesus had healed a man who was born blind. The man had washed in the pool of Siloam and had gone home seeing. How could he forget such things? If only Jesus would pass by. That became his hope. That became his longing.
Maybe today as you read this, the season you are in has been so hard, so difficult, so painful. You know your need. I encourage you to set your hope on Jesus. When Jesus is passing by, not only do we need to understand our need. But when Jesus passes by
- WE MUST CRY OUT TO HIM.
If there would be one message that I could get out to people and get them to understand it and do it. It is the simple truth that when you have a need cry out to Jesus! I cannot tell you how many times in my life, I have done that very thing. When a person is disappointed by the way things turned out in life. That is not the time to get angry with God. Bartimaeus could have been bitter and angry about his situation, blaming God. It is the time to humble yourself and cry out to him. When life hurts you, or others have hurt you. Don’t get bitter cry out to Jesus. When you have a need in your life. Cry out to Jesus. Turn to Him. Lift your voice.
The day came in Bartimaeus life when he heard a commotion coming down the street. He could hear it from blocks away. The crowd and all the news. The shouting. The footsteps seemed to shake the very ground. This was not an ordinary event in a place like Jericho. He wondered what the commotion was all about. And then someone said, It is the miracle worker. It is Jesus. He is passing by. Bartimaeus knew this was his opportunity.
Mark 10:47 “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Blind Bartimaeus lifted up his voice and cried out. He started to shout out. The bible says that he cried out. It is not talking about a silent inward cry. It is talking about using your voice with intensity and with passion. Is God deaf? Of course not. But there is something to be said about the desire that is in one’s heart that translates into urgency and intensity in your voice. He shouted. He cried out. Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!
“Jesus” was the first word on his lips. “Jesus,” he cried. This was not the name chosen by Joseph, Jesus earthly father, but given to the new-born Jesus by a messenger from God: Matthew 1:21 “Thou shalt call his name ‘Jesus’ for he shall save his people from their sin.” The name speaks so eloquently of who this one is and why the Father sent the Son into the world. It means, “Savior. It means “salvation is of the Lord” It means “Jehovah saves.” Bartimaeus wanted the attention of Jesus the Savior.
And he also said “Son of David,” Bartimaeus lived 18 miles from King David’s great city, Jerusalem. He knew something about this one who was the greatest of all the kings of Judah. His mind pieced together bits of information he knew and had heard. Who knows how a beggar got such accurate information about Jesus. He recognized him as David’s son. This is the one who will sit on David’s throne. This was the King who would come and be a part of David’s linage.
But more than that, Bartimaeus cried to the Son of David these words, “Have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus saw himself as a guilty man, not as a victim to be pitied. In that moment, He took responsibility for his own sin, his self-pity, his pride, his lust, his greed, his short temper, his jealousy, all the sins that he as a blind man was guilty of, and yet here was the one who could show him mercy!
Somehow, he imagined the goodness and kindness of Jesus. This Jesus would not treat him as he deserved to be treated, to be judged righteously and then condemned to hell. It was mercy he sought for. It was mercy he cried for; “have mercy on me!”
There is also something particularly striking about these four words, something incredible. This phrase, “have mercy on me” is found in the book of Psalms, in psalm 4, and in psalm 6, and in psalm 41, and in psalm 51, and in psalm 109, and in psalm 123. That phrase is found in all of those chapters and in every instance the one addressed is Jehovah God, but Bartimaeus takes that cry of a sinner for mercy and he directs it to the Lord Jesus, It was to Jesus he cried, “Have mercy on me!” Have you seen that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Jesus of Nazareth. That he was in the beginning and he was with God and he was God, and yet he was made flesh and dwelt amongst us and we beheld his glory.
Today, that same Jesus is passing by.
- He is the merciful Jesus.
- He is the loving Jesus.
- He is the Jesus that forgives.
- He is the Jesus that provides.
- He is the Jesus that heals.
When Jesus passes by, you must understand your need. You must cry out.
And then when Jesus passes by
- WE MUST BE PERSISTENT
There is something to be said about this man’s faith. He would not be denied. He demonstrated real faith. Faith is persisting even when everyone else around you is resisting. In my mind, Jesus was probably 3 or 4 blocks away, when the news came that it was Jesus. It was in that moment that he began to cry out. Over and over again he persisted. Jesus, Son of David, Have mercy on me!
The people of Jericho were lining up on the roadside. They were coming out of shops. They were leaving their homes. The streets were lined. Many people were there in anticipation to see this one named Jesus who was a miracle worker. And this blind beggar, probably not well bathed. Probably dressed in rags, was raising a ruckus. Mark 10:48 “Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I can imagine how they treated this man on the lower caste of society. I don’t think they were saying please. They were saying Callate! Shut up! Be quiet! The scripture says, they warned him. If you aren’t quiet nothing good will happen to you. But let me tell you something. He cried out all the more.
There is going to be times in your life when the people around you, just will not understand. They might even tell you, Be quiet. God isn’t listening. He doesn’t care. You aren’t important to him. I can assure you that if those around you don’t say it, Then Satan’s minions will tell you, why are praying like that. Just be quiet. It is not doing any good. Why do you fast every year? Why do you humble yourself like that? Why are you claiming that scripture? Why do you get up every morning and worship? Just go sit down and be quiet. Satan will tell you. God doesn’t hear. You aren’t a leader, you are a nobody.
But I want to encourage you to just cry out all the more! If blind Bartimaeus can get the attention of the Lord, even so I am going to get a response.
- Is there anyone who believes that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after him?
- Is there anyone who knows that if they call upon the name of the Lord they will be saved?
- Is there anyone who says, I am not letting the devil tell me to be quiet?
I am going to keep on shouting and praising and praying. Because I know my answer is on the way. Persistence pays. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance…”
Jesus was passing by for Bartimaeus. While other beggars sat still on the sidelines. While others with human need just allowed Jesus to pass them by on the streets of Jericho that day. That man named Bartimaeus was diligent, he endured, he pressed through and then an amazing thing happened. Mark 10:49 “So Jesus stood still…” He stopped. The whole procession of who knows how many had to stop. You would have thought Jesus would have been too busy to stop for one raggedy blind man. But Jesus stood still.
Do you really get this? The days ahead of Jesus were full. He knew what was going to happen. It was going to be seven days full of tribulations and responsibilities. Jesus would have to purge the Temple again. He had to meet in the Upper Room with the disciples. There he had to preach the greatest sermon ever preached and then pray as no man ever prayed. He had to agonize in the Garden. He had to be arrested and beaten and tried and crucified. He had all that on his heart; it was heavy within him bearing the weight of many thoughts, but he stood still when he heard a sinner call out to him!
Jesus’ disciples had no time for this man. The crowd just shouted at him to shut his mouth, but Jesus stopped what he was doing. Jesus stood still for Bartimaeus. Mark 10:49 “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”
Can you imagine what that must have felt like for Bartimaeus? The son of God called his name. The Son of God stopped for him. He was calling him. I want you to understand something today. Not only did he call blind Bartimaeus. But did you know that the scripture says, that he know your name? It also says he is calling you. Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” If he knows your name. If you as one of the sheep of his pasture, you know his voice. That means that he cares about you. Just as surely as Jesus cared about a beggar named Bartimaeus. Even so, Jesus cares about you! He cares. You are His! He has redeemed you. He went to the cross with you on his mind. He paid the price. And maybe it was a long time ago when he first called your name. But he still calling it today.
The crowd parted and the scripture goes on to say in Mark 10:50 “ And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.” That is a picture of all of us. When we came to Jesus, we had to take our robes stained with sin, and cast them aside. Our own righteousness which the bible says is like filthy rags. We toss it aside. And that day, that beggar said, I don’t need these beggars garments anymore. I am coming to Jesus. Mark 10:51 “So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Imagine today that Jesus came down your street. Imagine that you like Bartimaeus cried out and he stopped. And now Jesus says, “What do you want me to do for you.” All the questions in the Bible that God asks men seem naive questions, beginning with the first question of all, “Adam, where are you?” But they are all deceptively simple. Here was the very heart of the matter, what does this man want from God? Why had Bartimaeus called on Jesus? Why had a blind beggar shouted at the King of the Universe? Did he want a handout? How much, or how little, did he believe that Jesus could do for him?
Bartimaeus was a real man facing real issues in a real world. He knew what he wanted. Mark 10:52 “ The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” This was a real man who knew exactly what he wanted. Jesus can do something with this man. I believe with all of my heart today. That you are in the same position as Bartimaeus. Jesus is passing by today. He is saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” You, a real person made by God and for God.
Express yourself now to God. Stop trying to make an impression that you are Mr. Cool. What do you want the Son of God to do? You may think that promise and question was specific to Bartimaeus. John 14:13 says differently. Jesus was speaking to his disciples. “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
- You say, Lord I want my son to be saved. Then ask.
- Lord, I need a job. Then ask.
- Lord, I need healing. Then ask.
- Lord, I want your peace. Then ask.
We cannot be content to sit on the side of the road during this season and not ask! Let’s ask and lets believe. Well what happened to blind Bartimaeus? Mark 10:52 “Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”
There are a lot of people who cry out to God. God hears. He answers, but almost as soon as the answer comes. They go their own way. There was even a man Jesus healed. He was the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. He didn’t follow Jesus. He went out and started sinning. John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” There are a lot of people like him. They pray in desperate moments and then when the crisis is passed they do whatever they want. Not Bartimaeus.
He followed Jesus on the road.
He didn’t go back.
He didn’t stop following him.
He could see.
He was healed.
He became a Christ follower.