2015 05 03 am Mark 10:46-52 A Beggar’s Belief

Jesus has been speaking about genuine discipleship in recent chapters. The disciples and others have shown what a genuine disciple is NOT. Finally, we meet a genuine disciple.

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Jerusalem and all that will happen there is almost upon us. As you can see, ch. 11 begins with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And He visits there during the day then heads out to nearby Bethany to sleep there. And ch’s 11-13 will record the events of the next few days until we come to the Last Supper and Jesus’ arrest as recorded in ch. 14.

But, before that, we have this episode here.
• If you were here last week, you will recall that many have described v45 as the hinge of Mark’s Gospel; it summarizes the person and public ministry of Jesus thus far and it introduces what is about to happen.
• And if you have been present in the last few weeks, you will know that a recurring and dominant theme in the last few chapters has been genuine discipleship.
o Again and again, we have seen Jesus demonstrate genuine discipleship, we have heard Jesus teach about genuine discipleship, and we have seen different examples of what genuine discipleship is not in people Jesus has met and even in the twelve disciples.
o And in vv43-45, Jesus boils it all down to this: You must serve others because I came to serve others by giving my life “as a ransom for many.”
But before we learn in the next few chapters the details of how Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many, we finally get to meet a genuine disciple! And that is the function or the purpose, if you like, of this passage. I hesitate to use the term ‘just another healing,’ because there is no such thing as just another healing, but the story of blind Bartimaeus is not just another healing. He is an illustration of or an example of what Jesus has been teaching in the last few chapters.

In this episode then, BARTIMAEUS DEMONSTRATES GENUINE DISCIPLESHIP. In his attitude toward Jesus and in his attitude toward the world, Bartimaeus demonstrates genuine discipleship.
And as we consider these things about Bartimaeus, we will have to ask ourselves about our attitude toward Jesus and our attitude toward the world. Am I like Bartimaeus? Or am I like some of the others we have considered in recent weeks?


So first of all, his miserable condition.

1. Jesus and the disciples and a large crowd are heading to Jerusalem because it is almost Passover time. They pass through Jericho, which was around 20km away from Jerusalem, and as they leave, we are told of a blind man, BARTIMAEUS. And he sits by the roadside begging.
a. There is no sickness benefit for Bartimaeus. There is no Foundation for the Blind for Bartimaeus. He is either led to this spot each day by friends or family or he stumbles down a well trod path by touch until he reaches his spot. And then he sits there, probably with the cloak spoken of in v50, or something like it, laid out, and he listens for passers-by and begs them for some money or food so he can make it through the day. Bartimaeus is blind and he must rely on the charity of others, and he knows it!
b. But if you think about what Jesus has been saying in recent chapters, you will know that that makes Bartimaeus an example of those ready for the kingdom of God. Bartimaeus is like a child. What is notable about Bartimaeus is his inability and his being a receiver.
i. CONTRAST him, for example, with the RICH YOUNG MAN who ran up to Jesus as recorded in ch. 10. For a start, he was rich! And he was able; he wanted to know what he had to do and he believed he had kept all the commandments. The idea that he had to receive Jesus and all that went with that was like a language he had never heard before; it made zero sense to him. So he is the complete opposite of Bartimaeus.
ii. But think too of the DISCIPLES. They have been arguing about which of them is the greatest and who should get the right and left seat in Jesus’ kingdom. They still see themselves as deserving. So they too are the complete opposite of Bartimaeus.
So already, we are being forced to ask a question of ourselves: Which am I? Am I able and deserving? Or am I unable and completely in need of grace and mercy?

2. BARTIMAEUS knows he is unable and that he can only receive. And something alerts him to the fact that Jesus is passing by. So he calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
a. And for those of you who don’t know, David was the greatest king of the people of Israel. You can read about his life in the books of Samuel and Kings.
b. And God promised David that a son of his would always rule in Israel and that one of his sons would be an eternal King. So the people of Israel who believed in God’s promise were waiting for THE Son of David. And Bartimaeus was one of these. And he believes that Jesus is the promised Son of David.
c. And what he ask from Jesus is MERCY. He is not seeking a reward or the payment of a debt. He is not demanding his rights. He is not reminding Jesus of His obligations. He just seeks mercy.
i. I think I have told you before about the mother who sought from Napoleon the pardon of her son. But the emperor said it was the man’s second offense, and justice demanded his death. “I don’t ask for justice,” said the mother. “I plead for mercy.” “But,” said the emperor, “he does not deserve mercy.” “Sir,” cried the mother, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask.” “Well, then,” said the emperor, “I will show mercy.” And her son was pardoned.
ii. Mercy is underserved kindness. Bartimaeus wanted mercy and he believed that Jesus could give him this.

3. And the point here is that JESUS SEEKS SPIRITUAL BARTIMAEUSES; spiritual blind beggars! Jesus seeks those who recognize their inability; their sin; their unworthiness; their guilt. Jesus seeks those who know their only hope is Him and the mercy that He alone can provide.
a. So does that describe you, my friend?
i. You see, if you think there are aspects of who you are and how you behave that make you deserving of salvation, you are not ready for Jesus. The door to His kingdom will remain closed.
ii. But if you come with your head bowed and empty hands outstretched, begging for mercy, then the door will be opened wide!

But very briefly, note that not only was Bartimaeus aware of his MISERABLE CONDITION, he also had to overcome an ADDITIONAL IMPEDIMENT, as we see in v48a.

And boys and girls, an IMPEDIMENT is something that keeps you from making progress. If you were in a running race and you had a blindfold on, that would be an impediment. But if I tied your shoelaces together, that would be an additional impediment.
1. Well, not only is Bartimaeus blind, but we are told that when he cried out to Jesus, “many rebuked him and told him to be quiet.”
a. Now, why they did this, we are not told. Perhaps they were in a hurry to get to Jerusalem and didn’t want him to slow their progress. Perhaps they thought that the title “Son of David” might be a bit inflammatory and cause trouble with the authorities. Perhaps just like the disciples who didn’t want Jesus bothered with little children, they didn’t think Jesus had time for blind beggars. But whatever the reason, they try and shush him.

But this just brings out a TENACIOUS PERSISTENCE in Bartimaeus.

And persistence means to just keep trying without giving up. And TENACIOUS is a similar word that mean untiring and determined. You will not let go!

1. So does Bartimaeus stop because a bunch of people tell him to? No way! Others might not know the misery of his blindness, but he does. Others might not think it worthwhile for him to try and get relief from Jesus, but he does. So he shouts even more! “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
a. And again, my friends, in terms of your need to be a SPIRITUAL BARTIMAEUS, you also must pay little attention to what others think about your quest for the mercy of God in Jesus.
i. Some will laugh at you. Some of you will say you are beyond saving. Some will say there is no rush and you can wait till tomorrow. Some will threaten you with what you will lose if you follow Jesus, like their friendship.
ii. But then you must cry out, louder, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
iii. If you know that you are completely lost without Jesus, do not rest until you have found peace and pardon in Christ.

2. Well, as a result of Bartimaeus’ tenacious persistence, Jesus stops and says, “Call him.” The desperate cry of Bartimaeus has been heard!
a. And the ‘shushers’ of a moment ago are now his CHEERLEADERS as they tell him to cheer up and get up because Jesus is calling him.

b. And Bartimaeus is BESIDE JESUS IN A FLASH. And Jesus says to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
i. And perhaps you notice that this is the same question Jesus asked of James and John in the previous passage? But they wanted one to sit on his right and the other to sit on his left, which was not in keeping with genuine discipleship.
ii. And the rich young man wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life, which was not in keeping with genuine discipleship.
iii. But Bartimaeus comes to Jesus with nothing and asks for what he is convinced that only Jesus can give him, which is His eyesight.

And so we see his MIRACULOUS BLESSING as Jesus says, “Go … your faith has healed you,” and immediately, we are told, “he received his sight.”

1. Now, in our passage, Jesus has not yet revealed Himself as the Messiah who dies on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and then rises from the dead. The fullness of what salvation in Him really means is not yet known. Bartimaeus knew he was blind and that Jesus could give him his eyesight back. He believed and was healed.
a. And BARTIMAEUS’ BLINDNESS is an example of the many different ways that sin has corrupted and infected and distorted the whole of creation. And please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that Bartimaeus was blind because he sinned; I am saying that before Adam and Eve fell into sin, there was no blindness or cancer or pain or death. Those things are a part of the general consequences of living in a fallen world. And the healing of Bartimaeus points us forward to heaven where those things will not be there!!
i. REVELATION 21:4 describes heaven with these words: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
b. But you know, being healed of blindness or other illnesses or disabilities IS NOT OUR GREATEST NEED. John 1:11-12 speaks of Jesus who came to His own (to the Jewish people), “but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Our greatest need is to be children of God.
i. And they are children of God who recognize their sin and call out to God for His forgiveness believing that Jesus died on the cross for them.

But we learn more about what it means to be children of God or genuine disciples as we look lastly at Bartimaeus’ WHOLEHEARTED RESPONSE in vv50 & 52.

1. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
a. Well, disobedience would be too strong a word for it, but having heard Jesus say “Go,” at the beginning of v52, Bartimaeus doesn’t! We are told “He followed Jesus along the road.”
2. Jesus said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will save it.” Whoever leaves home or siblings or parents “for me and the gospel will … receive a hundred times as much in this present age … and in the age to come, eternal life.”
a. And while the rich man left Jesus, sad, “because he had great wealth,” probably all that the blind beggar had was his cloak. But v38 tells us that he has thrown it aside. But having left his cloak, he has received the gift of sight!
b. And scholars tell us that Bartimaeus became an important member of the Jerusalem church. One of the first things he saw with his eyes was Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A few days later, his horrified eyes would see Jesus on the cross. But three days later Jesus rose from the dead and 40 days later He ascended to heaven and 10 days later He poured out the Holy Spirit from heaven on those in Jerusalem. And so, having been cured of his physical blindness, Bartimaeus was now able to understand the extent of his spiritual blindness and receive eternal life.

Now, Jesus never again went to Jericho. If Bartimaeus had not called out to Jesus that day, he would never have had another opportunity to do so. And my friend, if you have not yet called out to Jesus for mercy, don’t put it off till this afternoon or tomorrow or when you are old, for that time may never come. Call out to Him now.

But if you have found saving mercy in Jesus Christ, let Bartimaeus be an example of gratitude to you. He had been blind but now He could see. He would use His eyes and everything else He said in the service of Christ. Are you a wholehearted follower of Christ? Do you give yourself willingly to His service? Do you begin each day with a prayer that asks the Lord to use you in His service? Are you learning each day to see sin and Christ and holiness in their true light? Amen.