SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK GOD’S MERCY FOR TRANSFORMATION THROUGH FAITH IN THE MESSIAH
There are always individuals that you might expect would come to Jesus in faith – like the Pharisee and the rich young ruler – but who fail to acknowledge their sin and choose to trust in their own righteousness. On the other hand, we see examples of Jesus reaching out to show mercy to save the unlikely – the small child or the blind man or the physically handicapped.
1 Cor. 1:26-30
MacArthur: But on the way to Jerusalem, before the darkness sets in, there are two wonderfully beautiful salvation stories that Luke gives us. They occur in Jericho. These are two stories that stand in stark contrast to the belief…to the unbelief and the hatred of Israel’s leaders. These are two stories that are in contrast to the shallow, superficial praise offered by the crowd that was so fickle; two stores if salvation, two prodigals brought home for the joy of God, two outcasts, two hated sinners. And they are the lowest of the low. One, a blind man begging, which means he had no one to care for him. The other a tax collector, the most hated and despised of all people in Israel. And the other two trophies of sovereign grace at the cross were also outcasts: a wretched, hated, executed criminal and a despised Roman. This is an indictment of massive proportions against the nation Israel: a beggar, a tax collector, a thief, and a Roman centurion. It is a reminder that the Lord chooses the poor and the lowly for His kingdom.
I. (:35-39) THE BLIND CAN COME TO JESUS FOR MERCY
A. (:35) Helpless Individual
And it came about that as He was approaching Jericho,
a certain blind man was sitting by the road, begging.”
Lenski: Mark preserved the beggar’s name, Bartimaeus, and Matthew, who himself saw the miracle, informs us that the blind beggar had a blind companion.
J. Ligon Duncan: It was a common thing for beggars to be by the roadside asking people who were passing by to give them food or give them money. And furthermore, it was considered a pious thing for a godly Jew to give alms to the poor. And this man is by the roadside heading up towards Passover season. And pious Jews avoided going through Samaria to get down to Jerusalem and so a natural path for them to make their way up to Jerusalem at Passover time was through Jericho. And so this man was positioned in a very strategic point.
B. (:36-37) Hope Stirred by Arrival of Jesus
“Now hearing a multitude going by, he began to inquire what this might be.
And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.”
Bruce Hurt: The word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” In short, Bartimaeus had a deep sense that this was an “opportune time,” his small “window of opportunity!” (cf 2 Cor 6:2, Isa 55:6) (From Redeem the Time)
C. (:38-39) Insistent Cry for Mercy
1. (:38) Initial Cry for Mercy
“And he called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
Donald Miller: The blind man, who apparently had heard of Jesus’ mighty works before, called Jesus the “Son of David” (vss. 38-39). This was a Messianic title (20:41). This time Jesus does not refuse the public acclamation as Messiah. In fact, he seems deliberately to draw it out, by stopping to speak with the blind man, when he could well have avoided it (vs. 40). . .
Did the blind man merely want some alms, or did his faith in Jesus lead him to believe that Jesus could open his eyes, which was one of the signs of the Messianic Age? (4:18; 7:21; Isa. 29:18; 35:5).
MacArthur: That’s His title as the heir to the messianic throne. That’s His title as the one who has the right to fulfill the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:12 to 14, where God promises David’s going to have a greater Son who is going to reign and who is going to have an everlasting kingdom. Who is David’s greater Son? They all knew that that greater Son was not Solomon. They all knew that that there was a greater Son than Solomon. There was a coming Son who would have an eternal kingdom. Solomon didn’t have a very successful kingdom at all. In fact, out of him comes a divided kingdom. They all knew that there was coming another king in David’s line. That’s why it’s so important when the New Testament opens up it gives a genealogy of Jesus right back through Joseph to David. And in Luke it gives a genealogy of Jesus right back through Mary to David. Mary was in the line of David, and so was Joseph. He was fully by fatherly right and by blood an heir to David’s throne. More than that, He was God’s choice. . .
By the way, a typical cry, “Have mercy on me” for afflicted people, you see it throughout the Psalms: Psalm 4, Psalm 6, Psalm 9, Psalm 25, on and on through the Psalms, people saying, “Have mercy on me, have pity on me.” This is a penitent heart. Here is a man who has faith in the person of Jesus Christ as his Deliverer and the one sent from God to be His anointed King. Here is a man who knows his plight and it is not possible for him to remedy it. And so he cries to the only one who can help. It’s a beautiful, beautiful moment.
Anyabwile: The blind man discovers more riches in Christ than the rich man had without Christ. The blind man sees more in Jesus than the disciples with their sight. The beggar was not present in the private meeting Jesus held with the disciples (vv. 31-34), so he did not know Jesus had used another messianic title, “Son of Man” (v. 31), from Daniel 7. The disciples with the private study could not see it while the blind man sitting by the streets saw perfectly.
2. (:39a) Rebuked as Insignificant
“And those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet;”
Bruce Hurt: The tragedy in this scene is that those who were following Jesus had little if any of the compassion which moved their Master (see Mt 20:34)! (As a follower of Christ how am I doing in regard to demonstrating His compassion? Ouch!) The crowd shows their utter disdain (lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike) for this lowly, despised beggar. He is of no value in their eyes, but not thank God, every “lowly, despised” soul is precious in the sight of the Creator and He wishes for none to perish! (cf 2 Pe 3:9) By way of application it is notable that opposition to this blind beggar’s seeking of Christ is a picture of the sure Satanic opposition experienced by all who seek Christ for healing of their spiritual blindness. If you have ever shared the Gospel with individuals, you are well aware of this spiritual opposition. But the certainty of opposition must not stop us from endeavoring to move ahead with sharing the Gospel with the soul which God’s Spirit has placed on our heart.
3. (:39b) Intensified Cry for Mercy
“but he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
Lenski: Note that each evangelist reports the title twice and thus makes it prominent in the record. Now that Jesus is going to his death at Jerusalem he accepts the Messianic title openly before the multitude, accepts it with all its implication of royalty (1:32, 33). He had hitherto avoided it as much as possible because of the wrong political and worldly ideas the Jews connected with the Messiah-King they were expecting. Only in Samaria, to a lone woman, Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah.
II. (:40-43) THE BLIND CAN RECEIVE SIGHT THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS
A. (:40-41) The Request for Regaining Sight
1. (:40a) Intervention of Jesus
“And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him;”
o Interrupted what He was doing – “stopped”
o Initiated interaction with the man – “commanded that he be brought”
2. (:40b-41a) Inquiry of Jesus
“and when he had come near, He questioned him,
‘What do you want Me to do for you?’”
Anyabwile: The Lord gives the blind man a blank check in prayer! It’s the same blank check he gives us. He asks us each day, “What would you have me do for you?” The Father has given us his Son. How will he not, along with Christ, give us all things (Rom. 8:32)?
3. (:41b) Entreaty of Jesus
“And he said, ‘Lord, I want to regain my sight!’”
B. (:42) The Response of Jesus to Faith – Commanded the Miracle
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’”
J. Ligon Duncan: Shorter Catechism — Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel.
C. (:43a) The Response of the Healed Man
1. Transformation = Regained Sight
“And immediately he regained his sight,”
Geldenhuys: Whosoever, like the blind beggar, in consciousness of his own misery, and believing in Jesus, cries to Him whole-heartedly will just as assuredly be healed of spiritual blindness through His word of power.
2. Obedience and Commitment = Followed Jesus
“and began following Him,”
3. Worship = Glorified God
D. (:43b) The Response of the People = Praising God
“and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.”