BLIND BEGGARS CAN ACCESS THE SAVING POWER OF GOD THROUGH FAITH IN THE MERCY OF JESUS
This story provides a stark contrast to how the rich young ruler approached Jesus in the previous encounter.
– Man of privilege and distinction vs. the most pitiful creature imaginable = blind beggar
– Man who claimed obedience vs. wretched sinner crying out for mercy
– Man who could not lay aside his great wealth vs. man who had no problem casting aside his only possession, a threadbare coat
– Man who went away sad vs. a man who followed Jesus on the pathway of discipleship with great joy and rejoicing – “Once I was blind, but now I can see .. the light of the world is Jesus”
This story also provides a stark contrast to the interaction with Jesus with James and John in the previous section. Same question Jesus asked in vs. 36 – but different response
– Disciples seeking places of prominence and distinction in the kingdom vs. a simple sinner who wants to be healed of his debilitating blindness
– Disciples who lack the spiritual vision to get the lesson that Jesus has been teaching over and over regarding greatness in the kingdom vs. a humble, bankrupt.lowly sinner whom Jesus blesses with spiritual vision as well as physical vision
Jesus wants each of us to see our self in the story of Bartimaeus. This is the model of how sinners should approach Jesus by faith and receive His power and blessing.
Let’s learn the 3 LESSONS ABOUT FAITH that Jesus teaches us here:
I. (:46-48) FAITH FOCUSES
A. (:46) Faith Focuses When the You Are Desperate
“And they came to Jericho. And as He was going out from Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.”
Jericho – located about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem; lies a little south of OT Jericho [not the same location] about a six-hour walk straight up to Jerusalem.
Carr: The name “Jericho” means “To smell, or A place of fragrance.” It was a city that abounded in many fragrant plants like roses, balsam, and cypress. Honey was found there in abundance as well. Travelers passing through Jericho were surrounded by many fragrant smells. It was a city that lived up to its name.
There would be a fragrance in Jericho on this day that had never been there before. “The Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valleys” was passing through. As He did, He demonstrated the great fragrance of His glory in the city of Jericho.
Problem: did the miracle occur when Jesus was going out from Jericho or drawing near?
Perhaps confusion regarding the 2 cities; Perhaps language just suggests “in the vicinity of”; certainly there is only 1 incident involved here
Also: Matt. Speaks of 2 blind men while Mark just tells the story about Bartimaeus
Situated in a strategic position to have access to the many pilgrims who would be going up to Jerusalem for the Passover; to be successful as a beggar, go where you have maximum access to people
Blind beggar – what a pitiful creature – quite a contrast from the rich young ruler in the previous incident – yet he is the one who will teach us lessons about simple dependence instead of covetousness and materialism that choke out faith
2 Cor. 4:3-4 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Edwards: only person healed in the Synopotic gospels whose name is given
MacArthur: very possible that this man, Bartimaeus, became a well-known believer, a well-known person in the early church, by the time Mark wrote his gospel and this was a way for Mark to tell the conversion story of a familiar believer…Bartimaeus.
Do you realize how desperate your condition is every day? How much we are in need of the Lord Jesus?
Rev. 3:17-18 – you don’t realize you are blind …
B. (:47) Faith Focuses When Jesus is Perceived to be Accessible
“And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say,
‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
What an opportunity to be sitting beside the very roadside where Jesus is making His final journey to Jerusalem – can you imagine his excitement; the fanning of the flames of hope; here is his one chance; probably his last chance; He knew of the reputation of Jesus the Nazarene
MacArthur: Mark uses the verb keradzo to shout, it’s a very strong word. It is used in Mark 5 to speak of insane epileptics, demon-possessed people. It’s used also in the Scripture to speak of Revelation 12, birth pain and the screaming of a woman….strong. He begins to scream in anguish and desperation
Here is a blind man who already sees more clearly than the multitudes around him; he is focused in on Jesus
Hiebert: recognized Messianic title (cf. Mk 12:35-37) and recalled the divine promises made to King David (2 Sa 7:8-16)
This beggar had the faith to recognize the Messianic identity and mission of Jesus – the one that Isaiah had prophesied about
Is. 29:18 “On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see”
Is. 32: 1-4
Is. 35:5 “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened”
How has Jesus approached you and made Himself accessible to you?
Do you view Jesus as accessible?
C. (:48) Faith Focuses When We Seek Undeserved Grace Rather Than Claiming Entitlement
1. (:48a) Prejudice of Disciples in Squelching Faith
“And many were sternly telling him to be quiet,”
No surprise that he was insignificant in his culture;
No surprise that he was despised and ignored and shunned and told to shut up and go away;
No surprise that he did not look like he was deserving of any attention from Jesus
The one who receives mercy and grace from Jesus is the poor despised tax collector who humbly falls before His feet, beating his breasts in sorrow over sin and crying out: “God be merciful to me the sinner”
The disciples continue on the same path we have seen earlier in this section of pushing people away from Jesus instead of encouraging them to come to Him
2. (:48b) Persistence of Faith in Seeking Mercy
“but he kept crying out all the more,
‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
Jesus taught many lessons about how we need to persevere in our prayer requests and not lose heart and give up; how encouraging when we can look back and see how Jesus has answered a long standing request after many years of faithful prayer
What causes you to give up in prayer?
Are we oriented towards grace or do we have a works mentality? Do we think that Jesus owes us something or are we grateful for his gifts of mercy?
Alan Carr – Illustration — I read about a lady who went to a photographer on day and had her picture made. When he showed her the proofs, she was very unhappy and she said, “Well, I don’t like that! Those proofs don’t do me justice.” He said, “Ma’am, what you need is not justice. What you need is mercy!”
How focused are you in your faith?
II. (:49-51) FAITH ASKS
A. (:49-50) Faith Asks in Boldness and Courage
1. (:49a) The Call
“And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’”
Pretty extraordinary circumstances to cause Jesus to stop on His journey to Jerusalem … we saw his determination and commitment as He set his face to carry out His mission of redemption … striding ahead of his disciples; not deterred or distracted in his mission … but here He stops
Something about the desperate call of this pitiful blind beggar that tugged at His heart strings; that awakened his compassion, that caused him to reach out this man in his need
Borgman: Jesus doesn’t stop for the mayor of Jericho, or one of the prestigious rabbis or scholars, or rich merchants … stops for poor, insignificant begging blind Bartimaeus
2. (:49b) Taking Courage
“And they called the blind man, saying to him,
‘Take courage, arise! He is calling for you.’”
Tone of surprise on the part of the disciples of Jesus as they encourage the blind man to be bold and to take advantage of this opportunity
You must respond while the opportunity presents itself
Cf. boldness of Esther in making her request to the King when the Jews were in danger of being exterminated – takes boldness and courage (Esther 5:3-4; 7:1-6)
3. (:50) The Coming to Jesus
“And casting aside his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus.”
Why did he cast aside his outer garment??
Borgman: spread out on his lap to collect alms; blindness was not going to keep him from getting to Jesus; wasted no time
B. (:51) Faith Asks for Bottom Line Necessities
1. (:51a) Blank Check
“And answering him, Jesus said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’”
same question that Jesus asked of James and John in vs. 36; but different heart response
2. (:51b) Bottom Line Request
“And the blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!’”
Not asking for things from a selfish motivation to increase one’s material possessions or prestige or pride – not following after the things of this world: the lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life (1 John 3:16)
James 4:2 “You do not have because you do not ask … then you ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your passions”
What does our faith ask of Jesus?
III. (:52) FAITH FINDS
A. (:52a) Faith Finds Salvation and Healing
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’”
Edwards: The word for “healed” also means “saved,” combining both physical and spiritual dimensions.
MacArthur: There is a word strictly referring to healing, iaomai, that’s not the word here. It’s the word sozo, your faith has saved you. And we know that that encompasses the healing but also the salvation. The healing is indicated and he regained his sight and the salvation is indicated in he began following Him on the road. The evidence of the healing was obvious, he saw, 20-20 instantaneously. The evidence of salvation was following him. He had received mercy and he gives the sign of a true conversion, he followed.
B. (:52b) Faith Finds a Master to Follow
“And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.”
No longer sitting beside the road as an outsider and onlooker; but now on the road with Jesus as one of His followers and disciples
Imperfect – continuing action of following Jesus to Jerusalem
What has our faith found?
Borgman: When Martin Luther was being prepared for burial, they removed his overcoat and found a small scrap of paper sewn into the lining on the inside:
“We are beggars. This is true.”
– Faith Focuses
– Faith Asks
– Faith Finds