Saturday, October 10, 2020

Who's Blind? - Mark 10:46-52 - October 11, 2020

These are the Sermon Notes for October 11th, 2020. We are meeting at the church with limited seating and specific procedures and protocols that need to be followed. Read our Returning to Worship plan here. You can still watch our livestream service every Sunday at 9:37 am on our facebook page or watch the livestream recordings any time.

 Mark 10:46-52 Who’s Blind?

Good morning! We are continuing our work through the Gospel of Mark, we’re in chapter ten, verses 46-52, page 847 in the pew Bibles.

Jesus has been making His way south from Galilee, through the region of Perea east of the Jordan River, and now He and His disciples, as well as a crowd of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover, have crossed the Jordan River and have come to Jericho.

You may have heard of Jericho before, it was the city, in the Old Testament, where Joshua and the Israelites marched around the city at God’s command and blew the trumpets and the walls came tumbling down.

The site of that battle, the ruins of that city, is about a mile away from the New Testament city of Jericho where Herod the Great had built his winter palace. It’s somewhere in between these two places that our story takes place this morning.

This is also Mark’s last recording of Jesus healing anyone. So let’s look at the text and we’ll pray.

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 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!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Let’s pray.

At first glance, this account seems rather innocuous. Not that giving sight to the blind isn’t a big deal, but thinking of the strategic nature of the accounts included in Mark’s Gospel this account seems to be kind of random. “There’s a blind guy, Jesus heals him, nothing to see here, let’s move on.”

In truth, there were a lot of blind guys in this account, a whole throng of them. The blind guy in this story is actually the least blind guy there!

So here he sits, old blind Bartimaeus, by the side of the road begging. This was the only thing that someone in his condition could do. There were no government programs to help him, to keep him fed and give him a place to live. The spot where he sat was most likely the spot where he lived, dependent on the charity of people going in and out of the city.

By this time word of Jesus’ ministry had reached Jericho, there is no speculation in that, word of the Prophet from Nazareth had plenty of time to travel to that city. And now, Jesus of Nazareth Himself was on His way through town.

47 And when [Bartimaeus] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Now, what is he saying by saying what he’s saying? There’s a number of things actually!

First, by calling Jesus, “Son of David,” not just, “Lord,” or, “Teacher,” or, “Hey you,” by calling Him, “Son of David,” Bartimaeus is rightly calling Jesus, “Messiah.”

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to fulfill the work of Messiah, and it was appropriate for Him at this time to accept that title from the people.

Bartameus cried out, Jesus, Messiah, have mercy on me!

Have mercy on me! 

Mercy and grace are often confused. Grace is giving someone what they don’t deserve, a gift. That is why we are saved by grace alone, we don’t deserve salvation, we don’t deserve forgiveness, but God, in His grace, offers it to us through faith in Jesus Christ.

Mercy, on the other hand, is not giving someone what they do deserve, it is compassion for the miserable, and that was what Bartimaeus was asking for, the compassion of the Christ.

Now the crowd here in this account, which included the disciples, clearly saw a ministry opportunity, a chance for Jesus to serve not be served just as He had just taught them, a chance for God to be glorified and a man to be restored to health, right? After all, they could see, right? They could see a great opportunity, right?

Unfortunately, no. 

Batimaeus heard that Jesus was on His way through and began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

And the crowd in their infinite wisdom told him to shut it. 

“Don’t bother Jesus, He hasn’t got time for you. Don’t bother Jesus, you’re not the kind of person that He wants. Don’t bother Jesus, you aren’t in the right class, or social group, or political party. Quit your shouting!”

The truth is, it was not Bartimaeus who was blind, he was the only one who could see! 

He could see his need, he could see his own inability to fill his need, and he could see that Jesus was only the One who could fill his need, the only One who could actually deliver God’s mercy.

And as the crowd is moving through with Jesus, many of them actively trying to get Bartimaeus to zip it…

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

“Hey shut up, don’t bother Jesus, you’re making too much of a fuss… what we mean to say is, just kidding, He’s calling you, here, let us help you up…”

So, verse 50, Ol’ Bart jumps up, throws off his coat and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Does that question sound familiar? That is exactly the same question that Jesus asked James and John when they told Him they wanted Him to do for them whatever they asked. But instead of a request made  out of pride, Bartimaeus made a request out of misery, a request for mercy.

And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 

The word translated, “rabbi,” was actually transliterated from Aramaic, and it doesn’t just mean, “teacher,” as it is often used. In this instance, it is much more personal, it’s the word, “Rabbouni,” which means, my Master, my Lord.

This was Bartimaeus’ declaration of faith in Jesus Christ, the recognition of his great need, and his recognition that Jesus was the only One who could fill it, the only One who could apply God’s mercy and heal him.

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

The blind man Batimaeus was the only one in that crowd who saw Jesus for who He really was, the Father’s dispenser of mercy, and by faith he was made whole. God’s grace was the cause of his healing, the man’s faith was merely the means of his healing.

Jesus healed this man and said, “Go your way.” He could have chosen any way that he wanted, he could have run back to town, he could have run to the synagogue or back to his home, but instead he chose to follow Jesus on His way.

In a lot of ways Bartimaeus is the picture of discipleship, he is a great example of being a Christian.

He recognized his need and his own inability to fill it. While for him, his need at that moment may have been physical blindness but for everybody else, that great need is spiritual blindness.

Spiritual blindness keeps people from seeing who Jesus is and who they are in relation to Him. It keeps people from seeing what their great need really is, they see the need for a bigger house, or bigger paycheck, a more comfortable life, better friends, whatever. But these are not great needs, these are merely comfortable furnishings in a burning house.

Bartimaeus saw his great need for what it was and his own inability to fill it, but he also saw Jesus for who He really is, the Messiah, the only One who can dispense the Father’s gracious mercy. 

By calling out to Jesus, even when everybody told him it was a bad idea, that Jesus wouldn’t answer him, that this religious fanaticism was a waste of time, to come to your senses, you are who you are, you can’t change that, none of this is real, by calling out to Jesus in the face of fear and doubt, Jesus heard him and answered him, he was healed physically, but even more important he was healed spiritually.

And when he could see clearly, he didn’t go back to life as usual, or back to a life that was now just improved a little bit because of a greater spiritual awareness. When he could see clearly he followed Jesus on the way.

Alistair Begg said, “You’ll never know Jesus as a reality until you see Him as a necessity.”

That’s what Bartimaeus saw, he saw Jesus as a necessity first, and then saw Him as a reality. The same can be true of us, when we see Jesus as a necessity, we will see Him as a reality.

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.


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