Calvary Road Baptist Church

“BLIND BARTIMAEUS”

Mark 10.46-52

 

There are a number of miraculous events recorded in the Gospels that picture some aspect of the conversion of sinners. This morning we are going to look at one such healing, the final miracle of healing recorded in Mark’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ’s healing of blind Bartimaeus.[1] Turn in your Bible to Mark 10.46-52. Once you are there I invite you to stand, please, for the reading of God’s Word: 

46  And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

47  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

48  And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

49  And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

50  And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51  And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

52  And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. 

Let me give you verse by verse commentary of what we have just read before I read two other portions of Scripture to stimulate your thinking by way of introduction.

Verse 46: 

“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.” 

There were two Jerichos in our Lord Jesus Christ’s day, old Jericho which was cursed by Joshua when he fought against and destroyed the city and new Jericho which was built alongside the old city on the road to Jerusalem.[2] Comparison with the other Gospel accounts, in Matthew and Luke, suggest that this episode may have taken place between those two locations. The Lord Jesus Christ is passing through on His way to Jerusalem, and He has an entourage following Him. So, as they move along, they pass by a blind beggar, which was a fairly common scene in those days. But the blind beggar is not named. “Bartimaeus” actually means “the son of Timaeus.”[3] So, the only information we are given about this man’s identity is that he is the blind son of a man named Timaeus.

Verse 47: 

“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” 

Blind beggars were the invisible people of that day, with no one except their immediate relatives paying much attention to them. So, imagine what news tidbits and gossip he would have picked up over time as people engaged in unguarded conversations while passing by him along the way. No doubt he had heard of Jesus of Nazareth, had heard of the miracles that He worked, had heard the speculations tossed back and forth about His identity, eventually arriving at his own opinion about who this Jesus of Nazareth really was.

Verse 48: 

“And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” 

This blind fellow is screaming and hollering and just won’t stop. And he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about his hollering. “Shh. Would you be quiet? Hold it down, fella. Pipe down over there. Will somebody make that beggar shut up so we can hear?” But what was he hollering? The phrase appearing here for the first time in Mark’s Gospel, he was hollering “Son of David.”[4] Again and again, he called the Lord Jesus “Son of David.” Do you know what that means? Jews knew full well that the Messiah Who was promised by God would be the “Son of David.”[5] So, Bartimaeus was persuaded that Jesus Christ was the Messiah sent by God to deliver His people. And what did Bartimaeus want from the Lord Jesus Christ? What did he want from his Messiah? Mercy. He wanted no justice. He wanted mercy. So, despite the contrary opinions of all the people in the entourage, Bartimaeus hollered and kept on hollering, 

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” 

Did the yelling and hollering of a blind man do any good?

Verse 49: 

“And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.” 

I can imagine my Savior walking along, with hundreds of people milling around Him and clamoring for His attention. And then He stops. There’s a guy yelling not too far away. And as the crowd quiets down the hollering becomes distinct: 

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” 

Those in the entourage are trying to get the beggar to be quiet. But the Lord Jesus says, “Tell that man who’s hollering to come over here.” So, the Savior told someone to tell the blind guy to do something, while he was still blind. And did what he was told by the guy who was himself told by the Savior have any impact on his blindness? No. He was still blind. And as he came closer to the Lord he was still as blind as he had ever been. But he took those blind steps he was told to take, and that’s good. It is important to notice that the Savior told someone else to call the blind man. He directed someone to convey the message to the blind man on His behalf. It was the Lord Jesus Who called, was it not? But He called through the audible voice of another person. And what did the blind man do when he heard, not the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, but the voice of one sent by the Savior to call him?

Verses 50-51: 

50  And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51  And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.” 

I read these two verses together because this encounter is one seamless cloth, which could be separated for discussion, but that might cause us to lose sight of the fact that this is one single, inseparable event. Why’d the blind guy cast away his garment, perhaps his only garment, a much-needed comfort when the temperature chilled at night, and protection against the scorching desert sun in the daytime? Casting away his garment shows us that he was concerned for nothing and he was concerned with nothing but coming to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior said, 

“What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” 

Did this man come to Jesus Christ to obtain what the Lord was offering? “Do you want from me what I’m giving?” was what my Lord was asking. So, what did the blind beggar answer? 

“The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.” 

In the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish culture, the distinction between what was purely physical and what was purely spiritual was not as clearly made as we find in the later and more concise writings of Paul and Peter. This is because God’s revelation to man was gradual and progressive over time. So, it should not be thought that this man was discounting a spiritual blessing for a purely physical one. He probably didn’t understand the distinction between physical and spiritual as we think we do. Therefore, we should take his words as meaning, “I want what you have to offer.” Was what he wanted what the Lord Jesus Christ was willing to give him?

Verse 52 gives us all the answer we need: 

“And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” 

And how, did he get what he wanted. And a whole lot more. Notice what he did after this miracle, which is undoubtedly a picture of genuine conversion. He did what everyone who is genuinely converted does. He “followed Jesus in the way.” Amazing. When he was saved his way became the Lord Jesus Christ’s way. So when the Lord told him to “Go thy way” he just naturally went the way his new Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, was going.

Consider what the Christian faith was first called before it was called Christianity. In both Acts 9.2 and Acts 22.4 we see the Christian faith, the faith once delivered to the saints, described as “this way.” So, perhaps Mark is conveying more to us than just the comment that the blind son of Timaeus followed the Lord Jesus West along the highway that led to Jerusalem. I now read Isaiah 35.4-8, a portion of Scripture undoubtedly familiar to the blind beggar. Listen as I read: 

4  behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.

5  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

6  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

7  And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

8  And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein

Now, please, turn to Psalm 146.5-10: 

5  Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

6  Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

7  Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

8  The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:

9  The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

10 The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD. 

We review these two passages to firmly establish in our thinking that Bartimaeus knew Who the Lord Jesus was. When he called Him the Son of David, recognizing Him as the Messiah of Israel, He knew that He was the One Who restored sight to the blind and Who loves righteousness. He had some awareness that Jesus Christ is the LORD God of Israel. So we do have, here, a beautiful picture of the salvation of a poor, blind sinner. 

SERMON: 

We also have, in this account of the healing of blind Bartimaeus, what is clearly seen to be an astonishing parallel to the salvation of a sinner. And, indeed, I am convinced that we have much more here than the physical healing of blind Bartimaeus. I am convinced that we see here described the saving of his soul.

Should you want to happen to you what happened so long ago to a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, whose encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ turned out to be a saving encounter, then what was true of him must also come to be true of you.

Looking at our text again, I want to make three observations about Bartimaeus which I cannot observe in your life and experience unless you, too, have a saving encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

First, THERE IS HIS DEPRAVITY 

What more convincing proof do we have of the depravity of this poor man than his blindness and his poverty?

His blindness is a testament to the depraved nature’s lack of perception. What is blindness, but the inability to perceive reality? There are two types of physical blindness, are there not? There is that one whose blindness is not total, but whose vision is so warped and so marred by his condition that any attempt to rely on his virtually useless eyes would only endanger him. Oh, perhaps there exists in many the ability to see dimly, to know when it is day and when it is night. But such is still blindness to disable a man totally. Such is still blindness that makes unaided travel impossible. Such is still blindness that makes one unfit to give testimony about that which lies around him. Such blindness is still surely a danger. The other kind of blindness is complete and total. The optic nerves simply do not function. Or that portion of the brain which interprets nerve impulses from the eyes does not function. Or perhaps the person, for one cause or another, does not have eyes. What I said about the blindness of the other kind certainly applies to this kind of blindness, except that this poor man can’t even tell whether it’s daytime or nighttime, except by the warmth of the sun on his skin or the coolness of the air and the different sounds of the evening. Whatever kind of blindness the son of Timaeus had, it was a blindness that was disabling. It was a blindness that was crippling. It was a blindness that was incurable. Had he been blind his whole life? We are not told, unlike the man who was born blind in John chapter 9. Like that man, however, Bartimaeus had no hope of remedy for his condition. It was something he was cursed to live with until the day he died. And the same could be said of you. You are as spiritually blind as Bartimaeus was physically. How do I know? Let me tell you. The Bible shows my Lord Jesus to be the bright and morning star, the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.[6] Oh, my friend, He is altogether lovely. But you do not see that. You do not see His beauty, His loveliness, His glory, His majesty, His splendor, His tenderness, His compassion, and His loving kindness. You don’t see that at all. For you, there is no beauty in Him that you should desire Him, Isaiah 53.2. And that can only mean that you are blind to His beauty. Else you would have come to Him, wouldn’t you?

But it’s not blindness only that testifies of depravity. It’s poverty as well. Imagine the blind man’s grinding poverty. The exposure to the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The blasting wind coming off the Negev desert and the bone-chilling rains in their seasons. But because of his poverty, he has to stay by the highway to beg for food and money. Because of his poverty, he has to beg when it’s convenient and when it’s not convenient. We have no awareness of such grinding poverty in this country, where those classed here as impoverished have smart phones, cars, air conditioners, and cable television. But the poverty of Bartimaeus was horrible. For how long at times had he gone without nourishment? On how many occasions had he gotten sick and had no remedy for it? And what easy prey he was for a thief to steal from him or delinquents looking for some perverse fun. But you are that poor, too, my friend. Oh, you may have money in your pocket and fancy jewelry on your wrists and fingers, and if you are a woman, you will even have shiny things around your neck and hanging from your ear lobes. But you are still in poverty. What do you own that will not be burned up in the fire of judgment? And in what way will your possessions relieve your soul of its affliction? No, you are as poor and blind as Bartimaeus was. You are destitute. Depravity has to do with inability, with incapacity, with incompetency. And as the beggar’s blindness and poverty pictured his soul’s depravity, so it pictures yours, as well. For what can you do to save yourself from your sins? What can you do to alter your eternal destiny? With what currency will you buy what you must have? And by what means will you overcome the blindness that results from sin-stained eyes warping and distorting everything? 

Next, WE SEE THE BLIND MAN’S DETERMINATION 

That man could have sat where he was sitting throughout countless ages, with no possibility of deliverance. But then one day the Savior walked by. What would have happened to the blind man had the Savior not walked by where he was sitting? He would no doubt have just died and gone to Hell, like everyone else. But the Lord Jesus Christ did come by. Now, with the blind man the Savior walked by. But with you, the Savior passes by in another way. I want you to listen closely to what happened.

The Bible tells us that when blind Bartimaeus heard that the Lord Jesus passed close by, he cried out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” And he cried out again and again and again. This illustrates a sinner striving to enter in at the strait gate. Luke 13.23-24 reads, 

23  Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

24  Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 

Why is it that preachers no longer tell sinners what the Lord Jesus said about striving to enter in? The Lord Jesus Christ said it, but who hears preachers declare this truth these days? Why is it that preachers let sinners think that all there is to being saved is to sit on your duff until the Lord Jesus walks up to you and taps you on the shoulder? There is no question that this blind beggar is putting forth great effort here. He is screaming bloody murder. He is striving as diligently and as energetically and as seriously as he knows how. Why? Because unlike some people, he knows he is blind. He knows he is poor. He knows his certain destiny unless he seizes on this one opportunity to obtain mercy from the Lord. So, he cries, and he cries, and he cries, and he cries, and he cries. There is desperation in his voice. He is pleading for mercy. Every ounce of his strength, both physical and mental is devoted to one thing and one thing only; to plead for mercy to Jesus, the Son of David.

But that’s not the only thing he did to show his determination. When given instructions by one of the Lord’s men he followed those instructions. One of the men walking with our Lord Jesus approached the blind man and said, “He calleth thee.” “He told you to come over here.” But how did that blind man know that fellow was telling the truth? He didn’t hear Christ tell that man to come and fetch him, did he? No, he probably didn’t. But the blind beggar came anyway. The blind beggar did what the man told him to do who was sent by the Savior. The man told him to “come over here,” so he came over there. Did obedience to the messenger from the Lord Jesus save the blind man? No. Did the physical act of getting up and walking, with help, over to where the Lord Jesus was standing save him? No. But obedience to Christ’s messenger did put the blind man in a position to be saved! Do you hear what I am saying? My Lord Jesus did not speak audibly to this man as he sat by the highway. What He did, and what He does today, is send someone to fetch a sinner. He sent a man with a simple message. And what did the blind man do? He listened to the man with the simple message, and he did what the man told him to do. Let me assure you that the blind beggar could have been saved where he sat. There are no preconditions to conversion. A sinner can embrace the Savior wherever he happens to be. That’s a fact. But it’s also a fact that with most people there needs to be a moving from where you are in the direction of the Savior before you will be saved. When I talk to sinners, I try to tell them that they can be saved if they will just come to Christ. But many sinners will not immediately come to the Lord Jesus. What to know why? They don’t know they are blind yet. They don’t know they are impoverished yet. In other words, most of you do not yet know what Bartimaeus had known for years, that he was blind and poor. So, when I discern that you will make no move to trust Christ immediately, I encourage you to strive to enter in at the strait gate. I will give you something to read or a simple assignment designed to keep your mind and heart on the subject of your sinfulness and your great need. But will most of you demonstrate any determination, such as the blind man exhibited? No. “Oh, you are teaching salvation by works.” No, I’m not. That blind man was not saved by walking over to where the Lord Jesus was, just as you will not be saved by striving as the Lord Jesus told you to strive. “Then why should I strive?” It will put you close to the ground where the Savior wants you to be when He saves you if He saves you at all. The blind man was depraved, and he knew it. For you to be saved, you will have to have some appreciation of your spiritual blindness and poverty. The blind man was also determined. He did greatly strive and then did what the Lord’s messenger told him to do. Will you greatly strive? After all, it is your soul. And will you do some simple things asked of you? Some of you would rather go to Hell than read a brochure or talk for a few minutes in my office. Fine. Go to Hell then. It’s your eternal and undying soul, not mine. God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble. 

Finally, THE DELIVERANCE OF THE BLIND MAN IS SEEN 

Oh, what a glorious scene. Through a messenger, the Lord Jesus directed the poor sinner to come to him. And what did the blind beggar do? 

“He, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.” 

Do you see what I see in this passage? This statement shows that he cast off the dirty and filthy rags of his self-righteousness and came to Christ. And he told the Lord what he wanted. And the Lord Jesus said, 

“Thy faith hath made thee whole.” 

He did what the messenger told him to do. As a result of his humble obedience to Christ’s messenger this poor wretched soul found himself face to face with the Savior, a Savior he couldn’t see. The only thing he had to go on was what he was told. He had to take it by faith and by faith lay hold of this unseen Savior of sinful men’s souls.

My friend, how can it be any different with you? My efforts are to bring you face to face with a Savior you cannot see, and whose voice you will not personally hear. But if you will come, and if you will seek from Him what He is willing to give to you, He will save you as surely as He did blind Bartimaeus. And what is He willing to give to you? Forgiveness; cleansing; life; Himself! 

Why did Bartimaeus cry out incessantly for mercy from Jesus Christ, the Son of David? He knew he was lost. He knew himself to be depraved, unable to save himself. And he feared God, Whose judgment he would someday have to face. And he knew he could not stand come Judgment Day.

Do you fear God as the blind man did? Have you any idea of how blind and poor and helpless you are to remedy your situation? Will you now cry out for mercy as the Lord Jesus passes by? “What do you mean as the Lord Jesus passes by, preacher? I don’t see Jesus Christ passing by.” But don’t you understand? As blind as that beggar was, you do not recognize that whenever the Gospel is preached, in a sense, Jesus Christ is passing by?

Like Bartimaeus, you neither see Him nor hear the sound of His voice, because he speaks through His messengers. But I am directed to tell you, come, “he calleth thee.” “But I don’t hear Him.” You won’t hear Him, friend because He doesn’t call in an audible voice. He calls through the preaching of the Gospel. If you can hear the Savior calling, then come to Him by faith where you sit. But if you are like Bartimaeus, like so many sinners are, then get up from where you are, leave your filthy rags behind, and take a step closer so you can find out for yourself whether or not the Savior is giving what you specifically want from Him.

Our Lord’s encounter with blind Bartimaeus took place in Jericho, shortly before the Lord Jesus Christ made His way to Jerusalem, where He would be crucified eight days later. This is one of the events recorded in the Gospels we will consider as Easter approaches, and we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the dead.

__________

[1] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, General Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983), page 154.

[2] Joshua 6.26; Robert H. Stein, Mark - ECNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), page 493.

[3] C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel According To Mark, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), page 344.

[4] Walvoord & Zuck, page 155.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Song of Solomon, 5.10; Revelation 22.16

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org