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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 31, 2016 under 2016 |

Message preached Sunday, July 31, 2016 from Mark 10:46-52

Theme: Bartimaeus shows us the characteristics of the kind of irrepressible faith that gets a response from our Lord.

We come this morning to a wonderful story from the Gospel of Mark. It’s a story of one of my favorite heroes of faith. His name means “Son of Timaeus”; but we know him best by His Aramaic name, Bartimaeus. In fact, we know him best by the nickname that he’ll probably bear throughout eternity: ‘Blind Bartimaeus’.

The story of his miraculous encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ is found Mark 10:46-52. It happened when Jesus and His disciples were traveling on their way to Jerusalem—where Jesus would, a short time later, die on the cross for us. We’re told;

Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 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!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road (Mark 10:46-52).

There are several great lessons to be learned from this story—and particularly from the faith that Bartimaeus showed toward the Lord Jesus. He is an example to us of the kind of irrepressible faith that evokes a response from our Lord. And what I ask that we do this morning is that we walk our way through this story and pick out some of the details; and then afterward draw out some of the outstanding characteristics of Bartimaeus’ faith.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; let me begin by sharing with you that this story comes at a very important turning point in the Gospel of Mark. It comes at the end of the first major section of this Gospel; and just before the beginning of the second major section.

You might remember that, last week, we focused on Mark 10:45—the verse that comes just before this story. I shared with you then that I believe verse 45 is the main verse of this Gospel. In it, we’re told that Jesus said of Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” I suggested to you that the first half of that verse summarizes for us the first half of this Gospel. Jesus did not come to be served, but rather to serve; and the first 10 chapters of the Gospel of Mark describe Jesus’ gracious works of service to people. Those chapters tell us the stories of the great miracles that Jesus lovingly performed in order to meet the needs of those who came to Him. This morning’s story is the last great miracle Jesus performed in the Gospel of Mark, just before going to the cross as our Redeemer. And the second half of that verse describes His work as our Redeemer—who gave His life a ransom for many. Chapters 11 to the end of the Gospel go on to tell us about His sacrifice on the cross for our sins—and of His resurrection afterward.

This morning’s passage, then, is an important transition point. It shows us how Jesus is the one who graciously meets the needs of those who cry out to Him; and who even met the greatest need of all—our need for redemption from sin, and for full righteousness before a holy God.

And let me share with you why I think this is important for us to consider this morning. My prayer has been that many of us will have come to this place of worship today with their deepest needs. My prayer, always, is that none of us would ever ‘leave our problems at home’ when we come to gather together at church; but that we would always feel free to bring those problems with us and would encounter Jesus Himself, through the preaching of His word in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the meeting of our needs.

But I want to make something else very clear. The emphasis in our coming here today should never be merely the meeting of our needs and the solving of our problems. That, unfortunately, is what many people often expect in coming to church. They come to have their problems, as they understand them, solved; and to have their needs, as they conceive of them, met; but all in such a way as that they can then simply go on with their own lives as they want their lives to be—with themselves in control of their lives, and the problems that hindered them taken out of the way. And if that’s what you are hoping for today, I hope you will be broken free of that shallow—and quite frankly—ungodly idea.

The emphasis should never be placed by us primarily on the solving of our problems; as if Jesus was nothing more to us than a very effective tool in our own self-improvement program. People who think that way about Jesus almost always end up disappointed with Him. That’s because they have approached Him on the wrong terms—as if they can use Him to achieve their own desired ends. Rather, the emphasis should always be on an encounter with Jesus Christ that so transforms our lives that He becomes our Lord and Master, and that we take up our cross from then on and become His faithful and obedient followers, and that we leave the solving of our problems and the meeting of our needs to Him—in His way, and according to His purpose. It may even be that those problems in life are purposefully permitted by Him; and are designed by Him to break us free of our self-reliance, and to help us place Him as first in our hearts.

It’s true that Jesus has made Himself our “Servant” for the meeting of our deepest needs. But He does so in the context of becoming our “Redeemer” who delivers us from our all of our sinful rebellion and alienation from God, and makes us His faithful disciples who take up the cross and obediently follow Him.

So; my prayer has been that, this morning, many of us will have come to church today to have our needs met by Jesus. But let’s make very sure that we come to Him for the meeting of those needs on His terms—and no other. And let’s seek that the end result of it all will be that we follow Him—so that He becomes our everything! As He Himself once said in His great invitation to all people in need;

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; with that in mind, let’s go back and think through the details of this story of blind Bartimaeus.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die for our sins. Mark begins by telling us, “Now they came to Jericho” (v. 46). Scholars tell us that Jericho is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Some even say that it is the oldest. I have ridden past it on a tour bus a few times. It may not look like much now; but at one time in history, it was the Palm Springs of the ancient world. In Jesus’ time, the old city had been destroyed; but a newer and much more beautiful ‘Jericho’ had been built not far away. It was where wealthy people loved to go in the winter.

When Jesus came to this city, another important encounter happened that we read about in the Bible. It was the time when He met up with Zacchaeus the Chief Tax Collector—the small man who waited for Jesus in the sycamore tree. We’re told in that story that Jesus stayed in Zacchaeus’ house; so it must be that Jesus spent a little time in Jericho during this visit. And Mark—in this morning’s story—tells us that Jesus’ encounter with the blind man Bartimaeus occurred “As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude” (v. 46). The reason I point that out is because in the Gospel of Luke, when Luke tells this story to us, he wrote that the encounter happened when Jesus came “near” Jericho. Some have made a big deal about this—declaring this to be an example of how the Bible contradicts itself. But I don’t see it that way. I see Luke as speaking in general terms about this encounter; and Mark—who reports an eyewitness account of the story—speaks in specific detail. It happened in the occasion of Jesus’ having drawn near to Jericho on His way to Jerusalem; and specifically as He was on His way out after having spent some time there.

Mark then goes on to tell us that as He and His disciples and this “great multitude” were making their way out to Jerusalem, “blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. I love how Mark describes him. He calls him by a Greek name—“Son of Timaeus”; and then by an Aramaic name—“Bartimaeus”; which, by the way, means “Son of Timaeus”. We can’t help but get the idea that this fella was the son of Timaeus! Mark, in his Gospel, is the only one who tells us his name. And that might be because after His encounter with Jesus, he became a devoted follower of Jesus for the rest of his life—and everyone in the early church knew him and knew about the story of what Jesus did for him.

And here, we find yet another element in the story that some people see as a contradiction in the Bible. Mark tells us only of this one man Bartimaeus; and so does Luke. But when Matthew tells us this story in his Gospel, he tells us that it was a story of two blind men. But you and I know that there’s no contradiction in that. It was a story that—no doubt—truly involved two blind men. We aren’t given the full story of what happened to the other of the two. But in Mark’s Gospel, only one of them is being emphasized—the blind man who went on to become well-known to the believers in the early church as a life-long follower of Jesus; this man Bartimaeus. Perhaps he was the one of the two blind men who took the lead in seeking Jesus.

Life was very hard for blind people in those days. Eye diseases and infections were very common; and there was no such thing as an eye clinic. There wasn’t any such thing as ‘disability’ in those days either; and so a person who had lost his eyesight was—sadly—reduced to becoming a beggar. Bartimaeus was such a man; and he positioned himself along the main road of this ancient and prosperous city—perhaps on the side of the city that led out toward Jerusalem—in the hope of receiving alms from those who were making their way out to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

You probably get to hear a lot of the talk on the streets when you’re a blind beggar. And you’ve got nothing but time on your hands to think about the talk you hear. It might be that Bartimaeus heard that Jesus, the miracle-working Prophet from Nazareth, had come to town. It might be that he had thought much about the stories he heard about Jesus, and of how He had performed many miracles for people and met every need that was brought to Him. Perhaps he remembered the things that were taught in the Scriptures about the coming Messiah; and that he came to the conclusion that Jesus is that promised Christ—the hope of Israel. How he must have longed to have an encounter with this promised Savior about whom the Old Testament prophets said, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened …” (Isaiah 35:5)!

And as he sat and thought of such things, I imagine that Bartimaus eventually began to hear the noise of many excited voices, and the scuffling of the feet of a great crowd of people going by. Perhaps he lifted his head up blankly and asked one of the passersby what it was that was happening. They told him that Jesus was traveling by on His way to Jerusalem—with a great crowd following along to go there with Him. And that’s when Bartimaeus was suddenly filled with a desperate excitement! He knew that his only chance to be ministered to by Jesus had come—but that if he didn’t act immediately, it would quickly pass away.

Mark tells us that he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He didn’t speak of Him as “Jesus of Nazareth!”, because most people in those days thought that Nazareth was a despised place. Instead, he called Jesus by the name of royalty and in recognition of His Messiahship—“Son of David!” Folks tried to tell him to be quiet. It may be that he was becoming an embarrassment to them. But he wouldn’t stop! He may appear to them to be importune in his manner; but it made no difference to him! He absolutely must have Jesus hear him! And so he ignored those who tried to silence him, and cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And we’re told that Jesus stopped. That kind of irrepressible faith always gets His attention. Jesus commanded that Bartimaeus be brought to Him. People told him the good news. “Be of good cheer,” they said. “Rise, He is calling you” (v. 49). And Mark tells us—in a way that suggests that he was reporting an eyewitness account—“And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus” (v. 50). What was this “garment”? I suspect that it was a garment that, somehow, identified him to people who passed by as a blind man and a beggar. It would have been something that he would have needed if he was to receive alms from people. But at Jesus’ call, he cast it aside and arose. What an act of faith!

He made his way—perhaps stumblingly—to Jesus. And when he came to Jesus, the Lord asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (v. 51). And why do you suppose Jesus did that? Why would He have made Bartimaeus come all the way over to Him instead of going to him Himself? Why would He ask such a strange question when it was so obvious what Bartimaeus wanted? I believe it was to make Bartimaeus state clearly—as an act of faith—what he desired, and to demonstrate genuine earnestness in asking for it.

Bartimaeus spoke to Jesus reverently and respectfully. He said, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” The other Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus had compassion on him. I believe Jesus loved Bartimaeus very much, and loved the irrepressible faith that Bartimaeus had in Him. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight …” (v. 52). It happened immediately! There wasn’t a slow, progressive restoration of eyesight. He came to Jesus as a blind man; and a fraction of a moment later, he was a man who could see.

And I believe that more than just the restoration of his sight happened. The word in the original language that Jesus used for “made well” is actually the word for “saved”. Literally, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you.” And I believe that the proof of this is that were told that Bartimaeus then “followed Jesus on the road.” (v. 52). Jesus said, “Go your way”; and as it turned out, that ‘way’ was now that of walking behind Jesus as one of His faithful followers. He followed Jesus all the way with the crowd to Jerusalem. Perhaps Bartimaeus was even there to see Jesus make His sacrifice for him on the cross. There’s no doubt that he became a life-long follower of Jesus from then on; because all Mark had to do was mention his name to his readers, and they would know who Bartimaeus was.

* * * * * * * * * *

What a great story this is about the power of our Savior to meet the needs of those who come to Him in faith. But more; it’s also a story about the kind of faith that gets His attention. Let’s go back again, and briefly consider the kind of characteristics we find in this story of such a faith.

I believe we exhibit that kind of faith by …


That’s what Bartimaeus did. He was where Jesus was. And so, when Jesus came by, he was able to cry out to Him and make his appeal to Him.

Now; I don’t want to over-spiritualize this point. But ask yourself: If you need something from Jesus, is it your habit of life to be found regularly at the places of life that He frequents? He is, of course, everywhere present; but there are specific concourses of life that He says that He frequents. Are you, for example, in His house regularly—ready for worship? In the beginning of the Book of Revelation, we’re told that Jesus walks in the midst of His churches. Do you read the Bible regularly? It’s in His word that He is revealed to us. Do you give yourself faithfully and obediently to the ordinances that Jesus commanded that His church observes?—baptism and the communion meal? Do you take the time to pray with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you give yourself faithfully to these things?—and give of the best of yourself in them?

One of the lessons we learn from Bartimaeus is that, if we need something from Jesus, then we ought to place ourselves near where He is.

Another lesson we learn is that we ought to be …


When I think of Bartimaeus, I always think of an old man I used to see occasionally out on the other side of town. He was blind; and he would often walk into a store or a shopping mall and stand there and shout, “Help! Help! Someone help me!” All he wanted was someone to come and take him to the place in the store that he wanted to go. People thought he was a bit of a nuisance. But I had to admire his importunity. He kept crying out until he got what he needed—and he didn’t let anyone tell him to stop until someone helped him. That’s a lot like what Bartimaeus did; isn’t it? People told him to be quiet; but he didn’t quit until Jesus heard him and called him.

I believe that’s how we are to respond to our Lord. People might tell us also to be quiet about Jesus, or seek to discourage us from crying out to Him. But do you remember the parable he told of the woman who cried out to the unjust judge until she got justice from the judge? Jesus said, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).

Bartimaeus also teaches us that we please the Lord with an irrepressible faith by …


When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was calling him, he didn’t sit and say, “Why doesn’t He come to me? Can’t He see that I am blind and helpless?” Bartimaeus made no excuses. He put forth the effort, rose right away to his feet, and came obediently at Jesus’ call.

I wonder if one of the first steps Jesus may take us through, in the meeting of some particular need we place before Him, is to command us to do something that seems unrelated. He puts us to the test of obeying some command that He places before us first. A faith that pleases our Lord is a faith that shows itself in quick and unquestioning obedience—even when His commands don’t make sense to us. Are we ready and willing to obey Him first?—and trust Him to take care of our need in His time and along the way?

He also illustrates to us a faith characterized by …


When Jesus called Bartimaeus, I wonder if he didn’t wrestle a little bit with what to do with his old beggar’s garment. Should he keep it? After all, it was what he had depended upon to survive in his condition of blindness. It had, in a way, become his identity. If he let go of it, he might not find it again. But if he clung to it, he might not rise up in obedience to the Lord.

In crying out to Jesus for the meeting of our needs, sometimes we find that there things in our lives of which we fear to let go. They may even be things in the past that had hurt us and had kept us in a spiritually ‘beggarly’ condition, but that had over time become our ‘identity’. We should remember what the apostle Paul said;

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

When Bartimaeus cast down that garment, he was illustrating to us that a faith that truly pleases our Lord is one that doesn’t let any failures of the past, or any sense of inadequacy in the present, or any imagined fears of the future, hold us back from coming to Him and trusting Him.

I love another characteristic we see in Bartimaeus’ kind of faith; that of …


When Jesus asked him what it was he wanted, I feel very sure it was because the Lord wanted him to be specific and direct. Our Lord isn’t about giving us ‘generalities’; because such generalities in prayer don’t require faith. We can sometimes—without realizing that we’re doing so—actually hide a lack of faith behind ‘generalities’ in prayer. When we get specific, however, we have to really trust Him. And that’s what Bartimaeus did. He got specific. “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”

Consider your habit in prayer. When you come to the Lord in prayer with your needs, do you first get a sense of what it is that the Lord wants to do? That’s always a great tactic in prayer—learn to get behind what the Lord already wants to do. And then, once you get a sense of what He wants to do, do you then go boldly and ask Him to do it? Do you get specific and direct about it? Try it. Make that your habit in prayer. It displays the kind of faith in prayer that pleases the Lord.

And finally—and I really love this about Bartimaeus—such a faith in Jesus is truly shown in …


That’s how Bartimaeus’ great story of faith ended—with him following Jesus from then on. He illustrates to us that it isn’t just about the meeting of our needs according to our agenda. Rather, it’s about being surrendered to Jesus completely as our ‘all-in-all’; and following wherever He leads.

Praise God for the lessons we can learn from Bartimaeus—a truly great man of faith! May God help us to imitate His kind of irrepressible faith; because it clearly pleases the Lord!

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