JANUARY 24, 2016

MAIN TEXT: MARK 10: 46-52

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. 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!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 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.” 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.



Today’s text records the last miracle that Jesus performed in the gospel of Mark.  Additionally, the gospels tell story after story of occasions when Jesus employed His miraculous power to heal people of various afflictions. Only in this instance are we given the name of a person whom Jesus healed – Bartimaeus. The prefix bar – meant “son of”. Mark lays this out for His non-Jewish audience, “the son of Timaeus” (verse 46). 

Jesus is moving resolutely toward Jerusalem and the conclusion of His ministry. It is very intentional that Mark included this story at this point. It is tied to the discussion that Jesus has just had with His disciples after James and John had requested position, power, and authority in Jesus’ Kingdom. He made it clear that the greatest in the Kingdom of God are servants. 

In this context, Blind Bartimaeus stood in stark contrast with the behavior of the disciples who squabbled among themselves for status and rank. This man was begging along the road – one of the lowest stations in life, in terms of public exaltation and status. He was most likely in rags hoping for coins to be dropped in his cup – so that he might have his next meal or a place to rest for the evening. 

By taking time to serve this man, Jesus set a powerful example for His disciples and us. He shows us what it means to be a “slave to all” (verse 44) and to serve those who cannot do a single thing in return for our help. 

Son of David, have mercy on me

Jesus was leaving the city, accompanied by a large group of people, when He passed a blind beggar that begged in order to survive. Bartimaeus was in a very helpless situation. About the only positive he had going for him was that he was in Jericho (not the same as Old Testament Jericho) which was one of the major thoroughfares with steady traffic passing through the city. It was an ideal place for a beggar to request alms. Bartimaeus was most likely a regular fixture on that road listening for footsteps. 

In Luke 18:36 we are told that Bartimaeus heard a multitude pass and asked what it meant. When He learned that Jesus was passing by, he began crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (verse 47). Some in the crowd told him to keep quiet – maybe thinking that Jesus would not want to have anything to do with a poor beggar. He would not be dissuaded; he kept crying out for mercy. 

Somehow Bartimaeus knew that the long promised Messiah would come out of the family of David, that He would be David’s greater son and also David’s Lord (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:7; Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:42-45). His cry is for mercy. How different this request was from the request from James and John – they had a sense of entitlement. Bartimaeus asked for mercy with no suggestion that he deserved Jesus’ help. His posture was much better than the disciples. 

Verse 49 is beautiful – Jesus stopped and had him called. They called Bartimaeus and said, “Take heart. Get up. He is calling you!” It is one thing for us to call on the Lord, It something else when He calls on us. The crowd was now right – Bartimaeus had cause for good cheer when Jesus called for Him. He threw off his cloak – leaving everything that hindered him, stood up and made his way to Jesus (verse 50). 

My Lord and my Master

Jesus asks a question that he had just asked James and John, “What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 51). They responded by making their audacious request. Bartimaeus answered so differently. He was not asking for status. He was not asking for glory. He was not asking to be exalted in Jesus’ Kingdom. He wasn’t asking to be delivered from his poverty. He asked Jesus for something that almost every human being already enjoyed – he simply wanted to see. He was simple – he wanted to get out of the darkness that defined his life, where he groped in danger, always dependent on someone else to take him by the hand and lead him. 

The title that Bartimaeus called Jesus was beyond the ordinary “rabbi” or honored teacher title. He actually called Him, “Rabboni”. This alteration is significant. It has an intense personal significance and is actually a profession of faith. Bartimaeus is actually saying, “My Lord and my Master”. 

This poor and ragged and the blind man is a true disciple. Jesus had just taught His disciples about the importance of being servants. To be a servant is to serve a master. Jesus is our Master. The disciples failed to grasp this, but this blind man succeeded. 

With a word of commendation for Bartimaeus’ faith, Jesus pronounced him healed and the beggar was able to see (verse 52). Most blind people, having their sight restored, would want to run and see all the sights that they have only known by the descriptions of others. Not Bartimaeus. As soon as he received his sight, he saw Jesus and he wanted nothing more than to follow Him to Jerusalem to His death. 

Everyone who is given eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ should desire to follow Him – even in suffering. He shows great gratitude for the grace he received. Where He goes, Bartimaeus will go. What He asks, Bartimaeus will do. Gospel gratitude should inspire us to follow, at any cost, the One who has so freely dispensed His grace. I see! I’ve been saved! I will joyfully follow King Jesus wherever He leads! 

We do not know the future of Bartimaeus. Some early traditions say that He followed Jesus all the way to His passion and later became a major figure in the church in Jerusalem. It is an easy thing to imagine! The first and last healing miracles in Mark were healings of blind men. We were all blind until Jesus gave us sight. We were poor beggars until He saved us as our ransom. We brought to Him nothing but our weakness and need, and he graced us with His power and blessing. Praise God that Jesus took time to call you and me! 

Jesus still stops for anyone who calls on His name. And like Bartimaeus – no one is disappointed in what He does. There is hope for anyone who, in faith, looks to Jesus. 

 

Follow Jesus with gospel gratitude! 

 

 


APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Mark 10:46-52

What is the significance of Bartimaeus referring to Jesus as Rabbouni, “my Teacher”?

Why did Jesus ask this blind man what he wanted--wasn’t it obvious? What else might a blind beggar ask for from passersby?  How did Bartimaeus’s request demonstrate faith in Jesus?  What have you asked Jesus to do for you?

Why did Bartimaeus follow Jesus?  How do his reasons compare with the reasons we might have?

In what sense are we all blind until Jesus heals us?