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Worship Message - Bartimaeus and Faith

Bartimaeus and Faith
This morning, a message about a person - a man in the New Testament - through whom God worked.

The man? Bartimaeus, a blind man told about in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark.

To set the stage, let me mention that what we are talking about in this message came pretty late in Jesus’ ministry. In fact, it is in the next chapter - Mark 11 - when Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which was the event that began the last week before He was crucified.

Before today’s passage - at the start of chapter 10 of Mark - Jesus was doing a lot of traveling, teaching people as He went. Jesus knew the end of His earthly ministry was coming quickly. He did not want to waste any time. That is what we see at the start of Mark 10, where, it is recorded that crowds, as in lots of people, gathered wherever He went so they could hear Him teach.

It is not stated that everyone believed what Jesus taught. Nor is it stated everyone in crowd was there to learn. In fact, some in the crowd were there simply to hassle Him.

But Jesus taught.

For instance, Jesus promoted the importance of marriage. He said that from the “beginning of creation God made them male and female,” that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,” and “the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus added that what God has joined together, “let not man put asunder.”

Jesus also taught His love of children. One time, when some parents took their children to Him, He welcomed them and blessed them. Jesus added that to such - to those who like children are eager to learn about, trust in, and dare to please Jesus - “belong the kingdom of God.”
Jesus taught how to inherit eternal life. He did that after being asked by a man what had to be done to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered that the man needed to follow the Ten Commandments, specifically the commandments about how to treat others -  do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.

The man shared with Jesus that he had done all those things. That he had done them since he had been a boy. Jesus looked on the man. Jesus loved him as He said to him, “You lack one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come and follow Me.”

With that answer, Jesus taught that following the Ten Commandments is to be put into practice in every aspect of life, which disappointed the man with whom Jesus was talking. The man’s “countenance fell and he went away sorrowful.” That is because the man had great possessions. He was very rich, and he chose his wealth over the Kingdom of God.

Jesus taught that with God, “all things are possible.”

Jesus taught that those who follow Him will be rewarded abundantly. He added that here on earth, His followers would suffer, but eventually and eternally, those who are Christians will be rewarded with eternal life.

Jesus also taught what was about to happen to Him. Remember chapter 10 comes right before the week that ended with Jesus’ crucifixion. He knew what was coming - the crucifixion and the suffering before that. He wanted to continue to get His disciples ready for what was coming.

Jesus taught them, telling them that in Jerusalem He would be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, that they would condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles, and that Gentiles would mock Him and spit on Him and scourge Him and kill Him.

Of course, there was going to be good news three days later. On the third day after His death, He would rise. But Jesus taught what would happen before His resurrection.

Jesus also taught His disciples the need for humility. After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were going to be important religious leaders. Jesus taught them to not lord their authority over others. Instead, they were to serve others.His wording was, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”

With that, we get to today’s character, that being Bartimaeus.

Still on their way toward Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples came to the city of Jericho, 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem. There were, just like everywhere else, great crowds of people who lined the road Jesus walked. Many wanted to hear Him teach.

As Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus, a blind man - a man whose only source of income was begging - was sitting by the roadside. When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was so well-known? I mean, there was no CNN or Fox News back then. There was no Lincoln Journal Star newspaper or 10/11 Strong TV station back then. Basically the only way to share news was by word-of-mouth.

But being this late in Jesus’ ministry, He had done many, many things for three years. Including performing many miracles, including many healings. So many of those miracles had been done in the open. They were all fantastic. News of them would have spread very quickly throughout Palestine, including in Jericho.

And of course, this was not the first time Jesus had been to Jericho. He had traveled throughout the region from time to time throughout His ministry.

Jesus was well-known. His reputation for love and for power surrounded Him. So it was that a large crowd was around Him as He traveled through Jericho. So it was that as Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, after asking what all the commotion was about and being told Jesus was passing by, began to cry out. “Jesus,” he shouted, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Have mercy on me.” Isn’t that an interesting request? A bit later, a specific request was called for and given,  but at this point, Bartimaeus simply asked for mercy. It was as if he trusted Jesus knew His need, that Jesus would know what to do to take care of the need, that Jesus would do what was necessary.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Son of David” was a way of saying “Savior.” “Jesus,” Bartimaeus said, “I know who You are. I know Your power. I am confident that all the good things I have heard about You are true. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

That is what Bartimaeus cried out. So loudly that he interfered with what Jesus was saying to - what He was teaching - those in the crowd around Him, which disturbed many in the crowd.

That is understandable. You see, it was common for religious leaders to be surrounded as they walked, the leaders using the time to teach, the crowds taking advantage of opportunities to learn from those smarter than them.

That was especially the case with Jesus. Again, His reputation surrounded Him. He was known as a very good teacher and a doer of miracles. He had also been in trouble with important people for quite some time. That added to people’s interest in Him.

And remember this was right before the annual Jewish festival of Passover. Religious fervor was beginning to build, including in and around Jericho.

The people in the crowd wanted to hear Jesus, but suddenly, after learning Jesus was at the center of the commotion, Bartimaeus began crying out for Jesus to have mercy on him!

Many in the crowed rebuked Bartimaeus. “Be silent,” they told him.

But the rebuking did no good. Bartimaeus cried out all the more. “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped. He said, “Call him.” Jesus called for the one crying out.

I wonder what those in the crowd thought. Did they expect Jesus to correct the blind man? To yell at Him, scolding Him for interrupting?

I wonder what Bartimaeus thought. Had he gone too far? Had he upset Jesus?

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” Which those in the crowd close to Bartimaeus did. And I do wonder if they thought Jesus might want to correct Bartimaeus face-to-face. But apparently at least most in the crowd knew criticism was not Jesus’ intent. Many said to Bartimaeus, “Take heart. Rise. He is calling you.”

Immediately, Bartimaeus jumped up. As he jumped up, he threw off his mantle, which was his outer garment. A garment big and bulky enough to trip him if he was not careful. Bartimaeus threw off his mantle as he jumped up. He went to Jesus. And isn’t that interesting? There is no indication he was led to Jesus. He went to Jesus on his own, apparently directed to Him by the sound of Jesus’ voice.

Bartimaeus went to Jesus. Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

I am intrigued by Jesus’ question. There are other times Jesus asked a similar question. “What do you want Me to do for you?”

I am intrigued by that question because it should have been obvious what Bartimaeus wanted. I would guess it was clear he was blind, so what else would he want - what else could he want - except to see?

But you know what I think Jesus was asking? He asked Bartimaeus to consider the results of what he needed.

Including that if he could see, he could no longer beg. He would have to get a job.

And think of this. Bartimaeus would not recognize any of the people around him, including his family. That would be an adjustment.

Bartimaeus knew how to live as a blind man. Was he ready to adjust to life as a man who could see?

“What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked. Bartimaeus answered, “Master…” What a significant word that is. It indicates Bartimaeus not only knew of Jesus’ love and power. He was willing to submit himself to Jesus. “Master, let me receive my sight.”
Jesus said to him, Go your way. Your faith has made you well.” Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight.

*       *       *       *       *

In studying today’s passage, I came across a few points.

For instance, I came across a significance of Bartimaeus throwing off his outer garment, the significance being that it represents what we need to do when approaching Jesus. We are to throw off anything that might trip us as we move to Him.

What are some of those things? Maybe habits we have that might keep us from reading the Bible and praying to and worshiping God. Maybe the influence of other people who may not share our spiritual enthusiasm. Even Bartimaeus faced that when he was told to be quiet. Maybe other things being more important than our relationship with the Lord. Maybe there is some sin we are reluctant to let go.

Bartimaeus threw off a garment. We might need to throw off habits or bad influences  or other things or sins. That might be necessary to get to Jesus. To be with Him. As Bartimaeus was, may we be willing to throw off anything that might interfere with us getting to Jesus.

Another point. I am impressed that Bartimaeus was able to find Jesus by listening to the Lord’s voice. Again, there is nothing in the passage about anyone leading Bartimaeus by the hand. Bartimaeus simply had heard Jesus’ voice. He followed the voice to get to Jesus.

We can hear Jesus’ voice. Maybe not the physical voice of Jesus, though that, too, might happen. I have heard His voice at least once in my life. But we can hear Him through the Bible. We can hear Him at least in our minds and our hearts as we pray.

We, like Bartimaeus, can hear the voice of Jesus. Even if no one is around to help us, we can still find Him, if we will follow the Lord’s voice.

And this point, which finishes today’s passage. Jesus healed Bartimaeus. Immediately, Bartimaeus received his sight. Bartimaeus then followed Jesus on the way out of town toward Jerusalem.

Bartimaeus followed Jesus. How significant that is. He did not receive his sight and think, “My, that was nice,” then turn around, forgetting what had happened. No. He followed Jesus. He learned from Him. He worshiped Him. He thanked Jesus.

Will we do the same? Putting all the points together, let’s throw off anything that might keep us away from Jesus. Let’s remember that we can hear Jesus’ voice and use it to find Him. As we receive blessings from the Lord, may our response always be to follow Him. To do that by learning, by worshiping, by thanking Him.

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