Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road

 

                                                                                    Mark 10:46-52 New International Version (NIV)

Introduction…

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

 

The Voice…

I like “The Voice”.  Do you watch it?  Mary and I do every week and it’s pretty fun to watch.  Amateur singers vie to keep getting selected each week until by the end of the season only one singer remains standing.  All kinds of music are employed and each of the singers are coached by one of four professional singers, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani or Adam Levine.  One of the singers early in the match ups this season is a blind man named Blind Joe.  He’s pretty good, I don’t know what his chances are but I like him.  When he sang “If It Hadn’t been for Love” he got a four chair turnaround which meant each of the four judges wanted him on their team.  He chose Blake which was a good choice for him because Blake is a Country music star and Blind Joe sings with a country kind of sound.  He won his first “Battle Round” this past week which means he moves on at least for one more week.

 

Blind Bartimaeus

The Bible tells us about another blind man…Blind Bartimaeus who wasn’t a singer but who just wanted to see.  He sat begging by the side of the road but when he heard Jesus was passing by he began shouting for Jesus to come over and restore his sight.  I guess Blind Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and his miraculous healing powers.

People tried to hush Blind Bartimaeus up but he was having nothing of it and he shouted to Jesus “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”.

Jesus heard him shouting and went over to him and asked him what he wanted.  Blind Bartimaeus told Jesus he wanted to be healed, he wanted his sight restored and Jesus told him “Your faith will be rewarded” and he restored the blind man’s sight.

 

  1. Being without sight, being blind is a terrible thing to contemplate for me.

I can’t imagine being blind.  It brings shudders to my soul.

Back in the early 70s when I was an up and coming, young minister I used to lead youth retreats with a fun and insightful game called “Blind Trust Walk”.  I’m sure most of you have experienced one form or another of it.  I think what I remember was having one kid put a blindfold on while the other took him on a walk with instructions to help him “see” all the beauty around us and to learn what it felt like to have to trust someone else for a safe walk.  Looking back the trouble is for me, it doesn’t even begin to touch what it must truly feel like to have to live without sight.

It’s scary when you can’t see.  You can’t see what you can’t see and you don’t see won’t see you don’t see so it’s no easy thing knowing what you miss.

I’ll never forget seeing Evelyn Higgins crying from her soul when she was going blind due to Macular Degeneration.  It was horrible.  She was such a beautiful lady; she had such relatively good health up to that point and losing her sight day by day was an awful experience.  It brought pain to my heart and tears to my own face standing out in the narthex of the church and seeing her sobbing as she shared with me what was happening and what was coming.  No easy answers.

In the movie “Blindness” (2008) a city is ravaged by an epidemic of instant “white blindness”.  Those who are affected first are quickly quarantined in an abandoned mental hospital.  The newly created “society of the blind” quickly breaks down and criminals and the physically powerful prey upon the weak in awful ways.

They hoard the food and commit horrific acts.  There is only one eyewitness to the nightmare.  She is a woman who sight is unaffected but she keeps her sight a secret and guides seven strangers out of the quarantine and back into the city where they see the horror of a society that has crumbled in blindness.

There’s blind and then there’s blind but no matter how you cut it being blind is a challenging and scary thing to contemplate to me.

I’m sure that blind people don’t want to be pitied and certainly not looked down upon and some of the greatest people in the world have been blind (think Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Joseph Pulitzer, Claude Monet, Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, Galileo and too many others to mention) but it’s a challenge and calls on greatness from within.

Blindness is one of the most challenging disabilities in life to deal with.  Not being able to see their surroundings can make life very difficult for a person whether they were born without sight or lost it later in life.

Blind Bartimaeus wasn’t too enthralled with it either.  He BEGGED Jesus to heal him and it was a great day of rejoicing when Jesus did restore his sight.  He led a hard life; he struggled just to survive and day after day he sat on the Jericho Road and begged for a living.

But there are different ways of being “blind”, aren’t there?

 

2. I guess we’re all blind one way or the other aren’t we?

We aren’t all blind like Blind Joe of “The Voice” or Blind Bartimaeus of The Bible but we all have trouble seeing.  We all have blind spots.  We all have vision problems, of one sort or another.

There’s being blind in the sense of having a blind spot when it comes to seeing ourselves as others see us.

There’s being blind in the sense of having trouble seeing the fault in ourselves although we are pretty good at seeing “the faults” in others.  The Bible talks about that one too.  Jesus said to the Pharisees that they were pretty good at seeing the speck in their neighbor’s eyes but couldn’t see the beam in their own eyes.

There’s being blind in the sense of having trouble at seeing our own sins and how we surrender to them.  How many times have you heard someone describe a car accident with “Well, to be truthful it was my fault”?  We have trouble seeing our own “faults” in much bigger ways too.

I know someone who is always telling everyone how “open” and “non judgmental” she is but I don’t experience her that way at all.  She is extremely judgmental, especially when it comes to demonizing people of the opposite political party from her choice.  We just plain have big blind spots when it comes to looking at ourselves.

There’s being blind in the sense of having blind spots when it comes to seeing what God wants us to be, filling in Pledge Cards to the church, stepping up to do our share of ministry and answering God’s call in all the ways it comes to us throughout our life.

Most of us have  blind spots when it comes to judging others, seeing the needs of others, sharing with others and letting God call us to be better people.  “We’re OK…just ask us”!

Two of the grandsons were in a typical brotherly spat last summer at the beach and after listening to the back and forth long enough I thought I’d intervene.  In my best, lowest key spirit and gentle tone of voice I engaged the older one and said “So you think your brother is an absolute jerk, have I got that right?”  Yep, pretty much came the immediate reply.  Is there any chance, any chance at all you could be even partially wrong and you have a part in all this?”  “Nope”, came the immediate reply.  After trying every which way I could to get even a miniscule admission on his part that he just may have shared in the bad exchange without one iota of success I decided to let it go…I guess we all just have blind spots when it comes to seeing our brother.

 

 

3.  But, just as Jesus restored sight to Bartimaeus he can restore sight to us as well.

It’s all there in the story.

First, Jesus could restore sight to Bartimaeus because Bartimaeus acknowledged he was blind and that he wanted to be healed.

We can’t be healed until we admit we have a problem.

Jesus can’t do anything with you if you insist on seeing yourself as “perfect” and             everyone else as “flawed”

We, like Bartimaeus have to know the ways in which we are blind and             acknowledge them.

 

Secondly, Jesus could restore sight to Bartimaeus only after he ASKED for help with his blindness.

There were presumably other blind beggars all along the road to Jerusalem but          we don’t know if they asked for help or not do we?  We do know that Bartimaeus        asked for help.

Are you willing to ask for Jesus’ help with your conditions?  Are you willing to       PERSIST in asking Jesus to heal you even as Bartimaeus did?

Bartimaeus knew he needed help and he not only asked, he persisted in asking            for the Lord to come over and heal him.  Do you continue to persist in praying to            the Lord, in coming to the Lord and in asking the Lord to reach out and help you?

Sometimes when I’m lazy or sloppy in my prayers I just pray, “you know what I             need Lord, help me out please”.  That’s not the prayer of Bartimaeus or of a   faithful person.  A faithful prayer is one in which we come to Jesus specifically             and deeply and persistently with our needs.  We don’t give up until Jesus hears us            and shows us the way.

 

Third, and most importantly, Jesus restored sight to Bartimaeus and he can restore sight to you only after Bartimaeus BELIEVED IN and HAD FAITH in Jesus and only after you BELIEVE and HAVE FAITH in him.

Do you continue to have faith in the Lord even when others have long since lost       faith?

Do you believe, I mean REALLY BELIEVE in the power of God to see you for who   you really are and to change you?

In short, DO YOU REALLY HAVE THE KIND OF FAITH IN JESUS that the      blind man on the road to Jerusalem had?

 

 

Closing

Mark told the story of Blind Bartimaeus by the side of the road in order that we might see and follow the example of a blind but faithful and persistent man who called to the Lord and asked the Lord to restore his sight.

In the final verse of the story, Jesus names FAITH as what impels Bartimaeus.  The rest of the story is not about reciting some wonderful confession or subscribing to certain dogmas.  It is about unrelenting conviction that Jesus can and will rescue him from his need.

Bartimaeus grasps who He is and what his needs are.

Bartimaeus calls to Jesus, he persists, he stays with, he is unrelenting in calling to Jesus.

And Bartimaeus sees who Jesus is and trusts him to heal his blindness.

 

But the story isn’t told to praise Bartimaeus.  It was told originally, has been told for 2000 years and IS TOLD AGAIN HERE TODAY so that we the readers, we the listeners will follow the example of a blind man and

acknowledge who we are and how we need to be healed,

persist in calling to the Lord for help,

and trusting Jesus to heal us.

 

He did it for a blind man on the side of the road to Jerusalem and he will do it for you too.