May 5, 2019
Turn in your Bibles to Mark 10:46-52. Look at one of my favorite stories in the New Testament—this life-changing encounter between a blind beggar named
Verse 46— And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd,
This encounter takes place in the NEW city of Jericho, about 15 miles outside of Jerusalem. This was a bustling city with crowds of people filling the street. It was also home to many of the Jewish priests and Levites who served in the Temple. One commentator says there were over 20,000 priests attached to the Temple who served on a rotation basis. But at this time of year, right here at the Passover, they were all on duty—so the crowd following Jesus through the city, plus the thousands of folks living in Jericho would’ve been enormous! Everybody wanted to see this rebel rabbi in
And v. 46 says He was on his way through Jericho, headed to Jerusalem to attend the Passover Feast. And when he was about to leave the city, they came upon a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. The fact that he’s physically blind plays a big role in this text, but it’s way bigger than just Jesus helping him recover his sight.
The irony here is that in Scripture, blindness often gets equated to
1 Cor. 1—God chose what is foolish, and weak, and low and despised to shame the wisdom, strength, and pride of this world. That’s what happens here in this text.
47—And when he (Bartimaeus) 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!”
In the Greek, the sentence structure gives the idea that Bartimaeus called out to Jesus—and he kept yelling, kept yelling, and kept on yelling until Jesus finally heard him over the crowd! There was a sense of urgency in his voice because he knew, “THIS IS MY ONE SHOT! HE’S GOTTA HEAR ME!” He was absolutely desperate for help.
The second thing is the tense of the verb indicates that Bart was calling on Jesus to heal him at once! (Now I got a couple of little people at home who love some sippy cups and apple juice—love it! And when one of them does what Bart’s doing—keep on yelling, yelling, and yelling for somebody to fix them some juice, I get kinda puffed up! I’m like, “Naw, you can wait on me; I’ll be there in a minute!). So, it sounds kinda presumptuous for this blind beggar to do this…
But in reality, I think it was an indicator of his faith that Jesus could solve his problem right then/there. He knew Jesus was the only one who could help him!
Psalm 51, that famous prayer of David after his sin with Bathsheba, he says in v. 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” James 4 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.”
Humbled people and hurting people hold a special place in the heart of God! Humbled and hurting people know how badly they NEED the Lord! There’s a pervading sense of lostness without Christ as your anchor!
Martin Luther—God works by contraries so that a man feels himself to be lost at the very moment he’s being saved. Knowing Jesus was his only hope, he goes on screaming like a madman…
48—The crowds around Jesus start fussing at him, “Hush! You’re embarrassing us! You’re making a fool of yourself!” In other contexts in NT, this word ‘rebuke’ means to assess a penalty! They’re throwing a penalty flag at him for the ruckus he’s causing…
Look at Jesus’ response in v. 49. The crowds don’t want Bart to spoil the parade! But Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, (and their tune totally changes toward him, right!) and they to Bart, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”
Scripture is so plain—when Jesus hears the man’s cries, He stopped dead in his tracks. The crowds, the noise, everything stops for this one blind beggar, sitting in the dust. Do you feel the weight of this moment? The condescending crowds go from jeering him to cheering him on. ‘Get up, go on, He’s calling for you!’
Don’t rush past this part in Jesus’ response! I guess Jesus could’ve just waved his hand at Bartimaeus as he was passing by… healed him and not made a big deal about it? (kinda
That’s not very efficient, Jesus. Couldn’t you be spending what little time you got left on some other people? Maybe someone with a little more upside than this guy?
50—“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, “Rabbouni (my Master), let me recover my sight.”
I can’t help but think about the book of Hebrews right here! Chapter 4 says we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, therefore we can with CONFIDENCE draw near to the throne of grace, to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Heb. 11:1—Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things NOT SEEN. Bartimaeus can’t see a thing with his physical eyes; but through the eye of faith, he seems to be able to see what everybody else was missing…
11:6—Drawing near to God and receiving His rewards only happens BY FAITH. That’s all Bartimaeus has got right now, is faith! His faith in Christ has him convinced that Jesus can give to him what he could never gain for Himself.
Chapter 12 tells us to lay aside every weight that encumbers us in our pursuit of Christ…. See Blind Bart throwing aside that old beggar’s cloak? He won’t need it anymore; Jesus has called his name. See the physical and spiritual intermingling right here? Jesus is perfectly orchestrating this entire situation.
51—Jesus says to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He basically just handed him the Mic right here; (Using my biblical imagination here) But it’s gotta be dead quiet, as the crowds listen intently to this exchange between Jesus and this beggar: “Rabbouni, I want to see again.”
Some of our English translations really don’t capture the weight of what Bartimaeus just said…
If you’ve got the ESV/NIV/KJV—none of those use this word rabbouni. They all use the common word for teacher, which is Rabbi. But the NASB/NKJV get it right when they include the word Bartimaeus uses to address Jesus. Rabbouni. It’s different
In Jewish literature, the word ‘rabbouni’ is a highly reverent title that almost never refers to man; it’s almost always used as a way to address God in prayer. Do you see it? The one guy who can’t see anything is the one guy who sees Jesus for who He is through the eyes of faith.
I think Jesus’ question was a total set-up. He knew what Bartimaeus wanted— he wanted to recover his physical sight. But this blind beggar’s brokenness would become a platform for other blind eyes in the crowd to see the glory of Christ for the first time.
Jesus says in v. 51, “Go your way; your faith has healed you.” The word He uses for ‘healed’ is the word SOZO which can mean physical healing BUT in the NT, it speaks of someone being converted and rescued from unbelief. Jesus is healing this guy physically AND spiritually.
V. 52 says that he recovered his sight and followed Jesus on his way, which is Mark’s way of saying he became one of his disciples. He started out in need; he cried out in desperation; Levites stepped out in faith; he went out seeing,
You know, of all the things I love about this passage, I think my favorite part is the way the Holy Spirit inspired this text to include a subtle reversal that’s so beautiful. Akin points out that Bartmaeus’ name means “Son of Honor.” That’s an interesting name for a poor, blind beggar isn’t it? How much honor is there when you’re sitting down in the dust with your hand out? No one in this whole account treated him with honor—except Jesus.
So on his way to be publicly DIS-honored on the Cross, Jesus honors the faith of this blind beggar who’d been publicly dishonored; He raises him up from the dust and makes him whole again.
What an incredible precursor of what Jesus came to do—to raise us beggars up from the dust and graciously give us the honor that we don’t deserve and can never earn; the One True Son of Honor bestows honor on those who don’t deserve it…
That’s the only way into His Kingdom—We are treated like sons of honor because Jesus was dishonored/humiliated. We’re made whole because Jesus was crushed for our sins.
I want to make one quick point of practical application as well. Far too often, I’m like one of those in the crowd. I get caught up in what’s going on around me and I can totally miss that one person that God wants me to pray for, encourage, nudge toward Christ in some way.
You can pray for one person this week; share the gospel with one person; feed one person who is hungry; Visit one person who is lonely; Disciple one person at a time; Adopt one child.
What if this week you ministered to just one person in out to way? Over a thousand people would experience the love of Christ in some
Who can you nudge toward Christ this next week?