The Gospel of Mark – Part 38
Seeing and Following Jesus – Mark 10:46-52
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – June 7th, 2020
- The passage we are looking at today is the final passage before Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem and the final healing recorded in the Gospel. Jesus had been traveling for some time from the northern region of Galilee to the southern region of Jerusalem. His disciples were with Him and crowds gathered along the way. Jesus continued to prepare the disciples for what was to come as He continued to teach and minister to the needs of people.
- They were passing through the town of Jericho, which was about 15 miles Northeast of Jerusalem. As they were leaving that town, Jesus interacted with a man along the way who continually called out to Him. His name was Bartimaeus, and he was blind. In this interaction, we learn some significant things about our need, God’s attention, and the results of faith in Christ.
The desperate cry for mercy
Mark 10:46-48 ESV
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. 47 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!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
- Jesus and His disciples were continuing to travel on their way to Jerusalem. Along the way, they passed through the countryside, small villages and towns. As they were getting closer to Jerusalem, the towns and the number of people grew. Jericho was a significant city that had been heavily invested in and built up by Herod the Great who had a winter palace there. It was also the home of many of the Levitical priests and people who worked at the temple (hence the parable of the good Samaritan was set on the road to Jericho).
- A “great crowd” had assembled to see and hear this man Jesus. He continued to have a huge following and the people came to Him from all around. As they were leaving Jericho along the road there was a blind man named Bartimaeus sitting alongside the road begging. We don’t know how old this man was nor how long he had been blind, but at one time he could see because he asked Jesus to “recover” his sight.
- For the blind at that time, there were no social services or jobs for them, so in order to survive, they were either provided for by their family, or they begged. Bartimaeus was a beggar. More than likely he and his family had lived in this town for generations, because both Bartimaeus and his Dad where known by name. It is safe to say that His parents were probably dead by now, and no one was interested in being married to a blind man, so Bartimaeus was on his own and dependent upon the mercies of others to survive.
- Undoubtedly Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus because Jesus was the talk of the town and the nation. Being a busy city with many people coming and going from all over, the news about Jesus hit his ears time and time again. Based upon what he heard, Bartimaeus made up his mind as to who this man Jesus was. He indeed thought He was the Christ because when he called out to Jesus, he used the title for the Messiah, “son of David” (see Isa. 11:1, 1o; Jer. 23:5-6; Ez. 34:23-24) which later on in Mark (12:35), Jesus Himself used in connection with the title “Christ.”
- Being blind, it would have been impossible for Bartimaeus to go to Jesus, but when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was in town and was coming down his road, he “began to cry out.” Because he could not see, he would not know what Jesus looked like or when He was going to come by. So as soon as he heard the news, Bartimaeus started to cry out to Jesus that He would have “mercy” on him. He must have done so over and over and over again so not to miss Him. The crowd of people standing around him were becoming annoyed by his constant crying out, and “many” rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
- Bartimaeus had a choice to make: he could discontinue crying out to please the people who were around him (the very people he was dependent upon for his survival) or he could continue to cry out for Jesus. He decided to do the latter, and “doubled down” in doing so because to him, the mercy of Jesus was of far greater worth than anything he would receive from any other person, so he cried out “all the more.”
- This was a desperate and determined man. This was a man who did not want to remain how he was. He desired the mercy of God over everything else. His continued cry brought about the focused attention of God.
The focused attention of God
Mark 10:49-51 ESV
And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 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.”
- The continual cry for mercy makes the Son stand still. Jesus stopped. He stopped what He was doing, He stopped where He was going, He stopped what He was saying and He focused His attention on him, “Call him.” And when the call came by Jesus, those who were rebuking him to be silent told him to, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” This stopping of the Son to his cry for mercy radically changed his life. And the blind man wasted no time in response to His calling.
- He threw off his cloak, disregarding this critically valuable item that kept him warm, helped him survive and identified him to others. In throwing it off in this crowd and being blind he had little hope of finding it again. At the call of Jesus, he threw off his old life, sprang up and came to Jesus.
- Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” You would think that Jesus would already know what he obviously wanted. But Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” What you ask of Jesus matters. He does not assume what you want, but God gives us the responsibility to call out to Him and to ask Him for what we want. He does not automatically just do things for us. He wants us to ask, He wants us to call out to Him because of our faith in Him. He asks us what we want and calls us to move toward Him. And in our crying out and in our movement to Him in His calling, this is where our need for His mercy is met. “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”
The final result of faith
Mark 10:52 ESV
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.
- Pay attention to how Jesus responded to the request. “Go your way.” Jesus left the direction of his life up to Bartimaeus. Jesus did not require that Bartimaeus follow Him or do anything more than what he had done. God’s mercy is given to us when we cry out to Him and He gives us the choice to do with it what we desire. “Go your way” after you receive what is requested. God in His mercy gives without strings attached. He gives us the choice to go any way we choose.
- Jesus did way more than recover this man’s physical sight. Jesus told him, “Pis-tis soo sode-zo” which means, “Your faith has saved you – your faith has made you whole.” This was much more than restoring of sight. This was remaking of a soul based on the faith of the one who was crying out for mercy.
- And “immediately he recovered his sight.” This was all because of the words of Jesus – with no touch and no prayer but with a word from the one who can make anyone and everyone whole he was immediately changed. The final and full result of faith is wholeness that comes from being saved and made completely new.
- Bartimaeus could now see Jesus clearly for who He was. He was freed of what afflicted him and he could choose to do now what he could not do before. He could pick up a trade, he could find a wife, he could start a family, he could travel or do a vast number of things that he was unable to do before. Bartimaeus chose his way and his way was to follow Jesus in His way because He is the way.
- Bartimaeus followed Jesus all the way to the cross. He was a witness to His week in Jerusalem and all that it entailed. I would not be surprised if he was one of the 120 who were praying on the day of Pentecost and continued to live the rest of His life in following Jesus and being an instrument to open the “blind eyes” of others.
- This opening of “blind eyes” is going to now come into stark contrast with those who could “see” but were blind as Jesus enters into His last week and was turned over by the “scribes and the pharisees” to be tortured and killed.
- The Son stops for all those who cry out to Him in faith for mercy. How bad do things need to get in your life for you to do this? Are you crying out to Him now, for mercy for yourself, mercy for your family, mercy for our community, our nation our world? Remember the mercy of God, do not let Him pass you by.