I would like you to turn to the gospel of St Mark Chapter 10. I want to read this story and present one or two thoughts, before we Break Bread.Mark ch. 10 verse 46. It is the familiar story of the healing of Bartimaeus. Let’s read it.
“And they came to Jericho, and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.” The first thing I want to say in this story is, that this was a moment coming for Bartimaeus that was never going to be repeated. The context is that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he would suffer (in his own prophetic words) at the hands of the chief priests and the elders, and he would be lifted up between earth and heaven; and that did not mean he’d be lifted up in praise, but he would be suspended on a cross, so that he hung between earth and heaven. He was on his way and he wasn’t (in the flesh) going to pass that way again. The Holy Spirit deemed it necessary to inspire the writer of this gospel to include this story in his account. So, because it is in the Word of God, we can be sure that there are words of wisdom, of instruction, of challenge and of encouragement in the story of blind Bartimaeus.
I was thinking today of when of when I first had this story opened up to me. I was on my way to Westminster; driving. As we were driving I began to think about Bartimaeus, and I thought about his disease, and I thought about his darkness. So whoever was with me in the car I said “Have you got a pencil? Write this down.” I went through the things as preachers do.
- His disease
- His darkness
- His despair
- His determination
- His decision
- His deliverance
- His dedication
So whoever was with me scribbled those words down and when I got to the Meeting, I looked at what was scribbled and that became the classic presentation for the message about blind Bartimaeus, You may have heard it on a tape or something, but it became a classic from the point of view that thereafter, in different crusades and in different places, I brought the same message, just reshaped to suit whatever congregation I had at the time and always with the same results.
The Word of God is more than just words as you would find in a man’s book. The words in God’s Book, they are spirit and they are life and God put them there as a permanent record.
“And they came to Jericho, and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples, and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.” So Jesus was not going to pass that way again. He was going to Jerusalem; he was going to the cross, he was going to be crucified. He knew he was going to be buried; he knew what awaited him. His disciples didn’t appreciate the reality of what he was saying. Peter, at one point, ventured to say “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matt.16:22) At which time Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Get thee behind me Satan: … thou savourest not the things that be of God.” That was for the moment. Peter, in his usual quickness, just spoke what came into his head. Sometimes you need to stop a thought and look at it before you speak it. “Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak.” “By your words you are justified, and by your words you are condemned” and you can be sure that God has not put anything superfluous in His Word. It is all necessary for our growth, our development, our learning and our admonition.
So he wasn’t coming this way again. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.”… And many charged him that he should hold his peace. And he cried the more a great deal.” Some things of interest. You have to understand there are more people who will try to keep you from calling out to God than there are who will encourage you to call upon the Lord. There are more people who will do that – for you to call upon the Lord is an embarrassment to those who refuse to call upon Him. At any rate, “many charged him that he should hold his peace, but he cried the more a great deal “thou son of David have mercy upon me.” Verse 49 And Jesus stood still (Amen!) and commanded him to be called. And they called the blind man, saying unto him, “Be of good comfort, rise: for he calleth thee.”
For anyone to get the message that Jesus is calling them, that is cause for having good cheer! We read this “Be of good cheer, rise: he calleth thee.” And he (that is Bartimaeus) casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?”
I wonder tonight if God asked you “What do you want me to do?” I wonder how clear you would be in what you want the Lord to do for you. I would imagine that most of us haven’t even begun to think that way. But this is what Jesus said “What wilt thou that I should do unto you?” You need to give some thought to what you would want God to do for you.
That’s just another by the way thing for you to consider. I mean if the Lord were to come here right at the altar now, and say “My son, what wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” I have some perceptions of what I want, but I don’t know that I could verbalize in one single focus what I would want the Lord to do for me now. I have things, more than one, that I would like Him to do, but if He came and said “What is the thing you want?” I would have to think for a moment, and I’m sure that most of you are the same. And the truth is Christ IS here by His spirit. And he is looking at you and discerning what it is you want above everything else. Anyway, Bartimaeus had no difficulty in focusing on what he wanted.
“What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?”
The blind man said unto him, “Lord, that I might receive my sight.” Let me pause here… for him to receive his sight, would immediately mean a change of lifestyle, because day by day he was by the highway side begging; he knew his routine. He knew he had to get to the place safely and that was his beat. That’s where he went day by day. So I don’t know what thoughts may have raced through his mind, but one thing is for sure, he knew that if he received his sight, things would be different.
Just a few thoughts before we come to this blessed table. If you have something you want God to do for you, or in you, or through you; if Christ were to answer your heart’s desire tonight, you’ll have to be prepared for a change of lifestyle. You see people of today, they want Christ and all the extras, but that’s not the way God works! When we want Christ, above and beyond everything; when he is first, absolutely first, then our lifestyle must change.
So, Bartimaeus had no problem in realizing what he wanted: “Lord, that I might receive my sight.” So if he got it, from then on he would have to be a giver and not just a receiver. You will remember the man that was carried day by day, and when Jesus healed him, he said “Son, take up thy bed and walk” You will remember that from that moment on his lifestyle changed, because the thing that had carried him, he was going to carry, and the people who helped him, would now be the ones that he would help. Do you understand?
I would love to preach for an hour on this, but the fact is that when God meet you and does something for you, your life has got to change. Your perspective is different. At the very, very least; at the very, very least, you have to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Your priorities change. “Lord, that I might receive my sight ” verse 51, then verse 52 “And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way thy faith hath made thee whole. and immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus in the way.”
Now, if I were to preach this message again in modern terms, there are many ways it would be different from what it was at the beginning. When I say ‘the beginning’ I mean all those years ago when the thought first came. It would be added to now from the wisdom of experience over all the years since it first came. But there are things in it, as I say; if you look at verse 50, you see he had a garment that identified him as a beggar, henceforth he was not going to depend on that in keeping with the new lifestyle. So, if we go back to verse 46….“And they came to Jericho, and as he went out of Jericho……blind Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus sat by the highway side begging. 47 “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth …..” so he had heard things about Jesus of Nazareth, and when he heard it I guess it would have struck a note of desperation in his heart because here was someone passing that he had heard about, but had never met, and he would have hoped that if ever he met him, maybe Jesus would do for him some of the things that he had heard Jesus had done for others. So, he had a hope down there, that maybe some day a change would come, and when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out!
Christ changes people.?
You know there’s none of us can understand the desperation in the man’s heart. “He began to cry out.” He heard the crowd, he tasted and smelled the dust; he heard the voices; he wasn’t exactly sure where the Man was, but he knew he was there somewhere. So he began to, not whisper, but to cry out “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!” This was his chance and the truth is, if it had passed, he wouldn’t have got it again. Please understand you need to serve God in His time, not in your own time. And by that I mean, don’t let the devil put it in your head, or your heart that you can come to God when you please. There is a time to seek the Lord; to call upon Him. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” And many charged him – hold your peace, but he cried out the more a great deal. You see he was in desperation and he would not be put off. It was not the crowd that had the need, it was Bartimaeus, and as far as he was concerned he’s just the one person there, and he had to make contact with the One Person who could help him. I don’t know how many years of his life he had spent begging, but I know how he got his name. He was not only Bartimaeus, but he was blind Bartimaeus; his disease you see gave him his name – blind Bartimaeus. “And he cried the more a great deal. And he, casting away his garment – remember that’s the break with his lifestyle, now he’s going into a new life. If this Jesus does for him what he had heard Jesus had done for others, he’s not going to need to be a beggar anymore. He’s going to be changed. God changes – “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” Christ changes people Amen! Glory to God! So he cast away his garment. He received his sight! “Go thy way thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight and what did he do? “He followed Jesus in the way.” Here was a new life. Here was a new occupation. His time could be spent differently from now on.
He was no longer going to exploit the crowd the crowds that passed hither and thither, but he was getting up and casting aside his beggars’ garment, and henceforth he would put something in and be a giver, instead of just a receiver. You know when you come to Christ; when you have an encounter with him your life is changed. If you haven’t got that something from God that makes you want to give, then I think you haven’t quite found it properly yet. “The son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” That’s the change that comes in a man’s life; he wants to give, give, give, and in due time God will develop the understanding “Give, and it shall be given unto you.”
“he followed Jesus in the way.”?
No matter what angle I come at preaching from, I always end up in one place somehow – and that one place is – it is the will of God that is of supreme importance in your life. It’s the will of God that is the priority. It’s the kingdom of God that has got to have first place in your thinking, and if it has second place or third place; if it is not the top thing, then you need another dose of God’s medicine, because you are no longer your own. You’ve been bought with a price, you belong to God. “Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are his.”
So the final thing is “he followed Jesus in the way.” To me it speaks the same thing as it did all those years ago; the man became a dedicated follower of Christ. I have it scribbled here……his disease was blindness, his darkness; he could not see. His despair you can imagine. He can’t see all the beautiful things he heard of; he couldn’t see them! It may not mean much to some of us, but it’s nice to hear the birds singing. It’s nice to hear the flow of the river, or the fall of the water at a waterfall. It’s nice to hear the animals and the birds, and if you’re blessed that you’re able to see, be thankful to God that you ARE able to see, and be prayerful to God, in case you’ve got blindness in your heart, that has nothing to do with eyes. The Bible talks about those people “who seeing, they see not, and hearing they hear not.”
So he had despair. He made a decision; if ever Jesus passes this way I’ll call upon him. They tried to stop him, but he had determination and he cried so much the more. Are any of these qualities in you? He got his deliverance and then he manifested his dedication; He followed Jesus in the way. God has called you to dedication. If he has done anything for you, he’s done it that you might be dedicated to Him; that you might serve the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul,with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. It is up to you to question whether you love God with your whole heart, and whether or not you love your neighbour. The fact is love is shown in word and in deed. Thank God.