AN EXPOSITION OF MARK 10:46-52
“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 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. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 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.
There are many people who are just like Bartimaeus. They are blind and need sight. There are more than 42 million people in the world today who are blind. At least half a million children go irreversibly blind each year. This is a terrible tragedy. There are many people in various health industries around the world working day and night to stop blindness and to restore sight.
Of equal or greater tragedy is the spiritual blindness that people have. The Bible teaches that people have physical eyes to see, and spiritual eyes as well to perceive spiritual truths. However, just as physical eyes can go blind, spiritual eyesight can be lost. Spiritual blindness affects a persons relationship to God.
There are many causes for spiritual blindness.
Satan can cause spiritual blindness. The apostle Paul wrote, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who Is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4: 3, 4).
Sin can cause spiritual blindness. In Zephaniah 1:17 we read, “Because you have sinned against the Lord, I will make you grope around like the blind. Your blood will be poured into the dust, and your bodies will lie rotting on the ground.” Andrew Murray said, “One great power of sin is that it blinds men so that they do not recognize its true character.”
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
Hardening the heart can cause spiritual blindness. In the gospel we read of certain Jews of whom it was said, “Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them” (John 12:39, 40).
Scoffing at the truth can cause spiritual blindness. The apostle Peter told the Church, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Spiritual blindness keeps a person from knowing the truth, and from seeing God.
Bartimaeus was a blind man who lived without hope of being able to see. He went out into the sunshine but could not enjoy the beauty of creation. So, he sat by the roadside begging for alms. That is what people who are spiritually blind do. They sit by the roadside of life and beg. They are like the Athenians who spend “their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).
Those who are spiritually blind hear about the theory of evolution and tell each other that a personal and sovereign creative God is not necessary, for Time, Plus Space Plus Chance Equals Everything. If asked how nothing can produce something, they laugh at such a foolish question.
Those who are spiritually blind hear about the theory of Socialism whereby the collective is more important than the individual. That sounds good until the Party comes to take their money, their property, and their resources, to redistribute to others.
Those who are spiritually blind hear about the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for sinners, and then dismiss the need for a Savior. They have heard that man is a Noble Savage. They have been led to believe that individuals, every day, in every way, are better and better. They are convinced they have a righteousness of works that is far superior to any imputed righteousness of Christ.
By refusing to have their eyes opened by the Light of the gospel, by not eating the Bread of Life, those who are spiritually blind continue to sit and beg. They are content with worldly crumbs.
Bartimaeus would beg of people on the way to the market, or of people going to a place of business. “Help the blind!” “Help the blind!” he would cry. Some pretended not to hear, and quickened their pace. Others simply ignored the plaintive plea. The heart can grow hard towards those who beg.
Bartimaeus had an old shaggy cloak on his body as he sat begging for alms. From time to time someone would take pity on his plight and give him some milk, or cheese, or maybe some money. But what Bartimaeus did not have was someone who loved him. He did not have someone who cared for him, until he heard of Jesus. Then, hope revived in his heart for it was said that Jesus loved people. It was said that Jesus of Nazareth was a miracle worker. It was said that Jesus could make the blind to see.
Bartimaeus believed! Bartimaeus believed that Jesus of Nazareth loved him and would help him. So Bartimaeus began to shout out when he heard that Jesus was passing his way. “Jesus! Thou Son of David! Have mercy on me!” He said it again. “Jesus! Have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus did not ask money from Jesus. He did not ask for power, position, or prestige. Bartimaeus did not ask to sit on the right hand of Christ in glory. He asked for mercy because that is what people who are blind need. They need mercy.
People who are spiritually blind need mercy. The word for mercy in the Hebrew (hessed) conveys the idea of kindness. The word for mercy in Greek (eleos) means to have compassion.
When kindness is shown to a person in need, when the heart feels compassion for the plight of another person, then mercy is expressed. Mercy moves to help. Bartimaeus asked for help, because he knew he could not help himself.
Not being able to help oneself makes some people angry, for individuals love the idea of being independent and self-sufficient. Normally, wanting to be independent and self-sufficient is a good attitude to have. However, when legitimate help is needed, there is nothing wrong with being humble enough to ask for help.
The Bible says that every sinner needs help spiritually. The Natural Man can not help himself get to heaven based on any works of righteousness which he has done. Salvation is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
When the people along the roadway heard Bartimaeus shouting out to Jesus, and pleading for mercy, some began to rebuke him, and told him to hush (Mark 10:48). Some did not like this public display of emotion. Some were offended by the excessive shouting. But Blind Bartimaeus would not be quiet. And he shouted all the louder.
His cry for help was heard. His plaintiff plea penetrated the ears of Jesus, and touched His heart.
Jesus stopped, and commanded Bartimaeus to be called.
The Bible teaches that there are two types of calls from God.
There is a general call. In the matter of salvation, the general call goes to all the world. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). This is a sincere gospel invitation extended to every man, woman, and child who hears the preaching of the Cross. But this general call to salvation can be ignored, dismissed, and resisted. Stephen made this point in the sermon leading to his death by stoning saying to his audience, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51).
But there is another call the Bible speaks of. It is a specific call to an individual, that is effectual.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
When Jesus effectually calls a person to Himself, they come.
When Jesus effectually calls a person, it is good news.
Blind Bartimaeus was told to “Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee!”.
There is a Divine summons which will not, and cannot be resisted.
When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus had called him, he threw off his tattered garment. He rose up with renewed strength, and he came to Jesus.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 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” (Mark 10:51, 52).
Bartimaeus was aware that he needed sight, and that is significant, for there are many unbelievers who are unaware of their spiritual blindness.
Jesus addressed this problem with a group of Pharisees. “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41).
Physical blindness, in Scripture, often represents spiritual blindness. The Bible says that the “god” of this world blinds the eyes of men. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).
The god of this world is the Devil, the Prince and Power of the air (Eph. 2:2). There is a Dark Force in this world which has super natural power. There is a conflict going on, the conflict of the ages between the forces of God, and the forces of the Devil.
In the end, the victory will be won by Christ. The Devil and his angels will be cast into the Lake of Fire. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).
The Devil does not rule in hell. He has never been to hell. The Devil rules over a dark spiritual domain of evil in the universe until the day he will be chained forever and forever. The certainty of Satan being forever chained is based on the victory Christ won at Calvary. The Cross seemed like certain defeat, but Jesus cried, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The great work of redemption was accomplished, and a victory was won.
Until the time comes when the Devil is cast into hell, Satan roams the earth seeking whom he may devour. Satan roams the earth to blind the eyes of people so they do not see Christ.
Bartimaeus knew he was physically blind. He knew he needed physical sight. But Bartimaeus also knew he needed spiritual sight as well. And by faith he received that gospel which made him whole.
Faith in the healing power of Jesus allowed Bartimaeus to see physically, and faith in Christ as the Messiah led Bartimaeus to see spiritually, for “immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”
Before the disciples of Jesus were called Christians, they were known as people of The Way. Bartimaeus followed Jesus in The Way, meaning Bartimaeus followed Jesus in the “Route,” or the “Road” to heaven.
The question comes. “Do you follow Jesus in The Way?” “Do you realize that He is The Way, the Road, the Route that leads to eternal life?” “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Bartimaeus was not only blind, but he was poor. There is much poverty in the world today. It breaks the heart to see it up close, and in person. There is physical poverty for millions and millions of people, and there is spiritual poverty as well. There are those who do not know they are wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17).
As Bartimaeus was blind and poor, he was also helpless. His condition was desperate. He needed Someone to give him sight, clothing, food, and comfort. Bartimaeus needed a Savior.
Like Bartimaeus, you need a Savior, and so do I. We are helpless to help ourselves. We have tried. We have shed tears over our situation. We have made resolutions and promises, time and again. All to no avail.
“Saviour, look with pitying eye;
Saviour, help us, or we die.”
Bartimaeus found hope when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Perhaps Jesus would stop and help him.
“Pass me not, O gentle Savior;
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.
Let me at thy throne of mercy
find a sweet relief;
kneeling there in deep contrition,
help my unbelief.
Trusting only in thy merit,
would I seek thy face;
heal my wounded,
broken spirit,save me by thy grace.
Thou the spring of all my comfort,
more than life to me,
whom have I on earth beside thee?
Whom in heaven but thee?”
If you believe that Jesus is passing your way, then cry to Him as Bartimaeus did.
Cry for the right thing.
First, cry for mercy for mercy is what every sinner oppressed by sin needs. If a person asks for justice, they will end up in hell, for the soul that sinneth must die. No, it is mercy that is needed. It is mercy which God offers through the cross.
Second, cry for Jesus. It is Jesus the heart needs. Bartimaeus cried, “Jesus, thou Son of David!” Bartimaeus cried for the right thing, and then he cried to the right person.
Third, cry for healing. “Lord, I want to see!” “I want to see Christ!” “I want to see the way of salvation!” “I want to see heaven!” “Lord, I want to see you in glory!”
Bartimaeus cried for the right thing. He cried to the right person. He cried at the right time. “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Do not delay. Come to Christ right now.
“I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.”