Mark 10:46-52 “And they come to Jericho: and as he went out from Jericho, with his disciples and a great multitude, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the way side. And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and said, Call ye him. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good cheer: rise, he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, sprang up, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered him, and said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And the blind man said unto him, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And straightway he received his sight, and followed him in the way.” (ASV)
History teachers attempt to teach students how to feel empathy toward those who lived in the past. It helps us better understand history.
Bible students read the sacred stories attempting to better understand how they must have felt. What must it have been like to be Abraham, asked of God to sacrifice your only son? What must the world have been like before the great flood? How fretful were Samson’s parents at his wayward desires for girls of other nations? How tough was it for Paul to leave behind his life of privilege and power, only to experience the hardships of being an apostle? How sorrowful was Peter when he heard the rooster crow the 3rd time?
Empathy has been defined as a sensitive show of concern …of seeing through the eyes of another.
Empathic people are those who express their feelings toward your problems with sympathy and understanding.
Three accounts seem to speak of the same episode: Matthew chapter 20, Mark chapter 10 and Luke chapter 18. Each account shows a slightly different look. Let’s look at them and figure out what we can learn.
In our text reading of Mark 10:46 we find Jesus coming into Jericho. Other accounts mention Him leaving Jericho. A closer look at the city of Jericho shows us that there were two cities of Jericho with a short distance between the old Jericho and the new Jericho. Any wise person begging for a living would position themselves in between the two where lots of traffic would pass. So as Christ and the crowd were leaving one Jericho and coming near the entrance of the other Jericho, they encounter two blind men. Matthew mentions two, while Mark and Luke mention only one.
Mark mentions Bartimaeus by name. The prefix “Bar” means “son of.” This blind man was the son of Timaeus. He’s not just a beggar, he’s Timaeus’ boy. He’s loved by somebody. Somebody worries about him. Today, Jesus will become concerned about him.
Bartimaeus hears that Christ of Nazareth is coming. So he begins to cry out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” Some in the crowd try to quiet him down. Maybe they’re embarrassed by him. Maybe they don’t want him to bother Christ. Whatever the reason, they want Baritmaeus to shut up.
What does he do? The Bible says he cries out all the more, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”
Christ stops. He tells some in the crowd to bring Bartimaeus to him. They fetch him and tell him to be happy because Christ has called for him. He throws off his garment and jumps to his feet, thrilled at the prospect of coming face-to-face with Christ.
Christ asks him, “What can I do for you?” Bartimaeus addresses Christ with the highest honored title bestowed on Jewish teachers, “Rabboni.” Translated, it means “my great master.” Naturally, his desire was to have his sight.
Christ heals him and the scripture says in verse 52, “And straightway he received his sight, and followed him in the way.” Perhaps the reason Mark and Luke mention only one blind man while Matthew mentions two is that Bartimaeus was not only healed, but he continued to follow Christ. It seems incredible that a man could be healed of blindness and NOT follow the man who performed the miracle, but that may be exactly what happened to the other blind man mentioned in the other accounts. Bartimaeus followed Christ in the Way.
Let’s examine 5 things we can learn from this historical event. These are things we can learn that help us better deal with our own lives and the lives of others. If we hope to serve others the way God wants, then maybe this story will give us some insights.
- People have souls. That makes them all worthwhile.
Christ viewed Bartimaeus as a person, not a thing. Christ knew he was somebody’s boy. He wasn’t just some blind guy bothering Christ.
Whether we’re dealing with somebody in the Church or somebody outside of the Church, everybody is somebody special – to somebody, and to God.
When we talk with others about the Truth of the Gospel we’re talking to somebody’s son or daughter. They may be a husband or wife, a brother or sister.
Luke 15:11 tells us of a father who had 2 sons. The younger went to dad and said, “Give me what I’ll inherit when you die.” I’ve often wondered why the father did that. He didn’t have to. But note what the dad did with that request.
“And he divided unto them his living.” It seems even though the older brother didn’t ask for it, the father divided up what each would get and gave it to them. Sort of puts things in perspective with regard to the older brother’s problems, doesn’t it?
The prodigal son had a dad. The father probably anxiously waited for the son by watching the road every day. One day, he saw his boy return home. Whether he was rebellious or obedient – he was the father’s boy. Any dad can imagine the joy of seeing him come home.
Luke 15:20 “And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
Besides being important to somebody at some point in our lives, we all have a soul that will live forever. That makes every person special.
Matthew 16:26 “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Mark 8:37 “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Nothing matters more than saving a soul from eternal death.
James 5:20 “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Our view and treatment of others ought to reflect our awareness that people are important. They matter. Where their soul spends eternity matters. We need to be busy doing something to help them. The key to helping other people is caring. It’s empathy. Without it we’ll never be the ministers of Christ that we should be.
- Jesus is the remedy.
Bartimaeus heard the commotion of the crowd passing by. When he learned it was Christ passing by, he began to cry out to Him. He had only one objective: to get the attention of Christ. He knew Christ was the answer to his blindness. Do we know that? Do we know that regardless of the problems in our life or life of others – that Christ is the answer?
John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Do we seek Christ, or something else? Do we show others that seeking other things is more important than looking for Christ? Jesus passed by on this day. I don’t know if Christ had ever passed by this way before or not. I don’t know if Bartimaeus ever had an opportunity like this before. I do know that he recognized he had a chance to grab the attention of Christ and he jumped on it.
What do we do with our opportunities? When Jesus passes by us are we busy with other things or are we ready to see Him? One important part of the story is the recognition that he had a weakness, a problem. He knew he was blind. Sometimes we fail to see our own problems. We’re able to be deceived and think everything is fine with us – when really we’re in deep trouble spiritually.
Without Christ we’re all blind. We need Christ to help us with our problems. No, He’s not some miraculous cure for everything that ails us, but He is the answer to all our problems. If we don’t have our lives right with God, then nothing else matters. Serving God has got to be the priority of our life.
- We have to be determined to serve God.
When some tried to shut him up, Bartimaeus just cried out all the more. How determined are we to serve God? How determined are we to share the gospel? Sometimes, aren’t we too easily defeated? When people of the world try to shut us up, don’t we get quiet? Sometimes we’re all able to be too concerned with what others think.
Pilot was concerned with the desire of the Jews to crucify Christ. He gave into their request.
Peter was concerned with being numbered with the disciples while Christ stood trial. He warmed at the fire with those who wanted Christ dead.
Time and again we read of Bible characters who cared more about what others thought than what God thought. The Bible twice refers to this as being “menpleasers.”
Ephesians 6:6 “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;”
Colossians 3:22 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:”
Too many people are more concerned with gaining the approval of other men than they are of being approved in heaven.
2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The world, the people, and the surroundings – none of these things got in the way of Bartimaeus crying out for Christ. We need that same determination.
What gets in our way? What affects our service to God?
- We have to know who Christ is.
Bartimaeus was the son of Timaeus. He knew Christ was the son, or descendant of David. Literally, Christ is the Son of God.
1 John 5:12 “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Those responsible for the death of Christ didn’t fully realize who he was. When Peter preached to them on the day of Pentecost he clearly taught them who Jesus was.
Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Even Christians can sometimes forget who Christ is. We can forget the power He has. And sometimes we’re able to forget how important He should be in our lives.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Bartimaeus wasn’t interested in a magician, politician or entertainer. He was interested in Christ, the son of David. The stories of Christ had reached Bartimaeus. How else could he have known who Jesus was and that Jesus would be able to heal his blindness? He knew Christ had the power to heal. He knew Christ was the answer to solve his horrible circumstances.
We need to learn the same thing. Today, even the Lord’s people need to fully understand who Christ is. We need to understand the spot He should occupy in our lives.
As important as He was to Bartimaeus physically – He is much more important to all people spiritually. Our eternal destiny depends on our relationship with Christ because He is our only conduit to God.
1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
Doesn’t it seem strange that people attempt to connect with God through Mary, Buddha, Mohammad, and others? And doesn’t it seem strange that men think they can have a direct connection with God without Christ? Based on God’s word it’s foolish for a person to claim they believe and follow God when they reject Christ – our only mediator.
Maybe we don’t always really understand that aspect of who Christ is – our mediator. A mediator is one who intervenes between two persons who are at variance, with a view to reconcile them. This word is not found in the Old Testament; but the idea it expresses is found in Job 9:33, in the word “daysman” which means “umpire.”
This word is used in the New Testament to denote an ambassador, one who acts as a medium of communication between two contracting parties. In this sense Moses is called a mediator in Gal. 3:19.
Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). He makes reconciliation between God and man by his all-perfect atoning sacrifice.
Such a mediator must be at once divine and human. He has to be divine in order for his obedience and his sufferings to have the power of forgiveness. He also has to be divine in order to have the wisdom, knowledge and power to direct all things in the kingdoms of providence and grace that God committed to his hands (Matt. 28:18; John 5:22, 25, 26, 27).
Christ had to be human so He might represent man, and be capable of rendering obedience to the law and satisfying the claims of justice (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15, 16). He is also the head of a glorified Church (Rom. 8:29).
Ephesians 1:20-23 “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
As a mediator Christ fulfills the three functions of prophet, priest, and king. They are never separated in the exercise of the office of mediator. So, when we read what Paul wrote to Timothy about Christ being the one mediator – we have to clearly understand this means Christ is prophet, priest and king.
Philippians 2:6-11 “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
It’s foolish for us to think we can render obedience to God without giving proper service, reverence and obedience to Christ through the Church that He shed His blood for. God exalted Christ. Christ followed God’s will by sacrificing Himself for the sins of the world – and those sins can only find forgiveness in the Church Jesus purchased with His blood.
Like Bartimaeus we have to really understand who Christ is and what He can do for us. It’s the only way we’ll learn how to behave toward Him. When Bartimaeus was summoned to go to Christ, he jumped to his feet. He was quick to respond to the invitation to go to Christ. That’s another lesson for us.
Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
It’s high time for us to respond quickly to the call of Christ. We need to drop whatever we’re doing, jump up and respond to the Lord. Bartimaeus did that and he recovered his sight. Additionally, he became a follower of the Lord.
A failure to respond quickly, when we know what is right, can cause us to put our salvation aside – perhaps never to respond. Like Agrippa, Felix and the rich young ruler – we’re all able to set aside our obedience so the moment passes…maybe never to return. Besides, what can matter more than our soul’s eternal destiny? Why shouldn’t we respond to Christ as quickly as possible and avoid putting our soul in jeopardy?
- We need to focus on helping others.
When He comes face-to-face with Bartimaeus, Christ asks, “What can I do to help you?” Serving others is a way we serve God. Too many are asking, “How can I get your help?” They should be asking, “How can I help you?”
So we come full circle. We began by learning that Christ saw Bartimaeus as a real person – somebody’s boy…specifically, Timaeus’ boy. That might hold the key to our ability to help other people – first we have to view them as real people who have real problems and needs.
Consider the fact that God’s only Son came to earth with a high degree of willingness to serve others. Had He not had that quality, He would have never given Himself to die on the cross for our sins.
Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
If Christ didn’t come here to be served, then why have we come here?
Are we here to serve ourselves? Are we here to have others serve us? As Paul wrote to the Ephesians in Ephesians 4:20 “But ye have not so learned Christ;”
We haven’t learned to behave this way from Christ. What we do learn from Christ is that we must have empathy toward others. That’s what will compel us to share the gospel. That’s what will propel us forward to help others. That commitment to service is what will keep us on course toward heaven with faithfulness to God through Christ in the Church.
Bartimaeus was somebody’s boy. That made him important. That made him real.
Christ was the son of David. He is the Son of God. That makes Him supremely important. That makes Him very real. That makes Him very powerful. That makes Him the sacrifice for our sins. You and I are children, too. Sure, we’ve all got earthly parents, but spiritually we’re children of God. We’re ministers for Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:1 “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
Our responsibilities to be ministers of Christ necessitate our willingness to pay close attention to others so we can help them. Empathy has been defined as a sensitive show of concern …of seeing through the eyes of another. Of course, that’s impossible when we’re so focused on only ourselves.
From a sermon delivered at Fossil Creek on Sunday morning, June 26, 2005