Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)

I.) The Beauty of Blind Bartimaeus

We come now to Jesus’ last recorded healing miracle in the gospel of Mark. The healing of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. A man who would have been ostracized by society for his condition, and deemed to be under the judgment of God. A man who was rejected by others, but not by Christ, who is compassion in bodily form.

This is a powerful text because we see the Creator show genuine compassion towards His fallen creatures engulfed in a world under His curse. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He compassionately served this man by healing him of the infirmity which left him in a poor and pitiful circumstance. When everyone else charged him to be quiet, Christ called him to save him.

This is a powerful text because we not only get a demonstration of the power, and compassion, and divinity of Christ; we see salvation. We see the salvation of a lost soul calling out to Christ for mercy, and Christ calling him to Himself. We see the components of salvation here.

We should all walk away in awe of Christ through the working of this miracle, for through it:

1.) His compassion is experienced.

2.) His power is displayed.

3.) His deity is demonstrated.

4.) His words are validated.

5.) His eternal life is freely given.

After all, the purpose of His miracles is so one may look at His Person, and His teachings, and His substitutionary work on the cross and:

“Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”[1]

One should come to such a conclusion, because the greatest miracle Mark records is the resurrection of the Christ, who came:

“To give His life a ransom for many.”

He laid down His life to save His people, and He took it up again three days later proving He saved them.[2]

II.) Have Mercy on Me!

Mark opens the account before us by establishing that they are in the vicinity of Jericho and still working their way to Jerusalem. He is with His disciples and a great multitude. No doubt, many in this crowd who usher Christ into Jerusalem are those who will be shouting for Him to be crucified a week later. Many people followed Jesus for superficial reasons, and not because they believed Him to be the Christ.

As they make their way along the road, they come across “a blind beggar named Bartimaeus.” His name means “Son of (Bar) Timaeus.” There were actually two men on the road, but Mark chooses to highlight Bartimaeus.[3] This may have been because Bartimaeus was well-known in the church among Mark’s audience.

The Scripture reveals that Bartimaeus heard this throng of people passing by and:

“Began to inquire what this might be. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.”[4]

Notice that to this crowd Jesus is just a man from Nazareth, but to Bartimaeus He is the Son of David:

“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

He did not cry out for just a man from Nazareth; he cried out for the Messiah, the Son of David.

God told David in 2 Samuel 7:

“I will raise up your descendent after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me…”[5]

This is initially fulfilled with Solomon, but ultimately in Christ who descends from David by both Joseph and Mary.[6] Though he could not see, Bartimaeus was evidently aware of whom Jesus was, and who Jesus claimed to be, and who Jesus proved Himself to be by His works.

One clear work of the Messiah, the Son of David, is found in Isaiah 35:

“The eyes of the blind will be opened…”[7]

Jesus was known among the people for His ability to give sight to the blind, thus proving Him to be the long-awaited Messiah Israel looked for.

At the start of His ministry, Jesus spoke of Himself being the fulfilment of Isaiah 61:

“’The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord…Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”[8]

Matthew records a similar, yet separate account, where two blind men cry out to Him for Him to show mercy to them, and:

“He touched their eyes…and their eyes were opened.”[9]

Matthew later details how:

“Large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them.”[10]

Luke says:

“He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.”[11]

After John the Baptist had been imprisoned he reached out to Christ and asked Him:

“Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:  the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”[12]

He direct John to compare Isaiah 35 to what He saw in the ministry of Christ, and there was one conclusion:

“Christ is the Expected One; He is the Son of David!”

So knowing Jesus to be the promised Son of David, The Holy One of Israel, this blind beggar had one request:

“Have mercy on me!”

III.) God’s Mercy in Christ

You would think this would illicit compassion from the crowd, but instead we read:

“Many were sternly telling him to be quiet…”[13]

They severely chastised him, undoubtedly because blind people were understood to be sinners under the judgment of almighty God. Recall the disciple’s reactions in John 9 when they encounter a man born blind:

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”[14]

Jesus fractures their false thinking:

“Neither this man, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”[15]

He is not blind because of sin; he is blind because God made him this way:

“Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”[16]

The crowd forbids him from calling out to the Man from Nazareth, but blind Bartimaeus knows that One more than a carpenter is passing by.

George Whitfield said:

“Though the eyes of his body were shut, yet the eyes of his mind were, in some degree, opened, so that he saw, perhaps, more than most of the multitude that followed after Jesus.”[17]

John MacArthur says:

“His mind saw the light before his eyes did.”[18]

He; therefore, ignored the rebuke of the fickle crowd and:

“Kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”[19]

His cry for mercy carries along with it the implication that he is aware of his own unworthiness. Only the sinful are in need of mercy:

“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”[20]

Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,[21] and it is His mercy which leads people to repentance.[22] Only sinners experience God’s mercy.

People who never see their sin for what it is before a Holy and righteous God will never see their need for His mercy, nor understand it at all. Consider Christ’s parable on the self-righteous pharisee and the unrighteous publican, which he told:

“To some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’[23]

The tax-collector is literally asking God to be propitious to him by withhold what he rightly deserves as a sinner. Make no mistake, the pharisee is an unworthy sinner, but he does not see it because he is self-righteous. Jesus said of the one who could not lift his eyes to heaven because of his unworthiness:

“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”[24]

Christ desires mercy over sacrifice, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and He:[25]

“Has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.”[26]

It should not surprise us that when Bartimaeus cries out to Him for mercy that He stops. The One who has set His face towards Jerusalem to accomplish the purpose for which He came,[27] stops, and calls the one in need of mercy to Himself:

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take courage, arise! He is calling for you!’”[28]

The man knows he is in a miserable situation and the only way out is for Christ to save him:

“Casting aside his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus.”[29]

He threw aside that which would slow him down from pursuing and experiencing the mercy of Christ.

IV.) Earthly Sight, and Eternal Security

Bartimaeus shows absolute humility in doing this, and look at what Jesus asks:

“What do you want me to do for you?”[30]

Q.) Does this sound familiar?

It should, because this is exactly what He asked His proud disciples in the previous portion of Mark, who wanted honor and not humility.[31] He did not grant their request. Now here is this blind man who is ostracized by Jewish society because of his infirmity, humiliating himself just to taste of the mercy of Christ. He does not want honor; he wants to see:

“Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”[32]

He wants to be saved, and he is confident that Jesus is able to rescue him. He pleads for His Master to save him:

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he regained his sight and began to follow Him on the road.”[33]

Jesus had mercy on him and saved him. Truly, all who recognize their need for mercy and lean upon Christ will receive it:

“The Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’”[34]

I greatly desire us to see that the scope of salvation here goes well beyond the physical. Jesus did not just save this man from blindness; He saved his soul from eternal damnation.

The words “made you well” come from the Greek word Sozo, which means to save or rescue from danger or destruction.[35] It is used 52 times outside of the gospel accounts, and 46 of those times refers to eternal salvation. Several examples of this are:

Matthew 1:21, which reads:

“And she shall bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save (Sozo) His people from their sins.”

Mark 16:16 says:

“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved (Sozo); but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

John 10:9, Jesus declares:

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved (Sozo), and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Acts 2:21, proclaims that:

“Everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved (Sozo).”

Jesus saved this man by his faith alone. This was not blind faith; this was conviction of the truth and placing complete trust in it.[36] He believed both the truth of Christ as Messiah, and His desire and ability to save all who come to Him by faith:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”[37]

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”[38]

V.) Taste of His Mercy

We who are trusting in Christ should rejoice over this text, for without Him we would be no different than poor and blind Bartimaeus. We were spiritually impoverished making us incapable of buying our way back to God.[39] We were spiritually blind making it impossible for us to see His kingdom without His intervention.[40] But God, being rich in mercy, made us alive together in Christ, and saved us by grace through faith in His Son.[41] He shined the light of His gospel in our spiritually blind and darkened hearts, calling us to Himself.[42]

With His Law He revealed His holiness and our sinfulness, so our one request before Him would be for Him to have mercy on us. That we would cry out from the depths of our hearts for Him to withhold the justice we all deserve for our sin.

With His gospel He revealed His Holy Son willingly becoming our sin and a curse, so we might become God’s righteousness in Him:[43] He bore the wrath of His Father towards our sin on His body, so it would be withheld from us for all eternity. He gave us His righteousness, so we may live forever with Him. He has saved us by His grace through our faith in the Person and work of His Son.

Just as Bartimaeus followed Him, we too are to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. We are to lay aside the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us by fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ: The Author and Finisher of our faith.[44]

If you are here today and realize you are blind and poor, having nothing to offer God for your sin, do as Bartimaeus did, and seek the mercy of Christ:

“Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed, and whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[45]

Since Christ lives, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.[46]

Heed the words of Matthew Henry:

“Let sinners be exhorted to imitate Blind Bartimaeus. If they have not had their eyes opened to behold the excellency of Christ, and the beauty of holiness, they are in more dreadful darkness in respect to the spiritual world, than any blind man as to the natural. Where the gospel is preached, or written word circulated, Jesus is passing by, and this is the sinner’s opportunity. Though he cannot as yet understand His doctrine, or see His glory, let him, as a perishing sinner, cry after Him for mercy. If any deride, threaten, or would silence him, let him cry the more earnestly for salvation; the Savior will notice him.[47]

It was Charles Spurgeon who said:

“Whenever a sinner comes to Him, He becomes his Savior. Whenever He meets a sick soul, He acts as his Physician… If you go to Him, you will find Him at home and on the look-out for you. He will be more glad to receive you than you will be to be received… I tell you again that He cannot reject you. That would be to alter His whole character and un-Christ Himself. To spurn a coming sinner would un-Jesus Him and make Him to be somebody else and not Himself any longer. ‘He cannot deny Himself’. Go and try Him; go and try Him.”

[1] John 20:31

[2] John 10:14-18

[3] Matthew 20:30

[4] Luke 18:36-37

[5] 2 Samuel 7:12-14

[6] Matthew 1:6,16,20; Luke 1:27; 2:4; 3:23-38

[7] Isaiah 35:5

[8] Luke 4:18-21

[9] Matthew 9:29-30

[10] Matthew 15:30

[11] Luke 7:21

[12] Matthew 11:3-6; Luke 7:18-23

[13] Mark 10:48a

[14] John 9:2

[15] John 9:3

[16] Exodus 4:11

[17] Blind Bartimaeus, George Whitfield; Sermon

[18] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Mark 9-16, John Macarthur; Page 116

[19] Mark 10:48:b

[20] Matthew 9:12

[21] Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32

[22] Romans 2:4

[23] Luke 18:9-13

[24] Luke 18:14

[25] Romans 3:23

[26] Romans 11:32

[27] Luke 9:51

[28] Mark 10:49

[29] Mark 10:50

[30] Mark 10:51a

[31] Mark 10:35-45

[32] Mark 10:51b

[33] Mark 10:52

[34] Romans 10:11; Cross Reference: Isaiah 28:16

[35] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number: 4982

[36] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number: 4102

[37] Matthew 11:28-30

[38] John 6:35,37

[39] Matthew 5:5

[40] John 3:3-8

[41] Ephesians 2:4-8

[42] 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

[43] 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13

[44] Hebrews 12:1-2

[45] Romans 10:11,13

[46] Hebrews 7:25

[47]Commentary on The Holy Bible, Matthew Henry, and Thomas Scott; Page 190

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