Hardships and sufferings are a real fact in life. We see one today in our passage – a blind man. In those times, blindness was far worse that it is today. The blind man was reduced to begging because there was no help or work for such people. You can imagine how difficult it must be for them, when people with good eyesight can find it hard to cope with life.
We may pity this man. But on closer look, I realised that he was probably more blessed than many in the crowd. You see, there were two kinds of blindness in this story. One is this blind man, physically unable to see with his eyes. But there is also another kind of blindness – those of the crowd - who though physically able to see, was spiritually blind to the identity of the One standing before them.
Bartimaeus could not see Jesus with his eyes, but he saw Him with his heart! He saw His true identity. He cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” This was a unique title, hardly used by anyone (except a Canaanite woman who had a demon-possessed daughter, Matt 15). In the Gospel of Mark, only he uses this phrase. He recognises Jesus as the Messiah, the coming King, and the descendant of David (Isa 9:7). And if the Messiah, He has the power to heal, according to Jewish belief.
Many around him could see Jesus, but they would not accept Him as the Messiah. They did not really see Him for who He is. If they had, they would not have stopped this blind man from crying out. If they had, they would not have rebuked this man and asked him to be quiet.
This is the first thing we learn – we’ve got to learn to SEE WITH OUR HEART.
It doesn’t matter how much you’re seen. It doesn’t matter how much you’re heard.
The crowd saw many more miracles than the blind man. The crowd heard more sermons from Jesus than the blind man. They had closer encounters with Jesus than this blind man.
Yet they received nothing from Jesus whereas this blind man got the miracle of his life!
They may have seen more but there was no faith. They were still blind. They may have heard more but there was no faith. They were still blind. Helen Keller said, “Better to be blind and to see with your heart, than to have two good eyes and see nothing.”
This man may be blind but he sees! The people may see but they are blind. You see, seeing with your eyes does not guarantee you’ll see with your heart!
I may have heard many sermons but still struggle to trust God.
The criminal on the cross beside Jesus may not have heard or seen much, but he believed that little he knows about Jesus, and Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
You need to believe what you hear. You need to put your faith in what you hear.
I find this whole encounter amazing. This blind man does not have the privilege others have. They could walk around with Jesus; see what He was doing, and hear all that He was saying, but not this man. Blind men don’t move around. They stayed in one place and beg. Anyway, there is nothing they can see.
But he heard about Him, probably someone shared. It could be about the miracles, or a testimony of someone healed, or something about His teachings. No first hand experience for him, but that was enough to kindle his faith. He believed. The Bible says “faith comes from hearing.” Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). He does not understand the doctrines, theology about God or precisely why Jesus Christ came into the world. But that little he heard is sufficient for him to put his trust in Jesus. And that changed his life!
Many of us today know much, much more – we have the Bible in our hands. We can open it anytime, any day and read it. We hear sermons, attend Sunday School and seminars. We know much more than this blind man. I wonder, if what we hear does prompt us to cry out to God the same way this blind man did. Will what we hear, drives us to cry out to God in faith and with passion, the way it did to him?
It like having something but not applied!
And the sad part in this story is that those who know better, who have seen more and heard more are the ones who asked this man to be quiet! It is better to be physically blind than to be spiritually blind. If you are blinded to the Person of Jesus, you are going to receive nothing!
We thank God that this blind man was able to see Jesus. To believe something that you don’t see with your physical eyes, you have to turn inward. You have to activate your faith from within. You take a stand and choose to believe what you’ve heard about Jesus.
No matter what you hear on the outside – the criticisms, discouragements, mockery – you choose to listen to the voice on the inside. SEE WITH YOUR HEART and trust Him!
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So strong was Bartimaeus’ conviction that he refused to let the people around him discourage him. They did not have the faith in Jesus’ kindness that he had. They had such a limited knowledge of Jesus’ love that they thought He would not be interested in a seemingly worthless, blind beggar. Bro/sis, this “don’t bother Jesus” attitude has to be removed. Sometimes we get ourselves into such a mode – we only come to Him for big things; some things don’t have to bring to Jesus.
Bartimaeus refused to hear these negative voices. Rather he listened only to Jesus’ voice. Jesus called him!
Look at the way he responded to Jesus’ call - he is said to throw off his cloak, jump up, and come to Him. Very likely the man was seated with the cloak covering his lap, so that it would catch the coins thrown to him by the passers-by. If we see the film JESUS, we’d have seen this. But he dropped everything and came to Jesus. It would not be easy for him to return and find his stuff and his coins if they were simply dropped on the ground. He was pinning all his hope in Jesus!
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And then we come to the SECOND lesson we can learn today – Are you seriously in asking God!!! ASK WITH YOUR HEART.
Why do I say that? Two things – (1) Jesus asked the blind man to come to Him, and (2) He asked him what he wants.
It would be so much easier for Jesus to go to the blind man, than to have the blind man come to Him. Yet as the story turns out, the blind man was called to come to Jesus. Do you really want me to help?
And Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
His first cry was: Have mercy on me! This is a very general request. Jesus wants him now to get down to the specifics: What exactly do you want from me?
Begging by the roadside has been his way of life. He has been surviving in this manner for many years. His common cry is “alms for the blind, alms for the blind”. Is that what he wants from Jesus? Are you going to ask for what man can give you? Or what only God can give?
Put it into words. What exactly do you want? Don’t talk in vague terms (Lord, please bless so-and-so). Or to take for grant that God knows everything. Why the need for me to pray?
And Bartimaeus let faith speaks, “Rabbi, I want to see!”
The only limitation is the limitation set by our minds.
Why do you think the crowd rebuke this poor blind man? And asked him to be quiet?
They don’t expect anything to change. They don’t even probably expect the VIP Jesus to give this insignificant blind man some money. Not to talk about restoring his sight. That is the last thing they will think of.
Don’t allow such “mental limitations” to prevent us from achieving God’s great purpose for our lives.
THE ELEPHANT IN BONDAGE
Elephant is one of the most powerful animals there is. Yet if you go to a circus, you will see a massive animal tied to a little stake in the ground, and he will stay there. He has the potential to go anywhere he wants to but does not believe it can. The elephant’s problem is a mental and not a physical limitation.
When he was young, he was tied to a stake that was deep in the ground before he got his strength. He pulled and struggled as a youngster and just couldn’t get away from it. One day he accepted the fact he wasn’t going to get away.
From then on, he decided, whenever he was tied to the stake he was stuck. The elephant had allowed the limitations that had been placed upon it to keep it from becoming what it could possibly be. It doesn’t cross his mind that he is not the same elephant he was years earlier without much strength. Nor does he recognize that the stake is not nearly as strong as it once was.
THE TRAINED FLEA
When the flea trainer first places them in the jar, he puts the lid on, and the fleas jump up and down frantically hitting their heads against it. Finally, after a lot of headaches, they quit jumping so high and enjoy their newfound comfort. Now the lid can be removed and the fleas are still held captive, not by a real lid, but by a mind set that says, "So high and no higher."
Why are we bound by today? By past mistakes, wrong teaching, by some physical, emotional, or mental handicaps? Some of us need to wake up to the fact that we are not the same person we were back then. God can make all things new. If you believe it, that is.
But the stress I want to make from this whole encounter is this – Jesus wants us to ARTICULATE our desires. SPEAK IT OUT. Tell me what you want!
Charles Spurgeon says, “The gate of heaven is to be opened only in one way, by the very earnest use of the knocker of prayer. You cannot have your eyes opened until your mouth is opened. Open you mouth in prayer, and he shall open your eyes to see; so shall you find joy and gladness.” …The Miracles of Our Lord, Part 2, p. 491.
Psalmist says in Psalm 145:18-19
18 The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; He hears their cry and saves them.
What desires do you have? Say it! Put it into words and pray it out.
Notice this same pattern in the Gospels – Jesus did not do anything to anyone without the person making the request or plea. He often asks, “What do you want?” If you want nothing, He will not do anything. If you come asking, He will grant you the desires of your heart.
5:23 – Jairus, the synagogue ruler, pleaded for his daughter – “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (5:23)
5:28 - The woman with the issue of blood said, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”
7:26 – the Gentile woman “begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.”
7:32 – the people “begged him to place his hand on the man [deaf and mute]”
8:22 – “some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.”
9:22 – healing of demon-possessed boy, father said, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
And now we have another obvious case of need – a blind man calling out to Him. Yet Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
God can grant you the desires of your heart but you have to ask!
Bartimaeus told Him, “I want to see.” What Bartimaeus said, Jesus did. What you say, God does. What you did not say, God will not do it in your life. He has no permission from you.
Faith speaks. It is articulated through prayers. It gives God the opportunity to work. It gives Him something to work with! It gives Him an opening. You have to speak it in order to see it come to pass. The crowd will tell you, keep quiet! The world will tell you, don’t pray!
Rom 10:9-10 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Matt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
What is holding you back?
You know what did Jesus said at the end? “Your faith has made you whole.”
This phrase was used many times with the healing of the sick. Jesus did not say, “God has made you whole.”
o Jesus did not touch him, as He had with the blind man in chapter 8.
o Jesus did not say any words that would suggest that He was responsible for this healing.
o Rather Jesus commended on Bartimaeus’ confidence in Him.
God can do it, but without faith it will not be done. “Where is your faith?” Jesus asked His disciples – on the boat in the storm, and when they failed to deliver a demon-possessed boy.