Summary: We don’t bring an issue before Jesus once, and that is the end of it, there is a purpose to our repeatedly bringing up an issue before God, and that purpose is the building of our faith. This is what Jesus does with Bart.
Bartimaeus. Physically blind, financially strapped. Stuck in a job that is going nowhere. He is a nuisance. He is in the way. He is a passing thought. He is in fact, a painful reminder to everyone walking by, that disaster is very possible in their own lives. This man is nothing….and yet, and yet, Bartimaeus is Jesus’ man. Bartimaeus is the one who Jesus pays attention to. Jesus walked by many people that day: The righteous, the godly, the honest, the faithful; Bartimaeus is the one who receives blessing, while others, who are good people, who are believers, even some are His twelve disciples, they receive nothing.
Why is that? Why Bartimaeus? Here is a man who has absolutely nothing going for him, not a thing. He is a person of no significance, whatsoever, and yet he is able to bring out some of the most powerful words in Scripture. See them there in verse 49. “Jesus stopped”. Jesus is walking along, He is on his way to fulfill his destiny as messiah in the city of Jerusalem - you know He has to be walking with purpose. He is approaching the pinnacle of His ministry here on earth and BAMM – out of nowhere, Jesus stopped. Jesus has this incredible task in front of him, and – it is just gone, set aside, not important for the moment. Astounding.
What a valuable piece of Scripture we have before us. Jesus just stops what He is doing and all attention is on Bart, “I wonder, how can I get God’s attention like that?”, “How can I get God to pay attention to me?”. Well, Mark lays it out for us right here. He sets it out before us this morning, as plain as day.
If you do not have you bibles open to our Scripture, please turn there right now, follow along, and see how old Bart does it. Mark 10:46-52 is where we are at.
Jesus walks right by Bartimaeus, but Bartimaeus exhibits several characteristics that make Jesus stop for this man (I tell you, that blows me away), Jesus usually doesn’t stop for anything, but here He stops dead in his tracks for Bartimaeus. Let’s, look at God’s powerful Word now and see how this applies directly to our lives.
Picking up from last week, we see that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, but this is trip to Jerusalem is not just any ordinary trip. It is when Jesus is going to enter his passion, suffer and die. This is a defining moment in the lives of those walking with Him. Remember, Jesus was traveling with his twelve disciples and a large group of other people, we are not sure how many, some are believers, some are curious, some probably are not sure why they are walking with Jesus. At this point they are passing through Jericho. This is one of the oldest cities in the area. It is literally an oasis in the desert, it is called the city of palms for the many thousands of huge palm trees that grow there. Jericho sits low, near the Dead Sea about eighteen miles northeast of Jerusalem and is in a very rugged region with the road to Jerusalem leading through desolate and mountainous country, notoriously unsafe, and it was a very difficult walk to Jerusalem - it is up hill, all the way to Jerusalem. Jericho is famous for it’s walls falling down and today it is considered a Palestinian city in the state of Israel. Let me tell you, it is one hot and dusty place.
This is the last healing miracle in the book of Mark. We see that Jesus does heal the ear of the servant of the high priest at his arrest the garden of Gethsemane, but that is not recorded in the Gospel of Mark. Here Mark records this as the last healing to emphasize to us how significant it was that Jesus stopped…..and healed this man.
Jericho was also a redemptive spot for tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19), and the good Samaritan (Luke 10). I think in some ways, the city of Jericho represents in Scripture a place of another chance, a place where those who are having great difficulty in life are given another shot, another chance at redemption. It is an oasis to be refreshed at and start a new life, a new beginning. I see it as no accident that Jesus and Bart deal with each other in this place of Jericho. You know, even when we see life at a stand still, when we look around us and see nothing but hot dry desert, Jesus is able, Jesus is able.
Now the blind usually begged in the ancient world because their family was too poor to support them or their family was too ashamed of them, or even superstitious of why they were afflicted with blindness. It was common folklore of the day, that if one was struck with blindness or another devastating affliction, it was as a result of a sin in the person’s life or it was because of some sin in their parent’s life. As a result, people shied away from the blind; If God had cursed them with blindness, who knows, perhaps, God might curse those who deal too closely with the blind, who they thought God cursed.