Summary: Jesus Christ rewards those who are: 1. Persistent with him. 2. Passionate about him. 3. Pursuing him.
Do you ever feel like life is passing you by? That is how Bartimaeus felt. He had been sitting on the sidelines of life. He was begging because he was blind and had no way of making a living for himself. He could not go on a trip as the people with Jesus were doing. The whole crowd was passing him by. There was a lot of excitement as the people with Jesus anticipated getting to Jerusalem for the special religious feast of Passover. The city of Jerusalem would be decorated and full of the smells of this special occasion in the religious life of the people. It would be comparable to us coming home for Christmas. There was joy in the voices of the people as they passed by Bartimaeus. He was hearing it all, but he was not a part of it. He was not a part of much of anything, because of his blindness. People were laughing as they bustled by him. But there was an added excitement that Bartimaeus sensed. Someone told him that Jesus was in the crowd. He had heard about Jesus. People had told him about his teachings and the healing miracles that he had performed, and he began to cry out at the top of his voice: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It was a moment that would change his life forever.
I want us to see the life of Bartimaeus as an example of what our response should be when Jesus is passing our way — which he is doing this very moment. The first thing that I believe Bartimaeus and his experience with Jesus teaches us is: Jesus Christ rewards those who are PERSISTENT with him. When Bartimaeus began calling out to Jesus there were those who tried to silence him, but he was not to be discouraged. Some of the people in the crowd did not want to be delayed by the request of some nondescript beggar. They did not want anything to interfere with their trip to the holy city. Others thought he would annoy Jesus and that he should not bother him with his request. But Bartimaeus did not pay any attention to them. In fact, he cried out to Jesus even louder. When it seemed as though Jesus did not hear him, and would pass him by, he kept crying out until Jesus did hear him. He was not going to let this blessing pass.
What I want you to notice is that when Jesus caught the sound of this blind man’s voice, he stopped in his tracks. He heard the desperate cry of someone over all the other voices in that great crowd. Jesus not only heard with his ears, he heard with his heart. The cry of human need touched the heart of Christ and he stopped. He would go no further until he met the need of this man.
Bartimaeus’ persistence paid off, because if he had allowed the people to silence him, he would never have received his healing. If he had been afraid that his request was not important enough to bother the Master, he would never have met the Master. If he had been afraid that he might annoy Jesus with his request, life would have passed him by and there would have been no change in his life. Jesus taught that we “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). You can’t receive anything from God if you do not ask anything from God. And you cannot receive something from God if you are going to give up after the first time you ask. You have to keep coming, in spite of what people say or the discouragements you face. You have to keep calling out to God, even when it seems like he is passing you by. You have to call to Jesus Christ even when people tell you that your request is not valid or important enough. You have to be persistent even when you think your need is impossible and cannot be met. You have to ask, and when God does not seem to hear you, ask again. When you ask again and you do not receive an answer, then knock. When you knock and do not receive an answer, then seek. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). The kingdom of God belongs to those who are persistent and keep coming to God in faith, even when their first cry does not seem to be heard.
The second thing that Bartimaeus’ experience with Jesus teaches us is: Jesus Christ rewards those who are passionate about him. I have always been fascinated by Jesus’ words which say: “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12). The kingdom of God is not for the mild and mellow. It is for those who will passionately pursue God with all their hearts. God spoke to the people of Israel saying, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). What that means is that if you do not seek God with all your heart, you will not find him. You cannot be passive about God and at the same time be seeking God. How interested are you in knowing God and having him as a part of your life? Your answer to that question will determine how much God is a part of your life. You may come to church, but are you actively, passionately seeking God throughout the week? Does a little dose of God do it for you, or do you want everything God has for you and feel like you cannot get enough of him? The Bible says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:10).