Summary: When people try to hinder your crying out to Jesus, do what Bartimaeus did: Resist them. Don't let them intimidate you into silence.
Our friend, Paul Baloche, who lived for many years in Lindale, Texas has written or co-written over 120 worship songs. Perhaps his most popular song is “Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord” which I’ve borrowed his song title for this message. In the early 90’s, when Mike and I had only been here a short time, we invited Paul Baloche to lead worship one Sunday evening and Mike and I received a lot of flak for bringing in this worldly “Christian rock music.” I have to smile and thank God we’ve come a long way, baby.
As we come to the conclusion of Mark 10, we should notice it contains some very important questions. In Mark 10:2 someone asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” That’s a question people are still asking. In Mark 10:17 the Rich Young Ruler asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” That’s a question we should all be asking. In Mark 10:26 the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” And in our passage today, in Mark 10:51 Jesus asks a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” That’s a question He’s still asking each of us. Do you have an answer?
Jesus and his disciples arrive in Jericho on their way to Jerusalem, where Jesus will be arrested, tortured and crucified, and then three days later God will raise him from the dead.
I’ve been to Jericho many times. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It is located near where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea. It is an oasis in the desert. The road from Jericho to Jerusalem is about 15 miles long, but it uphill all the way with the elevation changing by 3,400 feet in that distance.
Jesus’ encounter with a blind beggar is described in Mark 10:46-52. “Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”
There are about 10 million legally blind people in America. Most of those are visually impaired with correctible vision. But many live in total darkness. Some famous blind Americans include Helen Keller, Fanny Crosby, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. But one of my favorite blind Americans was Charley Boswell, who was blinded while fighting in World War II while rescuing a friend from a burning tank. He had always been a great athlete, so after the war he took up golf. He became famous and won 16 National Blind Golfing Championships, usually shooting a score in the low 80s.
In 1958 Charley came to Ft. Worth to receive the coveted Ben Hogan Award. Mr. Hogan agreed to play a round of golf with Charley. Charley said, “Would you like to play for money?” Hogan said, “That wouldn’t be fair!” Charley said, “C’mon, Mr. Hogan, are you afraid to play a blind golfer?” Hogan was really pretty competitive so he said, “Okay, I’ll play for money. How much?” Boswell said, “$1,000 per hole.” Hogan said, “That’s a lot. How many strokes do you want me to give you?” Boswell said, “No strokes. I’ll play you heads up.” Hogan said, “Charley, I can’t do it. What would people think of me taking advantage of a blind man?” Boswell smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Hogan, our tee time is tonight at midnight!”
Jesus never touched Bartimaeus; He just spoke the word, and Bart believed Him. Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” Bart is a great example of how to exercise faith. All of us must have faith. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God; for anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
Let’s notice three truths about faith, and then learn about spiritual blindness.
1. FAITH BELIEVES EVEN WHEN YOU CANNOT SEE
Bart couldn’t see Jesus but he heard about Jesus. The Bible says, “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:47)