By Rev. Heidi L. Barham | October 24, 2021
Click here to listen to the service
Read Mark 10:46 – 52 (NIV)
Perhaps you have heard someone say they are taking something on blind faith which generally means they are operating without much, if any, evidence that something is true or trustworthy.
For example, most of you sat down in the pews this morning without actually testing the pew to see if it was safe and secure or capable of holding your weight without breaking or falling. In essence, without any real evidence, you took it on BLIND FAITH that the pew was going to do what it was designed to do… and here you sit.
But our New Testament lesson this morning gives us a different perspective on what it means to have BLIND FAITH.
As we look at our text for today, we find the story of a man known as Blind Bartimaeus, which literally means the son of Timaeus. And although he was blind, I think it would be fair to say Bartimaeus saw more clearly than many of the other people around him.
Now, in spite of his blindness, the text says that Bartimaeus was able to make his way to Jesus with a request… a request that came with a humble recognition of who Jesus truly was… for in calling Him “Son of David,” Bartimaeus was acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.
According to the text, as Jesus was approaching Jericho, Bartimaeus was sitting at the side of the road begging. Just to give us a little context, in those days, despite God having issued the command to care for the needy, begging was often the only way a person with disabilities like Bartimaeus could survive.
And so, it was from this roadside position, that Bartimaeus, this blind beggar, heard that Jesus was coming. Now when someone loses one of their senses, it is not uncommon for one or more of their other senses to become more acute to compensate for the one that has been lost. So, it is not all that surprising that, despite his blindness, Bartimaeus was able to hear that Jesus was coming.
And the text indicates that upon realizing Jesus was near, Bartimaeus called out to Him, asking, actually begging, for mercy. Bartimaeus’ request was not asked in a manner that could in any way be described as timid… “Pardon me, Jesus, can I talk to you for a minute…”
No, the scriptures say it was a full-fledged shout, “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!”
And when the people around Jesus rebuked Bartimaeus, he called out even more loudly, “SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!”
Now, we should not gloss over the fact that Bartimaeus was not asking for riches or fame or glory… Although, he could have. Even some of the disciples had tried that. But on the contrary, what Bartimaeus asked for was mercy.
Mercy is quite often found walking alongside grace. Grace which can be defined as God’s unmerited favor… getting what we do not deserve.
Mercy on the other hand is NOT getting what we DO deserve. And back during the time when our text was originally written, blindness was considered to be a curse from God for sin. So, Bartimaeus’ plea for mercy could actually be seen as a cry for deliverance from what he and others would have believed to be a curse that he had been living under… something that he must have deserved.
And as we keep reading the text, we see that Bartimaeus’ plea for mercy did not fall on deaf ears. In fact, Jesus stopped what He was doing and told the disciples that were with Him to call Bartimaeus over… which they did. And Bartimaeus jumped up, threw off his cloak and went to Jesus.
Clearly Jesus had already heard Bartimaeus’ pleas for mercy but nonetheless, Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”
It is worth noting, that this is the same question that Jesus asked two of His disciples, James and John, in the verses preceding our text for today.
And while James and John asked for seats of privilege and positions of honor… Bartimaeus simply said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
This beggar was literally operating with BLIND FAITH, trusting that Jesus could give him what no one else could. And in response, Jesus told Bartimaeus to “Go,” explaining that his faith had healed him… and as the last verse of our text states, immediately Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
So, what is the message for us in this New Testament lesson today? Well, let me suggest that there are at least three things that we can learn from Bartimaeus and what it means to have BLIND FAITH.
First, Bartimaeus made his request in a spirit of humility, recognizing his need for mercy and forgiveness.
Bartimaeus had a desire to be healed, but before saying or doing anything else, he acknowledged who Jesus was… calling Him “Son of David” … and then Bartimaeus asked for what he knew he needed first and foremost, and that was mercy.
Often times we come to the Lord with our laundry list of wants and desires, almost as if Jesus is like some sort of an ATM, simply dispensing blessings at the touch of a button.
But one of the things we fail to realize is, that just like we cannot get money of out of an ATM if we have not made a sufficient deposit into our bank account, we cannot expect blessings from Jesus if we have not made a deposit into our spiritual account, in other words our heart.
So, just how do we make deposits into our spiritual account? By reading and studying the Word of God, by spending time in prayer and worship, by doing those things that bring us closer to the Lord.
As the Psalmist David wrote in Psalm 37 (3 – 5, NKJV):
It is only after we start trusting in the Lord, feeding on His faithfulness, and delighting in Him… THEN the Psalmist says He will give us the desires of our heart. After we have committed our way to the Lord and put our trust in Him… THEN He shall bring it to pass.
Bartimaeus’ initial response to Jesus was an indication that he understood what the Psalmist David was saying. And that is something that we would do well to understand also…
We must delight ourselves in the Lord and draw closer to Him… trusting in Him… humbly acknowledging our need for grace and mercy… then and only then, can we hope to be blessed with the desires of our hearts as Bartimaeus was.
Now, the second thing we can take from Bartimaeus is that he was literally operating from a place of faith… trusting and believing that Jesus had the ability to heal him and restore his sight. Although he had actually never seen Jesus for himself, Bartimaeus had faith that what Jesus had done for others, He could do for him.
When we come to Jesus with our requests, do we have faith that He can do what we have asked Him to do?
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus told His disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
But do we honestly come to Jesus with mustard-seed-mountain-moving faith? Faith like the centurion who asked for his servant to be healed (Matthew 8) and Jesus said, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” …
Faith like the woman with the issue of blood who dared touch the hem of Jesus’ garment (Matthew 9) to whom Jesus responded, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you” …
Faith like Bartimaeus in our text who heard Jesus say to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.”
And so, when we bring our concerns before the Lord, we need to come in faith like Bartimaeus, holding on to the words found in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Words that harken back to what we find in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah (29:12-13) where we read “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
And that brings us to the third thing we can take from Bartimaeus’ story of BLIND FAITH which is why Bartimaeus’ request was granted… Bartimaeus received what he truly desired because what he asked for lined up with the Lord’s will for his life.
The fact is, the Lord desires to give us His grace and mercy and He desires for us to be made whole. That is why the writer of Hebrews encourages us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Throughout the scriptures, we find stories of the Lord giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, making the lame walk again… and without a doubt, Bartimaeus had heard those stories as well.
So, really Bartimaeus was only asking for something that he had heard Jesus had already done before… something that he realized must have been in alignment with Jesus’ will.
That reminds me of a song that has been sung by a number of artists, including Elvis Presley, entitled, “It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)” and the lyrics simply say:
God has more than enough grace and mercy to bestow upon ALL who ask. That is why, when we bring our requests before the Lord, we have the assurance that God’s blessings are unlimited… we need not fear that they will ever run out. Make no mistake… God always has been and always will be in the blessing business.
And believe it or not, that means it is even okay to ask for and expect God to perform miracles… because contrary to what some people might have us believe, miracles were not simply reserved for biblical times. Just take a look around and you will see that God still specializes in the mighty and the miraculous… It is why each of us is still here today.
So, let’s be sure that whenever we come before the Lord, we do so with BLIND FAITH like Bartimaeus… with a spirit of humility, operating from a place of faith, and asking for what is in alignment with the Lord’s will for our lives… because when we do, that is when we will be able to say just like the Psalmist David, “I remain confident of this: I will SEE the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).