May I speak to you in the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit…Amen.
The story of blind Bartimaeus is one we all love because the good guy won. But it’s also a Bible story we very easily dismiss because unless we are blind or severely handicapped it doesn’t seem to have much application in our lives.
But in looking at the encounter between Bartimaeus and Christ, there are five distinct things that Bartimaeus did which ultimately led to the recovery of his sight.
And I’m convinced that no matter the brokenness in our own lives be it a financial disaster; a break in the family; a failed marriage; a broken heart; emotional distress, or full-blown spiritual attacks; if we follow these steps that Bartimaeus took, we too can successfully navigate our way to a place of recovery.
The first thing he did was he seized the moment.
We know that Bartimaeus was sitting by the road…probably simply calling out to people passing by to give him food or money. He may not even have been saying anything. Just motioning by putting his hand to his mouth. But then in verse 47 everything changed. Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was in the crowd. And he began to shout!
Bartimaeus suddenly realized that this was the chance of a lifetime. So he seized the moment. He wanted to ensure that Jesus didn’t just pass him by. He wanted to make sure that Jesus would stop and do something for him. So he shouted!
I’m quite sure that on that day Bartimaeus was not the only person sitting on the side of the road begging. He was not the only person who needed some kind of healing. But it appears he was the only one who recognized that in order to cease this divine opportunity, he needed to shout.
What about us?
When was the last time we shouted to Jesus and let Him know that we really need? I’m not talking about literally yelling and screaming like the Pharisees did…but when was the last time we seized the moment when we felt God’s Spirit speaking to our heart here at this Cathedral?
So many of us will not kneel down out of turn, or allow ourselves to cry when we feel the Lord near us because we have become so self-conscious. Concerned about what people will say.
For some of us, when the Priests are praying we just listen for the ‘Amen’ so we can also say ‘Amen.’ We don’t listen to the prayers. We don’t feel for the presence of God. So Sunday after Sunday even though we are sitting by the side of the road, we fail to seize the moment. We fail to claim what is ours. And Jesus passes us by.
Bartimaeus may have been blind, but he saw that divine moment. And he refused to let it pass him by. He did not say, “I’m not worthy for Jesus to heal.” He did not say, “Oh Jesus is too busy for somebody like me.” He did not come up with any of the excuses that you and I always come up with. He simply seized the opportunity. And it changed his life.
Some of us here this morning need to seize our divine moment. God is speaking to our heart and He wants us to respond today. He wants us to respond right now.
Look, I understand that seizing the moment it is scary. I know that it’s risky. It can even be deadly. But let me tell you…for those who seize the moment; their lives are never the same.
The second thing that Bartimaeus did was to ignore negative people.
You would have thought that the crowd would feel a little compassion for this blind man and let him through. But the exact opposite happened. They tried to shout him down. Verse 48 says the crowd told Bartimaeus to be quite…because in their opinion he wasn’t worth anyone stopping for.
But here’s the beautiful thing…the scripture says, when they tried to shut him down, “…he shouted all the more.”
Let me ask you a question. Do you think it was it risky for Bartimaeus to ignore the crowd?
Of course it was!
They were his meal ticket! These were the people he depended on to give him food and money day-in-day-out. So if he upset them, who would support him next month or even next year?
But on this particular day, something happened in Bartimaeus’ heart. He somehow knew that his real hope was not the crowd but in Jesus.
So yes! It was risky. Very risky. Life threatening in fact. But if we’re truly determined to walk the road of recovery then we must learn to ignore the negative voices we will encounter. If we do, the payoff will be worth it!
The third move Bartimaeus made was to surrender his old life.
Did you notice what he did when Jesus finally called him? Verse 50 says “..he threw his coat aside.”
Why do you think he did that? And why did Mark feel the need to include that detail in his gospel?
Think about it…we’ve all seen beggars. And invariably the clothes they are wearing are the only clothes they own. Their coat keeps them from the sun and the rain in the daytime, and at night it is their blanket. So why would Bartimaeus throw aside his only form of shelter and security?
He did it to send a strong message that says, “I’m selling out to Jesus…I’m trusting in His ability to change my circumstances…I’m turning my back on my old lifestyle.” In a theological context we would say Bartimaeus repented.
If we’re serious about our recovery from physical, emotional, financial or spiritual damage we too must repent. We must shed our old lives.
We must throw our old coat aside…that booze that gives us comfort…we must throw aside. That Sugar Daddy (who is someone’s husband) who makes us feel secure…we must throw aside. Those women who we have not married but make us feel like men…we must throw aside. We must surrender our old way of living and let Jesus give us a new life.
The fourth key action on the part of Bartimaeus was that he knew what he wanted.
When Bartimaeus reached Christ, he wasn’t immediately healed. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
I know it sounds crazy, but most people don’t have a clue what they really want. I can’t tell you how many times I interview people and when I ask how much salary they want and they say, “Oh anything you’ll give me.”
Brethren, if we want to rise above our present situation, if we truly want to recover…we must know what we need to get there. God is not one to impose. He wants to reason with us and therefore He’s going to ask us, “What do you want me to do for you?”
I’m sure Bartimaeus wanted money, a home, a job and a thousand other things. But he knew what he really wanted…he knew what he really need was his sight.
I suppose one of the saddest truths of this story is how it applies to us today.
Most of us while we may not be physically blind, are spiritually blind. And we are so defeated by the world that we can’t see what we need. We can’t see that what we really need is a relationship with Christ.
We’ve grown so accustomed to a lifestyle of difficulty. We can’t even imagine what a full life looks like. So day-by-day we live without hope, without security and with no real future in sight. But that is not the life God planned for us. The life God planned for us is clearly outlined in Jeremiah 29:11, where He says, “I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Brethren, if I can get us to see today that our greatest need is not a new job…or a better car…or more money…if I can show us that what we really need is a relationship with Jesus…then I would have done my job as your priest. That is what will put us on the road to recovery from the hurt and brokenness in our life!
You know the striking thing about this story?
When Bartimaeus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Jesus did not say, “then see…”
Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” According to theologians, the word He used for “healed” is the same word for salvation.
And so once again Jesus exceeded expectations. Bartimaeus’ life wasn’t changed just because he regained his sight, it changed because he gained faith to follow!
And that was the fifth and final act of Bartimaeus; he lived out his faith. He followed Jesus Christ.
When Bartimaeus heard the Lord was near…he shouted to Him…and when the Lord called Him…he jumped up from the sidewalk…threw off his old coat… and followed the Lord.
What about you and me?
What will be our response when the Lord is near…will we quietly watch Him us pass by or will we join the blind who rejoiced to hear the cry “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth by.”
Sing with me Supplementary Hymn 8 verse 3
Jesus! ’tis He who once below,
Man’s pathway trod, ‘mid pain and woe;
And burdened ones, where’er He came,
Bro’t out their sick, and deaf, and lame,
The blind rejoiced to hear the cry:
“Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.”
In the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit…Amen.