What kind of influence does it take to stop a parade? Do you have that kind of influence? We find in Mark 10, the story of the man of great faith who stopped Jesus in his tracks.
Mark 10:46-52 (ESV) And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
1. The Origin of His Faith
We are first impressed with the faith of Bartimaeus. We are not told how Bartimaeus came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. We can be sure that he did not come to faith in Christ from what he saw. Jesus had worked many miracles.
- He had cleansed the leper (Mark 1:42).
- He had healed the lame man (Mark 2:12
- He had healed the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:5).
- He had healed the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:29).
Jesus had done all these things and many more, but Bartimaeus had seen none of it. He was shut up in his own world of total darkness. How did he come to faith?
We can imagine that since Bartimaeus was a beggar, he would go where there were people. He would sit on the roadside near Jericho that was most travelled. There he would hear people talking about Jesus. Bartimaeus would stop them and ask them the news. He would ask them to tell him the story. He would hear that
- Jesus had unstopped the ears of the deaf (Mark 7:35).
- He had cast out demons (Mark 3:11).
- He had raised the dead (Mark 5:42).
Bartimaeus would wonder if Jesus could give sight to the blind. And then one day, he heard the story. He heard that Jesus had restored the sight to a man born blind (John 9). Never before had such a healing ever been heard of, that a man born blind had received his sight.
As Bartimaeus heard that story for the first time, hope was born in his heart. “There is hope for me!” he said. “If Jesus passes my way, I will call out to him and beg him to open my eyes! If he gave sight to a man born blind, he can surely heal me!”
Day after day, Bartimaeus would sit by the roadside. He would call out to people and ask them to tell him again and again, “Come tell me the story of Jesus opening the eyes of the man born blind!” Again and again, people would tell him the story, confirming the truth of what Jesus had done. Again and again, Bartimaeus would listen intently with a smile of hope.
Day after day, he would sit alone on the roadside, turning the story over and over in his mind, imagining that he was the one whose eyes had been opened and what it would be like to see.
Perhaps he would meditate on a Scripture from Isaiah 61:1-2 that he had heard in the synagogue, that the Messiah — when he came — would open the eyes of the blind. He had heard that Jesus had opened the eyes of a blind man, and with keen spiritual insight, he came to believe that Jesus must be the Messiah, and from that day, Bartimaeus became a secret disciple of Jesus.
Others would follow the example of the religious authorities who were hostile to Jesus. Others would call Jesus an impostor, a deceiver, a fake, but Bartimaeus would never join in with them. How could a deceiver open the eyes of a blind man? Receiving his sight became the dream of his life. For one, two, perhaps three years, the one thought that dominated the thinking of Bartimaeus was that Jesus had opened the eyes of a man who was blind. This Jesus must be the promised Messiah.
And so, dear listener friend, how is it that you are still spiritually blind? You have heard of all that Jesus did
- his virgin birth,
- his sinless life,
- his miracles,
- his death for you on the cross,
- his bodily resurrection from the dead,
- the many proofs that he was indeed alive,
- and his bodily ascension to the right hand of God.
You have heard of all that Christ did so that you could be forgiven, and cleansed of your sin, and adopted as a child of God into his family. How is it that you have not given sufficient thought to God’s grace and kindness and patience toward you? How have you been content to remain in spiritual darkness instead of coming to the Light of the World? (John 9:5).
This blind man had heard the story of Jesus healing another blind man, and faith was born in his heart. You have heard of Jesus forgiving others; will you not accept the forgiveness that he offers you? Perhaps you do not yet believe, but only hope. You have heard the Good News that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and you hope that it might be true. You hope that it might be true for you. Let me assure you today, dear friend, that it is true, and that there is hope for you, whoever you are!
2. The Response of Faith
Mark 10:46-47 (NLT) Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road on the outskirts of Jericho. This was the main road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem. Walking ahead of his disciples, Jesus was on the road to suffering and rejection and death on the cross. It was an uphill climb of 3,500 feet (1,066 m) to Jerusalem and a distance of some 17 miles (27 km).
Passover was near and there were great crowds of people, but there were even greater crowds than usual, for many were following Jesus. Mark tells us that “as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him.”
Bartimaeus is sitting on the roadside when he hears the noise of the approaching crowd. He hears the shuffling feet and the hum of voices. He wonders what it is and calls out, “Why all the commotion? What’s going on?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” someone says. “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
“Jesus of Nazareth.” There is no spiritual insight there. In the Gospel of John, when Bartholomew heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The crowd had various opinions about Jesus. They said that he was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the prophets, but they had completely failed to understand that Jesus was not a forerunner of anyone else. He was not a prophet pointing to someone else. He was the one that all the prophets had pointed to. Jesus was himself the focal point of the plan of God. He was the promised One. He was the promised Son of David. He was the Messiah. He was the Word made flesh. He was God in the flesh.
“Jesus is passing by!” That was enough for blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus had already concluded that Jesus was the promised Messiah, anointed and sent to proclaim the recovering of sight to the blind.
Others without faith would have said, “Oh, Jesus is passing. He must be busy. He has no time for me. He is about to leave. There is no hope for me. This is the way I’ve always been. Things will never change for me.”
It might not be enough for us for Jesus to pass by. We would want Jesus to come to us. We would want someone to tell us that he is standing still and looking for us. But this Bartimaeus’ faith is like that of the Syrophoenician woman who would not take no for an answer. When Jesus told her that the children’s bread was not for the puppies, she replied that even the puppies ate the crumbs that fell from the table.
Blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, and that was enough for him. He might otherwise have told himself that Jesus was leaving Jericho and could not stop for a poor blind beggar. But that is not how faith thinks. Faith says, “Now is the time! This is my opportunity! If Jesus is leaving Jericho, I must act now! This may be my only chance!”
Unbelief would have said, “Jesus is surrounded by a great crowd of people. There is no way to get to him. And then, there are his disciples. Jesus is busy with his disciples; he will never hear me.”
The crowd could have been a reason for letting the chance pass him by, but the crowd became his reason to cry out with all his strength. Unbelief would have shut the mouth of Bartimaeus, but faith opened it wide as he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
What about you? How many times has Christ not only passed you by, but knocked at your door, and called out to you? Time and again he has invited you,
Mat 11:28 (ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Isa. 55:1 (ESV) “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Jn. 7:37 (ESV) … “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.
Rev. 22:17 (ESV) The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires, take the water of life without price.
The poor blind beggar did not have the encouragements and invitations that you have had. Bartimaeus did not have multiple opportunities to call upon Jesus as you have had, and yet he did not waste the one opportunity that he received. How many times have you heard the gospel message? How many times have you heard Christ calling to you? How many times have you been invited to surrender your life to the One who died for you? Wait no longer! Today is the day of salvation. Call upon him and be saved.
3. The Cry of Faith
Mark 10:47-48 (ESV) And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
As soon as hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing his way, he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” But the people rebuke him. “Be quiet! Hold your tongue, man! This is Jesus passing by. He has no time for the likes of you!”
Yet, Mark tells us that Bartimaeus will not be silenced. No amount of opposition can shut him up. “He cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Do not interrupt the Master!”
“Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus would not be denied.
In the Old Testament, Jacob wrestled with the angel and declared, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
Bartimaeus was determined. He was desperate. He had no other hope: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
That is what faith looks like. If you are to be saved, your call must be one of desperation. Bartimaeus did not repeat some sinner’s prayer. He was not quoting some memorized text. This prayer was the cry of his heart. The gates of heaven are only opened to those who know how to knock. Your eyes will never be opened until your mouth is opened.
True prayer is like Mount Yashur. It may or may not be loud, but it has fire inside. It erupts in the burning lava that shoots up toward heaven and finds its way to God.
Have you called out to Christ in prayer? It was not a one time thing with Bartimaeus. He called out again and again. In earnestness he persevered until he was heard.
The man or woman who finds grace with God is the one whose desire for grace is greater than the obstacles to grace. His prayer will not be stopped by the opposition of family or friends or even religious authorities who try to silence him. His prayer is desperate because he has come to understand his great need of Christ. When your sinful flesh and Satan and your own heart would cause you to cling to the comfort of your rags of sin and be quiet, it is time to cry out all the louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
This man’s prayer was simple. He did not find his prayer in a prayer book. It was not a flowery oration. His prayer was not filled with impressive theological terms. He had simply recognized that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of David. The words that came from his lips were first formed in his heart. They expressed his deepest desire for mercy.
Above the noise of the crowd and the voice of the teacher comes the piercing cry again and again, getting louder and louder each time it is repeated… until finally, Jesus stopped in his tracks.
Jesus will not ignore the earnest cry for help. He stops. He looks around. He sees a man who cannot see him. There on the roadside sits blind Bartimaeus, calling out to him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:49 (ESV) And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”
Miserable friends! Moments before, they had tried to shut him up. Now that Jesus was calling, they want to help him: “Cheer up, “they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” (NLT).
Here we see…
4. The Obedience of Faith
Mark 10:50 (NLT) Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus called. Bartimaeus answered. There was no waiting. No hesitation. No one needed to convince him. No one dragged him to Jesus. Bartimaeus threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
Why have you not yet come? Did you not hear Jesus when he called you?
Matthew 11:28 (NLT) … “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Will you not come now? Get rid of your rags of sin and self-righteousness, and come. Do not think that he is not calling you.
- He calls all who are weary.
- He calls all who carry the heavy burden of sin.
- He calls all who are thirsty for true life.
He is calling you.
Mark 10:51 (CSB) Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” “Rabbouni,” the blind man told Him, “I want to see!”
Bartimaeus knew what he needed from Jesus. There was no stammering, no stuttering, no, “Well, I don’t really know what to ask.”
Bartimaeus was clear: “Lord, I want to see!”
Jesus came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. If you have heard his invitation to you, find a place to pray and tell him without hesitation that you want forgiveness. Just tell him straight. Confess your sins to him, all of them. Hold nothing back. Just say, “Lord, I beg you to forgive me for my drunkenness, my filthy mouth, my lies, and…” whatever else you have been guilty of.
Ask him to keep you from these sins in the future. Tell him about your hard heart. Ask him to give you a new heart. Ask him to help you to set your heart on Christ himself.
As you call out to the Lord from the depths of your heart, he will hear and answer you. He will open your spiritual eyes so that you may see clearly. You come to him bearing your sin and your shame, and in an instant, your sin is forgiven and buried in the depths of the ocean. You are a child of God and an heir of salvation.
Mark 10:52 (ESV) And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
This man is no longer blind Bartimaeus. He is forevermore “seeing Bartimaeus.” Now that he can see, what does he want to see? Does he rush to see his father, or mother, or sister, or brother? Does he not want to go see the temple in Jerusalem? Does he not want to see the mountains and flowers and ocean?
No. There is one thing that his man wants to see. He wants to see the man who opened his eyes. “Immediately he recovered his sight and followed Jesus in the way.”
When a man comes to Christ, when his blinded eyes have been opened to the truth of the gospel and the glory of Christ, he wants to serve Christ. He wants to tell others that his sins have been forgiven. He sings a new song.
Now you see this man in the crowd, the one whose face is full of joy? He no longer looks like a blind beggar because he has been touched by grace. His eyes have been opened and joy has filled his heart. That man could be you.
Jesus Christ was passing by. He would never be in Jericho again. If Bartimaeus had not called out to Jesus, he would be blind for the rest of his life. Christ and salvation are offered to you now. Will you let him pass you by? You may not hear his call again. How much better to call him now and ask him to open your eyes that you may see the glory of his salvation.
 Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, “The Blind Beggar.” Also referenced: Alexander McLaren and commentaries by James Edwards and Robert Stein.
See also “Gospel of Mark”:
- Mark 01v01-11, “The Gospel of Mark”
- Mark 04v01-24, The Parable of the Sower
- Mark 06v06-13 The Global Mission of the Church
- Mark 06v45-52 “The One Who Walks on Water”
- Mark 07v01-23 “How Can I Be Clean?”
- Mark 07v24-30 “Jesus among the Gentiles”
- Mark 07v31-37 “He does all things well!”
- Mark 08:01-21, “Do you not yet understand?”
- Mark 08v22-26, “Men As Trees, Walking”
- Mark 08v27-38, “Who do you say that I am?”
- Mark 08v34-9:1, “What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?”
- Mark 08:38-09:13, “A Risk Worth Taking”
- Mark 09v14-29, “Weak Faith and a Strong Savior”
- Mark 09v30-50, Defining Greatness on the Way to the Cross
- Mark 10v01-12, “God’s Plan for Marriage”
- Mark 10v17-31, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
- Mark 10v32-45, Walking with Jesus on the Way to the Cross
- Mark 10:46-52, “The Man Who Stopped Jesus”
- Mark 11v01-33, The Triumphal Entry and Judgment on the Temple
- Mark 12v01-12, Parable of the Wicked Tenants