Yesterday afternoon I preached on Bartimaeus, the blind man, from Mark 10: 46ff.
I. The Plight of Bartimaeus.
Because Bartimaeus was blind he could not appreciate the beauty of the world around him, nor could he direct his way on his own. In the same way, unbelief towards God and his gospel is tantamount to spiritual blindness, resulting in an inability to appreciate the glory of God and the beauty of his holiness, as well as an inability to understand the truths of the gospel and to direct our lives accordingly.
I Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Also, in II Corinthians 4:3, 4 we read, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
The message of the gospel is actually very simple: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) But in spite of the simplicity of the gospel many cannot “see” what it is all about, “[F]or the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1: 18)
This spiritual blindness prevents a person from receiving and rejoicing in the salvation which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no heart has imagined, but which God has prepared for those who love him, and which he has revealed to us through his Spirit. (I Corinthians 2:9, 10)
II. The Persistence of Bartimaeus.
When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Even though he was blind, he had an ardent desire to see. There were some who tried to discourage him. They rebuked him and told him to be silent. But he didn’t allow himself to be discouraged; he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
It may be that we are indeed spiritually blind. We have difficulty understanding the gospel of salvation. It sounds so foolish. But if we really desire salvation with all our heart, if we really want to know God with all our heart, then we musn’t stop searching. Let’s ask God to help us find him and let’s not give up until he answers our prayer. Let’s ask him to help us understand what salvation is all about, what the gospel is all about. We should also do our part: we will have to study the Bible with all our might and get all the help we can get to understand it, but at the same we should be aware that, in the final analysis, it will have to be God himself who has to open the eyes of our understanding.
In Jeremiah 29:13, 14a the Bible says, “You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD.”
Also, in Hosea 6:13 the Bible says, “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD.” If we want to “see” God, if we want to understand the gospel of salvation, then we have to be like Bartimaeus. We should persist in crying out to God to heal the eyes of our heart so that we can see the light of the gospel and understand what it means to be saved.
III. The Profit of Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus’ persistence paid off! Jesus called him and asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus answered, “I want to see.” And Jesus, seeing his faith, healed him and caused him to see.
It may be that we are having difficulty understanding the gospel even though it has been explained to us countless times with all clarity and simplicty. What prevents us from seeing “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4b) is our unbelief, our tendency to judge the Word of God according to the standards of human wisdom.
But if, in spite of this tendency towards unbelief, we have an ardent to desire to be saved, and we persist in humbly crying out to God, “Lord have mercy on me. Help me to see. Help me to overcome my unbelief! Help me to put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Help me to appreciate what the word of the cross is all about. Give me ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,’ (II Corinthians 4:6) – then the promise is this: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)