TEXT:          Mark 10:46-52; Deut. 24:12-13


INTRO:       What’s important to God?  Who’s important to God?  Jesus’ followers were suffering from “tunnel vision” … a form of disease that allows the person to only see a very limited field of vision.  Along comes a completely blind man, the next stage after tunnel vision, and shows them what God’s true vision is!  How much “tunnel vision” have we developed in the church?  Have we failed to see who and what is important to God?


How clear is our vision on what God wants, and what God expects of us?  Are we seeing clearly God’s compassion for the lost, or are we satisfied with having a nice loving community of like-minded saints waiting for the rapture?  IF that is the case, we are suffering from a serious condition called “tunnel vision” and should learn again what is important from this story of a BLIND man!


ILLUS:      There is a subtle false teaching that says we can be evangelical without being evangelistic. It has to believe we "go" to church rather than we "are" the church.  -- Chris A Lyons, Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 2.


Sometimes today it takes the most unlikely candidates to help us see clearly again what God’s vision is for this world.


PROP. SENT    The Bible teaches us that God values EVERYONE, literally everyone!  We are not called to focus only on the few who are like us, who are saved and doing well; we are called to save the LOST!!


I.   BARTIMAEUS – THE MAN   Mark 10:46-48


A.   No Name!   Mark 10:46   

1.   This guy was on the fringes of society by first century Jewish culture.  He lived at the city gates outside of Jericho, a city about 15 miles to the Northeast of Jerusalem.

a.   The “old city” of Jericho in Jesus’ day was pretty desolate, so it may have been the area near the newer city of Jericho just south of the old city.  Herod had built a newer city just south of the old.

b.   The city gates were the normal hangout for beggars, the blind, the indigent – here they could catch people traveling in both directions and beg for alms and practical help.

2.   It is important to catch that Jesus’ travels here included being surrounded by a large crowd of followers.  (Mk. 10:46)

a.   It would have been easy to avoid or miss these beggars with this large crowd around Him.

b.   Jesus was on a mission – the crowd was with Him on the mission as well … and the mission for the crowd did not concern these outcasts.

c.   Sometimes the church forgets the people at the fringes of society!

3.   So insignificant was this man that he is not even named!

a.   “Bartimaeus” is NOT his name, it was his identity!  “BAR” meaning, “Son of” and “Timoeus” meaning “the unclean!” (Timoeus could have been his father’s name, but the meaning of that name was “the unclean.”)

b.   Hence the combination:  BAR-TIMOEUS (Aramaic) literally meaning, “Son of the Unclean.”

c.   Bad enough that he was blind, but he was the “son of the unclean” as well!  This puts him at the bottom of the barrel culturally.

4.   Though blind, he saw clearly who Jesus was.

5.   I wonder how many people today are desperately trying to find Jesus, they sense their real need – but they get messed up by us disciples trying to push them aside?


ILLUS:      If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.  After all, there are comparatively few people in the world who have great talents.  -- D.L. Moody, Christian History, no. 25.


6.   His vision was better than the disciples!  And, he wasn’t just after money for help; he wanted something better than just money!


B.   No Hesitation!   Mark 10:47

1.   This blind man did not hesitate to call out to Jesus!  In fact, he appears desperate to get Jesus’ attention.

2.   This was not going to be easy with a huge crowd around Jesus, and Jesus’ followers here were not interested in these minority outcasts on the sidelines!  After all, they were on a mission following Jesus!

a.   How about us today?  How do we as a church reach out to those unlike us?  Are we uncomfortable with their handicaps?  (As though we are not still handicapped ourselves!)

b.   Oh yes, we are on a mission too, following Jesus – and sometimes our crowd of beautiful disciples are not that interested in the minority outcasts on the sidelines of our society too!

c.   Of course, after a while we forget how much an outcast we once were!

3.   Bartimaeus is only interested in one thing – getting Jesus’ attention!

a.   It is clear in the next verse that there were literal attempts to shut him up, to quiet him down, to push him aside!

b.   Are we trying to do this today with the outcasts of our society, are we seriously going to ignore the sinners in our culture because they make us uncomfortable, and we don’t like their lifestyles or values?

4.   He shouts over and over again, “Jesus, Son of David, Have mercy on me!”

a.   The “son of the unclean” calls out to the “son of the well-beloved” (the meaning of the name “David”).  In a sense they were polar opposites – the son of the unclean calling out for mercy from the son of the clean!

b.   His cry isn’t for equality, it is for mercy!


ILLUS:     When as a young man Robert Morrison had first sailed to China, he was asked, "Do you really expect to make an impression on the idolatry of the great Chinese empire?" In reply, Morrison spoke more prophetically than he knew: "No, sir, but I expect God will." -- "Hudson Taylor and Missions to China," Christian History, no. 52.


c.   God WILL NEVER ignore the cry of a humble heart!

(1.  Unfortunately, after following Jesus for a bit the large crowd of disciples had lost their original humility from when they first started following Jesus!

(2.  So they were bothered by this guy Bartimaeus and his cries for help. 

(3.  It was messing up their schedule and their mission!  (Really?  Their mission?  They were only traveling from point “A” to point “B”?)

5.   This was Bartimaeus’ chance to get Jesus’ attention!


C.   No Compassion!    Mark 10:48

1.   The crowd of Jesus’ followers rebuked Bartimaeus for calling out to Jesus – can you believe this?

a.   Yet, I wonder if we do this today in our culture, we are REBUKING the kind of sinners we don’t like and make us uncomfortable!

b.   Maybe instead of rebuking all those terrible sinners in our culture we should help them come to Jesus!

c.   After all, it is Jesus’ job to clean them up, not our job!

2.   How radical would the church have to be today in order to truly bring the less savory members of our culture to Jesus?

3.   These followers of Jesus were bothered by Bartimaeus’ constant shouts for attention, are we bothered by those today who are constantly shouting for attention?  Do we wish they would just sit by the sides of our culture and just keep begging while we pass them by (gladly too!) and thus not deal with who they are?  Is it easier to ignore them and actually hope they get their just desserts.


ILLUS:     In his book, Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes, "There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. "Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons, but the instructor wanted $5 a lesson. It was cheaper to pay the bully, so I gave up karate."  Too many Christians believe it's easier to pay the bully than learn how to defeat him. -- Sherman L. Burford. From the files of Leadership.


4.   The more they pressed Bartimaeus to “shut up” the more he shouted.  Maybe we should learn from this, the more the church tries to silence the outcasts of our own cultural identity the louder they may clamor!

5.   So instead of trying to shut them up, maybe we should bring them up to Jesus out of compassion!


II.  JESUS – THE SAVIOR    Mark 10:49-52


A.   No Closed Door!    Mark 10:49

1.   Jesus stopped immediately and said, “Call him!”

a.   Jesus’ reaction was very different from the crowd of follower’s reaction.  His response was immediate and clear - “Call him!”

b.   After all, THIS WAS JESUS’ MISSION!  He came to seek and save that which was lost!

c.   And lest we forget, that is still the Church’s mission!

d.   Being a follower of Jesus isn’t just about being comfortable, or happy, or fulfilled – it is about ministry to the lost!

2.   Any church that isn’t about MISSIONS should not exist!

a.   Home Missions

b.   Foreign Missions (world)

3.   Apparently the crowd of Jesus’ followers at this point finally got the message, notice their new response to the blind man, “Cheer up!  On your feet!  He’s calling you.”

4.   Really?  They changed this quickly!  How interesting that when Jesus ignores their self-righteous indifference to this blind man they immediately change spots!

a.   Now they are telling him to “cheer up!”  I wonder if they suddenly realized they were out of step with Jesus’ concerns at this point.

b.   In a sense, this was a rebuke by Jesus to them!  He was showing them that they were so wrong to hold at bay this man in need, they had forgotten who they represented.


ILLUS:       George Shultz, when Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, kept a large globe in his office.  When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them.  He would say, "You have to go over to the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country."  They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent--unerringly.

    When Shultz's old friend and former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan, even he was put to the test.  This time, however, Ambassador Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: "That's my country."

         On June 27, 1993, Shultz related this to Brian Lamb on C-Span's "Booknotes." Said the secretary: "I've told that story, subsequently, to all the ambassadors going out.  'Never forget you're over there in that country, but your country is the United States. You're there to represent us.  Take care of our interests and never forget it, and you're representing the best country in the world.'" -- Dr. Wallace Alcorn. From the files of Leadership.


4.   At least they responded after Jesus’ rebuke!

a.   While Jesus was happy to travel with all His followers, He was not for a second willing to ignore even one lost soul crying out to Him.

b.   This was a powerful moment as a lesson to all those following Him.


B.   No Doubts!   Mark 10:50; Deut. 24:12-13

1.   Notice that Bartimaeus immediately jumps to his feet and “throws his cloak aside…”

a.   This is more significant than it appears on the surface.  The cloak for the poor was their most important article.  It was their warmth at night, their literal “security blanket” – one of their items of safety and help.  It could literally be used as collateral for a loan or work.

b.   So important was a poor person’s cloak that there were restrictions in the Old Covenant on taking away their cloak.  Notice in Deut. 24:12-13 these words concerning the cloak of the poor:  “If the man is poor, do not go to sleep with his pledge in your possession.  Return his cloak to him by sunset so that he may sleep in it.  Then he will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God.”

c.   So you can see that by Bartimaeus jumping up to “throw his cloak aside” - it was an act of significant faith!  He was literally throwing away his old “security blanket”!  Throwing it off was abandoning his old security; he was expecting something new from Jesus - that is faith!  Though he couldn’t see everything, what he had heard was enough to warrant his faith in Jesus, and he was ready to commit.


ILLUS:       For centuries the islands of New Zealand were unpopulated. No human had ever set foot on them. Then the first settlers arrived. They were Polynesians from other Pacific islands who had sailed a thousand miles in outrigger canoes. The Polynesians came with the purpose of settling in New Zealand. How did they know the land was there? How did they know they would not simply sail across empty seas until food and water ran out and they perished?  The Polynesians had known for generations that land was there because their voyagers had seen a long white cloud on the distant horizon. They knew that when a cloud stayed in one place over a very long period of time, there was land beneath it. They called New Zealand the Land of the Long White Cloud.  Faith is like that. It is voyaging to an unseen land, journeying to an unknown future. But it is not mere guesswork, or chance, or superstition. There are facts behind faith, facts that suggest conclusions.  -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


d.   This action then was like throwing away his faith on the old and jumping with excitement to embrace the new!

2.   He finds himself in the presence of Jesus!

a.   This was a very good place to be!

b.   Though he couldn’t see Jesus – he positioned himself in front of Jesus.


C.   No Darkness!   Mark 10:51-52

1.   Jesus simply asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” 

a.   Jesus was laser focused on Bartimaeus!

b.   Jesus got right to the issue, Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to express what was in his heart, what it was that he wanted.

c.   Jesus doesn’t assume he just wanted money as a beggar.

2.   And Bartimaeus’ answer is just as focused, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

a.   Oddly, the NIV translates the Greek word “Rabbi” from the actual word in the original Greek text which is not rabbi, but “Rabboni” – the word “Rabboni” is only used twice in the NT, here and in John 20:16 (Mary cried this when she recognized Jesus).  It has a greater import as “Rabboni” than simply “teacher” which is the common meaning for “Rabbi”“Rabboni” actually is superlative, meaning “Great One.”  Too bad the translators missed this.

b.   Bartimaeus is crying out to the “Great One” for his eyesight to be restored!

c.   He understood who Jesus was, and in faith asks for his sight to be restored.  He had already thrown away his cloak of security – he won’t have to depend on it as before once he is healed!

3.   What happens next is amazing, Jesus says, “GO – “your faith has healed you.”

a.   Immediately he receives his sight! 

b.   BUT – he doesn’t GO AWAY – instead he follows Jesus along the road!

c.   Would you want to simply GO and leave Jesus after getting your sight!

d.   OF COURSE NOT!  You would want to fix those new working eyes on the one who gave you that sight, and follow Him as long as possible!


ILLUS:       One Mercedes Benz TV commercial shows their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test.  Someone then asks the company spokesman why they do not enforce their patent on the Mercedes Benz energy-absorbing car body, a design evidently copied by other companies because of its success.  He replies mater-of-factly, "Because some things in life are too important not to share."  How true.  In that category also falls the gospel of salvation, which saves people from far more than auto collisions. -- Jim Beranek, Parkersburg, Iowa.  Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3.


4.   Bartimaeus doesn’t want to miss anything Jesus was saying or doing, so instead of going away, he follows Jesus along the road – yes, he joins the followers of Jesus!

a.   When your eyes are open to who Jesus really is, you won’t want to go away either!

b.   This is why I can’t grasp people who call themselves Christians and then could care less about the church, tithing, testifying to others, reaching the loss, supporting missions, or all the other things we believers are supposed to be doing!

c.   When we truly SEE Jesus all we want to do is stay by Him, and help others find Him too!


CONCLUSION:   The story of Bartimaeus demonstrates how quickly we who are followers of Jesus can forget what really counts in following Jesus!  They tried to keep a blind beggar from coming to Jesus because they were busy following Jesus themselves.  Jesus however will hear the cry of ONE above the crowd EVERYTIME!  Instead of us blocking people from coming to Jesus we should be doing everything we can to help them come!  How are you doing with this?  How’s your church doing with this?