Gospel: Bartimæus

Doug Mitchell, Hatboro, PA

Of the five senses we have, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, sight is arguably the one sense that, if lost, would cause an almost immediate helplessness. As children, we played "hide and seek" in the basement of our home. When the lights were turned off it was pitch black. There was no light at all. It was impossible to see anything. We stumbled, tripped, and bumped into furniture and into each other. The games never lasted very long until someone called for a light to be turned on. I admit that I was one of the boys happy to see the darkness end. The childhood image of how awful it would be to be blind and to live in a world of darkness remains with me.

God uses blindness as a picture of sin in the life of an individual. Why? In our sins we are in darkness; we are truly blind before God. Look at Bartimaeus, a poor, blind, helpless beggar on the outskirts of Jericho. He existed on the scraps provided to him by those who passed by. If you are not saved, if you have never been born again, you are, before God, just as helpless and blind as Bartimaeus (Rom 3:23). If you have never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, if you remain in your sin, you are condemned. John 3:19 teaches that Light (the Lord Jesus Christ) has come to this world, and that the men, women, and children of this world prefer to remain in darkness (blind to their responsibility before God) because their deeds are evil.

Thankfully, Bartimaeus still had the use of another important sense. He could still hear (Rom 10:17). His ability to participate and survive in the world was dependent on his capability to listen. He had heard of Jesus of Nazareth and the miracles He performed (Luke 7:22). Of particular interest to him were the reports of the Lord Jesus and His power to heal physical ailments. He also heard of the teaching of the coming Kingdom of God. With the hardship, struggle, and poverty of his life, Bartimaeus longed for sight; he longed for the peace that would come with a place in the Kingdom of God.

Imagine now this day in the life of this poor helpless beggar when the Lord Jesus passes his way. Urgency filled the heart of Bartimaeus. Presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, he cried out "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many in the crowd told him to be quiet. Instead of listening to those who would have him remain in his blindness and lost condition he cried out even louder: "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!"

With that, the Lord Jesus stopped and commanded that Bartimaeus be brought to Him. How wondrous the detail in this story. This penniless beggar "casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus." He was willing to give up all he had in this world to go to Jesus. The Lord Jesus responded immediately to his act of sincere faith and asked, "What do you want Me to do for you?" Bartimaeus turned his sightless eyes toward the Lord Jesus and said, "Lord, I want to see." The Lord Jesus answered, "Go your way; your faith has healed you." This entire episode likely took just a few minutes. In a moment this man’s life changed completely and he was blessed by a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. When the darkness that filled this man’s life was lifted, and his sight was restored, the very first thing he saw was the face of the Lord Jesus. The answer to how much this meant to Bartimaeus is expressed very simply: "he followed Jesus in the way."

What about you? If you are reading this then physical blindness is obviously not a problem for you. Could it be your problem is far worse? Are you spiritually blind? If you have not had your sins forgiven by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are, before God, a lost and blind beggar living off the unsatisfying scraps this dying world offers. How wonderful to know that the Lord Jesus Christ is seeking sinners at this very moment, even as He did on the Jericho road. Follow the example of Bartimaeus. Call for the Savior. Do not let anyone, or anything, keep you from Him. Confess your sin and ask Him to save you. It is what the Lord Jesus Christ does! "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

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