February 25, 2018

Faith Is Never Blind: – Bartimaeus - “The Vision and Boldness to Ask the Impossible” Beautiful Message...♥

written by Pastor James
[source: Rose City Park Church]

It’s an ordinary story – a familiar setting. Jesus is walking out of the city of Jericho and a man asks for Mercy – He stops – calling the man. The beggar comes and in compassion he heals him. So what is the big deal – How can this story assist me in my walk with God?

Well – let’s open our minds … allow the Spirit to guide and listen without judgment or bias. May I ask that you join me in prayer?

PRAYER – “Gracious Lord of Love – be with us as we open Your Word – that our hearts may discover new means to find depth in our relationship with you. Speak to every heart that is searching for answers this morning … and unbind those hearts that feel they need no answers. Open our soulful eyes, we pray. In Christ’s name, Amen.”

JERICHO – 17 miles NE of Jerusalem is the city of Jericho. The Hebrew name is Ruach – meaning “City of Fragrance.” You remember the story of the “Walls of Jericho” – how that Joshua with his priests and people to march around the city for seven days – and on the seventh – marching around it seven times – the trumpets blew and the people shouted and the walls fell flat – because of a thing called faith – that dwelled within the hearts of Israel.

WALLS OF JERICHO – Fourteen centuries later – the city was still a hub of trade. It was an oasis in the middle of a wilderness. In fact tradition has it that when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan – it was in the dessert near to Jericho. The road to Jerusalem was – and still is quite dangerous. Rocks and crags jut our along the way – so that (as in the Good Samaritan story) there was an opportunity for robbers to take advantage of travelers along that road.

The story takes place in the spring – during the third year of Jesus’ ministry – in fact he is going to Jerusalem to face his foes – one of them being death. Now, Jesus is leaving Jericho for Jerusalem … there is an exquisite fragrance in the air from the balsam and rose gardens. The people are filled with joy – not only in the coming festival in the Holy City of Passover – but the arrival of this folk hero – a man called Jesus of Nazareth. The road out of Jerusalem was clogged with many people – lots of noise – laughter, talking, questions. The large gate is before him and over to the side as with most communities are the beggars of the city – asking for alms. As today, these are the “Invisible People.” Just ignore them – and go about your business. But today there arose a commotion. A man is yelling at the tops of his lungs. It is a familiar beggar’s face – the son of Timaeus – in fact that is his name

BAR-TIMAEUS – You probably have heard of family names like that of Thomason or Smithson – this was the son of Timaeus … or Bar-Timaeus. We know that at one time he could see – but now begged for a living because he was blind. Most Hebrew people would consider that he was blind because of some sin he or his parents had committed. Those who were blind were considered the edge or fringe of society. Without sight, they could not read, were dependant upon others for food, for direction, or sustenance. Bartimaeus no doubt had heard of this Man of Nazareth – of his amazing teachings and the miraculous miracles. The affirmation of a certain Messiah was the fact that the lame would walk and the blind would see – the deaf will hear – and that good news would be proclaimed to the poor. A life changing possibility to Bartimaues – the reception of sight again. I have been pondering which might be worse: someone born blind or one who had lost his sight. Presently I have concluded that to have known the gift of amazing vision and lost it is a greater tragedy. Bartimaeus could not travel – the one who might be able to grant his deepest desire was here … on his street at his gate. To let this opportunity pass was not an option. So with all of his might he yelled and waved his arms, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Over and over again. The Pharisees and city leaders glanced with distain at the dirty beggar man and motioned with their heads that someone should quiet this mad man. He was an embarrassment to the city. But no matter how his friends and officials tried to quell his calls, he yelled even louder. He was not going to let this possibility pass him by.

Did you ever let an opportunity pass? What keeps us from taking hold of opportunities? Fears of discouragement? Disappointment? Opposition? In the South it is often named, “Receiving a Woopin’ from the Lord.” // But Bartimaeus who had nothing – but faith and foolishness brought forth his rallying prayer before this man, the Son of God. Another question that comes to mind was – “Why discourage and try to quell the hopes and possibilities of this pitiful soul? Even those who begged along side of Bartimaeus tried to quiet him in his pleas.

QUESTION: Do we ever try to douse seekers of God? Or discourage those who try to discover God in unconventional ways?

Remember: the disciples rebuked the children – and Jesus said, “Forbid them not to come.” Simon the Pharisee condemned the sinful woman – and Jesus let her bath his feet with her tears. Judas blamed the waste of ointment – but Jesus said, “She has done a good work.” We should never forget that God is always open to our pleas and prayers for help and love. No?

And one more matter … do you notice the difference in the crowd and Bartimaeus? They called this celebrity “Jesus of Nazareth.” The son of Timaeus crowned him with the titles, “Son of David” and “Rabonnai” – “My Master.” The title was reserved for the Redeemer – the Messiah – Son of the Almighty God. Can you palatably feel the faith of Bartimaeus? Do you hear his prayer – his desperate cry for help … for a miracle … for a blessing?

“JESUS OF NAZARETH” – “SON OF DAVID” – Back to the story …. It’s at this point in the story that an amazing thing happened. The parade stopped – because Jesus himself stood still to look with a smile at Bartimaeus. // What does it mean for someone to stop and give their full attention to what you are saying?

JESUS STOPPED – To the crowd he said, Call him. Look at Bartimaeus – his mouth wide open – in unbelief. His friends nudged him and said, “Don’t just sit there – Get up. Jesus is calling for you!!” Like a Jack out the Box – Bartimaeus – sprung up … in fact the Greek meaning for the word is “sprung up.” He threw of his outer cloak and made his way toward the voice of Jesus. Jesus grasps his hands to stabilize and assure him that his destination has been reached. Then a very strange question came from Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is apparent what Bartimaeus’ needs – why ask such obvious question? Yet in reality, when reading the question from the Greeek, the question sounds like a servant who asks his Master what he might need after being summoned. “What can I do for you?”

“What do you want me to do for you?” – Don’t you see – he honors this man as an image of God – and is empowering him with the right to respond as he sees fit. Jesus embraces us all as equals. AMAZING! We give Bartimaeus pity – Jesus gives him preference. With the hope of the ages – Bartimaeus responds, “My Master, I want to see again.” In almost a whisper - Jesus says, “Then Go – your faith has healed you.” And as he turned – light came into Bartimaeus’ life and eyes. Imagine: Bartimaeus’ - in darkness - had cried to the Light of the world and had received not only vision – but confirmation that he was a loved child of God! Can you think of any sight more glorious than after being blind for years and years – and the first sight to see was the Son of God smiling at you? Unbelievable!

The next scene is remarkable. Jesus turns to head toward Jerusalem – the point of his crucifixion and around him we see a dancing Bartimaeus – who became a traveling companion to Christ … as he leaves his daily cup of coins and his old beggars wrap with the other fragments of his old life.

As we bring the story home – to our lives and our community. Some of the points are obvious:
  • Bartimaeus didn’t have much – but he possessed many qualities that the Lord seeks in God’s children: passion, perseverance, humility, persistence, the courage to seize an opportunity, and most of all – faith in God’s ability to work through us.
  • Jesus calls us out of spiritual darkness into God’s Marvelous Light!
  • Bartimaeus’ prayer sprang from a soul with need – but it was more than words – for heart and faith are the primary ingredients of our petitions to the Father.
  • Sometimes like Bartimaeus we need to cast off every weight that encumbers us and run the race of life that is set before us. The question is: What is your weight?
  • “But God would never pick me” – no talents – no gifts. It is a fact that God usually selects the most unlikely. Bartimaeus wasn’t beautiful – in man’s eyes he was pitiful – socially, physically, and spiritually. But there are beauties to God that reach beyond vision and appearance …. Honesty, purity, holiness, kindness and compassion … are just a few.
Bartimaeus asked for mercy – he knew that Christ had come to Jericho to bring a piece of God …. a fact he had a strong conviction in. In the entire crowd – it is amazing that he had the eternal vision that connected himself with Jesus. If we only could be that faithful – and reach beyond ourselves – to be fools for all of God’s children!


Opportunities. Bartimaeus used his opportunity – not only to receive sight – but to find God. opportunities are gifts from God – to help us demonstrate His care and compassion to our world. BUT JESUS DOESN’T PASS OUR WAY … You have eyes, but do not see.

“As you do for the least of these – you do unto me.” The hungry the orphaned the imprisoned …. If you are in tuned to the spirit – If you are connected with God you will feel Christ passing as you sing a hymn … or pray – or read God’s Word – or in a kindness received – or in the sharing of Communion. Blindness is the result of not seeing things that are apparent. May we stop looking with our eyes and begin to see with our hearts and souls.

Jesus is passing. “But James, I don’t see him.” Neither did Bartimaeus. Neither did the Lambs who were invited into heaven. When did we see you hungry – or thirsty – or naked? And Christ will say unto them. “As you did unto the least of these my brethren – you did unto me.”

Jesus Christ is passing – HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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