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4501 Waller Rd E
Tacoma, Washington
INI
14th Sunday after Pentecost
August 30, 2015
Ascension Lutheran Church, Tacoma WA
Paul Naumann, Pastor

BARTIMAEUS: A BLIND MAN
WITH PERFECT VISION
Mark 10:46-52

Grace, mercy, and peace be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, Amen. Today we look to the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, beginning with the 46th verse, as follows:

Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 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 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" 49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, "Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you." 50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. 51 So Jesus answered and said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight." 52 Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road. So far the Holy Word.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came "to give freedom to the captives and sight to the blind," Dear Fellow Redeemed,

Jonathan Swift, a British author of the early 18th Century, once said, "Vision is the art of seeing things that are invisible." Any businessman can read a stock report; but the one who can see a stock that will double in value within a year has vision. Any architect can look at a parking lot in downtown New York; but the one who can see a towering skyscraper there in its place has vision.

Mr. Swift isn't the only one with a definition of vision. The Bible has one, too -- only in the Bible, it's called "faith." The writer to the Hebrews says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -- 11:1. Christian faith sees things that are invisible, too. In fact, faith is the only way to see the things that are most important in life - infinitely more important than money or real estate could ever be! You think I'm exaggerating? -If so, then you'd better pay attention. Because today our Lord gives us a lesson on vision -- from a blind man! Our theme is:

BARTIMAEUS: A BLIND MAN
WITH PERFECT VISION

I. He saw himself perfectly.
II. He saw his Savior perfectly.
III. He saw his prayer answered perfectly.

The events of our text occurred during the last week before Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, and His route took Him through the town of Jericho. As He was leaving Jericho, with His disciples and a big crowd of people around Him, there was a sudden commotion. Somebody was yelling His name! And that's how Jesus met Bartimaeus - A BLIND MAN WITH PERFECT VISION.

It's hard to imagine a worse physical handicap than blindness. Scientists say that 90% of the information the brain receives comes from the eyes, and only 10% from the other four senses of hearing, smell, taste and touch. To a blind man, the world of color and beauty is closed. The only color he knows is black, the only shade, darkness. In our society we have programs to help offset the tragedy of blindness - social security, federal aid, job training, etc. But in ancient Israel, there was only one way to survive if you were a blind man -- and that was to beg.

Bartimaeus was a blind man. Because of that he was also a penniless beggar, unable to earn a living except from the small gifts of others. Now they came to Jericho. As [Jesus] went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 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!"

One thing about being blind is that it's pretty hard to kid yourself about it. You can't fool yourself into thinking you can see when you can't. You can't pretend to be a rich man when you're gnawing at a crust of bread. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he didn't pretend to be something that he wasn't. He didn't show any pride before Jesus, because he had nothing to be proud of. He didn't offer Jesus anything - he had nothing to offer. He merely begged for Jesus' mercy. Bartimaeus knew exactly who and what he was, and in that respect, at least, he was a blind man with perfect vision. Because he saw himself perfectly!

If only everyone did! Unfortunately, there aren't many people in our world of today who share that vision of themselves. Most people don't think they need a Savior, and can be rather offended if you suggest that they do. Most people tthink they can see their way through life pretty well without Jesus - failing to realize that without Christ, they are blind. Paul says that, whether they know it or not, unbelievers "...walk in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them." -- Eph 4:17-18.

What about faithful churchgoers like you? Are you exempt? Not if you come to church with pride in your heart, thinking that you're giving something to God, rather than receiving. Not if you pretend that it's your righteousness, your good works, your upright life that gains you God's favor -- Then you're much more blind than Bartimaeus. At least he saw what his real condition was!

Jesus is passing by our town today. Will we take advantage of this tremendous opportunity? -Only if we have the vision to see ourselves as we really are: blind beggars. By nature we are spiritually blind, and only God's Word can open our eyes. Left to ourselves we are beggars, bankrupt in righteousness and up to our ears in debt on account of the sins each of us has committed. We come to God's house today holding out empty hands to the Lord. Like Bartimaeus, let us only beg for His mercy. Bartimaeus wasn't turned away, and we won't be either!

Bartimaeus was a blind man with perfect vision. Not only because he saw himself perfectly, but because He saw his Savior perfectly. He knew just who Jesus was, and He knew what Jesus could do for him. How can we tell that? This is interesting: we can tell it by the name he used when he called out to Jesus. 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 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"Son of David" was a term used throughout the Old Testament. And it was only used to refer to one specific Person: the coming Messiah, the Savior from sin that the Lord had promised to send. Jesus was the Messiah, and Bartimaeus knew it! Here in his own hometown was the very Son of God, with sovereign power to forgive sins and heal diseases. There may not have been many in the crowd who saw that important fact, but blind Bartimaeus saw it. He saw the chance of a lifetime, so he grabbed it. And he wasn't shy about it, either - he yelled for mercy at the top of his lungs! He made such a scene that the people around him were downright embarrassed. They tried to shut him up, but he just yelled louder.

Well, nobody likes embarrassing scenes. But there is a wrong time to be embarrassed. I took a course in CPR once. They told us that, when a person is choking or in distress and leaves the room, you should always follow them. People often excuse themselves to avoid embarrassment, and then collapse in the bathroom with nobody to help them. It's a strange fact: most people would literally rather die than cause an embarrassing scene! Not Bartimaeus. He needed Jesus' help, and he didn't care who knew about it.

What about you? Are you too embarrassed to ask for Christ's mercy? You'll die if you don't. Will you let pressure from your friends and neighbors keep you from making Christ the center of your life? Believe me, the pressure will come. "A little religion's a good thing," they'll say, "but you don't have to be a fanatic about it. It's nice to go to church once in a while, but don't let religion take over your life!" Maybe they don't say it in so many words, but that's the attitude that comes through. After a while, you can even start thinking that way yourself.

But it's not true! Open the eyes of your faith, and see what the blind man saw. In order to stand accepted before Almighty God, you need a perfect righteousness. You need that righteousness more than the food you eat; you need it more than the very air you breath. Jesus is the One who has the perfect righteousness you need. Jesus is the One who died on Calvary's cross to free you from the guilt of your sins. Jesus is the One who rose again the third day so that you also could rise, one Day, to everlasting life. Jesus is the only One you can turn to for forgiveness, peace of conscience, and eternal life. Everything else in your life - your job, your hobbies, your leisure activities - is insignificant compared to that. Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus saw many people turn away from Him in disillusion and embarrassment. He just wasn't turning out to be the kind of king they wanted Him to be. So they drifted away. They had other things to do, other agendas to fulfill. Jesus asked His disciples, "Will you also go away?" Peter replied, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!"

They say that if you need something from somebody, you first have to get their attention. And Scripture tells us that nothing gets Jesus' attention like a sinner's humble cry for mercy. Of such a person the Lord says, "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him." Psa 91:15. It works every time; it certainly worked for Bartimaeus! Our text says, but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Jesus was busy. He had work to do and an agenda to fulfill. But nothing on His agenda is more important than a humble sinner calling for mercy! Then they called the blind man, saying to him, "Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you." 50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. He may have been a blind man, but Bartimaeus had perfect vision. With the eyes of faith, he saw himself perfectly, and he saw his Savior perfectly. Now he was about to see something else - he was about to see his prayer answered perfectly!

So Jesus answered and said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight." Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight.

Do want to take a Bible challenge? Pull out your Bible when you get home and try to find one instance where a humble sinner asked for something from Jesus -- and failed to get what he asked for! I tried, but I couldn't do it. The tax collector humbly asked forgiveness for his sins, and he got it. The Canaanite woman asked that her daughter be healed, and she got it. Jairus with his daughter, the ten lepers on the road, the paralytic let down through the roof, the woman with an issue of blood, the man with the demon-possessed son, the thief on the cross - and on and on and on and on! It's monotonous! They all asked for Jesus' mercy, and every single one of them received what they asked for! Maybe you're beginning to get the message. God is in the mercy business. God will have mercy on you - yes, even on you! Jesus loves to answer prayer; so ask Him! Put Him to the test every day. As the hymnist puts it: "You are coming to a King - LARGE petitions with you bring!"

Moreover, Jesus cares what happens to you, because He has a stake in you. He is a King who has made you His subject by buying you with own blood. You are extremely valuable to Him! He loves you dearly, and nothing could please Him more than to answer your prayers. The Bible says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." -- Heb 4:16.

Is there an especially grievous sin on your conscience? Come in repentance and ask His forgiveness. Jesus says, "He who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." -- John 6:37. Do you need wisdom to see your way through a problem, relief from a sorrow in your life, help for making it through a tough time? Then I can only say to you what they said to the blind beggar, Bartimaeus: "BE OF GOOD CHEER. Rise, He is calling for you!" Jesus is calling for you. He is waiting to answer your prayer. He is ready and waiting to provide you with exactly the correct solution to whatever the problem is that you are facing right now!

The other day I was reading about a man who was a medical missionary to a remote part of northern India. At the time, the area was particularly affected by a disease that caused progressive blindness. He developed a surgical procedure that would arrest the disease, and naturally people flocked to him for the procedure. Well, you can imagine their immense gratitude at being spared a life of blindness. But their particular Indian dialect has no word for "thank you." Their expression for gratitude is, "I will tell your name." So that's what his patients said to him, "I will tell your name." And that's what they did. Wherever they travelled, they told his name - they shared the good news about a physician who had the power to cure blindness.

My Christian friends, we have the Greatest Physician there is. We must tell His name! He is the One "…Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. -- Ps. 103:3-5. Our Lord Jesus has cured the blindness of unbelief and healed us of disease of sin. We must tell His name! God has given us the faith of Bartimaeus - the ability to see Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin, to see the riches that belong to us in Christ, to see the eternal mansions that our Savior is preparing for our arrival. Let us keep the eyes of our faith fixed on Jesus. And may God grant to our eyes ever more perfect vision, until they see the dawning of His eternal Day. AMEN.