“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”
In the early part of the morning the Blind Man left his humble dwelling place. A special friend had come to take him by the hand to his usual place on the highway outside the streets of Jericho. In the open air, subject to the changing weather conditions, the Blind Man would sit to beg for alms while listening to the passing traffic. His ears had grown sensitive to various sounds as body senses compensated for the loss of sight. The Blind Man could focus on distinct noises and filter out what he needed to understand. If those who spoke were standing near enough to the Blind Man sitting by the side of the road, he overheard what was being discussed. In this way he gathered news, and local gossip.
One day the Blind Man heard part of a conversation that thrilled his heart. Stories were beginning to circulate throughout Palestine about a young Carpenter from Nazareth. Some people said that he was Elijah the prophet. Others said no, he was John the Baptist. Still others insisted He was the Messiah that should come.
Not all the comments were positive. Most of the Scribes and Pharisees spoke of the Carpenter in terms of contempt. They said that He was a glutton, and drank too much wine. They said His power to heal came from Beelzebub.
said the Blind Man upon hearing that.
“Power? Does He have the power to heal? Mister! Tell me! Is it true? Has the Young Rabbi really healed someone?”
Most of those talking ignored the Blind Man and moved on. Time passed, but the news about the Man from Galilee did not cease. His fame grew, rapidly spreading from one end of Palestine to the other.
No one could deny that Jesus was attracting a large following. He spoke with authority, with majesty, and with beauty. Those who came under the sound of His voice remembered the sweet words that dropped like honey from His lips. His presence was commanding, and His words were revolutionary. In His presence people fell and called Him Lord. Day after day the Blind Man heard the stories associated with Jesus of Nazareth. Faith grew in the Blind Man’s heart.
“Oh, if I could only meet the Man from Galilee,”
he thought. From heaven God the Father heard the prayer of the Blind Man.
One day, during His ministry, Jesus of Nazareth had to go to Jericho. As the woman at the well needed to drink of the living waters of life, there was a Blind Man who needed to see the Son of Righteousness. It was no accident that Jesus went to Jericho. It was not a mere happy chance that the Lord of glory passed by. Before the foundation of the world God the Father decreed that a blind man would hear the chatter of an excited crowd, and ask what the commotion was all about. Before time began it was ordained that someone would tell the Blind Man,
“Jesus of Nazareth is passing this way.”
The Blind Man almost stopped breathing with excitement. He struggled to get to his feet but could not. Disoriented, he turned his body first one way and then another. The Blind Man tried desperately to discern which direction the crowd was moving and where Christ might be in the crowd, but there was too much confusion. Not sure where Jesus was the Blind Man began to shout.
“Jesus, thou Son of David! Have mercy on me!
Again, he shouted. Louder.
“Jesus, thou Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
And still a third time he called, his voice growing more desperate, and his actions more intense. Those nearest the Blind Man resented his loud voice, and his demanding ways. But he did not care.
Hope was near. The Blind Man would not be silenced.
Nothing was going to keep him from Jesus. When told to be silent the Blind Man cried out louder. His soul was enraptured with the Lord of Glory. The Blind man was going to put all of his faith and trust in the Son of David.
And suddenly his faith was rewarded, for Jesus stood still. The Lord stopped moving to receive this poor soul that was searching for Him. Then came the divine summons. Jesus commanded the man to come. “And immediately they called the blind man saying, Be of good cheer, rise, he calleth thee.”
Upon hearing this, the man arose casting off his outer garment. He wanted to move as quickly as he could to Christ. Suddenly the two were together. The creature stood before his Creator. The Sovereign gazed upon His subject to ask, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The Blind Man said,
“Lord, I want to see. I want my sight.”
And Jesus said unto him,
“Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”
The story of the healing of Blind Bartimaeus is spiritually the story of how a soul is saved. The Bible says that every person is born spiritually blind, like Bartimaeus was born physically blind. It is something natural in the Fallen condition of man. There is no sight to see spiritual realities. The soul of the natural man is in a helpless, and hopeless state and needs to be led by another.
But in Sovereign grace the Lord passes by. In matchless mercy the gospel is preached. It is the wonder of all wonders that the person of Christ is presented in such a way that the heart is awakened, excited, and hope lives.
Before Christ passes by, a person is inclined to accept the natural fate of his condition but when Jesus comes there is a new longing to be different, and to be saved. The word “saved” does not seem to be used much today, but it should be used often because it reveals a struggle between life and death.
I have seen such a struggle physically. When I was a senior in high school I worked at a local 7-11 store in Dallas, Texas, on the corner of Edgefield and Twelfth. I worked from 11 at night to 7 o’clock in the morning. I had an apartment on Sunset Street in Oak Cliff. There was a swimming pool in the apartment complex.
One afternoon I heard a lot of commotion near the pool. People had gathered suddenly in response to the cries of a young mother. Her toddler had fallen into the pool and was drowning. A man jumped into the pool, clothes and all, to rescue the child. Long moments passed and then he burst to the surface of the water clutching the babe in his arms. Water was forced from the little body and the child was saved. In this ordeal there was a real life and death struggle that took place.
What is true physically, is true spiritually; there is a life and death struggle that is going on, and people once understood how serious it all was. In the sermons of the 1800’s and until the 1930’s of last century the theme of being “saved” was constant.
Then the vocabulary altered, and ministers started talking about being “converted” which means, “to change one’s mind.” By the 1950’s the emphasis shifted again from “conversion” to being “committed,” or “making a “decision”. What all of this means is that the language of salvation has given way to something far less desperate.
No longer are people presented with a sense of urgency about their souls. There is casualness to the gospel message, and worse, it is totally man centered in emphasis. Today, it is possible for people to go to church because they have changed their minds about not going, it is possible for people to become more committed about spiritual matters without ever crying out like Blind Bartimaeus,
“Lord, I want to be healed!” “Lord, I want to see!”
However, let the heart be awakened by the work of the Holy Spirit, let there be a clear understanding of how desperate the situation is and then there will be a cry,
“Lord, I want to be saved!”
As the story of Blind Bartimaeus sets forth the desperate condition of the natural man, so his life reflects another spiritual truth: salvation comes because of a divine calling. The Bible says that Jesus commanded Bartimaeus to come, and so he was brought to Jesus. This effectual call mirrors the effectual call of the gospel, which brings those who will be saved face to face with Christ.
When the effectual call comes to the heart it will want to be saved; no one has ever been redeemed apart from their will. The Lord knows how to make the soul willing in the day of Divine redemption. It is a glorious day when the heart is made willing. It is a day of rejoicing when the heart cries out,
“Jesus, thou Son of David, Have mercy!”
When that day comes, when divine pity is rendered, there is not only salvation, but sight. Bartimaeus opened his eyes, and he saw against the blue drop of heaven the face of the Son of God. He saw Jesus. And the question comes,
“Have you seen Jesus?”
With the eye of faith,
“Have you seen the Lord?”
“Have you seen Jesus as a baby in the cradle?”
Have you seen Jesus as a young boy of twelve in the Temple telling his anxious parent,
“I must be about my Father’s business”?
Have you seen Jesus being baptized?
Have you seen Christ preaching on the Mount of Olives?
Have you seen Christ breaking bread to feed the five thousand?
Have you seen Christ walking on the water to His fearful disciples?
Have you seen Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Have you seen Christ being arrested under the ominous glare of torches in the middle of the night?
Have you seen Christ being spit upon, and crowned in mockery with thorns?
Have you seen Christ dragged through the streets of Jerusalem, and then crucified on a Cross-outside the city?
Have you seen Jesus laid in love in a new tomb?
Have you seen Jesus resurrected?
Have you seen the Lord in His glorified state?
Have you ever, in all your life, looked full into His wonderful face to let the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace?
If not, then call upon Christ, for He calleth for you.