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The Bartimaeus Moment

The Bartimaeus Moment

Words of Faith 11-28-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 18:35-43

   As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. [36] When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. [37] They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."

   [38] He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

   [39] Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

   [40] Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, [41] "What do you want me to do for you?"

   "Lord, I want to see," he replied.

   [42] Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." [43] Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.


       When Luke wrote the words "As Jesus approached Jericho,” it was a signal to those reading that the long journey was almost over. We are almost to Jerusalem. The travel section of Luke's Gospel is concluded and Jesus is now at a town that was the gateway for travelers from the north and east.

       Jesus was literally turning the corner toward Jerusalem at the town of Jericho. Jericho is north of the Dead Sea at about a thousand feet below sea level. From here the pilgrims would turn west to begin the long and arduous journey winding through the Judean mountains as they marched up to Zion, about 2500 feet above sea level. On the way, they would sing or recite the Psalms of Assent 120-134 as they came over each hill on the journey.

       On the approach to Jericho, a man sat by the side of the road begging. He was the picture of hopelessness and desperation. We learn that his name was Bartimaeus from Mark's Gospel.   We do not know how long he had been blind but he was doing the only thing that blind people in that part of the world could do; he was begging.

       He called out for alms. These were the merciful coins from pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem. There was no Social Security Disability and no Americans with Disabilities Act to afford him access to a job. He had nothing but a life of hopeless darkness. He had spent years listening by the side of the road as coins dropped into a little cloth he spread out.

       So Bartimaeus was used to listening. When he heard the excitement of the crowd, he asked who was coming down the road. When he heard that it was Jesus, he knew that there would be a brief window of opportunity that would quickly pass. Apparently, Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus and with many others suspected that this was the Messiah. There was just a brief critical time when Jesus would be nearby and when that moment came, he responded.

       Bartemaeus called out a proclamation of faith in Jesus: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" He recognized the Messianic connection to the house of David was fulfilled in Jesus. He acted in faith to cry out for 'mercy' as if calling to God Himself.

     The response of those who led the way, probably some of the more prominent disciples, was to rebuke him and get him to be quiet. But he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

       The thing we most often note about Bartimaeus was that he refused to be quiet. Bartimaeus reminds us that there is a place of spiritual desperation in which our very soul cries out for mercy and there is no way to silence that cry. There comes a time for complete abandon and there is no chance of quieting such a voice. For Bartimaeus, waiting was not an option. There would be no more waiting. There were no more chances. There was nothing to do but cry and cry and cry out until there was an answer from the darkness.

       Jesus responded calling for him to be brought near. He asked a curious question: "What do you want me to do for you?" While this should have been obvious, we must realize that not all people who cry out want to see. Not all who are imprisoned want to be free. Not all who are sick want to be well. Some simply want a warm feeling, a bit of money, or a blessing of some sort.

   "Lord, I want to see," he replied.

   Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

       Bartimaeus was healed. He followed Jesus praising God. Other people praised God probably because this was one of the definitive marks of the coming of Messiah-- the blind will see.

       We don't know what happened after this to Bartimaeus. He may have made his very first trip to Jerusalem. His life was surely changed and he was probably a difficult one to shut up.

       The healing of Bartimaeus leaves us with a powerful image regarding our response to the coming of God's grace. When we think about our existence without God's grace we realize we are all blind beggars by the side of the road. We hope for a few coins to make our way. But there is a "Bartimaeus moment" in which the Spirit of God draws us near and we must cry out into the darkness for the Lord to have mercy on us.

     We hear about the coming of God into the darkness. We hear the rumors about the Messiah of God and there comes a moment when we realize that the Light is actually near. For the darkness to end we must seize this Bartimaeus moment and cry out for mercy, no matter what anyone says. It is a move of the Spirit within us that will not allow us to shut up. That is the Bartimaeus moment.

       But there is more. The query of the Lord is a hard one. What do you want? It is not always obvious. Do you really want to see? Or do you prefer the darkness? It sounds crazy but apparently some prefer the darkness.

       "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." What wonderful words. In complete surrender we receive God's great blessing.

       Have you cried out to God? Have you been begging in the darkness for a long, long time? Seize the moment. Now is the time.


       Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Open my eyes to see You and to see the wonder of Your salvation. Open my heart to receive the mercy and grace that the Father has sent this way in You. Make me whole. In Jesus' name.