Realizing our desperate need, we ought to trust the omnipotent Christ for salvation, willing to follow him in this life knowing that soon he will take his great power and begin to reign over all things.
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Made Right with God-Part 5
Christ’s Life-Changing Power
Pastor Mike Fabarez
Well I, like 12% of the rest of the males in America, am colorblind. I’m colorblind, which doesn’t mean I see in grayscale. So don’t ask me what color is this. What do you see? I see color, I just don’t see as many colors as most of you. Matter of fact, mine’s a pretty severe case, so they say, my colorblindness, I can probably see of a color about 10 different hues of that color. You can see, if you have good sight, you can see probably 100 hues of that color. So I have quite a deficiency in that regard. I remember the day I found out, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in third grade, I went to the nurse’s office, they did something that they were supposed to do with all the students to make sure we were human or whatever, take our temperature, our blood pressure. And so, one of the things they sat down with the colorblindness test. They’re called Ishihara Plates. They are those pages with those circles of all those little different colored dots. And she opened the book and she laid it out and she’s in public schools just, you know, a cattle call, all the kids are coming through and she opens it and says, “What number do you see?” And I looked at her, I looked at the page, I looked at her, I look at the page and I thought she was crazy. I said, “I see a circle, a zero.” And she goes, “No, no. There’s a number in there.” I responded, “I don’t know.” She flipped the page. Now she starts to pay attention. Right? She’s got one and she says, “Well, what number do you see here?” I said… I literally thought this was one of those Emperor-Has-No-Clothes tests, like it was a psychological test, am I going to be open to suggestiveness or you know. I’m like, “I don’t see anything?” You know, I went page after page after page in that colorblind test and struck out. No idea. I don’t see any color.
I remember going home that day and I was told I was color blind, I had no idea. And actually, to this day, I really have no idea because I am blind to whatever I’m blind to and I just don’t see those things and there may be a lot of colors there, I just see the colors that I can see.
But you sit there, pompous, seeing all the colors that you see. Right? Do you feel good about your good eye sight? Smile at me if you feel good about your eyes. You see all the colors, right? Well, no, you don’t. You don’t see all the colors. Go home today, take your remote control, point it at the TV, press a button and see if you see any red coming out of the end of your remote control. “No, nothing comes out.” No, there’s a shade of red that comes out of the end of your remote control, but no one in the room sees it. See? Matter of fact, they’ve got a name for that red, they call it infrared. Why? Because it’s beyond the spectrum of what your eyeballs can decode. You cannot see that, it’s in the wrong wavelength. It’s called infrared.
Or on vacation when your kids corral you to the Glow Putt in the strip mall in North Carolina or whatever, and you have to go do that thing and all those black lights are there. They call them black lights but they’re really lights with violet coming out, it’s flooding the room with violet light. The problem is you can’t see it. I mean your shoelaces, you can see the effects of it, or your dental work, or you know the ball, of course, that you’re putting around. But you can’t see that light and we’ve got a name for that shade of violet, it’s called ultraviolet because you can’t see it. It’s violet, it’s there, but you’re blind to that color coming out of the end of your infrared remote. You’re blind to the violet that’s flooding out of those lights. That room is full of light, it’s just the color of light that your eyeballs can’t see because you’re blind to whatever you’re blind to. It may be there but you cannot perceive it.
Jesus loved this analogy in his teaching to make the connection about the truth that may be standing right in front of your face but you do not have the ability to perceive it. And it doesn’t matter if you can perceive it or not, it’s there and Jesus tried to make this point all of the time. The truth is the truth whether you believe it or not. The truth is the truth whether you perceive it or not. When it comes to what we’ve been dealing with in Luke Chapter 18, when it comes to getting right with the living God, if Jesus Christ and trust in this person, this historical person, if you are trusting in him for salvation, is the only way to get right with your maker, it doesn’t matter if every single person in this room does not see it that way. It does not matter. The truth is the truth regardless. If you’re blind to it, you’re just blind to it, it doesn’t change the reality. Jesus loved this analogy in Scriptures. Matter of fact, I went through the Gospels, there are 45 references in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, 45 references to our eyes. There are 47 references to blindness. Now I know a lot of times references to blindness and eyeballs are dealing with physical eyeballs in the eye sockets of your cranium and sometimes we’re dealing with blindness, people that cannot see the photons bouncing off the back of their eyeballs. That’s all true in some cases, but most of the time when eyes or blindness is discussed in Scripture, we’re not talking about the physical realities. These are analogies, these are teaching lessons to tell people about the fact that some of us are not perceptive to the truth that may be right in front us, and we have lots of reasons we want to filter that truth out, but we’re blind to it. I went further and found over 200 references to our seeing, our sight and our vision, all related concepts and terms and themes in the Gospels, just in the Gospels alone. And interestingly enough, it seemed to be the favorite kind of person that Jesus healed. There are seven different blind men who Jesus heals in his ministry. Seven.
Now that’s an interesting thing as we reach our passage today where we encounter one of those blind men. I’d love for you to turn to that in Luke Chapter 18 verses 35 through 43 and in this passage we have a conversion of a blind man. Now what he sees certainly is, in context, literally and physically and absolutely we’re dealing with the photons that are processed through the, you know, the visual cortex of his brain. We are talking about real vision. But that’s not why this story is here and that’s not the connection that we’re to make. As a matter of fact, the next passage we’re going to get into, and this division in the chapter comes at a weird spot because we need to continue our theme here of getting right with God, which started with Jesus telling a parable about a temple mount and a Pharisee and a tax collector, one went home justified and the other one didn’t.
And as he talks about justification, what it means to get right with the living God, we deal with two different conversions just in the city of Jericho. One right outside and one in the city of Jericho and we have this discussion in the end of Chapter 18 that we’re going to deal with today, which is a man who’s not named by name here, but he is in Mark and his name is Bartimaeus. And we have in Chapter 19 verse 1 you’ll see starts the story of Zacchaeus. Now Jesus, as you remember, is moving his way toward Jerusalem for the Passover and it’s the week where, the Bible says, the Passover Lamb is going to be slain and that’s Christ himself, so it’s the Passion Week of Christ, we call it, when he goes to get crucified. And on his way, he’s 17 miles away from Jerusalem as he comes to Jericho. And as he comes to Jericho, if you’ve ever been over there or you know the geography, we’ve got a big steep grade you got to go up the craggy rocks on the road to Jericho. Actually, this is the road from Jericho to Jerusalem and it’s at least a four or five hour walk and that’s at a decent pace if you’re healthy walking up that road from Jericho to Jerusalem. He has quite a ways to go and he’s going to encounter Bethsaida, he’s going to encounter Bethany, then he’s going to get to Jerusalem, he’s going to ride in on the donkey there on Palm Sunday. But before all of that, he encounters two people who we’re going to deal with this week and next week, Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus.
And these are important stories that we need to understand. And when it comes to the blind man, it’s a great illustration, not to mention a historical reality, but a great illustration of what he began talking about and that is our need to get justified, to be right with the living God. And this man gets it. Let’s take a look at it. I’ll read it for you from the English Standard Version beginning in Verse 35. We’ll go to the end of the chapter.
“As he,” that is Christ, “drew near Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.” Of course that’s what blind people did. They didn’t have the social services that we have, he wasn’t on some kind of policy from his insurance agency, he had to go out there and beg for his food. He wasn’t alone, as the other Gospel accounts tell us, as we fill in the details of the story, he’s with others, as you would expect, the beggars begging together. Another blind man was with him, who’s going to get healed as well, but the focus is on this particular one for Luke as he continues this theme of being justified. And this blind man, outside of Jericho, is “hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. And they told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried out, ‘Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you…'” Now, this is the same phrase we saw in Chapter 17 when it came to the lepers. It’s the same phrase we’ve seen elsewhere in the Scripture in Luke when he’s dealing with people who get right with him. You remember in Chapter 17 we had the ten lepers and we used words about what happened to all of them. They were all cleansed and they were all healed. Two different Greek words. But then we get to the end when this man comes back and he bows down and he worships Christ, and Christ says in that passage, “Your faith has saved you.” It’s the same word here, “sozo.” Sozo is the word that is translated elsewhere “to be saved.” As a matter of fact, another form of that word is describing Zacchaeus in Chapter 19 when Jesus says, “Salvation has come to this house.” He didn’t say, “Good health has come to this house.” The word here is sozo, salvation, he’s been saved. Because after all, just to squeeze in a few more clarifying comments here, you don’t need faith to get a healing. I know that’s popularly taught, which is a great little way out of the charlatans who are trying to take your money so that you can get a healing from their magical hands. But in reality, you don’t need faith to get a healing, you understand that. Throughout the Scripture, you could be dead like Lazarus in a tomb and have no faith, you actually have no neurons firing in your brain, and God can say to you, as Jesus said to Lazarus, “Hey, Lazarus come forth,” and you’re going to pop out by the power and word of God.
What you do need faith for is sozo. Right? By grace we are saved through faith. You need faith to be saved. There’s a miracle you do need faith for and this miracle, much like in Luke 5 when you had the paralytic, you have a miracle taking place and you have, more importantly, salvation taking place. He said, “Which is harder for me to do with this guy? To say your sins are forgiven,” sozo, “or to say to him, ‘Take up your mat and walk?'” Right? Well, healing the paralytic seems hard for us but it’s infinitely harder for you to answer as though you’re God having been offended by sinners and saying, “Hey, your account is clear.” He says, “So you can know that I have authority on earth to forgive sins, I’m going to say, ‘Hey you, take up your mat and walk. Rise up and walk.'”
And so the miracle is happening in correspondence with a statement of salvation and forgiveness. But don’t get those confused here and, unfortunately, the translation, at least in the English Standard Version, is “made you well” because it seems to fit the context in the translator’s minds but the way this is normally translated, which some translations will clearly translate it, and that is, “You’re saved, your faith has made you saved,” which is exactly what is being said here. And immediately, in conjunction with this healing, he recovers his sight and he does what saved people do. Two things. He follows him and he is glorifying God. That’s what Christians do.
And all the people when they saw this conversion, which they’re about to see another with Zacchaeus, they saw it and they gave praise to God. And among that crowd and the entourage heading to Jerusalem, were the apostles of course, who were very interested in seeing people saved. And here we have one. We have the healing and we have a salvation. We are going to learn from that this morning. Let’s start by how he addresses Jesus.
Let’s start in verse 35 again, they’re coming near Jericho, blind man sitting by the roadside begging, here’s the crowd, says, “What is this all about?” And they said, “It’s Jesus of…,” what? Nazareth. Geography quiz. Go back to your maps in the back of your Bible or in your mind, go to Sunday school and think of the map here. You’ve got Israel, you got the Mediterranean Sea, you’ve got it, let’s divided into three sections, you have the northern region, you have the central region, and you have the southern region. The southern region we often call Judah, down south, and in down south the capital is Jerusalem. Up north you have what we call Galilee. We have a lot of towns around Galilee and Jesus does a lot of ministry up there. And in between you have, at least in Jesus’ time, you have the land of the Samaritans in the central part. If I were to ask you the question where is Nazareth? Is it in the south, is it in the middle or is it up north? You would say it’s in the north. He’s raised in the north of Israel, in Nazareth. OK? We call it Galilee, around the region of the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Gennesaret. Right? The sea up there of Tiberias, they also called it in Jesus’ day. So, up in the north, that’s where he’s from. So, the blind man responds, “Oh, is that who it is?” Look at what he says in verse 39, he cried out, “Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me.” Underline Nazareth there in verse 38. Is it there? No. He doesn’t call him Jesus of Nazareth. He switches the title and calls him now, what? “Son of David.”
This may sound like an excursion here to spend a few minutes talking about this but this is essential. If this doesn’t pop off the page, then we’re missing something. And unfortunately, because what we’re missing is something that’s missing, we don’t see that it’s missing. Huh? What’s missing in our thinking is that what’s been missing in this Gospel has been the phrase “the son of David.” We’re familiar with it because it’s all over the Bible. But right now in this passage from the mouth of this blind beggar, for the first time in all of Luke, we have someone calling out to Jesus and calling him the son of David. Now, the narrator, who is Luke, has written in Chapter 3 the genealogy and certainly we see David’s name there and he’s connected with David. And we see Jesus telling a story in some of his teachings about David and the showbread and all of that in the Old Testament. So we get his name, but the only time we’ve had a connection to Jesus being the son of David, it came out of the mouth of someone very impressive, his name was Gabriel, he’s an angel, when he came to Mary at the Annunciation in Chapter 1 and he said to Mary, “You’re going to have a son. You’re supposed to call his name Joshua” or the Hellenized version, Jesus. And then he starts talking about the fact that he is the son of David. He’s going to sit on the throne of his father, David. And he starts going through all this information in tying Jesus to David. Now Luke does that in the genealogy but we’ve not had anyone call him the son of David. And here you have, outside of Jericho, someone’s going to get Jesus’ attention, not just because he’s persistent, but one of the things he’s doing is giving him a title that’s not in the whole chronicling of Luke had we had anybody call him the son of David. That is a huge claim.
Matter of fact, that’s a title that should make you say, “Ah, wait a minute, son of David? You’re saying something gigantic.” Now I don’t want to feed too much into the brain of this blind beggar, but I do need to say if you don’t recognize what a huge prophetic theological truth it is to call Jesus, late in his ministry here, the son of David, you’ve missed the key connection that all of us should make as Bible students, as Bible readers, as students of Scripture, we should know that is a huge compliment.
Matter of fact, you’re saying something, if you understand the Old Testament, that really makes this person, if you’re really going to say they are the son of David and he’s coming out of Nazareth as the son of David, that you’re really saying he’s one who’s destined by prophetic scripture to change the entire world.
That’s a gigantic statement, talking about power. That’s the biggest compliment you could pay Christ, if you really have any of that theological background in your mind. Let’s write it down and then let’s explore it. OK?
Number one. Write this down, if you would, if you’re taking notes, I wish that you would, number one, “Recognize Christ’s World-Changing Power.” That statement, whether he fully connected with that or not, I think he did because of where this is going in his conversion, he realized something about Jesus that a lot of other people were blind to. They didn’t catch it. He caught it. He said, Jesus of Nazareth, hmmm, “Son of David.”
In your Daily Bible Reading and I hope you’re all doing it. You don’t have to go back and catch up, just start today. Matter of fact, if you want to catch up, start with yesterday, because in yesterday’s reading in Jeremiah 23 and in Second Timothy Chapter 2, both of them mentioned Jesus as the son of David. It’s all over the Scripture. In Jeremiah 23, I’ll just quote it, it’s a great text in Jeremiah 23 verse 5, here’s the prophecy as the southern nation is heading toward the destruction with the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar, after watching the northern tribes up north, now this is the Old Testament now, six centuries before Christ, you’ve had the northern tribes fall already in the eighth century B.C. and you here have a prophet saying, one day, God’s going to fix it all and he says, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous branch.”
OK, now David, he was a righteous man, a man after God’s own heart. But I’ve read enough of the Bible to know he’s not a perfect man. Matter of fact, he’s far from it. He’s got a lot of problems and yet he’s still a righteous man. He is righteous, more righteous than a lot of other people, lateral comparisons make him righteous. And yet from David, you are going to get a real righteous branch. And “He’s going to reign as king and he’s going to deal wisely, and he is going to execute justice and righteousness all over the land. In his days Judah will be saved,” that’s down south, “and Israel will dwell securely.” Wait a minute, Israel’s already been punished, they’re gone. “And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.'”
Now wait a minute. “The Lord is our righteousness.” Maybe he’d be a little bit more righteous than David. No. He’s going to be so much more righteous than David that he is called, we give him this name, “The Lord is our righteousness.” In Israel, the Lord is our righteousness and it’s all embodied in this one person.
Just like we saw in Isaiah 53, as we dealt with that text not long ago in this series, the idea of the branch, the king who executes justice and wisdom in the nation, he’s seen as one having the perfect righteousness of heaven. It’s a call about Christ coming as the one who really was, as Hebrews says, without sin. In our New Testament reading yesterday, Second Timothy Chapter 2 it says in verse 8, “Remember Christ Jesus, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.”
Now just those two passages, just by God’s providence, we read them both yesterday in our Daily Bible Reading and I thought, look, if you just start looking for the references to David, it’s everywhere. And it is so critical for us to realize all the promises that were piled up on top of that. If you’ve been with us on our Thursday night study of the Old Testament, you’ve got the most important promise that we try to highlight through First and Second Samuel, it was Second Samuel Chapter 7 when God gives his covenant to David and he promises it from his own descendants, there would be an ultimate king who would come and he would reign perfectly. And everyone looked forward to that with huge expectations. Let me show you one. We usually get around to it in December but let me give it to you now. OK? Go to Isaiah Chapter 9, we have to look at this one together. Isaiah Chapter 9. Let’s start in verse number 1. I know you know this passage because it’s printed on your Christmas cards that you send me. Take a look at this text in context and just see how perfectly this fits together in giving us a backdrop for what this blind man, mind you, is saying about Jesus. The perspicuity of who he sees Christ to be, his insight, his perception. Here are the promises. When he says the son of David, he’s saying a mouthful.
Isaiah Chapter 9. Now he is a contemporary, at least earlier, Isaiah’s ministry takes a long time, but you’ve got another, let’s just say at least in parallel circumstances, the southern kingdom is moving toward destruction. It’s going to go off to exile in the sixth century before Christ. You’ve got the northern tribes who have already been taken by the Assyrians. They’ve been intermarried, dispersed, they’ve been, you know, captive. So up north, it’s a mess. Down south, it’s a mess and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Isaiah, now, starts talking in terms of promises regarding what’s going to happen, verse 1. “But there will be no gloom for her who is in anguish.” Who are you talking about? “In the former times he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.” Now this is a hard geography test, but if you remember, if you just remember who’s in the south and I ask you where Zebulun and Naphtali, I think you’d say, “Well, it’s somewhere in the north.” It’s way up in the north. Matter of fact, it borders Assyria. And remember the Assyrians came in and took the northern tribe in 721 B.C. and so you had these lands, these border nations up there in Zebulun and Naphtali, that were the first, you know, subjections and casualties of the war, it wasn’t much of a war, with the surrendering of the northern tribes. So all of that was a disaster and if you look from the south during Isaiah’s day or Jeremiah’s day and you say, “Wow, those northerners, what a mess up there.” Here’s the promise: no gloom. “There’s no gloom for her who was an anguish” and she was in anguish. In former times, I know, a lot of contempt, it was all about contempt in Zebulun and Naphtali, those northern borders invaded by Assyria.
“But in the latter times,” in the latter times, now we’re talking prophetically. And, by the way, whenever we talk about prophetic things, often times in the prophets, look at these next two words: “He has,” he has, he has made, that’s the perfect tense. We often have what we call in prophetic writings of the Old Testament, a “prophetic perfect.” And that means the prophetic, grammatically, is said as though God has already done it, because, in fact, he has already done it in his mind. But it hasn’t happened yet. And that’s kind of the emphasis that the prophets use or God chose to use to say, “this is a sure thing” as often he even punctuates it with words like that, this is sure, this is absolute, this is certain. Now here in the passage he says, this is what’s going to happen, although it said in a perfect tense, “He has made glorious the way of the sea,” up north, “the land beyond the Jordan,” even across the Jordan River, “Galilee of the nations.” Now again, Galilee, this is all up north, and you called it Galilee of the nations in the New Testament. It was next to what we called the Decapolis, which is the ten cities that the foreign nations, the cities there, and up here in the cities of the Decapolis or up in Galilee of the nations, up in the ancient Zebulun and land of Naphtali, it now says, it’s going to be glorious. Now if I ask the question, historically, when Isaiah penned this, was anything glorious going on in the north? The answer would be no way, loser, defeat, subjection, intermarriage, idolatry, disaster. The Assyrians are in charge up there.
But it’s going to be great then. Why would it be great? Because God’s going to bring his king, the righteous branch and he’s going to live up there in the north. He’s actually going to be known as Jesus of… Nazareth, up there near Zebulun and Naphtali, up in Galilee, the Galilee of the nations. And the people, look at this, talk about the blind connection, “The people who walked in darkness,” and certainly from the south, they looked at their northern, alienated brothers and said those guys, “Man, it’s dark up there, spiritually dark.” They “have seen a great light.” They saw it first, did they not? Jesus’ ministry begins up north in Canaan, in the land of Galilee, up from Galilee of the nations, beyond the Jordan even, we saw that ministry in Perea across the Jordan River. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
Talk about spiritual blindness being lifted. “Those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness,” up there, the worst of it, man, “On them, a light has shone.” The dawn came from the north in Israel. This is awesome.
“You have multiplied the nation.” Look at it. God is credited with multiplying the nation. Guess what? The population census at the time Isaiah was writing, man, it’s decimated. No. No one’s multiplied. Well, it will be. “You’ve increased its joy.” There’s no joy there now, but there will be. “They rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.” Like at Christmas, man, they have all this stuff, this new stuff and they’re rejoicing and they got harvest, it’s great. Well not right now, it’s a mess there. You got subjugation by the Assyrians and you would see that ratchet through all the world powers. As a matter of fact, they call them the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and yet, they’re not really lost, but from God’s perspective they’re found, but from people’s perspective they’re under the yoke of bondage, under the rod, even in Jesus’ time. I mean the Roman authorities had charge of all of that.
Yeah. “The yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, and the rod of his oppressor, you’ve broken.” Well, he hadn’t broken it yet but it’s in a prophetic perfect because he WILL break it. He’ll break it as he did “on the day of Midian.” Now if you went to Sunday school, and if I said the word Midian, hopefully you would think of one character in the Bible. His name happens to rhyme with Midian, starts with G. I can’t give any more hints than that. His name is… Gideon.
Gideon and Midian. Midian put the yoke over the Israelites. Right? Subjected them, enslaved them. They came with a rod and they were militarily beating them, but there was a victory there. And here’s the thing, it was like a root out of dry ground. It was a very unexpected victory. It was something that you never expected. It wasn’t the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the ancient world who led this kind of, you know, Rambo charge. That was a mixing of Hollywood metaphors there, but it wasn’t the strongest. As a matter of fact, when Gideon was approached by God to do this, what did he say to the angel? “Me? Why me? I’m the least, I’m the weakest. I have no military training. I’m no good at this. I’m not going to fight off the Midianites.”
“No, you do that, get an army together.” He gets the army together, what does God say? “Too big. If anyone doesn’t want to fight let him go home.” Now when the war is about to brew a lot of people don’t want to go to war and half of them split. Then he went to that whole drinking process, how they drink in the brook, remember that? And the ones that drank like dogs, I’ve said this many times from the platform, which was not a compliment by the way, it may be today but it was not a compliment back then, they were the ones who were picked. The rest were sent home.
So Gideon had, like, nothing. He didn’t have warriors, he had these scoundrels with him and through that in this very unexpected way, when man looks at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart, here is someone he’s going to use, this very humble vessel to break the yoke of the Midianites who are the powerful, fighting force of the day. And he said, “You know what, it is going to look very, very unlikely.” And in this day, when Bartimaeus is begging outside of Jericho, he’s looking at all the Roman soldiers all over the occupied land of Israel, and he’s marching, Jesus and his entourage toward Jerusalem, as a rabbi in dirty clothes. He doesn’t have, you know, a herd of camels, he’s not carried on the shoulders by these strong slaves, he is just a traveling teacher, a humble teacher from up north, “like a root out of dry ground,” like “one from whom men hide their faces. He had no glory that we should look on him,” I’m quoting Isaiah 53 now. And yet, here is a blind man who goes, “I know about this guy, son of David. The son of David. He’s going to fix all of this.”
As a matter of fact, you talk about all the warfare, it’s not about a warfare that we’ve ever been through. “For every boot,” verse 5, “of the trampling warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.” Don’t need any of that. Why? Because we got someone with all authority. “For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called,” check out these four titles now, “Wonderful Counselor.” OK, I can swallow that one, I guess. “Mighty God,” that’s called blasphemy unless, of course, this child is mighty God. “Everlasting Father.” He’s paternal, he is going to protect us, he’s like a shepherd but he’s everlasting. Wait a minute, every one of us, right, we can’t claim any existence before our birth and yet he can sit there and say to his critics, “Before Abraham was born, I AM. I’m the ever existing one.” Yeah, he’s the everlasting Father. It doesn’t mean he’s the father, right? He’s the everlasting, paternal, caring shepherd. He’s going to lead this thing. He’s like a prince, a prince of peace.
No one’s going to fight him, because out of his mouth, his revelations, will come a sharp sword. You’re not going to dare to fight him.
You don’t need any implementations of war. You don’t need any of that, because, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,” verse 7 now, highlight it, “on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord will do this.” Jesus was going to be the fulfillment of all these promises. And here was a man who sat there without any visual sight and he’d heard about it, because Luke tells us that Jesus had gone through all of the synagogues of Judah early in his ministry, he had taught, he tied these prophetic statements together to his own personage. He went out and proved it by healing people and all of that kind of thing had floated, I’m sure, through Bartimaeus’ mind and now he hears, here, the one from Nazareth, Jesus, “I know him, I know who that is, son of David. If anyone can change this world, it’s you and I got a problem here. Can you fix my problem? Have mercy on me. I don’t deserve it, son of David.”
That’s a huge statement. The world-changing power of the son of David sitting on David’s throne and peace coming to the entire world. It’s not regional, it’s not the north, it’s not the south, it’s not Israel, it’s not Syria, it’s not Babylon, it’s not Egypt, it’s the entire world. “The increase of his government and peace, there will be no end.
Bartimaeus, and I don’t want to over credit him, but I got to say there’s enough realization there in his own mind to see his soul saved. He realizes who Christ is and calls him the son of David and one day, I hope from our perspective, though there’s been a big gap there that no one anticipated between his first coming when he lays down his life and gives his life as a ransom for many, and the second coming when he comes back and takes his great power and begins to reign, as Revelation 11 says, I hope you can say, “Jesus, who I pray to is the son of David.” He is the one who is in charge, as Daniel says, of this great kingdom that’s going to come out of heaven. It’s like a rock that’s cut but not with human hands. It’s otherworldly.
And I know you often think of that image of that that statue in Daniel 2 that Nebuchadnezzar dreams about and Daniel comes and interprets it. The head of gold and the chest of silver, you got the bronze middle part and thighs and you’ve got the legs of iron, you get the feet of iron and clay and, yeah, that’s great because the great prophetic statement about the kingdoms that had yet to come. We have Babylon had been there, the Medo-Persians were about to come, then you had Greece and you had Rome and you had this dividing of world powers and, even down to the end of time, you got all these kings and leaders and regions all over the world. But all of that entire prophecy was about one thing, not that God’s showing off that he knows the future, that’s no big thing for him, maybe impressive to us. But it was that one day there will come a kingdom that will come out from beyond this world, will enter this world and that rock will smash every single kingdom of this world. And that kingdom will supplant them all. And a passage I love to quote, Revelation 11, after he quotes that he’s going to take his great power and begin to reign, it says now, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, of God and of,” here’s his region, “of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”
And when you pray to Christ and think about Jesus and you start dropping words like he’s the son of David, it doesn’t just tell us something interesting about his genealogy. It reminds us of all the fulfillment of all the prophetic words about Jesus being in charge of everything in this world and one day, I hope you’re not ashamed of it, he’s going to come back and set up his kingdom. He will take his power and begin to reign, here’s what the Bible says, “Every knee will bow,” of those “in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
That’s Philippians 2, and as long as I’m quoting Philippians, Philippians Chapter 3 says, then he will take his power, the power that he has to subject everything to himself and he will transform even the fabric of the universe, “he will transform our lowly bodies and make them like his own.” Everything about your life is going to change the minute you see Christ.
You can’t see God. He dwells in unapproachable light. He’s invisible. But you will see Christ, the personification of God. You will see the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, and he will come on this planet, his feet will touch the Mount of Olives at the end of the tribulational period and you will have that experience of him setting up a kingdom and being in charge of everything. That is the Christ you pray to.
He is not impotent. He’s not just stronger than most. He possesses all power, as Daniel 7 says, and every tongue, every tribe, every nation, everyone should bow and give their dominion and their riches and their honor to him.
Christ has life-changing power for sure because he has world-changing power, and all the prophetic words can be summed up, that we have yet to hear in the Gospel of Luke, under the title, the son of David. And this man says, “Son of David, would you have mercy on me?” which is how we started this whole teaching, was it not? Jesus says, the sinner on the Temple Mount who goes home justified cries out and says, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” And here is a man demonstrating that, just like Zacchaeus is about to do in our next study. Here in this study, Bartimaeus says, the blind man says, “Have mercy on me. Son of David, have mercy on me.” And they said, “shut up, shut up. Would you stop messing with the rabbi? He’s too important for a blind beggar.” Those who were in the front rebuked him telling him to be silent but he cried out all the more, “Son of David! Have mercy, have mercy on me.”
Now in our context, as we’ve studied and worked through this, we’re five sessions into it now, one of the sessions we talked about people telling others to stop coming to Christ. Who did he tell to stop coming to Christ? Who did the Apostles and the disciples and the entourage say, “Don’t let them bring those people anymore.” The children. Right? And Jesus says, “No, no stop. Bring the children to me.” And not just because he loves kids, he was giving us an illustration even in that, though he does love children, he brings those kids up and says, “This is what you need. If you do not have the kind of childlike faith, the kind of faith that is possessed in a kid who knows they’re, as I said in that sermon, fully dependent upon their parents, you can’t even enter the Kingdom of God. Here’s a man who is persistent like a child, who says, “You have what it takes, you can fix my problem,” which clearly, in his mind, was bigger than just his ophthalmological problem. I mean, really, he’s crying out to the son of David to have mercy on his life and we’re going to see, as we’ve already quoted in verse 43, God says he’s saved that day, so this is a big request. He wants God’s mercy.
And he says, “Have mercy on me,” and no one is going to keep him back. That’s a persistence that we ought to be impressed with. It’s the persistence that God is impressed with. It’s a persistence that God expects from all of us.
Number two on your outline, I put it this way, you and I ought to “Relentlessly Pursue Life-Changing Grace.” Yes, God can change your life. He can change the world and he’s going to change the world but between now and the time he changes this world, he’d like to change you. He’d like to change your life. And what he’s not interested in is you having a very listless and passive kind of, you know, “Yeah, I’d like to have a little bit of that.”
As that old campaign, remember the campaign that, you know, the buttons were out there and the billboards were out there that said, “Try God.” Maybe you can still see some little bumper stickers, “Try God?” Right? Like he’s, you know, a breath freshener or something. Right? “Maybe this will work for you.” Right? You don’t try God. Right? This is the king of kings and lord of lords and he’s calling you to repentance and he says to you, “You need to get right with the living God and there’s no other way to do it but for you to see your need and, like that tax collector on the Temple Mount, say, “Be merciful to me, a sinner” or like a blind man sitting outside of Jericho saying, “Listen, son of David, you’re the only one who can help me. Have mercy on me.” That’s a picture that you and I need to get in our minds and say, it is a tenacious, indomitable, relentless, “Help me!”
It is not about saying, “Well, what do I have to recite?” Now, I’ve been there with people and when people are asking me in my evangelism and they say, “Well, do I have to… would I have to pray something? What do I say?” I say, “You don’t even understand, you’re not ready.” The heart that’s being drawn to salvation is a heart that’s ready to cry out to God. They don’t need to recite things. I don’t have to put some kind of paragraph and have them sign it. I say, “Listen, if God has got a hold of your heart, what’s going to come out of you is going to gush out, “God, I need you.” I’ve heard a lot of prayers of repentance as I’ve shared the gospel with people and they’re never the same, but they always have that same common desperation, “God, I need forgiveness. Help me. I cannot help myself.” We need that desperation.
Let me talk to you, first of all, if you’re a non-Christian and you’ve heard the message, you know what we’re talking about, maybe you’ve been in this series, you’ve been hearing about justification, being right with God. Don’t just say, “Well, I’ll try that. I’ll put my toe in that and I’ll see how that looks, I’ll see if that works. Maybe I need a little something in my life.” You’re not ready. Please don’t mess around with Christianity with that attitude. You need to get to the place where you’re broken before God to say, “I am a sinner, I deserve God’s judgment. What I need right now is to throw myself completely on the mercy of God.” And if you’re ready to do that, you don’t need any aisles to walk, you don’t need to raise hands, I don’t need to give you a card. You don’t need to have any discussion in the patio. We don’t need to go to some back room and have a knee-to-knee conversation. You just need to say in your own heart before God, you and God, because one day you’re going to meet his Christ, the judge, and you just need to say, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” And that gushes out of you in one way or another. And when it does, man, that’s when you got it, you have that desperate, indomitable, relentless, “God, give me grace.” What is grace? What I don’t deserve. That’s why it’s a call for mercy. Be merciful to me.
“Well, Pastor Mike, I’m a Christian, I know I’m a Christian. My life’s a little messed up. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know where I really stand with this sanctification thing, and I may not be, you know, someone you want to put in charge of the Sunday school or anything, but I, you know, I’m OK with God, I go to church.” Listen, if you’re that kind of person, jot this reference down if you would, Revelation Chapter 3. Even if you’re not that kind of person, you’re going to meet someone like that, so jot it down. You’re too afraid to jot it down. Right? “Now, I’m saying I’m that person?” Jot it down, Revelation Chapter 3. Jesus speaks to the church, he writes a little postcard to the church at Laodicea, and in verse 16 he diagnoses their problem. “Because you are lukewarm, you’re neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” You’ve got one foot in the world and one foot in the church. You live kind of a strained, Christianized life on the weekend but, you know, at work with the buddies and all that, “I’m just like everyone else.” You may think that “you’re rich, you’ve prospered, have need of nothing, but you don’t realize that you’re wretched, pitiable, poor,” here’s one, “blind and naked.” You’re blind to the truth.
“I counsel you to buy from me,” he says, “gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, white garments so you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.”
Then he gives you this great offer. He basically says in this passage, I love you. “Those I love, I reprove and I discipline.” Some of you think my preaching is too hard. Listen, the person who loves you the most is the person who tells you the truth, you understand.
And if you’re sitting here with one foot in the world and one foot in the church, if you’re living on the weekends, maybe, in the right context of your family for God, but during the rest of the week, you’re just living for the world, living for yourself, the truth is you need to “be zealous and repent.” And I love that he adds that word, zealous. You need to be passionate, indomitable and relentless to say I need a full-fledged, whole-hearted repentance.
Jeremiah 29 says, “You seek me, you’ll find me” and that’s where some people end the quote, but here’s the rest of it. “If you seek me, you’ll find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.”
Need to be zealous and repent. It needs to be the kind of repentance in Second Chronicles 15 when it says they made an oath and “They swore that oath to God with all of their heart and they had sought him with their whole desire and then God was found by them.” You wonder why you don’t have a real encounter with the real God? You wonder why you don’t have any assurance of your faith? Maybe because you’ve never had that kind of relentless passion to say, “God, I need your grace, change my heart, change my life.” Relentlessly pursue God’s life-changing Grace.
“No Mike, none of those speak to me because I’m at the best place I’ve ever been spiritually.” OK, that’s great. “I’m really growing more than I’ve ever grown before, I feel like I’m as close to God as I’ve ever been.” Then let me just challenge you in this regard. The life-changing grace you need is to make sure that your life right now, in terms of its direction, its purpose, its intent, its motivation, is all that God would design your life to be. Just because you have security and assurance of your salvation does not mean you are living the life that God would have… Yeah, you’re avoiding the big sins. Fantastic. But does your life have the purpose where you see I know what God would have me do. And I know that may be different in different people’s lives. But let me give you one commonality among all Christians. You ready? “Follow me and I will make you…” What? “Fishers of men.”
Of all the other titles you have, here’s the one from Second Corinthians some of us are afraid to adopt and have on our so-called business card and that is we are ambassadors of Christ.
You know people who catch that have a zealous passion for that. They understand it. They’re not afraid what their coworkers think, they’re not afraid of what their neighbors think, they’re not afraid of their reputation. They’d much rather have a good reputation with heaven than a good reputation with those on Earth. Like Paul said, you know what it comes down to this earth and all of its desires, he says, “Really, it’s been crucified to me and I to it. I don’t really care.” Because they’re passionate about seeing souls saved.
Paul says this in Romans 9 and 10, he says, “I have an unceasing anguish in my heart for the lost people I know.” Mike Fabarez paraphrase, but that’s the phrase, “unceasing anguish in my heart.” He says, “My heart’s desire, I would if I could, trade my entire salvation to see the Israelites saved.”
That’s a kind of relentless, zealous passion to see his life matter for God in the way that I think all of us must say, we share the commonality and that is we’re all fishers of men, we’re all ambassadors of Christ.
John Knox said it this way when it came to his target. The target of his affection for evangelism, Scotland. He says, “Give me Scotland or I die.” You know that quote? “Give me Scotland or I die. God, I want to make inroads there for Christ.” Do you ever look around at your neighborhood and think that way? How about your workplace? How about those in South Orange County who we rub shoulders with and fight traffic with all week long? Do you pass by some of those people?
Do you try to make it a pattern? I look at Matthew 9 and I try to pray that way, I see people, crowds of people and I say, “God, give me eyes for the harvest. Let me pray for them. Let me care about them.” And then as I often dare you, just dare God and say, “God, please give me an opportunity to be your ambassador with someone today.”
Hudson Taylor. He loved those Chinese, the nation of China, he said, “If I had a thousand lives, I’d give every one of them for China. I mean, he knew God had called him to reach China for Christ.
William Carey. I know you know this quote. Right? He said, “When it comes to our Christian life,” he said, “We’ve got to expect great things from God and we’ve got to attempt great things.” You may be sitting here today saying, “Hey, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been spiritually. I have assurance of salvation. I’m avoiding the big sins” and that’s a great defense in the Christian life and you should have it. But where’s the offense in the Christian life?
It’s not just about winning awards at work. It’s not about getting a promotion, not just about being well respected in your community, being a good little league coach, it is about you and I being representatives of the Gospel to our generation. We are responsible for our generation.
E.M. Bounds put it well. “There’s neither encouragement nor room in Biblical Christianity for feeble desires, listless efforts, lazy attitudes. All must be strenuous, all must be urgent, all must be ardent, inflamed desires, impassioned, unwearied insistence. This is what heaven delights in. God would have his children,” I love his, “incorrigibly in earnest and persistently bold in their efforts. Heaven is too busy to listen to half-hearted prayers.”
Are you praying for the lost in your life? Or do you just pass that off and somehow justify, “Well, it’s other people who are into that, they’re more bold than I am, I’m not really good with talking about politics or religion with people, I’m just not into that.
We have a great opportunity, even right here this week, Tuesday. I mean, I want to lay out the red carpet for our community in Fall Fest. That’s awesome. And you should work in a booth and you should help us set up or whatever your role is this Tuesday. But I hope you realize what really matters is going around this campus, not just glad-handing people going, “Hey, welcome, welcome, welcome.” It’s about us making connections, really connecting with the lost in our community. I mean, they’re coming onto our campus this week, thousands and thousands of them. And being able to say, “Hey, I’d like to get to know you.” Make the connection. We start getting to know those folks, we build relationships, we have them over for dinner, we go out to eat with them, we spend time, we build the bridge, we share the gospel, we find the low hanging fruit that’s ready to respond to the Gospel of Christ, we have eyes for the harvest. Maybe like John Knox, we’ll say, “Man, I want that or I’m going to die. If I could have a thousand Tuesday nights, I’d spend every one of them winning people to Christ. I’m going to expect great things from God. I’m going to attempt great things for God.”
Don’t give God your half-hearted prayers about your purpose. I love the fact that this indomitable blind beggar was not going to have people rebuke him and tell him, “Nah, you can’t get that request to God. Christ has no time for you.” He cried out all the more. “Son of David, have mercy on me.”
And Jesus, verse 40, printed on your work sheet there, stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. When he came near he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Now again, we’ve got to know, based on the response and even the words he used, he really wants more than just his eyes fixed, although, “Hey, I’ve got the Lord of Lords here in front of me, let’s do that” and Jesus says, “Fine, let’s do that. Recover your sight and something much bigger. Your faith has made you sozo, made you saved.”
And immediately he recovered his sight and he did what saved people do, he followed him and he glorified his miracle. No, he glorified his life. He was like the nine lepers who said it is so great to be healed. No, he “glorified God,” he made much of God. “And all the people, when they saw it, they gave praise to God.” They know they had a convert there. A changed heart.
I just need to ask you this question, what would have happened if Jesus would not have healed him. What if, perhaps, like in Luke 5, Jesus said to him, “Hey, I’m not going to fix your eyeballs but your sins are forgiven. You’re going home today justified.” Would he had followed Christ? I contend that he would. Jesus never would have said, “You’re saved.” He never would have given him the response that he gave him in terms of him being one described as glorifying God unless this is one who’s got his heart right before God. He went home justified.
And that reminds me that really whether he answers our temporal prayers and takes away our aches and pains or removes this plague in our lives or our relationships, we ought to follow him no matter what.
And for him, I just don’t want you to think, and it wouldn’t be fair to Bartimaeus, for you think the only reason he followed Christ was because he got his eyes fixed. I contend that that’s not what saved people do. They don’t say like the rich young ruler, “Well I’ll go as long as it doesn’t cost me this.” Even if it cost him his sight, which is exactly what happened to the Apostle Paul, by the way, right? He started to lose his eyesight and he didn’t say, “Well, I’m done following you now, because I don’t have my eyesight.” Matter of fact, when he prayed for that chronic illness to go away, which we assume affected his eyeballs by some of the hints he gave us in the book of Galatians, we recognize this, that it didn’t matter whether God gave him good health or not, he was going to follow Christ.
Number three, I hope that’s true for you, that you’re “Gratefully Following Christ No Matter What.” Whether he fixes your marriage, whether he fixes your health, whether he fixes your finances, no matter what happens, you say, “I’m going to follow you whether I’m blind or whether I’m paralyzed and have to have someone carry me.” Follow him no matter what, because when Paul had that request it wasn’t just a, “God, would you please?” He wholeheartedly, relentlessly and it seemed indomitable, at least in his request, he pleaded with the Lord was the verb, it says in Second Corinthians 12, pleaded with the Lord, “Remove this thorn of the flesh. It’s bad. Remove this chronic illness from my life.” And God said, “Nope, tough it.” Is that what he said? No. He didn’t say tough it, he said no, but then he says this, “My grace is sufficient for you.” “I’ll give you a life-changing grace, but it won’t be in the form that you’re expecting. I know you often want me to fix your aches and pains but what I need, really, is I need strong ambassadors and sometimes the strength of the ambassador is going to be curried in their life when they have the pains and aches that you want removed and instinctively say, ‘God, take this away from me’ and I say no, I need you to live with that blindness, I need you to live with that paralysis, I need you to live with that problem at your work, but you keep going because I need a strong ambassador.”
I know that we often look at what happened there earlier in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus calms the sea. Do you remember that? When we see it as a great victorious passage, but I’ve often warned you about that passage, do not see it as a victory, it wasn’t a victory. Yes, it gives us a christological insight that Christ can, with a word, calm the molecules of all the weather, which he did miraculously. He didn’t stop the storm and let the sea slowly, you know, stop bouncing the boat around. He said a word and every single molecule did exactly what he said. That was a huge GT-1, as I call it, it was a miracle of the first order. He broke natural law to do that.
But then he turned to the disciples and instead of saying this: “Hey, did you see that guys? I’m the Christ,” he turned to his disciples and he wagged his finger in their face and he said, “Where is your faith? I wanted stronger people, stronger disciples. You know, you want me to calm the storm, I’d like sailors who aren’t afraid, who trust me. I need you to be kept in perfect peace because I’m here with you. Like me, I’m asleep on a cushion in the bottom of the boat and you sit there saying, ‘We’re going to die, we’re going to die.’ You got Christ in your life, why are you afraid?”
Gratefully follow Christ no matter what. He’s willing to change your life with life-changing grace, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to answer all your prayers the way you want them answered and I don’t want this passage used, and Bartimaeus would never want you to use his story, to think because Jesus did it for me, he’s going to do it for you, because often times he does not. As a matter of fact, this is the rare exception. This is not the pattern. Jesus promised we’re going to have problems. He said this, “In this world you’ll have tribulation,” but the son of David says, “you take heart,” guess what, “I’ve overcome the world.” “One day, I’m going to transform, with the exercise of my power that I have to subject everything under my feet, I’m going to transform your body, you’re never going have an ache, a pain, paralysis or eyesight problems ever again. But right now, I need stronger sailors. I need men and women of character who can go through the storms of their lives and recognize that my grace is sufficient for them.”
There are seven million Americans who are blind in our country. Seven million Americans who cannot see, they have irreparable eye disease or an eye impairment of some kind. And with numbers like that, tens of thousands of them, I can only assume, are Christians who love Jesus Christ and are committed to following Christ and they have irreparable damage to their optic nerves, their eyeballs, the rods and cones inside their head, they have problems. And they are not going to be fixed. And I’m sure that many of them have cried out to God, whether it was through macular degeneration or whatever it might have been that affected their sight and maybe they’re born with it, I’m sure many people have asked God to do things for them and they sit there today with irreparable damage. Seven million of them.
There are almost seven million Americans who are paralyzed. My daughter is one of them, you know that, right? Paralyzed. They have limbs that don’t work. They can’t get around like you and I do. And with almost seven million who are paralyzed, I can only assume there are tens of thousands of them who are Christians who love Jesus Christ and are committed to serving him. And God has said to them, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
There are 19 million teenagers who grow up in broken homes. Let’s just think about that number. They have parents who will never reconcile, never treat each other civilly, they’re caught between the warring parents, and here are 19 million teenagers who come from broken homes and I bet many of them have cried themselves to sleep saying, “Let my mom and dad get back together, let them get along” and God has said to many of those and I’m sure there are many of those Christians among those 19 million, there’s got to be tens of thousands of them, and God has said, “No. I need stronger sailors here, my grace is sufficient for you.” And what God wants is for them to follow him.
In John 21, when Jesus says to Peter after asking, “Do you love me, do you love me?” Do you remember the passage? He says to Peter, “I know you love me because here’s one way you’re going to prove it. You’re going to be so committed to me that you’re going to die as a martyr. You’re going to stretch out your hands, people are going to lead you where you don’t want to go,” which is a sign, of course, of carrying the cross bar of the cross and he’s going to be crucified. He’s predicting his own death and his own martyrdom. And Peter gets frustrated, as you and I would, and he looks over at John, the disciple who Jesus loves, and he says, “Well, what about him?”
It is ironic too, because he’s the one who was not martyred, the only one out of the 12. And he ends up growing old on the island of Patmos, remember that? And he says, “What is it to you? Even if I have him live until my second coming, till I return,” which again from our perspective we know is, what, centuries away, he says, “what is that to you?” and here’s how he ends it, “as for you, follow me” no matter what your cross might be.
See, God is all powerful. Jesus Christ is the son of David. He’s the king of kings. You pray to a God I know who, with a word, can change every ache and pain in your life. But he’s asking you to follow him no matter what your cross may be, no matter what your path might be. And he wants you to be the kind of disciple, like Bartimaeus, who’s willing to say, “Hey, I’m going to glorify God, I’m not going to glorify my healing, I’m not going to glorify anything else.” Matter of fact, Paul says when it comes to my ‘no’ from God, I’m going to boast even more gladly about my weaknesses, because when I am weak, he’s strong. God’s going to work in me.
We all need to be made right with God. If you’re not, I appeal to you today to do so. I want you to have eyes to see. As they said to Helen Keller, someone once boldly said to Helen Keller, “It must be terrible to have no eyesight.” She was blind, of course, as you know. Her response was, “Better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing.” And many of us today are left with our ailments, our problems, our plagues, our pains, but I hope you see very clearly, like Bartimaeus did before he ever got to see anything, I hope you recognize who Christ is and you’re willing to follow him no matter what.
Now with God’s grace Bartimaeus got to see and it’s assumed, because Mark names him by name, that he was known to the Church of Jerusalem and some have said that they believe that he became a key player in the Church of Jerusalem. Luke doesn’t even take time to mention his name. I’m thinking about him following Jesus up that road to Jerusalem 17 miles, it was down in terms southwest but it was up the hill, and the first things that his newly remade eyeballs saw was the Passion week of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ. And he becomes, apparently, I can’t affirm this biblically, but becomes a key spokesman for Christ in the Church of Jerusalem. He probably was among, some would speculate, the 120 who sat in the upper room in Acts Chapter 2. And I hope that, as we think about that, whether his eyes were seeing or whether they weren’t seeing, the eyes of his heart were seeing and that you and I say, I want to be that no matter what God does to the exteriors of my life. We have a desperate need when you cry out from mercy and, as we do, I trust that you’ll be a follower who’s relentless in seeing God’s life-changing Grace affect your life in every way. Let’s represent him well this week.
Pray with me, please. God, we thank God for Bartimaeus, we look forward to meeting him one day. A man who was seeing with his heart long before he saw with his eyes. Who knows how long his trust was in Christ after Jesus had spent time in those southern synagogues talking about the connection between the Old Testament promises and prophecies in his life, but we’re grateful that we get a taste of this in this short narrative.
We look forward to seeing Zacchaeus and his response, the fruit of his life, which we don’t see much of it here, just two statements about Bartimaeus, but what a great compliment to the passage we’ve just been in to start Chapter 19 next week and see Zacchaeus live out what it means to be a Christian, of the relative unimportance of the stuff of this world. We’ll look forward to that, but today we want to revel in the good things that you’ve done for us in reminding us of what it looks like to cry out for the mercy of the son of David. Let us get excited, God, about the path that lies before us, the path you want to take us down. We think about the zeal that we ought to have, the passion that we ought to have to represent you in the world. So God, give us that kind of commitment, a kind of commitment that overshadows any other concern we might have about the temporal things of this world. Give us strength and endurance, help us through this week, even this afternoon, to be light, to be salt in this world. God, we appreciate your grace to save many of us here and those who aren’t, I pray they be convicted today and cry out to you for mercy. God dismiss us now with a sense of optimism and purpose to represent you well until we see you face to face.
In Jesus name, Amen.