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. 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. — Mark 10:47-48
Bartimaeus had a great need — he was blind — and he had faith that Jesus could restore his sight. Then the day arrived when Jesus would pass right by him. As Jesus approached, Bartimaeus called out to Him, and immediately faced opposition to those actions. Resistance and hindrances often come to those who reach out to Jesus. In this case, the opposition was in the form of bystanders who told Bartimaeus to be quiet. Most people would find it embarrassing to be reprimanded like this. Many would feel like quieting down or perhaps even getting away as fast as they could. Whether Bartimaeus was embarrassed or not, we do not know. But we do know that in his mind, his need was far more important than the opinions of those around him. So he cried out even louder. The result? Jesus not only gave him the desired gift of sight, but He also praised him for his faith.
In my young adulthood, I had a far more serious problem than physical blindness. The Lord had started to speak to me about my spiritual condition. Although I attended church regularly and was even involved in Gospel work, I began to realize that I was not right with God. For a time I carried water on both shoulders, trying to pray privately about my condition but not really facing up to the issues and making a complete break with the past. Part of my problem was, “What would people think?” It would be embarrassing to me to admit that I was backslidden in heart and that I needed to make things right with God again. On the other hand, I had to admit that I did not have the inward peace or victory that comes from having my sins forgiven and living my life for the Lord.
Then one Saturday, while on an outing with my family, I faced up to the crisis. Silently, with no one else realizing what was going on, I determined that I was going to do whatever it took to get right with God, including openly telling my Christian friends of my need for forgiveness and restoration. The following morning I did just that. Like Bartimaeus, I cried out to God for mercy, and just as Jesus responded to Bartimaeus’ request so long ago, He also responded to mine. Oh, the wonderful peace and joy and victory I experienced as I became completely honest with God! And I learned that my Christian brothers and sisters did not think less of me for my actions, but were wholly supportive of me.
God knows what we need today, just as Jesus knew what Bartimaeus needed. Nevertheless, He wanted Bartimaeus to clearly state his need. What a lesson for us as we come to God in prayer! Whatever our spiritual situation, we must be sure not to allow the opinions of others to hinder us. God looks at us and deals with us individually, and He will help us if we come wholeheartedly to Him.
In today’s portion of text, Jesus again predicted His upcoming death, taught His disciples about positions in God’s kingdom, and healed Bartimaeus.
Mark’s narrative gathers momentum as he describes Jesus on the way to Jerusalem for the final time. In Jesus’ third major prediction of His death (verses 32-34), He clearly delineated for His disciples what was ahead: the religious leaders would condemn Him to death; He would be mocked, scourged, spit upon, and killed; and He would rise again. Jewish teachers of that time walked ahead of their followers, but in this case, the disciples did more than just follow as students; they were afraid. They had left all to follow Jesus, and now He was saying He would die. Even though they did not fully understand, they felt dread.
Although the Jewish people as a whole looked for the coming of the Messiah, they were thinking in terms of a conquering king — one who would restore the glories and independence of the nation of Israel. In verses 35-37, James and John were asking for the two highest positions in this kingdom. Matthew 20:20-21 indicates that their mother was also involved in this request. How quickly the disciples seemed to have forgotten Jesus’ earlier instructions about who would be the greatest in His kingdom.
When Jesus asked James and John if they could endure suffering such as He would face, they were sure they could. Even though Jesus knew they did not understand what they were saying, He could foresee that in time James would be martyred and John would be persecuted and banished for the Gospel.
Jesus again instructed His disciples that the pathway to greatness was through service, a contrasting concept to the attitude of the world. The Lord Himself was the supreme Example of this.
Verse 45 is the first time in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus explained the reason for His life and death. He came “to give his life a ransom for many.” The Greek word translated ransom denoted loosing a slave or freeing a debtor. The word for could be translated “in place of.” Jesus’ point was clear: He came to die in place of all sinners.
Jericho was on the route from Capernaum to Jerusalem. The travelers had crossed the Jordan River not far north of the Dead Sea. Bartimaeus’ words, “thou son of David,” identified Jesus as the Messiah with the right to rule through King David. When Jesus called for him, in his haste Bartimaeus literally threw aside his garment, which was probably one of the few things of value he possessed. Because he was blind, he might have had no hope of finding that garment again, but his faith reached out for sight. He was rewarded, and he traveled along with the crowd after Jesus healed him.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The instructions of the Son of God
M. Instructions concerning His death (10:32-34)
N. Instructions concerning positions in the kingdom (10:35-45)
1. The desire for a position of prominence by James and John (10:35-37)
2. The distribution of positions by the Father (10:38-41)
3. The achievement of a position through service (10:42-45)
O. Instruction concerning faith (10:46-52)
1. The condition (10:46)
2. The faith (10:47-51)
3. The restoration (10:52)
Do not let embarrassment or the opinions of others prevent you from seeking the Lord for the needs in your life.