”46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 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 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” —Mark 10:46-52 (ESV)
Bartimaeus is sitting by the road, no doubt calling for alms, from those headed to Jerusalem for Passover. He is well experienced. So much so that he has probably learned to hit just the right pitch to get noticed. Today though, he uses that voice to ask for something else. Today he hears that its Jesus who is passing by and he cries out for mercy. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” he calls again and again. This man hearing that Jesus was near, didn’t ask for a sign like so many of his countrymen. He cried out for mercy in that voice of his begging and pleading for ‘The Son of David’ to take notice.
As I said, a picture of the Gospel.
It’s also a picture of how the church operates sometimes. Those who were ‘with Jesus’ those who were ‘in the group’ rebuked him. I can’t help but think of those who were bringing their children to be blessed by Jesus and were rebuked by his disciples. As I wrote in the Flats post sometimes we are just too busy to offer sincere help to those in need. I think a lot of time its not their sheer neediness that repels us but getting behind in our schedules—even if it is to help another human being. In spite of those who would have silenced him, he continued to cry out…
Let me pause here in the middle of this post to say that most folks are not that persistent. Eventually the ones you don’t want to associate with or help for whatever reason might just go their way without the aid of the church or you the Christian. I’ve seen it. No one might know either but you and God but I think that’s enough, don’t you?
… and in v. 49 Jesus stops and says ‘Call him.’
This is no more or less than an image of our mandate as Christians for service. We are to call the blind at our Masters command—whatever the result.
Now I’ve given up on being a revivalist—which is to say that I’ve rejected the idea of universalism—so I’m not going to write an impassioned plea here for evangelism and revival in the church. I will say this much though, v.49 goes a long way toward outlining most sermons I have ever heard that preach the gospel. In fact, v.49 pretty much holds the whole of the church and the Great Commission, our required response (obedience) and the preaching of the gospel. It stops short of showing this conversion but v.50 says that he ‘sprang up’ and came to Jesus in the same way that all of us have done…
For we all were naked and blind before Jesus called us.