25 Jesus’ Encounter with Blind Bartimaeus


Matthew 20:29
And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

  • Jesus is leaving from Jericho and as usual, many people are following and crowding around Him. He is famous! We know this already. People follow Him wherever He goes.

Matthew 20:30
And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.

  • There are 2 blind men sitting by the roadside and they cry out to Jesus! The Bible here in Matthew states that there are 2 blind men. But when you look at the other gospels it talks only about 1.
  • Luke 18:35
    And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging.
  • Why is that? It could be that only one really stood out. We even see this in the story of when Jesus encountered the man possessed with an evil spirit at the Gadarenes.
  • Luke 8:27
    And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.

    • There is only one man it seems. But then we read in another parallel passage.
    • Matthew 8:28
      And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
    • Here there is 2 men.
    • Luke probably just focused on the one man that appeared for furious or angry, but Matthew saw 2.
  • This is why it’s important to read the different gospels because they give different perspective. This is what we call the harmony of the gospels. It’s not that the Bible is inconsistent as some people like to attack it, but it gives different perspective from the different writers.
  • In this story about the blind man we’ll be jumping between Matthew, Mark and Luke.
  • We actually have a name of one of the blind men and you can guess what it is because it’s part of the title.
  • Mark 10:46
    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.
  • His name, Bartimaeus, is only found here in Mark.
  • Anyways, Bartimaeus is BLIND! And he is sitting by the roadside begging. He’s still trying to make a living to support himself.

How does Bartimaeus hear about Jesus?

  • Luke 18:36
    And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
  • The crowd is passing along with Jesus so he’s curious. There is commotion and a lot of talk. It’s not every day that a crowd this size passes by.

So Bartimaeus asks what is going on. How does the people in the crowd respond?

  • Luke 18:37
    And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
  • Jesus of Nazareth is passing by! No one that special to them you see. Maybe the people they recognized Him as a prophet at the most. But Jesus of Nazareth – there was no one special that was to come from Nazareth, least of all the Messiah. People in the crowd were following Jesus, maybe they were caught up with the hype of such a large crowd. They were curious. But they had not accepted Jesus as anyone more than a prophet for sure.
  • So they just told the blind man, oh it’s just Jesus who is from Nazareth.

Let’s go to a different text now. You’ll notice something very interesting. How did Bartimaeus respond?

  • Matthew 10:47
    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.
  • When Bartimaeus hears it is Jesus of Nazareth, he calls out and says what? Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!
  • Bartimaeus recognizes in Jesus someone more than just a normal human being. He recognizes Jesus’ ancestry – calls Him the son of David. This title is used strictly for the Messiah.
  • Matthew 1:1
    The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
  • Blind Bartimaeus recognizes in Jesus the Messiah. He is calling out to Jesus as the Messiah! Yes, poor old blind Bartimaeus He cannot see. But yet he can see something that all those that are not blind CANNOT see!
  • All these people have been hearing the words of Jesus, but not only that, they have been seeing all the miracles that Jesus has been doing. There isn’t this large crowd around Jesus for no good reason. Even though Jesus has done all this though, they still have not accepted Him as the Messiah!
  • Now, Bartimaeus must have been hearing about Jesus through other people. Probably heard about the miraculous healings. And when he hears all this, his faith is quickened. When he calls out to Jesus and calls Him the Son of David, it’s not just a spur of the moment, it’s not just that he calls out to everyone this title in hope to get attention and make that person feel privileged to be called that. No, in Christ he recognizes the true Messiah!

What is Bartimaeus asking for?

  • Matthew 10:47
    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.
  • He’s asking for mercy. Maybe he wasn’t blind before but maybe it was something that he did to get him into that condition of not being able to see. So he’s asking for forgiveness of sin.
  • You know many times we don’t realize how important it is to have healing of the heart before we have healing of the physical body. A guilty conscience weighs more heavily on a person than does any physical malady sometimes.
  • This is not the first time that Jesus is doing this.
    • Mark 2:5
      When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
    • The paralytic was forgiven first before he was healed physically.
  • So Bartimaeus is asking for mercy, asking for forgiveness.

As he is crying out while Jesus is passing by, how does the crowd react?

  • Matthew 20:31
    And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
  • They rebuked him for crying out! I guess he seemed to be making a scene. Causing too much trouble by screaming out to Jesus. Maybe they were embarrassed by his actions and were just wanting to quieten him down.
  • But he is persistent. Blind Bartimaeus will not be silenced! He cries out even more, calling on Jesus, calling on the Messiah.

What can we learn regarding Bartimaeus’ actions here?

  • Friends, it’s important to be persistent when we call out to Christ. It’s important to be persistent when you pray to God and ask for help. It’s not that Jesus does not want to help, but it’s sometimes that we lack faith to cry out to God. Sometimes we’re half-hearted because we’re not sure about who our God is. We’re not sure if He will really help or not. And sometimes, it is those in the church, maybe it’s your friends. It seems that there are people standing by ready to tell you – Why are you praying for? What’s the use? Just be quiet!
  • So it’s not just persistence, but belief. Belief in God that He will help us. We lack faith in God’s ability to hear and answer us, so we end up stopping. OR sometimes we just don’t want it bad enough.

But how does Jesus respond to the cries of Bartimaeus?

  • Mark 10:49
    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.
  • Jesus hears his cry and calls for him to come over.
  • Mark 10:50
    And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
  • It’s very interesting that Mark is the only one that records this detail. He casts away his garment, then gets up and goes to Jesus.
  • What does this garment represent?
    • Isaiah 64:6
      But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
    • It represents all our own righteousness. It’s all filthy. It’s tainted with sin.
  • We have to recognize that there is nothing good that we can do to help us to be saved. Christ is our all sufficiency. We have to put our pride into the dust and any work that we think merits us even a little to salvation. That has to happen before we will get up and go to Christ for help.

Mark 10:51-52
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.

  • Jesus would end up healing Bartimaeus. It was his faith, Jesus said, that made him whole. Where do we see faith demonstrated though? It was in his persistent cry calling out to Jesus for help even though others tried to quieten him down.

Let’s have a look at faith for a minute.

  • Luke 18:8
    I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
  • When Jesus comes for a second time, will He find faith? Seems like very few people will have true faith! This is the conclusion of the parable that Jesus tells.
  • What is the parable about?
  • Luke 18:1-7
    1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
  • Jesus is not this judge who gets tired of hearing us and only answers our prayers because we keep bugging Him. But what it is trying to show is that we must have persistence in prayer if we wish for God to answer them. There must be continual asking. Not just once.

Why is it so important for us to keep asking? Why does God look for that in us? Because it shows how much we really want it. It shows our faith as to how much we believe that God wants us to have this prayer answered.

If God answered our prayers the moment we prayed it, we would take it for-granted. We wouldn’t seek Him with all our heart. It would be more faithless! When Elijah prayed for rain, even though God told him there would be rain, how many times did he have to pray before it was answered? 7 times! Not because God wanted to see him grovel there and keep asking, but God was testing his faith. He was seeing how much Elijah really believed His word that rain would come! Would he keep praying or would he give up after just 1 prayer or a few tries?

How about you today? Do you give up too easy on God? Do you give up on Him when things don’t go the way that you asked for or how you prayed it? Do you only just pray once, and when it doesn’t happen, do you think it’s God’s will that He shouldn’t answer?

Bartimaeus really wanted to be healed. He kept asking even when people tried to quieten him down. He really wanted to be healed. But too often, our prayers aren’t so urgent. Aren’t so passionate. We ask God to help, and when He doesn’t, we just make our own plans, even sometimes in direct contradiction to God’s will.

But then how about the salvation of your family? How much do you pray for them? How about the sickness of a loved one? How persistent are we in prayer? How desperate are we?

And today, how desperate are you to have a changed heart? Or to see Jesus face to face? How urgent is it for you to hasten His coming? We don’t receive because we don’t ask.

James 4:3
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Some of us are just asking for the wrong things. We’re not pausing long enough in God’s presence to actually find out what He wants for us. We’re just asking wrongly!

Let’s learn to align our asking with God’s will by studying His word. Checking to see if what we are doing is in harmony with Him. And then when it is, let’s pray and pray and pray until God answers. May God grant all of us that patience and long-suffering today to persist in prayer until it is answered! God bless!

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