A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight

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Jesus did not only heal Bartimaeus, but He saved Him by His grace. In this wonderful story, we see his Condition, Cry, Call, and Cure. I’m sure all of us can see much in his life that mirrors our own!

A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight

Luke 18:35-43

As far back as Luke 9:51, Jesus began His purposeful journey to Jerusalem. That passage reads, “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem.” Knowing that He was going to His death, Jesus resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem. That’s exactly what Jesus was trying to get across to His disciples in verses 31-33, even though they could not understand it. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” As we come to the end of Luke 18, we are watching Christ in His final few miles of journey before He will reach Jerusalem. But, before He can come to Jerusalem to die, there are a couple of men He will make trophies of His sovereign grace. One is a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, and the other is a despised tax collector named Zaccheus. Here are two men nobody else were interested in. They were the rejects of society, and the marginalized. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ loved them and saved them!

This morning we are going to focus on Bartimaeus. In Matthew we learn that there were two blind men. In Mark and Luke, only one is mentioned. Bartimaeus must have been the prominent of the two, as he is the one that the gospel writers focus on. It is wonderfully true that Jesus healed Bartimaeus, but I believe it is also true that Jesus saved Bartimaeus. Why do I believe that? Well, because of Jesus’ words in vs 42, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Jesus literally said, “your faith has saved you.” What was the immediate result of this healing? He began following Jesus, glorifying God. Those are the actions of a saved man – following Christ and glorifying God. So often in the gospel accounts we see Jesus healing a man or woman physically, but the healing points to a greater deliverance, the salvation of the soul. I believe that’s exactly what we see here. We see an actual miracle of healing, which points to the greater reality of the salvation of the soul.

It’s also very interesting to me how Luke has arranged his material in this section. Luke is showing us several examples of how God loves and saves people that no one else is interested in. He gives a parable in which the hated and despised tax collector went home justified, rather than the proud and self-important Pharisee. Then Luke tells us that when the disciples rebuked parents for bringing their babies to Jesus, Jesus soundly rebuked them. The disciples thought they were doing their master a favor by protecting him from unimportant issues. However, Jesus wanted the little children to come to Him. Then Luke points out that it was the insignificant poor beggar that Jesus stopped and called to Himself, while all the crowd were yelling for him to shut up. Finally, Luke tells the story of Zaccheus, probably the most despised person in Jericho, because he was a very rich tax collector. And, he had gotten his riches by ripping off his fellow Jewish brethren, and giving the money to the hated Romans. However, it was this man that Jesus called to salvation. So, here, in Jericho, we find Jesus saving two lost prodigals. These guys are the most despised and hated men in that city. They were considered the lowest of the low. Yet, Jesus took special interest in them.

The Gospel of Luke has been called “The gospel of the underdog”, and there is very good reason for that. Luke is continually showing us how Jesus loved and saved the most unlikely, and unworthy of sinners. This gospel was written to a Gentile. In it, Luke highlights Jesus’ loving care towards women, sinners, children, tax collectors, prostitutes, and outcasts, in contrast to the self-righteous religionists of His day.

Now, as we approach this wonderful story of healing and salvation in a blind beggar, I want to highlight four different aspects of his story: his condition, his cry, his call, and his cure.

1. His Condition

Blind. Verse 35 says, “As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging.” Here we are told two things about this man – he was blind and he was a beggar. Blindness was one of the most common maladies in Palestine in the first century. It was 8 to 10 times more common than it is today. Among the lower classes, it was the exception to see someone with two perfect eyes.

Beggar. Now, because he was blind, he was unable to earn a living. His blindness had reduced him to begging to survive. Actually, he was in the best possible place for a beggar to be. He is by the road, while hundreds and hundreds of pilgrims are walking by on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. All the Jews headed towards Jerusalem for Passover, had to go through Jericho. They would head south from Galilee, cross over to the east side of the Jordan River to avoid going through Samaria, then cross over the Jordan River again and head up to Jerusalem. But the road that went to Jerusalem passed right through Jericho. It was a mark of piety for Jews to give to the poor, so this blind man was in a perfect place. He was by the road, where hundreds and hundreds of pious Jews would see him as they made their way to a religious festival in the capital city.

Try to imagine this man’s life for a moment. No doubt he lived in rags and poverty. His life must have been filled with dreariness and gloom, a wretched and miserable existence. Because he is blind, he is helpless to take care of himself, and must rely completely on the help of others.

Blind Bartimaeus is a picture of millions of lost people today. They are spiritually blind. 2 Cor. 4:4 says that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” He can’t understand spiritual things. He’s completely blind to them. Notice Paul’s description of lost people in Ephesians 4:17-19, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” Notice the words Paul uses there – futility of their mind, darkened in their understanding, ignorance that is in them. Lost people are blind to the glory of Christ and His gospel.

I remember the first time I saw the Grand Canyon in person. It took my breath away. Imagine going to the Grand Canyon with a blind man. You say, “Wow, would you look at that! Absolutely amazing!” The blind man says, “What? What’s amazing?” You reply, “That! There is a huge, huge, canyon, and we are standing right on the edge of it. This thing is over a mile deep, and is 18 miles wide, and is 277 miles long. At the bottom of this canyon is the Colorado River. It is absolutely amazing!” So, how does the blind man respond to all of that? Well, he takes in the facts and figures. He understands your statistics. He can understand a hole being a mile deep and 18 miles long. He hears your words, but he doesn’t really get it. He can’t really get it. All he sees is pitch black darkness. Now, if all of a sudden, his blindness was instantly healed, he would have the same response that you did. He would be saying, “Wow, would you look at that! Absolutely amazing!” So, when we try to tell others about Christ, usually all they hear are your words, but they are blind to the glory and the power of the gospel you are sharing.

Lost people are not only spiritually blind, but they are spiritual paupers. They just don’t know it. An unsaved man has nothing that he can offer to God. He has no righteousness of his own that will recommend him to God. They are penniless, destitute. The problem is that they think they are rich. They are like the man who is $100,000 in debt, who finds some cardboard and plastic bottles in some dumpsters, and he hauls this stuff into the bank in a shopping card to pay off his debt. Of course, the bank manager will just look at him in disgust, and lead him to the door. Lost men and women are spiritually bankrupt, and the sooner they realize that, the better.

2. His Cry

Verse 36-39 read, “Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was.

They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke says this man called out. The Greek word for “called out” means to shout. The words “crying out” in verse 39, really mean to scream. This Greek word is used of women crying out in childbirth, soldiers uttering a war cry, and demons crying out when Jesus came into their presence.

The Urgency of His Cry. This blind beggar couldn’t see anything, but he could hear, and he knew by the sounds that there was a very large group of people passing by, much larger than the normal pilgrims going to Jerusalem. Matthew and Mark say it was a large crowd. This was a multitude of people. Of course the reason for this large crowd was that Jesus was passing by. There had been quite a stir concerning Jesus of Nazareth. By now the people of Israel had heard His teaching, had seen His miracles, had watched Him heal people and cast out demons. The crowds that followed Him had become enormous. And now, He was steadfastly headed toward Jerusalem. The anticipation of the people was at a fever pitch. Could this be the time when He would defeat the Romans and establish His earthly kingdom? Could He be the Messiah? When this blind beggar discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he suddenly knew it was now or never. Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus, as had everyone in Palestine. He had heard of how He had raised the dead, multiplied loaves and fish, and even healed blind men! As it turns out, Jesus would never come back to Jericho again. For this blind man, this was his one and only window of opportunity. If he missed his chance now, he would never have another. He must have felt like a man stranded on a deserted island trying to get the attention of a ship way out at sea that was sailing by.

My friends, if you are not saved, you are in the very position that Bartimaeus was in! Jesus is here. He is in our midst. But you may never have this chance again. If you are smart, you will cry to Him for mercy while you have the chance. Don’t let this window of opportunity pass you by!

The Tenacity of His Cry. This poor blind man was shouting and screaming at the top of his lungs. The large crowd of people around him were really annoyed at him and said something like, “Shut up you old fool! Jesus isn’t interested in the likes of you. Look at the size of this crowd that’s following Him. He’s an extremely important and busy person. Just be quiet!” However, we have already seen in this very chapter that Christ took a special interest in little babies. In the next chapter we will see Him taking special interest in a despised tax collector. And right here, He is going to take a special interest in this blind beggar. God takes lightly those we esteem, and runs to rescue those we despise. God is moved with compassion towards the broken, the rejected, the marginalized.

Have you ever felt like Bartimaeus? You desperately want God’s attention. You want to know that He loves you and will forgive you. However, Satan keeps shouting in your ear, “Don’t bother! God could never love someone like you! You are too wicked, too sinful. Just look at yourself. Look at the mess you have made of your life! Just give up. Stop praying. There’s no hope for you!”

Bartimaeus is a living illustration of Luke 18:1, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” He is a living illustration of Luke 16:16, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” This blind man would not be denied. He didn’t care if everyone in the world told him to shut up. He wasn’t going to stop. He has had a lot of practice crying out. He’s a professional beggar. He wasn’t shy. He cried out for all he was worth, and when everyone told him to shut up, he cried even louder. This guy just wouldn’t give up. He was probably embarrassing the people in the crowd. This wasn’t polite. It didn’t follow the accepted social protocols. He was interrupting Jesus as He taught the crowds. But Bartimaeus really didn’t care what others thought about him. The only thing that really mattered to him at that moment was being able to see! Surely, with this large of a crowd there must have been hundreds of conversations going on, a buzz going on, shouts of joy and excitement. But in the midst of all this, old Bartimaeus wants to be heard, and he does whatever it takes to get Jesus’ attention.

How about you? If you are seeking salvation, but have met hindrances, don’t give up! Keep crying out to God until you know He has heard you and answered your prayer. Jesus said violent men take the kingdom by force. You must have the attitude that you won’t be denied. You will cry until you know the Lord has granted you His salvation.

The Expectancy Of His Cry. I believe there was real faith in the heart of this beggar. Why? Because of how he referred to Jesus. The crowd told him that it was Jesus of Nazareth, but he called Jesus, “Son of David”, which was a common Messianic title. By calling Jesus, “Son of David”, he was confessing that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah that God had sent into the world. In 2 Samuel 7, God had promised David that He would grant that one of his descendants would sit on the throne of his kingdom forever. In Luke 1:32 Gabriel told Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Later, in Matthew 21:9 when Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem, the crowds shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” So, “The Son of David” was a common title for the Messiah. And that’s exactly what this blind man called Jesus. He had heard Is. 35:5-6 read in the synagogue, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.” The rabbis had taught that this would all happen when the Messiah appeared. There was a great buzz about Jesus. People were saying that He was healing the deaf, and the mute, and the lame, and that recently in Jerusalem, He had healed a man who had been born blind. When Bartimaeus heard that, his heart must have leaped with hope as he thought, “Surely, this Jesus of Nazareth must be the Messiah, the Son of David.”

There’s another little hint that real faith was being birthed in his heart. Over in Mark’s account, it says that he threw off his cloak and came to Jesus. For a beggar, a cloak was extremely important. It served as a blanket at night, and was the only thing he may have had to keep warm. However, he believes he will be healed, and so casts off his cloak. It was as if to say, “I won’t be needing this any more. Jesus, the Messiah, is going to restore my sight!”

My friend, it is important to cry out to God, but it will do no good unless you cry to Him in faith. We must believe He is who He said He is. We must confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. We must cry expectantly.

The Humility Of His Cry. When Bartimaeus came before Jesus, he didn’t say, “You know Lord, I have lived a pretty good, upstanding life. I have always attended the synagogue, and paid my tithes, and attended the annual religious festivals. Based on all of that, would you heal my blindness?” No, he said, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He wasn’t asking Jesus for justice. He was asking for mercy. He didn’t say, “Why did I, of all the people here in Jericho, receive this blindness? I don’t deserve this!” Rather, he was asking for healing based on Christ’s mercy, and relieve him of his miserable condition.

What a far cry from those today who are always complaining, “Why me? I don’t deserve this!” You’re right. You don’t deserve this. You deserve hell! Every one of us deserves hell, but God freely offers us mercy. Praise His name!

3. His Call

Jesus Compassion. Look at verse 40, “And Jesus stopped.” Notice the contrast between how the crowd reacted to this beggar, and how Jesus reacted to him. The crowd were sternly telling to be quiet. They had no use for this guy. He embarrassed them, and annoyed them. But Jesus was stopped by his cry. Oh, my friends, the desperate cry of the poorest, most wretched soul will stop Jesus in His tracks! Joshua was able to stop the sun in the sky, but this poor beggar was able to stop the Lord of the heavens and the earth! Jesus was walking along, perhaps teaching the multitude. He was going up to Jerusalem to die. He had a lot of heavy burdens on his mind. But, in spite of all that, when He heard this poor man’s cry, He stopped. I love that! Everyone else just wanted to get rid of this guy, but Jesus wanted him! Oh, take heart! When you feel like you are all alone, like no one wants you, know that Jesus is willing to stop and hear your cry! Why did Jesus stop? Matthew tells us He was moved with compassion. The crowd had no compassion for him. He was just an irritant to them. But Jesus was moved with compassion. I don’t care who you are, or how insignificant you feel you are, Jesus cares about you, and will stop to draw near when you call!

Jesus’ Command. According to Mark, Jesus said, “Call him here!” Jesus stopped and issued a call to this beggar. The call was actually a command. Luke says he commanded that he be brought to Him. When the Sovereign Lord issues a command, you know that it’s going to happen!

My friends, do you know that if you are a Christian today, it is because He called you? Now, there are two types of calling in the Bible. There is the general call, and the effectual call. The general call is the call that goes out to everyone who hears the gospel. This kind of call only reaches the ear, but in most cases is resisted. However, the effectual call not only reaches the ears, but enters the heart, and becomes so powerful it overcomes all resistance. That’s why some theologians refer to it as the irresistible call. In order for any lost sinner to be saved, God must issue an effectual call to Him. This is the call the apostle Paul was referring to in Romans 8:30. To understand Romans 8:30, you really have to back up to Romans 8:28, a verse that we have all memorized, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” That’s interesting! What is this “called according to His purpose”? Well, Paul goes on to explain it. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” You see, those who are called according to God’s purpose, are those whom God has foreknown, and predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Then Paul continues in verse 30, “and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Do you see the Unbreakable Chain of Salvation? It has 5 links in it: Foreknown – Predestined – Called – Justified – Glorified. If you are in the first group of people who are Foreknown, you will also be in the last group that is Glorified. If you are not foreknown, you are not glorified. No one is added along this chain of salvation, and no one is lost along the way. Notice also, that if God calls you, you will be justified! In other words this call is effectual. It actually brings a sinner into the state of salvation. Notice also, that if God justifies you, He also glorifies you. In other words, once God has justified a sinner, they can never become unjustified and be lost in hell. Once saved, always being saved, forever saved! If you were included in God’s eternal purpose of election in eternity past, He will call you, justify you, and glorify you. You can count on it!

Jesus’ Question. Notice the end of verse 40, and then verse 41, “and when he came near, He questioned him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” By asking this question, Jesus was giving this poor sinner an opportunity to confess his faith. When he told the Lord he wanted to regain his sight, he was declaring that he believed the Lord could heal his blindness.

You know it is absolutely essential that we call on the name of the Lord in faith if we are to be saved. Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Then in verse 13 it says, “for whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Have you ever called on the name of the Lord in faith? If you haven’t, do it today!

4. His Cure

The Source of His Cure. Verse 42 says, “And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Now, this is interesting. Jesus says that his faith has made him well. Is that true? Was his faith the source of his salvation? Well, no, not strictly speaking. In Matthew we read that Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they regained their sight. The real source of their healing was God’s power through the Lord Jesus Christ. It was when He touched their eyes that they saw. But, in another sense, faith was the instrument through which they were healed. Let’s imagine that a little child is starving to death, and you bring him food. He reaches out, takes the food, and eats. So, what saved him? Was it the you, the food, or his hand? In a sense, it was all three. He was saved by you, because you provided the food. He was saved by the food, which nourished him. And he was saved by his hands, because it was through reaching out and taking the food and putting it into his mouth that he was kept from perishing. Faith is the hands of the soul. Faith is the instrument by which we receive the bread of life and are kept from perishing. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” The prepositions in that sentence are important. We are saved by grace, through faith. Grace is the basis of salvation; faith is the instrument which lays hold of salvation. We are saved through faith alone!

The Results of His Cure. There are two results. Verse 43 says, “Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God.”

  • He Followed Jesus. In the gospels, to become a follower of Jesus means that you are a disciple. Remember Jesus famous words in 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” A Christian follows Jesus. Period. His whole life is a following of Christ. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me” (Jn.10:27).
  • He Glorified God. He worshiped God. The idea of following Jesus is obedience. The idea here is that of worship. This blind beggar’s life was characterized by obedience and worship. That’s the Christian life in a nutshell.

Conclusion

Oh, there is so much in this passage, isn’t there?!

Do you see your condition apart from Christ, as that of a spiritually blind beggar, having nothing to commend you to God?

Have you cried out to Him for mercy? Has this cry included a sense of urgency, tenacity, expectancy, and humility?

Have you responded to God’s sovereign, effectual call? Do you realize that if you are a Christian it is because of God’s initiative? His sovereign grace? Do you realize that He receives all the credit in your salvation?

Have you been cured? Have you been saved? You will know it if you become a follower and a worshiper. Does that describe you?

If you have never been saved, today is the day of salvation. Cry out to Him. He will stop. He will be moved by compassion. He will call you. And He will heal you! Hallelujah! Do it today!

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