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Son of Man, a Servant

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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February 7, 2021 12:01 am

Son of Man, a Servant

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 7, 2021 12:01 am

Set on going to Jerusalem, Jesus could not be stopped or turned aside--until He heard Bartimaeus, a blind man, calling for Him. Continuing his exposition of the gospel of Mark, today R.C. Sproul considers how this humble man exhibited true servanthood and devotion to the Savior.

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This man was a beggar by the road, and in Hebrew categories he was the lowest of the low in terms of his station in life, in terms of his public exaltation and status.

Presumably the man in poverty was in rags. Blind Bartimaeus had begged by the side of the road for years. The people of the city put up with him, some giving him money, but no one had ever truly helped him until Jesus came along.

Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his series from the Gospel of Mark with the story of a man in need and a king who was a servant. Last week I got carried away and preached more verses than I had told them I was going to preach on, and so this morning I'm going to start instead of verse 42 at verse 46 and concentrate our attention on the healing of the blind man whose name was Bartimaeus.

Mark chapter 10, verses 46 through 52, and I'll ask the congregation to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now they came to Jericho, and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 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. And then many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. And then they called the blind man, saying to him, Be of good cheer, rise, he is calling you. And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. And so Jesus answered and said to him, What do you want me to do for you? And the blind man said to him, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight. And then Jesus said to him, Go your way, your faith has made you well. And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road, the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, revealed by God for us.

Please be seated. Throughout the synoptic gospels, we read passage after passage, incident after incident in which Jesus in His miraculous power heals people of all different sorts of afflictions. There's something unusual, however, about this narrative that you've just heard, and it's something that you've heard that you've just heard, and that is this, that in all of the synoptic gospels, only one person that Jesus healed is named, and it is Bartimaeus. Now we wonder if it was simply a coincidence, or perhaps there was a method to the madness of Mark to include his name, and certainly to interject this brief narrative in this journey that Jesus is taking with His disciples from the north now coming to Jerusalem. The setting is Jericho, not Old Testament Jericho where Joshua fit the battle and made the walls come tumbling down, but New Testament Jericho, which is situated seventeen or eighteen miles north of Jerusalem and about 3500 feet below the altitude of Jerusalem. And one of the unusual characteristics of Jericho is that it is said by archeologists that the two cities that are known to have been inhabited by people longer than any two cities on the face of the earth are Damascus and this village of Jericho. If you've ever been to New Testament Jericho, you will immediately see why a village is there and why it has been there for so many millennia. In the middle of the desert, as you make your way toward Jerusalem, even from a distance you will have a sight that many thirsty pilgrims were afraid was a mirage.

In the distance, coming out of the middle of the desert is this wonderful mass of palm trees that are growing alongside one of the richest and largest oases that you would ever find in the desert. And that's the place where this incident took place by the oasis there in New Testament Jericho. And we're told that when Jesus came to Jericho and He went out of Jericho with His disciples and this great multitude, they saw blind Bartimaeus, who then is further introduced as the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.

A couple of things I want to say about this. First of all, Mark writes for people who are not always aware of Hebrew ancestry, customs, or names, because to call this man Bartimaeus and then to follow that with the description the son of Timaeus is really an exercise in literary redundancy. Every Hebrew who would read this story would know that the name Bartimaeus, just as Jesus was Jesus' bar Joseph, to be bar means to be son of, and if you're a son of the covenant or the commandments, you might have a bar mitzvah in the Jewish community.

So Bartimaeus means son of Timaeus, and would think it would be unnecessary to repeat that except that this is written presumably for Gentile believers who wouldn't know that etymology. So in any case, Bartimaeus is introduced as a blind man who sits along the road begging. Now because of the importance of Jericho and where it was situated in relationship to Jerusalem, the merchant roads all came through there. So there was great commerce along that road, and it was an ideal place for a beggar to situate himself along that pathway.

I remember when I was a student in Holland that every time I went into the city of Amsterdam, I had to go by train, and you come out of Central Station there and go over a bridge that is the transition into downtown Amsterdam to the center of the city, which is called, as you might expect, the dam or the dom. So in any case, every time I came into the city to go to school, I had to come out of Central Station, go over that bridge, and every single time without fail that I went over that bridge, I passed a blind man who had his hat on the sidewalk to receive alms. And every single time I passed that man, I dropped some money in his hat. Well, I left Holland and did not return for four years, and four years later I came back and came out of Central Station on my way to the center of the town, and that same blind man was still there with his hat collecting alms.

A few years later, a friend of mine from Holland sent me a colored portrait book of all the sites night and day of the city of Amsterdam, and right in the middle of this book there was a picture of the bridge to Central Station, and there was the man on the bridge. I wonder if he's still there after all these times. Well obviously that's the kind of person Bartimaeus was. He was a fixture on the road out of Jericho toward Jerusalem, and he sat by the road not seeing anybody but listening for footsteps as people came near, and he would ask for alms.

Now before I go further into this narrative, there's something else I want to point out about it. I'm a little bit puzzled at first blush as to why Mark interrupts this narrative of this trip that Jesus is taking with His disciples from Caesarea Philippi now approaching within twenty miles of Jerusalem. What's the big deal about this incident, which is simply one among a multitude of incidents where Jesus healed people in His path? Well I can't help but notice that it is situated here in the text immediately following the discussion that Jesus had with His disciples about what real discipleship means. It doesn't mean seeking to sit at the right hand or seeking to sit at the left hand, but Jesus had explained to His disciples that to be great in the kingdom of God, you had to be the servant of all. And so most commentators expect that Mark had a reason for introducing us here, giving us the name of this blind man, because Bartimaeus stands in bold relief and contrast to the behavior of the disciples of Jesus who were squabbling among themselves for status and for rank in the kingdom of God. This man was a beggar by the road, and in Hebrew categories he was the lowest of the low in terms of his station in life, in terms of his public exaltation and status.

Presumably the man in poverty was in rags as he sat there hoping against hopes that somebody would drop a coin into his cup that he might have his next meal or a place to rest for the evening. And he hears from his standpoint, or sitting point I should say, by the side of the road all of the buzz that's going on with the multitudes, and he gets wind of the news that it's Jesus who is coming. And so when he hears footsteps approach, he cries out in a loud voice saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And the crowd told him to shut up.

They warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more. Listen to what he says, Son of David, have mercy on me. Nobody was going to still his tongue as he cried out for Jesus to help him. But what I find fascinating about this appeal from the blind man was the soundness of his theology, that without eyes to see, he knew who was coming, the Messiah, the long-promised Deliverer of Israel who would come out of the family and lineage of David, of David, who would be David's greater Son, who would restore the kingship to David, who would be David's Son, and yet at the same time David's Lord.

One of the most rich, pregnant, messianic titles in all of the Old Testament is this title, Son of David. Now we've seen the demeanor of Jesus during this trip. We saw last week that the disciples were amazed at the way in which Jesus walked ahead of them with this resolute determination to go to His destiny of shame, pain, suffering, and ignominy in Jerusalem, that nothing would cause Him to look to the left or to the right, but His face was set as a flint we observed. But now Jesus stops in His tracks, and what makes Him stop is the plaintive cry of a beggar who recognizes Him as the Son of David. He hears a man called, Son of David, have mercy upon me. And so we read in verse 49 that Jesus stood still and commanded Him to be called. He tells His disciples, find out who that is that's screaming at me.

Go get that man and bring him to me. And I'm not moving another foot toward Jerusalem until I see this person. So they called the blind man, saying to Him, be of good cheer.

Rise. He is calling you. Now I've been calling Him, as Barnabas would say.

And now He's calling the blind man. It's one thing for us to call upon the Lord. It's something else when He calls upon us. That's where our true redemption lies. And so He threw aside His garment, He stood up, and He came to Jesus.

We could make metaphorical hay out of those words, couldn't we? This is what everybody should do when Jesus approaches. They should throw aside whatever is hindering them. They should stand up, and they should come to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to Him, now listen carefully to the question that Jesus asks Him. And before I repeat it, let me ask you to remember, when was the last time you heard Jesus ask anybody this question? Jesus says to Bartimaeus, what do you want Me to do for you?

Does that ring a bell? James and John, James and John, Jesus, will you do what we ask? And Jesus said to James and John, what do you want Me to do for you?

Remember that? And they said, oh, that one of us could sit at your right hand, and the other one could sit at your left hand when you come into the glory of your kingdom. Listen to what Bartimaeus has answered when Jesus said, what do you want Me to do for you?

The blind man said, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight. I'm not asking for status. I'm not asking for glory. I'm not asking to be exalted in your kingdom. I'm just begging you for something that almost every human being already enjoys.

Lord, I just want to be able to see. He was a simple man, and for him things were not complicated. He had one driving passion, to get out of this impenetrable darkness that defined his life, where he groped in danger, always dependent on somebody else to take him by the hand and to lead him. He couldn't read braille, didn't have guide dogs, didn't have an electronic walking stick to warn him of dangers in his path.

His life was constant darkness. All I want, Lord, is to receive my sight. But that's not exactly the way he said it. Again and again and again, except basically on one other occasion in the New Testament, when people speak to Jesus and address Him, they address Him by His title as a teacher. He is a rabbi, and so they address Him by the title, Rabbi. But that's not what Bartimaeus calls him. When he answers the question that I might receive my sight, he says, Rabboni, the same title Mary gave to Jesus in the garden of resurrection.

This slight alteration from the title, Rabbi, means far more than the addressed professor or teacher. Being translated, it has an intense personal significance to it, and in reality it is a confession of faith, because what Bartimaeus is saying to Jesus here in this language is, my Lord and my Master, let me see. Mark gives us a portrait of a true disciple who is ragged and poor and blind, but who recognizes the Messiah for who He is. And when he calls upon Him, addresses Him, my Lord, my Master. You see, Jesus has just taught His disciples about what it means to be a servant.

To be a servant is to serve a Master. And where the disciples failed, the blind man succeeds. And Jesus said, Go your way. Your faith has made you well. And instantly He received His sight. The lights came on, and what most blind people would want to do would be to run through the city and see all the sights that they had had described to them, but they had never feasted their own eyes on instead. As soon as He saw anything, He saw Jesus, and He followed Him, to Jerusalem, to His death.

Pertimaeus recognized Jesus for who He really is, the Son of God. Dr. R.C. Sproul has brought us rich perspective on this story today. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb, and thank you for being with us. Mark's gospel is our focus every Sunday as we make our way verse by verse through this book, and we're finding rich insight and helpful application. That's why I think our resource offer would be a great help to you. In your study, it's Dr. Sproul's commentary on the gospel of Mark.

You'll find easy-to-read explanations of every verse in this nearly 400-page hardbound volume. You can go online and request it with your gift of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. Our web address is And you can explore our free app to find additional teaching from Dr. Sproul. You'll discover articles, blog posts, and audio and video clips. The Ligonier app provides you with hours of biblical instruction and advice.

We invite you to download it to your phone or tablet when you search for Ligonier in your app store. Well, the healing of blind Bartimaeus is Jesus' final miracle before He enters Jerusalem on the road to the cross. I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind next Sunday as we return to Mark's gospel at a message titled, The Triumphal Entry.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-27 01:49:43 / 2023-12-27 01:57:13 / 8

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