Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

The Blind Man

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 7, 2023 12:01 am

The Blind Man

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1341 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

May 7, 2023 12:01 am

The Lord Jesus Christ knows what His people need most, and by His authority He grants them redemption and new life. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his expositional series in the gospel of Luke, explaining that Jesus' healing a blind man was about more than gaining physical sight.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Luke for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Don't forget to make your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.


I don't know how many people have said to me, I don't feel the need for Jesus. I say there's nothing you need more in all the universe than Jesus.

You may be inured to the feeling, but feeling what you need is not always the same as understanding what you really need. When we look at our devices and scroll through social media, we're inundated with advertisements. There's always something new, something shiny, and the advertisers are bending to the whims of society, whatever they think people will buy. Well, is that how Christians should think about reaching the community?

Should we change our message to reach more people and accommodate society? Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Felt needs change, they come and go, but the greatest need for fallen sinners doesn't change, and that's why the Gospel message must stay the same and is relevant in every era. As R.C. Sproul continues his sermon series through the Gospel of Luke, today we meet a blind man, a man desperate to receive his sight, but like you and me, had a need that was far greater.

Here's Dr. Sproul. This text begins ominously in verse 31, as Jesus and His disciples had made their way south from Galilee and are now coming very close to Jerusalem. For the third time, Jesus talks to His disciples and tells them what is soon to take place, and the message that He gives is a grim one. And as I said, this is the third time He has told them these things, but they don't get it.

They don't understand it, or whatever they do understand about it, they don't believe. We remember in Caesarea Philippi after Peter's confession was made, and after the disciples had enjoyed the glorious time on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus told them then, all right, it's time to go to Jerusalem, where I will be handed over to the Gentiles, I will suffer and be killed. And you remember Peter's first papal encyclical, No, Lord.

If there ever was an oxymoron stated, it was that one, when Peter said, No, we're not going to do this. That's when Jesus changed His name again, when He said, Get thee behind me, Satan. But in any case, here we're getting close to the destination, and Jesus takes the Messiah again and said, Behold, we're going off to Jerusalem, and everything that has been written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will take place there. He will be delivered to the Gentiles. He will be mocked. He will be insulted. He will be spat upon. They will scourge Him, and then they will kill Him. And the third day He will rise again. But, Luke tells us, they understood none of these things, for this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.

Now there's something strange about this text, isn't it? Jesus tells them what's going to happen, and Luke tells us they don't understand what He said. And then Luke tells us the reason they didn't understand what Jesus had just told them was that it was kept from them. Now if Jesus knew it was going to be kept from them, why did He even bother to tell them?

The only possible answer would be that they may understand after the facts had taken place. And in addition for our edification today, as we read of these events two thousand years later, remember after the resurrection, as we will see later, God willing in Luke's Gospel, Jesus' discussion with the men on the road to Emmaus when He began with Moses and went through all of the prophets and showed how He had fulfilled as the Son of Man in detail with meticulous fullness every single one of these predictions. And it was only after the scales were removed from the eyes of the disciples that they remembered these things after the fact.

Yes, He said that. He told us this three times, but we didn't get it. Now after this brief interlude of mentioning this third announcement that Jesus gives, Luke goes on to describe the events as they come near Jericho. Some of you that like to worry about the details notice that in the parallel Gospels, some of them having Jesus coming into Jericho, other ones have Him coming out of Jericho, simple solution. New Testament Jericho is built right adjacent to Old Testament Jericho, and sometimes the Jews refer to Jericho Old Testament, sometimes they refer to a New Testament.

So in order to get into the New Testament Jericho, they had to go out of Old Testament Jericho, and so we're not going to spend any more time on that. Anyway, as He was coming near to Jericho, Luke tells us, a certain blind man sat by the road again. And the other gospel tells us that there were two blind men, one of whom's name was Bartimaeus, and Bartimaeus was the spokesman for the two.

And so obviously this reference that Luke gives us is with specific reference to Bartimaeus as the leader of the two. And it happened as He was coming near Jericho that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. Now I'm not sure whether this man was born blind or if he had lost his sight at some point during his life, but in any case, what a malady with which to be afflicted.

If I were to lose any of my five senses, the last one I would want to lose would be my sight. If the man was born blind, he had never seen anything but darkness. And when people would describe the sunset or the waterfall or other people, he had no meaningful reference to understand what they were talking about. If he had been able to see and then lost his sight, he would of course have the memories of vision, and then could relate to verbal descriptions of things around him.

But in any case, his present experience had a vision that never changed. The last thing that he saw before he went to bed at night was utter blackness. And when he awoke the next morning, the first thing he saw was utter blackness. And when it came to be high noon, with the sun shining at its brightness, all this man saw was complete and total blackness.

Blackness in the morning, blackness in the afternoon, blackness at the night. He saw absolutely nothing but we hear from those who are blind that in the midst of blindness, the other senses become intensified and strengthened. The hearing becomes more sensitive to things that are going on around.

The touch becomes more tactile in the ability even in some cases for people to read with their fingers and so on. So here's this man sitting by the road trying to eke out a living, possibly with a stone cup rather than a tin cup, but some kind of cup in his hand, hoping for alms by which he might live. Because he was blind, he could not earn a living by doing anything else except begging. And as some people passed him by, they would have mercy, and they would drop something in his hand or in his cup. But he could hear footsteps. He could hear people approaching.

He wouldn't know for sure whether they were friend or foe. And this day it sounded like a group of race horses galloping across the field. He could hear the tumultuous sound of a huge mob approaching him. And as his ears perk up, he's wondering, what is this that is happening? And so hearing the multitude passing by, he asked someone what it meant. So they said to him, Bartimaeus, Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. Now you notice what Bartimaeus doesn't say. He doesn't say, who's that? Jesus of Nazareth never heard of the fellow.

No, no, no. By this time, news of Jesus had spread across the whole country. People had been telling Bartimaeus about this Jesus who had given hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind and even raised people from the dead. And you can imagine that in his darkness, he would have his dream someday, just someday maybe, Jesus of Nazareth will pass this way. The only hope this man had on this earth to receive his sight was rested in Jesus of Nazareth.

He knew there was no cure, but he had heard the stories. And now the thunder of the rushing multitude coming nearby, he hears it, what is it? What's happening? Who's coming? And somebody says, Bartimaeus, it's Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is passing your way.

Hold that thought, will you please? Jesus of Nazareth is passing your way. And so he cried out, just like the lepers had before that Luke told us about. He cried, he yelled, he screamed, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. When he started screaming like that, he was upsetting everybody. The whole decorum of the place was ruined. And so those who went before Jesus warned him, said, hush, be quiet, making a scene.

Do I care about a scene? He cried out, all the more, even louder, I'm not going to do it to you again. But all the more, he cried out with the loudest voice he could possibly use, because he had no assurance that Jesus would ever pass that way again. So Jesus heard it, and he stopped. And Luke tells us he stood still for a moment and commanded that this blind man be brought to him. And when he had come near, he asked him, saying, what do you want me to do for you? Now don't you know that Jesus could tell he was blind? Why in the world would Jesus take the time to ask him what he wanted? Everybody was in a hurry. Why didn't just Jesus stop, touch the man and say, let your sight be restored, and then go on his way? That's not what he did. Instead, he asked him point blank, what do you want me to do for you?

Now I think our Lord had a pretty good idea of what the man's answer would be. But I'd like to take just a little detour for a second. In the fall, we at Ligonier went on a trip to New England, tracing the roots of the Great Awakening, studying the work of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. We went to Yale and Princeton and Harvard and then down to Philadelphia. And one of the speakers on that tour was Dr. Stephen Nichols. And Dr. Nichols, as you know, is the president of Reformation Bible College. And on that trip, he preached from this text, and he gave a little twist to it. And what he was saying basically was this, that when Jesus said to Bartimaeus, what can I do for you?

What would you like me to do for you? That Bartimaeus gave the completely wrong answer, an answer that was expected, an answer that is understandable. What would you expect a blind man to say to Jesus when Jesus says, what would you like me to do for you?

Of course the man, being a man, being human, flesh and blood, is going to say, let me have my sight. Now we have here at St. Andrew's a philosophy of ministry, and it's not the same philosophy that is found everywhere else. In fact, it's not the same philosophy of ministry that is the prevalent view of ministry today. We are totally committed to expository preaching from whole books of the Bible, as we've been following through the Gospel of Luke, and before that we did Matthew and Mark and John and Acts and Romans and so on, verse by verse, the whole counsel of God. We depend upon what we call the ordinary means of grace, the sacraments of baptism in the Lord's Supper, of prayer, of fellowship, of witness, of mercy.

But we are deeply committed to studying the things of God, both in our sermons and in our adult Sunday school. Now that flies in the face of the whole current view of philosophy of ministry that we find all around us that tells us that if you want to have a church that grows, you have to give the people what they want. You have to entertain them. You have to de-churchify church. Get rid of the pulpit.

Get rid of the organ. Make it a fun time and a comfortable time because people have felt needs that need to be met. You know, you'll talk to people, and you'll see them moving from one church to another church, and you say, Well, why did you leave your church? And they say, Well, they weren't meeting my needs.

I always want to say, Well, what needs weren't they meeting? Are you telling me that it was boring and that wasn't entertaining and that what you need on Sunday morning is to be entertained and that they weren't entertaining you, they were just feeding you the Word of God? Then you've left for the wrong reason. If you've left because you know that you need your soul to be fed and your family to be prepared for eternal life with Jesus Christ, and you didn't feel you needed it, you need to go back there because there's a distinction frequently between felt needs and real needs. A pastor once said to me, My goal as a preacher is to scratch them where they itch.

I want to make you itch, not scratch you where you itch. There is a difference between felt needs and real needs. No, a felt need may be a real need, but it may not be your deepest need. It's clear that what this man felt he needed more than anything else was his sight. But what if he got his sight and died and went to hell? What if he met Jesus and had his vision restored but missed the kingdom? You know, the man we looked at last week was the rich young ruler. He at least was looking for the right thing and inheriting the kingdom of God.

He just was too committed to his idols to receive that legacy. But again, it's perfectly understandable that this man when Jesus comes, all he's thinking about is getting his eyes back. And so, Dr. Nichols asked us to use our imagination. I've asked you to do this before.

I'm going to ask you to do it again this morning. Imagine you were there sitting on the road by Jericho, and Jesus of Nazareth came by, and He stopped in front of you, and He said to you, what would you like Me to do for you? Or if He came in this room right now and came up to you and asked you the same question, what would you like Me to do for you? What would you ask for?

Your deepest wish, your deepest desire. When I was in the third grade at Christmas time at our elementary school, we decorated the whole school for Christmas, and it was legal then. And on one afternoon, the third grade was dismissed to go to the auditorium, and on the stage there was this big chair, and there in the chair was Santa Claus. And so, one by one, each one of us in third grade got to have a personal interview with Santa Claus. We'd walk up to him, sit on his knee, he'd ask us our name, and then he would say, what would you like for Christmas? And we would tell him, and then walk away thinking, hey, maybe I'll get what I want for Christmas this year. Well, I remember that day and sitting on Santa's lap, and he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told him, and he smiled and said, I think you're going to get that. And I said, that's great. So after school, I went home and I came into my father's room, and to my utter astonishment, there I saw him sleeping on his bed, still half-dressed in the Santa Claus outfit that he had worn that afternoon.

I sat on my own dad's lap, listened to him ask me to go, I didn't know who it was. I thought I was talking to Santa Claus. There's a big difference between Jesus and Santa Claus.

We could spend all day pointing out those differences. The one thing we know about Jesus, He doesn't need any reindeer, He doesn't need any elves, He doesn't need any help to give us anything we need. He has the power and the ability to give us what we need the most.

In the early years of Ligonier Ministries, we had a consultant come to us to tell us how to distribute our teaching materials. And he said, here's what you do, you package them according to the ideas that are done in Madison Avenue, have a you focus, guarantee a benefit to the people who hear it, but most of all, speak to the people's felt needs. I said, but the people's greatest need is to find out who God is and how they can be reconciled to Him, but they don't feel it at all. I don't know how many people have said to me, I don't feel the need for Jesus. I said, there's nothing you need more in all the universe than Jesus.

You may be inured to the feeling, but feeling what you need is not always the same as understanding what you really need. And so, I go back to the question I asked you a moment ago. If Jesus came to you and said, what can I do for you? You've had time to think about it, do a little wool gathering, take a vacation from my sermon, but I invited you to do that.

What would you say to Him? Lord, I lost my job. I need a new job. Lord, my marriage is in trouble. I need to be healed in my marriage.

Lord, I was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. Can you heal me? Now, if you understand anything about Jesus, you say to Him, Jesus, please, Son of David, have mercy on me. Cover me with Your righteousness.

I'm going to stand before Your Father dressed in filthy rags or naked and ashamed and ashamed. Cover me. Save me. Give me what I don't have and what I need the most, righteousness, Your righteousness, without which I will never enter Your kingdom.

Well, you could put it another way. Give me saving faith. Justify me before the Father. It's not my eyes, Lord. It's not my ears.

It's not my leprosy. It's my soul. Heal my soul. Take away the darkness from my soul. Jesus said to him, okay, receive your sight, your faith that's made you well.

Commentators are a little bit perplexed about that. We know that Jesus gave him what He asked for, and He says your faith has made you well or your faith has saved you. It may be He's just simply saying your trust in Me has gotten you past your blindness. Or it may be that Jesus gave this man much more than his ability to see. He gave him Himself, and now your faith has made you well.

Part of the reason I'm inclined towards that second view is this, what follows. Luke tells us, and immediately he received his sight. He was in an evangelist meeting and called up front to be healed of his deafness and have the evangelist say, can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?

No, no. This was the real thing. Instantly the darkness vanished. His eyes were flooded with light. He could see Jesus. He could look into His face. He could see Jericho.

He could see everything around Him. One of his friends might say, hey, you haven't seen anything yet. I've got to take you to see this place or that place. He says, no sir, I'm not going anywhere. All I want to see is Jesus. I'm going to follow Him, and I'm going to glorify Him.

And that's what He said. He received His sight. He got what He asked for. Then He followed Him, and He glorified God. And so everyone that was with Him gave praise to God.

And if Jesus has given to you what you need the most, then is it not the sensible thing to follow Him and to glorify God? That was R.C. Sproul on this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. What we heard today was a sermon that Dr. Sproul preached at St. Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida.

It was actually one of 113 sermons that he preached through Luke's Gospel, and these sermons formed the basis of his expositional commentary on Luke. And today, for your donation of any amount, we're making the digital edition of that commentary available to you. So I encourage you to give your gift at You'll be able to put this commentary on your phone or your tablet. Take it with you wherever you go. It'll also easily be available for you in your learning library in the free Ligonier app. So give your gift today at You may have sung about him in Sunday school, but there's more to the story of Zacchaeus than his short stature and the sycamore tree. So join us next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-07 03:02:51 / 2023-05-07 03:11:55 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime