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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012



Sermon of the Week #200935 for November 4, 2009

Matthew, Mark, and Luke, tell us about two blind men sitting by the wayside begging; one of them was named Bartimaeus, and hearing a great multitude passing by, asked what it meant, and they were told, “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.” Even today, every time the gospel is preached, Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.

Now there are three types of blindness. First there is physical blindness such as Bartimaeus, and then there is mental blindness. There is also a third type of blindness which is the worst of all, and that is spiritual blindness; people who are spiritually blind and are unable to see scriptural truth. The words of Isaiah 6:9-10 are quoted six times in the New Testament, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the hearts of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they hear with their ears, and see with their eyes, and convert and be healed.”

The real reason for spiritual blindness is in the words of the Apostle Paul in Second Corinthians chapter 4:4 when he says, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” They become like blind men walking along-side a cliff, feeling perfectly safe, even though they may drop off any minute into everlasting darkness. Jesus said, “Having eyes that see not, and ears that hear not, neither do they understand.”

I shall never forget the soldier from Viet Nam who told me, “When I could see, I was blind, now that I am blind, I can see.” I do not know the particulars, but one day when Jesus was passing by, that soldier hitched a ride to Heaven.

We also note that the faith of these two who were physically blind was based on what they heard, and not what they saw. What a condemnation on those who can see physically, read the Word of God, and not see anything.

Jesus of Nazareth is still passing by today, and the uproar of the crowd is still heard; pandemonium reigns supreme, as the Devil strives to drown out the cries for mercy. But I fervently hope that perhaps through the din of the noise on Sunday, and the roar of the multitude to “Hold thy peace,”  our voice can still be heard as we continue to cry out, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

Bartimaeus would not be stopped. He cried out again. A different Greek word is used. This time it was a shriek, an inarticulate scream several times; “HAVE MERCY ON ME! Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!” Mark says they cried out the more a great deal. It was difficult to make out the words, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” When someone is at the end of his rope, Jesus will hear the cry for mercy, and the Son - S.0.N. - will stand still in Joshua-style, on His way up to Jerusalem. Remember Peter trying to walk on the water, “Lord, save,” and Jesus lifted him. Both scripture and song say Jesus did. That did it; he got the Lord’s attention. We might think the noise-level in this world is so great it would drown out the prayers of those who cry out for mercy, but if it had to be done, the Lord would mute the trumpet of Gabriel, and hush every angelic choir just to hear those who cry for mercy when Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.

Then Jesus stood still. Bartimaeus by screaming, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!” causes the Son of God to stand still. Think of it, Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to die on the cross, yet by the shriek of this man Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. And they called the blind man, saying unto him, “Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee.”

The King of the universe extended the scepter to the blind men, and they were invited to draw near, and touch the tip, and make their request. What wouldest thou that I do unto thee? So the procession stopped and Jesus of Nazareth stood still as He was passing by.

Now the Lord knew why the blind men asked for mercy, but He wanted to hear them say it. He does not leave Himself open to grant things we have no business having. They could have said, “Lord, give us silver and gold.” That is what beggars usually begged to receive, and that is what most spiritually-blind would ask for today. But Bartimaeus and his friend said, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” And Jesus being moved by compassion, touched their eyes; and straightway they received their sight.

Actually opening the eyes of the blind was the program of Jesus when He came into the world. He declared in John the eighth chapter, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not live in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” And then in Acts twenty-six, Jesus Himself instructed the Apostle Paul when He appeared to him on the road to Damascus, “To this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things whereof thou hast seen Me, and the things wherein I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness unto light and from the power of Satan unto God; that they might receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Me.”

What a thrill it must have been; the first thing the blind men saw was the face of Jesus. They had the advantage over us. While we today have heard about Jesus, and read about Jesus, we have never seen Him face to face. I would like to have seen His face as a babe in Bethlehem.  I would like to have seen His face when He raised Lazarus from the dead.  I would like to have seen His face when He directed the Apostles to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. However, the greatest sight of all will be on that day that John tells us in First John the third chapter, “We know that when He shall appear, we shall see Him as He is,”  and not only that, we shall be made like Him. The gospel song exhorts: Face to face with Christ my Savior, face to face what will it be? When with rapture I behold him, Jesus Christ who died for me.

Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, and Bartimaeus saw his need of Jesus, but he also saw something else. He saw this was his one and only chance. There were many blind that were cured by the Lord Jesus Christ in His sojourn on earth, but only seven cases are mentioned, and this would be the last one to receive this blessing. This was his only chance and Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. As far as we can tell the Lord had never been in Jericho before this trip, and now that He is here, shortly after this He would never come back again. Shortly after this He would be on the cross.

This was the only chance Bartimaeus would have. If he missed this chance while Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he would remain in darkness for the rest of his earthly life.

Paul speaks of spiritual darkness in Colossians 1:12 when he says, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us, meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” We remind all who are yet in the kingdom of darkness; Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.

Now, notice again the great spiritual wisdom of Bartimaeus. He saw he could not afford to let anything stand in his way. When Jesus called him, Mark says, “And he, casting away his garment sprang up and came to Jesus.” Bartimaeus let go of a very valuable property so that nothing could impede his progress in coming to Jesus. His cloak was his bed, his covering from the cold. He could ill-afford to lose it in this crowd. Paul in Hebrews twelve gives us the same advice, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

There wasn’t anything wrong about the garment Bartimaeus was wearing, but since it hindered his progress, it had to go. Paul said there are two things that hinder our progress; weights and sin. The weight may not be a sin. But if it impedes our spiritual progress it becomes sin. You never see a runner in the Olympics wearing an overcoat, and carrying two pieces of luggage. There is one thing you can be sure about, if we follow Jesus in the way there is something you will have to give up.

A lot of people in the race of life are simply carrying too much baggage. Most people just don’t have time to read the Word of God for any significant amount of time, or to pray to the point where it is a major activity of the day, because they are too busy. To be effective in the race of life something has to go. Like Bartimaeus, spring up and cast off the garment spotted by the flesh, too much baggage impedes the progress in coming to Jesus. These are golden moments that can never be reclaimed.

Now here is the conclusion. 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.” Listen to that. Jesus told him to go his way, and he followed in the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus is Isaiah 35:8, “And a highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it.” The way of Jesus is not the way He talked about in the Sermon on the Mount, “Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many are they that enter in thereby.”

Many cry out for mercy, and continue in their own way. Ezekiel has the best description for the ungrateful in Ezekiel 16:17, “Thou also has taken thy fair jewels of my gold, and my silver, which I had given thee, and made to thyself images of men.” The ancients called the images of men gods; while we find the answer to all problems today in the money they called gods.

Paul gives a finishing touch to the gods we create in Romans 1:22, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible man and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.”

What a joy it is to follow Jesus in the way. Some wonderful things happened as he followed Jesus in the way. For one thing Luke tells us that he received his sight, and followed glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it gave praise unto God.

Following Jesus in the way is the way of giving praise unto God. How sweet it is to attend the services, and give praise unto God on the day that is called Sunday. But that is not all, if he followed Jesus to Bethany, he saw Him raise up a rotting corpse and bring Lazarus back to life. Isn’t it wonderful to follow a Saviour, who can raise the dead? We love to sing: We will sing, and shout the victory. Then too, just think if he followed Jesus to Jerusalem, the following Sunday he participated in the Triumphant Entry. He followed Jesus in the way. Then later on that week as he followed Jesus, something went all haywire. The singing stopped. People started shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And all of a sudden it was no fun to follow Jesus anymore. I don’t know what happened to Bartimaeus, but almost everybody else left Jesus. There were only three left at the cross when Jesus was crucified.

The mystery of what happened is cleared up when we remember something that Jesus said about following Him. He said, “If any man would come after Me, let him take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Well-meaning folk who attempt to follow Jesus today will come to the same conclusion.

This thing of following Jesus is not an easy way. It is the way of the cross. It is a life of denial. It is not all singing sentimental songs with a good beat, listening to gospel quartets, hearing sermons that inspire us, and make us feel good, going to concerts, family camps, and going on week-end retreats. For the preacher it means that you will faithfully preach the Word whether it is popular or not.

So follow Him in the way. Many today may be members of a church and never follow Jesus anywhere. They render not according to the blessing they have received. In the Old Testament King Hezekiah was sick unto death. The prophet Isaiah told him he had one year to live. Isaiah left and Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed a hole in the wall; his prayer took a right-hand vertical turn, and went straight up to God, and the Lord extended his life fifteen years. At the end of the fifteen years was the sad comment, “He rendered not according to the benefits he had received.”

The same can be said in too many cases today. We accept the blessings of salvation God has given unto us, and render very little in return. The average contributions across the board of religious groups is said to be about two percent. Sometimes that is given with the excuse, “I’m giving all I can.” It is good that God did not feel that way when He sent Jesus into the world, He really did give all He could. The cry of Bartimaeus and his companion needs to be heard today by many church members, “Have mercy on us, thou Son of God!”

Twenty centuries have gone by since Jesus passed by on that highway that led to the cross, but there are still people who are morally and spiritually blind today on the highway of life. Jesus is still passing by today, and all through these centuries He has never failed to hear the cry, “Jesus thou son of David, have mercy on me!” The Bible still says, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Again He comes from place to place

His holy footprints we can trace.

He passes at our threshold, nay

He enters condescends to stay.

Shall we not gladly raise the cry

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by

Ho, all ye heavy-laden come

Here’s pardon, comfort rest and home.

Ye wanderers from the Father’s face

Return, accept His offered grace.

Ye tempted ones, there’s refuge nigh

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.