The Healing Of Blind Bartimaeus

August 27, 2006
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
Mark 10:46-52

1. "The group arrived at the town of Jericho. When Jesus was about to depart Jericho along with his disciples and a great crowd, a son of Timaeus, the blind beggar named Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth, he shouted and began to say, 'O Jesus, son of David have mercy on me!' Many of the people scolded him and tried to silence him, but he kept crying out all the more, 'O son of David, have mercy on me!'," (10:46-48).

The Messiah Will Establish A Strong Kingdom

2. "Son of David" is a title that means "messiah." For, it was believed that the coming messiah would be born as a great descendant of David. The reason he shouted was he had heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He believed that this one by the name of Jesus was indeed the messiah.

3. On the other hand, even those in Jesus' group also believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah. Because they had believed that very thing [about Jesus], bulging out their chests with great expectation they had been following him and were about to go to Jerusalem. Since the messiah would be arriving in Jerusalem, they believed that a turning point in salvific events would be taking place there.

4. But, when these people had heard the shouts of "O son of David, have mercy on me!," they scolded the blind beggar and tried to silence him. What does this mean? It would be the same as saying that the messiah [as] the son of David did not come to have mercy on the likes of blind beggars like you. "This [great] One has come for very great things to do. This [great] One has no time to deal with you or anyone like you. Because that's how they were thinking, they scolded the beggar. They tried to shut him up.

5. There were people who had been scolded even before this. It was the people who had brought the children to Jesus (10:13). It was the disciples who did the scolding at that time. [The Lord] doesn't have time to have anything to do with the children. Don't bother the messiah. That's probably what they meant to say. When you think about it, it looks like either the disciples are the ones who scolded the blind beggar here or at least the disciples looked like they had an interest in those who were willing to make the man quiet.

6. Today I read to you from verse forty-six, but when you read the event just before it, you can catch a glimpse inside the hearts of these disciples the way they were. Beginning in verse thirty-five the scripture says the following. "James and John the sons of Zebedee stepped forward and said to Jesus, 'Master, we would like you to fulfill a request we are making, if you would.' When Jesus said, 'What do you want from me?,' they both said, 'When you receive your glory, please sit one of us on [your] right and the other on [your] left.'," (verses thirty-five through thirty-seven).

7. "[When you] receive your glory" clearly means "[when you] become king." Therefore, in [their] speech [we] find the words one [of us] on [your] right, the other on [your] left. These two disciples believed that when Jesus was heading for Jerusalem it was so that he would receive his glory, that is, to become the king. Therefore, they tried to get the jump on things. Because of that then, the other ten disciples began to get mad at what these two [did] (verse forty-one). To get to the point, they had all been really thinking the same thing.

8. So, what might Jesus' becoming the king mean? At this point in time the Roman empire is over the Jews. For a king to appear over them would, after all, mean political independence. It would mean that Israel had become an independent kingdom. And even more, it would mean that it had become a stronger kingdom than Rome. The messiah will establish a strong kingdom like the one David once [established]. The disciples believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the very messiah who would restore the throne of David. Why would they have believed like that? --Probably because they were looking at Jesus' power. They saw a manifestation of "the power of God" so unfathomable in the miracles that he performed.

9. The crowd also, who tried to go up to Jerusalem with Jesus, must have believed the same thing. In chapter eleven and beginning in verse eight, the figure of the crowd with respect to Jesus as he was finally about to enter into the capital city of Jerusalem is depicted. "Many of the people had spread their clothes on the road, and others cut branches with leaves attached and came from the fields and spread them on the road. Then those in the front and those following from behind shouted. 'Hosanna! Blessed be the one who is coming in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest!'," (11:8-10). "Hosanna" is a cry that means "Save us!" Where were they seeking for their salvation? [They were looking for it in] the restoration of the strong monarchy. From the looks of the crowd fervently welcoming in the arrival of the king, it looks that way, doesn't it?

10. Thus, both the disciples and the crowds were looking for a strong king and a strong kingdom. They looked for a kingdom of God strong enough to put the Gentiles completely under its rule. But, regretfully in their steadfast search for "strength" and in their seeking for salvation in power there was no place for the likes of a blind beggar. There was no room for individual hardships to be reviewed, in which a a person has been living with suffering. Therefore, a man like that seeking for salvation and raising up a shout of "have mercy on me" would come to be reprimanded and told to be quiet.

The Messiah Embodies God's Mercy

11. However, this man did not become quiet. Because they tried to silence him, he just raised his voice louder and louder and shouted, "O son of David, have mercy on me." Why? Because he believed. Because he believed Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah who would have mercy on little me, on one small person. Therefore, he refused to give up. He kept shouting out loud.

12. So, why did this man believe that way about this one named Jesus. In the first place, he couldn't even see Jesus. Even though he couldn't see [him], since he had found out about Jesus, that surely means that he had heard of Jesus. He found out [most likely] by having heard of what Jesus said and what Jesus did. He must have heard of the many many miracles that Jesus did. However, the important thing is this matter of what he had understood from [all] that.

13. As I mentioned earlier, the people looked at "the power" in it [all]. Therefore, they pinned their hopes on Jesus as a powerful king. But, what [people] often see with [their] eyes does not always lead to [their] being able to see the true nature of a matter. Instead, this man who only heard did understand. He was able to see. What could he see? It was not the power of God, but the mercy of God. It was the mercy of God that did not overlook even the little guys. He had certainly seen with his blind eyes that the kingdom of God's mercy and not the kingdom of God's power had come. In his stopping to look and be merciful to a person groveling at the bottom of suffering, God's mercy had arrived! Embodying the mercy of God, the messiah at last had arrived! He had already seen that in his heart. Therefore, he shouted at the top of his lungs. "O son of David, have mercy on me." And he wasn't wrong. Jesus stopped and said, "Call that man to me."

14. Then, the Lord said to him, "What do you want from me?" He immediately answered, "Master, I want my eyes to be able to see." He had suffered because his eyes couldn't see. The reason he had to live begging was that he was blind. Furthermore, if one could not see, some raised cruel statements such as it was because of his sin or else it was because of his parents' sin. Therefore, he wanted to be able to see. He certainly did.

15. But, by turning into a seeing person, what was it that he was truly wanting to see? I don't think it was just God's mercy by itself. He must have wanted to see Jesus himself, who was a visible representation of God's mercy. I think he was wanting to see with his own eyes the one whom he had heard about so far, the arrival of mercy.

16. Therefore, when his eyes were opened, his eyes steadfastly followed after Jesus. The scripture says, "Then, Jesus said, 'Go. Your faith has saved you.' The blind man immediately became able to see and he followed Jesus who was still going forward on the road," (verse fifty-two). His eyes continued to follow after Jesus as he went forward. He would follow Jesus, no matter where, through thick and thin, just like that as he headed to Jerusalem. But, we know that what this man will be seeing is nothing but the suffering passion of Jesus. Having followed Jesus, he must see Jesus crucified upon the cross with his own eyes.

17. "Oh to be able to see, I would have been better off never having become that way! I didn't want to see [this]!" When he had seen this scene in which Jesus was arrested and executed, he must have thought that way at the bottom of his heart. But, if that was the end to it, what he had experienced could not have been the mercy of God, and nor would have the story of his eyes being opened been told to us either.

18. Why has this story been told? When you re-read it and think about it, you notice the fact that the name of this blind beggar was given in the record. It means that when this gospel was written his name was well known in the church. Other names were recorded, like the twelve. He had followed Jesus. And so the son of Timaeus, the name of Bartimaeus, turned out to have been left behind in the records of church history.

19. That's right. It did not end with the suffering when his eyes saw Jesus crucified upon the cross. Soon he would find out that the reason my eyes were opened was in order to see for myself the messiah, the Christ truly crucified upon the cross. With his opened eyes he had truly seen God's mercy. He had seen God's mercy as completely manifested in the crucified Christ. He looked at the unfathomable mercy of God, which even handed over his own son to death as a sacrifice for the atonement of sins, in order to forgive our sins. With his opened eyes, he had seen the kingdom of God's mercy certainly arrive in Jesus Christ.

20. As a result, the story of this man wound up being passed on to us along with the prayer of "have mercy on me." And generations of people as well have believed in the Lord just as this man did, they have trusted in all kinds of times, and have prayed for mercy. "O Lord, have mercy on me." Over and over again, they have said these words. "O Lord, have mercy on me." -- "Kurie eleison, Kurie eleison." We, too, should pray in that way. The atonement for sin has been accomplished; because there is no longer anything to separate us from God's mercy which has arrived.