This is the message of Mark:
- In Jesus the promised kingdom of heaven has come to earth.
- You’re going to have to decide what to make of Jesus.
- The right response to Jesus is faith.
In Mark 10:46-52 we are going to see another example of the response of faith.
1. Faith personalizes good news.
They came to Jericho. They left Jericho with a crowd. What happened in between? Who can say what kind of wonderful moments filled the gap between those two statements?
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
We can assume that many were transformed by the miraculous touch of Jesus. As usual, the words and works of Jesus drew a crowd and a great crowd followed Jesus out of town.
On the side of the road was a man. In another story he wouldn’t be mentioned. He would be invisible. Not this story.
Mark gives us his name. Bartimaeus. Son of Timaeus.
He was blind and begging. In the mind of the 1st century Jewish person, he deserved it. Either he sinned or his parents sinned. (John 9)
This guy would have internalized a heart-breaking personal identity.
“I’m a burden. I am shameful. I deserve this.” “I am helpless.”
There was absolutely no reason whatsoever that he should expect any attention or help.
As the crowd goes by, the man calls out “what’s happening?”
A voice responds, “It’s Jesus the Nazarene!”
Bartimaeus wasted no time.
“JESUS!” “Son of David!” (Messiah would be of David’s line) “Have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus. He had heard the stories. He heard the good news that the kingdom of God had come in power for the poor, the outcasts and the downcast.
The stories of what Jesus had done for others inspired Bartimaeus to reach out and take hold of the story of Jesus.
In our church in the last year there are three examples of healing as a result of prayer in faith. All three involve ailments which had not responded to human effort. All three involve relief experienced concurrently with prayer. I am not claiming to give you incontrovertible proof – I am telling you that three people had significant ailments which treatment had not been able to heal and after receiving prayer no longer experienced the symptoms of those ailments. That’s enough for me to attribute power to prayer in Jesus name.
How do we respond to that kind of good news! By taking hold of it! By calling out, “Jesus! Me too!”
2. Faith prayers because of mercy
Bartimaeus cried out for mercy. This was the basis of his prayer and it is the only basis of true prayer.
We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
Every prayer is a request for mercy.
This is good news! When you begin to pray and a voice in your head, says, “why should you expect anything from God? Look at your sin and doubt.” And the voice of Scripture responds – “we don’t pray because we’re righteous, we pray because God is merciful!”
3. Faith persists through opposition.
The crowd was used to dealing with the socially uncouth beggars like Bartimaeus. They rebuked him and told him to be quiet.
But he wouldn’t stop. He only cried out all the more.
I imagine Bartimaeus heard things like this:
“know your place!”
“He has more important things to do!”
“You deserve what’s happened to you!”
“If he wanted to heal you, he would have!”
His response shows us what to do when we hear similar voices. Ignore them! When opposition gets loud, let faith get louder.
In Luke 11:8 Jesus taught us what kind of prayers he likes to her. Prayers of shameless audacity.
You may have an impulse of faith rising in your heart. You may be ready to go all in on Jesus. You may wonder what the people close to you might think. You might be afraid that they won’t understand or they might oppose your faith. Let Bartimaeus show you the way. Make a decision, here and now to be all in with Jesus.
“Perseverance in prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but rather laying hold of God’s willingness.” -Bill Thrasher
4. Faith prays specifically
I have a times walked our neighborhood offering to pray for neighbors. Sometimes I will ask someone what I can pray for them. Sometimes the response is something like, “pray for world peace.”
It’s understandable. Not everyone is going to open up to a stranger. But many of us pray prayers like that. Maybe we are afraid of being vulnerable. Or of being disappointed. Or we’re not sure that our troubles are big enough for God to worry about.
Bartimaeus shows us the way, with a prayer that is as specific as it is authentic.
“I want to see!”
5. Faith activates the power of God
How will Jesus respond?
“Your faith has made you well.”
Agency is given to faith.
Jesus did the same with the opposite effect in Mark 6:5
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
God is sovereign. His power and his character do not change. At the Bible shows us that our faith has something very real to do with our experience of God’s power and character in our lives.
Faith is risky. It’s risky to expose our hearts. It’s risky to step out and trust someone outside of our control.
Sometimes it takes desperation to foster faith. Bartimaeus had nothing to lose. He was ready to go all in on Jesus.
Faith takes us outside of the boundaries of human possibility into the realm of divine possibility.
Faith happens when someone becomes desperate enough to respond to the testimony of Jesus and cry out, get up and go to Jesus.
God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Faith is rewarded.
6. Faith praises it’s object
When he was healed, Bartimaeus followed Jesus on the way.
His way became THE way.
Luke adds some more detail.
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Praise perpetuates prayer.
When the risk of faith is rewarded by the merciful power of God, the response is praise. When that praise is made public, others see and hear and want in. Others take the risk and pray their own prayers.
When Jesus meets you in mercy, tell somebody!
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown