Mark 10:46-52 (NIV) 46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Election season is upon us. We will vote for those whose leadership we choose to follow in governmental positions. Trouble is, in many cases it is hard to know much about them, who they really are, what they hope to do, and where they will lead us in things like health care or the economy. Most of their ads on TV that they approve of are slams against their opponents. How refreshing it was to have the Pioneer Press run some articles on who those running are and where they want to lead us. Frustrating as the TV ads are, there is no frustration or unclarity when it comes to the one who leads us from the moment we are brought to faith in him, many of us as infants in baptism, until the day we leave this world. His ads regarding himself and the ads his Father approves of in his word speak clearly as to who he is, what he can do and where he leads. And in every case it is awesome. So we can follow him with eyes wide open, as the old saying goes, fully aware and confident of our Leader. As we wind down our theme, “Family Values”, today on the basis of God’s word in Mark 10: 46-52, we rejoice in this truth: WE FOLLOW JESUS WITH EYES WIDE OPEN. I. To who Jesus is. II. To what Jesus can do. III. To where Jesus leads.
Jesus, his disciples, and a large crowd came to the ancient town of Jericho near the Jordan River. Actually, there were two Jerichos right next to each other, the old village left over from when the walls came tumbling down and the new Jericho established by Herod. Leaving one of these Jerichos they came upon a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus. It was a fairly common site in the towns of the holy land to see beggars at the city gate asking for money. But when Bartimaeus heard Jesus was nearby he pleaded for something far greater than a hand out. He began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Somehow he knew who Jesus was. He was from Nazareth, a true man raised there by Joseph and Mary. Yet, he also believed he was the Son of David, a description used in the Old Testament for the long promised Messiah, the Savior of lost sinners. As Isaiah had written, “A shoot will come from the stump of Jesse”, David’s Father. So Bartimaeus recognized Jesus as God’s own Son and his Savior. In Matthew’s account of this incident, he includes the title, “Lord”, as he calls out to Jesus. From the ads in the Old Testament prophesies and from what he had somehow heard about Jesus, this beggar knew clearly who Jesus was, no one less than God’s Son and his Savior who was full of mercy for lost sinners.
By God’s grace we also know clearly from God’s holy and inerrant word exactly who Jesus is. True man brought up in Nazareth of Galilee. But also the Son of David, true God with the Father and Holy Spirit. He is the One sent by the heavenly Father because of the Father’s mercy, his love for all lost humanity. Jesus also is full of mercy toward you and me, living in sin and by nature condemned eternally. In him when we are told by our Savior’s representative that God is merciful to us we can have every confidence that mercy won on the cross and assured by the empty tomb forgives our every sin. When in our prayers we are beggars of God’s mercy, we can know with certainty that mercy is ours, our prayers are heard and Christ is our Leader by night and by day, 24/7. Let us all encourage all the members of our family and our church family to follow Jesus with eyes wide open, knowing exactly who he is.
And confident of what he can do. The crowd tried to shake Bartimaeus’ confidence in what Jesus could do. They basically told him to be stop shouting out for mercy from Jesus. But Jesus wielded much greater influence than this worldly crowd. He spoke a powerful command, “Call him.” In this command Jesus summoned this beggar to come to him, to follow him as one who trusted in him and what he could do for him. It was this call that moved Bartimaeus to throw aside his cloak, jump up and come to Jesus. Was Jesus testing his faith a bit when he asked him what he wanted him to do? If he was his faith stood the test as he simply and confidently answered, “Rabbi, I want to see.” And Jesus performed the miracle and gave him sight. Yes, this blind beggar was drawn to Jesus by Jesus’ call to come to him. And he followed that call with his eyes wide open to what Jesus can do.
Likewise Jesus has called us to come to him in total trust and confidence in what he can do. So we go to him knowing as God he can heal all our diseases, which he often does. When his divine wisdom says not now, not yet, maybe even not until heaven’s glory, may we still have the faith that what he does somehow works out for our God as his word promises us. Maybe the eyes have to wait to see perfectly until the perfect body of heaven. But the eyes of our hearts have 20/20 vision right now in seeing Jesus who not only can pay for our sins and make us his followers, the miracle of miracles, but he has already done it with his perfect life in our place, his innocent death as payment for our sins, and his resurrection to assure us of resurrected bodies with perfect sight forever. And don’t let the crowds of the world influence us by trying to tell us to be quiet because there is no Jesus who hears our plea for mercy or who can really help us. Rather, listen to Jesus’ call to follow with eyes wide open to what he can do, does and will do.
“Go”, Jesus tells this formerly blind beggar. Was this another test? Shortly before this a rich man had come to Jesus asking what he had to do to earn eternal life. Jesus told him to give all he had to the poor and come and follow him. The rich man was following the greed of money and stuff and went away. He did not follow Jesus as one of his disciples. Not this beggar. Even though Jesus gave him opportunity to walk away now that he had what he begged for, we are told he “followed Jesus along the road.” He knew there was much more to following Jesus than his healed eyes. His spiritual eyes had been opened to see Jesus as his Lord and Savior. That’s what following means. And where did this road from Jericho to the northwest lead? To Jerusalem some fifteen miles away and a cross and an empty tomb. All that Jesus would do bring spiritual sight to the spiritually blind and dead. Mark mentions this blind man’s name which would seem to indicate he became known among Jesus’ followers, part of the family of believers at that time. So Jesus had done much more than mercifully granting physical sight, he had opened his eyes wide open to follow Jesus as his Savior and the sure road to the heavenly Jerusalem.
“Amazing grace-how sweet the sound...I once was blind, but now I see.” How awesome that we can sing that in the confidence of one called to be a follower of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And other hymns like, “Christ, Be My Leader by Night and by Day.” What an awesome encouragement we can give to our family. When I was a kid we played a game, “Follow the Leader”. You had to line up behind the leader and mimic whatever he did. If you failed to follow him and his lead you dropped out of the line. The one who followed the leader in every way was the winner. By God’s amazing grace we truly follow Jesus in faith. Unfortunately, we do not follow his every move, sinners as we are. But mercifully he forgives us and keeps us in the line of his followers winners of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us encourage one another in what is not in any way a game, but real life to follow Jesus with eyes wide open to where he leads - to him as the Way, the Truth and the Life and, finally, to our heavenly home. As Jesus said, “my sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” So we encourage each other as we do in yet another hymn, “Come, follow me, the Savior spoke, all in my way abiding...” In other words, with eyes wide open. Nothing more valuable than that for us and our families.