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Jesus was traveling the Jericho road on his way to Jerusalem to be executed.
Luke 18:31-34 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and KILL HIM. On the third day he will rise again." THE DISCIPLES DID NOT UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS. Its meaning was hidden from them, and THEY DID NOT KNOW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.
Ever wonder why they could not understand something said so plainly? There's only one reason. What Jesus said was not what they'd been taught. According to their theology the Messiah would take over, not be killed. Ever wonder how much we miss because of our theology? I certainly do. How much is plainly stated, but because of my preconceived thinking I do not know what he was talking about?
People against Christ and skeptics desire to project Jesus as a well meaning victim who had great hopes to change the world, but was such a rebel they killed him. No. Jesus came to die and knew every detail concerning his death. This is the third time Jesus told his disciples of his now soon coming execution (Luk 9:21; 9:44) along with many other references to his suffering. Each time he gives more detail. Around two days from now Jesus will enter Jerusalem and four or five days later will be executed. The event we study next is about one week away in real time from execution Friday. This is the end. His mind was on the extent of his suffering and the ecstasy of his glory. He wanted all to know this was the plan. He wasn't a victim.
Luke 18:35-38 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the CROWD going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
(map) This event is also recorded in Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 10:45-52.Matthew says there were two blind men, so the blind man had a buddy. Luke focuses on one and Mark gives the blind man a name - Bartimaeus (Mar 10:46). If anyone had questions if this actually happened they could ask Bartimaeus. The first sermon I ever preached was from Mark 10 about Blind Bartimaeus in 1978.
Jesus and the caravan following him approached Jericho only about fourteen miles from Jerusalem - a one day walk. You remember the Old Testament Jericho where "Joshua won the battle of Jericho and walls came a tumbling down." The word "Jericho" is of Hebrew origin meaning fragrance. The city was also called the City of Palms. Old Testament Jericho is an archeological dig today close to, but not the New Testament Jericho. In the days of Jesus it was supposed to be a beautiful place. There would be many people traveling the Jericho Road going to Jerusalem for Passover only about eight days away. They had no idea they would be part of the greatest event in human history - the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who is the real Passover Lamb of God. Certainly there was the normal Passover excitement, but with Jesus and his large caravan passing the excitement was intensified.
Another aspect we need to filter in is only a short time prior to this in the city of Bethany, about twelve miles away from Jericho, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11). News of the event spread like wildfire in a dry forest. The news reached Jerusalem. It was when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead that Jewish leaders decided Jesus must die (John 11:47-57). Certainly the news of Jesus raising Lazarus had reached Jericho and now Jesus of Nazareth was coming into Jericho. It was an exciting time.
Along the roadside was a blind man begging. With no infrastructure to care for the disabled and needy, he was totally dependant on the charity of people. The Jericho road was a great place and Passover season was a great time for this homeless disabled person to position himself asking for assistance. People were in Passover mode. It was a time of celebrating their deliverance from Egypt fifteen hundred years earlier. They would have money, compassion, and be charitable. This blind beggar probably made a good living there at this time of year.
You can imagine him sitting there nasty, un-kept, eyes covered over with a grayish film as he holds out his hand or a cup. He began hearing something unusual. It was large crowd obviously making a disturbance while passing by. He asked what was happening. Notice what they told him.
Luke 18:37-38 They told him, "JESUS OF NAZARETH is passing by." He called out, "JESUS, SON OF DAVID, have mercy on me!"
Who did the crowd say was passing by? But, what did Bartimaeus call out? "Jesus, son of David..." He couldn't see what others saw with his eyes, but he saw something no one else saw with the eyes of his soul. He knew something special inwardly. How did he know about Jesus? He didn't Google it. Obviously he'd heard about Jesus of Nazareth, but he knew more. The term son of David is a Messianic phrase. The Messiah must come from the lineage of King David who lived around a thousand years earlier. Jesus was in David's lineage both through Mary and Joseph.
The angel said to Mary,
Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the SON OF THE MOST HIGH. The Lord God will give him the throne of HIS FATHER DAVID
Bartimaeus saw this because he was blind. People knew the Messiah must come through the lineage of David (Mat 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9 - Triumphal Entry; 21:15 - children; Luk 20:41 - question by Jesus to Pharisees), but only a few saw Jesus this way. But, when they did something amazing happened. As far as the crowd was concerned Jesus was the son of Joseph the carpenter from Nazareth - Jesus of Nazareth. This person, though blind physically, wasn't blind spiritually, or knowledgably. We learn it's not what we see with our eyes. It's what we see and know with our souls.
This blind beggar was experiencing a divine encounter. He was seeing with his soul and not his head. He couldn't see Jesus wasn't clothed in a royal robe holding a scepter and wearing a crown with his eyes, but he saw the robe, scepter, and crown in his soul. The crowd saw Jesus of Nazareth. He was Jesus son of David. Who do you see?
How much more could we see if we didn't see with our eyes? How much different would things appear if we saw God with our souls. What if our souls saw and believed before we allowed our eyes to see and our minds to doubt?
I want to make this relevant for us. We were all once this bind beggar begging on the ground along the road of life (of course we didn't want anyone to know we were blind and helpless). We were nasty and un-kept. We'd heard about Jesus who supposedly did amazing things in the lives of people. One day, blind and helpless as we were, we had a divine encounter. Jesus was passing by. We began to see him with something other than our eyes. We saw with our souls. We realized supernaturally he was the Christ and he could change our lives. We didn't see Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph. We saw Jesus the Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. Our souls cried out "Jesus son of David, have mercy on me!".
Luke 18:39 Those who led the way REBUKED HIM and told him to be quiet, but HE SHOUTED ALL THE MORE, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
They didn't simply ask him to be quiet. They rebuked him. "Shut up!" Why? Was it annoying? Probably, but did he care? His screaming out the Messianic term could place Jesus in danger with the religious leaders who'd already decided to kill him. He was giving them more ammunition. No matter what the reason the blind beggar was not going to be detoured. Instead of lowering his volume, he cranked it up all the way.
Have you ever been rebuked for being too loud when calling out to Jesus? You haven't here, but somewhere along the way something or someone attempted to rebuke you. It may have been people, an illness, your occupation, school, finances, marriage, children, ex spouse, etc. What did you do? Most people - the crowd - will want you to turn it down, but if you want Jesus to stop, you can't listen to the crowd and hindrances. Crank it up all the more. Mark's gospel says,
Mark 10:49-50 JESUS STOPPED and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." THROWING HIS CLOAK ASIDE, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
When I preached this in 1978 for my first real sermon, this was the passage I emphasized. When Jesus stops and calls us the proper response is jump up, throw off everything cloaking us, and run to Jesus. We all cloak/conceal ourselves with something. A cloak was extremely important in those days. It was a coat, but also a blanket and necessary for survival. We think our cloaking is necessary for our survival. No, get rid of it if you want Jesus do something for you.
Luke 18:40-41 JESUS STOPPED and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied.
The ruler of the universe is the servant of all, even to the outcasts. "What do you want me to do for you?" Was this a real question? Really? What was the guy going to say, "Do you have a little change?" "I'd like a new cloak. I left mine back there." "I need some new sandals." No. This was a chance of a lifetime. It was a divine appointment. He could get his life back. He could get his vision back. He could be healed. He could live again. He could function again. He could be the person he was supposed to be. How many of us would love Jesus to ask, "What do you want me to do for you?"
Here's what we are going to do in a few minutes. Instead of having a prayer and ministry time, we are going to sing and I want you to crank it up all the more. What do you need Jesus to stop and do for you? Where are you blind? Where do you need vision? Don't ask for a little change or new sandals. Tell Jesus you want him to do something concerning your healing, occupation, school, finances, marriage, children, a situation, etc. What are you begging to happen? Throw off your cloak. Forget about the person on your right, left, behind, or in front of you. Don't allow anything to rebuke you. I want you now to begin hearing Jesus the son of David passing by with his scepter and crown. When I'm finished let's cry out all the more.
Luke 18:42-43 Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and FOLLOWED JESUS, PRAISING GOD. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
I wonder how Bartimaeus was praising God. How do you see it? What was he doing? The once blind beggar named Bartimaeus followed Jesus praising God down the streets of Jericho. The rich young ruler we talked about last time refused to throw off his cloak and follow Jesus. He saw with his eyes and limited God. Bartimaeus saw supernaturally, threw it all off, and followed Jesus.
This was the last physical miracle Luke recorded Jesus doing. That's ok. Bartimaeus only needed one. Jesus covered the land driving out disease and demons, healing the sick, giving site to the blind, feeding thousands, etc. He'd changed the lives of thousands and thousands. It was Bartimaeus' time. It's your time. Throw off you cloak and allow Jesus to cloak you in his love.
Which will you be? Are you a part of the crowd caught up in the moment as Jesus passes by Sunday after Sunday after Sunday watching with your eyes? Or are you like the blind guy seeing the King with your soul, throwing off the cloak, following Jesus and praising God?