Put On Notice (Sermon)
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
I prefer the beach over the mountains. Thus, we have spent very little time there. Last year we went on a short weekend trip with my wife’s family. One of the attractions the North Carolina mountains offer is Linville caverns. Basically, you pay money to go under the mountain. At some places it gets uncomfortably tight. At another spot, the guide talks about how deep and dark it gets and turns off the lights! Dark is a tremendous understatement. You cannot see squat! I mean nothing! Nothing at all! You cannot see a hint of anything, not even a shadow of anything. Noth…ing!
It is disconcerting and a level of discomfort. You have zero confidence in terms of making a move. It is disorienting. The guide notes, that without light, a person will go crazy. We all like comfort. We desire to be comfortable. What if comfort leads to indifference, complacency, or lethargy? We are so comfortable we do not want to move or make any change. We want to just stay. If that is true, perhaps discomfort is a positive. Maybe it could be a springboard to action, growth, fulfillment, and satisfaction. But the thought or place of discomfort makes you anxious. In your angst, remember just because you can’t see doesn’t mean you cannot be seen! I want you consider three questions today as we wrestle with trying to find fulfillment in the midst of discomfort.
If you have your Bible or electronic device, take it and meet me at Mark 10. We wrapping up a series—NOTICED, and we said: In a world of flash and novelty and popularity, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Nobody seems to notice the ordinary or those in trouble because they are so focused on themselves and their own mess.
It is in the quiet hidden mess that we need help and hope. It is in the quiet mess that we wonder, am I noticed? Does anybody care? In this short series, we will see that while we may not be noticed by the world, we are noticed by God. In our ordinary, messy, sometimes mundane, lives, He shows up with help and hope! Before we find a level of fulfillment and comfort in our discomfort…it might get more uncomfortable and you may wonder if I am helping at all.
Let’s get started with the questions and today’s story!
Will You Try Something Risky? (46-48)
Mark 10:46—And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside
Jesus is on the final leg of His journey to Jerusalem where He will give His life for the benefit of others. As we pick up our story today, He is passing through Jericho. It is one of the oldest cities in the world dating back to 9,000 BC.[i] Jericho is also 840 feet below sea level, along with a winding road, makes the journey to Jerusalem a brutal uphill trek of nearly twenty miles.[ii] Jesus is walking with His disciples along with a great crowd. Here we are introduced to another character.
Bartimaeus, a blind beggar son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside—Blind and lame people often gained their living through begging. The road through Jericho to Jerusalem would have been a strategic spot.[iii] Without a social welfare system, begging was not only common, but the only means for those who could not work or had family help to acquire support.[iv] It is unusual for someone that Jesus encounters and ultimately heals to be named. Perhaps he is named because of his later involvement with the church.[v] Timaeus is a common Greek name.[vi]
All that is interesting, but not the point. We have a blind man by the roadside. He is not on the road. He is sidelined or marginalized.[vii] He cannot move with freedom or confidence. But he is well positioned to encounter religious pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Hopefully for Bartimaeus, they are in a pious and generous mood![viii]
Mark 10:47—And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
A commotion is occurring along the road, so Bartimaeus asks for information regarding what is happening. He is told that Jesus of Nazareth is walking past. Jesus was a common name. Clarity is brought by narrowing which Jesus. The one from Nazareth. Apparently Bartimaeus had heard of Him and what He could do. He takes a risk. He begins to shout out to get Jesus’ attention.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”—The title “Son of David,” which was a functional equivalent among the Jews for “Messiah” and it has royal and nationalistic connotations.[ix] This is a reference to the promised royal descendant of Israel’s greatest king[x]—David, who would rescue and deliver His people. This is remarkable insight for a blind guy. He is connecting the dots that Jesus is the coming Davidic king.[xi] It was an old promise from God to David:
2 Samuel 7:12-13—When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of this coming king.
Isaiah 35:5-6—Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
If Bartimaeus didn’t know of the promise or prophecy, he at least had heard of Jesus’ power to heal. Thus, he took a risk. Would you take the risk? The risk of embarrassment? Maybe you are thinking, what’s the risk? Watch how the crowd reacts.
V48—And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Many” –a mob mentality. They try to quiet Bartimaeus. It is as if they are telling him: “Shut up! You are embarrassing us!” Showing no fear and refusing to be intimidated by the crowd, Bartimaeus persists and pleads for mercy. Quite the display of faith. How would you respond? Take the risk or be silenced in fear?
Regarding risk, John Piper writes: “I define risk very simply as an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury.” He goes on: “Risk is possible because we don’t know how things will turn out. This means that God can take no risks…. His omniscience rules out the very possibility of taking risks.”[xii] Piper writes that safety is a myth, a mirage. We have two choices, waste our lives or live with risk. He challenges, don’t waste your life. Trust God and take the risk![xiii]
Philosopher Jamie Smiths writes: “I don’t have to strive to get God to love me; rather, because God loves me unconditionally, I’m free to take risks and launch out into the deep.”[xiv]
That is the first question: Will you take a risk? Here is the second…
Can You Be Interrupted? (49-51)
Mark 10:49—And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”
I know you are important and very busy. I know you are on a tight schedule and have places to be. I get it. What if the miracles are in the margin? Do you have enough margin built into your schedule to be interrupted or to pause and be a part of something supernatural? Here it says Jesus stopped—He is on His way to Jerusalem, to the cross, to die for the sins of the world. Yet, he stops. The Son of God hears the cries of poor, powerless, blind guys and pauses His schedule…remarkable.[xv]
Jesus calls to the man. Notices the mood of the crowd shifts. They change from begrudging him to encouraging him. “Take heart,” “Have courage,” “It’s ok.” They have turned from obstacles to advocates.[xvi] Jesus calls Bartimaeus.
Mark 10:50—And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
He responds to the call without delay. He throws off his outer garment. Was probably just draped over shoulder. It was typically spread out on the ground before him to collect alms.
Mark 10:51—And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”
Jesus asks a question. This question allows the faith of Bartimaeus to be drawn out. What do you want me to do for you? How would you answer that question if you were standing before the one who could make it happen? The one who can do impossible things? Before you answer, let me tell you Jesus has asked the question before (Mark 10:36). It was directed at two of His disciples, James and John. Their response or request was for power and position (Mark 10:37). What would you ask for? Money, power, or something that that reveals that you can trust God to do the impossible?
And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”—Bartimaeus actually uses a heightened or more reverent form of Rabbi— “Lord, master.” It reveals his estimation of Jesus. He does not ask for wealth or fame, simply for sight. I just want to see! Perhaps he is thinking, “I just want to be normal!” Augustine wrote: “You cannot be your own light;… We are in need of enlightenment, we are not the light.”[xvii]
This conversation only happened because Bartimaeus took a bold risk and Jesus was interruptible. Do you see interruptions as irritations or opportunities? If we are honest, we usually see them as irritations. Why, because we usually have so little margin in our schedules, we have no time to spare. In our actions, this looks like impatience. “Impatience is turning away from God to find satisfaction in your own uninterrupted plan of action.”[xviii]
John Piper notes: ‘“The key to patience is faith in the future grace of God’s “glorious might” to transform all our interruptions into rewards. In other words, the strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.”’[xix] It takes faith to take a risk. It takes faith to appreciate interruptions. There is a final question I want you to consider:
Will You Follow? (52)
Mark 10:52—And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
When Jesus says your “faith” has made you well, he is not saying that the man as earned anything. Grace is the divine hand that extends healing. Faith is the human hand that reaches for it and receives it. The object of our faith is crucial![xx] Bartimaeus is healed immediately and completely. The word well (healed) is also the word for saved. You see a combination of both the physical and the spiritual dimensions.[xxi] It can refer to both physical and spiritual healing (the gift of salvation).[xxii] Now what?
And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way—A disciple is a follower, a learner. Jesus has transformed Bartimaeus from a beggar beside the road to a disciple on the road! Saving faith is shown to be genuine by following.[xxiii] Is your faith genuine? Are you a devoted follower of Jesus? Is He the object of your affections? Is He the fulfillment of all your desires? Risk, Interruption, Following—where is the comfort? My angst is showing! You are at an uncomfortable crossroads. What will you do? Which way will you go? It is a “nevertheless” moment. Can you trust God enough to say: “not my will but your will be done?”
It is extremely difficult and requires courage. The ask is for absolute surrender and it is uncomfortable because it means losing control. Andrew Murray writes: “The condition for obtaining God’s full blessing is absolute surrender to Him.”[xxiv] Are you willing to absolutely surrender? How do you find fulfillment in the midst of discomfort in which you cannot see a way forward? Trust in the Comforter who sees you! But what does that look like? What do I do in the meantime…while I’m waiting along the side of the road?
Pause, breathe, and turn off the noise.
Psalm 46:10—“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
James 1:19 (NIV)—My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Psalm 119:18--Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Your response could be a cry to God for mercy. It could be to recognize Jesus as the promised and sent Savior. Your response could be to put your faith into action, to obey. Respond today.
This sermon was originally preached on 10/27/19 at Connect Church.
[i]Mark Strauss, Mark in the ZECNT (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 467. [ii]James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark in PNTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 329. [iii]Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mark in TNTC (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017), 256. [iv]Strauss, 468. [v]Ibid., 468. [vi]Schnabel, 257. [vii]Edwards, 329. [viii]Robert H. Stein, Mark in BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 494. [ix]Schnabel, 256. [x]Stein, 494. [xi]Strauss, 469. [xii]John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007), 79-80. [xiii]Ibid., 85, 88—really all of chapter 5! [xiv]James K. A. Smith, On The Road With Saint Augustine (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019), 91. [xv]Edwards, 330. [xvi]Strauss, 471. [xvii]Smith, 150. [xviii]John Piper, Future Grace rev. ed. (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2012), 85. [xix]Ibid., 170. [xx]Daniel L. Akin, Mark in the Christ-Centered Exposition series (Nashville: Holman Reference, 2014), 240. [xxi]Edwards, 331. [xxii]Stein, 497. [xxiii]Edwards, 331. [xxiv]Andrew Murray, 40 Days of Surrender ed. Chad Hood (Raleigh: Better Together Publishing, 2015), 2.