Every Sunday we come together and we sing songs of praise to God about Jesus Christ. When we pray, we give thanks to God for Jesus Christ. We hear sermons about him and about what he did when he was here on the earth. During the week, in our meetings and other activities, we talk a lot about the Lord Jesus. We spend so much of our time during the week thinking about and talking about him and giving thanks to God for him. But why does he deserve all this attention? Why should we love him and admire him? What has he done to deserve such honour from us? And when there is so much going on in the world — and our newspapers and the news programmes on TV and radio are just packed with important events which are going on in the world — when there is so much going on in the world which we could be talking about today, why do we spend our time thinking about the Lord Jesus and talking about this person and what he did so long ago? Why?
What we’re going to do today is simply to look at the Lord Jesus as we find him here in this passage from Mark’s gospel to see what there is that’s so special about him. If you’re wondering why we make so much of him, if you’ve ever wondered why we talk about him on Sundays and not about current affairs in the world today, then the best thing to do is to look at him and to think about him in order to discover why we should love him and praise him. And so, in a sense what we’re doing today is doing what I remember watching two experts do on the Antiques Roadshow one time. I was with my father, and he was watching an episode where these two experts were looking with admiration at a table. They were bending down low to look at the table legs; and they were looking at the way they were carved. Then they examined the table top and the design which was engraved into it. They walked around it and discussed it and studied it; and finally they gave their opinion: it was the best thing they’d seen for a very long time. It was a Chippendale and worth a small fortune. They loved it. They admired it. They couldn’t stop looking at it, because it pleased them so much. Well, today we’re going to do that. We’re going to look at the Lord Jesus in this passage; and we’re going to examine him; and as we do so, we’ll see what makes him so special and why we ought to love him and trust him and spend our days and all of eternity admiring and praising him.
On the road to Jerusalem
Open your Bible if you have one with you, and look with me at the Lord Jesus Christ. And first of all, in verse 46 we’re told that they — that’s the Lord Jesus and his disciples and the many others who were following him — came to Jericho. And the reason they came to Jericho was because the Lord Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. Look back to verse 32 and there you can see for yourselves that the Lord Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem. So, having spent three years going around, teaching the people, performing miracles, demonstrating again and again his great power and authority, he’s now on the road to Jerusalem.
And of course, the Lord Jesus knew precisely what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem. Since chapter 8, the Lord has made it clear that he knows that he will have to suffer many things in Jerusalem: he’ll suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and the teachers of the law and he’ll be killed. He knows this is going to happen to him; and here he is, on the way to face these things.
Now, this is the first point I want us to notice and it’s the first reason for us to love and admire the Lord Jesus. We should love him and admire him, because he was prepared to go to Jerusalem and to suffer these things for us. He was prepared to endure the cross for us and for our salvation, because the only way to save us from our sin and misery and to rescue us from the wrath and curse of God — which is what we deserve for our sins — was for the Lord Jesus to go to Jerusalem and to give up his life as the ransom to pay for our sins. We’re the guilty ones, the ones who deserve to be condemned by God; and the ones who deserve to be punished forever for our sins and shortcomings. We’re the guilty ones. But the Lord Jesus — who never did anything wrong and who perfectly obeyed his Father in heaven — was prepared to take the blame for us and to suffer and die on the cross, giving up his life to pay for our sins. And because he was prepared to take the blame for us, he was willing to make that journey to Jerusalem, where he would be betrayed into the hands of men who would kill him. Instead of running away in the opposite direction to save himself from all that suffering and shame, he was prepared to go all the way to Jerusalem and to suffer and die for us.
And so, here’s a reason why we should love and admire him, because he was prepared to do this for us. And if you have Jesus Christ as your Saviour, if you love him and trust him, then you can have the joy of knowing that your sins have been pardoned and you have peace with God, because the Lord Jesus Christ was prepared to go to Jerusalem and to suffer there; and because he went to Jerusalem and died there for sinners, you’ll be able to come to God in heaven and live with him for ever.
A second reason for loving and admiring the Lord Jesus is because he is so gracious and kind. So, here he is, on his way to Jerusalem. But on the way, he comes across this blind man. And the blind man — Bartimaeus — is calling out to him, shouting his name, trying to get his attention. The people standing around, tell the man to be quiet, but that makes him shout even louder. He wants to speak to Jesus. He wants to get his attention. He wants the Lord Jesus to be merciful to him and to help him.
Now, when we’re on our way somewhere, we often don’t want to stop and to chat with people. We’re in a hurry; we don’t want to be delayed; we don’t want any distractions. So we rush by, barely pausing to say hello to anyone. If we’re in the car, and another car gets in our way, we become impatient and perhaps we blow the horn to say:
Get out of the way.
If we’re walking, we rush past people in a hurry. Perhaps there’s someone on the street, collecting for charity or conducting a survey, but we rush on, saying:
Sorry, no time to stop.
But the Lord had time for Bartimaeus. Look at verse 49. The Lord heard his cries; and he stopped. And he stopped, because he was willing to make time for this blind beggar.
And the Lord has time for us all. We see that again and again in the gospels. The Lord Jesus is busy doing various things, but he always has time to stop and to talk to the people who come to him, seeking his help. Remember when he was on the way to see Jairus’s daughter, the little girl who was seriously ill. And on the way to see her, he stopped to speak to the sick old woman who had touched him, hoping to be healed. Or, late at night, there was Nicodemus who came to speak to him about the kingdom of God. Or there was the Samaritan woman at the well: the Lord was tired and hungry and thirsty; yet he still had time to speak to the woman and to talk to her about eternal life. Then there was the time when he and his disciples had gone away to be on the own; they’d gone away to rest. But the people found out where he was and crowds came to see him. And when the Lord saw them, instead of getting annoyed and impatient, and instead of sending them away, he had compassion on them and he went to meet them and to minister to them. And then, on another occasion, when his disciples were sending away the little children, the Lord rebuked his disciples and he invited the children to come to him. He had time for people who needed his help.
He is so gracious and kind. And perhaps there’s someone here today who needs to hear that. Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time; and you’re wondering who to turn to for help. Everyone seems so busy. Everyone is distracted. Perhaps your family and friends are far away from you; too far away to help. And you don’t know who to turn to. Well, in the gospels we learn that the Lord Jesus is always prepared to listen to us and to help us. He heard Bartimaeus calling out to him; and he stopped what he was doing; and he stopped to speak to him.
And then what did he do? The Lord called Bartimaeus to come to him; and he asked Bartimaeus:
What do you want me to do for you?
Do you see how kind he is? Do you see how open he is and ready to help? If a beggar approaches us, aren’t we very cautious? We think:
What does he want? I hope he won’t take up too much of my time? What can I give him so he’ll go away and leave me alone?
Or we’re settling down for a quiet night in front of the TV when the door bell rings; and we groan:
Who can it be? How can I get rid of him?
But the Lord stops and invites Bartimaeus over and asks him:
What do you want me to do for you?
Here is why we ought to love and admire the Saviour: because he is so kind and generous and gracious towards us. And if you have Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you can have the joy of knowing that whatever the time of day, you can call out to him, just as Bartimaeus did, to seek his help. The Lord Jesus is the same yesterday, today and for ever; and since he was gracious towards Bartimaeus, and kind and generous and open to others in the gospels, he will be those things towards you as well. He is a faithful friend. He is a loving Saviour. Since he gave up his life for us on the cross, in order to bring us to God, then there is nothing he will not do for those who love him and trust him. Since he was prepared to suffer and die in our place, in order to give us everlasting happiness, there is nothing that he won’t do for us, but he will answer us and send us all the help we need to cope with all of this life’s troubles and trials. And, of course, answering Bartimaeus’s cry for mercy is symbolic of how the Lord will answer anyone who cries out to him for forgiveness and for salvation, because whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, whoever cries out to him for mercy and for forgiveness and for peace with God, will discover for themselves that he is gracious and kind and he will answer your call and he will give you what you need: he will give you forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life. And so we see why we ought to love him and to admire him and we all ought to cry out to him for mercy.
A third reason for loving and admiring the Lord Jesus is because he is so powerful. Look at what he did for Bartimaeus. This blind man is sitting at the side of the road, begging. He’s begging, of course, because he can’t work; and so, there’s no other way for him to get the money he needs to live. It was a terrible life. And, of course, while people may have been kind and generous and would give him a few coins now and again so that he could eat, there was no one who could do for him what he really wanted: there was no one who could give him back his sight. No one, except the Lord Jesus. And all the Lord Jesus had to do was speak; and his sight was restored.
Now, I wear glasses. I go to the optician and his office is filled with instruments and gadgets for testing my eyesight; and there are rows and rows of glasses; and there’s a range of special kinds of lenses so that wearing glasses today is easier and better than it was in the past. The lenses are thinner and lighter and have a special coating so as not to reflect the light; and the coating protects the lenses from scratches. There’s an enormous improvement. And then of course, people can go for surgery and — through a relatively straightforward and simple procedure — they have their eyesight corrected. It’s wonderful. It’s marvellous. Men and women have applied their intelligence and their knowledge and they have made these great improvements for those of us who suffer from poor eyesight. People who can’t see because of cataracts can have the cataracts removed so their sight is restored. It’s wonderful. But still we cannot do something as wonderful as this: for the Lord Jesus only had to speak and it was done. He didn’t use any machines. He didn’t use any instruments. He didn’t conduct surgery. He didn’t even touch this man. He simply spoke and it was done. And as you read through the gospels, you see this again and again. The Lord’s authority to heal and to help and even to raise the dead. All he had to do was speak; and it was done.
And, of course, as I’ve said before, every time he healed the sick he was revealing what he will do one day for all those who trust in him, because the day is coming when the Lord Jesus will return to earth; and when he comes, he will say the word, and the bodies of all those who have trusted in him in this life will be raised from their graves to live with him for ever in body and in soul. And our bodies will be transformed so that they become like his glorious body. And for ever and for ever we’ll live with him in the glory of the life to come; and there will be no more sorrow or sadness or troubles and trials, no more death or mourning or pain, or illness, but only perfect peace and rest and everlasting happiness. So, we won’t need glasses in the world to come, or any other device to counteract our present weakness; and with glorified eyes and with a glorified body we will gaze upon the Saviour for ever and for ever.
Those who refuse to believe in him in this life will be raised as well; but they will be raised to suffer eternal punishment; but those who believe will be raised and made perfect forever. And as a sign of how he will restore all things when he comes again, he restored this man’s sight. And so, here’s another reason to love and admire the Saviour: we ought to admire him for his mighty power: the power by which he restored this man’s sight; but even better than that, there’s the power by which he will raise us from our graves to live with him for ever and ever in glory.
And the final reason to love and admire the Saviour is because of what he values. Look at verse 52. He commended Bartimaeus for his faith. He said to him:
Your faith has healed you.
Now faith means relying on him; and that’s precisely what Bartimaeus was doing. He heard that the Lord Jesus was coming along the road; and he cried out for help, because he believed that the Lord Jesus was the one person who could really help him.
Interestingly, he referred to the Lord Jesus as ‘the Son of David’. That was a title for the Messiah: the special servant whom God was going to send into the world to save his people. So, although Bartimaeus was blind, he was able to see clearly enough that the Lord Jesus was no ordinary man, but God’s special servant, sent to save his people. We don’t know how he came to believe this, but presumably he had heard reports about the things the Lord had said and done; and he had come to believe that this man was the Son of David, the Saviour who was coming into the world. And so, Bartimaeus called out to the Lord, because he believed that the Lord was able to help him. And faith is all it took. He didn’t have to pay the Lord Jesus. He didn’t have to offer him anything. Faith was all it took.
Now, there are many things we can rely on and count on; but often relying on them is not enough; and something more is necessary. For instance, I have a reliable car. I rely on it to get me from place to place. If I have to go on a journey, I know my car can take me there. But having a reliable car is not enough: I have to put petrol in it, because without petrol, it won’t take me very far. Going on holiday, we rely on Aer Lingus or some other airline to get us to our destination. We count on Aer Lingus to take us where we want to go. But merely relying on Aer Lingus is not enough; we have to pay them too. And many people live under the impression that trusting in the Lord Jesus, relying on him — counting on him for forgiveness and for eternal life — is not enough to get us to heaven. They think that relying on him is not enough to bring us to God. They think they must add something else to what he has done for us. They must rely on the Lord Jesus, but they believe that they must contribute something themselves. Trusting in the Saviour is necessary, they think, but it’s not sufficient. And just as I must add petrol to my car to get me anything, so they think they need to add something to what Christ has done to get them to heaven. So, we must add our obedience. Or we must add our good deeds. Or there’s something else we must add, something we must offer to God or some great sacrifice which we must make before God will forgive us and accept us. That’s what so many people think.
But look at Bartimaeus: he was a beggar; he had nothing to give, nothing to offer; all he could do was cry for mercy. And the Lord commended him for his faith. Faith is all that was necessary. All Bartimaeus had to do was to call on the Saviour, relying on him to help him. All he had to do was rely on the Lord.
And it’s the same for us and with our salvation. We don’t need to contribute anything at all. We don’t need to offer anything to God in order to receive salvation from him. All we need to do is rely on the Saviour; count on him; trust in him; rest in him, because he’s the one who died to pay for our sins and he’s the one who was raised to give us life.
I said at the beginning that we spend so much time thinking about the Lord Jesus and talking about him and giving thanks to God for him. Other people today are sitting at home, reading the Sunday papers, reading about events in the world and current affairs. So, why are we here, thinking about the Lord Jesus; and not at home, reading and thinking about events in the world? Well, it’s because the Lord Jesus is so wonderful and he’s so worthy of our love and admiration. He’s the one who was prepared to go to Jerusalem to suffer and to die for us and for our salvation. He’s the one who is so gracious and kind and who was willing to stop and help Bartimaeus; and he’s always willing to help us with all our troubles and trials. And he’s the one who is so mighty and powerful and who was able to restore this blind man’s sight; and he’s able to transform our bodies and make them glorious like his own glorious body. And he’s the one who requires nothing from us except faith, because faith is the key which opens the door into Christ’s kingdom where there is forgiveness and peace and the hope of everlasting life. Whoever believes in him receives the assurance of sins forgiven and the hope of the resurrection and everlasting life in his presence. And so, this is why we ought to love and praise the Saviour; and this is why we all ought to trust in him.