The beautiful green colors of the vines offset by the suave mellow of the olives were relaxing his soul. He sat down under a tree and watched the blue of the evening sky fade to yellow – orange – a bit of deep red – purple and then dark. It was gorgeous. Now he could see the golden glow of the moon and he watched as sparkle after sparkle appear in constellations across the nighttime landscape.
Bartimaeus smiled. He was having a wonderful time seeing the wonders of God’s creation. But then, he heard the faint sound of a bird. A nightingale? A lark? He listened closely to hear the unmistakable cockadoodle of a rooster.
Wait…A Rooster at night?
And just like that, Bartimaeus woke up. It had all been a dream. He woke up and all of the colors disappeared. They were replaced by darkness.
Bartimaeus was blind.
As he heard the faint bartering of the early morning fishermen and felt the tremble of the village carts across the cobblestone, Bartimaeus prepared for another day. He loosened the cloak off of his back. He felt around for the side of the city wall. He propped himself up and placed the cloak on his lap to hold his money. He cleared his throat and prepared to do what he did everyday.
Sit. Beg. Sit and beg. And see nothing but darkness.
He sighed. “God have mercy.”
Today we are continuing our series called DEEP by taking a look at God’s DEEP MERCY. We want to compare and contrast the human perception of God’s mercy, understand how that plays out in our lives, and then contemplate the reality of His mercy.
I. The Human Perception of Mercy
Take a look at Mark 10:46 for the start of Bartimaeus’ story. It says “46 Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city of Jericho and 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!”
Obviously Jesus’ reputation preceded him. Even if Bartimaeus had been literally, physically unable to see Jesus -- he still had heard the people talking --
“He made a person who had always been lame to walk.”
“He made a person who had been deaf and mute to hear and talk.”
“I heard he made a dead girl – alive!”
Bartimaeus figures, “Why not give it a shot?” He starts shouting from his beggar post, “Jesus, son of David," which shows an awesome understanding that Jesus is the Messiah – the great, great, great, many times over, grandson of King David, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!!!”
While Bartimaeus seems pretty confident in God’s mercy, the others there – not so much. 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet.
Why? Here’s a few very likely possibilities:
1) Jesus is Too Busy
If you backup a chapter, the disciples had just learned from Jesus that he was going to make his final trip to Jerusalem. He was going to go there to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world. While the disciples didn’t really get what that entailed, they knew he had a lot on his mind. This was the salvation of the world – we’re talking about. How could he have time for something as unimportant as this beggar’s sight?
Have you ever thought similarly?
Say that your car gets banged up and after taking it to the Auto Shop, the estimate for repairs is gonna cost you a pretty penny. You get nervous. You get a little anxious. You use your apps to check your bank account again and again to see if you can make it. You head to church and the pastor says, “You should pray about it.” You agree and you say you will but…
…something stops you.
“God’s too busy. He’s got refugees across the ocean to worry about. There are homeless people he’s taking care of. My great aunt is sick and dying. Besides that, he’s keeping the world spinning and the planets from being sucked into universe shattering black holes. God doesn’t have time for me. He’s too busy.”
2) You’ve Gotta Be Important
Jesus was very important – the logic is pretty simple here. He’s an important person – He can only be bothered by other – equally as important people.
Bartimaeus was a beggar. He didn’t have really cool friends to introduce Jesus to. No one was clamoring for his autograph. He couldn’t get Jesus a backstage pass to meet the coolest Pharisees in town.
Why would Jesus bother with him?
This is pretty common in religious circles too.
The president of the Wisconsin Lutheran Syond is President Mark Schroeder. Ever met him? He is the leader for over 600,000 Christians in American. I think he’s pretty important.
He attends the same church I attended while I was growing up. So last year, when we were at that church over New Year’s, I saw him in worship. I remember thinking – “He needs to attend church like I do? He needs to say prayers like I do? Doesn’t he have an express line to God? He’s way more important than me. God probably listens to his prayers way more than he listens to mine. He is way more important.”
Do you ever think like that? Do you ever think “That Christian is more important than me. I better get him to pray for me, because God won’t listen to mine. I’m not a lifetime church goer, an elder, or even a pastor. How would God ever bother to listen to me?”
3) You’ve Gotta Earn It
Of course, if you have enough money OR enough to offer…busy, important people always listen. Right?
Have you ever had a hard time ordering a drink at the bar? Try this next time…maybe the sports bar for an NFL game this afternoon. Before you go, stop by the Wells Fargo and get out a $100.00 bill. Then, go get in the middle of a busy bar and wave that Ben Franklin in front of the bartender.
Don’t you think you’ll get some attention? If you have something to offer, suddenly, you get way more attention, right?
Does Jesus work the same way? If this is what the crowd was thinking, then you can understand why they were turning Bartimaeus away. What could this beggar possibly have to offer Jesus?
A tattered rope belt? A pair of dirty sandals? A really cool stick that he found earlier?
Of course, you might be aware that God isn’t really into things and stuff. God demands holiness. That means a life following Him without sin.
We, sinful human beings, can’t offer God that. So immediately, the devil gets into our thinking:
“I was too mean to my wife this morning. God doesn’t want to hear from me now. I’ve forfeited my right to pray.”
“I really need help with this sin. But I just did that sin. Now doesn’t seem like the right time to ask for help with it.”
“I really need God’s help, but how could he ever forgive me? I wouldn’t listen to me. I don’t expect him to ever listen to me.”
Scripture even agrees with this. Proverbs 28:9 says, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even his prayers are detestable.” In other words, “If you don’t listen to God, then why would he listen to you?”
We’ve come to a startling, rather shocking conclusion – There wasn’t any reason for Jesus to listen to the beggar. As sinners, there isn’t any reason for God to listen to us. He didn’t deserve it. We don’t deserve it,either.
II. The Reality of Divine Mercy
Maybe that’s what Bartimaeus started to think. He heard the vitriol in their voices, “Stop calling him!” “He doesn’t have time for you.” “You’re just a pathetic beggar. Shut up! You’ve got nothing to offer Jesus.”
They were right. Jesus was busy. He was unimportant. He didn’t have anything to offer Jesus!
Maybe that’s exactly why he kept shouting. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” It was all about Jesus.
Here’s where it gets awesome. Look at this in verse 49 “Jesus stopped.” This caught me off guard this past week while I was preparing. I’m not even sure I noticed this before. In the Greek, this word is separate and profound. Jesus…who is the God of Heaven and Earth that was literally on his way to give up his life for the salvation of the world…STOPPED.
He didn’t stop to take a phone call from his dad.
He didn’t stop to pick up a burrito at the local Citgo.
He stopped to help Bartimaeus.
And that’s not it. He said to his disciples, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
Look at what happens next. The man throws his cloak aside…remember this was probably draped across his lap for donations. Donations that meant nothing to the man now that he had the attention of the Savior of Heaven and Earth. He jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. He didn’t grab his cane and slowly make his way over. He was too excited. He had an audience with God himself! Praise God!!!
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. Not, “What do you have for me?” Not, “What can you give me?” Not “What can you do for me?” Nope. He simply, mercifully asks Bartimaeus what God can do for him.
Bartimaeus isn’t shy. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight.
This is God’s Deep Mercy. Here are three things for you to remember about just how deep it is:
Notice that this is what prompted Bartimaeus to keep shouting. It was Jesus’ mercy. Jesus helped Bartimaeus simply because of his Divine compassion – not because he earned it, not because he bought it, not because he was important enough to garner it.
Jesus gave mercy to Bartimaeus because merciful is who he is!!!
Jesus did the same for you. “When you were dead in your sins – when you had nothing remotely good or valuable to God – He made you alive with Christ. He forgave you all of your sins!” (Col. 2:13)
Think about what that is saying. When he died, all of those things that caused God to “turn a deaf ear” to us, have been removed. Even though we haven’t listened to God, he listens to us!
This is truth.
It means – you’ve got to keep shouting.
Whatever is going on in your life – sickness, temptation, relationship struggles, financial difficulties, learn a lesson from Jesus. Keep shouting. Keep praying. Keep pleading with God. Not because you’ve earned it. Not because you deserve it. Not because “I’ve been going to church faithfully for fifteen years, God, you own it to me.”
Please with Jesus for the sake of His mercy.
2) It’s Instant.
Scripture says, “Immediately, Bartimaeus has his sight." Jesus didn’t wait. He didn’t make him earn it. He heard the man and he granted his request.
The same thing happened on the cross. When Jesus died, he cried out! “Tetelestai!” That means “It is finished.” In an instant, all of your sins, all of your failures, all of the things that separate you from God – were removed completely and instantly merciful.
When God worked faith in your heart, the moment you believed, God brought this forgiveness to you. It became yours …forgiven completely. Instantly merciful.
When God washed you with the waters of Baptism, your sins were washed away – completely clean – instantly merciful.
This means if you are a believe, God is being merciful to you right now! You don’t have to be here for a while to earn it. You don’t have to serve three terms on Council to get it. You don’t have to serve cookies three times to convince him to be merciful.
Through belief in Jesus, his love and forgiveness becomes yours instantly.
3) It’s Tailored-to-You.
When Jesus heard the Blind Man’s request, he didn’t barter with him. Jesus gave him exactly what he needed. He gave him back his vision!
But that’s not it. Afterwards, Jesus continues on his way. Not because he no longer cared for Bartimaeus, but precisely because he did care about him. In fact, it was out of mercy for Bartimaeus that Jesus continued his walk to Jerusalem to earn him forgiveness.
Did you get that weekly newspaper that is filled with coupons? Inside they had a coupon for a free drink at Burger King.
That’s nice. Do you know what’s not nice though? That coupon for a FREE DRINK, doesn’t help me when I want a FREE BURGER. I can’t use it to get a WHOPPER. They’ll probably laugh at me when I take it in to Taco Bell.
Jesus’ mercy isn’t like that. It wasn’t tailored just for Bartimaeus. It has been tailored for you too. .
Is yours a sin of sexual immorality? He died for that.
Is yours a sin of greed? He died for that.
Is yours a sin of jealousy? He died for that.
Is yours a sin of lying? He died for that.
Is you’re a sin of idolatry, adultery, false testimony and foolishness? He died for that combo.
Is yours a sin of idolatry, adultery, false testimony, and pride? He died for that combo, too.
Whatever combo of sins you have, whatever combo of unworthiness you have brought on yourself, Jesus’ mercy covers it.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, will not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:16
Now what? How does God want you to respond to his mercy?
I imagine that thought went through Bartimaeus’ head. He could see again. He could run to the Garden and check out the beautiful colors he had longed for. Maybe he could run to his family and look into his family’s eyes for the first time in years. He could take a seat on a rock and just enjoyed the beautiful sights and sounds of the day that he had taken for greatned.
But he did none of that.
Instead? Verse 52 He followed Jesus along the road.
When you see Christ’s mercy, it is my prayer that you do the same. His mercy is DEEP. Put your sins aside. Put your pride aside. Join Bartimaeus and follow him. Amen.