“Jesus Stood Still”
“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” (Mark 10:46-52)
In the tenth chapter of Joshua, at the command of a man, “the sun stood still!” We are told, “There was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man” (Joshua 10:14). Here is something even more remarkable than that. Here is a man who caused the God who made the sun to stand still!
As he was coming up out of Jericho on his way to Jerusalem to redeem his people, our Lord Jesus heard a poor, blind beggar crying for mercy. At the sound of his cry, we are told, “Jesus stood still!” What a wonderful, amazing picture we have before us! Here is the omnipotent God stopped in his tracks, held fast by the cry of a needy soul for his mercy.
He was on his way to Jerusalem to accomplish the redemption of his people, to fulfill the will of God. Nothing could stop him. Nothing could cause him to pause. Nothing could detour him from his work. Neither Herod, nor Satan, nor the Pharisees, nor his disciples, not even his own mother could stop our Savior or cause him to pause in his path, as he went about to do his Father’s business. But one, solitary, helpless soul, one blind beggar crying for mercy, looking to him for help, believing him, crying to him, stopped the Son of God in his tracks. — At the cry of a needy sinner for mercy, “Jesus stood still!” The Son of God will never ignore the cry or refuse the faith of a sinner seeking mercy. The Lord Jesus Christ is constrained by his very mission to seek and save the lost (John 6:37). What a joyful picture this piece of our Redeemer’s earthly history gives us! Let us turn aside from the trifles of this world to see this great sight. Surely, there are lessons to be learned here that are of more value than gold.
An Unexpected Believer
Bartimaeus was an unexpected believer. None of the Lord’s disciples expected to see this man exercising faith in Christ. But faith is frequently found where it is least expected. There were great multitudes who followed the Lord Jesus as he walked along and taught the people, — Some for loaves and some for love, — Some out of curiosity and some out of conviction, — Some for greed and some for grace. But there were few, very few who believed on Christ. Many who saw his miracles yet believed him not. But here is a blind man, a man who never saw any of our Lord’s miracles, a man who knew the Savior only by hear-say, by the testimony of others, who believed him.
What a picture Bartimaeus is of us! His father, Timaeus, whose name means “an honor or honorable,” was, like our father Adam, an honorable man. Bartimaeus was the blind son of an honorable man, who had been reduced to abject poverty, begging for bread. The Son of God came to “give light to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Isaiah 35:5; 42:6-7; 49:9; 61:1; Luke 4:18). Robert Hawker rightly observed, “Such is every man's state, though he waiteth on the highway of ordinances till Jesus pass by; and the Spirit of Jesus put a cry in his heart for spiritual light and understanding.”
Bartimaeus simply heard other men and women talking about the Savior. We read that he began to cry after the Savior, “When he heard.” He simply heard others talking about the Redeemer and the wondrous works of mercy he had performed. — Blessed gossip! Perhaps he heard how the Master had healed a blind man on his way into Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Without question, he had heard who Christ is. He called him by his name, “Jesus.” He addressed him as “Lord.” And he acknowledged him as the Messiah God had promised, calling him the “Son of David.” He heard about the Lord’s mighty miracles of mercy. He heard that “Jesus passed by.” And he knew he might never pass his way again.
Hearing these things, Bartimaeus believed the Son of God. His faith puts us to shame. We have books of evidence, libraries of theology, volumes of biographies, yet, how little there is of this childlike confidence and faith in Christ. Even among true believers, simple, confident, unhesitating faith is found where we least expect it. The humble soul believes God and walks in peace, while the learned, well-read theologian is harassed with doubts and questions. This faith is the gift and operation of God the Holy Spirit. Who but God the Spirit could have convinced Bartimaeus of these things? No one but God the Spirit could have put such a cry in his heart, a cry that none could stifle, until the mercy needed had been granted.
Use of Means
Bartimaeus availed himself of the means he was given that he might obtain mercy. And if we hope for mercy, we must avail ourselves of every means of good to our souls. Yes, God is sovereign. Salvation is of the Lord. Every chosen, redeemed sinner shall be saved. I am fully aware of those blessed facts of divine revelation, and rejoice to proclaim them. Yet, the Scriptures make it clear that every man is responsible for his own soul. We are responsible to use the means of grace God gives us.
When this blind man heard that “Jesus passed by,” he was found “sitting by the highway side,” crying for mercy. He took up a hopeful position “by the highway side.” There he would be likely to hear any good news that might be spread. There he was most likely to meet with and be seen by the compassionate. Though he was blind, he was not deaf. And he used what he had to obtain the good he needed.
Bartimaeus employed the means given him to obtain alms to relieve his physical needs. But the Lord God has ordained specific means of grace, which he is pleased to use for the salvation of his elect and the good of our souls. To despise them is to despise his grace. To neglect them is to neglect his grace. To use them is to be in the path of mercy (Matthew 18:20). Do not forsake the house of God, where he meets with his people (Hebrews 10:25). Do not forsake the reading of Holy Scripture, which are able to make you wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Do not abandon the preaching of the gospel. It is God’s pleasure to save sinners by the instrumentality of gospel preaching (1 Corinthians 1:18-23; Romans 10:17). Do not forsake private prayer. Though God promises covenant mercy to his chosen, he declares, “I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them” (Ezekiel 36:37).
"And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me" (v. 48). — What discouragements Bartimaeus had to endure and overcome. He exemplifies the fact that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). As soon as a sinner is brought into serious concern for his soul’s everlasting welfare, enemies of Christ and his soul try to stifle all conviction and crush the infant desire for mercy, grace, and salvation. Even before Christ has been formed in the heart as their hope of glory, some of God’s elect are sharply tried by the foolish counsel of those around them and by the accusations of Satan.
Those very people who should have encouraged Bartimaeus’ faith greatly discouraged him. They charged him to hold his peace, suggesting that he was too poor, too dirty, too blind, too worthless to obtain the mercy Christ bestows! But Bartimaeus needed mercy. He knew that Christ could give him the mercy he needed. He knew that he might never get this opportunity again. Consequently, the opposition he met with was hardly noticed by him.
"And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee" (v. 49). — How the Son of God loves needy sinners! Our Savior’s love for this poor, needy soul is to be seen in everything he did for him. The Lord Jesus graciously blinded the eyes of his body for a season, that he might open the eyes of his soul forever. In time the Son of God sent someone to tell this man about his greatness and grace. The Lord Jesus Christ passed his way in mercy, love, and grace. He heard the man’s prayer. He commanded him to be called. Then he personally called Bartimaeus. What a call his call was! What a cause for comfort! The disciples said, “Be of good comfort…He calleth thee!” And when he did, the Lord Jesus spoke a word of grace to him. — “Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.” What a word of grace! The grace poured into his lips as this poor sinner’s Surety in eternity now poured from his lips into the chosen sinner’s heart! Then, he went on to Jerusalem to redeem him!
Faith Obtains Mercy
Faith always gets what it seeks — Mercy! Look what this man did when the Savior called him. He arose, cast off his garment, and came to Christ. Such are the sweet results of Christ’s effectual call. The poor sinner is enabled, by the same grace that calls him, to cast away every thing of his own, all the filthy rags of his own righteousness, and come to Christ, just as he is, poor, and blind, and wretched, and needy, and receive all from Christ. “Immediately he received his sight.” And as soon as the sinner comes to Christ, he receives his sight. When the Master told him to go his way, Bartimaeus “followed Jesus in the way.” Christ, who is THE WAY, became his way. So it is with all who are called by grace. They follow Christ in the way of faith, in the way of his doctrine, in the way of his ordinances, in the way of his worship, in the way of his example.
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