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Prerequisites for Blessing

Mark 10:46-52

46 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.

47 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.

48 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.

49 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.

50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51 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.

52 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.


The great Presbyterian preacher Clarence McCartney was once riding across the city of Chicago with William Jennings Bryan and they passed the coliseum where Bryan had made perhaps his greatest speech in 1896. In that speech he had closed his message by saying, “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

And that speech had been so effective that it won him the nomination for the president of the United States by his political party for three terms in a row. McCartney said to him, “You must have made many other speeches in your lifetime as great or greater than that one, and yet they have hardly been noted.” Bryan said, “Yes, I suppose so but that was my opportunity and I took the most of it.” 

I suppose that all a man can do in this world is lose or use his opportunities.

We are looking in the scriptures today at a man who used his opportunity to its highest advantage. His name is Bartimaeus. And he saw an opportunity to get out of the world of darkness or blindness and see again and he seized that opportunity—he made the most of it. 

The scene is the waning days of the life of Jesus. He is on his way to the city of Jerusalem. In fact that very night he would sleep in Bethany and he would begin the last week of his life on earth. But for the time being he was in the city of Jericho. Passing through it with a group of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They come to the outskirts of that little city and Jesus is hears the cry of a blind man who is saying, “Thou son of David, have mercy upon me.”

The crowd, hearing the cries of the bind beggar and wanting to protect Jesus from the nuisance that was continually around him, tried to hush the man up. But Bartimaeus would not be denied. He cried out even the more, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me.” And even though the crowd was trying to keep him quiet, Jesus heard his cry and the Bible says that Jesus stood still. And he said to the people, “Bring that man to me.” And someone turned to Bartimaeus and said, “Cheer up Bartimaeus, he is calling for you.” And the scriptures tell us that Bartimaeus sprang to his feet and he cast off that old cloak that he had around his shoulders and he rushed to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What will you that I should do unto you?” And Bartimaeus said, “Lord, I want to see again.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you whole.”

That word whole in the Greek literally means “your faith has saved you.” It sometimes refers to a physical deliverance, such as a healing as in this instance. But sometimes it has a spiritual reference, not just to the body but also to the soul, not just to the eyesight but also to the sins. And in this instant it may mean both. Your faith has saved you. And the scriptures say that Bartimaeus joined with the crowd that was walking with Jesus and he also began to follow him.

There is tremendous importance in this experience for us. For two reasons. One, it speaks to us about the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Savior.

Jesus began his public ministry in the little city of Nazareth. He began by reading from the prophet Isaiah, who said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). And a part of the work and the ministry of the Messiah, the Savior, the coming King, was to give sight to the blind. And one of the reasons why Luke recorded this experience for us was to help us to see that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and he is doing Messianic work by giving sight to the blind. But more than just declaring unto us that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God, this experience also tells us that we can get help from God for ourselves. It reveals to us the prerequisites for blessings. If we want the blessing of God, if we want the touch of God on our lives, if we need help as Bartimaeus needed help, here is how to get it.

There are three prerequisites for blessings from God. The first is faith. We must have faith to believe in who Jesus is and what Jesus can do. That’s the first prerequisite—faith.

The second is prayer. Having believed what Jesus is and what Jesus can do, we must then have the courage to ask. And Bartimaeus believing that Jesus was the Messiah, cried out to him and said, “Lord, have mercy upon me. Lord, I want to see again.” He believed and then he asked.

And the third is we must have will to obey. Jesus called him and immediately he sprang to his feet and he cast off that robe that would hinder his coming to Jesus and he immediately rushed to Jesus to do what Jesus told him to do.

And if we want help from God in our lives today, regardless of the need, even if it is as drastic as the need of Bartimaeus, the prerequisites are always the same: faith, prayer, obedience. That’s the way to get help from God.

1. We must have faith.

It begins with faith. In fact Jesus says to Bartimaeus at the close of the experience, “Thou faith hath made the whole.” It was his belief in, his trust in, his reliance upon Jesus Christ that brought this wonderful miracle into his life and that healing touch of Jesus on his blind eyes.

Bartimaeus, though he was blind physically, had keen spiritual insight. He saw things that other people did not see. Even though he was blind he saw who Jesus was and what Jesus could do. The evidence is that he referred to Jesus as the Son of David. “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me.” Now that is a messianic name. That is one of the names that was used to describe the coming Messiah. The Promised One of the Old Testament who would redeem Israel, who would redeem the people of God, who would be the Savior of all of mankind. He was known as the son of David and Bartimaeus recognized Jesus as the son of David and he called him by that title.

It is interesting to read this passage carefully that when Jesus and his group came near Bartimaeus and Bartimaeus asked the cause of all the commotion and the trampling of the feet, someone said to him he heard that this was Jesus of Nazareth who was coming by. But Bartimaeus did not refer Jesus as Jesus of Nazareth. He called him the son of David. And Bartimaeus clearly recognized Jesus as the Messiah. More than that, he not only knew who Jesus was, he knew what Jesus could do and he cried out and said, “Lord, have mercy upon me.” And when Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, I want to see again.” So many times in the Bible when people came to Jesus they came saying, “Lord, can you do this for me? Lord, if you will, do this for me.” But there is none of that doubt and vacillating in the plea of Bartimaeus. He knew not only that the Lord was able, he knew that the Lord was willing, and in very positive terms he said, “Lord, I want to see again. Lord, have mercy on me.”

And what I want you to see is this: that Bartimaeus had absolute confidence in who Jesus was and what Jesus could do.

That kind of faith is a prerequisite for receiving the blessings of God in your life—whatever those blessings may be. It all begins with conviction as to who Jesus is and what Jesus can do. And until we can come to that kind of settled conviction, until we can see with the eyes of faith who he is and what he can do we can never receive the greatest blessings that he has for us.

You know that the essence of Christianity is this: Jesus Christ is God. He is not just sent from God, he is not just a part of God, he is not just a representative of God—Jesus Christ was and is God and our whole Christian faith is centered in the person of Jesus Christ and sometimes we must come to the place where we put our faith and trust in Jesus and Jesus alone. And until we see that, until we believe as surely as Bartimaeus did, we cannot receive God’s blessings in our lives. So it starts by believing. The evidence is all in scripture.

And this very experience contributes to that great evidence that Jesus was and is the Son of God. Forty-eight times in the New Testament, in the gospels, we are told about Jesus healing individuals. On 18 occasions he healed people en masse. And those healing experiences are confirmations of the fact that Jesus was and is the very Son of God. In fact John the Baptist, who at one time had boldly declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, began to have some doubt about who Jesus was and what he could do. And he sent a representative to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah or should we look for another?” And Jesus sent word back to John, “You tell John that the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame walk, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them.” And Jesus was saying in essence, “When John knows what I am doing he will know who I am.”

It all begins by believing that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God, and he can meet our needs. Do you believe that? Have you come to that settled conviction in your own life? That’s the first prerequisite for blessings.

2. We must pray.

Having enough faith to believe we must then have the courage to ask and so Jesus is approached by a man who believes in him, has confidence in him. The man is crying out, “Have mercy upon me.” When Jesus said, “What do you want?” The man said, “Lord, I want to see again.”

First, he believed and then he asked. First faith, then prayer. Faith is always the basis, always the foundation for prayer. And until we believe we will not ask and until we ask we will not receive the blessings of God.

I want you to remember that while Bartimaeus believed in Jesus, his faith was an inadequate faith. He called Jesus the son of David and that is a messianic title, but it was inadequate understanding of what the Messiah was going to be.

That title suggested Jesus would be a military Messiah. That like David in the Old Testament he would give Israel military and political prominence. He would come to establish again the kingdom of David and would conquer the world militarily. And so, while Bartimaeus believed that he was the Messiah, he had an inadequate understanding of who Jesus is.

The point I want to make is this: that faith and prayer can make up for an inadequate theology. You don’t wait until you understand all there is to know about Jesus. You don’t wait until you understand all of the nuances of prayer before you believe in him and before you call upon him. Even if your understanding of Jesus is not full and complete and even if your theology is inadequate, if you have enough faith to believe in who Jesus is and what Jesus can do, and if you will call upon him, he will hear and answer.

1 was visiting with Marc Bockmon in Mineola this past week and I saw on the wall of his office a little plaque that said, “Faith isn’t faith until it is all you’re holding on to.”

That was the position of blind Bartimaeus. He was living in a world of darkness and when Jesus passed by he saw this as his opportunity to get out of darkness and into the light and he called out in prayer unto Jesus. Now, the crowd tried to shush him up. Jesus didn’t have time, they thought, to be bothered with a blind man, especially with a beggar. There were people like that everywhere—a continual nuisance of people. They did not want him interrupting Jesus. But Bartimaeus would not be denied. This was his only hope of ever getting out of his world of darkness and he would cry out against the protest of people. He had faith in Jesus and that’s all he had to hold on to.

When we get to the place where we have no other hope, nothing else to hold on to except Jesus Christ and then we cry out to him in faith, then God works his wonders in our life.

That’s when he works the wonders of salvation. You know as long as we can trust in ourselves, as long as we can trust in something we have done, then we never receive that blessing and that assurance of salvation that comes from God.

One of the great preachers of all times was John Wesley. He grew up in a devout family and he lived a good life. Wesley was disciplined in his life. He had a time to go to bed and a time to get up and a time to read the scriptures and a certain amount of scripture to read at a time—he had a method for doing everything. In fact he was so methodical that they called him and his followers Methodists. That’s the way they got their name.

He had a heart for God. And he heard of the great need of the American Indians and he came to America as a missionary but he went back to England disillusioned saying, “I came to America to convert the Indians, who will convert this heart of mine?” With all of his discipline and all of his dedication and all of his sacrifice, he was still as lost as he could be because as Wesley said, “I was trusting in the fact that I did not harm other people, that I had good feelings toward religion, that I prayed, that I read the Bible, and that I went to church regularly.”

And then one day he realized that not harming other people and having good feelings toward religion and reading the Bible and praying and going to church and all of that would never save him. And that’s when he came to a place of faith and trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.

I tell you that when we get to the place where we have nothing else and no one else to lean on, to trust in but Jesus Christ that faith prompts us to cry out in prayer unto God. When we get to that place God does his wonderful saving work in our lives.

But not only is that the prerequisite for salvation, it is the prerequisite for the continual cleaning in our lives. To truth in Jesus and in Jesus alone.

I was in Mineola visiting with Marc about a book we are working on together. And he was showing me his computer. And he was putting something on the screen and he made a mistake and he pushed a button and it erased all of it. And he said to me, “That’s the undo button.” And I looked over and sure enough right there on the button was “undo.” And he said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had an undo button in life?” And I thought of all the people who through the years who have said to me, “I wish I had my life to live over again. I wish I hadn’t have said that. I wish I hadn’t have done that. I wish I could change that.”

I thought of all the people who have said to me in essence, “I wish there was some undo button that I could punch and wash away all the mistakes in my life.”

There is no undo button. But let me tell you there is an undo person—Jesus. And the scriptures say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” And if we have faith enough to believe and courage enough to ask we can come to Jesus just like blind Bartimaeus did and we can say, “Lord, have mercy upon me. I have messed up in life.” And the Lord Jesus punches the undo button. Thank God you can have the mistakes erased. Life can begin again. Cleansing is available. But the prerequisite is faith to believe and courage to ask. 

And this man Bartimaeus asked. He cried out, the crowd tried to keep him quiet, but he kept on crying and Jesus stood still. Listen, Jesus hears the cry of anguished souls above the shallow Hosannas and hallelujahs of people who don’t mean what they say. If from a heart of sincerity and need you cry out to Jesus Christ, “Lord, have mercy on me,” all of heaven will stop if necessary. 

The Lord Jesus is not a dead Christ that we just study about. He is alive. He is your dearest friend and he is as close as a believing heart and a praying tongue. And if you call upon him from a sincere and believing heart, if you call upon him whatever the need of your life, I promise you on the authority of God’s word that he will hear you.

3. We must obey.

Jesus stood still and said, “Tell him to come.” And the scriptures say, “Bartimaeus sprang to his feet. He jumped up as though he were shot out of a gun and he threw off the coat that would hinder his getting to Jesus and as quickly as he could he came there in obedience to the call of Jesus.”

We not only must believe in who Jesus is and what he can do, and believe enough to cry out to him for help. When we hear his word, when we understand his will, when we feel the wooing of his spirit, we must do what Jesus said. Our faith must deep enough to cause us to obey him. To respond wholeheartedly to him.

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” In 1 John 2:4 he says, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Don’t come around here with any of that nonsense that you are really praying if you aren’t ready to obey him. Unless you have come to the place of surrender where you will do whatever he tells you, you do not yet have sufficient faith and you have not prayed from a sincere heart, for faith and prayer always issue forth into obedience if they are real. And when Bartimaeus recognized who Jesus was and he cried to Jesus for help, and he responded to he call of Jesus, his sight was restored and Jesus who lived in the world of darkness for years suddenly saw the light and walked in it from that day forward.

I know that this was an experience, a physical healing. But let me lift it up to the spiritual realm and say to you that it is a mirror of what could happen in your life and mine in an instant. We could pass out of the darkness and into the light if we had faith and if we would call and if we would obey. What happened to Bartimaeus physically can happen to us spiritually today.

If Jesus should stand here in my place and he should ask you, “What will you that I should do unto you?” what would your answer be? What would you say the greatest need of your life is?

Bartimaeus said, “Lord, have mercy on me that I might see.” Would you say, “Lord, I’ve been in spiritual darkness groping for direction, for deliverance, for salvation, blinded by sin and the circumstances of life. Oh, God that I might see that my sins might be forgiven. That the undo button of life might be pushed and I could be right with you and right with others and right with myself.”

When we have that kind of faith, when we pray that kind of prayer, when we respond in that kind of obedience, God does his wonderful work in our lives. And it can happen to you today and it can happen again and again and again.

Will you then call out in faith and in obedience? “Lord, have mercy upon me.” If you do, Jesus will answer.

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Paul W. Powell - www.PaulPowellLibrary.com

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