Sermon title:  JESUS BRINGS SIGHT TO THE BLIND

 

 

Mark 10:46-52   

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, July 7, 2019

 

 

 

The Gospels tell us that our Lord Jesus

healed many blind people

on a number of different occasions.

 

The account about him giving sight

to the blind man Bartimaeus,

that we just read from Mark Chapter 10

in our Responsive Reading

is found in all three synoptic Gospels,

Matthew, Mark and Luke,

but Mark gives the most detail.

 

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem,

where he would be crucified a few days later.

 

And this truly inspiring episode occurred

while he was on the way.

 

We read at Mark chapter 10, beginning with Verse 46.

 

46 Then they came to Jericho.

 

As Jesus and his disciples,

together with a large crowd,

were leaving the city,

 

a blind man, Bartimaeus

(that is, the 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!"

 

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet,

but he shouted all the more,

 

"Son of David, have mercy on me!"

 

49 Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."

 

So they called to the blind man,

"Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you."

 

50 Throwing his cloak aside,

he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

 

51 "What do you want me to do for you?"

Jesus asked him.

 

The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."

 

52 "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you."

 

Immediately he received his sight

and followed Jesus along the road.

 

Luke’s account adds at Luke 18:43

 

Immediately he received his sight,

and followed him,

glorifying God.

 

All the people, when they saw it, praised God.

 

And that is what this account is meant to accomplish:

to lead us to praise God.

 

But there are some people

who read the three accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke,

and they focus, instead,

on what they see as contradictions

undermining faith in the Bible.

 

They are blind to the wonderful miracle,

and instead take issue with minor details—

majoring in the minors.

 

Matthew and Mark say Jesus was leaving Jericho

when this incident occurred,

while Luke says he was approaching to Jericho.

 

Is that a contradiction?

 

Only for people who don’t realize

that there were TWO cities of Jericho—

the old city and the new city.

 

The old city of Jericho in Jesus’ day was a small village

at the site of the ruins of the ancient city

whose walls fell down flat

in the days when Joshua

brought the people of Israel

into the Promised Land.

 

The new city of Jericho

was just down the road,

where there was a palace

built by king Herod.

 

Many commentators suggest

that Matthew and Mark refer to the old city of Jericho,

while Luke refers to the adjacent new city. 

 

So, Jesus would have been leaving one Jericho

while approaching the other Jericho—

not a contradiction.

 

But that isn’t the end of the story.

 

Matthew tells of two blind men,

but Mark and Luke mention

only one.

 

Matthew 20:30 says there were

"two blind men."

 

Luke 18:35 says

"a certain blind man."

 

And Mark 10:46 identifies him as

Bartimaeus

(that is, the Son of Timaeus),

 

How do we reconcile those differences?

 

I would assume that

there must have been two men,

but of those two blind men

Bartimaeus was the one

who ended up becoming a follower of Jesus

and who was known by name

to the early disciples.

 

So, Mark names him

and Luke focuses only on him,

while Matthew mentions the additional detail

that there was also another blind man

healed on that occasion.

 

The fact that Mark and Luke focus on him

without mentioning that there was also another blind man,

as Matthew does,

is not really a contradiction,

but just a matter of

each Gospel account

providing details the others left out.

 

But some people dismiss this miraculous healing

over these petty details.

 

That reminds me of the Pharisees in John Chapter 9

who objected when Jesus healed a man born blind,

because he performed the healing

on a Sabbath day.

 

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees

were the strictest sect among the Jews,

but they were self-righteous,

they added to God’s laws

by making up a lot of their own laws

that went beyond God’s laws.

 

They put their own man-made rules

about the Sabbath

ahead of Jesus’ miracle

in giving sight to a blind man on the Sabbath,

so they themselves

were blind spiritually.

 

They refused to see

the clear evidence

about who Jesus was.

 

They refused to see

that giving sight to the blind

and the other miracles Jesus performed,

proved he was the Son of God.

 

The Pharisees themselves were blind,

in a spiritual sense,

because they refused to see and admit the truth.

 

At Matthew 15:14, Jesus said about the Pharisees,

 

Leave them; they are blind guides.

 

If the blind lead the blind,

both will fall into a pit."

 

And because the Pharisees

were leaders among the Israelites of their day

they helped lead most Jews

to reject Jesus.

 

At Romans 11:25, the Apostle Paul referred

to the effect this had

on Jewish people receiving the Gospel.

 

And he indicated there

that the majority of the people of Israel

would be blinded to the Gospel message

until after the harvest of Gentile believers

was completed.

 

At Romans 11:25, Paul said this,

according to the NIV, the New International Version:

 

25 I do not want you to be

ignorant of this mystery, brothers,

so that you may not be conceited:

 

Israel has experienced a hardening in part

until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

 

In the King James Bible Romans 11:25 says,

 

that blindness in part is happened to Israel,

until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

 

Other Bible translations also

speak of “blindness” here.

 

For example, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English says,

 

that blindness of heart

has for a little time come to Israel

until the fullness of the Gentiles will come in.

 

But the Jews aren’t the only ones

who have been blinded

by false teachers.

 

There are many other things in this world

that blind people

to the truth.

 

For example, Deuteronomy 16:19  says,

 

19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality.

 

Do not accept a bribe,

for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise

and twists the words of the innocent.

 

Receiving a bribe

can cause a person to see things differently

and to be blinded

to the proper course of action.

 

In 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 4,

the Apostle Paul explained that it is the devil—

the ‘god’ of this world—

who blinds unbelievers to the Gospel of Christ.

 

The devil blinds their minds.

 

He puts other things in their minds

that block them from processing

and grasping the Gospel message.

 

Beginning at 2 Corinthians 4:3,

Paul wrote,

 

3 And even if our gospel is veiled,

it is veiled to those who are perishing.

 

4 The god of this age

has blinded the minds of unbelievers,

 

so that they cannot see

the light of the gospel

that displays the glory of Christ,

who is the image of God.

 

I saw a vivid example of that

in a conversation I had with a Jehovah’s Witness.

 

I showed her Revelation 19:1,

where it says,

 

“After this I heard

what sounded like the roar of

a great multitude in heaven . . .”

 

I had her read it from her own JW  New World Translation,

where Revelation 19:1 says,

 

“After this I heard

what seemed to be a loud voice of

a great crowd in heaven . . .”

 

Then I asked her

where it said this “great multitude” or “great crowd”

is located.

 

And she replied, “They are on earth.”

 

So, I read out loud again,

the phrase in Revelation 19:1 where it says,

 

“a great multitude in heaven”

or

“a great crowd in heaven.”

 

And I asked her again, “Where does this verse say they are?”

 

Again, she answered, “They are on earth.”

 

Finally, I asked her to read it again,

from her own Bible,

and when she got to the part that says,

“a great crowd in heaven”

I interrupted her,

and asked,

“What was that last word you read?”

 

Then she admitted that the Bible says “heaven,”

but she insisted the “great crowd” is on earth,

because that is what the men

at Watchtower headquarters taught her.

 

So, she was blinded to that word “heaven” in the Bible.

 

It’s hard to imagine

a person could be that blinded

without actually seeing it in real life.

 

It was an outstanding example

of what Paul wrote at 2nd Corinthians 4:4

about how the devil—

the ‘god’ of this world—

blinds the minds of unbelievers

to the Gospel of Christ.

As Paul said,

 

4 The god of this age

has blinded the minds of unbelievers,

 

so that they cannot see

the light of the gospel.

 

And it’s not just people swept up in a cult,

like Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

The general public, too,

are continually taught Satan’s lies

through the news media,

the entertainment media,

and the public education system.

 

Satan blinds people today

into accepting sinful behavior

as normal, acceptable and good.

 

He sends Ellen DeGeneres into people’s homes

via the TV screen

to entertain them

and to get them to accept

her sinful lifestyle.

 

He uses public libraries

to entertain children

with a “Drag Queen Story Hour.”

 

Satan blinds unbelievers today

into viewing the Bible’s moral standards

as outmoded, bigoted, hateful and bad.

 

Why do I bring this up again?

 

Because for the whole month of June

people all around us

were celebrating “Gay Pride Month”—

celebrating behavior the Bible calls “sin”

and even worse than ordinary sins:

God calls it “an abomination”

at Leviticus 20:13.

 

Deuteronomy 22:5 tells us

God views it as “an abomination”

for a man to dress as a woman

or a woman to dress as a man.

 

But today we’re being told

over and over again

that these things are not bad—

and that we are bad

if we express disapproval of these things.

 

And when the devil is bombarding us daily with his lies,

we need to be reminded

of the words of Jesus and his Apostles

calling on people to repent of their sins

and quit their sinful conduct.

 

Lesbians and homosexuals like South Bend mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg tell us

that what they are doing is not sin,

but the New Testament Letter of Jude

tells us at Jude 1:7,

“Sodom and Gomorrah

and the surrounding towns

gave themselves up

to sexual immorality and perversion.

 

They serve as an example

of those who suffer

the punishment of eternal fire.”

 

When we do repent of our sins

and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior,

we receive God’s free gift of salvation,

and the Holy Spirit opens our eyes

to the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.

 

He heals our spiritual blindness.

 

We can say, “I once was blind, but now I see.”

 

But believers are still in danger of

listening to the world’s propaganda

and being led astray

just as we read in the New Testament

of false teachers

in First Century churches.

 

And these days there are false teachers in many churches,

tickling the ears of sinners

by teaching that sin isn’t sin anymore.

 

They say we are so much more enlightened

than those people back in Bible times.

 

They say we’ve progressed

beyond their understanding.

 

So, whole churches and denominations

have abandoned

what Jesus and his Apostles say in the Bible.

 

 There are other churches—many of them “evangelical”—

that say they still believe the Bible,

but they want to be loving and accepting,

and they don’t want to offend anyone

by mentioning that sexual immorality is sin.

 

They seem to think

that if they just lovingly accept sinners

without telling them that they need to repent,

the sinners will eventually get it

at some time in the future.

 

But, it doesn’t work that way.

 

What does happen is what Paul wrote at

1 Corinthians 15:33

“Do not be misled:

‘Bad company corrupts good character.’"

 

The unrepentant sinner

accepted into the church as part of the church family

without repentance

leads other people into sin.

 

At Revelation 2:20 the risen Christ

told the church at Thyatira,

 

“I have this against you,

that you tolerate that woman Jezebel,

who calls herself a prophetess

 

and is teaching and seducing my servants

to practice sexual immorality

 

Some churches think they’re practicing Christian love,

but that idea of just loving the sinner

and not confronting them with their sin

is not Jesus’ way of doing things.

 

The Bible never shows it happening that way.

 

Jesus and the Apostles always called on sinners

to “repent” and to “stop sinning.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:25 says that the church

should be a place where,

when

“unbelievers and outsiders come in.

They will realize that they are sinners,

and they will want to change their ways

because of what you are saying.”

 

If we keep our eyes on Jesus,

his light shines in our hearts,

and we are not blinded

by the false teachings of this world.

 

Psalm 119:105 says,

“Your word

is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path.”

 

The Bible teaches us God’s will

and keeps us from being blinded

by the darkness of this world.