The Blind Man Who Truly Sees (Mark 10:46-52)
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The Blind Man Who Truly Sees
The Faith of Blind Bartimaeus–from Mark 10:46 to 52
The Los Angeles Times wrote about Anna Mae Pennica, a 62-year-old woman who had been blind from birth. At age 47, she married a man she met in a Braille class. For the first fifteen years of their marriage, he did the seeing for both of them, until he completely lost his vision to an eye disease. Mrs. Pennica had never seen the green of spring or the blue of a summer sky.
Then a special eye doctor performed rare and unique surgery to Mrs. Pennica’s eyes, and she saw for the first time ever! She found everything was “so much bigger and brighter” than she ever imagined. While she recognized her husband and others she’d known well, other acquaintances were taller or shorter, heavier or skinnier than she had pictured them. Since that day, Mrs. Pennica says she can hardly wait to wake up, put on her glasses, and enjoy the changing morning light. Her vision is almost 20/30–good enough to pass a driver’s test!
Can you imagine never seeing–then seeing for the first time? Today we are going to meet Bartimaeus, who is also blind–who through a miracle of divine power ends up seeing more than scenery. Imagine how it was for blind Bartimaeus–instantly healed. No surgery, no bandages, no adjustments—boom, sight! He saw human beings for the first time. He saw a gawking crowd. He saw “The City of Roses” filled with palm trees, and the hills of Moab off in the distance. But the thing Bartimaeus saw first that changed everything was the face of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer today that you would come to see Christ, or long to see Christ more than ever.
Open your Bibles to Mark 10. Meet Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46 to 52. His life is about to be dramatically changed from blindness to sight, and from spiritual darkness to light. Read with me 46 to 52 as we finish Mark 10. Stand in honor of the Word of God, and read aloud from your outline.
“Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 49 And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.’ 50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And answering him, Jesus said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!’ 52 And Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.’” Open our eyes, Lord–help us to see You, and become more like you.
This is the last of the true miracles before the cross. Oh, a fig tree will be cursed, but as far as a healing, this will be the last one. And it’ll be one of the last conversions in order to display the greatness of God, and by that to demonstrate that God is compassionate for the hurting and suffering people of this sin-diseased planet.
He cares for you who are hurting, and He will show you how much by being hurt for you. Soon the servant of God will become the suffering servant. The anointed one is to become the rejected one. The sovereign Lord is to become the sacrificial lamb. It is time now for Jesus to face the hatred of the religious leaders, and the rejection by the nation. Now only suffering and death await the Lord. Why?
1) Because on a human level, apostasy rules the land, and true faith in God has been lost to the people–just like today, people say, “I will live good,” when your goodness will send you to Hell. “I’ll pray a prayer and add Jesus to my life,” when not following Christ means you’re not headed to Heaven. You must learn from the rich young ruler early in Mark 10, you must own the fact you’re a rebellious corrupted sinner, you must accept you can have no loves, idols that compete with Christ, and you must realize you can’t save yourself, but must cry out for God to save you–all true Christians believe that. And,
2) Christ is going to the cross because this is God’s predetermined plan. This is how God will be able to redeem His children. Love will drive Christ to Jerusalem. Love for sinners, love for rejecters, proud, selfish people like you. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem in chapter 11 verse 1 with His triumphal entry, but He stops in Jericho, the city of roses–and there we learn of two fantastic conversions, two great salvation stories, two prodigals come home. Two lost souls are found, two darkened minds are enlightened, two outcasts are reconciled and two sinners are saved.
One is the story of Zaccheus the tax collector from Luke, and the other is the story of blind Bartimaeus here in Mark–two final trophies of sovereign, saving grace before the cross. Think about them–they are not noble, or mighty, or popular, or loved, or influential. They’re the poor, rejected, hated outcasts. But something very genuine is about to happen to them both. We’re about to see a massive show, a hypocritical hoopla when Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem. The crowds will hail Christ in a massive show of support–but none of it will be sincere.
But the conversions of Bart and Zac are sincere. It’s almost as if God were saying, “The nation, my children, have rejected Me, but I’ve chosen the rejected to be my children.” The final shining moments of God’s grace were the conversions of a blind beggar and a hated tax collector, not the show of the so-called triumphal entry.
Are you mature enough yet to stop being enamored by the showy conferences, concerts and movements–the latest and greatest? Have you learned the importance of focusing on the quiet, sincere work of God’s Word, of the Gospel of God’s Spirit and of His Church in genuine conversion, and in discipleship? Are you? Jesus didn’t turn the world upside down only through preaching, and not conferences or books. He did it primarily through discipleship.
We need accurate preaching today, but we also desperately need a commitment to God’s Word, the Gospel and to discipleship–it is not showy, but it is essential. Are you discipling and being discipled? Do you cultivate intentional relationships for the purpose of growth? This church will never move away from that commitment. Christ was committed to discipleship. I’m convinced some of you have slowed in your growth in Christ directly related to your lack of life-on-life discipleship with others.
Join an RMG (or rejoin), or serve in any ministry where they disciple. It is hard, difficult, non-showy work that the Holy Spirit uses. And behind the public show with Christ, Bartimaeus was saved. What is his conversion like?
#1 The Seeing of Blind Bartimaeus
Verse 46, “Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.” Then they came to Jericho. Jericho was well-known, both in Old Testament and New Testament times. It was a city fed by springs and had a lot of water, even though it was in the middle of a desert. There was so much water Jericho was considered a garden city, maintaining a large population at the crossroads of many trade routes.
It was, and is today, filled with palm trees and fruit trees of every kind. It was known for its almond trees and its rose bushes. Mark Antony actually gave Jericho to Cleopatra as a gift, and Herod the Great built a fort and palace there as well. It was a magnificent place. What was Jesus doing? Verse 46, “And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd.” There’s a lot of buzz about Jesus. Zacchaeus, the short, corrupt tax collector has probably just been saved, and has been so transformed, he’s returning money he’s extorted from others with massive interest.
And on the route between Jericho and Jerusalem, just before Jerusalem is a city called Bethany. Just weeks before, the Lord had raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. And Bethany being on the trade routes, everyone knew this Jesus has power over the dead. There’re also pilgrims from all over Israel who are flooding into Jericho from all over the world. They’re all headed to Jerusalem for the Passover, and many of these people have seen Jesus heal. Many have heard him teach, and there’s great excitement over the possibility that Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah.
So as Jesus leaves Jericho with His disciples, there’s a massive crowd lining the roads as Jesus passes, and also a crowd following Jesus as He heads up to Jerusalem in verse 46. It’s in this mass of excitement, in the city of roses, we meet blind Bartimaeus. Verse 46b, “a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.” Sitting by the road is a great place for a beggar–that’s where the people are. That’s where some might show compassion and give a beggar a small coin or some food.
There’re many beggars in Israel, and Jesus healed many of them. What made Bartimaeus a beggar was that he was blind. We don’t know if Bart was blind from birth, had an accident, experienced some unsanitary situation, or caught an infectious disease. But we do know this–the thinking of the population, and the teaching of the hardhearted religious leaders made you believe that Bart was under divine judgment because he was blind. Everyone was convinced God was punishing Bartimaeus, including Bartimaeus himself, because he was blind.
You remember John 9, the man who was born blind? The disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that caused his blindness?” So here is a blind man who is alienated, ostracized, and thinking he’s under a divine curse–who is begging in order to survive. And lest we forget, the other gospels tell us there are actually two blind men here. Mark focuses only on the one–the one we’ve come to know as Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.
Why? Probably because Bartimaeus became a well-known believer. He became someone everyone knew in the Early Church. By the time Mark wrote his gospel, this was Mark’s way of sharing the conversion story of a familiar believer, Bartimaeus, the man who was blind but now can see. Yet here Bart is at the bottom, socially below the poor, below the unclean–just barely above a tax collector like Zacchaeus.
And Luke tells us Bartimaeus hears the crowd going crazy and passing by. Picture what it was like to be there. A normal day, Bartimaeus waking up, shaking the straw from his shabby garments, stretching, getting up to his feet and tapping his way along the familiar turns which led to the main gate in Jericho. Arriving at this key location, he takes his regular place with the other beggars. As he sits there, like so many times before, he hears the city come to life–donkeys, women, shopkeepers, camels, the aroma of fish. Soon Jericho was humming, so he began his beggar’s cry—“Alms for the poor, blind.”
Suddenly, Bartimaeus tenses, for his sensitive ears hear the hubbub of a great crowd approaching. First come the boys running with shrill cries, then more people are hurrying past the gate excitedly. Bartimaeus is brushed by a robe, reaches out and asks, “What’s this all about?” The passerby, pulling his robe away says, “Jesus of Nazareth–the one who heals the lepers, the blind, and raises the dead. Some are saying He is the Messiah. He is coming.”
Everyone’s been talking about His exploits, and repeating His words. Bartimaeus has already heard first-person testimony from one who had heard Jesus teach. Another had seen His miracles–he may have even talked to someone who had themselves been healed. Beggars had time–time to think. Beggars had time to reflect on Scriptures they’d been taught. Bartimaeus made up his mind. This must be the Messiah, and now He’s coming. His heart began to pound–he’s trembling, even though it’s getting warm.
The crowd was passing by. People called to one another. Intermittent “Hosanna’s” rang out, and Bartimaeus is rocked. Jesus, the One, would soon be gone. Bart had to do something! So Mark tells us what He does in verse 47, “When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” Bart believed Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Savior.
Jesus is the Son of David–the name Jesus means God saves, Jesus would save people from their sins. But Son of David means Jesus is the One who was the heir to David’s throne–the One promised in the Old Testament, who’d receive the Kingdom promised to David’s offspring. Matthew’s gospel gives us a genealogy, proving to us that Joseph comes from the family of David. Luke gives us a genealogy, proving that Mary comes from the line of David.
Both His earthly father and His true mother were in the line of David–Jesus is truly a son of David. But more than that, He is the Son of David, the messianic title, the promised one whom the angel said to Mary in Luke 1:32 and 33, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Acts 13:22 and 23 says, “…He raised up David to be their king, …the son of Jesse, 23 from the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.” So blind Bartimaeus believes Jesus is the promised Messiah. He believed Jesus could heal him, and believed it was because Christ was the Son of David–the Messiah.
And Bart is asking in verse 47, “Have mercy on me!” Pity me! Here’s a man who knows what he needs—mercy. He needs mercy. And while this is a typical cry of afflicted people, certainly it’s a true and pure cry of this man from the heart, “Pity me.” He doesn’t deserve anything, and he knows it. He would have understood the theology of his people as well, and thought himself cursed by God, because he was blind. He knows he needs mercy. He knows he’s a sinner. So His blindness aids him in facing his sinful condition.
So Bart is desperate, calling for Jesus, the promised Messiah. No, that’s not true–Bart isn’t calling, yelling or shouting. Not at all. Bartimaeus is screaming–he began to cry out. “Cry out” is shout, used in the gospel of Mark to describe the insane, unearthly screechings of demon-possessed people. It’s also used to describe the screaming of a woman in childbirth. Trust me, give yourself five days in a maternity ward, walking by twenty or more women in labor, and you hear screaming.
You’ve probably shouted out someone’s name in a crowd. At a Padres game, I remember shouting to a friend of mine going up to bat. But what happens when you scream out a name? When you, like a demon, scream like you are hysterical–everyone looks, everyone hears, and everyone knows. And that is what happens here in verse 48. “Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
“Sternly telling” is saying, “Shut-up!” It’s a rebuke–a censure. “We do not want to hear you scream. You’re ruining the moment.” They want Bart to be quiet. But all this does is cause Bartimaeus to scream out all the more. Like bad parenting–as kids are screaming, the parents are trying improperly to hush them. So the kids scream all the louder until they get what they want. Like that, Bartimaeus will not be silenced–he is desperate.
He is blind, and He is (in His mind) under judgment, being punished. He needs mercy. And now, Bartimaeus is even louder. Verse 48, “He kept crying out all the more.” It means he screams out a loud, harsh-sounding noise. Can you see just how revealing this is, concerning the first-century attitude toward the blind? His screeches elicit no sympathy from the crowd–none at all. In fact, verse 48, “Many were sternly telling him to be quiet.” Many were shushing him.
That was the attitude of the populous—“Be quiet.” Sternly, literally, forcefully get him to shut up–why? He was a nuisance. They all had a disdain for beggars, because in their minds, in their incorrect theology blind men were cursed. But their comments had absolutely no affect on Bartimaeus. He was persistent. He stuck with it–he would not stop. Why? I really believe the Spirit of God is drawing him. He kept crying, verse 48, all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
There’s only one way to really understand Bartimaeus. He believes everything he’s heard about Jesus, and he’s heard a lot. He’s heard enough to believe He is the Messiah. He understands his own condition and the wretchedness of his sin. He’s an outcast. He’s a sinner. He’s cursed by God. It is hammered home to him day after day, as he feels the disdain of people who pass by.
He couldn’t see Jesus. He could not see His normal garb, or lack of kingly scepter, but Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was. And he refuses to be beaten back in silence. He needs mercy, he’ll fight for mercy, and he believes Jesus is the merciful Messiah. He knew Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in Isaiah.
Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” I believe God has given Bartimaeus faith, not merely sight. His heart had seen the light before his eyes ever saw the light. His heart had seen Jesus, before his eyes ever saw Jesus. I believe his heart is pounding as his mind cries out that famous prayer of Luke 18, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” That’s how he saw himself–and he knew the mercy of God had to come to him through the Messiah, Jesus.
So here is Bartimaeus by the side of the road in the garden city of palms, Jericho. He was pitifully aware of his physical and spiritual darkness. The Lord had opened his heart to see Jesus as the true Messiah–and in spite of resistance, he persists in his desire to get help from the only one who can save any of us.
#2 The Sympathy of a Sacrificial Savior
Verse 49, “And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’” Why would Jesus stop for an obnoxious, screaming blind man? Why did He stop for someone everyone knew was cursed by God? Simple–Jesus Christ cares. The Lord is compassionate. This is not an act of impatience–there’s no motive to shut him up. I think the populous could actually see care in the Lord’s eyes. He cares about the outcast. He has compassion for Bartimaeus. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.”
“So call that screaming man here–don’t silence him, bring him to Me.” In fact, Luke 18:40 puts it this way—“Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him.” The Lord commanded Bartimaeus to be brought to Him. So look at how the fickle crowd changes–seconds before they’re ordering him to be quiet. But now when Jesus wants to see him, look at how they change their tune in verse 49. So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”
That’s the power of leadership–RMG leaders, student leaders, ushers, hosts on the patio . . . leadership sets the tone. If you’re trusting and rejoicing and believing and joyful, so will those you lead. If you show an interest, they’ll be interested. I can’t tell you how important ushers and greeters are for showing off Christ, and setting a tone for our worship services.
So the crowd responds to the Lord’s request, and speaks to the man they’d hope to ignore–actually giving him two commands.
Take Courage–have confidence, take heart, be of good cheer. Stop screaming, get up, for Jesus wants to see you. And look at Bartimaeus’ response, verse 50, “Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus.” Mark alone gives us these vivid details. Both were acts of faith and eagerness.
The garment was the outer cloak. “Casting away” may mean he threw off this outer mantle in order to avoid being entangled in it as he rushed to Jesus. But it may have been spread before him on the ground to receive the alms of the passing pilgrims, yet he thrusts it aside (scattering the coins) in his eagerness to get to Jesus. It was an unusual act for a blind man—ordinarily he’d be careful to keep his garment within reach. So Bart jumped up–a graphic verb found only here in the New Testament, which pictures his spirited, ecstatic response, like “Yippee!”
Someone had to take him to Christ, and as he arrives, verse 51 says, “And answering him, Jesus said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’” Jesus answered his screaming cries, and all three gospels record the Lord’s question–Jesus wants Bartimaeus and us to ask. It is not enough to want, desire, wish, or imagine. No, the Lord desires His children to ask. Bartimaeus asks for mercy.
Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” And in verse 51, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Bart didn’t say, “We want you to elevate us to be on your right in glory,” nor, “We want you to put us in a place where everyone serves us.” No, here is a totally different attitude–and did you notice? The high King of Heaven, God incarnate, becomes the true servant and the true slave of a sinner–a lowly outcast. Jesus just taught us, if you want to be great in my Kingdom, be the servant–no, the slave–no, the sacrifice for others. Here’s Christ living that out. “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus only wants mercy–unlike James and John, who just asked for position over others. Bart knows he deserves nothing. He is not laying claim to anything. Mercy means, “give me what I don’t deserve.” So what does Bartimaeus ask? And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”
Whoa–Rabboni means Master, and according to Luke 18, Bartimaeus actually calls Jesus “Lord”. Luke 18:41, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” Wow! This man, who cannot see, actually recognizes Jesus as Lord and Master. He is a blind man who sees clearly. Yet Jesus here takes on the role of servant and slave, and asks Bartimaeus, verse 51, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Here is all power, all authority, Master, Lord, God expressing compassion, sympathy, lowliness, tenderness, kindness, affection, grace and mercy. That is our Savior! The King does what the beggar asks Him to do. What do you want? “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” I want to see. Matthew’s gospel shows us the compassion of Christ, as Jesus then reached over and touched his eyes. In Luke’s gospel the Lord commands, “Receive your sight,” Luke 18:42, “And Jesus said to him, ’Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’” Matthew 20:34 says, “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.” The tender compassion of this moment is overwhelming.
Pharisees, Sadducees and priests never touched, because they’d defile themselves by touching a blind man. But our God, our Christ, touched Him and said, “Receive your sight.” What happened? Verse 52a, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’” One moment total blindness–the next 20-20 perfect vision. Wow! And, my friends, do not miss what happened here—blind Bartimaeus has been healed, physically and spiritually. This is a pre-cross conversion. This is blind Bart seeing Christ with his eyes, but also seeing Christ with belief in his heart.
Do you think there was any doubt in his mind that Christ was his Lord–no, his Master, no, his Messiah, no, that he was a sinner, no, that he needed mercy? No, all this is clear in the text. Do you think there was any doubt in his mind that Christ was the dispenser of mercy needed by this desperate man? No. Then this is more than a healing. What does Jesus say? Verse 52a, “Go; your faith has made you well.”
“Made you well” is the Greek verb sozo, whose meaning is saved. It means to save–your faith has saved you. There is a word in Greek which strictly refers to healing, but that’s not the word used here. It is the word sozo–your faith has saved you. The Lord uses that Greek word here to describe regaining his sight and gaining salvation.
Plus these verses describe the evidence of genuine healing and the evidence of genuine salvation in verse 52b. “Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.” He can see 20-20 instantaneously, meaning he’s been healed. And now he is following Christ, meaning he’s been saved. He received mercy and gives the sign of true conversion–he followed.
And if you’re not convinced Bart is saved, look at Luke 18:43, “Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him.” And what was he doing? Glorifying God—“and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.” You don’t glorify God unless God glorifies God through you. Bartimaeus is healed from blindness and delivered from sin.
And Matthew tells us that both blind men followed here. How mindblowing was this experience–to receive your sight and receive genuine salvation? What would it be like to be enslaved in the darkness of night and the darkness of sin–then be suddenly freed from both? What would it be like to be blind and spiritually dead and then to see, and be spiritually alive at the same moment? What would it be like to need God’s mercy to see and be saved, and the first person you see when saved is the God of mercy?
What kind of road trip was it, to come out of blindness into sight, and out of sin into salvation, then walk with Jesus to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem? Then to be there during the Lord’s final week, and possibly witness the resurrected Christ? Friends, most likely Mark singles out blind Bartimaeus and focuses only on him and not both blind men because he is known in the church–that’s why he is named, and that is why his story is told. He was probably one of the 120 in the upper room on Pentecost–a lifetime of being on the outside, and now he is on the inside.
Do you get what’s happened here? Here is a man who is stuck as a beggar because he can’t see and is hopeless—unless and until Christ comes to him and rescues him. That’s a picture of every single sinner here. We are hopeless, sitting by the road, if only a healer, a Savior, might come by. And Jesus called him–the Lord went to the scum of Israel, in the lowlands of Jericho, to claim a tax collector and a blind beggar, and make them his forever friends, His children. That is stunning.
And the people saw it all. Luke 18:43 says, “When all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.” What else could you do? How else could they explain it? This is a big part of what escalates the triumphal entry, when Jesus arrives at Jerusalem. This healing was so public, it was undeniable it surely contributed to the praise of the triumphal entry which, to understand . . . you have to come back next week.
1 Humble beginnings do not restrict great impact for Christ
You don’t get much lower than a blind beggar in the first century. Yet I believe Mark singles out Bartimaeus, focuses on him, and does not refer to them as two unnamed blind men because Bartimaeus became a faithful follower of Christ. And if God can use a blind Bartimaeus, He can use you. It is the cry of every genuine born again heart to follow Christ, and to be used of Christ in service.
What are you doing on this planet that is directly set apart for Christ’s glory. What actions are you pursuing that’ll honor Him? What service are you rendering that will matter for eternity? What gifts are you giving that will last forever and not burn? This one life soon past, only what’s done for Christ will last. And He can use you—simple, faithful service to Him.
2 Help marginal church attenders, and make-believers see
Someone once bluntly asked blind and deaf Helen Keller, “Isn’t it terrible to be blind?” To which she responded, “Better to be blind and see with your heart, than to have two good eyes and see nothing.” So it was with blind Bartimaeus–he could not see, but God opened his heart to see who Christ is, then to follow Christ.
Sadly today, there are many who attend church, who say they believe, but you get the overwhelming sense they’re a pretend believer, a make-believer, a professor but not a possessor. The Bible says there will be many who are so self-deceived they’ll think they served Christ, yet Christ will say to them, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
So how do you help those who think they’re saved, but are not? Allow me to be really practical, okay? Show them PHONY–show them the acrostic P.H.O.N.Y. You need to remember this. Ask them to . . .
Have them share their testimony, and listen for faith, repentance, and their love for Christ above all. Listen for a heart desiring to pursue Christ, and a willingness to confess Christ before all men. Matthew 10:32 and 33 say, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” P is Proclaim Christ. Ask them about their . . .
H–Heart for Christ
Ask them to honestly evaluate whether Christ is their first love and central in every love. Is there anything or anyone they love more than Christ? First Corinthians 16:22, “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.” Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Do they love Christ most is H, a Heart for Christ. Ask them if they are . . .
O–Obedient to Christ
First John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” And not merely not disobey, but do they obey–go to church, give sacrificially, serve in ministry, function in community, etc. And Obedient to Christ is not merely external, but they want to obey Christ from their heart, even when they don’t. Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart.” The phony talk Jesus–the genuine are obedient. Next is . . .
If you will ever humanly help the marginal church attender or make-believer see their unsaved, hell-bound status, it’ll be as you help them see their idols that have replaced Christ. It could be a spouse, kids or wealth, or finding a husband or wife, or a boat, or sports, or entertainment, or friends. Anything they love more than Christ is an idol.
Do you remember how Jesus helped the rich young ruler? He showed him how good, perfect and holy God was in order to show him he was not good–strike one. The Lord exposed him to the Law of God to help him see his sin, and his desperate need for repentance–strike two. Then the Lord exposed his idol, his love of wealth–strike three. The rich young ruler went away without salvation. Ezekiel 14:4, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart.’” First John 5:21, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”
True Christians love Christ first–they do not keep idols. Help the marginal to see they can’t love two masters. Have they picked up their cross, denied themselves and are they following Christ? Finally . . .
Y–Yielding to Christ
Being a Christian is not merely a decision or moment of time–it’s an ongoing relationship of being indwelt by Christ, Christ in you, transforming you into His image. It means a moment-by-moment lifestyle of yielding to Christ, seeing more of Christ and less of you. The two big New Testament verses that test the P.H.O.N.Y. ask these questions–is Christ in you, and are you progressing in your relationship with Christ?
Second Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
Second Peter 1:10, “Brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.” What things? Verses 5 through 7 say faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Verse 8, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Does this marginal one yield to Christ, so that Christ is shown in them and growing, alive, increasing? Help the P.H.O.N.Y.–do they Proclaim Christ, have a Heart for Christ, are they Obedient to Christ, is Christ first where they have No Idols, and are they Yielding to Christ?
3 Turn to the Lord for compassion
With Bartimaeus, you see the Lord’s profound compassion. Jesus never ignores the cry of a true heart of repentance, and desperate sinners, who know they’re worthy of nothing, will always gain a hearing with Him. Joel 2:13, “And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” Don’t run to others first, cry out to the Lord for compassion. Like with Bartimaeus, cheer up, get on your feet–He’s calling you. You can always turn to Christ for compassion.
4 Tell the Lord you’re looking forward to seeing him face-to-face
The greatest sight you’ll ever see, young and old, will be when you awake from this dream called life–
when you stop being bound to this earth . . .
when you break the bonds of mortality . . .
when the scales of time have fallen from our eyes . . .
when the external garment of this body has been laid aside . . .
when this mortality has put on immortality . . .
when this corruption has put on incorruption . . .
when we awaken in the everlasting morning, it will be the face of Christ that will cause your heart to burst with joy, saturate your soul with pure love and hold you in the depths of His perfect character forever. Tell Him today you can’t wait to see Him face-to-face.
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