When Jesus Stands Still
Text: Mark 10:46-52
Proposition: A bent reed He will not break. When Jesus stands still He is careful to listen and is moved by the heart that is desperate for mercy.
Introduction: John Eicke, is a performance artist who works as a so-called living statue. Twice he has won the World Championship of Living Statues. The longest he has ever held one pose was two and a half hours. For Eicke it is an exercise of self- discipline, even to the point of being so still he doesn’t blink his eyes. What makes you stand still? Is it breath taking beauty, is it a near miss, is it seeing the miraculous? To stand still means something or someone has caught your attention, something is about to happen. This morning we are going to look at a time when Jesus stood still, when God the Father had caught His attention because someone had caught the Fathers attention. Have a look at Mark 10:46-52.
I. God Uses Desperation to Sharpen Humility in Prayer.
A beggar’s life is like being in a prison where food and shelter are on the other side of an invisible door. You can see but you just can’t reach it. For a blind beggar an utter helplessness becomes the hope crushing normal. That’s where we first meet Bartimaeus, sitting in the dust beside the road that led from Jericho to Jerusalem. For Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, this was just another day until he heard people, lots of people, a great crowd of people moving up the road towards him. Jericho is a small oasis of a town just to the north of the Dead Sea. In fact there were two Jericho’s, the one Joshua had led his army to march around and destroy and then another town just south of it that became the Jericho of Bartimaeus’ day. It was uphill from here to Jerusalem because Jericho is about 1500 feet below sea level making it the lowest town on the face of the earth. Jerusalem is about 1500 feet above sea level so it was a 3000 foot climb to get to the golden city. That’s where Jesus and the disciples and the great crowd that followed Him were, down in the dust and desert of Jericho. It was almost Passover, soon would come Gethsemane, then Gabbatha, finally Golgotha. When Bartimaeus discovers that it is Jesus of Nazareth Who is passing by a different kind of desperation grips him, a good desperation that drives him to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” First one person and then another begin to tell him to be quiet, to quit calling, to shut up but he cried out all the more. The desperation in his heart came out in his voice, in his words, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” You’ve heard that phrase, ‘Desperate times require desperate measures’, a phrase credited to Hippocrates around 300 BC. God sometimes uses desperation in our lives to drive us to Himself. He uses desperation to sharpen humility, the humility that all prayer is dependent upon. He uses that kind of prayer to punch a hole through the hopelessness. That’s what Bartimaeus was doing, desperately crying out to Jesus. It was a prayer in the poverty of humility that desperately cried for mercy. And it was this cry that the Father heard, that prompted Him to whisper to Jesus, ‘Stop’! And Jesus stood still and commanded that they bring Bartimaeus to Him.
II. The Son of David, The Master, The Lord, Is Merciful.
There is a wonderful verse in Micah 6:8 that goes, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” We generally don’t have a problem when it comes to doing justly or to love justice. We sometimes struggle with walking humbly with our God. What we do struggle with the most is to love mercy. By definition mercy is sometimes used as a synonym for compassion yet what it literally means is to not give judgment where judgment is deserved. We’re not sure why Bartimaeus chose to cry out ‘Son of David have mercy on me.’ The title Son of David was a clear reference to the promise made by God to King David in about 1000 BC. You can find it in 2Samuel 7:12,13, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” It’s called the Davidic Covenant and it refers to a descendent of David Whose kingdom would be eternal. Jesus Christ is that descendent, the genealogy is traced for us in Matthew 1. So when Bartimaeus cries out to the Son of David that day the crowds try to hush him because it seemed wrong to them. They saw Jesus as a great Rabbi, not the Messiah, not the Son of David. A great Rabbi could teach a blind beggar a few things but it wouldn’t change his life. The Son of David, the eternal King, He could utterly change him. Bartimaeus cried out for mercy, he knew what it was to be judged as worthless but now he appealed to Jesus to be merciful. When Jesus stood still that day He was about to take the least and put them in the place of honor, the last would be first. So look at how Jesus does this. He commands others to go and call Bartimaeus. He fills these ones with a sense of excitement that something wonderful is about to happen. The NASB says they went to Bartimaeus saying, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Jesus demonstrates His mercy through the people He commands and today that group of people is called His church. His mercy becomes their good news, they get to bring a life changing call to the least of these. They get to love mercy. I think it is the enthusiasm of these ones who now called Bartimaeus to cheer up, to get up, to know that Jesus is especially calling for you, it’s their excitement in this moment that makes Bartimaeus do something extraordinary. Look at verse 50, “And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.” In other words Bartimaeus didn’t want anything to cause him to trip as he made his way to Jesus. In other words the things that used to bring the most comfort to a blind beggar are thrown aside in the hope of something much, much greater. But the point is clear, Jesus demonstrates His mercy but commanding people to love mercy and they become merciful.
III. When Jesus Stood Still Faith Moved and Eyes Saw.
Look at verse 51, “So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” It seems like a redundant question doesn’t it. Here is a blind beggar being led to Him and the need seems to be glaringly obvious. The only answer I can think of as to why Jesus asks this of Bartimaeus is so that Bartimaeus would ask to receive his sight. Ask, ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened, or in this case, your eyes will be opened. Part of walking humbly with our God is to learn to ask, even to ask the obvious, even to ask repeatedly, even to ask in faith. I love what happens next, “Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” It was the faith of Bartimaeus that started with him crying out even though others told him to be quiet. It was the faith that persistently called to Jesus for mercy, it was the faith to throw aside his ragged old cloak that had made him so invisible for all these years, it was the faith to walk right up to Jesus and it was the faith to ask Jesus for life. His sight was to him life and when Jesus restored that sight He made Bartimaeus alive again. Then, remarkably, Jesus says to Bartimaeus, ‘Go your way…’. Jesus sets him free. That was all true for Bartimaeus and it can also be true for you because Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and even back to Bartimaeus day. He will stand still if you will cry out. He will be merciful and not judge with the judgment you deserve. He will invite you to ask of Him what it is you need most and as He stands still, as you stand still in front of Him, faith moves and eyes see. He can and will set you free if you will desperately cry out to Him. That day I believe that the first face that Bartimaeus saw was the face of Jesus. I can’t help but think there was this wonderful smile on Jesus’ face as life poured into the soul of the son of Timaeus. The effect of that new life changed the course of Bartimaeus life, no longer did he live in the dust of Jericho. It says he followed Jesus on the road, the road to Jerusalem, the road to the cross.