Faith sees its Savior
Sunday, October 24, 2021
Watch the service
Read the sermon
Faith Sees Jesus
Life got in the way. Many years ago I met a woman who wanted to join our church. That wasn’t too strange of an event. For there were others before and would be others after her. What made it interesting was that she was 80 years old. In my experience, that didn’t happen too often. When I asked her about this, in a plain and simple way, she said that life got in the way. She was raised in the church. But after she was confirmed she met her husband. And she was busy. Then she was busy with her kids. Then she was busy with her grandkids. And, in all those years, she let me know that she still believed in Jesus. She still looked to Jesus and leaned on Jesus. But, sadly, there were these parts of her life, that instead of drawing her to church, drew her away. Life gets in the way. That fact was true for this elderly lady who is now at home in heaven. It is true for you and me. And it’s true for the man we will have a look at this morning. In Mark 10, we read: “46 They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”” (Mark 10:46–47 CSB17)
In these words Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for his final week before he is crucified. And along the way we meet a blind man by the name of Bartimaeus. When he hears that Jesus is on his way, he cries out some amazing words. First, he calls Jesus the Son of David. This was an important Old Testament title.1 In a very forceful way, he wan’t just calling Jesus a “teacher” or “mentor.” No, he was calling Jesus the son of David would would redeem the world of its sin. And second, he says those simple words, “have mercy on me.”2 These were words that every Jewish person learned early and said often. They were part of their liturgy from the psalms. He didn’t run the risk of the son of David overlooking his request because of his own chosen words. God cannot overlook his own words.
So my friends, this is what Bartimaeus says. We don’t know how long Bartimaeus had to wait for Jesus to show up. Up until that moment when he heard that Jesus was traveling up to Jerusalem, no doubt, he had resigned himself to wait in blindness till he died. Then he would be able to see all the sights he wanted. And so, his faith looked to Jesus through the delays. And we’re going to see that Bartimaeus is healed. He gets his sight back. But, what happened after this? He grew older. And eventually he died. And maybe in his older years his eyesight failed again. His faith saw Jesus. But life got in the way. In this example, there were delays that got in the way.
We learn from this man. Through God’s decision and effort God has given us faith in Jesus. That gift of faith sees Jesus. But life gets in the way. We too have our delays. We long to be away from sickness and sadness. But we have to wait. We long to see Jesus face to face with our own eyes. But we wait. And we have to admit that there are times the delays get to us. And we don’t wait well. We begin to forget that Jesus could take us to him at anytime. We begin to let life get in the way. We are distracted and discontented.
How amazing it is to have a Savior like we have. He still trusted completely and perfectly in his Father when life got in the way. And it’s important for us to look at that. For, when our Father in heaven looks at us he does not see the times when we as restless sheep wandered away because of the delays in our life. He sees his Son’s absolute and perfect attention and patience in our place. Faith sees Jesus. Through all the delays, this gift of faith keeps our eyes on Jesus. But there’s more that life throws in this man’s way than delays: “48 Many warned him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up; he’s calling for you.” 50 He threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Rabboni,” the blind man said to him, “I want to see.”” (Mark 10:48–51 CSB17)
This man’s faith saw Jesus. It saw Jesus through the delays. But here these words take an interesting turn. This man’s faith saw Jesus through denials. Jesus is within hearing distance. And the man begins to call out to Jesus again and again.3 And those following Jesus, instead of helping the man, deny him. They tell him, “no.” This isn’t the first time that those who were on the outside looking in were pushed away by those who followed Jesus. Earlier on, when people brought their little, tiny children to Jesus, the disciples denied them too.
And, my dear friends in Christ, for you this might be even more difficult to deal with than the opening words. We might be able to understand that delays get in the way of faith. And we might be able to understand that denials get in the way. But we do not expect these denials from our fellow Christians. And when it happens, it hurts. Sometimes we focus on Jesus but there are people who say words that are not wise because they do not know God’s word very well. We mention a truth and fact in God’s word and we hear, “no” because they do not know what God’s word says. But there are times we receive denials because people—our fellow Christians don’t know us very well. And so, instead of speaking a kind word to us when we need it, they diagnose our problems and give a very poor solution.
Oh, my friends in Christ, but it gets worse. Far worse than the denials we receive from those sitting ahead and behind you in those pews are the denials we hear in our own heart. Through this gift of faith we are given a new person who sees Jesus and follows. But there is this sinful nature in us who loves to live in darkness. What deliverance do we have from not just the delays, but also the denials? Jesus speaks these final words to us: “Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has saved you.” Immediately he could see and began to follow Jesus on the road.” (Mark 10:52 CSB17)
We see Bartimaeus and we are humbled. We ask, “why can’t I have a faith like that?’” The man hears of Jesus coming down the road and he calls him names and titles that even his close disciples dared not call Jesus. He calls out to Jesus again and again—even through all those denials. If only each of us had a faith like that.
But, my dear friends in Christ, if the delays and denials of this life get in the way of seeing and following Jesus, realize that you’re not alone. Jesus tells the man that his faith saved him.4 This was a good day for Bartimaeus. His faith was strong. But his faith did not come from him. He didn’t come into this world knowing who God was and seeking him. No, God chose him. Through his word, God created faith in his heart. And God is the one who strengthened him on that day to see Jesus through all the delays and denials. For, if this was a good day, when the man had a strong faith, know, my friends in Christ, that there were weak days. There were days when the delays and denials were too much to handle.
How amazing it is that Jesus doesn’t’ just say to Bartimaeus that his faith saved him. He says the same to us. There will be days when your faith shines like the sun. There will be days when in the face of such delays and denials you will boldly see Jesus through them all. But there will also be days when the delays and denials are too much and you do not see Jesus through them all. My friends in Christ, Jesus knows this and forgives this too.
And my friends, we would like to be done with all the delays and denials in our lives. But we know that life doesn’t work that way. But we have this amazing joy to see what Jesus does with the delays and denials in our lives. Through these delays he gives us both appreciation and patience in both what the Lord gives us and when he gives gifts to us. Through the denials he teaches us just as much. He teaches us to find truth in God’s word, not in ourselves. He teaches us to rely on our brothers and sisters in Christ—true. But he also teaches us that our fellow Christians have sinful natures just like we do. And we will be times in our lives, despite the advice or input we receive from our fellow Christians, we cling to God’s word. For that alone is true all the time. And finally then, the life that gets in our way is then used by our faithful Savior to train us and serve us. Faith sees Jesus through delays and through denials.
1 cf. Isa 11:1, 10; Jer 23:5–6; Eze 34:23–24
2 e.g. Ps. 4:1; 6:2; 41:4, 10; 51:1; 109:26; 123:3
3 “ⲏⲣⲝⲁⲧⲟⲕⲣⲁⲍⲉⲓⲛ·” (Mark 10:47 GNT-ALEX)
4 “ⲏⲡⲓⲥⲧⲓⲥⲥⲟⲩⲥⲉⲥⲱⲕⲉⲛⲥⲉ·” (Mark 10:52 GNT-ALEX)