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Spiritual Blindness

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Just as neing blind in the natural state limits and affects someone's abilities, even moreso, spiritual blindness affects and limits you even more. Spiritual blindness not only affects this life, but the life to come as well!

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Open with the video “The Least” (It deals with spiritual blindness)
GREET EVERYONE AND BRIEFLY TALK ABOUT THE QUEST EVENT AND ALSO FILL THEM IN ON MY FATHER’S CONDITION!

This morning, I would like to talk with you about something that God placed on my heart while I was at the Quest event this past week. Actually, as one of the men was speaking, he mentioned a particular Bible story and as soon as he mentioned it, it grabbed my spirit’s attention and said, this is for your return to the church.

DEMONSTRATE ABOUT HOW, WHEN WE CANNOT SEE, WE ARE INEFFECTIVE, BY USING A VOLUNTEER. SHOW THEM A TASK WITH THEIR EYES OPEN AND THEN ASK THEM TO PERFORM THE TASK WITH THEIR EYES CLOSED. (FOR FUN, RIGHT BEFORE THEY START, ALSO BLINDFOLD THEM. THEN RIGHT WHEN THEY ARE GETTING READY TO START, ACT LIKE YOU ARE GOING TO SPRAY PAINT THEIR FACE BLACK AND THEN SETTLE ON USING A BUCKET OVER THEIR HEAD.)
The point is that when you are blind, even the most simple of tasks can become impossible! You find yourself trying to feel your way around and hoping that along the way, you do not trip and fall and hurt yourself!
That is the key point that we are going to be looking at this morning, “Spiritual Blindness”.

Turn with me to if you would, to ,

Matthew 13:10–17 NLT
His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.
This passage will kind of set the stage for the main set of verses as well as the theme that we will be looking at today.
The thing that Jesus is expressing to His disciples in this passage, is similar to what we find Him trying to teach them in the verses that lead into the main passage for this morning.
This issue that Jesus makes mention of here, as to having eyes and not seeing and having ears and not hearing, was written by the prophet Isaiah, as well as Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Paul mentions the same exact same thing in the book of Acts as well as Romans.
Point being, Holy Spirit put this passage we are about to read, upon my heart this past week, to stress what has been emphasized from the OT and coming forward.
The need to recognize our spiritual blindness!

Turn with me now please in your Bibles, or you can look at the screen if that is easier for you, to the gospel of ,

Mark 10:46–52 NLT
Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
Now, before I jump in and start expounding more on the situation of the blind man in this passage, whom the Bible calls, “Bartimaeus”, allow me to take you backwards a little in time and show you what has taken place and what was going on that leads up to this account, as this will most definitely give more clarity and give more meaning to my point in today’s sermon.
As you move through the Mark’s gospel, as with the other gospels, you will see Jesus working with His disciples, not exclusively, but primarily and trying to teach them about faith and belief.
As Jesus performs miracle after miracle and teaching after teaching, in Mark, as well as the other three gospel accounts, it is being done, both for the benefit of those who witnessed and experienced these events, but also and more importantly for this lesson, these things were being done and explained to and for the benefit of the disciples. (It was after all, the 12 that Jesus prayed about and hand selected to pour Himself into for some 3 1/2 years!)
Jesus was declaring before the religious leaders, the lay persons and His disciples, both of His authority/power as given to Him by His Father, as well as His bringing the Kingdom to earth and salvation to all of mankind, through His complete fulfillment of the will of God!
And as Jesus’ ministry intensified and the rebellious and hard hearted condition of men’s hearts clashed with His ministry, Jesus began to instruct and teach through the use of His parables.
In fact in , Jesus tells His disciples why He was using the parables, when He said to them,
Matthew 13:13 NLT
That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
Matthew 13:13–14 NLT
That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.
He then tells the disciples just a few verses later, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”
This being said in reference to the disciples witnessing the physical and miraculous coming of the Messiah as well as having the blessing of His teaching them the hidden meaning of the parables!
So, Jesus was trying to stress to His disciples the imperative nature of “seeing” and “hearing” the TRUTH of who and what He really was to them as well as for the WHOLE world!
Miracle after miracle, parable after parable, Jesus poured into the twelve disciples and yet, as we move into Mark’s gospel, chapter eight, we find the disciples arguing about something that simply floored Jesus and prompted Him to say and ask of them, the exact same thing, that He had pronounced over the heard hearted religious leaders as we just read in .
In , we read about this occurrence, as it says,
Mark 8:16–21 NLT
At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said. “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.
“Don’t you understand yet?” Allow me to rephrase this question that Jesus asked them, in the context of what He is saying about their natural and spiritual perception; “DON’T YOU SEE IT YET?”
“You guys have watched and witnessed all of these miracles and you can recall the exact natural/physical outcome of them, like the amount of food that was collected, and yet, spiritually, you are blind to who and what I really am?”
There resided amongst them, a spiritual blindness!

Now, a quick question. Was the account of blind Bartimaeus the first or only recorded person that Jesus healed from being blind in the Bible?

Absolutely not, in fact there are several others that are recorded within the four gospels. The Bible actually mentions that people brought all manners of sickness and demonic possession before Jesus for Him to heal and deliver; this happening wherever He went.
Mark, himself, in , even states this, about Jesus and His miraculous power and authority,
Mark 6:56 NLT
Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
That shows you some of, NOT ALL, but some of what the disciples witnessed while they walked with Jesus here on earth.
Remember what John said about all of the things that Jesus did while He was on earth, as John closed out his gospel, he said, “Jesus also did MANY other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.”
The reason that I mention this about there being many other healings and more specifically, about other blinded eyes being opened by Jesus, is that they serve as a couple of reminders for us; just as they did for the disciples back then.
When you read of Jesus healing the different accounts of the blind within the gospels, you do not see Him doing it the same way each time.
In other words, in one account, Jesus speaks and the blinded eyes see, or in another, He touches the eyes and they are opened, or He spits on the eyes and then touches them, or He spits and makes mud and puts it on the eyes and then has the person go and rinse off in the pool of Siloam.
My point is this, there was no “cookie cutter” method of healing that Jesus used. It was different per person and specific as to the need of and the over all spiritual impartation that would be given.
And guess who was calling the shots for the specifics about each of these different healing methods?
GOD THE FATHER, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ!
You have to remember that Jesus, Himself, plainly stated this, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
Jesus only SAID and Jesus only DID what His Father told Him to do!
So, every healing that Jesus performed, He listened to and carried out the instructions that His Father gave to Him, via the Holy Spirit!
And here is your and my little take away from this part of today’s lesson. Are you ready for this? YOU AND I SHOULD NOT DO ANYTHING A CERTAIN WAY JUST BECAUSE IT WORKED ONCE BEFORE, OR JUST BECAUSE YOU SAW IT WORK FOR SOMEONE ELSE, OR BECAUSE YOU READ OF IT WORKING!
We are to move and act and speak and pray and most definitely, TO HEAL, only as guided by Holy Spirit within us!
If you want to know how far you can get by acting on past actions and on head knowledge and without the power and authority of Holy Spirit working within you, just look up the sons of Sceva and see how it worked out for them!
OK, so for clarity, should you be praying over people and doing things based upon the way that your favorite TV evangelist does it and copying what you see work for them?
Who are you going to listen to?
SAY IT AGAIN! REPEAT IT AGAIN!
The other reason that I mentioned to you about the different accounts of Jesus healing the physical blindness in people, was to point out an area that existed in the lives of the disciples that Jesus wanted healed and made right.
The disciples walked with Jesus, watched and witnessed first-hand, the miracles of Jesus. They listened to and were amazed by the knowledge and authority of Jesus’ teachings.
They could recant and spout off all that they had visually witnessed with their natural eyes about Jesus and yet, they were still spiritually blind as to who He really was and what He had came to do!

It was Peter, who had the great spiritual revelation from God, as to the true identity of who Jesus was, when Peter answered Jesus’ question and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And yet, Peter turned right back around and showed that he was still operating out of a wordly mindset and rebuked the Messiah for Jesus saying that He was going to be persecuted and killed. Peter, had once again, fell into spiritual blindness and reacted out of it!
Spiritual blindness is something that we must all keep on our guard about!
Although the healing of Bartimaeus was a natural/physical healing by Jesus, when you look at all that was going on that lead up it, you can see a spiritual lesson that is derived!
In , we read of Jesus and the disciples coming into Bethsaida and while they were there, Jesus heals another blind man.
This particular healing is only mentioned by Mark and it has a very unique twist with it, that many believe took place the way that it did to show a spiritual lesson of lack of faith and incomplete spiritual vision on the disciple’s part.
Jesus had just chastised the disciples in this same chapter while in the boat and told them that they were spiritually blind and now this miracle takes place, one verse later.
RECANT THE STORY OF JESUS LEADING THE MAN AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE AND HEALING THE BLIND MAN BY SPITTING ON HIS EYES AND LAYING HANDS HIM, ONCE AND THEN AGAIN.
Jesus could have instantly healed and restored the blind man and yet there is a reason why He and His Father did this the way that they did.
By Jesus giving this man his vision back in two stages, dimly and blurred the 1st time and then perfectly the second, it possibly served to show the disciples of how they were missing the acuity and clarity of Jesus and His earthly role as Messiah.
In the natural, the modern optometry world recognizes what
They saw a blurred vision of who He was and what He was here to do from His having touched them and their lives, but they were still off in their perception of Him and so in the coming days and weeks and months that would follow, Jesus was going to continue to address this with them and once again, it would come down to another blind healing, to validate for them the truth of who He was and why He was there!
From chapter 8 through chapter 10, Jesus and the disciples are making their way back towards Jerusalem, for what would there final trip there together!
Along the way, within the course of these three chapters, Jesus tells His disciples three times that He was going to Jerusalem to die and that He would rise again.
Yet, each time that He tells them, they completely miss it and refuse to accept this, because they had their own pre-conceived idea of who He was and what He was there to do. (i.e. Become the messiah who would deliver them out of Roman rule and forever establish a kingly reign that would prosper Israel forever!)
Not the guy who was going to die under the hand of the Roman government and fade away!
And throughout this time period, the disciples continue to show that they have missed the mark as to who Jesus was and what He was there for.
They showed lack of faith and belief in Him, they sought after pomp and heir within this new coming Kingdom that he kept talking about, they sought after exclusivity from their pride and tried to deny others from participating within the kingdom since they were not one of the elite 12, they chastised parents for trying to bring their children to Jesus, the very ones Jesus, Himself, said that all must become as in order to enter the kingdom. They even brazenly asked Jesus for the highest positions of authority within the coming Kingdom and all the while, they missed that He was trying to instill into them a heart to serve, not to be served!
They were spiritually BLIND!
They had their own idea of who Jesus was based on their senses and perception of Him, much in the same way as the story of the blind men and the elephant.
Most of us have heard this story in one version or another but it is the story of six blind men who try to learn about the elephant. Each one examines a different part of the elephant and each comes away with a different conclusion. One believes the elephant to be like a wall, having felt the broad side. Another believes the elephant to be a spear, having felt the tusk. The blind man feeling the trunk envisions a snake, the one feeling the leg believes the elephant to be like a tree. The fifth claims the elephant to be like a fan having felt the ear and the last claims the elephant to be like a rope having felt the tail.
Each man was right in his own mind based upon his perception and yet all of them were completely wrong as to the truth of what was right in front of him!

So, here we are in with Jesus and His disciples closing in on the last leg of their earthly journey together, before Jesus was to be arrested and crucified, as He had been telling them about.

In fact, as they were making their way towards Jerusalem, the Bible says that Jesus was walking ahead of everyone and the disciples were filled with awe and those that followed behind them were filled with fear!
WHY? Well, because Jesus was picking up the pace, He was becoming disturbingly resolute about getting to the city, so much so, in fact that those around Him possibly noticed that He was acting different (preoccupied and not His normal self).
Jesus’ spiritual vision and acuity for the will of His Father was clear and He was now setting His course for His own crucifixion and for the very reason that He had come! The sacrificial lamb of God was making His way towards the Passover celebration to pay the price for sin!
It is here, that He pulls His disciples aside and He very clearly explains to them, with the most detail and assurance of His death, what was about to happen in Jerusalem, besides the Passover celebration. Much more detailed than the previous two predictions along their journey.
He did this, so that they would understand why He was acting the way that He was and to give them the knowledge that He knew exactly where and when His death was to take place.
GIVE DETAIL OF HOW BARTIMAEUS KNEW JESUS WAS COMING AND WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS ACCOUNT!
Here is a man whom the Bible gives a name for (as opposed to the other healing miracles), but only that he was the son of “Timaeus”. So, this last healing miracle in Jesus regular earthly ministry, takes place between a man known as the son of Timaeus and a man known as the Son of God!
Because of the Passover celebration, there would have been a lot more people coming through Jericho and thus following Jesus.
Bartimaeus asked what is going on with a much larger crowd and and noise than usual for the passover crowd and when he hears that it is this “JESUS OF NAZARETH” was heading his direction, he does the one thing that he knew he must do.
He began to shout out loud, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The people (and possibly some of the disciples) began to rebuke Bartimaeus and tell him to be quiet. They probably said something like, “Jesus is in a hurry to get to the Passover and start his reign and rule and he doesn’t have time for another beggar, so BE QUIET and leave Him alone!
Hearing this and out of the desperation of knowing that his only hope for having his vision healed was passing by and others (the world) was trying to stop his miracle from taking place, he grabbed a hold with desperation and began to shout even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And now, Jesus, who was on a fast paced mission and not paying any attention to others around Him, heard the TRUE and SINCERE cry of FAITH, and He turned and said, “Tell him to come here.” (Elaborate on the humor of those who were just rebuking Bartimaeus and telling him to be quiet that Jesus didn’t want to see him, instantly started back peddling and saying, “What are you doing sitting over there dude, Jesus is wanting you over there where He is at. Come on man, like we said, get up and get a move on it!”
TRUE FAITH AND SINCERITY CALLS OUT TO JESUS AND CAPTURES HIS ATTENTION!
Bartimaeus lacked the natural/physical vision which the disciples had, but he had what they didn’t, the spiritual vision and the faith to see the truth of who Jesus was and he CRIED out in his faith and desperation for a savior!
Bartimaeus threw off his outer garment (anything that would hinder his getting to Jesus and ran towards Him!)
Jesus asked Bartimaeus exactly what He asked James and John when they approached Him earlier about having positions of authority in His coming kingdom. Jesus asked this question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus didn’t the Lord for pomp, or position, or title or accolades or anything related to status and extraordinary glory. Instead, he asked only for ordinary health and to have his sight healed! He said, “Rabbi, I want to see!”
Jesus only said, “Go, for your faith has healed you.”
And do you know what the disciples witnessed happen? Instead of the man running off and yelling and declaring that he had been healed (as they had witnessed probably countless times before), this man, this beggar who was deemed unworthy of the time and attention of Jesus, rather than return to the roadside as a beggar, joined in with them and walked on the road with them, following his Messiah!
Jesus had turned this beggar on the side of the road, to a follower (a disciple) on the road!
The disciples witnessed true faith and its outcome!

True faith in who Jesus is, does something to a person. And in like fashion, it does something to Jesus. In both positions, true faith DRAWS one to the other!

When the hemorrhagic woman in the crowd, made her way to Jesus, she had faith and clarity of vision to know that if she could but touch His garment, she would be healed. And what happened?
As soon as she touched His garment, power flowed from Jesus and into her and healed her instantly.
And what did Jesus do? He stopped and asked, “Who touched me. I felt virtue/power flow from me!”
You see, even when the natural man, Jesus was in the crowd, the Holy Spirit that was within Him, could spiritually see the true faith of this woman and it drew Him to her and it leaped into her in power and healing. And when this happened, Jesus could feel the Holy Spirit moving through Him and into someone else!
A blind man was healed and restored because of his faith and the disciples witnessed that faith in who Jesus really is, produces disciples/followers of Jesus and forever changes the course of that person’s life.
THEY WITNESSED THE PHYSICAL HEALING OF A MAN AND IN THE PROCESS, THEY WITNESSED WHAT TRUE SPIRITUAL VISION LOOKS LIKE!

Helen Keller, shortly before her sixtieth birthday, expressed pity for the real unseeing, for those who have eyes yet do not see. Her long years of physical blindness had given her a spiritual insight which enabled her to enjoy life in all its fullness. She said: "If the blind put their hand in God’s, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose."

Paul said it this way, “We walk by FAITH, not by sight!”
Many people today in churches all of this nation, are walking around with blurred spiritual vision. We don’t see everything He wants for us, because there are things in our lives that we have not released.
We are either like the blind man of Bethsaida who was touched, but still had blurred vision, or we are even like Bartimaeus, we know the truth of who Jesus is, but we not yet cried out in true faith and allowed Him to restore our spiritual vision.
Jesus rebuked those who know of sin in their lives and yet claim to be whole and have spiritual site. He said that these were blind!
Where are you today? What things remain in your life that are keeping you blurred in your spiritual vision?
Have you come to the point yet, that against all opposition in the natural, you are ready to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
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