Blinded by Pride
We are reaching the end of another one of the themes running through Mark.
Since we picked the book back up earlier this month, we have seen that Jesus is nearing the end of his earthly ministry.
As he heads towards Jerusalem for the final time, he is radically redefining status and greatness for his disciples.
He has shown us that you can’t always go by someone’s outward appearance to determine the depth of their relationship with God.
We saw that as a boy’s father demonstrated greater faith than the disciples by crying out to Jesus when the disciples couldn’t deliver his son from demonic oppression.
We saw it again as Jesus addressed a dispute over who was the greatest disciple. Taking a child in his arms, he showed that the greatest in the kingdom is willing to welcome the least and serve in the smallest ways.
After showing that the Pharisees didn’t know everything they were supposed to know, he then turned everything upside down again by telling us that we not only have to receive small children, but that we have to become like them.
We saw that last week as we read about the rich young ruler who put more faith in his pride and his possessions than he would put in Christ.
This morning, we come face to face with another contrast.
Again, the disciples who should know better stick their feet in their mouths while a relatively unknown person shows true faith.
Some of the themes should hopefully sound familiar if you have been with us.
If not, this message is a great recap to bring you up to speed with what God has been teaching us.
However, whether this is your first time with us or not, I want you to see this truth today: pride blinds, and faith restores sight.
In fact, that’s how we are going to divide up today’s message.
First, we’re going to set the scene up. Then, we are going to see how the disciples’ pride blinded them to what was going on and what they really needed. We’ll wrap up by seeing how a blind man’s faith led to his sight being restored.
Let’s set the stage. Read with me this morning.
Jesus is nearing Jerusalem. As he goes, he is leading both his twelve hand-picked disciples and a crowd of others who are following.
The disciples are excited, because they expected Jesus to head straight to Jerusalem, throw off the Romans, and take over the country and world. They knew that as his closest followers, they would surely be part of the administration and enjoy the power they had hoped for over these last several years of walking with Jesus.
The crowd wasn’t so sure, so they hung back, afraid of how it all might turn out.
Jesus took the opportunity to once again explain to the disciples what would take place once they reached Jerusalem.
He lays it out on the line this time, giving them plenty of detail about what would take place.
However, as we are about to see, they were blinded by their own pride, and it kept them from seeing clearly.
That’s the first point I want you to see this morning:
1) Pride blinds.
1) Pride blinds.
Read what the disciples did in verses 35-45.
Reading it like this, it seems so blatantly obvious, doesn’t it?
Their boldness has crossed the line into brashness as they make an incredibly audacious request.
Could any question seem more out of place than this?
“Guys, I am going to go to Jerusalem and get ridiculed and murdered.”...”Okay, cool. Can we have the best seats in your kingdom?”
That’s what they were asking for, by the way. They wanted the two most powerful positions in Jesus’ kingdom once he set up shop in Jerusalem.
How terribly insensitive could you be?
He just said he was going to die, and you are asking favors like nothing ever happened?
I would love to think that the disciples were alone in this, but haven’t we all done the same thing? Someone is sharing something with us, and we are distracted thinking about this thing or that, so we don’t catch just how big it was until sometime later?
What is that? Well, simply put, it’s pride.
A friend pours
Someone is sharing something with us, and we are distracted thinking about this thing or that, so we don’t catch just how big it was until sometime later?
It is our pride saying that my thoughts are more important than the person God has put in front of me.
That’s the opposite of what we are told to do:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
In the disciples’ case, they reacted out of almost willful ignorance to what Jesus was saying.
Yes, he was bringing about the kingdom of God, but it wasn’t going to look like they thought it would.
However, because they thought they had it figured out, they were unwilling to even consider that it might not go like they want.
Even when Jesus tried to help them see it, they were still to blind.
Look at verse 38. Jesus calls them out on it. At this point, they have been with Jesus for years. These are two of the three closest to him out of the twelve.
Shouldn’t they have picked up that there was more going on here than they thought?
They had heard Jesus debate with the religious leaders and expose them as frauds time and time again, yet they still didn’t see it.
But they barrel right through and speak up without knowing what they were saying.
“Sure, Jesus, we can do that. It’s no problem. We can handle it.”
They had no idea what Jesus was referring to.
Maybe they thought there would be a difficult, bloody battle for Jesus to assume the throne.
Sure, things would get tough for a bit, but nothing we can’t handle.
They didn’t realize the depth of the suffering Jesus was going to endure, and they didn’t realize that they would share in that.
After his resurrection, after they had dropped their pride and fully realized what Jesus was doing, they did end up drinking this cup.
James was the first of the twelve disciples to die for the cause of Christ. tells us that the Herod who was ruling at the time killed James with the sword.
and he executed James, John’s brother, with the sword.
John would live out his life, but some of the last years of his life were spent in exile.
They would drink the cup, but they didn’t yet understand what it would mean.
Their pride blinded them to what Jesus was really up to, and it caused them to make an incredibly selfish request.
Jesus responds gently to them, but the other disciples don’t.
By the way, don’t think that their reaction in verse 41 was out of anything other than jealousy.
They weren’t concerned for Jesus’ mission and plan; they were just mad that James and John would ask when they thought they should be the ones to have those positions.
That’s when Jesus steps in to drive home the point he has been trying to make: the greatest in the kingdom are the ones who serve the most.
Isn’t that what we have seen over the last few weeks?
The ones who are greatest in the kingdom are the ones who willingly allow God to break down their pride. They joyfully join him in serving in sacrificial ways so that others can come to know Christ.
He uses a series of parallel statements, saying basically the same thing a couple of times, but emphasizing it more each time.
He is driving this truth home to them, because it is so dramatically different than what the world around us does.
We see it in government, business, and unfortunately even church leadership.
Those in authority somehow lose sight of the incredible grace of God shown to them that allowed them to get where they are.
They are blinded by their pride, so they don’t see just how bad things are.
Isn’t that what a different James, Jesus’ brother, would write about later?
People were wondering why they never could satisfy that hunger to have the biggest and best.
Here’s how James responded:
You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.
You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Isn’t that what James and John were doing?
“Jesus, we deserve this. We have earned it.”
They were presumptuous in asking Jesus to give them something they had no right to claim.
We’ve talked a lot about other people, so let’s make it personal for a minute.
The danger is that because pride blinds us, we can’t see it on our own.
The only way we can see if we are walking in humility towards God or in selfishness and pride is to ask him to show us!
As we take time to look at God’s word, he uses it like a mirror to our hearts and shows us what is really inside of them.
As we pray, he brings our desires in line with what honors him, and he peels back the layers of just how blind we are.
Which of these pictures best describes you?
Do you gloat in your status, making sure everyone knows about it, or do you seek to leverage the influence God has given you to help more people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Do you want recognition for everything you do, or are you willing to do the right thing God calls you to do when you know he is the only one who sees it?
Do you keep score in your relationships, keeping track of who owes you what because you deserve better, or are you willing to allow God to extend grace through you?
Go back to verse 45 - Do you look at your employees, your professors, your friends, your spouse, and your kids as though they are here to meet your needs, or are you willing to join Jesus in giving your life as a ransom for them?
By the way, husbands, says you are supposed to love you wife this very way. She isn’t here to meet your needs, you are to sacrificially love her like Jesus loved you.
See, when the blinders come off, you see just how desperately you need Jesus.
You needed to be ransomed, because you were held captive by your sin and cannot escape on your own.
Your sin has amassed a debt you can never repay, and he died to buy you back.
Jesus died to bring you life and hope and joy.
Don’t cling foolishly to your pride and your arrogance and die in your sin.
If you are new to what Christianity is all about, let me challenge you to let this truth sink in.
This is the essence of our message. We are not here because we are trying to earn our way to heaven by being better than everyone else. We would fail miserably if we tried, because we can never be good enough.
We aren’t here because we just want other people to think we are a good person, so we have found a moral code we are going to ascribe to.
We are here, and we follow Christ, because we have come to the realization that I can’t be good enough. I have fallen so short of who God created me to be, and there is no way I could ever make it back.
Jesus laid down his life to pay the price so I could be free. When he rose from the dead, he proved that he had paid it all and could now offer me life and freedom from my deepest, darkest sin.
Now, I can walk with him, I can honor God, I can have peace and meaning and joy and purpose that can’t be found anywhere else; it is something only God can do.
I want that for you today.
How can you have that kind of relationship with Jesus? By following the model of the next person Jesus encountered.
Through a man named Bartimaeus, we see that...
2) Faith restores sight.
2) Faith restores sight.
Pick back up in .
As Jesus is traveling, he encounters a man named Bartimaeus.
He is blind and a beggar.
Look at how he first encounters Jesus in verses 47-48. What does he do? He keeps boldly crying out, over and over and over again.
The more he yells for Jesus, the more annoyed the surrounding crowd gets. The more annoyed they get, the louder he yells.
By the way, does this pattern sound familiar? If you were with us last week, hopefully you can see the connection here.
We were told that the only way to come into the kingdom of heaven is not by demanding power and prestige like James and John. Instead, it is by coming like a child.
One thing you have to admire about children is that incredible tenacity that causes them to ask over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over for the same thing.
What is Bartimaeus displaying here? A bold, child-like faith that knows Jesus is there, Jesus cares, and Jesus can heal him.
Jesus stops what he is doing and calls for Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus throws off his coat, which may have been a symbol of his poverty and begging, and he takes off for Jesus as fast as others will guide him.
Look at verse 51.
Does this sound familiar?
It’s the exact same question he asked in verse 36. The only difference in the original language is the first time, Jesus used “y’all” and this time it is just “you.”
How does he respond?
He calls Jesus “Rabboni”, which is the Hebrew way of saying, “my teacher” or “my lord”.
Compare that to James and John back in verse 37.
This was a personal plea.
Humbly, desperately, this man said, “My teacher, I want to see.”
It was a simple, child-like question, birthed out of passion, not presumption.
Even before Jesus restored Bartimaeus’ physical sight, it seems he could see better than the disciples.
He could see that Jesus was in charge, not him. He could see that he had a need that no one else could solve.
He simply asks for his sight.
Look at how Jesus responds…verse 52.
His simple, child-like faith had opened his spiritual eyes to see his need of Jesus, and then God graciously also opened his physical eyes so we could see what God had done.
Bartimaeus leaves his old life of begging behind and begins to follow Jesus.
That’s what you need to do today. If you have never turned from your sin to turn to following Jesus, you need to ask God to give you eyes to see just how proud you are and how badly you need him.
Why? Because the Son of man came to give his life as a ransom for many.
If you are here today, and you know Jesus as your Savior, are you still living like this, or have you drifted into a place where you deserve better than the treatment you have received.
I will remind you of what we said last week - if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for you.