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Tonight I want to spend a few moments on a story found in Mark 10. A story about a man named Bartimaeus.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Bartimaeus was a blind beggar that Jesus encountered and healed one day on His way to Jericho. And what’s interesting about the story isn’t so much the fact that Jesus healed Bartimaeus and restored his sight, but how the healing came about. Because before Jesus heals Bartimaeus, he asks Bartimaeus a peculiar question.
Let me show you what I’m talking about as we go to Mark 10. Listen to how Mark describes the situation. Beginning in verse 26 he writes:
Mark 10:46 ESV
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.
Mark says as Jesus approaches Jericho, He has a large crowd with him. Which means, Jesus is probably surrounded by people on all sides, along with a lot of chatter and conversation. And this is an important detail, because it explains what happens next as Bartimaeus seeks to get Jesus’s attention. Mark writes:
Mark 10:47 ESV
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark says once Bartimaeus realizes Jesus is passing by, he begins to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”.
In other words, in our terms, he began to cry out, “Jesus please help me. Jesus please help me. Jesus Please help me.” And he didn’t just say it in a loud voice. The word for cry here literally means to scream.
And so he was screaming, “Jesus help me. Jesus help me. Jesus help me.”
And apparently his cries were so loud and unpleasant, that the crowd began to respond to him. Mark writes:
Mark 10:48 ESV
48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark says as the man screamed for Jesus to help him, the people started telling him to be quiet. But Mark says, that just made Bartimaeus cry out even more. If you have kids, you’ve experienced that. And so he continues to scream even louder, “Jesus help me. Jesus help me. Jesus help me.”
And apparently his cry for help works. Because Mark writes:
Mark 10:49–50 ESV
49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
Mark says as Jesus hears the cry, he stops, and he tells somebody to go find this man and bring him to Him. And so they go to Bartimaeus and they say, “Ok, enough. Quiet down. He heard you. You can quiet down. Jesus wants us to bring you to Him.”
And apparently Bartimaeus wastes no time as Mark says he drops everything and is taken to see Jesus.
And this is where the story gets intersting and what I want to focus on for the next few moments. Because I want you to listen to what Jesus says to Bartimaeus as he stands in front of Him. Mark writes:
“And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” Mark 10:51a (ESV)
Now, I don’t know about you, but I find that to be kind of an odd question on Jesus’s part. Odd that as a blind man stands in front of Jesus, Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
I have to think the people standing around Jesus at this point probably were looking at each other thinking, “Well isn’t it obvious Jesus? I mean after all, he is blind Jesus. Pretty obvious. What do you think he wants you to do for him?”
And yet Jesus asks him the question. So, a great question would be, “Why does Jesus ask this question when it’s obvious what Bartimaeus needs?”
What I’d like to suggest to you, is that Jesus wants Bartimaeus to clarify what his need is. What his desire is. Because up until this point, Bartimaeus hasn’t clarified it. All he’s been doing is screaming, “Jesus help me, Jesus help me, Jesus help me.” And now that he’s got Jesus’s attention, Jesus want’s some specifics. So he asks him, “Bartimaeus, what do you want me to help you with?”
In other words, “Bartimaeus, can you be more specific? What is it you want me to do for you?”
And it’s at this point that Bartimaeus gathers himself and clarifies his desire. And I love how Mark puts it. He writes:
“And the blind man said to him, ‘Rabbi, let me recover my sight.’” Mark 10:51b (ESV)
Did you catch that irony here. Mark says in response to Jesus’s question, the blind man says, “I want to see”.
Yeah, exactly what we all kind of suspected, right? And it’s at this point that Jesus responds to the need. Because now that Bartimaeus has clarified the need, Jesus is willing to respond. Because Mark writes:
Mark 10:52 ESV
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Now, at this point you might be thinking, “Ok Pastor, you’re right this is an odd story. But I guess my question is, ‘What does it mean and how does this apply to me?’”
What I want to suggest to you, is that it applies in the sense, that like Bartimaeus, we are really good at crying out to God when we need something, but not a very good job of verbalizing and clarifying our desires.
In other words, we’re good at praying things like, “God you gotta help me today. Or God I need your help at work. Or God help me with my kids. Or God just let your will be done in my life.
But what we’re not very good at is getting specific with God. We’re not very good at clarifying what our deep desires and needs are. Like Bartimaeus we cry out a general prayers of God help me, God help me, God help me, but we don’t get specific.
And please hear me, there’s nothing wrong with asking God to help you. But what I want to suggest to you, is that God wants you to be specific. God wants you to tell Him exactly what you want, need, or desire. He wants you to clarify it.
Now, you might be thinking, “Well, shouldn’t God already know what I want, need, or desire? Isn’t it obvious? Why do I need to clarify it. He is a mind reader after all, right?”
Yes, God knows you better than you know yourself. But for some reason, He wants us to get specific and verbalize our needs. He wants us to clarify it.
You might say, “Why does God want us to do that?”
Well, I’m not God, and I’m sure there are a number of reasons He might want that, but based on this passage, what I’d like to suggest to you, is that in this instance, Jesus wants Bartimaeus to clarify his need and desire, because it’s the first step in God meeting his need.
Because Mark says as soon as Bartimaeus clarifies his need, Jesus responds. Mark writes:
Mark 10:52 ESV
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Notice what Jesus says. Jesus says, ‘your faith has made you well’.
Now, you might be thinking, “What faith is Jesus talking about? Because all Bartimaeus did was be more specific. What does that have to do with faith?”
What I’d like to suggest to you, is that up until this point, Bartimaeus’s desire to be healed wasn’t something he considered possible.
In other words it was just a nice idea he had stashed away. A desire that he had buried deep in his heart. Something that he had wished for and hoped for once upon a time. But a desire he was afraid to verbalize or dwell on too much because it just sounded so crazy and unattainable. Something that even in his own ears sounded silly. Because how in the world could that ever happen. I mean look at me. I’m a blind beggar. How would I ever regain my sight.
And so for Bartimaeus, it was something not even worth putting on the prayer list. Yes, I’ll pray for food. Yes, I’ll pray for a warm place to sleep. Yes, I’ll pray for better clothing to keep me warm. But pray to see? That’s a pipe dream. That’s never going to happen. But the fact is, deep down inside, that’s he really wanted.
And so now Jesus is asking him to clarify it. Jesus is asking him to declare this buried desire. Because until he clarifies it and declares it, it can’t become a reality. Until then, it is just a pipe dream and a buried desire. But as far as Jesus is concerned, it’s not a pipe dream. It could actually become a reality for Bartimaeus.
However, for it to happen, Bartimaeus has to believe it can happen.
So, how can he actually believe it can happen? It starts with him verbalizing it, clarifying it, and specifically asking for it. Because it’s in this verbal clarification that the door of faith in his heart will be opened.
Let me give you a current example of what I’m talking about.
If you haven’t met her, I have an amazing wife named Denise. And for the first few years we lived here, she worked up here at the church with me.
But then a couple years ago, Denise felt called to start working at a place called the lighthouse where she currently works as a CNA. And while working there, something she wasn’t expecting started building in her heart. Something I don’t think she had ever considered. It was the desire to become a nurse. In fact, she wasn’t the only one that was thinking it, because at one point even her boss said, “You really need to think about going to nursing school”.
But as people made comments and she thought about it, doubt started entering her heart and mind. Thoughts like, “You’re too old to go back to school, You’re not good at taking tests, and how would you ever afford it.” And as soon as those thoughts and doubts came, she would stuff the desire back down even further not believing it could happen.
But then a couple of months ago, the Lord spoke to Denise through her boss. It happened as they were having a discussion about Denise’s role and her future at the lighthouse, and her boss point blank asked her, “Denise, what do you want? What do you want to do?”
And without even thinking about it, and in a burst of emotion Denise said, “I want to become a nurse. I want to go to nursing school.”
It was the first time she had ever verbalized it. The first time it had ever left her mouth. A verbalization that in that moment gave her the confidence she needed to move forward as she clarified and verbalized what God had put in her heart.
And now, two months later, Denise is enrolled in school and is on her way to becoming a nurse. And it started with a desire, that when clarified and verbalized, is now becoming reality.
That’s what happened with Bartimaeus. For years he’d had a desire to see. But it just seemed to impossible, that even when Jesus was passing by, he didn’t ask for it. He just asked for help. But thankfully, Jesus made him get more specific. Jesus challenged him to verbally declare what he truly desired God to do for him.
And what is true for Bartimaeus and Denise, can be true for any of us.
The fact is, we all have desires that God has put in our heart. Desires, dreams, and plans that He has planted in us for our life.
But like Bartimaeus, we struggle to believe those desires could take place in our lives. They just seem to impossible. And so we bury the desires. As a pastor, I see people do it all the time.
For example:
I watch as single Christian mom’s bury the idea that they could find a godly husband. It just seems like such a pipe dream. Something that could never happen. Something they don’t deserve. Because after all, look at my past. And who wants to marry somebody with a kid. So they bury it.
I watch as married couples bury the desire to have the kind of marriage God wants for them. It just seems like such a pipe dream. Something that could never happen. There’s just too much junk and hurt in the past. There’s just too many obstacles. So they bury it and just settle for a mediocre marriage or maybe even divorce.
I watch as parents bury their desire for their kids. Desires that seem to die as their children make poor choices. Desires that now seem like a pipe dream as their son or daughter gives themselves to drugs. There’s just too many obstacles now for them to achieve what I believe God had for them. And so we bury our desires for our kids.
You see, we all have these hidden and buried desires. Desires that God has given us for ourselves or others that we have now dismissed as not possible or unattainable.
What I want to suggest to you tonight, is that maybe their not as unattainable as you might think. What I want to suggest to you, is that the first step in having your desire met, is to verbalize it.
That instead of praying general prayers over your life, you start getting specific. You start digging down deep and uncover some of those God given desires that you know God gave you. And instead of doubting, you start believing. And you start believing, by verbalizing it.
That like Bartimaeus, you would just be clear and honest with God. That you would tell him what you want. That you would let the words buried in your heart leave your lips.
That you would cry out, “God I want to find a godly husband”. “God, I want to find a godly wife.” “God, I want you to heal my broken marriage and make us one again”. “God, I want you to deliver my daughter from drugs. God I want you to deliver my son from sexual addiction. And the list goes on.
Listen, I’m just telling you, when you get past your fear and doubt and verbalize what God has put in your heart, it opens a door of faith for you to walk through.
I’ll never forget this past summer, Caleb Volgersberg stopped by the church. And for a long time Caleb had wrestled with a desire in his heart to go into ministry. And he would just go back and forth on it. And part of the problem for Caleb, is he just didn’t see how it could be possible for him, and how it could all work out. He had a lot of doubts.
And so that day Caleb stopped by, I said, “Caleb, you and I are going to take a trip next week. I’m going to take you to Springfield so you can take a tour of Evangel University.”
And so the next week, we took a trip to Springfield. And I’ll never forget the look on Caleb’s face as we walked into the administrative building and for the first time Caleb saw what could be for him. And as we walked back to our vehicle after taking the tour, I looked at Caleb and said, “Ok Caleb, what are you thinking. What do you want to do?”
And without even thinking about it Caleb said, “Brad, I’m going to Bible College”.
It was the first time he’d said it. And now it was a reality. Because fast forward two months and Caleb was attending classes at Evangel with his first year almost 100% paid for as his God given desire became a reality.
But I can promise you this, it wouldn’t have happened if he wouldn’t have verbalized it. There’s just something about verbalizing God given desires. Desires we never thought possible. Desires we never thought could happen. But desires that come alive as we take a step of faith and clarify to God what it is we want him to do. A moment when God responds as he grants the desire.
As the worship team comes, I guess my question for you tonight is, “What’s the God given desire in your heart? What is it you want more than anything, but you’re afraid it could never happen? What is that for you?
Let me put it like this. If Jesus were to ask you tonight, “What is it you want me to do for you?” What would you say? What would you ask Him for?
Jesus, I want you to…what?
Maybe it’s time to clarify it. Maybe it’s time to verbalize it. Maybe it’s time to stop doubting and start believing that the desire God put in your heart isn’t just a pipe dream or wishful thinking, but is something God wants for you. But for it to come into fruition, you have to stop doubting and start verbalizing. You need to say to Jesus, “Jesus, This is what I want.”
And if you’re willing to do that. I have a feeling you might be surprised what God does. And I’m not saying it will happen immediately. It may not happen until later down the road. But what will happen immediately is your desire will turn into faith. And maybe for the first time in your life, you’ll have the faith to walk into what God has for you. Because now it’s real. Now you’ve said it.
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