Good Cheer From Christ’s Call And From Himself
“And they came to Jericho: and as Jesus went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, You Son of David, have mercy on me! And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, You Son of David, have mercy on me! And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they called the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise, He calls you. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What will you that I should do unto you? The blind man said unto Him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”
The blind man described in this narrative is a picture of what I earnestly desire that every hearer and reader of my sermons may become. In his first condition, Bartimaeus was a type of what the sinner is by nature–blind, hopelessly blind, unless the healing Savior shall interfere and pour in upon him the light of day. It is not, however, to this point that we shall now turn our thoughts, but to his conduct while seeking sight. This man, by God’s great mercy, so acted that he may be held up as an example to all who feel their spiritual blindness, and earnestly desire to see the Light of Grace!
Several of the blind men of Scripture are very interesting individuals. There was one of the them, you remember–the man born blind–who baffled the Pharisees by answering them with cool courage mixed with shrewdness and mother wit. Well might his parents say that he was of age, for he had all his wits about him. Blind as he had been, he could see a great deal–and when his eyes were opened, he proved beyond all dispute that his questioners deserved the name of “blind Pharisees” which the Lord Jesus gave them!
Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, is a notable character. There is a sharp-cut individuality and crispness of style about him which makes him a remarkable person. He is one who thinks and acts for himself, is not soon daunted nor easily swayed, makes sure of what he knows and when he is questioned gives a clear reply. I suppose that as he sat in the midnight darkness which was his perpetual lot, he thought much. And having heard that from the seed of David there had arisen a great Prophet who worked miracles and preached glad tidings to the poor, he studied the matter over and concluded that His claims were true. A blind man might well see that fact, if at all familiar with Old Testament prophecy. And as he heard more and more of Jesus, and compared Him with the Prophetic description of the coming King, he felt convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Then, he thought within Himself, “If He were ever to come this way, I would announce myself as one of His followers. I would proclaim Him King, whether others acknowledged His royalty or not. I would act as a herald to the great Prince and shout aloud that He is the Son of David.” Then he further resolved to seek the pity of the Messiah and beg for his sight, for it was foretold that the Messiah would come to open blind eyes! This resolution he had so long dwelt upon that when the time did come, and he heard that Jesus passed by, he immediately availed himself of the opportunity, and cried out with all his might, “You Son of David, have mercy on me!” Oh, that you who read these lines would think over the claims of Jesus and come to the same conclusion as the blind beggar of Jericho!
Learn a simple lesson from this man, I pray you. He made use of what sense he had. He could hear if he could not see.We have heard persons talk about their natural inability to perform gracious acts and we have not answered them because it will be time enough to talk of what they cannot do when they have done what they can do! There are some things which we are sure they can do, and these they have neglected–it is mere hypocrisy, therefore, for them to be pleading lack of power when they do not use the strength they have. They do not constantly hear the Gospel, or, if they do, they do not listen with attention and, consequently, they do not get faith, for “faith comes by hearing.” In the case of Bartimaeus, everything was honest and sincere–the man had no eyes, but he had ears and a tongue and he took care to use the faculties which remained to him, so that when the Savior passed by–he cried to Him with all his might! He made his confession of faith and offered, at the same time, a personal petition for mercy as he cried aloud, “You Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I wish to drive at one point only–which will stand out clearly when I have finished. But I must go a little roundabout, to compass my design. May the Holy Spirit dictate every word!
- My first remark is that this man is a pattern for all seekers BECAUSE HE SOUGHT THE LORD UNDER GREAT DISCOURAGEMENTS.
He cried to the Lord Jesus so loudly, so unceremoniously and at so unseasonable a time, as others thought, that they checked him and bade him hold his peace! But this was like pouring spirits upon a fire and it only made him the more intense in his pleading.
Notice his first discouragement–no one prompted him to cry to Christ. No friend lovingly whispered in his ears,“Jesus of Nazareth passes by! Now is your opportunity. Seek His face!” Possibly you, dear Friend, may have been so neglected that you have sighed out, “No man cares for my soul.” Then yours is a parallel case to that of Bartimaeus. Very few can fairly thus complain if they live among lively Christians, for, in all probability, they have often been invited, entreated and almost compelled to come to Christ! Some even complain of Christian importunity and are weary of it, not liking to be spoken to about their souls. “Intrusion,” it has been called by some cavilers, but indeed it is a blessed intrusion upon a sinner, slumbering in his sin over the brink of Hell, to disturb his slumber and awaken him to flee for his life! Would you not think it very ridiculous, were a house on fire, if the fireman declined to fetch anybody out of the house because he had not been introduced to the family? Must he send his card up and obtain leave to enter? I reckon that a breach of courtesy is often a most courteous thing when the desire is the benefit of an immortal soul! If I say a very personal thing and it causes anyone to seek and find salvation, I know that he will never blame me on that score!
Still, a person may reside where there is no one to invite him to seek Jesus. And if so, he may recall the example of this man, who, all unprompted, sought the Savior’s aid. He knew his need and, believing that Jesus could give him his eyesight, he did not need pressing to pray to Him. He thought for himself, as all ought to do. Will not you do the same, my dear Friend, especially on a matter so weighty as the salvation of your own soul? What if you have never been the subject of friendly importunities and entreaties? You ought not to require them! You are possessed of your reason– you know that you are already sinful and will be lost forever unless the Lord Jesus saves you–does not common sense suggest that you should cry to Him at once? Be as least as sensible as this poor blind beggar and let the voice of your earnest prayer go up to Jesus, the Son of David.
The discouragement of Bartimaeus was still greater, for when he did begin to cry, those around discouraged him.Read the 48 th charged him that he should hold his peace.“ Some for one reason and some for another,charged him that he should hold his peace. They did not merely advise him, but they "charged him.” They spoke like people in authority. “Be quiet, will you? Be still! What are you doing?” Judging him to be guilty of a grave impropriety in disturbing the eloquence of the great Preacher, they would have hushed him to silence! Those who do not smart under a sense of sin often think awakened sinners are out of order and fanatical when they are only in earnest. The people near the blind beggar blamed him for his bad taste in shouting so loudly, “You, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
But he was not to be stopped. On the contrary, we are told that “he cried the more,” and not only the more, but “the more a great deal,” so that it was time wasted to try to silence him! One man thought that surely he would put him down, and therefore spoke most peremptorily, but he gained nothing by the effort, for the blind man shouted still more lustily, “You Son of David, have mercy on me!” Here was an opportunity for having his eyes opened and he would not miss it to please anybody! Folks around him might misjudge him, but that would not matter if Jesus opened his eyes. Sight was the one thing necessary, and for that he could put up with rebuffs and reproaches. To him, discouragements were encouragements and when they said, “Be silent,” he cried the more a great deal! His manhood and determination were developed by opposition. Friend, how is it with you? Can you defy the opinion of ungodly men and dare to be singular that you may be saved? Can you brave opposition, discouragement and resolve that if mercy is to be had, you will have it? Opposers will call your determination obstinacy, but never mind, your firmness is the stuff of which martyrs are made! In a wrong cause, a strong will creates incorrigible rebels, but if it is sanctified, it gives great force to character and steadfastness to faith! Bartimaeus must have sight and he will have sight–there is no stopping him–he is blind to all hindrances and pushes through! He had been begging so long that he knew how to beg importunately. He was as sturdy a beggar with Christ as he had been with men and so he followed up his suit in the teeth of all who would stave him off.
There was, however, one more discouragement that must have weighed on him far more than the need of prompting and the presence of opposition–
Jesus did not answer him at first. He had evidently, according to the run of the narra
tive, cried out to Jesus many times, for how else could it be said, “he cried the more a great deal”? His cry had waxed stronger and stronger, yet there was no reply! What was worse, the Master had been moving on. We are sure of that, because we are told in the 49 th verse that Jesus, at length, “stood still,” which implies that, before this time, He had beenwalking along, speaking to the crowd around Him as He went. Jesus was passing by–passing by without granting his desire, without giving a sign of having heard him!
Are you, my Friend, one who has cried for mercy long and found it not? Have you been praying for a month and is there no answer? Is it still longer? Have you spent weary days and nights in waiting and watching for mercy? There is a mistake at the bottom of the whole affair which I will not explain just now, but I will tell you how to act. Even if Jesus does not appear to hear you, be not discouraged, but cry to Him “the more a great deal.” Remember, He loves importunity, and sometimes He waits a while on purpose that our prayers may gather strength–and that we may be the more earnest. Cry to Him, dear Heart! Be not desponding! Do not give up in despair! Mercy’s gate has oiled hinges and it swings easily–push at it again. If you will use the knocker long enough, the porter will appear to you and say, “Come in, you blessed of the Lord, why do you stand outside?” Do have the courage of this poor blind man and say, “Though for a while He may not hear me, yet still will I confess Him to be the Son of David, and so avow that He is able to save me, and still I will cry to Him, ‘You Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
Note, then, that this blind man is an example to us because he did not take much notice of discouragements, whatever they were. He had within himself a spring of action which none could dry up! He was resolved to draw near to the Great Physician and put his case into His hands. O my dear Friend, let this be your firm determination and you, too, shall yet be saved!
II. Observe, in the second place that there came a change over the scene. “Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.” Here we see him under a warmer and brighter light for a moment, and we remark that AFTER A WHILE HE RECEIVED ENCOURAGEMENT.
The encouragement was not given to him by our Lord, but by the same persons who had formerly rebuked him. Christ did not say to him, “Be of good comfort,” because the man was not in need of such a word. He was by no means backward, or disconsolate, or staggered by the opposition he had met with. Jesus Christ said, “Be of good cheer” in the case of the poor paralytic man who was let down by cords from the roof because he was sad at heart. But this man was already of good courage and, therefore, the Savior gave him no superfluous consolation. The onlookers were pleased with the hope of seeing a miracle and so offered their encouragements which were not of any great worth or weight since they came from lips which a few minutes before had been singing quite another tune!
At this time, I wish to give to all anxious souls who are trying to find their Savior, some little word of cheer, and yet I warn them not to think too much of it, for they need something far better than anything that man can say! The comfort given to Bartimaeus was drawn from the fact that Christ called him. “Be of good comfort, rise! He calls you.” To everysinner who is anxious to find Jesus, this is a note from the silver trumpet! You are invited to Jesus and need not, therefore, be afraid to come! In one sense or another, it is true of all who hear the Gospel, “He calls you,” and, therefore, to everyone of our hearers we may say, “Be of good cheer.”
First, it is true that Jesus calls each one of us by the universal call of the Gospel, for its message is unto all people.Ministers are bid to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. You, my Friend, are a creature and, consequently, the Gospel has a call for you, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” We are bid to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout all nations, and to cry, “Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” “Whoever.” There is no limit to it and it would be a violation of our commission if we would attempt to enclose what God has made as free as the air, and as universal as manhood! “The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” This is the universal call. “Repent, you, and believe the Gospel.” In this there is comfort of hope for all who desire to come to God–
“None are excluded hence but those
Who do themselves exclude!
Welcome, the learned and polite,
The ignorant and rude.”
But there is still more comfort in what, for distinction’s sake, we will name the character call. Many promises in theWord of God are directed to persons of a certain character. For instance, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Do you labor? Are you heavy laden? Then Christ especially calls you and promises rest to you if you come to Him. Here is another, “Ho, everyone that thirsts , come you to the waters.” Are you thirsting after something better than this world can give? Then the Lord bids you come to the waters of His Grace. “And he that has no money, let him come.” Is that you? Are you destitute of merit–destitute of everything that could purchase the favor of God? Then you are the person whom He specially invites! We find a very large number of invitations, both in the Old and New Testament, addressed to persons in certain conditions and positions. And when we meet with a person whose case is thus anticipated, we are bound to bid him be of good cheer because the Lord is plainly calling him.
Next, there is a ministerial call, which is made useful to many. At times, the Lord enables His servants to give calls topeople in a very remarkable way. They describe the case so accurately, even to the little touches, that the hearer says, “Somebody must have told the preacher about me.” When personal and pointed words are thus put into our mouths by the Holy Spirit, we may give our hearer comfort and say, “Arise, He calls you.” What said the woman of Samaria? “Come, see a Man which told me all things that I ever did: is not this the Christ?” When your inmost secrets are revealed–when the Word of God enters you as the priest’s keen knife opened the sacrificial victim, laying bare your inward and secret thoughts and intents, you may say, “Now have I felt the power of that Word which is quick and powerful. Oh, that I might also know its healing power!” When a call to repentance and faith comes on the back of a minute personal description, you may assuredly gather that the Lord has sent this message especially to you–and it is your right and privilege at once to feel the comfort of the fact that Jesus calls you. “To you is the word of this salvation sent.”
Yet there is another call which overtops these three, for the universal call and the character call and the ministerial call are none of them effectual .
Dear Friend, when you feel within yourself a secret drawing to Christ which you do not understand, but yet cannot resist–when you experience a tenderness of spirit, a softness of heart towards the Lord–when your soul kindles with a hope to which it was previously a stranger, and your heart begins to sigh and almost to sing at the same time for love of God–when the Spirit of God brings Jesus near you, and brings you near to Jesus–then we may apply to you this message, “Be of good comfort, rise. He calls you.”
III. Thus have I tried to set this man before you as receiving comfort. But we shall see that HE LEAPED OVER BOTH DISCOURAGEMENT AND ENCOURAGEMENT AND CAME TO JESUS HIMSELF!
Bartimaeus did not care one whit more for the comfort than he did for the rebuffs of those around him. This is a point to be well observed. You who are seeking Jesus must not rest in our encouragements, but press on to Jesus. We would cheer you, but we hope you will not be satisfied with our cheering. Do what this blind man did! Let us read the text again–“Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they called the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise. He calls you.” “And (it should be, "but,” not, “and”) he, casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus.“ He did not give them a "thank you” for their comfort. He did not stop half a minute to accept or to reject it. He
Dear Friend, whenever any man with the best intentions in the world, tries to comfort you before you believe in Jesus, I hope you will pass him by and press on to the Lord, Himself, for all comfort short of Christ, Himself, is perilous comfort! You must come at once to Christ. You must hasten personally to Jesus, and have your eyes opened by Him. You must not be comforted till He comforts you by working a miracle of Grace. I fear we pamper you too much in unbelief, applying balm that does not come from the mountains of myrrh, nor from the Sacrifice of our redeeming Lord. I fear that we talk as if there were balm in Gilead, but there is none anywhere except at Calvary! If there is a balm in Gilead, the Lord enquires, “Why then is not the health of the daughter of My people recovered?” The ointment of comfort–apart from Christ–has been tried long enough and has healed none! It is high time to point you to Christ Jesus, Himself! Even the consolation to be drawn from the fact of a man’s being called requires much caution in its use lest we do mischief with it. The true eye-salve is with Jesus, Himself, and unless the soul comes actually into personal contact with Christ, no other comforts ought to satisfy it, for they cannot save. Note with admiration, then, that this man did not content himself with the best comforts that friendly lips could utter, but he was eager to reach the Son of David!
We read first that he arose. He had been sitting down before, wrapped up in his great cloak in which he had often satbegging, but now that he heard that he was called, he, according to some versions, “leaped to his feet.” The expression may be, perhaps, too strong, but at least he rose up eagerly and was no laggard! His opportunity had come, and he was ready for it! No, hungering for the gift! Now, dear Friend, I pray you, let neither discouragements nor comforts keepyou sitting still, but rise with eagerness! Oh, be stirred up to seek the Lord! Let all that is within you be awakened to come unto the Savior!
The blind man was on his feet in far less time than it takes to tell. And as he rose, he flung off his old cloak whichmight have hindered him. He did not care what he left or lost as long as he found his sight! His mantle had, no doubt, been very precious to him many a time when he was a poor beggar, but now that he needed to get to Jesus, he flung it away as if it were worth nothing so that he might get through the throng more quickly and reach the One in whom his hopes centered! So then, if anything impedes you in coning to your Savior, fling it off! God help you to be rid of self and sin and everything that is in the way! If any ill company you have been accustomed to keep. If any bad habit into which you have fallen. If anything dear as life hinders you from simple faith in Jesus, regard it as an evil to be renounced! Off with it and make a rush to Him who calls you. Now, even now, draw near and cast yourself at the Redeemer’s feet. Say within yourself, “Encouraged or discouraged, I have weighed the matter, and I perceive that faith in Christ will save me. Jesus Christ will give me peace and rest, and I mean to have Him at once, whoever hinders or helps.”
Then we are told that he came to Jesus. He did not stop halfway, but emboldened by Christ’s call, he came right up toHim. He did not stay with Peter, or James, or John, or any of them, but he came to Jesus! Oh, that you, my Friend, may have faith in Jesus Christ and trust in Him at once, putting your case by a distinct and personal act into Jesus Christ’s hands that He may save you!
Our Lord was well aware that this man knew His name and Character and so without giving him further instruction, He addressed him in these words, “What will you that I should do unto you?” Our Lord’s addresses to persons were usually based upon their condition. He knew that this man very clearly understood what he needed and so He put the question that he might only give the answer. “What will you that I should do unto you?” “Lord,” he said, “that I might look up,” or, as our version has it, “that I might receive my sight.” Go, dear Friend, to Jesus whether comforted or discouraged, and tell Him what ails you. Describe your case in plain words. Do not say, “I cannot pray. I cannot find language.” Any language will do if it is sincere. In the matter of speech, Jesus does not need hyacinths from a conservatory–He is delighted with field flowers plucked from any hedge where you can find them! Give to Him such words as come first to hand when your desires are fully awake. Tell Him you are a wretch undone without His Sovereign Grace. Tell Him you are a sinner worthy of death. Tell Him you have a hard heart. Tell Him you are a drunkard, or a swearer, if such is the case. Tell Him all your heart, as the woman did of whom we read in the Gospel. Then tell Him that you need forgiveness and a new heart. Speak out your soul and hide nothing. Out with it! Out with it! Do not stay listening to sermons or consulting with Christian friends, but get to your chamber and speak with Jesus! This will do you good. It may be well to go into an enquiry room to be helped by an earnest Evangelist, but it is infinitely better to make your own chamber your enquiry room, and there enquire of the Lord, Himself, on your own account. May the Divine Spirit lead you to do this now, if you have never accepted Jesus before! So, when Bartimaeus had stated his case in faith, he received more than he had asked for! He received salvation–so the word may be rendered.
He was made whole, and so saved. Whatever, therefore, had caused his blindness was entirely taken away–he had his sight and he could look up a saved man! Do you believe that Jesus Christ is as able to save souls as He was to heal bodies? Do you believe that, in His Glory, He is as able to save now as He was when He was a humble Man here below? Why, if there is any difference, He must have much more power than He had then! Do you believe that He is the same loving Savior now as He was when here on earth? O Soul, I pray you to argue this out with yourself and say, “I will go to Jesus straight away. I never find that He cast out any–why should He cast out me? No bodily disease baffled Him and He is Master of the soul as well as of the body–why should my soul disease baffle Him? I will even go and lie at His feet and trust Him, and see whether He will save me or not. Discouraged or encouraged, I will have done with men, and I will go to the Savior.” That is the lesson which I would have every unsaved soul learn! I would have him go beyond the outward means of Grace to the secret fountain of Grace, even to the great Sacrifice for sin–go to the Savior, Himself, whether others cheer you or frown upon you! Dejected, rejected, neglected, yet come to Jesus and learn that you are elected to be perfected in Him!
One thing more, and I have done. I want this man to be an example to all of us, if we get a blessing from our Lord, and are saved. Having found Christ, he stuck to Him. Jesus said to him, “Go your way.” Did he go his way? Yes, butwhat way did he choose? Read the last sentence–“He followed Jesus in the way.” The way of Jesus was his way. He ineffect said, “Lord, I do go my way when I follow You. I can now see for myself and, therefore, can choose my way and I make this my first and last choice–that I will follow You in every pathway which You mark out.” Oh, that everyone who professes to have received Christ would actually follow Him! But, alas, many are like those nine lepers who received healing for their bodies, but only one of them returned to praise Him. Great numbers, after revival services, are like the nine lepers–they declare that they are saved, but they do not live to glorify God! Why is this–“Were there not ten cleansed?” In great disappointment we enquire, “Where are the nine?” Alas, we ask with bleeding hearts, “Where are the nine?” They are not steadfast in our doctrine and fellowship, or in breaking of bread! They are neither active in service nor exemplary in character. Where are they? Where? Echo answers, “Where?” But this man was of a nobler breed–immediately after he received his sight, he “followed Jesus in the way.”
He used his sight for the best of purposes! He saw his Lord and kept to His company. He determined that He who gave him his eyes should have his eyes! He could never see a more delightful sight than the Son of David who had removed his blindness, and so he stayed with Him that he might feast his eyes upon Him! If God has given your soul peace and joy and liberty, use your newfound liberty in delighting yourself in His dear Son!
Bartimaeus became Christ’s avowed disciple. He had already proclaimed Him as the royal Son of David and now he determined to be one of David’s band! He enlists under the Son of David and marches with Him to the conflict at Jerusalem. He stayed with our great David in the hold to share His persecutions and to go with Him to death itself. We are told that he went with Jesus in the way, and that way was up to Jerusalem where his Leader was soon to be spit upon, and to be mocked, and to be crucified. Bartimaeus followed a despised and crucified Christ! Friend, will you do the same? Will you fare as He fares, and endure reproach for His sake? Brave men are needed for these evil times–we have too many of those thin-skinned professors who faint if society gives them the cold shoulder! Power to walk with the crucified Lord into the very jaws of the lion is a glorious gift of the Holy Spirit! May it rest on you, dear Friend, to a full degree! May the Spirit of God help you!
This Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, is a fine man. When he is once really awakened, you can see that he possesses a firm, decided, noble manhood. Many nowadays bend to every breeze like the willow by the stream, but this man held his own. Most men are made of soft material which will run into every mold, but this man had stern stuff within him. When he was a blind man, he cried till he received his sight, though Peter, and James, and John forbad him! And when he became a seeing man, he followed Jesus at all costs, though shame and spitting lay before him. It is our impression that he remained a steadfast and well-known disciple of Jesus, for Mark, who is the most graphic of all the Gospel writers, always means much by every stroke of his pen, and he mentions him as Bartimaeus, whose name signifies, “son of Timaeus.” And then he further explains that his name really has that meaning. A name may not be actually correct, for many a Johnson is not the son of John, many a Williamson is not the son of William, and so there might possibly have been a Bartimaeus who was not the son of Timaeus. Mark, however, writes as if Timaeus was very well known and his son was known, too. The father was probably a poor Believer known to all the Church, and the son made his mark in the Christian community. I should not wonder if he was what we call, “a character,” in the Church–known to everybody for his marked individuality and force of mind.
If, my Friend, you have been long in seeking salvation, and have become discouraged, may the Lord give you resolution to come to Jesus Christ this very day! Bring that firm, steadfast mind of yours, and bow it to Jesus, and He will accept you and end your darkness! Under His teaching you may yet become a marked man in the Church, of whom in later years Believers will say, “You know that man–that grievous sinner while he was unsaved, that eager seeker when he was craving mercy, that earnest worker after he became a Believer–he will not be outworked by anybody! He is a true man and gives his whole heart to our Lord.” I shall be delighted beyond measure if you should be such a convert–a man or woman who will not need looking after, but a determined man resolute to do right, cost what it may! Such persons are a great gain to the good cause. Gently would I whisper to each one of you–Will not you be one of them?