My selfishness and Jesus’ compassion (Mark 10:49-52)

POST OVERVIEW. A post displaying a sinner’s sudden outburst of selfishness contrasted with Jesus utter selflessness and compassion. Our biblical text is Mark 10:49-52.


We received my sister-in-law’s invitation to my niece’s bridal shower on Saturday, a mere eight days before the shower was to take place. We live in Charlotte and the shower was going to be on Sunday afternoon at 2PM in Lexington, SC. (Lexington is a short distance from Columbia.) A quick check on Google Maps showed that the venue was only about 90 minutes from Oakhurst Baptist Church. Yes, attendance at the bridal shower would require a quick departure from church right after the service, but it was definitely doable.

Now, Lisa does not like to drive on the interstate, and she especially does not like to drive alone on the interstate. When we travel any distance from Charlotte, the driving always falls to me. And I enjoy driving us wherever we go, even if it is the almost ten hours to Grove City, PA, to see our grandchildren. Lisa expects me to drive and I expect to be the driver. That is just how it is.

So, when Lisa gently asked me if I would be willing to drive her to the bridal shower in Lexington, SC, on Sunday afternoon only 90 minutes up the road, it was reasonable for her to expect a pleasant and affirmative reply. After all, I have vowed to love her till death do us part. She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She is my one-flesh life partner and the woman whom I seek to “love as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). That Sunday afternoon was wide open on our calendar and I even have a brother in Columbia and I could visit with him while she was at the shower. There was every reason in the world for Lisa to expect me to say that I would be delighted to drive her.

Ah, but “every reason in the world” did not take into account my selfishness. In fact, to my shame and chagrin, the words that came out of my mouth displayed that my selfishness was alive and well within me and could burst out at the worst possible moment. So, instead of giving my wife the gracious answer that she deserved, selfish me said, “Well, sweetheart, I guess you will need to drive down there by yourself.” Yes, I actually said that to my wife. Why did I say that? I can only speculate that, at that moment, I was feeling particularly selfish and mean, and I wanted to keep my Sunday afternoon open for my own use. But, regardless of the explanation or the reason why, sinful selfishness had boldly stepped onto center stage.

This episode is admittedly an astonishing display of human selfishness, but it is by no means unique. All the descendants of Adam have been ruined by the fall and so all the descendants of Adam must constantly be on their guard against sudden outbursts of selfish-ness and against eruptions of a myriad of sinful behaviors. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and truly, we are “inventors of evil” (Romans 1:30).


But there has been one Man who walked among us who was completely other, who never felt or expressed the faintest hint of selfishness nor ever sinned against any of the commandments of God in the slightest way. His was perfect obedience from manger to cross, always doing the things that were pleasing to the Father (John 8:29). In Mark 10:49-52, we see in Jesus a display of unselfishness and compassion for others that is truly divine and that stands in stark contrast to our outbursts of fleshly selfishness. Let’s look at our Savior as He has compassion on Bartimaeus.

CONTEXT. To appreciate the magnitude of Jesus’ compassion toward Bartimaeus, we must observe the context of Jesus’ compassion. “They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them” (Mark 10:32). And why is Jesus so intent on getting to Jerusalem? In another gospel, the Scripture says, “He was determined to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus was going to Jerusalem because He knew that a cross awaited Him. Jesus is on the most important mission in human history. In a little more than a week, there will be a bloody cross and an empty tomb and redemption promised will have become redemption accomplished. As Jesus leaves Jericho and heads up to Jerusalem, He must have been contemplating the horrors of bearing the Father’s wrath against all the sins of God’s people. Meanwhile, the crowd is oblivious to all this and talks excitedly about recovering the throne of David and restoring the Kingdom on earth. So, this is the context: Jesus with His mind fixed on Calvary while the crowd imagines a soon-coming conquest.

“And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting by the road” (Mark 10:46). As Jesus strides ahead, intent on Jerusalem and on the end of His mission and as the crowd jostles and babbles, way in the background can be faintly heard the voice of a blind beggar. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (10:47). When the crowd can no longer ignore him, they seek to silence him. “Be quiet, Bartimaeus. Jesus does not have time for the likes of you.” But Bartimaeus will not be denied. “If the Son of David is nearby, I will call till He answers.”

A blind beggar, covered with the dust of the Jericho road, has lifted a pathetic cry to the incarnate Son of God, who is bent on accomplishing His life’s mission. How will Jesus respond to this dust-covered nobody?

“Jesus stopped” (Mark 10:49).

God stopped?? Jesus momentarily interrupted His mission of saving the world to “STOP” and call to a blind beggar in Jericho? Now here is profound mystery! In another gospel account, it states that Jesus was “moved with compassion” (Matt. 20:34). But what kind of compassion is this that would stop the greatest mission in human history because of a blind beggar’s cry for mercy! But our Lord does more than just stop for the beggar. When Bartimaeus is brought near, Jesus gives him a blank check. “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). The faith-filled man boldly asks for his sight to be restored. And, since Jesus is God, He immediately fulfills the man’s request. Having regained his sight, Bartimaeus begins following Jesus.

So, we see the remarkable contrast between the sinful, selfish creature and the compassionate, unselfish Creator. The creature (me, in this story) may manifest selfishness at any time, but our Savior always displays selfless compassion in even the most extreme circumstances.

CONCLUSION. The good news is that, after acting in ugly selfishness toward my wife, I realized my sin and went to Lisa to ask her for forgiveness. I admitted my selfishness to her and told her, after I had thought more about it, that I would be delighted to drive her to the bridal shower on Sunday. And Lisa forgave me. Praise the Lord that He has given us forgiveness!

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 1/12/2023                   #611

Hearing a blind beggar’s cry (Mark 10:47)

For Bartimaeus, that day had begun like every other day. The blind man had been led down to his spot beside the Jericho road, sitting in the dirt and the dust and crying out for alms to passersby whom he could not see, most of whom intentionally tried not to see him. Few of them knew his name and fewer still had pity on him. After all, why should they be concerned about a blind beggar sitting by the road? Yes, it seemed like this would be another ordinary day.

But something was different about that day, for down the road coming out from Jericho was a large crowd, all apparently following the Man who was walking on ahead of them. The crowd was talking excitedly among themselves, as crowds do, but they were also listening intently to the words being spoken by the Teacher, the Rabbi who was leading the crowd.

Large crowds were not common on that road out of Jericho, so Bartimaeus asked about the Rabbi. Who is He?

And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:47

It would be difficult to find a less significant person in all of Israel than this blind beggar in the dust of the Jericho road, whose lot in life was to cry out for alms. And it would be impossible to find a more significant Person in all of human history than Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God sent from heaven “to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).” And at this moment, this most significant of men was fixed on accomplishing the most significant work in human history as He aimed for Jerusalem and His appointment with a cross.

Nevertheless, blind Bartimaeus “kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” – Mark 10:48

Could Jesus even hear the blind beggar’s cry above the din of the crowd? And even if He could, would He pay any attention? Why would He pay any attention? But Jesus does hear the beggar’s cry.

And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” – Mark 10:49

Jesus interrupts His journey to Jerusalem and His mission of dying as a sacrifice for sin to call a dirty, blind beggar to Himself. What manner of Man is this (Matthew 8:27)? Bartimaeus “jumped up and came to Jesus (10:50),” and then the Son of God gave Bartimaeus a blank check.

“What do you want Me to do for you?” – Mark 10:51

Jesus put no limitations on what could be requested, because there are no limitations on what He can supply. In essence, Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Ask Me according to your faith.”   Then, as an act of pure faith,

the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight! – Mark 10:51

As only Jesus could do, He gave the blind beggar sight, then continued on His way to the cross with a new disciple following behind Him.


Why is this story of Bartimaeus in our Bible? It is here because all of us are born into this world as insignificant blind beggars, and we figuratively sit in the dust beside the road begging for mercy from passersby. Like blind Bartimaeus, we cannot change our situation or fix ourselves. Every day is basically the same as the last one, and we wait for someone or something that can give us hope of change.

Like Bartimaeus, we are waiting for Jesus the Nazarene. We are waiting for someone to tell us about Jesus, Son of David, who can give sight to the spiritually blind and who can give life to the spiritually dead. We are waiting for Jesus, the Man with divine power, to have mercy on us, to call us to Himself, and to allow us to follow Him forever.

For all those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you, like Bartimaeus, have a “that day” when you met Jesus. On “that day,” when the Lord Jesus came near, you cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And on “that day,” Jesus heard your cry and stopped and said, “Call them here.” When you realized that He was calling for you, yes, for YOU, you threw aside your cloak, and jumped up and came to Jesus.

Jesus said to you, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

“Lord, save me! Forgive me of my sins! Make me one of Your disciples. Let me walk with You.”

Then Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you.”

So, that is one reason why this story of Bartimaeus is in our Bible. It gives a picture of who we are as fallen, sinful humans and how we can come to Jesus and be saved.

SDG                 rmb                 4/8/2021

Imitating Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51)

There may be times in our lives when the stress of our disquiet and anxiety becomes distracting. The complexities and difficulties of life are coming at us too fast for us to deflect and to process and we are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe the issues are relational or financial or vocational, or all the above, but the net effect is a sense of being outmatched by life. How are we to pray in these situations? How do we cry out to the Lord when it feels like, “There is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul (Psalm 142:4)”?

As I look at the examples and the instructions of the Scriptures, I think the answer is to cry out to the Lord in faith with a specific request. Even when you see many threats and concerns bearing down on you and collectively creating anxiety and stress, there is usually one specific issue that is primary. That is, there is usually one issue that, if defused, would bring things back into the realm of the manageable. But in any event, whether you can identify the key issue or not, you begin by identifying one issue and then addressing that issue with the Lord in prayer.

So, having identified one specific problem or fear or threat, we can cry out to the Lord about THAT. We confess our trouble and probably our fear, and then we “pour out our complaint before the Lord (Psalm 142:2).” We are saying, “Here is my trouble and sorrow. O Lord help me! O Lord answer me! Deliver me!”


There was a day when Jesus was leaving Jericho (Mark 10:46). The Lord had been passing through Jericho on His way going up to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32), where He was to be arrested, beaten, and crucified. He was on His way to Jerusalem to accomplish atonement for all of God’s people for all time by His death on the cross. But as He is leaving Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting by the road (Mark 10:46), and the beggar began to cry out to Him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me (10:48)!”

It is hard to imagine a greater contrast: The Son of God on His way to Jerusalem to accomplish the mission of salvation for the whole world and a blind beggar sitting in the dust beside the Jericho road pitifully crying out for mercy. Jesus could not be bothered with such a one as this, could He?


When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus for mercy, what happened? AND JESUS STOPPED (10:49). Think about this for a moment. The Son of God is “on the road going up to Jerusalem (10:32)” and when, above all the noise of the large crowd, He hears a cry for mercy, Jesus stopped. Jesus temporarily set aside His mission of saving the world to talk to a blind beggar. He then calls Bartimaeus to Himself and says, “What do you want Me to do for you (Mark 10:51)?”


The King of kings has just called Bartimaeus to come to Him and He has given this blind man a blank check. “What do you want Me to do for you?” Now is his chance. Now Bartimaeus has the full attention of the Lord of the universe and he can ask Him for any one thing. With this incredible privilege, what will he ask for?

Bartimaeus is ready with his one request. Without hesitation he said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight (10:51)!” This is a perfect request! Not only does the request demonstrate Bartimaeus’ faith by asking Jesus for what is humanly impossible, but it also clearly identifies the one issue that is most critical to the blind man: his sight. Bartimaeus gives Jesus a specific request. What happens next?

Jesus instantly and evidently answered his “impossible” request. No one there could deny what had taken place. A blind beggar had come to Jesus and had asked Him to give him his sight, and Jesus had spontaneously done exactly that. “Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road (10:52).” Thus, Jesus was glorified as the great healer and the one who answers impossible requests asked in faith.


Now if we switch back to the situation where we are feeling overwhelmed by life’s complexities and difficulties, maybe we can learn from Bartimaeus’ example. Although as a blind beggar, there is little doubt that Bartimaeus must have had many challenging issues, when it came time to present his request to the Lord, our man gave one specific request. “I want to regain my sight.” Like Bartimaeus, once we have identified our major issue, we present our one specific request to the Lord in prayer. “Lord, here is the complaint that I am pouring out before You. Here is my trouble and my sorrow. Here is THE issue. O Lord please answer me!”

A specific request makes possible a clear, specific answer. The Lord is glorified by answering our prayer request and we are blessed by His answer.

SDG                 rmb                 1/25/2021