Out of a tragedy, crisis, hope for the homeland. What holds in the future for us? This is what we will consider tonight. I am so excited about this. I've been so excited that, to be honest, I have slept a little less than usual the past few days. But I feel so comfortable, knowing that I have such a good team of associates in this evangelistic series. Elder Gettys, Elder Crutcher have been so helpful, have help me so much. Brother Dean have been such a wonderful help. And I am proud to introduce to you, two of my associates. I will ask James McCurdy and Justing Avery to come forward. They are two senior students of the school of Theology and I will share the pulpit with them in the next few days.
Elder McCurdy is the First Elder of the Apison Church and he will be attending this church for several weeks in order to participate in this evangelistic series.
I appreciate very much your help. Two other students will be introduced later on in the second service, because they are just now serving in another church. Thank you very much.
I am also hoping this evangelistic series will be very blessed because of the support of the congregation. Children are going out to distribute handbills door by door. This is so encouraging. Many are praying. Even my mother is praying on the other side of the world. Praying for this evangelistic crusade. She always does. And I am confident that you, too, are praying for what will happen tonight.
I do encourage you to make concrete plans to come tonight, with a friend tonight. Please pray for someone to come with you and do something about that. Tonight we will offer the presentation entitled, What Does the Future Hold For Us? What is in the future for us out of crisis, hope for the homeland.
Please open your Bibles to the gospel according to Saint Mark, chapter 10. Mark chapter 10. While you are searching for this chapter - Mark, Chapter 10, let me share with you that this morning's presentation will be of a little different nature than tonight. Tonight we will use three projectors. It will be special.
But I want to share with you a story this morning - a story that is found in Mark chapter 10 starting on verse 46. This story took place in Jericho. Jericho is a well-known city of the Bible. Even children know that Jericho was the first city that the Israelites found as they entered the promised land. But the city of Jericho was reconstructed a few miles away from the original site. In time Jericho became a very important city.
It was an important city during Old Testament times. It was a city of refuge. In Jesus' times it was a very important city located in the crossroads of two - yes there was one road going from North to South and another road going from East to West and Jericho was the crossroads.
Even today, Jericho is an important city and we hear about conflict between Palestinians and Jews in Jericho. In fact, Jericho holds two world records. Jericho is the lowest city on the earth. It's about 800 feet below sea level. It's a very hot place. Secondly, Jericho is a very old city. Just think of the fact that the Israelites found Jericho about 3,500 years ago as they entered into the promised land. It's a very old city - the oldest city of which the archaeologists have proved record of their existence.
Now the story says that Jesus was leaving the city of Jericho. As he went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, they found blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, who sat by the road begging.
We don't know much about this man. We know a little bit from his name. His name is a patronymic. Patronymics are names which tell us who was the father, like Richardson, Johnson, Albertson. In Spanish we also have patronymics. Fernandez means "son of Fernando." Martinez, "son of Martin. Rodriguez "son of Rodrigo."
In Hebrew, patronymics are formed by adding the prefix, "Bar"; before the name. Barabbas - Abba. Abba = father - Barabbas means "son of the father." Bartholomew, "son of Tholomew." Barnabas, "son of consolation." Bartimaeus means, what? Son of Timaeus.
Well, we don't know very much about the circumstance by which Bartimaeus lost his sight. He became a beggar. We don't know much about this man but with all respect to the blind people we may say that blindness describes very well the condition of a sinner. This blind man of Jericho will help us to see some truths.
First of all, it helps us to understand the condition of a sinner. And I can imagine some of you thinking "Well, well, I know where pastor Martin is going to. He's going to preach an evangelistic sermon for those who have never heard the gospel, for those who need the gospel. Too bad, I was baptized many years ago. I'm sorry, but this sermon is not for me.
O please, before you leave, let me say something. I have a message not only for those sinners who are not yet committed to Christ, but I also have a message for those sinners who are in the church. Let me remind you that the book of Revelation (3:17) describes a person of Laodicea as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
I have found many people who have said to me, "I cannot see why you are insisting so much on some issues. For instance, I don't see why I should attend every night an evangelistic series or why I should attend prayer meetings. I don't see why I should study my Bible every day. I cannot see what is wrong with drinking a beer once in awhile, especially when it's so hot. I don't see why my mother doesn't allow me to listen to that kind of music, or why my father does not allow me to go to that place with my friends."
They cannot see because they are blind. But one day they go to the heavenly ophthalmologist and they hear the prescription: "Anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see." (Revelation 3:18). And then their eyes are opened and they say, "Now I know why I should study the Bible. I see why I should support an evangelistic series. Now I see why I should not listen to that kind of music. Now I understand why my father was telling me not to go to that place. Now I see."
Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it takes a painful review of my own experience. As the Holy Spirit opens my eyes, I can see my needs and my true condition.
We can learn some things from Bartimaeus. He was detained. He was sitting by the road begging. The Bible describes the Christian experience as a race which is set before us. And I have seen many Christians who are growing and running towards the goal. But I have seen other Christians who are detained. Their lives have become just a routine. They come and go, but they are not making real progress in their Christian experience.
I have seen some people who have decided not to accept any responsibility this year. "Pastor - no, no, this year I will relax. I will let others run the church. Let me take a break. I will not accept any responsibility this year." While others are running the church, they are detained. They sit by the road. And they come to church, and they beg. They receive what they need to survive in their Christian experience. However, this is not enough.
Many people rely on the fact that they are members of the church. But church membership is not enough. Let me quote a painful sentence from Ellen White. "It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner." (General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1900 par. 7).
Maybe the statistics is not the real point of this quotation. What Ellen White was stressing is the fact that being a church member is no guarantee for heaven. When it's something else, the sinner who is outside the church is in a desperate and mortal condition but that's the same condition of us who are sinners in the church. We need to do something about our condition and our state.
But I am here to show you a way out. And that's my second point. Let me tell you that what Bartimaeus did illustrates what a sinner should do.
First of all, let us read Mark 10:46-47. "Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city. A blind man, Bartimaeus, that is, the Son of Timaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth he began to cry out and say, 'Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!'"
During the past few days - during that weekend (the story took place on a Sunday morning) - Jesus had spent the time moving around the city of Jericho and Bartimaeus had heard many stories about this man who was able to walk on the water, who was able to feed multitudes with a few pieces of bread and fish, and a man who had resurrected people from the dead. But that was not what had impressed Bartimaeus the most. Bartimaeus had heard that this man was able to open the eyes of the blind, and this is what Bartimaeus wanted the most. He was tired of being a blind beggar. When he heard that Jesus was approaching, maybe he heard some noises and maybe he asked questions, "Who are you? Where are you going to?"
"We are pilgrims. We are going to Jerusalem. Passover is one week away.
"But why so many people?"
"Oh, because we are accompanying a man who will be crowned as a king this evening. Today, Sunday evening, Jesus will enter into Jerusalem sitting on a colt."
"Jesus!" When Bartimaeus heard it was Jesus, the man of Nazareth, his heart almost stopped. And without knowing where Jesus was, he began shouting with desperation, "Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me!"
Without knowing it, Bartimaeus was doing the right thing. This is exactly what the sinner has to do. He has to call upon the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Whosoever calls upon that name shall be saved. "Jesus," the name which is above every other name.
And this is what the sinner has to do. He has to call upon the name of the Lord. There is power in that name.
Secondly, the sinner should not pay attention to those who may want to discourage him. According to verse 48, because many wanted him to be quiet. But Bartimaeus cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" But those: "Be quiet. Don't distract Jesus. Jesus is in a hurry. He has to walk 35 miles to Jerusalem. He has to climb the mountains. Because Jerusalem is high upon the mountains. He has so many things to do. He will be crowned as a king this evening. Do you think that the king will have time for a beggar like you? Come on, Bartimaeus, who are you? You are nobody! You are nothing! You deserve nothing. You are just a blind beggar. Don't bother Jesus. And have you thought why you are a blind beggar? That's for a reason. God knows why He made you a blind beggar. Shut up, Bartimaeus, be quiet. Calm down. Don't distract Jesus. Bartimaeus, be quiet."
But Bartimaeus did not pay attention to them. He shouted all the more. Bartimaeus was determined to get what he needed the most. He wanted relief from his condition.
And this is what the sinner should do. Don't pay attention to Satan's insinuations. "What, are you going to a church? Is it true that you are studying the Bible? That you are planning to be baptized? Are you crazy? Come on, religion is not for you! Don't do that - you are too young (or perhaps you are too old)."
Whatever your condition, Satan will try to discourage you - and he has many instruments for that purpose. Don't pay attention when Satan will try to discourage you.
We have already seen that Bartimaeus' condition illustrates the condition of a sinner. We have seen that Bartimaeus did illustrates what we should do. But let me tell you that what Bartimaeus did brought blessings to him, and the blessings that Bartimaeus received helps us to see the hope of a sinner like you and me.
First of all, we know that Jesus will pay attention to our prayers. Verse 49: "So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. He had said, "The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out."
"Who is calling me?"
"Ah, nobody, Sir. Don't pay attention. Just a blind beggar."
But Jesus will never, ever reject someone who comes to Him. Sometimes I have prayed and I felt that God is not answering the way I wanted. Sometimes God says "Later, not now." Or sometimes God has said "No." But at least I know that there is one prayer that God always answers on the spot: it's the prayer of a sinner asking for mercy.
And here we have Bartimaeus asking, "Jesus, have mercy on me! So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.
He always cares for people like you and me. No matter if you are young or old. No matter if you come from the North or from the South, Jesus will always receive a sinner asking for mercy.
Secondly, we know that Jesus will use diverse instruments to bless your life. Notice that in this story there are two groups of people. Some wanted to discourage Bartimaeus: "Bartimaeus, be quiet! But here we find another group according to verse 49, second part: Then they called the blind man and said to him, "Be of good cheer. Arise, He is calling you. Come on, Bartimaeus, run Bartimaeus, Jesus is waiting for you!"
I have seen these two groups of people in the church. And I have noticed them especially during evangelistic meetings. On one occasion I was in a church where after a Sabbath morning I noticed a girl on a side pew and she was crying. After the sermon I approached her and I asked her, "Can I help you?"
"I want to be baptized but my father does not allow me!"
"Who is your father?"
He was a big man, and she was a big girl, 18 years old, but taller than I. And I approached them. He was an elder of the church.
I told him, "For sure, sir, you are proud of your daughter, and she has made the most wonderful decision an 18-year-old girl can make. She has decided to follow Jesus and surrender her life to Him. And she has requested to be baptized, and she needs your blessing and approval."
"No, she won't be baptized."
"No, she's too young."
"What? She's eighteen!"
"Oh, she's too small."
"Too small? Come on, she's taller than I am. Sir!"
"No, when she becomes 21."
I cannot understand how that man happened to be an elder of our church. How can a man discourage his own daughter to make such an important decision for eternity?
In another location I was preaching and I saw a woman talking and she distracted me because I was about to make an appeal. I was inviting people who had accepted Jesus to come forward. "If you have never accepted Jesus before, do it today. Come forward."
And this lady was talking, talking. And she distracted me. So I tried not to look at that side of the congregation because she was talking all the time.
And suddenly I saw this woman standing and coming forward and I said, "You see, she was not paying attention to my instructions. That's why she is here."
A few minutes later I saw a boy coming. And I saw this mother crying. At the end of the sermon I learned the rest of the story. She was a single mother, and she was encouraging her son to respond to Jesus. "Jesus is calling you. Come on, rise! Pastor Martin is calling you. Stand up, go to the front. Do it now, come on! Do it, I beg you. Are you afraid? But do you love Jesus? But you love Jesus, don't you? And you want to go to Heaven, is that right? Are you nervous? Are you afraid? Come on, do it now! Come. Will you go if I go first?"
And that's why the mother came first. And I saw the boy coming a few minutes later.
And I hope that during this evangelistic series you encourage your loved ones, the people you want to see in heaven. No matter if I make an alter call for those who have never accepted Jesus before. I will also include in my appeals. If the Holy Spirit moves you, come forward. If you want to renew your commitment to Jesus by coming forward, your example will motivate others to follow you, to follow Jesus. Respond to our invitations.
Invitations will increase in intensity night after night. Respond to them, and encourage your children, your grandparents, your brother, your auntie, your uncle. Encourage them to come forward. Your best friends because you want to see them in Heaven.
I have to finish this presentation, but I cannot let you go without reading one more verse. Verse 50: "And throwing aside his garment, he arose and came to Jesus." It was Bartimaeus' only possession. Bartimaeus said, "Who cares, I don't need this dirty garment any more. This heavy garment." Imagine that garment: oily, sticky, heavy with grease, with oil. Because that garment served for everything: as a towel, as a blanket, as a pillow, as a napkin, as a coat. It was a multi-purpose garment - dirty, oily, heavy with dirt. It was an obstacle to go freely where Jesus was. "I don't need this dirty garment any more. If Jesus is calling me, I won't need it any more." And he threw it aside. And then we read in verse 51 that Jesus asked him, "Bartimaeus, what do you want me to do for you?"
And the blind man said, "Rabboni, I want my sight back."
And Jesus said to him, "Go your way, your faith has made you well."
And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
Bartimaeus dared to ask a question that many Seventh-day Adventists would never request: a miracle. But let me tell you that the same Jesus that healed Bartimaeus on the road, the same Jesus that performed a miracle on that day, is among us this morning.
And perhaps you have a special request this morning. Perhaps you want to pray for your loved one. Perhaps you have a special burden on your heart. Perhaps you are carrying an invisible dirty garment that you need to get rid of. Perhaps you need a miracle. I don't know your special need, but God knows - you know that.
And this morning I cannot let you go without inviting you to come forward as we sing the closing song, "All To Jesus I Surrender." Don't keep anything from you. Surrender your troubles, your problems, your hopes, your aspirations, your needs, with Jesus - and He will do something great in your life. And you will receive everything you need to be happy.
Hymn of Praise: #73, Holy, Holy, Holy Scripture: John 6:35-37 Hymn of Response: #309, All To Jesus I Surrender
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last updated 9/29/2002 by Bob Beckett.