Disclaimer: Do not use Top 40 music to formulate your theology. Having said that, I want to start off today by mentioning lyrics from a number one hit from 1972 (that I had on a 45; google that if you’re too young to know what a 45 record was), I Can See Clearly Now, sung by Johnnie Nash. In the chorus are the words: I can see all obstacles in my way. Identifying obstacles in our life path is what I’m writing about today in hopes we can recognize them before they become an immovable roadblock that bars our way.
The account of Blind Bartimaeus found in Mark 10:46-52 is a wonderful example of how obstacles can be overcome. Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is passing by and makes himself heard over the din of the large crowd. Jesus then calls him and restores the blind man’s sight. Bartimaeus did not allow the obstacle of physical blindness become a roadblock to reaching Jesus.
Obstacles can potentially block our path; becoming roadblocks that bar the way. Far too often I/we allow obstacles to become roadblocks. Bartimaeus certainly did not.
His blindness was physical, not spiritual. When he called out, “Jesus, Son of David” tells us he knew who Jesus was. He hadn’t seen any of the miraculous healings, but you can bet he had heard about them. His physical handicap and the shushing of the crowd were not roadblocks. He knew what he wanted, and he knew where to get it.
We can learn so much from his example. We all have some physical issues. Ask yourself, ‘Are they merely obstacles to be overcome or are they roadblocks?
What did Bartemaeus do that had his spiritual eyes so focused? What obstacles did he overcome, not allowing them to be roadblocks? How he overcame obstacles can help us to do the same.
- He was doing ‘his thing.’ Granted, roadside begging, but remember that was a different culture. You either begged, or your starved. No agency or government to step in to help. He did what he could with what he had, the hand he was dealt. The obstacle of blindness was gotten through by doing what he had to survive.
- Bart knew the promise of God 2 Samuel 7:16:16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, makes this great promise to King David. This is what Bartimaeus knew. Did he just blurt it out that day? No, he had encountered the scriptures and learned them, despite being blind. Bartimaeus was preparing himself. He ‘saw’ through the miracles who Jesus was, the promised Messiah. Calling out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” reveals what the blind man knew in his heart to be true. Physical blindness was merely an obstacle.
- Bartimaeus was persistent. He yelled to be heard. He yelled even louder as the crowd tried to get him to stop. We don’t have to yell to have God hear us, but the lesson on persistence is a good one. Don’t let things rent space in your head that can drown out your thoughts about God. Don’t listen to the doubt the enemy tries to lay on you: ‘He’s too busy for you, you don’t really matter to Him, you’re not worthy of Him or His love and mercy.’ We have to ‘yell’ over those lies so that we don’t let them get a foothold on our mind.
- Bartimaeus was ‘all in’ for God. Told that Jesus was indeed calling him, he jumped up and threw his cloak aside. Anything he had received from his begging that day would have been laying on that cloak. Yet he tossed it away like they meant nothing. His most valuable possession was discarded. It wasn’t going to hinder him as he went to Jesus.
- Bartimaeus knew what he wanted: “Rabbi, I want to see,” is how he answered Jesus. For us, this means to pray with direction. You want to see answers to your prayers? Get specific, God can handle it. Not just a prayer of ‘bless them,’ but talk with God. “God, give them direction for finding that new job.” “God, heal that arthritis in their right hip.” God doesn’t need us to point the way, rather we express a deeper faith in His touch when we ask and trust for specifics from Him.
- Bartimaeus had faith. Jesus said so: “Go,” Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” We know that Jesus did/does the healing. Here the Lord recognized the man’s faith for his and the crowds benefit.
- He followed Jesus afterward. He received his sight. A great gift, but he knew the giver was far greater than the gift! No longer on the sidelines, Bartimaeus was in the procession.
What are you blind to? What obstacles are blocking your way to deeper spiritual growth in the Lord? What is keeping you on the curb of life while the Savior passes by? What trinkets or small treasures have hidden the desire of your heart to be nearer to Jesus?
There are/will be obstacles on your path. I learn best when I allow God to show me the way around them. Sometimes we must face the obstacle head-on. It is not to be avoided or skirted around. I’m thinking of behaviors we might have that need to be corrected. What is it that you have placed in your own way?
At other times, the direction is to walk away and find an alternative route. If your GPS will re-calibrate if you miss a turn or an exit, don’t you think God can do an even better job of it with your life? But it’s not automatic, we must seek Him. Better than that, we should be staying in conscious contact with Him always!
Bartimaeus is our model for honing spiritual eyesight. Though he didn’t bring his blindness on himself (as far as we know), he used his spiritual sight to solve the problem and remove the obstacle. What are you going to do? Put yourself on that roadside. You’ve just seen a known blind person miraculously receive their sight. Are you going to join the procession, proclaiming who it is you saw perform this healing? Or are you holding back, maybe a little resentful that your want hasn’t been met.
Jesus healed one that day so that many others could receive sight into the eternal. That includes us; so, I ask again, what are you going to do? Will you tell the world what you have seen? Philippians 4:13 tells us we can remove roadblocks by overcoming obstacles because of the power of Jesus Christ. Can you see them? Do you want them removed? Can see you clearly now?
A new and better day awaits, but it will be different. Trust God, it will wonderful!
PS: The ‘live” recording of this message has been uploaded to our website, http://www.lakesidechristianministries.org
You can find it by clicking on the drop down menu ‘audio/video