Mark 10:35-52 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
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. 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!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 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. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 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.
Jesus continues to teach His disciples at this point in His ministry what it actually means to rule in His Kingdom. Soon Jesus would die and rise again and ascend into heaven leaving His disciples in charge of the Church. The disciples did not yet know that He would leave them physically nor did they understand what it meant that He would die. The one thing that they understood was that they would soon rule in Jesus’ Kingdom and they were excited for this and tried to compete for the favor of Jesus as James and John tried to do to the anger of the rest.
But to rule in the Kingdom of God, to be used by God in this new spiritual Kingdom that Jesus was establishing, meant ruling in a different way than what the disciples had expected. A rich young ruler had come to Jesus and appeared in every way to be the perfect Jew. He was someone who obeyed the law perfectly in an external way. He followed the letter of the law and yet did not understand the spirit of the law. He externally appeared righteous but inwardly his heart was corrupt. Only Jesus could see the true nature of his heart and thus exposes it. The rich young ruler left Jesus dejected and dismayed quite to the surprise of the disciples. This man would not rule in the Kingdom of God. The ruler did not think he needed a Savior as he was justified in his own eyes. He claimed to seek after Jesus but really was only looking for the favor of man. The humility that he showed was a feigned humility. It was all for show.
In contrast to the rich young ruler, as Jesus was leaving Jericho with a great crowd following Him, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus was bothering Jesus. He was so annoying to the crowd as he would not shut up. He was insignificant and a nuisance and a burden on society. He was in every way rejected and looked down upon. The disciples would have walked by him without even realizing he was there (apart from his cry) unlike the rich young ruler who they all watched attentively and had desired to emulate when they would soon rule in Jesus’ Kingdom.
Here was a nobody crying out to Jesus for mercy. Bartimaeus, although blind, recognized Jesus as the Son of David demonstrating that he knew that Jesus was the Christ and he cried out to Jesus for mercy. In spite of being told by the people to be silent, Bartimaeus would not, he could not keep quiet. His heart cried out for the Savior! He was deeply moved in the depths of his being to be in the presence of Jesus. He was not trying to be justified before men but to know Jesus- to be loved by Him. He knew he was a sinner and he cried out to Jesus for mercy.
How does Jesus respond? He heals Bartimaeus and declares that his faith has made him well. The blind beggar demonstrated faith while the rich young ruler did not. The blind beggar immediately followed Jesus while the rich young ruler would not. The blind beggar was the type of person that Jesus was looking for to rule in His Kingdom and not the rich young ruler. Can you see the message that Jesus was teaching His disciples?
To rule in the Kingdom of God is not about position or status or power as the world sees it. As Jesus said in verse 42, “those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.” Everyone knows what authority looks like in society. There is a use of power that is obvious and expected- power that is flaunted and widely known, to rise up higher and higher and to be regarded greater than other men. They are great men because they are viewed as great men and others are not. They are above and others below. But not so in the Kingdom of God. The great men and women of God are the humble and the meek, the servants of all. They are those that would naturally be overlooked and disregarded, not necessarily before they become born again Christians but afterwards. They are not those who are identified with CEOs or presidents in corporations or other positions of authority in society but as associated with prisoners and the poor and the weak. Was this not the case with Jesus who was crucified with the thief on the cross? This thief too would rule in His Kingdom while the high priest in Israel would not.
Never consider your significance as based upon your position in the world. Our significance is found in our relationship to Jesus Christ. You can be a beggar and yet a king in the Kingdom of God! You can be an addict and yet among those who will rule forever with Jesus Christ! How great is the wisdom of God that He can take the least and make them the greatest! But there must be a genuine thirst and need for Jesus Christ. There must be an inward cry for the mercy of God and for the salvation of your soul. Can you see how different the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is from the kingdom of this world? Can you see how different it is to rule in His Kingdom versus what the world promotes and demands?
Pastor Murray Hack