Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 18:31-43 – How Is Your Spiritual Eyesight?

Grace For The Journey

I am going have to hold off on the extra study on the goodness of God.  Today we are going to look at a passage where Jesus again foretells the coming of His suffering, death, and crucifixion.  The third time that Jesus has foretold the coming of his suffering, death, and crucifixion (see Luke 9:22 and Luke 9:43-45).  This is sometimes called “the passion announcements” or “passion predictions.”  Our English term “passion” is derived from a Latin term, passiō, that means “to suffer.”  After Jesus makes the encouraging statement we looked at last time in verses 29-30 – about the blessing of what we receive in following Christ despite what some must leave behind to follow Him–families, homes – we then read that Jesus takes the 12 disciples aside and speaks privately to them about His soon coming suffering, death, and crucifixion.

Most of us can relate to the idea of “seeing without really seeing.”  Recently I looked for some item in the refrigerator, and I looked up and down and side to side, but I could not seem to find the ketchup.  I know it must be in there; I am fairly sure we used it just yesterday.  I look again, move some things around, and still nothing.  Finally I called my wife, Kay, “Hey, Babe, where is the ketchup?”  She hollers back, “In the fridge.”  “No, it’s not.”  “Yes, it is.”  “Well, you come find it.”  She comes over, open the door, looks to the right, bends down, picks it up and puts it on the counter and walks away, shaking their head.  It was there all along, I just did not see it.

So often the seemingly small and trivial things in this material world mirror something of the much larger and more important things of the spiritual world.  God is at work all around us, He is always and forever sustaining the universe He has created, forever guiding, upholding, and providing.  He is there, and yet, we do not always see Him.  We often wonder what it would have been like to have lived during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  I have often wondered about that.  How beautiful that would have been to be right there with Him, seeing the miracles and listening to His teaching.  Then  again, we find this surprising truth time and again during the 3 1/2 years of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels . . .

Few people seem to

Really see Jesus

For who He is.

They are looking at Him, through Him, and are right there with Him, yet do not really see Him.

In our study today God is repeatedly pointing out this truth. We talked last time about “blind spots,” how we may not “see” things that lurk in our “spiritual side-view mirrors,” unidentified idols we allow to capture our love and we do not even realize this, we have given our hearts to something or someone other than Christ.  Such was the case in our last passage with the rich, young, ruler.  Here was a man who “saw” Jesus, but at the same time, did not really see Jesus because he was blinded by his riches.  He saw, but He did not really see.

Then we turn to these verses in verse 31 to the end of the chapter and we read of two more examples of “seeing without really seeing.”  My prayer today is simple: “God, give us eyes to see.”  Physical eyesight is a blessing and very important to us, but what is more important is spiritual eyesight.  Some can see and hear only physically.   May God grant to us the benefit of spiritual awareness and spiritual life, and help us then to see better with each passing day, improve our spiritual sight.

The material in our text – verses 31-43 – divides itself into two sections. 

I. Consider Christ’s Commitment – Verses 31-34.

In view here is Christ’s commitment to God’s eternal plan to accomplish our salvation.  Jesus is committed to the task.  We read nine chapters earlier His first passion prediction.  He says in Luke 9:22, “(I) must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be raised the third day.”  He said this again later to them and then Luke 9:51 says the time had now come for Him to die and so he “set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  That speaks of His determination, His steadfastness, and His commitment.  Nothing could stop Jesus from Calvary.

You will remember, for example, . . .

  • When He spoke of His suffering in terms like a baptism and He says in Luke 12:50, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” 
  • Or later when He was warned that Herod was out to get Him, He said in Luke 13:33, “Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” 
  • And when we were studying recently about the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus said in Luke 17:25, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

From the very beginning God has this plan to redeem lost souls through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is constantly reminding His followers of this truth.  His death on Calvary’s cross is not a mistake, a blunder, a fumble, or an accident.  Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross is the fulfillment of a plan to which Jesus Christ was utterly, totally, and completely committed.  He reminds them now for the third time in verse 31, “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.’”  The phrase “will be accomplished” is a divine passive.  That is, “God will bring this about.”  God has this plan . . . He will see it through.  It will happen.  It does not “just” happen.  God will fulfill His plan to redeem humanity through the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

For reasons known ultimately only to God Himself, God permitted what we refer to as “the fall.”  God allowed Adam and Eve to fall, to sin, and thereby bring sin into the world.     Because of the sin of our first parents, we too are sinners.  We are culpable.  We are spiritually separated from God.  But God also planned a means by which man could be saved from the fall and the effects of the fall – namely spiritual death – and that means by which man may be saved is through the work of Christ upon the cross.  Jesus comes as God-in-the-flesh to bear our sins upon Himself, to take the punishment we deserved and to grant to us the righteousness that belongs to Him – thereby being our substitute, the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for us.  This is that work to which Jesus Christ is committed and He tells His disciples this now for the third time.

Jesus says in verse 31 that “all the things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man) will be accomplished.”  The word “prophets” here in verse 31 is a reference to the entirety of the Old Testament.

I recall two of those prophetic passages in the Old Testament.  Remember that Jesus fulfills prophetic predictions of His coming.  These two passages are written anywhere from 700 years to 1,000 years before He came . . . Psalm 22:16-18, “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” and Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  When Jesus says in verse 31 that “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished” He has in mind Scriptures such as these. 

Jesus continues in verse 32, “For He will be delivered (again, another divine passive, i.e., this is all part of God’s perfect plan so He will see it to fulfillment) to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.  They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”  Now look at verse 34, “But they understood (how much?) none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.”  It is a lot easier for us to understand what Jesus was telling them.  We have the benefit of 2,000 years of Christian history and teaching.  Most of us have grown up in Christian homes or we have at least heard the story of Jesus’ coming as a suffering Messiah.  For the 12, however, and for the Jews in the main, the idea of a suffering Messiah was foreign to them.  They were thinking of the coming Savior as more of a political or earthly Savior, one who would come and reign on an elevated throne in a splendid palace and straighten everything out.  When Jesus goes to talking about being turned over to the Gentiles and being beaten and killed and rising on the third day, it is not that they could not repeat what Jesus had just said, it is that they simply did not understand what He meant.  I can see that if we put ourselves in their shoes and I think probably the most of us can see that, too.  Little wonder Jesus told them this three times!  I am certain later on they were like, “Oh, I get it now” (Luke 24:6-8)!

But . . .

We must also remember that if we are saved

It is only because we have been granted

The eyes of faith to see. 

If we see Christ for Who He really is,

It is because we see Him not with

Physical eyes, but with spiritual eyes.

There was a time when the meaning of His suffering, death, and resurrection was also hidden from us, hidden the same way it is hidden from your unbelieving family members, hidden from your neighbors, hidden from your friends.  Yet, this is the Gospel truth.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,” a Gospel that remains a stumbling block and foolishness to many spiritually blind today until God grants them the ability to see with eyes of faith.

Then by the working of God’s providence, the very next passage of Scripture tells us about a man who – though blind physically – can see quite well spiritually.  Verses 35-38 tell us, “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.  And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.  So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.  And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Here is a blind man who knows Jesus as “Son of David,” a reference to His Messiahship.  The Messiah, the promised Savior in the Old Testament, was to come from the lineage of King David.  This blind man knows this.  Though blind physically, he sees well spiritually.

 I will expound more on this later in my blog.  More about that in a moment.  Right now, let’s look at the second main consideration in our passage . . .   

II. Consider Christ’s Compassion – Verses 35-43.

We read here of the compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal this blind man.  Incidentally, the Gospel Writer Mark identifies this “certain blind man” by what name? His name is Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46).  He is sitting by the road begging, sitting there in hopes of receiving the mercy of a few coins now and again.  A blind man in Jesus’ day could do nothing more than beg for food and help.  He hears a crowd, a multitude, and he asks, “What’s going on?!”  Someone answers, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth passing by.”  The blind man had heard of Jesus.  That is unmistakably clear.  He knows Him as more than Jesus of Nazareth.  He knows Him as “Son of David,” the promised coming Messiah, Savior, Deliverer, and Healer.  Word about Jesus had gotten out.  It most likely began back in the synagogue in Nazareth – recorded in Luke 4 – where Jesus began His earthly ministry.  He stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah and read the words, “The spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18).”  Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and is probably thinking, “If this Jesus of Nazareth, if this Jesus, Son of David, if this Messiah, Lord, God, ever comes to Jericho no one will be able to hold me down!”  And such is the case.  Verses 38 says, “He cried out!  ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

Bartimaeus is a believer.  He cries out because he believes.  He sees already!  He is persistent in his crying out to Christ because he has eyes of faith. The very phrase, “Son of David,” is a confession of faith, much as our today referring to Jesus as “Lord.”  He could not be silenced.  I suppose the disciples and others were embarrassed by his outbursts, but “he cried out all the more.”  When you see Jesus for who He really is, you really do not care what others think of you.  You are not embarrassed, you are not intimidated, you are not insecure.  You love the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, and you live for Him no matter what anyone else says, thinks, or does to you.

Now watch the compassion of Jesus in verses 40 and 41, “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’  He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’”  Jesus is on a mission, He is deliberately, purposefully, heading toward Jerusalem to die for the sins of humanity.  Nothing will stop Him from keeping that commitment, but He pauses for a moment in a demonstration of loving, caring, and compassion.

Just 17 miles to Jerusalem and Christ will lay down His life on Calvary’s cross.  Just 17 miles to go, but wait!  The compassion of Jesus causes Him to pause, turn aside, and minister.  He pours out such love and compassion to demonstrate yet again the wonder-working power of a loving God who is not so big as to not take time to minister, a God who cares for you, who knows your every hurt, who meets your every need, and who loves you to the core of your being.  Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  Bartimaeus replies, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”  I think Bartimaeus is like, “O, that you would open my physical eyes that I may lovingly gaze upon the One I already see with my spiritual eyes!”

Consider Christ’s compassion.  He says in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  Are you in need of a touch from the Master?  Will you cry out to Him in prayer?  He may be busy, but He is never to busy to stop and minister His compassion to you. 

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

The compassion of Christ!

Verse 42 says, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’”  The phrase “Receive your sight” is just one word in the Greek, literally, “See!”  Such power of Christ!  He simply says, “See!” and the man sees.  Then Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.”  Literally again, “Your faith has saved you.”  He had saving faith.

Bartimaeus’ spiritual sight was the means by which he received the cure of physical sight.  He could already see in a way many of us who do see are really blind.  Some of us see Jesus, but do not see Jesus.  This blind man could not see Jesus, but could see Jesus.  Because the man already had spiritual eyes to see, he was able to trust Christ to give him physical eyes to see. 

Verse 43 tells us, “And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”  What a contrast to the rich young ruler in our last study.  The wealthy young ruler decided not to follow Christ.  He would rather have his money and his morality.  He was blinded by his riches!  But here is a blind beggar.  He has nothing really of any means.  He is saved and he gladly follows Christ, glorifying God.  The rich young ruler walks away spiritually blind while Bartimaeus walks after Christ seeing both physically and spiritually.

We end out study today by asking two questions as we apply these truths to where we are in our relationship with Christ . . .

1) Do I Presently Have Both Physical AND Spiritual Sight?

Spiritual is always more important than physical.  It means nothing at all if you can see physically, but you cannot see spiritually.  I read where Helen Keller was once asked about her being blind and how terrible it must have been for her.  She replied, “Better to be blind and see with your heart, than to have two good eyes and see nothing.”

Do you see Christ for who He is?  What of your neighbors, co-workers, and friends in school?  How many are right next to you and blind, waiting for you to shine the light of Christ upon them that they may see and be saved from the wrath to come?

What of the millions groping in spiritual darkness throughout the 10/40 window from Southeast Asia, into the Middle East and across North Africa?  Who will tell the unreached people groups dying in those areas of the world, who will tell them about the God who is committed to their eternal salvation if they will be receive Christ as Lord and King?

2) Is My Spiritual Sight Improving Daily?

It is not enough to have your eyes opened.  If our eyes are opened spiritually, if we have spiritual eyes of faith, then we will grow in our faith, our spiritual eyesight will improve with the passing of each day.  Examine yourself!  Are you truly saved?  If so . . .

Unlike your physical eyesight

Which weakens with age,

Your spiritual eyesight

Improves with age.

If you have been granted eyes to see you will, “follow Him” and “Glorify Him.”  You will grow in your faith.  You will follow Christ in obedience.  Do follow Christ the way this formerly blind man followed Christ?  Has God given you eyes to see?  If so, you will follow Him.  If not, you will not.  It is just that simple.

J. C. Ryle said it best: “Grateful love is the true spring of real obedience to Christ.  Men will never take up the cross and confess Jesus before the world, and live to Him, until they feel that they are indebted to Him for pardon, peace, and hope.  The ungodly are what they are, because they have no sense of sin, and no consciousness of being under any special obligation to Christ.  The godly are what they are, because they love Him who first loved them, and washed them from sin in His own blood.  Christ has healed them, and therefore they follow Christ.”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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