jump to navigation

Approaching Palm Sunday (Jesus in Jericho) March 2, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Faith, Luke, Religion, Sermons.
trackback

JESUS IN JERICHO

Luke 18:35-19:10

Faith in God is not confidence in one’s self.

 

BACKGROUND: Jericho was a prosperous place. By the time of Christ, there were two Jericho’s, the old one which we know from the Old Testament and a newer prosperous Jericho. It was a city of palaces, the current one, a winter palace, was built by Herod the Great and rebuilt by his son to even greater splendor and glory. It was on the main route from Galilee into Jerusalem on the north. That journey was about eighty miles and normally took three-four days. Jericho was also the first crossing point over the Jordan River from the east just north of the Dead Sea. Although the journey to Jerusalem from Jericho was less than a days journey, it was very steep and very dangerous. It was on that road that Jesus set the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Some estimate that 100,000 people lived there and many of the wealthy Jews from Jerusalem had winter residences in Jericho. There was plenty of water for irrigation and there were fruit plantations there. At one time the area had been owned by Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. It was a place of wealth which attracted beggars looking for help. Luke introduces us to one of these beggars.

 

“…before we go on, you need to know that there is a little difficulty in this passage.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell this story and there is an apparent discrepancy about the number of beggars and about where Jesus actually performed this miracle.  Mark and Luke only speak of one man. Mark identifies Him as Bartimaeus.  Matthew speaks of two blind beggars.  On the other hand, Matthew and Mark say this miracle occurred while Jesus was leaving Jericho.  Luke tells us that it occurred when he was entering.  Now those who do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, those who discount the authority of God’s word, like to pick on little passages like this and say that the Bible has mistakes…There are, however, solutions at hand to these apparent differences.

        For instance, remember that Matthew was an eye witness to this account and Matthew had seen two beggars healed by the Lord.  And he was interested in us knowing that fact, that the Lord Jesus had, in fact, dealt with both men.  Luke and Mark were not eye witnesses of this account.  They depended for their account on other eye witnesses and for some reason wanted to zero in on Bartimaeus who may have been very well known amongst the early Christian community. 

        As to the location, there are various solutions that have been suggested. As I have already mentioned, there were two Jericho’s in existence during that time, the old city which had been destroyed in the Old Testament days, and then about two miles south of it, there was the new city that had been built up.  So it would be entirely possible for one to be leaving the old city and entering into the new city simultaneously. (adapted from Ligon Duncan)”

 

We read that Bartimaeus asked for mercy. We find that he was confident that he would receive mercy because he recognized who Jesus was.

He publicly recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of David (18:37-38). It is interesting that Bartimaeus hears the crowd coming and he begins to ask about what is happening. Now the road through Jericho was well traveled and it must have been a tremendous crowd to get the attention of Bartimaeus as well as of Zaccheus, who we will meet in just a few minutes. When Bartimaeus inquires about the crowd, he is told that Jesus of Nazareth is coming. Immediately he fills with excitement and cries out “Jesus…!” But Jesus was a very common name. Rather than calling out Jesus of Nazareth, Bartimaeus cries out “Jesus, son of David!” Bartimaeus, by the way he addressed Jesus recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. This was an act of faith. We do not know what all he had heard about Jesus but he had heard enough that he made his decision of faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed One of God.

There were in those days many who came forth declaring themselves to be the Christ. Jericho was not some backwater where they would not be known about. Bartimaeus, however, recognized Jesus as the true Messiah. What basis did he have for this recognition.

His confidence likely was based on the Messiah’s ministry itself (18:39-41). Certainly this is the point that Luke is attempting to make in his gospel. It was well known that the ministry of the Messiah was a ministry of mercy. Look at what Jesus Himself proclaimed openly at the beginning of His ministry in Luke 4:16-21.

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “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, {NU–Text omits to heal the brokenhearted.} To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” {#Isa 61:1,2}

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

There are those who claim that Jesus never presented Himself as the Messiah but Luke makes it clear and it was clear to many of those who heard Him and heard of Him that He not only presented Himself as the Messiah but also that He was the Messiah.

His confidence in Christ was rewarded (18:40-43). Jesus, as you would expect, takes the time to have Bartimaeus brought to him. It is obvious that what he needs. It is no doubt just as obvious what his desire is but Jesus asks him, “What can I do for you?” Bartimaeus, not with presumption but with great confidence and faith, “Could I receive my sight?” Then Jesus, rather than saying “Yes, you can!” commands Bartimaeus, “Receive your sight!” There is nothing that Bartimaeus can do to receive his sight but Christ commands him to receive and then makes it possible.

Not every time Jesus healed someone was in response to someone’s faith but this man had confidence that Jesus could do exactly what he needed done. Not because Bartimaeus deserved to be healed but because of who Jesus was, the Messiah, the Son of David, the Chosen One of God.

 

Jesus goes on and he enters Jericho. The crowd is rejoicing. The blind man is following Jesus glorifying God for the miracle of healing. Zacchaeus hears that Jesus is coming.

Just Bartimaeus physically was in bad shape, Zacchaeus was in bad shape spiritually. He knew that he had given his life to wealth. In fact, he, as was common among the tax collectors, had stolen from others by overcharging taxes so that he could enrich himself. Zacchaeus was aware of his sinfulness and knew that he needed mercy. Like Bartimaeus, he showed his confidence in the Messiah by how he reacted to Jesus Christ.

He also had heard of Jesus and wanted to see him (19:3-4) but the crowds were so great that there was no possibility of even getting a glimpse of Jesus Christ. He was a short man and there was no possibility of seeing over the exuberant crowd. He found a tree and climbed up it. This rich man humbled himself in order to become acquainted with Jesus Christ and Jesus honored Zacchaeus’ effort and not only spoke with him but invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house.

Everyone recognized that he was sinner (19:7-10).

Many in the crowd must have known him. They knew what his job was. They knew that he had aligned himself with the Roman occupiers for the sake of money. Many of them hated him and everything that he stood for and for the dishonesty that they either knew or suspected that he was guilty of.

Zacchaeus did not try to defend himself. He knew his past. He knew His heart. He heard the accusations. He stood up, turned to Jesus and said, “I’m going to make this right. Whatever it takes, I will do.” It is interesting that Jesus did not demand that he give up all his goods. When the rich young ruler came, that was exactly what Jesus demanded. You see, what Jesus is interested in is not how much you have or do not have. Christ wants your heart and if he gets your heart, you will do the right thing with whatever it is that you have.

Jesus himself recognized that Zacchaeus had a great problem. He was lost and had been for a long time. That word “lost” does not mean “misplaced.” That word means “one who has been perishing, one who is doomed to destruction.” Jesus, however, came to seek and to save people just like Zacchaeus.

His response of faith, his confidence in Christ resulted in a transformation (19:8). Just a few days before, perhaps just a few hours before, Jesus stated that it was impossible unless God did the work to bring a wealthy man to God and then we find he does it.

 

There were two miracles performed in Jericho that day. A blind man was made to see and a lost man was saved from destruction. It was not their power that saved them from their fate but rather their faith in Christ that resulted in a miracle in their lives.

 

We have looked at the faith of two men. Men whose lives are very different from each other. What do their faith have in common and what should be characteristic of our faith in Christ?

The faith of these two was alike in its confession of unworthiness. These two men stand in stark contrast to the rich young ruler and to the Pharisee mentioned earlier in chapter 18. The more you feel that you are deserving, the weaker your faith will become.

The faith of these two was alike in defying and conquering opposition. The proof of faith is how it reacts when the times are tough, when it is not easy to express and show your faith in Christ.

The faith of these two was alike in being publicly proclaimed. Sometimes people wonder, why do you emphasize baptism so much in this church. Because we recognize that someone who does not want to proclaim their faith through baptism has a weak faith.

How about your faith? Is your confidence in Christ? If it is, it is because you recognize who He is and what you are not. If your confidence is in Christ, you will stand against whatever it is that wants you to hide your faith. there is no such thing as a private faith. Faith in Christ is a public matter. Proclaim your faith today.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Roberto - May 28, 2008

Hola from Seattle, WA.
Good afternoon pastor Talley, my name is Roberto and I had my Bible Study this morning with my wife and I talked about Bartimaeus and his faith. It’s an incredible passage in the Bible and showing us to see the life with Faith and through the God’s eyes.

I want to thank you for your explanation about Jericho, I like it so much.
Be blessed and my best wishes in all that you do.
With love in Jesus Christ,
Roberto Salazar


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: