Billy Graham - Visibility Zero
Tonight I want to speak about a blind man in the Bible that came in contact with Jesus. It's found in the 10th chapter of Mark's Gospel, the 10th chapter of Mark's Gospel. Beginning with verse 46, "And they came to Jericho. And as he went out of Jericho, with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and he said Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace. But he cried the more a great deal, thou son of David have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called and they called the blind man saying unto him, be of good comfort, rise, he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garments, rose and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, what wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I may receive my sight".
But there are many people today that are just like that. I read the other day that there are 42 million people in the world who are blind. Health authorities estimate that from all causes half a million children become irreversibly blind around the world each year. And this is a great tragedy and many people and countries and health agencies are working to turn it around. A tragedy of equal or greater proportion, though, is the spiritual blindness that people have. Because the Bible says you have two sets of eyes. You have physical eyes, in which you can see, and you have spiritual eyes. And you can see physically, but you may not be able to see spiritually. And spiritual blindness affects everyone in this audience. There are thousands of people here tonight that you can see me up here, but you are spiritually blind, and it's a blindness that keeps you from really knowing God.
Now Bartimaeus was a blind man, and he came out of the little place where he had spent the night and he never had any hope that he would ever be able to see. And he would go outside the gate of Jericho and he would beg from the people that passed by. People on the way to market or people coming to their business that day, and he would say, "Help the blind, help the blind, help the blind, help the blind"! He had his cane, he had an old shaggy coat, he had begged some bread from a woman as he had gone on his way and he got some milk and there he sat with other blind people, and other beggars and they were begging, hoping that the people would throw them a little bit of money or give them something.
And so I look at Bartimaeus and I see myself or I see you. The Bible says he is blind spiritually. And our world leaders are groping. I listen to some of these things on television from some of our world leaders and I'm amazed at the spiritual blindness. And I have talked to some of them privately, and I just want to reach over and grab them and shake them, and tell them that they need Christ, because Christ could open their eyes. And I think only the true believers really know what's wrong with the world, because what's wrong with the world is a spiritual problem.
Now this Bartimaeus could not see his rags, he couldn't see his filth, he couldn't see even beauty. And from time to time we read of someone living in a house or apartment that's filled with empty containers and refuse and garbage, and the person living there may appear to lead a perfectly normal life. And they are well dressed. I know a home like that right now where the lady is well dressed, the husband is a doctor, and they are respectable. They're fine people, and when you see them out you think they are the most wonderful couple in the world, but if you ever get into their house, it is a mess. It looks like a hog pen. And that's the way it is with so many of us. We appear all right on the outside, but down in our hearts and in our souls we know that something is wrong, and for some reason the person doesn't seem to even care.
The scripture says "But the natural man," that's the ordinary man, the man before he comes to Christ, "Receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him. Neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned". And it seems foolish for me to stand here and tell you that because Jesus Christ died on a cross 2,000 years ago and rose from the dead that that can have an impact on your life today and now. And give you assurance and peace and joy that you never knew before and help settle many of the problems in relationships that you face and give you a burden for your fellow man, but it's true and some people would call that foolish. The Bible says that "The proclamation of the Gospel is foolishness to them that perish".
You see, you are blinded by the God of this world. Now who is the God of this world? Jesus called him the devil. The prince and power of the air. The prince of this world. There's another force in the world. And that other force has supernatural power, too, that other force is the devil. And there is a conflict going on, the conflict of the ages, between the forces of God and the forces of the devil. You say, "Why does God allow that"? That is a great mystery. It's a mystery as to where the devil came from. Now the Bible tells us in the 28th chapter of Ezekiel: it also tells us in the 14th chapter of Isaiah, we get a little picture of it and we get other pictures and glimpses throughout scripture, but there is a devil.
Now he doesn't rule in hell, he's never been to hell. He's alive, he settled on this planet. Now you can call evil anything you want to but we all know that there is evil in the world. And we all know that something is wrong, but we don't know what. Now the Bible tells us that back of it all is the devil. You say, "But why doesn't God kill the devil and get it all over with"? Well, someday God is going to do just that. He's not going to kill him: he's going to throw him into the lake of fire. But, that day hasn't come yet, but the devil has already suffered a great defeat. And there has been a great victory by God at the cross.
The cross looked like a defeat for God, but it was actually a defeat for the devil. And you and I can enter into the victory that Christ won at the cross when we come to know him. But 'til then, the God of this world has blinded our eyes so our eyes are supernaturally blinded, and that's why only the Holy Spirit can lift those blindfolds that are on your eyes just now. He was not only blind, this man, but he was poor. And we read about the poverty in the world today and it breaks our hearts. Many of us are suffering tonight from spiritual poverty.
And then this man was not only blind and poor, but he was helpless. Bartimaeus expected to die in his blindness. No one could heal that kind of blindness. But there was ray of hope to Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus had heard many rumors of this stranger from Galilee that was going up and down the country healing people, and helping people and preaching to people. And he heard the approach of a great crowd of people. His ears were very keen and he could hear them. He heard the children, he heard the people talking among themselves, and he said, "What's going on, what's going on"? Nobody would tell him and the crowd was getting closer and closer.
And he grabbed the skirt of a fellow that was passing by, and he said, "Tell me, who is this passing through town"? And this stranger that no one knows his name turned and said, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by". And Bartimaeus thought to himself, "Jesus of Nazareth... I've heard about him. I've heard that he can heal people, that he can help people. Maybe he could help me". You know there only comes a few times in our lives when Jesus of Nazareth passes by and we have an opportunity like we have tonight to receive him. You see, people have been praying and the Holy Spirit has been working and many people have already received Christ. And what an hour and what a moment for you to come. This stranger gave him the message: "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by".
I remember the story of the surgeon general of Portugal, a former surgeon general, and he was walking down the street one day and a piece of paper stuck to his foot. He went home, he pulled it off of his shoe and looked at it and it was a Gospel tract, and he decided to read it, and he read it. And to make a long story short he was converted to Christ and became a great Christian leader and a great Bible teacher. Just a simple little witness like that. God can use all of those things and that's why we ought to always be faithful in our witness because you never know when that waitress in the restaurant, or that person that you meet in your work, they'll watch your life, of course, to see if you're backing it up by the way you live.
Jesus has been passing by in Hamilton. Jesus has been passing by in the Golden Horseshoe. He may be passing by in your home: he may be passing by in the room that you occupy at a hotel. He's passing by here in Southern Ontario. And in desperation, Bartimaeus cried at the top of his voice, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me, have mercy on me"! And the other beggars said, "Close your mouth, close your mouth! The magistrates will hear about this and they will come and put us in prison"! But he kept on crying out. This was his one moment, this was his one chance. Jesus was there and he was going to take advantage of it. And the others said "Keep still, Bartimaeus, who wants to hear anything from a poor old beggar like you"? But the more they rebuked him, the more he cried out.
And I want you to notice several things about it. First he cried for the right thing: he cried for mercy. He needed other things, but the thing he needed most of all was Christ. He needed God, "Have mercy upon me, you son of David". Have mercy upon me. That's what we all need tonight is God's mercy. Mercy. When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ I'm not going to say, "Lord, I want justice". If I get justice, I'm going to end up in hell. I want mercy. And God has offered his mercy from the cross and he says I will forgive you and cleanse you from every sin that you've ever committed. You'll never have to face the judgment. You will never be in danger of hell if you surrender your life to Jesus Christ.
And so you have to say, first of all, I am a sinner, you have to say that to yourself and maybe to others. Just like an alcoholic, before you can help an alcoholic they have to be willing to say, "I am an alcoholic". Before you can help in drug addiction, you have to say, "I am a drug addict: I need help". And when you come to Christ you must say, "I am a sinner, I need help, and, oh Lord God, please help me".
And then the second thing, not only did he cry for the right thing, but he cried to the right person. He cried to the Lord Jesus Christ the son of the living God. The only one in all the world that could help him stood right there. And all of his hopes were centered in him. The Bible says, "None other name is given among men whereby we must be saved," except through the name of Jesus. To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. Jesus had said, "I'm the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh to the father but by me". And this man, Bartimaeus was coming in the right way. He was coming to the right person. He was coming to Jesus, the Son of God. And he cried at the right time, Jesus was passing by.
Suppose he had waited and said, "I'm gonna see what the scribes and the pharisees and the religious leaders have to say about him. I'll wait until he comes to Jericho again". Jesus never came to Jericho again. He may never come in this way again, like this. When will we ever see a sight like this in Hamilton again? It's been a long time since this many people came and heard the Gospel and so many people worked and prayed and believed as they've done here. And the churches united and cooperated, as they've done. And God has been speaking and many people have been finding Christ and tonight you can find Christ. No, he called at that moment.
The Bible says, "He that hardens his heart, being often reproved shall suddenly be cut off and that without remedy". In other words when you hear the Gospel and do nothing about it, it hardens your heart a little bit more. God, the Holy Spirit, will continue to speak to you, but you can't hear him, because you get deaf. The Bible says, "Ephraim is joined to his idols let him alone". There comes a point, I don't know where it is or when it is, but there's a point beyond which you can go. That your heart is so hard, that even though God will still speak, you cannot hear. So come now while you have an opportunity.
The great governor Felix trembled when Paul was speaking to him about the Gospel. And he said, "Go your way, Paul, when I have a more convenient season I'll call for you". But he never had a more convenient season, that was his moment, that was his hour before God and he didn't take advantage of it. The Bible says, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation". Not tomorrow, there may never be a tomorrow for you. This may be the moment for you. "He that hardens his heart, being often reproved shall suddenly be cut off".
Notice how Jesus met his need. Here was a great crowd of people, and we have a way today that we think in terms of great crowds, there's a great crowd here tonight, 18,000 people, I'm told. And we think in terms of crowds, we think in terms of filling our churches, and filling an auditorium or having a big crowd at a ball game. We think in terms of crowds, but it's interesting not only did Jesus preach to the crowds, but the greatest sermons I think he ever preached were to individuals. He stopped and stood still when this blind man called him. A great crowd of leaders were around him.
He could have said "I don't have time, I'm on my way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world". But he stopped on his way to the cross to hear this beggar's cry. He stopped dying on the cross in order to hear that thief say, "Remember me when thy comest to thy kingdom". He stopped when a woman touched his garment, and Jesus will stop for you tonight. Because you see, he sees you tonight as though you're the only person in all the world. He doesn't see you as a part of this great crowd. He sees you as you are. He knows all of your thoughts and all of your intents and all the struggles that's going on inside of you. And the Bible says he loves you. And he died for you, and if you'd been the only one in the whole world, he would have died for you.
And Jesus not only stopped, but he said, "Call him". The scripture says in Luke 19:10: "He came to seek and to save that which was lost". You're lost. Psychologically, spiritually, you're lost. You need somebody to find you and put their arms around you. That's what he'll do for you tonight. And there was a surprise on the face of the people in the crowd, to call that poor old blind beggar, filthy and dirty, the first time anyone, I suppose, had ever called him. Someone threw his cloak about him, someone gave him his cane. He threw them both away. And came running and fell down before Jesus. And Jesus asked him a strange question. He'd been blind all these years and Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you"?
Can you imagine that? What do you want me to do for you? And he said, "Lord". And that word "Lord" means that at that moment, he had received Christ into his heart. "My very own Lord, that I might receive my sight". And I think he was talking not only about his physical eyes, but his spiritual eyes as well. Scientists believe that 33 million of the 42 million blind people in the world, either can be cured, or their blindness could have been prevented. Spiritual blindness cannot be prevented. It's caused by sin and we all have it. But it can be cured by the Lord Jesus Christ. He'll open your eyes. And he can open your eyes tonight.
What is your need? What do you want Christ to do for you tonight? "What do you want me to do"? He said. Some of you say, "I want him to forgive my sin, I want him to give me assurance so that I can know that if died at this moment I'd go to heaven. I want peace. I'd like to rededicate my life, I've been baptized or I've been confirmed, but somehow I don't have that personal relationship with Christ, and I don't have that walk with him that I ought to have, and I'd like to have that and so I'd like to reconfirm my confirmation vows". Whatever it is. And Jesus said to him, "Go your way. Your faith has made you whole". Not money, not good works, but "Your faith has made you whole".
Last December, an 18-year-old student pilot named Kim was making a solo flight cross-country, when she became lost in a storm. She couldn't see anything out the windshield of her small plane. She didn't know where she was or how to get out the storm and back to the safety. Something had gone wrong with one of her instruments. So she reached for her radio and made contact with a local air traffic controller, and she said, "I don't know where I am. I need some help, please, please, help me". The controller located her on his radar screen and began talking her down toward a nearby airport where the weather was good. She couldn't see a thing. But he could see her on the radar. He knew where she was, which direction she was headed. Where she needed to go and the best way to get there.
She trusted her life to a man she had never seen, whose name she did not know. And he got her out of the storm, and safely to ground. Tonight, you can trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. You've never seen him with your naked eye. You may not know him, but he's there waiting for you with open arms, to help you. So I'm asking you to quit flying blind. Trust yourself to Jesus Christ. Follow the guidance of his instruments which is the Word of God, the Bible. And then the scripture says, "And immediately," immediately, "He received his sight". For some people, it's that quick. For other people, it's a period of time in which you're convicted of the Spirit of God, and you grow gradually into the knowledge. But there comes a moment, when you make that step from death to life, from darkness to light. I'm asking you to take that step tonight.
And if you have any doubts about it in your heart, make your commitment tonight. Did you know that each night we've been here we've seen more than 700 people both nights, each night, come to Christ, and come and make a commitment? And what I'm going to ask you to do is what we've done all over Latin America, all over Europe, all over the orient, all over America, all across Canada, we've asked people to get up out of their seat, and come and stand in front of the platform, and say by coming symbolically, "I need Christ. I want his mercy, I want his love and his grace. I want to know him for myself".
Why do I ask you to come forward and make that a public declaration? Because Jesus hung on the cross publicly for you. He didn't do it in private, he did it publicly, and people were against him, sneering at him, he was naked and bleeding. And he did it publicly. And he said, that if we're not willing to confess him publicly before men, he will not confess us before his father which is in heaven. It's a public commitment. And I'm going to ask you to make that commitment tonight. And after you've all come and stand here, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you. And give you a book that you can take home with you to help you in your Christian growth.
And if you're with friends or relatives, they'll wait. If you're in a bus, they'll wait. And you people in the other auditorium, or the other room, that could not get in here, you can get up and come, and the ushers will let you in this building, so that you can join those that are going to come. And from the balcony, it's taking a little bit longer than I thought the first night, it's going to take at least three minutes for you to come, so get up and start now.
But don't let a little bit of time keep you back. And don't let the big crowd keep you back. You just get up and come. Because it's you before God tonight. The most important commitment that you have ever made. And if you want to bring a friend with you, bring your friend. But get up and come, and don't let anything keep you back. We're going to wait and people are going to be praying all over this great coliseum as you come. You'll never have another moment quite like this. You come, we're going to wait, right now. And after you've come I'll speak to you.
You that have been watching by television, you can see that here in Southern Ontario, God has been speaking mightily to hundreds of people. And hundreds have already come, and still are coming. And you can make that commitment where you are, and say yes to Jesus Christ. He'll come into your heart. He'll forgive your sins. He can make you a new person. You can have a transformation, right now, in your life. Surrender your life to him. And if you will, pick up the phone and call that number that you see on that screen. There are people that are standing by, and if you get a busy signal, call back a few minutes later, you'll get, you'll get through because there are hundreds of lines. And be sure and go to church next weekend.