Mark 10: 46 – 52 Blind Bartimaeus receives his sight

Mark 10: 46 – 52 Blind Bartimaeus receives his sight

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means ‘son of Timaeus’), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’

So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’

‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

*       *       *

Bartimaeus was sitting begging. As far as we know he hadn’t set out to find Jesus, but he clearly knew of him. He heard the tumult of a crowd, and realised that Jesus was passing. He cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’, and, despite the efforts of the crowd to silence him, he wouldn’t stop shouting.

Now, “Son of David” is a very specific title. God had promised King David that his throne would be established for ever, and had spoken to the Israelites prophetically about David’s successor who would establish this kingdom. As a descendant of David, the Messiah would be known as “Son of David”.

We read in Mark 8: 27 – 30 about Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah – and Jesus’ warning that they mustn’t tell others about this. That is because the title was controversial. It implied a warrior who would lead the Israelites against their oppressors. We know that claims to be the Messiah were controversial from Acts 5: 34 – 39, where Gamaliel reminds the Sanhedrin about Theudas, who ‘claimed to be somebody’ (that is, claimed to be the Messiah). He had recruited fighters but been killed.  

When Bartimaeus shouted to Jesus calling him, “Son of David”, he was publicly saying what others were whispering behind closed doors. No wonder the crowd was keen to silence him.

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’

So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.”

Jesus’ invitation to Bartimaeus was passed to him by the members of the crowd. Are we always ready to talk to others about Jesus? Are we always ready to pass on his invitation to come and be healed?

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him.

Jesus doesn’t take it for granted that the man wants to see again. He asks him what he wants. Perhaps the sound of Jesus’ voice caused Bartimaeus’ faith to blaze up. ‘Yes!’ he might have felt, ‘Jesus really can heal me!’

The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’

‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Bartimaeus received his sight immediately. How would he have felt? Astonished? Grateful? Full of praise? He was healed. He could work. He could once again play his full part in society. Mark tells us that he followed Jesus, and I’m sure he means that spiritually as well as literally.

There is more in this passage. It comes immediately before Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, which culminates in his arrest and death. At this critical time in his life and ministry, what do we see Jesus doing?

Opening the eyes of the blind.

The religious authorities are spiritually blind. Jesus could heal them. Jesus would heal them if they were prepared to ask. But they won’t. They reject him.

How dreadful.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for the healing that Jesus offers. Please help me to be obedient to your will, and to express your love to all those around me.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Post script

St Matthew’s gospel contains a very similar story in Matthew 20: 29 – 34. Just as in Mark’s gospel, the event takes place immediately after James and John have sought the privilege of being at Jesus’ right and left hands, and immediately before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It’s plainly the same event – except that Mark provides a name for a single blind man, and Matthew says there were two blind men.

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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