Saturday

02 March 2013

"When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Many sternly ordered him to be quiet but he cried out even more loudly, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'" (vv. 47-48)


Background

This is much more than a healing miracle. It reveals a sharp contrast between blind Bartimaeus and the disciples of Jesus, and it is Bartimaeus who is held up as the model for discipleship - the model to imitate. Why is this case?

Bartimaeus recognises Jesus for who he is: "Son of David". Bartimaeus believes that Jesus can heal him, and rises to the challenge of giving up begging and leading a new life to follow Jesus.

Sight in this story is a metaphor for faith and understanding. The disciples have not really seen or understood who Jesus is or what he is about but Bartimaeus, the man who was blind, has seen in a more profound sense than purely physical healing. There is an interesting parallel. When James and John came with their request to Jesus (Mark 10:35-45), he asked them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" (verse 36). They wanted power and position. When Bartimaeus came up to Jesus, Jesus asked him the same question, "What do you want me to do for you?" (verse 51). The reply came like a shot, "My teacher, let me see again". And Jesus does allow him to see again, in the same way as he tries to open the eyes of all who would be his disciples.

This story also shows Jesus' openness to all. Just as he did not see shouting, playing children as a nuisance (Mark 10:13-14) nor does he feel the shouting of this blind man as a nuisance. Just as Jesus was open to tax collectors and other outcasts (Mark 2:15-17) so was he open to this man who had spent his life begging, marginalised for polite society.

Bartimaeus shows that key to being a disciple is not status, education nor respectability but faith, a faith which responds when Jesus calls and does not turn back.

To Ponder

  • Bartimaeus wanted a new life; he wanted to see and follow Jesus. What is there in your life which makes you less than eager to follow Jesus or gets in the way of being the person God wants you to be?
  • Imagine that you are James or John watching this encounter between Jesus and the blind man. What is your reaction to what you see?


Bible notes author: The Revd Jennifer Potter

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