Sunday

24 October 2021

Mark 10:46-52

Then Jesus said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man said to him, 'My teacher, let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has made you well.' (vs 51-52)

Psalm 126

Background

Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem where he knew what fate awaited him (Mark 10:33-34), and this is the account of the final miracle he performed in Mark’s Gospel while on that journey. Those who are healed by Jesus are usually not named, and the fact that the blind man is named (with "son of Timaeus" reminding Greek speakers of what the Jewish "Bartimaeus" means),  strongly suggests that he had subsequently become known in the Church.

 In Mark’s Gospel it is only here that Jesus is addressed as “Son of David” (verses 47 and 48). This was a popular Jewish title for the expected Messiah who would equal or surpass his royal ancestor. Earlier in the Gospel Jesus sought to prevent any claims of his messiahship circulating (eg in Mark 8:29-30), but it is now too late to make a difference. The attempts of the crowd to silence Bartimaeus (v. 48) can be assumed to be due to his being seen as a nuisance, yet Jesus still has time for an individual who calls out to him.

The presumably eye-witness description of Bartimaeus’ response – throwing off the cloak under which he huddled and springing up to hurry to Jesus despite his lack of sight – might suggest that the attention Jesus was giving him was as important to his wellbeing as the subsequent restoration of his sight.

 At other times, as well as this, Jesus asked questions when performing miracles; in Mark's Gospel see 5:9, 5:30, 6:38 and 9:21. Presumably in this case he considers that Bartimaeus’ faith will be reinforced by articulating what he seeks even though his disability must have been obvious enough. “My teacher” (v. 51) at the start of his answer is the translation of “Rabboni”, a stronger form of “Rabbi”. The only other time it's used  is by Mary in the Resurrection garden when Jesus speaks her name (John 20:16).

The two-fold outcome of the encounter, regaining his sight and following Jesus on the road are presented as a single consequence, and no doubt Mark saw a metaphorical significance in this – this was the perfect illustration of what following Jesus as a disciple entailed.

 It is worth noting that earlier in this chapter (Mark 10: 35-45) Jesus asked the same question, “What is it that you want me to do for you?” to two of his key disciples, James and John. You might like to compare their answer and Jesus’ response to that of Bartimaeus.

  

To Ponder:

  • Can you recall any occasion when you just had to speak out no matter how many people might have wished to prevent you? Or are there things that you perhaps should shout about but have yet to make that commitment?
  • If Jesus asked you, “What do you want me to do for you?” what would be your best response?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Stephen Mosedale

Stephen Mosedale is a retired Methodist minister living near Exeter, enjoying walking, gardening, and membership of a vegetable-growing co-op. He fulfils responsibilities for ministerial candidates, local preachers and worship leaders, and as a school governor. He has a particular interest in the natural world and its significance to faith, especially in the context of climate crisis. A former New Testament tutor at Cliff College, he has a passion for helping others use the Bible as our main way of knowing what God has to say to us in the world of today.

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