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“Most Esteemed Rabbi, I Just Want to See.”

Ordinary 30 Year B

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective

Click here for a printable copy of this paper

St. Mark 10: 46 — 52

Introduction

Jesus has an objective, a target to be in Jerusalem for the great Passover, which is going to be, in fact, His “Pass-Over”. Slowly He is making His way there. On the occasion recorded in our text, He is arriving at Jericho which lies about 15 miles from Jerusalem. His general teaching mission is coming to a close. In some respects, the healing of Bartimaeus is a climax. The locals haven’t seen Him for six months and gather around Him with great interest.
(For a brief overview of the incident read The Gospel Story by Ronald Cox)

Click here for a printable copy of the text.

 

Some Reflections on the Text

Verse 46

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho
with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a
blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.

We find it best not to get too tied up with working out Mark’s sequence here. One moment they are just arriving at Jericho, and the next they are leaving. (See footnote below.)

Footnote:
This arises from changed geographical details. Both St. Mark and
St. Matthew note that the miracle was performed as Jesus was leaving Jericho.
St. Luke, however, stated that it took place when He was drawing near Jericho.
The explanation of the discrepancy is that
St. Mark and St. Matthew are
referring to the ancient city conquered by Joshua, through which Jesus
had just passed. St. Luke was speaking of the new Jericho built by Herod,
in which our Lord was to be received by Zacchaeus. The miracle was performed
on the way between the two places.                                         (J. O’Flynn)

Mark chose not to relate anything of the ministry of Jesus in the city except this particular incident.

The key fact is that a blind beggar surnamed Bar (Son of) Timai (or Timaeus) was sitting on the roadside as the large crowd accompanying Jesus started to wander past him. It is probable that we know his name because he became a prominent member of the Christian community. St. Mark paints a picture of misery: we can all feel much sympathy for him.

Verse 47

On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and
say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

This blind man didn’t miss a thing! He listened to every comment people were making. He heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by. He could not see Jesus but he knew, from all the information he had gleaned from passers-by, that this must be the Messiah. At the mere mention of the name of Jesus, he called out with full voice the traditional Messianic title with a traditional petition: “Son of David, have mercy on me”.

This petition to Jesus had very clear Messianic tones. It was based on Isaiah 35: 5 —

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of
   the deaf be cleared; …..”

The cry from Bartimaeus would have been interpreted something like ―

“You are the one who can make the blind see.
  May I receive God’s mercy?”

He kept repeating this until the locals became annoyed with him.

Verse 48

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling
out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

We can imagine the kind of rebukes he was given:

•   “You’re making a scene.”
•   “Don’t embarrass us like this!”
•   “Who do you think you are?”
•   “Remember you are only a blind beggar.”
•   “Get back to your corner and be quiet.”

But this man although of very low status, was not going to be treated as though he were an animal. He kept on repeating his petition as though it were his only chance to be heard. He was both determined and persistent!

Verse 49

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man,
saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”

To everyone’s surprise Jesus simply stopped still and ordered the man to be brought to Him. As is so often the case with people who are trying desperately hard to be noticed above everyone else, first they chided Bartimaeus for causing a commotion; then, on realising our Lord wanted to meet him, they suddenly turned about face and couldn’t do enough for him.

Verse 50

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

The man’s cloak was probably on the ground in front of him to collect donations which, in Jewish culture, he would certainly have received. It was thrust out of the way by this unfortunate man as he jumped up and hastened to respond to Jesus’ call.

Verse 51

Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to s
ee.”

Choosing His moment, Jesus quietly asked Bartimaeus to say exactly what he would like Him to do. This was the same question our Lord had asked James and John, when they wanted to ask a special favour. The blind man’s reply was nothing like sitting beside Him on His throne of glory to be above everyone else, but merely:

“Rabboni, that is, Most Esteemed Rabbi (Master, Teacher)
I just want to see.”

Bartimaeus asked only to be equal to others, and nothing more. There may well have been a few moments of tears, for this man’s burden had been almost unbearable: suddenly, without prior warning, he had been allowed to approach his Messiah and present his request.

Verse 52

Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Again, choosing his moment to reply, Jesus spoke not with an abrupt dismissal, but in a quiet matter of fact expression:

“You may go now. Your faith in me as your Messiah has
  brought the healing you requested.”

With that the man received his sight in full, and from that moment he wouldn’t let Jesus out of it! Jesus had been proclaimed Messiah for all the right reasons, and He took pleasure in responding as Messiah.

To sum up, we offer: Commentary by Mary Betz.

 

Conclusion

Bartimaeus is like a new creature, a new creation. Jesus had said to him, “Let there be light in your darkness and chaos!” And there was light! (Genesis 1: 3)

At last, someone from the common people of Israel (whom some looked upon as a “no one from nowhere”) proclaimed Him, “Son of David”, and He responded as such, demonstrating the promised healings of the Messiah.

Not too strangely, in the spiritual realm, it took a blind man to see that the Messiah was passing through their midst. Bartimaeus had no sight, but he had more insight than all the rest put together.

It does not matter if everyone around us ignores our Lord, or cannot see Him for what He is: Son of David — Messiah. Bartimaeus has taught us to call on our Lord for the blessings He has promised. He will deliver; but we may need to grow in insight, inner sight, before we can see that He has answered our requests.

As the Prophet of the Lord (King David) declared:

For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.
(Psalm 36: 10)

 Shalom!

 

The Gospel Story by Ronald Cox

Most Esteemed Rabbi, I Just Want To See

Mark 10: 46 — 52

     It was probably early afternoon when Jesus and his followers approached the city of Jericho, after a four hour walk down the mountain pass from Ephrem; pilgrims from Galilee and Perea had joined his little company. A new excitement and jubilation swept through the crowd at the presence of the Master who had been away from them for the past six months. In three days’ time, this same crowd will shout the same Messianic cries as Jesus rides in triumph into Jerusalem. The blind man by the roadside probably picked up his ‘son of David’ from the crowd. It was a title used with a definite Messianic meaning.

     This is the sixth blind man cured by our Lord in the gospels ……

He shares with Lazarus and Malchus the rare honour of being named by the evangelist at the time of his cure: this was probably due to his prominence in Christian circles when St. Mark wrote his gospel ……… He is a good illustration of the principle of persistent prayer, taught by Jesus …… He threw his cloak aside, so as to run more quickly. Jesus questioned him, not to find out what he wanted but to obtain a public act of faith; he is always interested in the individual soul, even in the midst of crowds and excitement; with him it is persons rather than people. And the stray sheep recognises the voice of the Shepherd.

The End

Click here for a printable commentary by Ronald Cox

 

Commentary by Mary Betz

Most Esteemed Rabbi, I Just Want To See

Mark 10: 46 — 52

     Over the last few weeks, the gospel readings have shown Jesus to be consistently misunderstood by his disciples, especially the Twelve. They mistake discipleship for a sort of fan club, and expect Jesus to be a power-wielding political messiah. They cannot see beyond their own limited understanding of what power is, to know the real empowerment Jesus is offering them.

     Today ‘s gospel is different, because Bartimaeus, though blind, has a special kind of sight which the other disciples haven’t yet learned. Bartimaeus knows who Jesus is, and knows that Jesus can heal him. He associates Jesus with David, not because he hopes Jesus will be a political king like David, but because Jesus has shown the compassion and justice that David had been known for.

     Bartimaeus persisted in calling to Jesus even though others told him to be quiet (a good thing for us to remember!). Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted of him, sensing that Bartimaeus already had the most important kind of sight. At Bartimaeus’ request, however, he did not hesitate to give him full healing.

     The story ends with Bartimaeus becoming a disciple of Jesus, and in the context of the chapters to come, following Jesus on the way of his passion. The story leaves us with challenges: are we sufficiently sighted to understand the power of living the values of God’s reign rather than the values the world holds dear? Do we embody those values enough to say we are really following Jesus wherever his way leads?

The End

 Click here for a printable copy of paper by Mary Betz 

 

Further Reading

For those who would like a detailed study resource
on the readings for Sunday, please visit:

Agape Bible Study — Ordinary 30 ― Year B

If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.

To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:

www.agapebiblestudy.com

This website is highly recommended:

Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature

(Mark 16: 15)

Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in
doing so, remain close to Him. The following are only examples
illustrating how you can note the gems the Holy Spirit highlights
for your on-going reflection.

 “Most Esteemed Rabbi, I Want To See.”

Ordinary 30 Year B St. Mark 10: 46 — 52

1.   Jesus stopped and said, “Call him”

     As Jesus was walking out of Jericho, He heard the blind beggar Bartimaeus calling out to Him, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me”. Bartimaeus believed Jesus was the promised Messiah about whom, Isaiah had prophesied:

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears 
  of the deaf be cleared; …..”               
(Isaiah 35: 5.)

      Jesus did not go over to him and bathe him with sympathy or even encouragement. He simply stopped in His tracks, and, through His disciples accompanying Him, He called Bartimaeus. This has all the tones of yet another person being called by Jesus to follow Him. But this is a special moment, for this is the first person to proclaim publicly that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Our Lord is very happy to be proclaimed as such even by the lowest person in the community.

     If Bartimaeus is going to ask Jesus for anything, he is already on the path to receiving far more than what he requests.

 

2.   Not long before this incident, two very close friends of Jesus, James and John had asked our Lord for a special favour: they wanted to sit each side of Him in His Heavenly Glory.

     On this occasion, when Bartimaeus rushes to be at the feet of the Messiah, Jesus asks quietly the same question He asked James and John. He said,

“What do you want me to do for you?”

     Bartimaeus pays our Lord very special respect and addresses Him with the venerable title of Rabboni — that is, “Most Esteemed Rabbi”. Then he makes his simple request — not for glory, special distinction or status — but merely:

“I just want to be like others, and be able to see.”

     Jesus had been proclaimed Messiah, Son of David by Bartimaeus, and He acted accordingly. Bartimaeus immediately received his sight in full. He followed the Way of the Messiah for the rest of his life and became a prominent member of the early Church.

      This was interpreted by the early Christians as an even greater gift than having his sight fully restored.

 

3.   Bartimaeus is like a new creature, a new creation. Jesus had said to him, “Let there be light in your darkness and chaos!” And there was light! (Genesis 1: 3)

      At last, someone from the common people of Israel (whom some looked upon as a “no one from nowhere”) proclaimed Him, “Son of David”, and He responded as such, demonstrating the promised healings of the Messiah.

     Not too strangely, in the spiritual realm, it took a blind man to see that the Messiah was passing through their midst. Bartimaeus had no sight, but he had more insight than all the rest put together.

     It does not matter if everyone around us ignores our Lord, or cannot see Him for what He is: Son of David — Messiah. Bartimaeus has taught us to call on our Lord for the blessings He has promised. He will deliver; but we may need to grow in insight, inner sight, before we can see that He has answered our requests.

     As the Prophet of the Lord (King David) declared:

For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we
see light.                                                
(Psalm 36: 10)

Shalom!

Click here for a copy of the reflections.

 

 Mark 10: 46 — 52

Ordinary 30 Year B

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

46     7 They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho
          with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a
          blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.

47     On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry
          out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

48     And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept
          calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

49     Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind
          man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”

50     He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

51     Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for
          you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”

52     Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
          Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

7 [46] See the notes on ⇒ Matthew 9:27-31 and ⇒ 20:29-34.

 

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition
(c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington D.C.
and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part
of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in
writing from the copyright owner.

 

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