Lectionary: Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22); Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
It had taken quite a while for me to realize that I was straining to see highway signs and other distance related objects so I finally accepted that maybe I should have my eyes tested. I still remember the days after I began wearing my prescription glasses: I could read signs easily, trees had leaves, I could identify faces from a distance. My world was now open and new and crisp and colourful.
So imagine this blind man who was suddenly able to see! Every single item and movement around him must have seemed magical and alive beyond his imagination.
Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“My Rabbi, the blind man said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
– Mark 10:46-52 (NLT)
Bartimaeus is seen here as having faith but it is a faith borne out of a life of desperation. That’s important. No doubt he is asking Jesus to heal his blindness but it seems as though this request is deeper than for just eyesight (have mercy: pity me; be gracious to me).
‘Cheer up! Come on, he’s calling you!’
Having previously identified Jesus as ‘Rabbi’ his response to Jesus’ healing is unlike any other healing in Mark – he proceeds to physically follow Jesus down the road.
His vision is 100% now but what are his new eyes destined to see?
Consider that this journey will take him from a peripheral existence in Jericho to being a disciple on the way to Jerusalem. And the final days of Jesus. Bartimaeus’s new eyes will witness Jesus’ Crucifixion, Resurrection and the painful birth of Christianity.
Faith is a strange, abstract object that religious people toss around too easily and many of us have difficulty accumulating enough faith. But faith is not absolutely, one-hundred percent knowing God will do something – that feels too formulaic, manipulative of God. Rather, it is a place of trust and well-being based on the one we have come to know, wherever the journey takes us.
Faith isn’t about certainty – faith is about relationship. Is your faith based in what God can do for you or are you on a journey of relationship?
(Pray the Jesus Prayer today: often, continually, inwardly, reflectively.)
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.