Jesus cures the blind man; it may seem like just another story of Jesus using His healing powers, but while researching and preparing for my visit to a local nursing home for The Word & Holy Communion Service, I learned once again there is so much back story to what Jesus is trying to show and teach us. First, this is a story of one man’s determination to be healed.
Mark gives the blind man sitting on the side of the road, the title of Bartimaeus means, Son of David. So already this man knew something of Jesus that many others did not know. Bartimaeus was not afraid to yell, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” He knew Jesus was able to show mercy and healing or he would never have been yelling out to him. He refused to be silenced when others tried to shush him, he continued to cry out to Jesus.
At the time, the Pharisees were questioning Jesus’ authority and had aligned Him with Beelzebub. Yet here was blind Bartimaeus bellowing out the truth for anyone who would listen.
Jesus usually throws a zinger into the story, sometimes I wonder if this is to see if we are listening! Jesus asks the very people who were trying to quiet the blind man and keep him from Jesus, to bring him to Him.
When the man gets up to go to Jesus, Mark adds one very important detail to take note of, “Bartimaeus tosses aside his cloak.”
You might ask why is that such an important detail, I did.
A couple of things to know of cloaks during a time we may not be familiar with:
- Cloaks were a very important item in one’s life.
- A cloak could be used for collateral for a loan.
- A blind person laid his a cloak on the ground to change the coins thrown to him.
- Used for warmth on cold nights
- Something to sit on while begging for alms
- A blind person certainly would keep his important possessions close at hand.
But when Bartimaeus cast off his cloak, it shows he was confident that he would no longer need it. he was expecting to be healed.
Jesus had one question for Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus answered Jesus with the confidence that Jesus could deliver. “That I would see again,”
Bartimaeus didn’t want any special privileges. This reiterates that Jesus has not come to bestow power and honor but to open eyes to the new spiritual, social, and material realities made possible when God reigns. Bartimaeus saw more than James and John did at the moment.
In the beginning of the story, Bartimaeus is sitting alongside of the road. This also could mean he was on the fringes and margins of society.
At the end of the story, Bartimaeus is the heart of the scene. He follows Jesus on the road or way. This could also mean Bartimaeus follows Jesus’ way of living. The way, Jesus calls his followers to follow.
In Mark’s Gospel there are other stories of healing, but Bartimaeus is the only one who ends up following Jesus on His way.
From this story, I’ve learned, Jesus may have a couple of questions for me too.
What do I need to cast off and follow Jesus?
What do I want Jesus to do for me?
Do I notice those on the fringes of society?
What can I do to help those on the edge of the road find the way and follow Jesus?
I am pretty sure I don’t have all my answers yet, but I do know I have my work cut out for me. I have to grow closer, to get the dust of the Master on my shoes for the journey!