Lenten Reflection - Mark 10:46-52 by Tony Baker
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” Mark 10:46-52
The man in this story hears people speak to him four times. Four different things from the people around him whom he cannot see. First an admonishment to be quiet. Then a command to take heart and step forward. Next a question. Finally a healing dismissal.
After the first, when the crowd silences him, he calls forth even more loudly than before. This is a familiar theme in Mark’s gospel: sometimes it is the crowd that tries to silence someone, sometimes it is Jesus himself. The challenge, even the stern rejection, separates out the faithful from the mildly interested. This man will not be silenced, and Jesus hears him.
The crowd who had just silenced him then tells him to take heart and answer Jesus’ call. Sometimes the crowd in the gospels stands for a mindless mass; here they are doing Jesus’ work for him. They silence the man, they carry Jesus’ invitation to him, they tell him to take heart.
Then comes the question. This man is not accustomed to being spoken to in the interrogative voice. The two prior sentences are commands. Now finally someone asks him what he wants. And he is ready with an answer. “I want to see.”
And finally the words of healing. “Your faith has made you well.” Because he persisted, because he answered the call, because he was ready to hear and respond to what he wanted of Jesus, he is able to hear the words that carry God’s healing power.
What healing do you need from Jesus? What is the particular blindness that afflicts you? Are you prepared to shout all the louder when quieting down would be easier? Are you ready to step forward when Christ, perhaps through the community who does his work, invites you?
Are you ready to answer when you hear the question, “What is it that you need?
And what about the healing words? Are you ready to hear them? Would you know when you did?