Let me see!
Week of Sunday October 25
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52
Mark 8:22-26 Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22They came to Bethsaida. Some people* brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?' 24And the man* looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.' 25Then Jesus* laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Then he sent him away to his home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.'*
Mark 10:46-52 The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus
46They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!' 49Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.' And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.' 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then 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.' 52Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.' Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
We meet the first blind man, healed in Mark 8:22, just before Peter confesses Jesus is Messiah. He can be seen as a messenger to those of us listening to the drama of Mark: "See clearly what the feeding stories mean!"
The second blind man, who is in this week's reading is also an invitation to "see clearly." Regaining his sight, he immediately followed Jesus "on the way." Having seen, we are called to follow. The blindness is symbolic of much more than physical blindness.
The blind man sits by the side of the road: "sidelined." Jesus heals even those who have been sidelined. They, too, are precious. Bill Loader suggests his name "means 'son (Aramaic: bar) of Timaeus', meaning something like: son of the precious or worthy one."
In the Greek, the man is sitting "beside the way!" It is not just any road, it is sitting beside the way of discipleship and following Jesus. There is a blindness that needs healing before we can "follow him on the way." Verses 46 and 52 use the same Greek word hodos, for both way and road.
We are meant to pay attention to the name of the man. The text repeats itself like this: "John's son, son of John" Bar means son of. Name lists suggest that, along with the sense of "worthy one" which Bill mentioned, Timaeus means Honour. The man's name is Son of Honour, the son of Honour. Is he honorable because of his answer to the question Jesus asks him; the same question he asked James and John? "What do you want me to do for you?"
James and John sought the place of honour, sitting at the right and left hand of Jesus. Honour's Son, the son of Honour, says "My teacher, let me see again." Knowing his blindness, he sought healing. For all that they have seen, James and John are still blind when they make their request of Jesus.
(With her usual eye for detail, my wife alerted me that Jesus asks the same question of the three men, as we lay in bed last night, discussing Sunday's sermon possibilities. So if you ever wondered what pillow talk is like in a manse....)
We are also meant to pay attention to the name which Honour's Son, the son of Honour calls Jesus. Twice he calls him Son of David. At the beginning of the end of the journey into Jerusalem the kingship of Jesus, with all its irony, is being hammered home. We will see the Davidic king in Chapter 11 in the entry into Jerusalem, and again in the sign on the cross; "king of the Jews." (Loader)
The chapters we have just read in Mark (8:42 - 10:45, see my 'storyboard' here) prepare us for this "king of the Jews" on a cross, who turns our ideas of power on their head.
You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. (Mark 9:42-44 Commentary here)
Honour's Son, the son of Honour, the worthy one, the precious one, is the person who has understood their blindness, and shows their healing by following Jesus on the Way.
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please note that references to Wikipedia and other websites are intended to provide extra information for folk who don't have easy access to commentaries or a library. Wikipedia is never more than an introductory tool, and certainly not the last word in matters biblical!