As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 10:46-52
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
If you ask for a list of favorite Bible stories in my household, today’s narrative makes the top three. Let me show you why.
Jesus is heading southwest, toward Jerusalem. In Mark’s next chapter Jesus’ final week will begin. But first, Jesus passes through Jericho. As Jesus departs the city he is accompanied by a large crowd. It’s quite the procession. Anticipation is running high. Perhaps Jesus will take the throne upon entering Jerusalem. Maybe he will bring revolution. Maybe Jesus will reveal himself as God’s Messiah, the Anointed, the Chosen One of Israel.
There is a blind man outside the city sitting by the roadside begging. His name is Bartimaeus, a word meaning “The Son of Timaeus.” Bartimaeus hears a crowd. Perhaps he asks those passing by, “What is this commotion? Who is it?” Someone tells him. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they say.
This is Bartimaeus’ shot. He shouts, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He’s loud. He’s demonstrative. And presumably, this means that he has heard about Jesus. He doesn’t say, “Jesus of Nazareth!” He says, “Jesus, David’s Son!” Bartimaeus makes the Messianic, Kingly connection. Perhaps he has also heard that Jesus has healed the blind, lame, diseased, afflicted, and infirm. He calls for mercy.
Mark tells us that many around Bartimaeus rebuked him, telling him to be quiet. Imagine the scene. Residents of Jericho, those who knew Bartimaeus, sought to spare the town the embarrassment. “Hush!” “Leave Jesus alone.” But Mark reports Bartimaeus “shouted all the more.” I love that.
In Mark 10:49 we read Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” The King James Version and the New Revised Standard Version both say Jesus stood still, not only that he stopped. I love that, too. With all the commotion around him, with the crowd on the move, Jesus halts, becomes still, and I can only imagine that the crowd, too, takes notice. A hush falls. Jesus is in command. “Call him,” he says.
Members of the crowd say to Bartimaeus, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” There it is: Mark’s sense of humor, dry as dust. The same people who told Bartimaeus to be quiet now tell him to be glad. Bartimaeus is exuberant. He throws his cloak aside, jumps to his feet, and he came to Jesus.
Jesus dignifies Bartimaeus. He addresses him. All Jesus has heard at this point is that Bartimaeus needs mercy. Jesus, I’m sure, could see that Bartimaeus was blind. Rather than presume to know what Bartimaeus needs, he asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus says, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
So Jesus says, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Mark says Bartimaeus “immediately” received his sight. And his first act as a seeing man was to follow Jesus on the road. He could’ve gone anywhere. He goes after Jesus.
Bartimaeus had need. His opportunity came. He refused to let it pass him by. He called out to Jesus. Jesus heard him and responded. And then Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he could do. Jesus makes himself available; he is there to serve. So Bartimaeus asks for sight, he receives it according to his trust in Jesus, and he follows.
I want to be like Bartimaeus. Even before his eyes were physically opened, he saw Jesus for who he was. And I have need, just like him. Jesus is passing by. I don’t want to miss him. I’ve heard about him. He’s the King, and merciful. Jesus will listen. He’ll respond. He’s that kind of Savior. He is a servant. I trust him. I’ll follow him. Wherever he goes. Just like Timaeus’ kid. Bartimaeus.
God, grant me spiritual sight that I might see who Jesus is and respond to him with a faith like that of Bartimaeus. Reveal yourself to me, and hear my cries. Be attentive to my needs. Grant me your help, your favor, your mercy. Give me what I need to follow Jesus along the way. Send your Spirit, fill me, and help me respond to you in love. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.