Mark 10:32–52—True greatness, the healing of blind Bartimaeus
32 They were now on the way to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with dread and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. 33 “When we get to Jerusalem,” he told them, “the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. 34 They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.” 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.” 36 “What is it?” he asked. 37 “In your glorious Kingdom, we want to sit in places of honor next to you,” they said, “one at your right and the other at your left.” 38 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” 39 “Oh yes,” they said, “we are able!” And Jesus said, “You will indeed drink from my cup and be baptized with my baptism, 40 but I have no right to say who will sit on the thrones next to mine. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” 41 When the ten other disciples discovered what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. 43 But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. 45 For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” 46 And so they reached Jericho. Later, as Jesus and his disciples left town, a great crowd was following. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road as Jesus was going by.
47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus from Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 “Be quiet!” some of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 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!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Teacher,” the blind man said, “I want to see. “ 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road.
Points of Interest:
- ‘The disciples were filled with dread and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear’—Perhaps Jesus’ words about being killed are starting to sink in. At the very least, everyone is aware that they are leaving Galilee, their home turf, and moving on to the home turf of the religious leaders with whom Jesus has clashed so much. In response to their fear, Jesus repeats his predictions in far greater detail than he has before. Jesus wants them to know when it happens that it was not a surprise: no matter how bad it looks, it is all going according to plan.
- ‘they were indignant’—It seems that the disciples were not indignant because of James’ and John’s rudeness, but because they felt that James and John had outmaneuvered them. This is the second time that Jesus’ prediction of his death has led to squabbles about greatness amongst the disciples.
- ‘we want you do us a favor’—James and John are behaving a bit like children who say, ‘Daddy, will you promise to say yes to whatever I ask you.’ Nonetheless, Jesus hears their request.
- ‘You don’t know what you are asking’—James and John naively ask for the honor that Jesus will have in his glorious kingdom. They don’t know that you can only get the reward by passing through the suffering: you can’t have resurrection without death. Again, Jesus doesn’t rebuke them for wanting honor. He says that they are going about it in the wrong way. Although they aren’t ready yet to follow Jesus in this way, he promises them that they will someday be able.
- ‘What do you want me to do for you?’—Jesus says that what makes him great is that he is a servant. Than, he demonstrates his servanthood by asking the question of a servant: what can I do for you? In fact, he is even willing to serve James and John, but he cannot give them what they want.
- ‘Be quiet!’ some of the people yelled at him—Bartimaeus is another little one. Just like the disciples tried to stop the children from getting to Jesus, the people try to get Bartimaeus to shut up. Jesus welcomes Bartimaeus just like he does the children.
- ‘Then he followed Jesus down the road’—Jesus tells Bartimaeus to go his way, and Bartimaeus follows Jesus. Jesus’ way has become Bartimaeus’ way. Bartimaeus wants to be close to the man who has the power and the care to heal him.
Taking it Home:
- For you: You’ve been asking Jesus to do something for you for almost 4 weeks now. If Jesus has not answered you yet, follow Bartimaeus’ example: ask louder. If Jesus has answered you, consider what it would mean to follow Jesus down the road. Where does Jesus want to lead you?
- For your 6: Jesus wants you to be great, and he wants your 6 to be served. Look for opportunities to do something kind or helpful for your 6 today. Ask Jesus if he has an idea for you.
- For our church: As a church, we have the same spirit as James and John. We like to say, ‘We are able!’ to the calling Jesus gives us. Also, like James and John, we are not actually currently able to do all of the things we have said we will do. Ask Jesus to make us able to do what he has called us to do.