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Jesus Heals the Blind Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52)

Analysis and Commentary

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Jesus Heals a Blind Man

Jesus Heals a Blind Man

    46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.
    48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
    51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
    Compare: Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43

Jesus, Son of David?

Jericho is on the way to Jerusalem for Jesus, but apparently nothing of interest happened while he was there. Upon leaving, however, Jesus encountered another blind man who had faith that he would be able to cure his blindness. This isn’t the first time Jesus cured a blind man and it’s unlikely that this incident was meant to be read any more literally than previous ones.

I wonder why, at the beginning, people tried to stop the blind man from calling out to Jesus. I’m sure that he must have had quite a reputation as a healer by this point — enough of one that the blind man himself was obviously well aware of who he was and what he might be able to do. If that is the case, then why would people try to stop him? Could it have anything to do with him being in Judea — is it possible that the people here are not happy about Jesus?

It should be noted that this is one of the few times so far that Jesus has been identified with Nazareth. In fact, the only other two times so far came during the first chapter. In verse nine we can read “ Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee” and then later when Jesus is casting out unclean spirits in Capernaum, one of the spirits identifies him as “thou Jesus of Nazareth.” This blind man, then, is only the second to ever identify Jesus as such — and he’s not exactly in good company.

This is also the first time that Jesus is identified as a “son of David.” It was foretold that the Messiah would come from the House of David, but so far Jesus’ lineage has not been mentioned at all (Mark is the gospel without any information about Jesus’ family and birth). It seems reasonable to conclude that Mark had to introduce that bit of information at some point and this is as good as any. The reference may also harken back to David returning to Jerusalem to claim his kingdom as described in 2 Samuel 19-20.

Isn’t it odd that Jesus asks him what he wants? Even if Jesus weren’t God (and, therefore, omniscient), but simply a miracle worker wandering around curing people’s ailments, it has to be obvious to him what a blind man rushing up to him might want. Isn’t it rather demeaning to force the man to say it? Does he just want people in the crowd to hear what is said? It’s worth noting here that while Luke agrees that there was a single blind man (Luke 18:35), Matthew recorded the presence of two blind men (Matthew 20:30).

I think it’s important to understand that it probably wasn’t meant to be read literally in the first place. Making the blind see again appears to be a way of talking about getting Israel to “see” again in a spiritual sense. Jesus is coming to “awaken” Israel and cure them of their inability to properly see what God wants of them.

The blind man’s faith in Jesus is what allowed him to be healed. Similarly, Israel will be healed so long as they have faith in Jesus and God. Unfortunately, it is also a consistent theme in Mark and the other gospels that the Jews lack faith in Jesus — and that lack of faith is what prevents them from understanding who Jesus really is and what he has come to do.

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