Mark 10:46-52

Take Heart, Get Up, He is Calling You!

In our passage this week, Mark records Jesus’ last stop before entering Jerusalem.  Mark will use the rest of his Gospel (chapters 11 to 16) to share the details of Jesus’ last week on earth.  On this last leg of his journey into Jerusalem, Jesus is met by a blind man named Bartimaeus.  This episode is recorded in all three synoptic Gospels and is unique for many reasons.  It is the last record (in the synoptic Gospels) of a healing miracle done by Jesus.  It is also the only miracle in Mark where we receive the name of the person healed.

#1 Blind Bartimaeus sees Jesus more clearly than some who have the use of their eyes.

46And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Mark 10:46-52

When we first meet Bartimaeus, he is alongside the road.  And this is exactly where you would expect to find him.  He is blind which means he was not only severely handicapped but was also very poor.  He is so poor he is forced to beg along the busy road between Jericho and Jerusalem.  He likely lived a very lonely and desperate life.  We know the name of his father but he must not have received sufficient support from him hence being reduced to becoming a beggar along the road.

Bartimaeus is full of joy when he hears Jesus of Nazareth is about to pass by.  He begins to cry out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  This is the first time in Mark’s account that Jesus has been called the “Son of David.”  God’s people had waited a long time to see the Son of David.  All the way back in the days of King David, God made a promise to raise up an offspring and to “establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (c.f. 2 Samuel 7:12-13).  Bartimaeus is not just being respectful, he is calling Jesus the Messiah.  You are the Son of David, the Anointed One, the King we’ve been waiting for!  He asks Jesus to have mercy on him.  Not only does he understand him to be the Messiah, he has some understanding that Jesus is a Savior — someone who can extend mercy.

While Bartimaeus is crying out to Jesus, many in the crowd are working to silence him.  Perhaps it is because they too have come to believe Jesus is the awaited King that they silence Bartimaeus.  Jesus is a busy and important man.  He cannot be bothered with the likes of a poor beggar.  The crowd is intentionally excluding Bartimaeus from Jesus’ presence.  Does this happen in our day?  I wonder who we might be tempted to exclude.  Who do we tend to believe is “too far gone”? Maybe we don’t intentionally do this but it is hard to explain why so many of our churches are filled with people who are just like us.   Could it be that without knowing it, we are excluding others from the kingdom?

Bartimaeus is persistent despite the opposition he faced from the crowd.  And despite his physical blindness, he has a clearer vision of who Jesus is than those in the crowd.  He is the Messiah – the Savior King!

#2 Jesus places himself at the disposal of a poor beggar.

49And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Mark 10:49-51a

Jesus allows himself to be interrupted by Bartimaeus.  He and the entire crowd following him come to a halt as he calls for the blind man.  These must have been some very sweet words for Bartimaeus to hear – “Take heart.  Get up; he is calling you.”  The crowd goes from being an obstacle to becoming the means by which he will gain an audience with Jesus.

Just at James and John left their nets and Matthew left his tax booth, so Bartimaeus leaves his cloak to run after Jesus.  Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” This question should sound familiar because it is the exact question Jesus put to James and John.  The brothers made the incredible request for status and power, to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand.  Bartimaeus has a very different request.

Before we consider his request, isn’t it interesting that Jesus even asks this question in the first place? If Jesus really is the “Son of David,” that is royalty, why would Jesus be the one asking this question?  Isn’t this the kind of question people should be asking him — What do you, O king, want me, your servant, to do for you?  But once again we see Jesus turning the systems of the world upside down.  The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.  This is radical!  This can be a hard thing to accept.  Just a few days later Jesus will kneel down to wash his disciples feet.  Remember Peter’s response?  “You shall never wash my feet!”  And Jesus responds, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  (c.f. John 13)

#3 Bartimaeus goes from a beggar beside the road to a disciple on the road.

And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.  Mark 10:51b-52

Bartimaeus finally has his time with Jesus.  As a beggar he has had his hand out asking anyone passing by for money.  Now he comes before King Jesus but doesn’t ask for money.  Nor does he selfishly ask for the power and prestige that James and John sought. He asks to be restored.  He asks to be “human” again.  He wants to see.  This is a big request.  And this is exactly what Jesus does for Bartimaeus.

Jesus makes clear that it is his faith that has healed him.  His persistence in seeking Jesus is rewarded yet it is not his persistence but his faith that has healed him.  Jesus does not look at him and say your doctrine has made you well.  Nor does he say your good works have made you well. He says your faith.  Faith in Jesus has restored this man’s sight.

Rather than go out and see the world, Bartimaeus runs after Jesus.  It is notable that he goes from being a beggar alongside the road to being a disciple on the road with Jesus.  Jesus has a way of moving us off of the sidelines.  Christianity is not meant to be a spectator sport.  We are meant to participate. This is why God has called us to belong to a congregation and not an audience.   Perhaps the reason so many Christians are bored with their faith is because they are on the sidelines.  They are not exercising their faith.  They are content along the road watching others.  We need to hear the Spirit saying to each of us “Take heart.  Get up; he is calling you.”

Discussion Questions

  1. What do we know about Bartimaeus?  What do you think life was like for him as a blind beggar living in that day?
  2. How did the crowd treat Bartimaeus?  Why do you think they acted in this way?
  3. Is there anyone or any group of people that you might be intentionally or unintentionally excluding from Jesus?
  4. How does Bartimaeus demonstrate persistence in this passage?
  5. Where in your life do you need to be more persistent?  How does your faith in Jesus help you in this area?
  6. Jesus asks the same question to Bartimaeus in verse 51 as he did to James and John back in verse 36.  How is Bartimaeus’ response different from James and John’s response?  Are they all selfish requests?  What makes Bartimaeus’ request different?
  7. What does Jesus mean when he says that Bartimaeus’ faith has healed him?
  8. Bartimaeus goes from a beggar beside the road to a  disciple on the road.  Jesus has a way of moving us off of the sidelines.  What kinds of things keep Christians on the sidelines?
  9. Where in your life are you more on the “side of the road” rather than “on the road” with Jesus? How does our new identity in Christ motivate us to get off the side of the road?
  10. What is one thing you want to be sure to remember from this passage?


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