44. Mark 10:46-52
This story about the healing of blind Bartimaeus caps off the journey to Jerusalem. It forms a bookend with the healing in 8:22-26. Between these healing stories lie all the material between them largely concerned with Jesus’ identity and the character of the New Exodus people. Bartimaeus’ story serves as a recap of the story so far and a transition to Holy Week.
The rich man and James and John could become disciples. The one because the rich man could not divest himself of his wealth to help the poor; the others because they could not embrace Jesus’ path of downward nobility. Bartimaeus, however, can because he is blind, poor, and does not pretend to see.
-the disciples are in Jesus’ band of followers/Bartimaeus is sitting by the “way” (the path of discipleship)
-the disciples (Peter) know Jesus is Messiah (8:26) but don’t understand that/Bartimaeus doesn’t know his right name (see 12:35-37 on “Son of David”) but ends up following Jesus “on the way” (of discipleship, v.52).
-Jesus asks each the same question: “What do you want me to do for you? (10:36f., 51). The two brothers ask for high position and honor in Jesus’ kingdom) against his call for downward nobility). The blind beggar wants only the mercy of healing.
Others try to keep Bartimaeus from reaching Jesus just as the disciples tried to keep the children from him (same verb is used in each case). Same point here as in the children’s story about who has access to Jesus.
When Jesus calls Bartimaeus “sprang up” leaving behind the vestiges of his old life (his cloak) and comes to him (prompt obedience). He requests his sight and Jesus sees in his passion, prompt response, and request in line with God’s New Exodus (Isa.35:5) and grants his request and becomes an obedient follower of Jesus. Bartimaeus is a genuine disciple.