Archives: Mark 10:46-52

HIV/AIDS, Opioids, and The Public Health Crisis of Moral Blindness: We Need Bartimaeus

I have long held that Blind Bartimaeus is not the main character in his own story, or at least the only main character.

When we take Bartimaeus as the focus of this passage in Mark, we do receive many important lessons. We reflect on things like persistence, trust, and responding to the call of Jesus, being brave enough to walk toward him even when we can’t see where we’re going.

There’s also a deeply meaningful interpretation around the significance of Bartimaeus “throwing off his cloak,” as the text says. A beggar’s cloak was a vital part of his economic viability and daily survival, and to throw it away was a huge risk.

But I realized several years ago that there is another moving story layered under the main story in this passage.

Bartimaeus is not the only one whose life is changed irrevocably in this encounter with Jesus.

This is a conversion story, but it’s not necessarily Bartimaeus who is converted. Continue reading

What Jesus Is Really Asking Us

Who doesn’t love blind Bartimaeus?

Here is a man who knows what he wants and goes after it no matter how much he embarrasses everyone else.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” he shouts.

His fellow townspeople are mortified.

“Shut up!” they say. “Be quiet, you hollering maniac! The one celebrity we get in this town and you yell at him like a yokel!”

Bartimaeus doesn’t care.

He knows Jesus has what he needs and he is going after it.

He will not be silenced.

We could learn a lot about boldness in prayer from Bartimaeus. We could learn a lot about asking for what we need.

But even more important than Bartimaeus’ persistence in this gospel is Jesus’ response to him.

Bartimaeus is hollering and causing a ruckus, and “Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”

This is one of the most important moments in the entirety of the gospels for telling us about who Jesus is and how he behaves in relationship with us.

Jesus does not assume that Bartimaeus wants to be made able to see.

He does not assume that Bartimaeus sees his blindness as a disability.

Furthermore, although Jesus undoubtedly knows what is best for Bartimaeus, Jesus does not force it on him.

Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Neither does Jesus impose his will on us, or make any assumptions about what we need or want.

He asks us as openly as he asks Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?”

The ball is in our court, just as it was for Bartimaeus.

We can’t rely on God to solve our problems for us.

We have to answer the question Jesus asks.

What do we want him to do for us? Continue reading