Bartimaeus: the petition

This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in lectionary cycle B. The gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who cries out to Jesus for pity: Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”  Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. Continue reading

Bartimaeus: mercy

This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in lectionary cycle B. The gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who cries out to Jesus for pity: On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Though Bartimaeus was blind, he understood a great deal about Jesus.  Continue reading

Bartimaeus: context

This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in lectionary cycle B. The gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who cries out to Jesus for pity. Despite the rebuke of the bystanders, Bartimaeus calls out even more vigorously. And in so doing he encounters Jesus who asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Our text serves as a dramatic contrast to the past two assigned gospels. Two weeks ago we had the man who had kept all of the commandments from his youth and who had many possessions, taken as a 1st century sign that he had been blessed by God. But he is not able to part with his possessions. He is not able to follow Jesus. In our text, we have a man who is blind and a beggar, understood as signs that he was a “sinner” and not blessed by God (see John 9 for this traditional view and Jesus’ rejection of it). However, the blind-beggar, throws off his cloak (v. 50), perhaps his only possession, and is able to follow Jesus. Continue reading

Servant Leadership

This coming Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle. In previous posts we have explored the request for glory from the Apostles James and John, Jesus answer, the reaction of the other disciples and a subsequent teaching from Jesus on servant leadership: Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; 44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. In these short verses, which in many ways parallels 9:35 (“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”), there is one difference that Stoffregen notes. In v.44 he/she will be a servant [diakonos] of you (plural, indicating the Twelve), while v.45 is he/she will be a slave [doulos] of all. This is not a distinction that Matthew makes in his parallel (Mt 20:26-27). Continue reading

The Kingdom

This coming Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle. In previous posts we have explored the request for glory from the Apostles James and John: ““Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” (Mark 10:37). Jesus has questioned if they really understand what they are asking and its consequences:  “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” The two apostles respond: “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Continue reading

The Cost

This coming Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle. It is a familiar story in which James and John seek glory: ““Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” (Mark 10:37). In our previous post, Jesus has answered them “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” It would be good to know Jesus’ tone of voice when he responds. Is it exasperation caused by their continuing blindness? Is it said as a tired sigh but with a willingness to again engage them and lead them to a deeper understanding and awareness? Does it have an edge? It might well be the simple inquiry to uncover what they understand: “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Continue reading

Ambition

This coming Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle. It is a familiar story in which James and John seek glory: 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?” 37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Even before the request is revealed, the very sound of the question seems brash: “whatever we ask.” It is as though they want a “blank check” from Jesus. Is it enthusiasm? Is it brazenness? Is it coming from a sense of “I deserve a reward for having followed you these many, many months?” Is it arising from a sense of “I have looked at the other 10 and we are the ones you should pick?”  Hard to know, but in any event, Jesus simply asks them what they desire. Continue reading

On the Way

This coming Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle. It is a familiar story in which James and John seek glory: ““Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” (Mark 10:37) The tenth chapter of Mark has been especially dense with preparing the disciples for the time when Jesus will no longer be with them as their teacher. Jesus will enter Jerusalem at the beginning of Mark 11. The terrible fate that Jesus has already predicted for himself awaits even as he strives to have the disciples more fully understand the meaning of the Kingdom. Continue reading