Bartimaeus: another thought

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 – or as pointed out in a recent post – for compassion or mercy. This is the last of the miracles recorded in the Gospel of Mark. It is a bookend to Mark 8 healing of the man born blind. It stands in contrast to the rich man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom. It stands in contrast to Peter and the disciples who are having their own problems. The commentaries of this week only began to plum the riches of this gospel. Here is an interesting bit of background come from Dan Clendenin at Journey with Jesus

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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

Hope and Healing

Today’s readings are a combination of the well-known (the Gospel) and the “what’s-going-on” (Ezekiel). The former is the familiar story of the man, afflicted for 38 years, who encounters Jesus, is healed and has hope restored. The latter is a grand vision of living waters flowing from the Temple into all the land bring abundance and life.

The Ezekiel reading is the follow-on to the “dry bones’ vision the prophet had just proclaimed. In his vision, the prophet finds himself standing in a valley full of dry human bones. Before him, the bones begin to move and assemble into human figures, skeletons rising and begin to stand. Almost as in modern computer-generated visual effect, the skeletons begin to receive layers of living flesh: tendons, muscles, organs and skin. They then arise, standing upright, alive and vital. These are the Israelites living in exile who are returning to Jerusalem.

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Everyone is looking: questions

Jesus_healing_Peter_inlawIt is very easy to simply note that Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law, be swept along in Mark’s breathless pace, and wonder if there is more to the story. Ched Myers (Binding the Strong Man: A Political reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, 141) raises this question at the beginning of his comments on Mark 1:21-39:

These “miracle” stories raise important issues of interpretation. Is Jesus simply “curing” the physically sick and the mentally disturbed? If so, why would such a ministry of compassion raise the ire of the local authorities? Continue reading

Blindness: healing

man-born-blindCommentary. If you wanted a one sentence summary – here it is: “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind”(v.39). Or: as a sign that he is the light, Jesus gives sight to a man born blind. But there is a richness to be gained in a detailed looked at the text and narrative. The Johannine scholar, Fr. Raymond Brown suggests the following outline:

  • A. Setting (9:1-5)
  • B. Miraculous healing (9:6-7)
  • C. Interrogations of the blind man (9:8-34)
    • 1. Questioning by neighbors and acquaintances (9:8-12)
    • 2. Preliminary interrogation by Pharisees (9:13-17)
    • 3. The man’s parents questioned by the Jews (9:18-23)
    • 4. A second interrogation of the man by the Jews (9:24-34)
  • D. Jesus leads the man born blind to that spiritual sight which is faith (9:35-41) Continue reading

A man born blind: healing

man-born-blindCommentary. If you wanted a one sentence summary – here it is: “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind”(v.39). Or: as a sign that he is the light, Jesus gives sight to a man born blind. But there is a richness to be gained in a detailed looked at the text and narrative. The Johannine scholar, Fr. Raymond Brown suggests the following outline:

  • A. Setting (9:1-5)
  • B. Miraculous healing (9:6-7)
  • C. Interrogations of the blind man (9:8-34)
    • 1. Questioning by neighbors and acquaintances (9:8-12)
    • 2. Preliminary interrogation by Pharisees (9:13-17)
    • 3. The man’s parents questioned by the Jews (9:18-23)
    • 4. A second interrogation of the man by the Jews (9:24-34)
  • D. Jesus leads the man born blind to that spiritual sight which is faith (9:35-41) Continue reading