Exegesis of the Gospel: Mk 10:46–52
In the Gospel of Mark the disciples do not grasp the true identity of Jesus. After having Jesus predict his passion three times and the disciples misunderstand what he is saying or why he is saying it, Mark closes that section of the Gospel with a story of a blind man who sees with the eyes of faith.
This is typical of the Gospel of Mark where those who should know Jesus do not, and those who have no reason to know him do. Ironically this blind man becomes a disciple and follows Jesus. The disciples of Jesus, who can see physically, are spiritually blind and they drift away. This story is the subject matter of this week's Gospel.
1) A blind beggar who can hear. A blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus is begging by the side of the road. He “hears” that Jesus is passing by and immediately he begins to cry out the following: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” This blind beggar has correctly identified Jesus with the Messianic title, “son of David.” The people around Bartimaeus are embarrassed by what they would consider inappropriate behavior. After all he is a beggar. But he is an insistent beggar and he refuses to be silenced.
2) Jesus responds. The respectable people do all they can to silence Bartimaeus but to no avail. Jesus obviously hears what Bartimaeus has been shouting and he is intrigued by this man’s insights. He summons Bartimaeus, who responds with full energy and comes to Jesus. He asks the blind man an interesting question. “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replies by saying, “Master, I want to see.” The irony here is that Bartimaeus already sees with a clarity that far surpasses Jesus’ own disciples. He sees with the eyes of faith which allows him to see spiritually rather than physically. This is how Bartimaeus could see clearly that Jesus was the son of David.
3) Your faith has saved you. Jesus performs no act of healing on blind Bartimaeus. He simply tells him to go on his way. It is his faith that has saved him. As soon as Jesus says this Bartimaeus receives physical sight but in fact this is only an added value. The story closes with a comment that gets passed over by some. Bartimaeus now begins to follow Jesus on the way. That is an almost technical phrase that means Bartimaeus becomes a disciple of Jesus. That gift surpasses even physical sight.