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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, August 22, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 10:46–52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 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?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. (NRSV)

I wonder* which part of this story is your favorite part. 

I like the way Bartimaeus throws off his cloak (what else is he wearing?) and “springs up” to come to Jesus. It’s a moment of transition that changes in a pretty fundamental way what I think is happening in the story. For the first half of the story Bartimaeus is a victim. Blind, reduced to begging on the side of the Jerusalem road outside Jericho, he depends on the mercy of strangers. He’s loud and persistent, sure. But he doesn’t have any real agency. 

But now that Jesus is calling back to him he’s springing into action. He’s the one in charge of what’s happening. 

I wonder which part of this story you think is the most important part. 

When Jesus stands still the miracle of Bartimaeus regaining his sight becomes possible. Mark’s Gospel is swift, and Jesus is always on the move. From Nazareth to Galilee; from the Jordan to the wilderness; from the sea to the towns. And now, from Jericho to Jerusalem. But for what feels like the first time in the whole story Jesus stops and stands still. He relents for just a moment from all the reaching out and all the pressing on and just stands still. Maybe he needs a miracle as much as Bartimaeus.

I wonder which part of this story is about you.

I’m one of the people ordering Bartimaeus to be quiet. My friends and I are so committed to decency and order that the earnest plea of the human heart (and flesh!) feels like an interruption. Thanks be to God that Jesus doesn’t mind interruptions as much as we do; Jesus is God’s great interruption. 

*These wondering questions are appreciatively borrowed from the Godly Play method of teaching Bible stories to children.

Make us always to wonder, O God: at your voice in the needs we express and the ones we perceive; at the difference between the power of force and persuasion that we’re used to and the power of frailty that you exercise; at our place in the great drama of salvation playing out in Jesus still on the road with Bartimaeus and even us. Amen. 

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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