The journey to God's mountain, 6:1-10:52
3. The new law, 9:14-10:52
vii] A blind man sees through faith and followsSynopsis
The journey / way of the messiah is coming to an end. At Jericho, some fifteen miles from Jerusalem, Jesus is harassed by a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. Using the messianic title, "Son of David", Bartimaeus calls on Jesus to have mercy on him. Mercy is granted and Bartimaeus sees; his faith has made him whole / saved him.
A persistent faith saves.
i] Context: See 8:22-30. Mark uses the two-part healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, 8:22-30, and the healing of blind Bartimaeus, as book-ends for three teaching units. Like the blind man at Bethsaida, the disciples don't quite see. They think Jesus is the messiah, but have yet to understand that following is primarily about receiving, rather than doing; they have yet to discover grace. Salvation, with the full appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant, are theirs in Christ, in his faithfulness, his dying and rising on their behalf, his ransoming of them. All that is required of them is that they they rely on this truth and live its fruit in loving service. It is then, like Bartimaeus, that their faith will save / heal them.
ii] Structure: Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus,:
A scene-setting introducing, v46;
Interactive scenes between Jesus, Bartimaeus and the crowd:
v52, A concluding resolution.
Although the healing of Bartimaeus again reveals something of Jesus' messianic credentials, the story focuses on the response of Bartimaeus himself. He tenaciously cries out for mercy and ends up following Jesus. The persistent faith of the blind man is the focus of this story, a faith that "heals / saves" him and sets him on messiah's way.
For Mark, this miracle story climaxes the ministry of Jesus prior to his entry into Jerusalem. It reveals Jesus' messianic credentials (he is the "Son of David", the royal messiah) and how the promised blessings of the kingdom may be accessed (a faith that looks to God for mercy). Although some question the degree of the blind man's messianic comprehension, for Mark, the spiritual depth of his cry for mercy and the commitment-level of his "following on the way", is a pivotal confession and response. At the moment of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem there is at least one person who recognises who Jesus is, and seeks from him the only hope for fallen humanity, namely the mercy of God. Rather than sitting beside the way, this new disciples strikes out with Jesus along the way.
Mark would have the reader of his gospel come to this same recognition, response and commitment to "the way", and so, like blind Bartimaeus, move from darkness to light.
Blind Bartimaeus: Matt.20:29-34; Lk.18:35-43. The story presents as a healing / miracle narrative, although more rightly a pronouncement story, given that the pronouncement is of paramount importance. Both Matthew and Mark record the story immediately before Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
This pericope highlights the synoptic problem. Most hold that Mark has sourced this healing story from either oral tradition or a pre-Markan document. He has then adjusted the story to suit his ends. Mark's editorial additions may include the following: "they came to Jericho"; "along with his disciples and a large crowd"; "he followed him in the way." Most commentators hold that Luke then used Mark for the basis of his gospel and that Matthew follows either Mark or Luke, or both.
Both Matthew and Mark record this story in a similar contextual setting, with Luke's account closest to Mark, although it is rather strange that a historian like Luke would drop the name of the blind man. Matthew's account is interestingly different in that we have two blind men. It is also rather strange, given that the blind man had a name, that Matthew would also cut across such an established fact in this story, ignore the name and add an extra blind man, all this having already told a story of a two-blind-men healing, 9:27-31.
These types of random differences are more likely a consequence of oral transmission - the name got lost, the one became two, ....., so Schweizer, "obviously Matthew's knowledge of this brief episode is based on a special tradition." Such differences support the view that all three synoptic gospels worked independently on an established oral tradition, most likely conveyed in Aramaic, and that they were more respectful of that tradition than they are often given credit for. The evident differences between the synoptic gospels is likely to reflect local differences in the oral tradition, along with some editorial tweaking. That is not to say that, for example, Matthew didn't have access to a copy of Mark / proto-Mark, but primarily he runs his own race.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus.
Text - 10:46
The healing of blind Bartimaeus, v46-52. i] Setting: Jericho was some 30 Kms. northeast of Jerusalem, a rather dilapidated old town, but with a new section to the South housing Herod's winter palace. Jesus was journeying, with a large crowd, on the pilgrim's way to Jerusalem. Beggars were a common sight on the pilgrim-way. Mark actually names our particular beggar - Bartimaeus, son of Timai. The names of those healed rarely get mentioned in the gospels.
ercontai (ercomai) pres. "then they came to" - [and] they came to [jerusalem]. Narrative / historic present, used to indicate narrative transition (for the English reader, a new paragraph). Indicating that Jesus is moving closer to Jerusalem. The site is identified in all the records of this story.
ekporeuomenou (ekporeuomai) gen. aor. part. "As ... were leaving [the city]" - [and he] going forth [from jericho and the disciples and a large crowd]. The genitive participle and its genitive subject, autou, "he", forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, as NIV. Indicating that they were actually passing through Jericho, pressing on toward Jerusalem. The preposition apo, "from", expresses separation. The following crowd is large, in the sense of "significant", Cranfield.
Timaiou (oV) gen. "the Son] of Timaeus" - [the son of timaeus] bartimaeus, [a blind beggar. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Cranfield questions the placement of this explanatory phrase before the Aramaic "Bartimaeus", rather than after, and also the use of the Greek name "Timaeus", rather than "Timay". He suggests that it is a scribal gloss.
ekaqhto (kaqhmai) imperf. "was sitting" - was sitting down. The imperfect is obviously iterative expressing repeated action, "it was his custom to sit", Robertson, but the imperfect is often simply used to express background information. "Was sitting in his usual place beside the road", Phillips.
para + acc. "by [the roadside]" - beside [the way, road]. Spatial.
ii] The interactive scenes: a) Bartimaeus and the crowd, v47-48. Once Bartimaeus gets wind of Jesus' presence, he starts shouting out for attention. His appeal, "have mercy on me", is the common appeal to God for help, eg., Ps.4:1, 6:2,..... He sees Jesus as God's servant, and therefore, the channel of God's mercy. The title, "Son of David", is a declaration of Jesus' messianic credentials. Jesus does not silence him, for he is now heading toward Jerusalem and is about to enter the city as the Messiah. Jesus no longer needs to hide his identity. The crowd, constantly pestered by crying beggars, tries to shut Bartimaeus up, but he cries out all the more.
akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "when he heard" - [and] having heard. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.
oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception, expressing what he heard.
oJ NazarhnoV (oV) "of Nazareth" - [it is jesus] the nazarene. Standing in apposition to "Jesus". The original tense of the statement is being expressed, "it is Jesus of Nazareth."
krazein (krazw) pres. inf. "to shout" - [he began] to cry out [and to say]. The infinitive, as with "to say", is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began".
Ihsou "Jesus" - [son of david] jesus. Vocative, not the genitive, "of Jesus." The title is messianic and thus demonstrates messianic recognition by the blind man. It is, of course, possible that the title is nothing more than a formal recognition of Jesus' family ties ("honorific", Gundry), although this seems unlikely. If the title does express messianic recognition, it is interesting that Jesus doesn't silence the blind man, although at this late stage in his ministry there would be little point. Boring argues that "son of David", for Mark, amounts to a misunderstanding of Jesus' true identity, but most other commentators take it as a genuine recognition of Jesus' messianic credentials, eg., Evans, Edwards, Marcus, France - "It is now time, as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, for the messianic aspect of his ministry to become more public".
elehson (eleew) aor. imp. "have mercy on" - have mercy on [me]. Very much an echo of the Psalter (6:2, 9:13, 122:3) and properly the cry of the faithful who recognise that the mercy of God is available to those who seek it.
epetimwn (epitimaw) imperf. "[many] rebuked" - [and many people] were telling sharply, sternly. The imperfect is possibly expressing repeated action (iterative), or prolonged action (durative), although verbs of speech are often imperfect as a matter of form, ie., a series of words is not by nature punctiliar and therefore an aorist is an inappropriate tense. "Rebuked" may be a bit strong, better "a number of the people checked him", Moffatt.
autw/ dat. pro. "him" - him. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to rebuke"; "they spoke sternly to him."
iJna + subj. "to [be quiet]" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they commanded.
siwphsh/ (siwpaw) aor. subj. "be quiet" - he may be quiet, silent. The aorist is ingressive, where the emphasis is placed at the beginning of the action, "shut your mouth", cf., Zerwick.
pollw/ mallon "all the more" - [but] much more [he was crying out]. This adverbial construction modifying the verb "to cry out" consists of the adjective "much" taking the dative of measure and the comparative adverb "more" = "much more" = "even more loudly", BDAG.
elehson (eleew) aor. imp. "have mercy on [me]" - [son of david] show mercy to [me]. The seeking of divine mercy is a very important element in this story.
b) Bartimaeus and Jesus, v49-50. Finally, Bartimaeus gets the nod, jumps up, throws aside his outer garment (used to receive any coins) and comes unaided to Jesus.
staV (iJsthmi) aor. part. "[Jesus] stopped [and said]" - [and] having stood [jesus said]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said", as NIV, or it may be treated as adverbial, temporal.
legonteV "-" - [call him, and they called the blind man] saying. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant.
autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object.
qarsei (qarsew) pres. imp. "cheer up!" - be brave, be courageous, be cheerful. "Its all right now, get up, he's calling you", Phillips.
oJ de "-" - but/and he. Transitional, indicating a change in subject.
apobalwn (apaballw) aor. part. "throwing [his cloak] aside" - having thrown off, tossed aside [the garment of him, having jumped up]. This, and the following participle, "having jumped up", are adverbial, either temporal, or modal, expressing the manner of his coming; "throwing off his cloak and leaping to his feet, Bartimaeus went to Jesus."
proV + acc. "to [Jesus]" - [he came] toward [jesus]. Spatial, expressing movement toward.
c) Bartimaeus' request, v51: Jesus knows what he wants, but in typical fashion draws out the beggar's faith. The term "Master" is a title of dignity. "Let me receive my sight" ("I want to see") demonstrates the strong confidence Bartimaeus has in Jesus as the source of God's blessing.
apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "[Jesus] asked" - [and] having answered [jesus said]. Attendant circumstance participle, virtually redundant, expressing action accompanying the main verb "said". "Jesus spoke to him and said", Moffatt.
autw/ dat. pro. "him" - to him. "Answering" does take a dative of persons, but here the pronoun is a dative of indirect object of the verb "said"; "and Jesus said to him", ESV.
poihsw (poiew) aor. subj. "to do" - [what do you wish] that i may do. Although iJna is not present, we have here a dependent statement of perception expressing what is hoped for, ie., an object clause dependent on a verb of thinking. Plummer argues that iJna is not used after qelw "when the first verb is in the second person, and the second verb is in the first."
soi dat. pro. "for you" - to you. Dative of interest, advantage, "for you."
rJabbouni "Rabbi" - [and the blind man said to him] rabboni = teacher. Marcus notes that the title is of early Palestinian Aramaic origin and may be properly translated "master / lord", rather than just "teacher". The term often has even more exalted uses, ref., "ribbon" to God, often used of God. See also Gundry. It is interesting that Mark does not translate the word for his readers. Obviously he knew that they were bilingual enough to understand it (a further hint as to the recipients of this gospel).
iJna + subj. "-" - that [i may see]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception, hoping, expressing what is hoped for, with an assumed qelw, "I want / wish"; "I wish that I may see". "I want to see again", Barclay.
iii] Concluding resolution, v52. Bartimaeus, a man of faith, is immediately healed and joins the disciples on the way to the cross. At the gates of Jerusalem, the triumphant Messiah, the "Son of David", will encounter the blindness of Israel, but here, on the pilgrim's way, he encounters a man of faith, to whom he declares "your faith has saved you." This man comes to see through faith, and "followed him in the way". cf., 2Sam.5:6-8.
It is likely that Bartimaeus has genuinely responded to Jesus and now follows as a disciple, although there are those who think that he simply floats off into the crowd, having met his immediate physical needs, so Kingsbury (Christology). Mark clearly implies a climax of faith.
autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and jesus said] to him [go]. Dative of indirect object. The instruction "go" is a common linguistic feature of Jesus = "you don't have to sit on the edge of the road begging any more", Gundry.
hJ pistiV (iV ewV) "[your] faith" - the faith [of you]. Here dependence on Christ the healer, but used by Mark to identify the key to unlocking a person's full participation in the promised blessings of the kingdom.
seswken (swzw) perf. "has healed" - has saved, restored, healed [you]. Of course, "made you well / healed you / cured you" is intended at the practical level, but in the choice of the word, with its instrument "faith", Mark indicates that he has a double meaning in mind. "Your faith has restored you", Berkeley, is heading in the right direction, although Mark would probably like us to use the stronger "saved" = saved from blindness and death.
euquV adv. "immediately" - [and] immediately [he saw again]. Here with a temporal sense; the immediacy of the healing, and thus its effectiveness, is being emphasised.
hkolouqei (akoleuqew) imperf. "followed" - [and] he was following. The imperfect is possibly inceptive, "he began to follow", but a more durative sense is probably intended, ie., he willingly followed Christ on the uphill road to Calvary = the way of discipleship; for Mark, a proper faith-response.
autw/ dat. pro. "-" - him. Dative of direct object after to verb "to follow after."
en/ + dat. "along [the road]" - on [the way, road]. Local, expressing space. Mark is possibly just saying that Bartimaeus simply follows Jesus along the road, but sometimes the preposition is adverbial, possibly temporal, "while on the way", or even modal, expressing manner, "he followed in the way of Christ", ie. as a disciple. It may well be that the blind man's name is remembered because he became a disciple and thus a member of the New Testament church.