The Way of Discipleship – Reflection for Trinity 21 24 October 2021

They came to Jericho. As Jesus 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.

Mark 10:46-52

Our gospel story is set in Jericho, some fifteen miles from Jerusalem. Bartimaeus cannot see yet despite not being able to see physically he has the insight to know who Jesus really is. ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Bartimaeus’ cry echoes down the centuries. He has faith in Jesus. He knows who Jesus is and Jesus heals him in front of the crowds.

The writer of St Mark’s gospel tells two stories about Jesus restoring sight. In the first, the blind man is told to tell no one (Mark 8:22-26). Yet in this story, Jesus is no longer hiding from the public gaze, rather stepping into the full glare of publicity. This is the final healing miracle in Mark’s Gospel and through it Jesus challenges his disciples and the crowds to recognise who he is. His true identity becomes clearer as he approaches Jerusalem. As Morna Hoooker writes: ‘Mark’s story is a final challenge to his readers to join Bartimaeus in following Jesus on the road of discipleship, even though that road leads to Jerusalem and all that happens there.’

Bartimaeus took a risk when he asked Jesus for healing. He took a risk, but he took a step of faith too. He opened himself to transformation – to a change in his life that was not only physical but spiritual as well. In setting out on the way of discipleship, Bartimaeus had no idea where the journey would end.

What was true for Bartimaeus is true for us too. The journey of faith is never straightforward. There are highs and lows, twists, turns and challenges on the way. Sometimes our faith feels strong; at other times faith can feel strangely absent. When faced with difficulties, personal and collective, we are invited to open ourselves to God’s transforming love in and through Christ Jesus. We pray with Bartimaeus: ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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