Only to See

Mark 10:46-52, Lectionary

Rev. Christopher Harbin

25 October 2015

We are often confused about what we want. I was listening to a radio discussion about the difference between what people need to hear and what they want to hear. It was an interview with media personalities dealing with how to address the real needs of the community while at the same time addressing the needs of the media to make money in order to continue meeting those same needs. We know the issues. We know full well that given the choice, we gravitate toward the desert table rather than to the salad greens, even if we are convinced that the salad is better for us. We tune in to a violent television show or movie before we open a book that would challenge our thinking. We buy tickets to a sporting event much more readily than participating in a sporting event of our own.

We want to be healthy, strong, and happy, but we also want to be entertained. We want to be served. We want to be comforted, pampered, and lifted from the cares of our daily lives. We don't really want to be bothered with personal responsibility, so much as we want to enjoy the blessings and benefits the world around us has to offer. In the process, we often lose sight of what is most important and what will meet out true needs, granting us lasting fulfillment.

Bartimaeus son of Timaeus is an interesting Biblical character for several reasons. First of all, perhaps, is that he is introduced by name, then nothing more is ever said about him after this passage of seven verses. He is mentioned by name as a blind man, seemingly to attest to the historicity of the narrative at present, while in the vast majority of cases, Jesus' healing miracles are bestowed upon nameless individuals with main exceptions being a few prominent leaders. In these latter cases, the prominent and important are often named, but in this case, it is a blind beggar whose name is called by Mark. Perhaps that was due to Bartimaeus being known in the primitive church and so to Mark. Perhaps, it has something to do with the developing thread of Jesus' teaching on the importance of the outcasts, women, children, and those society would rather brush aside into oblivion.

This blind man, however, is named here in Mark's gospel. By doing so, Mark elevated him to a level of prominence and importance that most of the individuals addressed by Jesus do not enjoy. The wealthy man who is called a ruler in one gospel, remains nameless to us. Society would have deemed him of much greater importance than a blind man, but the only name other than one of the disciples and Jesus in this chapter, is that of this blind man, sitting by the side of the road to beg. While he might have been known, he was looked down upon by the crowds as one more non-contributing mouth to feed.

...for the full text of this sermon, see Only to See, at

—©2015 Chri­stopher B. Harbin

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