Do you risk it? (10/24/21)

KCUCC, Rev. Jessica Palys

Our scripture passage this morning revisits the healing of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who is the poorest of the poor, a character so wretched that to most of Jesus’ contemporaries, he would be beyond hope. It is a story as significant for its rich detail as it is for its contrasts - and it, too, tells us something about belonging.

“Take courage, get up, he is calling you.”

On its surface, it looks like another healing story. To paraphrase one of our bible study attendees, it can be difficult as science-embracing, 21st century thinkers to be touched by this or any healing story without looking for scientific explanations as to why this healing might have happened. But I would argue that the story is telling us much more in the details and the symbolism than in the healing.

It’s not as clear in the way we break up the gospels into singular stories for Sunday morning worship, but if you were reading the Gospel of Mark straight through like a story, you would recognize that this is the second blind man in the Gospel of Mark who has come to Jesus to restore his sight. And you would see that what has taken place in the meantime is a whole lot of blindness.

Between this passage and the last passage in which a blind man was healed; Peter doesn’t see what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah and tries to make Jesus recant that he will be tortured and killed. Peter, James and John miss the importance of the Transfiguration. Repeatedly, they fail to see the importance of the little children. The disciples are blinded by ambition, arguing over who is the greatest, and cannot see that to be greatest is to be last. The rich man can’t envision life without his possessions, and James and John again fail to see the coming suffering and instead, request to sit with Jesus ‘in his glory’.