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Gospel of Mark, 60 - BARTIMAEUS (MARK 10:46-52)

By G.A. Chadwick


      "And they come to Jericho: and as He went out from Jericho, with His disciples and a great multitude, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the way side. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and said, Call ye him. And they called the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good cheer; rise, He calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, sprang up, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered him, and said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And the blind man said unto Him, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And straightway he received his sight, and followed Him in the way." MARK 10:46-52 (R.V.)

      THERE is no miracle in the Gospels of which the accounts are so hard to reconcile as those of the healing of the blind man at Jericho.

      It is a small thing that St. Matthew mentions two blind men, while St. Mark and St. Luke are only aware of one. The same is true of the demoniacs at Gadara, and it is easily understood that only an eyewitness should remember the obscure comrade of a remarkable and energetic man, who would have spread far and wide the particulars of his own cure. The fierce and dangerous demoniac of Gadara was just such a man, and there is ample evidence of energy and vehemence in the brief account of Bartimaeus. What is really perplexing is that St. Luke places the miracle at the entrance to Jericho, but St. Matthew and St. Mark, as Jesus came out of it. It is too forced and violent a theory which speaks of an old and a new town, so close together that one was entered and the other left at the same time.

      It is possible that there were two events, and the success of one sufferer at the entrance to the town led others to use the same importunities at the exit. And this would not be much more remarkable than the two miracles of the loaves, or the two miraculous draughts of fish. It is also possible, though unlikely, that the same supplicant who began his appeals without success when Jesus entered, resumed his entreaties, with a comrade, at the gate by which He left.

      Such difficulties exist in all the best authenticated histories: discrepancies of the kind arise continually between the evidence of the most trustworthy witnesses in courts of justice. And the student who is humble as well as devout will not shut his eyes against facts, merely because they are perplexing, but will remember that they do nothing to shake the solid narrative itself.

      As we read St. Mark's account, we are struck by the vividness of the whole picture, and especially by the robust personality of the blind man. The scene is neither Jerusalem, the city of the Pharisees, nor Galilee, where they have persistently sapped the popularity of Jesus. Eastward of the Jordan, He has spent the last peaceful and successful weeks of His brief and stormy career, and Jericho lies upon the borders of that friendly district. Accordingly something is here of the old enthusiasm: a great multitude moves along with His disciples to the gates, and the rushing concourse excites the curiosity of the blind son of Timaeus. So does many a religious movement lead to inquiry and explanation far and wide. But when he, sitting by the way, and unable to follow, knows that the great Healer is at hand, but only in passing, and for a moment, his interest suddenly becomes personal and ardent, and "he began to cry out" (the expression implies that his supplication, beginning as the crowd drew near, was not one utterance but a prolonged appeal), "and to say, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." To the crowd his outcry seemed to be only an intrusion upon One Who was too rapt, too heavenly, to be disturbed by the sorrows of a blind beggar. But that was not the view of Bartimaeus, whose personal affliction gave him the keenest interest in those verses of the Old Testament which spoke of opening the blind eyes. If he did not understand their exact force as prophecies, at least they satisfied him that his petition could not be an insult to the great Prophet of Whom just such actions were told, for Whose visit he had often sighed, and Who was now fast going by, perhaps forever. The picture is one of great eagerness, bearing up against great discouragement. We catch the spirit of the man as he inquires what the multitude means, as the epithet of his informants, Jesus of Nazareth, changes on his lips into Jesus, Thou Son of David, as he persists, without any vision of Christ to encourage him, and amid the rebukes of many, in crying out the more a great deal, although pain is deepening every moment in his accents, and he will presently need cheering. The ear of Jesus is quick for such a call, and He stops. He does not raise His own voice to summon him, but teaches a lesson of humanity to those who would fain have silenced the appeal of anguish, and says, Call ye him. And they obey with a courtier-like change of tone, saying, Be of good cheer, rise, He calleth thee. And Bartimaeus cannot endure even the slight hindrance of his loose garment, but flings it aside, and rises and comes to Jesus, a pattern of the importunity which prays and never faints, which perseveres amid all discouragement, which adverse public opinion cannot hinder. And the Lord asks of him almost exactly the same question as recently of James and John, What wilt thou that I should do for thee? But in his reply there is no aspiring pride: misery knows how precious are the common gifts, the every-day blessings which we hardly pause to think about; and he replies, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight. It is a glad and eager answer. Many a petition he had urged in vain; and many a small favor had been discourteously bestowed; but Jesus, Whose tenderness loves to commend while He blesses, shares with him, so to speak, the glory of his healing, as He answers, Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole. By thus fixing his attention upon his own part in the miracle, so utterly worthless as a contribution, but so indispensable as a condition, Jesus taught him to exercise hereafter the same gift of faith.

      "Go thy way," He said. And Bartimaeus "followed Him on the road." Happy is that man whose eyes are open to discern, and his heart prompt to follow, the print of those holy feet.

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See Also:
   Gospel of Mark, 1 - THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL (MARK 1:1-6)
   Gospel of Mark, 2 - AT THE JORDAN (MARK 1:7-11)
   Gospel of Mark, 3 - AT THE JORDAN cont. (MARK 1:7-11)
   Gospel of Mark, 4 - THE TEMPTATION (MARK 1:12,13)
   Gospel of Mark, 5 - THE EARLY PREACHING AND THE FIRST DISCIPLES (MARK 1:14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 6 - TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY (MARK 1:21,22)
   Gospel of Mark, 7 - MIRACLES (MARK 1:23)
   Gospel of Mark, 8 - THE DEMONIAC (MARK 1:23-28)
   Gospel of Mark, 9 - A GROUP OF MIRACLES (MARK 1:29-34)
   Gospel of Mark, 10 - JESUS IN SOLITUDE (MARK 1:35-39)
   Gospel of Mark, 11 - THE LEPER (MARK 1:40-45)
   Gospel of Mark, 12 - THE SICK OF THE PALSY (MARK 2:1-12)
   Gospel of Mark, 13 - THE SON OF MAN (MARK 2:10)
   Gospel of Mark, 14 - THE CALL AND FEAST OF LEVI (MARK 2:13-17)
   Gospel of Mark, 15 - THE CONTROVERSY CONCERNING FASTING (MARK 2:18)
   Gospel of Mark, 16 - THE SABBATH (MARK 2:23-28)
   Gospel of Mark, 17 - THE WITHERED HAND (MARK 3:1-6)
   Gospel of Mark, 18 - THE CHOICE OF THE TWELVE (MARK 3:7-19)
   Gospel of Mark, 19 - CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TWELVE (MARK 3:14-19)
   Gospel of Mark, 20 - THE APOSTLE JUDAS (MARK 3:19)
   Gospel of Mark, 21 - CHRIST AND BEELZEBUB (MARK 3:20-27)
   Gospel of Mark, 22 - "ETERNAL SIN" (MARK 3:28,29)
   Gospel of Mark, 23 - THE FRIENDS OF JESUS (MARK 3:31-35)
   Gospel of Mark, 24 - THE PARABLES (MARK 4:1,2,10-13)
   Gospel of Mark, 25 - THE SOWER (MARK 4:3-9,14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 26 - THE SOWER cont. (MARK 4:3-9,14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 27 - LAMP AND STAND (MARK 4:21-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 28 - THE SEED GROWING SECRETLY (MARK 4:26-29)
   Gospel of Mark, 29 - THE MUSTARD SEED (MARK 4:30-34)
   Gospel of Mark, 30 - FOUR MIRACLES (MARK 4:39)
   Gospel of Mark, 31 - THE TWO STORMS (MARK 4:35-41)
   Gospel of Mark, 32 - THE DEMONIAC OF GADARA (MARK 5:1-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 33 - THE MEN OF GADARA (MARK 5:14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 34 - WITH JAIRUS (MARK 5:21-43)
   Gospel of Mark, 35 - WITH JAIRUS cont. (MARK 5:21-43)
   Gospel of Mark, 36 - REJECTED IN HIS OWN COUNTRY (MARK 6:1-6)
   Gospel of Mark, 37 - THE MISSION OF THE TWELVE (MARK 6:7-13)
   Gospel of Mark, 38 - HEROD (MARK 6:14-29)
   Gospel of Mark, 39 - BREAD IN THE DESERT (MARK 6:30-46)
   Gospel of Mark, 40 - UNWASHEN HANDS (MARK 6:53-7:13)
   Gospel of Mark, 41 - THINGS WHICH DEFILE (MARK 7:14-23)
   Gospel of Mark, 42 - THE CHILDREN AND THE DOGS (MARK 7:24-30)
   Gospel of Mark, 43 - THE DEAF AND DUMB MAN (MARK 7:31-37)
   Gospel of Mark, 44 - THE FOUR THOUSAND (MARK 8:1-10)
   Gospel of Mark, 45 - THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES (MARK 8:11-21)
   Gospel of Mark, 46 - MEN AS TREES (MARK 8:22-26)
   Gospel of Mark, 47 - THE CONFESSION AND THE WARNING (MARK 8:27-32)
   Gospel of Mark, 48 - THE REBUKE OF PETER (MARK 8:32-9:1)
   Gospel of Mark, 49 - THE TRANSFIGURATION (MARK 9:2-8)
   Gospel of Mark, 50 - THE DESCENT FROM THE MOUNT (MARK 9:9-13)
   Gospel of Mark, 51 - THE DEMONIAC BOY (MARK 9:14-29)
   Gospel of Mark, 52 - JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES (MARK 9:28-37)
   Gospel of Mark, 53 - OFFENSES (MARK 9:38-50)
   Gospel of Mark, 54 - DIVORCE (MARK 10:1-12)
   Gospel of Mark, 55 - CHRIST AND LITTLE CHILDREN (MARK 10:13-16)
   Gospel of Mark, 56 - THE RICH INQUIRER (MARK 10:17-22)
   Gospel of Mark, 57 - WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED? (MARK 10:23-31)
   Gospel of Mark, 58 - CHRIST'S CUP AND BAPTISM (MARK 10:35-40)
   Gospel of Mark, 59 - THE LAW OF GREATNESS (MARK 10:41-45)
   Gospel of Mark, 60 - BARTIMAEUS (MARK 10:46-52)
   Gospel of Mark, 61 - THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY (MARK 11:1-11)
   Gospel of Mark, 62 - THE BARREN FIG-TREE (MARK 11:12-14,20-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 63 - THE SECOND CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE (MARK 11:15-19)
   Gospel of Mark, 64 - THE BAPTISM OF JOHN, WHENCE WAS IT? (MARK 11:27-33)
   Gospel of Mark, 65 - THE HUSBANDMEN (MARK 11:1-12)
   Gospel of Mark, 66 - THE TRIBUTE MONEY (MARK 12:13-17)
   Gospel of Mark, 67 - CHRIST AND THE SADDUCCEES (MARK 12:18-27)
   Gospel of Mark, 68 - THE DISCERNING SCRIBE (MARK 12:28-34)
   Gospel of Mark, 69 - DAVID'S LORD (MARK 12:35-40)
   Gospel of Mark, 70 - THE WIDOW'S MITE (MARK 12:41-44)
   Gospel of Mark, 71 - THINGS PERISHING AND THINGS STABLE (MARK 13:1-7)
   Gospel of Mark, 72 - THE IMPENDING JUDGMENT (MARK 13:8-16)
   Gospel of Mark, 73 - THE CRUSE OF OINTMENT (MARK 14:1-9)
   Gospel of Mark, 74 - THE TRAITOR (MARK 14:10-16)
   Gospel of Mark, 75 - THE SOP (MARK 14:17-21)
   Gospel of Mark, 76 - BREAD AND WINE (MARK 14:22-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 77 - BREAD AND WINE cont. (MARK 14:22-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 78 - THE WARNING (MARK 14:26-31)
   Gospel of Mark, 79 - IN THE GARDEN (MARK 14:32-42)
   Gospel of Mark, 80 - THE AGONY (MARK 14:34-42)
   Gospel of Mark, 81 - THE AGONY cont. (MARK 14:34-42)
   Gospel of Mark, 82 - THE ARREST (MARK 14:43-52)
   Gospel of Mark, 83 - BEFORE CAIAPHAS (MARK 14:53-65)
   Gospel of Mark, 84 - THE FALL OF PETER (MARK 14:66-72)
   Gospel of Mark, 85 - PILATE (MARK 15:1-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 86 - CHRIST CRUCIFIED (MARK 15:21-32)
   Gospel of Mark, 87 - THE DEATH OF JESUS (MARK 15:33-41)
   Gospel of Mark, 88 - CHRIST RISEN (MARK 16:1-18)
   Gospel of Mark, 89 - THE ASCENSION (MARK 16:19-20)

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