Summary: Miracle of Faith, Pt. 6
RAGS TO RICHES (MARK 10:46-52)
Joel Gregory told a story of a blind, poor and hungry Indian beggar who sat beside a road, starved from the scarcity of travelers and how much rice they could give him. One day he heard the thunder of a chariot in the distance. It was the grand entourage of the Maharajah, who was known to have performed miracles for the poor. This was a moment that had never come before. Surely the Great One would stop and give him baskets of rice.
Indeed, the golden chariot of the Maharajah stopped before the poor beggar. The Great One stepped down and the beggar fell before him. However, the beggar couldn’t believe the stinginess of the Great Maharajah, who said to him, “Give me your rice.”
An unpleasant, a repulsive, dark scowl masked the face of the beggar. He reached into his bowl and flung a grain of rice toward the Maharajah. The Great One said, “Is that all?” Next, the beggar spat on the ground, cursed and, in disgust, threw him another grain of rice. The Great One turned, entered his chariot and was gone.
The beggar – angry, moody and grouchy - fingered the remaining rice he had in his bowl. He felt something hard, glistening, something different from rice. He pulled it out. It was a grain of gold. He poured out his rice, caring nothing for it now and found another grain of gold. The poor beggar regretted what he had done. If only had he trusted the Great One, he would have had a grain of gold for every grain of rice! (Adapted, Pulpit Helps 2/93)
When Jesus passed Jericho on the way to Jerusalem, he healed blind Bartimaeus (Lk 18:37), who never stopped shouting for His help, asking for His mercy and clamoring for His attention. Jericho, historically, was famous for its falling walls (Josh 6:26). It was a dangerous place for travelers, as told fictionally by Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:30), but it was a redemptive spot not only for the beggar Bartimaeus but also for the tax-collector Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1). Mark’s gospel differs from Matthew’s gospel (20:29-34) by focusing only on one blind beggar, not two, and differs from Luke’s account (18:35-43) by naming the blind and personalizing him.
Is faith a sympathy for one’s plight, a sadness for one’s troubles? Why is faith a positive response and not a negative or passive to God’s goodness? Why is faith the surest riches, reserve and resource in the eyes of God?
Let Your View Be Known
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mk 10:46-47)
People with disability are often picked on, cast aside and taken lightly. Not only do they suffer from emotional insecurities, they have to endure physical inconveniences and social insinuations. Blind people are a challenge to the most supportive family, an eyesore to the most tolerant public and a target of most neighborhood bullies. They suffer injuries, accidents and even death at the hands of ignorant family members who consider them a taboo, a punishment and a freak.
Most people have heard of the three blind mice nursery rhyme. Historical buffs attest that the farmer’s wife did not cut of their tails with a carving knife for no rhyme or reason! The gruesome nursery rhyme was, in fact, a real social, political and historical drama in its day. The “farmer’s wife” was supposedly England’s Queen Mary I, whose displeasure with three ratty noblemen resulted in more than just a body part severed; they were burned at the stake. http://www.mother.com/~prdesign/ThreeMice.html
Blind beggars live an unbearable life. They solicit for a living because their family members are too poor to raise them, too ashamed to have them or too superstitious to acknowledge them. Blind people at that time relied on the kindness of strangers for livelihood, news and most things.
Bartimaeus and the crowd were on a different wavelength, had a different opinion and were on different sides of an issue. This passage also appears in Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 10:46-52. When Bartimaeus asked the crowd what the commotion was about, they chorused, “Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.” However, Bartimaeus did not concur with their assertion or agree with the title. The outwardly blind but inwardly seeing beggar did not shout for Jesus of Nazareth, but for a different name and gave a different interpretation: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Jesus of Nazareth refereed to the humanity of Jesus (Acts 2:22), but Jesus, Son of David, appealed to His divinity. Many, like Nathanael, see Jesus of Nazareth as the son of Joseph (John 1:45). So, Jesus of Nazareth referred to His immediate ancestry, but Jesus, Son of David referred to His royal ancestry. The former described his earthly roots and local dwelling (Matt 2:23) but the latter his divine origins and heavenly roots. The Nazareth label was popular to unbelievers, mockers and detractors such as the soldiers and officials who arrested Jesus (John 18:3-5), the girl who forced out Peter’s denial of Jesus (Matt 26:71) and evil spirits that challenged His authority (Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34). It was also what disciples called Jesus before they understood the full meaning of the resurrection (Luke 24:18-19). The repentant, transformed and empowered Peter, in his ministry and preaching as leader of the early church, used a theologically different title for the risen Christ. After the resurrection, Jesus was “Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” not just “Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 3:6, Acts 4:10)