Summary: Jesus makes his third passion prediction, and tells his disciples that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. Jesus also heals a blind man.
Mark 10:32-52 “Call to Serve”
Our eyes can play tricks on us. Sometimes we can’t see what is in plain sight—we can’t see our glasses on top of our head, or the car keys on the table. There are times when we can only see what we want to see—we see the lights and excitement of Las Vegas, but don’t see the exploitation, addiction and poverty behind the lights. There are times when things are camouflaged so that we can’t see them even when we are looking directly at them. This picture is an example.
Mark plays with the idea of sight in his gospel. He frames Jesus’ three predictions of his arrest, torture and execution, with two stories of blind men receiving their sight. The blind men can see, but the disciples can’t see. The questions that haunt us as we read this passage from Mark’s gospel are, “What enables us to see?” and “What prevents us from seeing?”
DON’T WANT TO SEE
This is Jesus third prediction. Once again Jesus predicts his arrest, torture and execution. With the prediction of his death he also includes a note of hope—the resurrection.
Jesus’ Messiah—the suffering servant—is different than the Messiah that the disciples envision. They don’t want a suffering servant, or what they believe would be a weak Messiah. They want a Messiah who is a political force able to set up God’s kingdom on earth.
Jesus’ prediction was too ugly and abhorrent to the disciples. They couldn’t accept it. They turned away from it. They refused to believe it. They refused to see it.
We might accept Jesus’ version of the Messiah, but there are times when we refuse to see what the Holy Spirit wants to show us. A common blind spot for us is in the area of financial stewardship. We really don’t want to see or believe that giving a significant percentage of our income can be a blessing for us and for others. We also may want to continue to cast a blind eye on sins that we don’t want to give up, people we know we should forgive, or love.
VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS
The disciples’ visions of sugar plum dancing in their heads. James and John wanted a powerful Jesus and they wanted to share that power with him. They wanted to sit at his right and left hands—powerful positions in a monarchy. The other disciples got angry at James and John because wanted those positions. The disciples struggled with determining who was the greatest.
The disciples see greatness as a mark of the kingdom. Jesus sees service and sacrifice. The disciples don’t want to give up their vision.
In God’s kingdom life is not the same as it is in the world and in society. Greatness in God’s kingdom is not success. Greatness is determined by faithful obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s will.
BARTIMAEUS VS DISCIPLES
From the story of Jesus’ passion predictions Mark leads us into a story about a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. Though Bartimaeus is blind, he sees who Jesus is. Bartimaeus calls Jesus “The Son of David” referring to the Messiah the one who was to restore God’s kingdom. Bartimaeus sees the kingdom of God as a place of mercy rather than a place of greatness and power.
Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do.” This is the same phrase he asked the disciples earlier. Bartimaeus asks to be healed to receive God’s mercy. The disciples asked for greatness.
Bartimaeus had to identify his need. We might think this is a little odd because it was easy to see that Bartimaeus was blind and come to the conclusion that he wanted to have Jesus heal him. Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to identify his need—realize that he was in need and that Jesus was the savior to rescue him from his situation.
Like Bartimaeus we might want to approach God and ask God to make us see. We need to see with the eyes of Jesus so that we can be open to God’s leading and aware of God’s movement in our lives.