Lectionary Year B
October 26, 2003
Mark 10:46-52

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) The Gospel parallels occur in Matthew 20:29-34 and Luke 18:35-43. Matthew has two unnamed blind men and Jesus touches their eyes and they immediately see. Luke omits the blind beggar’s name, any mention of the disciples or the crowd following Jesus, anything the people tell the blind man, but adds at the end that the healed blind man follows “glorifying God, and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” Mark 2:22-28 has a story of Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath, where David is referred to as a standard by whom to assess certain celebrations and/or attitudes and/or actions. Jesus uses the term “Messiah is the son of David”. The Son of David epithet occurs also in Mark 12:35ff. In Matthew 17:14fff, a man came to Jesus asking that He “have mercy on my (epileptic) son”. Jesus evidently did so by telling the demon to come out and he was immediately healed. The disciples failed in their attempt to cast out that demon because, as Jesus explains (in the 25th verse) “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you (disciples), if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” And, Jesus had cast out a demon which the disciples failed to be able to do and He taught them about His death and resurrection in Mark 9:27-31. John 9 records an involved story of Jesus’ healing a blind lad with special actions and the Jews’ having trouble believing the report. John 20:16, then, records that Mary calls the Risen Christ, at the tomb, “Rabbouni”. In Matthew 9:22, Jesus tells the woman with the twelve years’ bleeding who touched his robe, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.” Also, Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” And, Hebrews 11:30 declares that, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.” Most paragraphs in that chapter begin with, “By faith . . .” Discussing the concept of faith in Hebrews, Goppelt in TNT, vol. 2, page 263, says, “. . . fundamentally faith assumed a soteriological function precisely in the Synoptic Gospels (e.g., Mk. 10:52 par.; . . .) The faith that saved was the fundamental living-out of repentance. In contrast, for Hebrews faith did not appear as the soteriological living-out of repentance but rather as its consequence. . .”

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Psalm 146:8f declare that, “the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; upholds the orphan and the widow. . .” Isaiah 35:5f say that when Zion is restored, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.” The late third and early second century BCE Tobit (14:2) is a lovely romantic saga on the title character recovering his eyesight late in life.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) These talkative, scholarly and cultured philosophers would probably have approved of blind Bartimaeus’ persistence to get Jesus’ attention, even and perhaps especially against popular objection by the on-lookers who ridiculed him for his brazenness/shamelessness/self-confidence. They certainly would have sympathized with his wanting to be cured of his blindness, even and perhaps especially also if it were metaphysical and/or/as well as physical blindness.

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