24 October 2015


jeremiah 31:7-9; hebrews 5:1-6; mark 10:46-52

in pastor steven albertin’s office, hung a modern picture… a maze of colours and shapes. he realized this picture contained some profound artistic message, but was never able to figure it out. 
one day, adam, a kindergartener, came to his office, saw the picture, and asked: «do you see what i see?» the pastor asked: «do you see something in that picture? i don’t.» «pastor, can’t you see him? it’s JESUS hanging on the cross.»
the pastor stared at the picture, tried to find the image of the JESUS hidden in that maze of colours and shapes, but couldn’t see JESUS anywhere. 
slowly adam moved his finger along the picture: «there, pastor, is JESUS’ face, his arms outstretched on the cross.» the image began to appear. there hidden «behind» the colours and the shapes was the image of the crucified JESUS. 
adam helped a blind pastor to see the suffering messiah.

in this sunday’s gospel, JESUS helps blind bartimaeus see the meaning of suffering! 
in mark’s gospel, this healing appears at the end of the section on discipleship… in which the main theme is suffering, and JESUS thrice predicts his passion and death. each time his disciples fail to understand; they remain blind. for instance, in the verses preceding this text, JESUS makes the third prediction, and immediately james and john ask to sit beside him in his glory. mark uses the bartimaeus' healing as a theological device to open the eyes of the disciples to the meaning of suffering.

mark contrasts the disciples with the blind «beggar». JESUS puts the same question to bartimaeus that he put to james and john in the preceding verses: «what do you want me to do for you?» but where james and john wanted to advance themselves, bartimaeus asks only to see. after his encounter with JESUS, he sees again, and follows him on the way… to jerusalem. bartimaeus—the paradigm of the ideal disciple—has understood the meaning of suffering in the life of JESUS and of a disciple. 

like pastor albertin, like JESUS’ disciples, we fail to see JESUS as the suffering messiah; we fail to understand that suffering is an essential part of discipleship. like bartimaeus, we sit by the side of the road of life and struggle to make sense of suffering. 
may we, like bartimaeus, call out to JESUS to heal us, and may we follow him on the way to jerusalem to life.