Sunday’s Gospel – Mark 10 verses 46-end.
Bartimaeus represents the sort of disciple we could all be. He is introduced as ‘sitting by the roadside.’ This is where people have stuck him, an outsider, on the sidelines, on the side of the road, safely out of the way. This story finishes with him on the road, following Jesus as an insider, as a disciple. The difference is in his faith and Jesus’ warm generosity.
The crowd try to shut Bartimaeus up, he is a nuisance, an embarrassment. Jesus will have none of this. Always alert to the needs of the outcast, he stops and calls Bartimaeus to him. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asks. This is precisely the question he has asked James and John in the previous story (last week’s Gospel.) They answer in terms of their own glory, asking for places of honour in the kingdom. Bartimaeus simply asks for sight. Having regained his sight, he simply follows Jesus on the road. He is now a disciple.
What we ask of Jesus is often based on our own needs. So with Bartimaeus. But it is his reaction – immediately following Jesus – that marks him out. Here is someone who recognises the love of God and is not afraid to follow.
And where does he follow to? Jericho is just a few miles from Jerusalem and he is following Jesus as the Saviour goes up to meet his suffering. True disciples stand by Jesus, even when it means standing by the cross.