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Gospel of Mark 10: 46-52 (NIV)
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “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!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
All four Gospels record, in part or in whole, Jesus’ repeating of words from the book of the prophet Isaiah (6: 9-10)
9 He said, ‘Go and tell this people:
‘“Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.”
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.’
The synoptic Gospels present Jesus’ reference to “ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” (for example in Mark 4: 12) in the context of Jesus’ explanation of the meaning of the parable of the sower. The Gospel according to John presents his reference to Isaiah’s words in the context of the unbelief of the Jews, despite their having witnessed so many signs in his presence.
What a contrast, then, is the plight of the blind man, Bartimaeus! Although he could not see, he had the insight to understand that Jesus was “Son of David”. Despite his status in society, reduced to begging to survive, he perceived that the one to whom he appealed for mercy could actually fulfil his every need. Bartimaeus understood in his heart and “turned (to) be healed”.
What about us? “Are we blind too?” (John 9: 40). Do we recognise our need for forgiveness, regardless of what progress we may be making in our Christian walk? Do we cry out as did Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Or are we smug, self-satisfied and, like many of the Pharisees, “ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding”?
May we all have hearts that are humble, obedient and thankful for everything that Jesus has done for us. Amen.