The road to Jerusalem is long and winding. It traverses hills and valleys, forests and farms, cities and suburbs and small fading towns. Along this road are all manner of people. Each, in their own way, is feeble and frail. There are those who hurt and those who have been hurt, those who suffer and those who cause suffering, powerbrokers and the broken by power. They stand together-but-alone on this road and beg—with their words, with their eyes, with the desires of their hearts. They line this road, searching for something, or someone, to help.
Along this road walks One who can. He sees those who cannot. He hears those who cry out. He walks this road to Jerusalem, hearing and gathering and healing as He goes. He instructs and invites and binds together all who call out for His mercy. He is Jesus, the Lord of creation, the restorer of body and soul.
Today, His road to Jerusalem turns into your congregation. He calls you and your hearers to follow Him all the way home.
The text focuses our attention on a specific spot along this road. It is the place where a blind man sits to beg (verse 46: ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν). Bartimaeus was his name. He sat by the road in the darkness without hope. He had nothing to offer but a cry for help, and he would not be silenced. His faith would not let him. But this text is not about him (neither is it about our “spiritual blindness”—real as it may be). This text is about the One who heard him. It is about the Son of David, the fulfiller of the prophet Jeremiah, who promised in the Old Testament reading that He would bring home the blind and the feeble-footed (Jeremiah 31:8). This was His road. He had been traveling this road for a long time—from the very beginning. The people alongside this road were His people.
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked Bartimaeus. It was the same question He had asked power-seekers on this road just a few verses earlier (10:36). The blind man’s request was simple. He wanted to see. With nothing but His word, Jesus has mercy. He gave Bartimaeus sight. But that is not all. Along with vision came salvation (verse 51: ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε). And with salvation came a place on the road (verse 52: ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ) with the One who had healed him. He walked with Jesus now. And walking with Jesus, he found himself walking with many others.
With nothing but His word, Jesus has mercy.
Jerusalem was always on Jesus’ road. He repeatedly made this clear, most recently in verses 32-34. His road was always headed for the City of David, not for glory, but for suffering. It was a road to death. Not only for Jesus, but for everyone who would walk with Him. For all who would be baptized onto His road with Him (Romans 6:3). But this road would not end at the grave, not for Jesus or Bartimaeus or anyone united with them. This road would go through the grave, back among the feeble and the frail, back among the weak-hearted and slow to believe, back among the power brokers and those broken by power. Along that road, the risen Christ would continue to call, continue to gather, continue to heal. He would continue to restore and bind together all who cry out for His mercy.
This road goes right up the aisle of your congregation this morning. From it He calls you and your people again, inviting them to walk—not only with Him—but also with Bartimaeus, with James and John, with all the company of stragglers who have cried out for mercy and found salvation in Jesus. The road does not stop at your chancel. It goes out from your congregation, back out the church doors, back into the community, through hills and valleys, forests and farms, cities and suburbs and small fading towns.
This road keeps going until it reaches the new Jerusalem. There the road turns into streets of gold where cries are no longer for mercy but for joy and praise. We travel along this road with Him who has also given us sight and salvation. He has given us eyes to see Him as our Lord and our Redeemer, and He enables us to see—to really see—all who are troubled around us. Until this road finally reaches its final destination, He continues to call more to walk with Him. And He continues to open our eyes to those who walk with us.
Invite your hearers to walk with you on this road—to walk with Him on this road. Help them see those who suffer around them, especially those who suffer in your congregation. Call them to bear with one another and to be carried by one another. Do not let them hide their eyes from the cross and suffering—not from their own or from others. And do not let them overlook the empty tomb. Proclaim with joy the promise that they have risen with the risen Christ and now walk with the reigning Son of David. Give them a vision of walking along this road through death and the grave into abundant and self-giving life here and now, and to eternal life in the new Jerusalem.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Mark 10:46-52.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Mark 10:46-52.
Lectionary Podcast- Dr. Arthur Just of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Mark 10:46-52.