A Radical New Vision from Jesus
28 October 2018 – Lectionary 30/ Proper 25
Because names are rare in the Bible, when they occur, something important is going on. Gordon Lathrop finds crucial links between the Gospel’s Bar-Timaeus and Plato's Timaeus. Bartimaeus is the son of Timaeus, heir to a way of knowledge that Jesus upends.
The chief sense, according to the Timaeus, is sight which we use to observe and to make deductions about how the cosmos came to be and how to live in accord with creation. All ethics, in other words, starts with sight. If you do not have sight, you cannot begin to grasp creation or your place in it. Bartimaeus, who is blind, cannot be a philosopher, gain wisdom, attain the good life, or know his place in it.
Bar-Timaeus, son of Timaeus, cries out to Jesus, Son of David, for mercy. Jesus doesn't just give him sight in the way of Timaeus. Jesus reverses the path to wisdom. The way of vision is no longer through sight that renders deductions and conclusions. The vision Jesus gives is the way of compassion.
This is wisdom and belonging based not in how much we know but how much we need. [See Lathrop, Holy Ground: A Liturgical Cosmology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), 30-43] –– Melinda Quivik
The healing of blind Bartimaeus is the last healing Jesus performs before entering Jerusalem for the last time. A crowd has been following Jesus in anticipation of a confrontation with Rome that may lead to a revolt by the Jewish masses. When Bartimaeus calls Jesus the Son of David, he connects Jesus with Israel’s most famous king. These words have political meaning that could be a signal of hope for more than just Bartimaeus’ eyesight, but also a new day for all of Israel.
Bartimaeus’ location on the side of the road reveals an anticipation motif at work: one’s location puts one in a place to receive aid. It is not in Jerusalem that Bartimaeus waits to seek help but just outside, where travelers made their way into the Holy City. It only takes a word from Jesus for Bartimaeus to receive his sight, but it is a word that is mixed with faith. ‘‘Go; your faith has made you well.’’ The way that Bartimaeus chooses to go is the way that follows Jesus. –– Ricky A. Woods
This section of Jeremiah has been called by some scholars the book of comfort. . . . Truly prophetic ministry not only spoke of judgment but also spoke of restoration and hope made possible because of a faithful God. It was the prophets that introduced the community to the Hebrew term hesed, God’s faithful love. Because of God’s faithful love a time would come in the future when the exiles would return home. The return would be so complete that the exiles would come from all parts of the earth no matter where they had been scattered.
. . . The returnees would be those who carry the witness of exile in their bodies as witnesses of the punishment they underwent. However, the returnees would also include those carrying hope for a brighter day as witnessed by the children they brought with them in hand and in the womb. It is this hope that gives them the license to sing aloud with gladness. –– Ricky A. Woods
The Hebrew writer in this passage speaks of the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus Christ over all other priests on several fronts. First, he says that Jesus’ priesthood is superior because it cannot and will not be transferred to another. The priesthood of Jesus is perpetual. . . . Because of death . . . many priests served in the tradition of Aaron, but Jesus is a priest forever.
Secondly, Jesus is superior because he is a priest that is sinless. His sinless condition makes it unnecessary for him to offer any sacrifice for himself before offering sacrifice for the people.
Thirdly, Jesus is superior because all other priests carried a sacrifice into the temple to offer for the people’s sins, but Jesus carried no sacrifice except that of his body. What the blood of animals could not do (remove sin forever) the blood of the Son did do as the superior high priest. –– Ricky A. Woods
Ricky A. Woods, formerly the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Senior Mentor at United Theological Seminary in Trotwood, Ohio, continues to serve as the senior minister of First Baptist Church–West in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Homily Service 42, no. 4 (2009): 89-99.