Our three passages belong to the important central teaching section about what it means to be the messiah. In Mark’s Gospel, “sight” works as a metaphor for “insight”. So the section in which we will be taught to see what it means to be the messiah starts with the story of healing a blind man. Jesus has to persevere with the healing, because at first the man doesn’t see properly. Then we move on to the story of Peter’s declaration of faith. Jesus commends his insight, saying that it is God who has revealed to him that Jesus is the messiah. But in the next moment Jesus rebukes Peter for his inability to accept that the role of the messiah necessarily involves suffering and death. We realize that it is Peter who is the blind man – the one who begins to see but cannot yet see clearly.
The section reinterpreting the messiah’s calling closes with the story of healing Blind Bartimaeus, whose response is to “follow Jesus in the Way”. Our translation says “along the road”, but that misses the deeper meaning, which is that once we see, we will follow, we will take the same road.
Can you think of an occasion in your own life when you had an “Aha!” moment of suddenly seeing things differently?
Mark’s Gospel teaches that we have to see things differently to change what we do. Can you think of examples of people you know or people in the news – perhaps politicians of different parties – who see things very differently from each other, and who accordingly choose very different life paths? One person sees a terrorist where another sees a freedom fighter – how might we work towards reconciliation by helping to see one another’s point of view?
The Bible teaches that “without vision the people perish”. Can you think of modern-day examples of people whose vision has inspired you or changed the way you see things?
Your power alone can heal the blindness of our sight, O God. You alone can help us to see past our own fear and self-interest. Please open our eyes to your vision of humility, simplicity, and sacrificial love, for by ourselves we cannot see its wonder. Hold the light for us to see the path where you want us to go; take us by the hand and lead us, and once we have found the way, may we never leave the path for one moment, but walk with Jesus until we arrive safely home. For we ask it in his holy name; Amen.