Blind Bartimaeus was in last Sunday’s reading. What is Mark trying to tell us in this story about the son of Timaeus? This is the only time that this blind beggar is named in the New Testament. Mark, who wrote his Gospel in the city of Rome some time between AD 55-65, places the encounter of Jesus and Bartimaeus at the gate of Jericho just as Jesus begins the final part of his journey to Jerusalem where he will be rejected, betrayed, deserted, crucified, buried, and resurrected over the next seven days. Mark has already reported how Jesus healed unnamed blind beggars, why name this one?

Abarim Publications’ Biblical Name Vault website gives a possible explanation. Bartimaeus could be derived from bar, Aramaic for son of, and timaeus, Greek for highly prized; or from bar, Aramaic for son of, and the verb tame, Hebrew for become unclean: conclusion, “what is highly prized in our society is really a state of uncleanness, which results in blindness, which can only be healed by Christ.” Bartimaeus tells Mark’s audience that what is about to happen in the Gospel will reveal how that which society highly prizes, power and possessions, has blinded people to God’s expectation of lives lived in serving and sharing.

Bible Reading: Mark 10:46-52; 10:42-45.