Sight!

The blind man said: “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:52).

Jesus has done a lot of healing in Mark: I count eight healing stories thus far.

All these have at least one thing in common: we don’t know their names.

The only healed person whose name we know in Mark is the subject of our text: Bartimaeus. We first meet him at Jericho sitting in the road begging.  He may be blind, but there is nothing wrong with his hearing!  He hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.  He’s heard of this Jesus fellow.  He’s heard of the amazing things he has done.  He believes Jesus can make him see and when he gets a chance, he asks for precisely that – despite the fact that a host of people stand in his way.

The story concludes a long section (beginning in 8:1) that has to do with blindness. The disciples are blind to what Jesus’ power means for their lives.  They are blind to the will of God.  They are blind to who Jesus is and what it means to follow him.

But Bartimaeus, blind though he is, sees Jesus as the cure and when Jesus heals him, he does what no other healed person does; does what few sighted people do: he casts everything aside and follows Jesus.

Spiritually blind people struggle with discipleship.  But those who see clearly have only one goal: to follow the Lord and they let nothing, particularly the influence of the crowd, deter them. At heart though is this: you gotta want to see.

Fire and Salt

“Everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49).

I like salt.  Perhaps too much.  I’ve been known to salt my food before tasting it – a real faux pas in a fine restaurant and an (unintended on my part) insult to the chief.  Salt gives bland food flavor.  It can also act as a preservative and (according to Reader’s Digest) it can remove wine stains from carpet, deodorize sneakers, relieve the itching of mosquito bites and poison ivy, extinguish grease fires, rid gardens of weeds, snails and slugs, freshen breath and get rid of dandruff.

In the ancient world, salt was considered so valuable that it was often used as a synonym for wisdom.  Paul uses it this way in Colossians 3:6 when he says “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt [wisdom].”

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all preserve Jesus’ remarks about salt and the warning that if salt loses its saltiness, it is worthless.  The fact is though,  salt cannot be made less salty.  Salt is salt.

However, when salt is mixed with something else, it takes more of it to do the job and if it is mixed with the wrong thing (virtually anything), it becomes not only less salty, but worthless.  Who would want to use salt that had been mixed with dirt?

Only Mark records Jesus’ words “Everyone will be salted with fire.”  His point is this: Life is full of trials.  Some of them God deliberately sends our way to teach us, mold us, make us better.  But will God succeed?  Not if we don’t learn from them, not if we don’t take those lessons to heart, and not if we forget the lessons we learn.  In each case, this divine salt of our lives becomes worthless.  God doesn’t send every trial we face, but he intends every trial to make us better.  Let’s not waste the opportunity.