Jesus continued His journey to Jerusalem. On the way, He repeated in greater detail the prophecy of His suffering, death, and resurrection (compare 10:33-34 to 8:31; 9:31). Still, the twelve disciples were blind to the fact that Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (10:45).
Did You Know...?
1. Gentiles (10:33): Non-Jews in general. In this verse, it refers specifically to the Romans because the Jews lacked political power to exercise capital punishment and must defer to the Roman government.
2. Chief priests (10:33): Also called “high priests.” They were revered civil and religious dignitaries. Aside from his religious office, a chief priest was also the chairman of the Sanhedrin (Jewish high court) and head of political relations with the Roman government. During Jesus’ time, the chief priests were Annas and Caiaphas, who later recommended putting Jesus to death (Jn 11:49-50) and persecuted the early church (Acts 4:6; 5:17-18).
3. “Drink the cup” (10:38): The cup was a common Jewish metaphor either for joy (Ps 23:5) or for divine judgment (Jer 25:15).
4. Jericho (10:46): A very ancient city located 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of the Jordan and about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ time, the Old Testament Jericho was largely abandoned, but a new city, south of the old one, had been built by Herod the Great.
5. Begging (10:46): Beggars were commonly found in public places. The prevalence of begging was due to the lack of a relief system, to the lack of a cure for common diseases, and to the impoverishment under the excessive taxation of the Roman government.
- Jesus again Predicts His Death (10:32-34)
- The Cup and Baptism of Jesus (10:35-45)
- James and John ask for glory for themselves (10:35-37)
- Jesus promises them the same cup and baptism that He would be receiving (10:38-40)
- Teachings on serving (10:41-45)
- Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52)
- Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus (10:46-48)
- Jesus speaks to Bartimaeus (10:49-51)
- After Bartimaeus receives his sight, he follows Jesus (10:52)
List the titles used to identify Jesus in this passage? How does each illustrate Jesus’ character?Hide Answer
Son of Man (33), teacher (35), Jesus of Nazareth (47), Son of David (47), rabboni/rabbi (51)
These terms identify Jesus’ various status and responsibilities. He was both a humble servant (“Son of Man”) and a king (“Son of David”). He was both a simple carpenter (“Jesus of Nazareth”) and a wise teacher (“rabboni”).
How did Jesus demonstrate His identity as a servant in this passage? In the book of Mark? In the Bible? In your life?Hide Answer
Jesus did not lord His authority over the others. Instead, He asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” first to James and John, and then to Bartimaeus. He stated clearly that He came to serve (45). The book of Mark describes Jesus’ busy life as a servant. He hurried from one place to another. Many people came to Him and asked Him to do what they desired. Jesus continues to serve us by being the mediator between God and men (1Tim 2:5). His Holy Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes for us (Rom 8:27).
What do you identify yourself as? How does your identity influence what you do?
Contrast James and John’s initial request (35) to Bartimaeus’ (47). Compare them to the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.Hide Answer
James and John dared to say to Jesus, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” It is interesting that they used the first-person pronoun not one, not two, but three times in one simple sentence. They were proud of their closeness to Jesus and what they have done in His name. In this sense, they were like the Pharisee (Lk 18:9,11,12) and the rich man (Mk 10:20) who were confident of their own righteousness. They knew exactly what they wanted and demanded Jesus to give it to them. If you read only 35-36, it almost seems as though James and John were the masters, and Jesus was their servant.
In contrast, Bartimaeus cried out to his God and king, “Have mercy on me!” He did not dare to specify what Jesus should do. Like the tax collector, he was just a lowly servant pleading for his master’s help (cf. Lk 18:13).
Why should we ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” To whom can you ask this question?Hide Answer
It is our duty to find out what we can do for other people. It is natural for a servant to ask and fulfill the needs of another person. We must learn from Jesus’ spirit of a servant (Rom 15:1-3).
What is your answer when Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”Hide Answer
Before we can answer this question, we must first understand ourselves. We must truly know what we need the most to serve God in our different capacities. Elisha asked for the power of the Holy Spirit (2Kgs 2:9). Solomon asked for wisdom to lead the people of God (1Kgs 3:5-9).
In the NKJV, verse 32 implies that the disciples were also amazed and afraid. Why do you think the disciples were amazed and afraid?Hide Answer
They were amazed because Jesus was breaking from His usual patterns. This time, He was leading the way, whereas He had often withdrawn Himself from the crowd (1:35; 3:7; 6:32; 7:24). Perhaps they were amazed by His powerful teachings on entering the kingdom of God. Perhaps they were amazed by their Master’s resolve. Jesus’ predictions of His death probably confused and frightened them because they did not understand.
Why did Jesus tell the twelve disciples what would happen to Him?Hide Answer
Jesus wanted to prepare them for the persecution ahead. He told them so that they might remember and believe when all these things have taken place (Jn 14:29; 16:4).
What does James’ and John’s request for glory (37) tell you about their self-identity? What does this teach us about our attitude in serving God?Hide Answer
For three years, they had followed Jesus and preached and healed in His name. They were His close disciples. Surely that was enough to deserve a piece of Jesus’ glory? They wanted to rule over everyone else, including the other ten disciples. They were still short on the spirit of sacrifice.
We must not make the mistake of James and John. We rejoice in saving souls, not in performing miracles or preaching powerful messages (Lk 10:20). Just because we have believed in Jesus longer or have done more church work does not mean we deserve more honor. We must do everything for the glory of God. Otherwise, we would be hypocrites (cf. Mk 12:38-39)
What did James and John think was Jesus’ glory?Hide Answer
Even after Jesus had clearly spelled out what would happen to Him, the disciples still did not understand. They believed that Jesus would receive glory in this world, perhaps as the king of Israel in the political sense.
What is the true meaning of sitting at Jesus’ right and left? (cf. Rom 8:17; 2Tim 2:12).Hide Answer
Jesus told James and John clearly, “You do not know what you ask” (38). To share in Jesus’ glory means to be the greatest in the kingdom of God. And, according to Jesus, one who is the greatest in the kingdom of God must be the servant of all (Mk 9:35; 10:43). Moreover, suffering comes before glory (Lk 24:26; Heb 2:10). In order to share in Christ’s glory, we must first suffer with Him. When we testify for the Lord, we suffer for His sake (2Tim 1:8).
What did James and John think was Jesus’ cup and baptism?Hide Answer
It follows from their interpretation of Jesus’ glory that the cup must be a cup of blessing. Perhaps they interpreted the baptism as Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. Their own baptism probably appeared similar to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, so of course they could be baptized with the baptism Jesus was baptized with. These sounded like good, easy things. They neglected Jesus’ words: “You do not know what you ask” (38).
What was Jesus’ cup and baptism? (cf. Did You Know 3).Hide Answer
Jesus knew that the cup contained God’s wrath upon the sinners (Mt 26:39). He was to take our place. He died so that we are saved from God’s wrath (Rom 5:8-9).
The baptism Jesus was baptized with was one of suffering and death. Christ paid a great price to save us. Today, when we are baptized into Jesus, we bury our sins so that we can live a new life (Rom 6:3-4).
Based on verses 42-44, how should church organization be different from secular organization?Hide Answer
All church workers are servants who care for the members’ physical and spiritual needs (Acts 6:3-4). Each of us serves in different capacities, according to the gifts given by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 12:4-10). No one person has a claim of authority or respect over another because Christ is the head of all (Eph 4:15; Col 2:10).
By the same token, the church must not become a hierarchy in which one segment rules over another. Rather, we should all serve one another for the faith of the gospel (Phil 1:27).
How does Jesus give His life as a “ransom for many” (45)? A ransom for what?Hide Answer
The word “ransom” (lytron in Greek) means “the price of release.” Jesus died and poured out His blood as the price to set us free from our sins, so that we may receive the “eternal inheritance”—the kingdom of God (Heb 9:15). The Old Testament laws prove that no one is perfect; under the law, we are all condemned sinners (Rom 3:19-20). But, in our place, Jesus drank the cup of judgement and was baptized with the baptism of suffering.
Verse 43 repeats the lesson Jesus taught in 9:35. How many times does Jesus repeat a lesson before you understand? What does this tell you about your faith?
Why do you think the people rebuked Bartimaeus (48)? Compare them to the disciples who rebuked those who brought little children to Jesus (10:13).Hide Answer
Perhaps the people did not want him to disturb the solemn atmosphere. Perhaps they wanted healing and/or food from Jesus, and did not want a blind man to delay them. Perhaps his loud shouting was irritating to them. They were more concerned with their interests and ideas. Like the disciples, they were “not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (8:33).
Bartimaeus called Jesus “Son of David.” What does this tell you about his faith?Hide Answer
In Matthew, “Son of David” appears frequently, emphasizing Jesus’ identity as a king. Bartimaeus is the only person recorded in Mark who called Jesus “Son of David.” He knew that Jesus was more than just “Jesus of Nazareth” (47). He believed that Jesus was more than a servant or a teacher. His faith compelled him to plead for Jesus’ mercy.
Bartimaeus said to Jesus, “I want to see” (NIV; emphasis added) as opposed to, “I hope I can see” or “It would be nice if I could see.” Why did he dare to ask so forcefully? What does this teach you about praying for God’s mercy?Hide Answer
How we ask says a lot about how anxious we desire what we ask. We can be confident and forcefully as long as we are asking according to God’s will. For example, when we pray for God to fill us with his Holy Spirit, we can pray without fear or hesitation, “Lord, I want the Holy Spirit” instead of, “Lord, it would be nice if you would give me your Holy Spirit, but if not, that’s okay, too.”
Contrast this healing to the one in 8:22-26. What do the differences tell you about Jesus’ ministry at this point in time?Hide Answer
Jesus healed Bartimaeus in front of the crowd instead of taking him outside of town. Also, Jesus allowed Bartimaeus to follow Him instead of sending him away. This tells us that Jesus was no longer hiding His authority. After all, He was heading to Jerusalem to confront the chief priests and scribes. In the end, He would accomplish His mission to die on the cross and draw all men to Him (Jn 12:32).
What can we learn from Bartimaeus’ persistence?Hide Answer
He did not give up when people warned him to be quiet. Instead, he cried out all the more. He knew that was probably his only chance of being healed, and he overcame all obstacles in the way until Jesus answered his plea. True faith requires persistence and courage in the face of obstacles. If we yearn for God’s help and know that He is our only answer, we need to keep crying out to Him until He answers us. We should not let anyone or anything discourage us while we seek the Lord’s mercy.
For those who still have not accepted the gospel, we ought to learn from Bartimaeus, who seized the precious opportunity and cried out to the Lord. We need to realize that spiritually, we are poor and blind like Bartimaeus, and we desperately need the Lord’s mercy. So let us quickly cry out to the Lord, acknowledge Him as the Son of David (our King), and ask Him to save us. Do not let Him pass us by because we may not have another chance.