How best to preach the story not of 'Blind Bartimaeus' but 'Not Blind Anymore Bartimaeus'? In a context where we have people who are physically blind or at least visually impaired? In an ageing congregation like that in which I share ministry, where many have had the experience at least of a 'cataract operation' (easy-peasy, par for the course these days!!!) or we're apprehensive / anxious / afraid we're edging in that direction. Maybe worse. (My own personal 'take' on this includes an unsuccessful operation on the retina of my father's eye back in days when eye-surgery hadn't made such great strides as it has now. My dad was devastated, & lived on afraid he might lose the sight in his other eye, too.) I don't know the answer to my own question, but opening it up may be part of our own process of having our eyes opened! Which is what Jesus & MK are on about.
MK wants us to see in Bartimaeus someone with the spiritual sight to approach Jesus as 'David's son'. Messiah. As a result he has his physical sight restored, & then caps that with even more spiritual sight to follow Jesus with alacrity. Compared with others we've met earlier in this same chapter: the 'rich young ruler', whose spiritual sight doesn't extend to having his eyes opened; & James & John, pillars of the seed church, jostling blindly for kudos among the disciples. (MT even tries to transfer the blame to their mother to cover for J & J! Not much spiritual sight there, either!)
There's no need, no excuse for anyone coming to Jesus without their 'sight' being improved in some way. Maybe physically (in these days more likely through God's gift of medical & surgical skills) maybe in other ways, depending upon what we need our outer & inner eyes to see clearly. Faith still works mighty wonders.
Is the fact that Bartimaeus throws off his mantle before coming to Jesus symbolic of things we have to discard before we are open to receiving grace? Symbolic of what kinds of things? What about the thing(s) I personally - not just 'we' generally - have to throw aside?
Most of the others Jesus has healed he tells to stay where they are, not follow him, not even tell about him, but for whatever reason (they're so close to Jerusalem & Passion Time?) Bartimaeus is an exception. Given the social & church cultures many of us spring from, haven't we for a long time worked on the assumption that like those in the first category just mentioned, Jesus doesn't want us / need us to move on from where we are? Is it timely that more of us see the need to move on in our God-journey in the light of whatever gifts having our eyes opened brings us?