Ps. 126; Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 7:21a-28; Mark 10:46-52
Better, [B]ut this [priest, after the order of Melchizedek, God] addressed with an oath, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘Thou art a priest forever.’” This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant (vv. 21a, 22).
From the plain of New Jericho, Jesus would ascend Mt. Olivet for his assault on Jerusalem, the old Canaan Jebusite stronghold. David invaded and conquered Jerusalem making it his capitol city, now ruled by Israel’s religious establishment, temple authorities, and a Roman garrison, all which rejected Jesus as God’s in-Spirited new Israel.
Jesus’ baptism would conclude in Fire on the cross. God’s warfare against the enemies of his New Covenant was coming to a crescendo; the Old Mosaic Covenant through the Aaronic priesthood against a “better covenant” through a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.
As Jesus and followers set-off from New Jericho; a blind-man on the road-side cried-out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me”. Jesus halted, calling the man over; Bartimaeus, threw-off his outer garment and came … Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk. 10:51a); the man desired mercy, “Rabbouni, let me regain my sight (‘anablepho’)” (51b).
After his baptism, Jesus in the desert, confronted Satan by God’s word alone, sword of the Spirit, dealing the devil a crushing defeat, who would then await “an opportune time” to continue attacks (Lk. 4:13). Jesus did not wait, but immediately took the fight into Galilee.
On becoming Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was asked about his policy; he responded, “My policy is to wage war”. Jesus re-entered the Land following his desert victory to announce his policy.
Jesus would take to himself all the burden of the Mosaic law for a gospel of grace and mercy. Conflict between old and new, Jesus and devil were joined. For St. Mark, Jesus’ march on Jerusalem began with a call to arms against those opposed to God’s better salvation, a gospel of grace (Mk. 1:15).
On march to Jerusalem, Jesus taught three times (8:31; 9:31; 10:33, 34) the ground of God’s New Covenant necessarily entailed his sacrificial death, a ransom for many; his disciples would not listen (cf. 9:7).
The disciples failed to understand death and passion (9:32); yet blind Bartimaeus, on journey’s final leg, received from Jesus spiritual enlightenment that Jesus’ victory in Jerusalem would result in God’s mercy by faith; no longer through the slaughter of bulls and goats.
Earlier James and John had petitioned Jesus. As with Bartimaeus, Jesus asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” (10:36). These Apostles, without comprehending the expressed necessity of Jesus’ sacrifice for a “better covenant”, vainly sought worldly authority and position in the nascent church.
But when Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 51); the man sought what was integral to God’s character and Jesus’ mission for a “better covenant” of mercy and enlightenment.
Possessing faith and regained sight, Jesus gave Bartimaeus his leave (v. 52); instead, the man followed Jesus’ to Jerusalem, the citadel populated by God’s arch-enemies of a New Covenant in Christ, the prophesied place of Jesus’ death (cf. Mt. 23:37). Jesus continued to reprise David’s assault on Jerusalem; yet his Apostles remained blind to a cruciform victory and “glory”.
James and John seeking worldly “glory” failed to discern, what being baptized on Jesus’ right and left meant (10:37); rather it was the two thieves, on Jesus’ right and left betokened Jesus’ in his Kingdom on the Last Day: a believing and a mocking thief; sheep separated from goats, faithful Baptized participating in God’s mercy parted from the judgement of unbelievers.
It would await the Resurrection, three days after the cross before the Apostles were enlightenment about both the Loaves (6:32) and the Passion necessity; the things today of Jesus’ priesthood of a “better covenant” in your midst by word and sacrament.
St. Mark’s catechism employs for two blind-men; the man of Bethsaida, sighted to Jesus’ word and touch applied in stages (8:22 ff.) and Bartimaeus, who comprehended God’s merciful character (10:46 ff.) in swearing by his own Name (Gen. 22:16; Heb. 7:21) that Jesus is priest forever of a “better covenant”.
On account of coming Reformation and All Saint’s celebrations we will miss in Mark, Jesus’ old temple departure and prophesied victory by the widow who gave her last cent portraying God’s “better covenant”; Jesus, trusting in the Lord in giving all on the cross for our surety. Amen.