Hearing that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, take pity on me.”
good old Eliza Doolittle
comes to recognize little doing
does not does not love make
her complaint about words
substituting for love
rivets our attention
similar accusations rise up
to confront such virtues as
forgiveness mercy joy justice
we stamp our foot aggrieved
at each hypocritical
form over function
Here the story changes from destruction to renewal, from separation to renewal. If service is the key to unlock external or internal oppression, not ransom, we see behind this beggar one of the meanings of service, that of being merciful. Mercy stops harm and starts healing. Mercy turns violence to compassion, wilderness to retreat.
Bartimaeus means, “son of the unclean”. It is time to engage our memory of frequent encounters Jesus has had with the “unclean”—from the propertied man, competitive disciples, seizing boy, another blind person, another who is deaf, a Syrophoenician’s sick daughter, Jairus’ daughter, a hemorrhaging woman, Gerasene demoniac, sea storm, withered hand, paralytic, leper, feverish mother-in-law, and all the way back to a man with an unclean spirit in a synagogue. There seems to always be one more uncleanliness that needs a healing mercy.
Swanson95 notices that “Jesus of Nazareth” does not flow easily in the Greek and uses “Jesus Netzer” that carries with it a picture of a shoot of a plant that brings to mind Jesse and David. Isaiah uses the imagery of a shoot from the stump of Jesse to look for someone to replace David’s failed descendants. The search of prophets is to find a new beginning, a new David.
Here Swanson comments, “If the unclean spirit can see deep enough into Jesus and into Scripture to see Jesus as this new David, he has good eyes indeed. This is a revelation.”
And our question echoes still, “Who do you say that I am?”