GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
And the blind man says, “Master, let me receive my sight.”
Okay, so another interesting dimension here is the address that the man gives. Bartimaeus calls Jesus master. Now it’s a little unfortunate here that the Revised Standard Version translates this as master, because the Greek word for master is actually despotēs
. We get the word despot from that. It’s the idea of a slave master. But that's not the word Bartimaeus actually uses here. The Greek word here is rabbouni,
which is an Aramaic version of Rabbi, which more properly translated means my teacher. The reason I bring up that difference is because rabbouni
has a personal dimension to it, it literally means my teacher. So by calling Jesus rabbouni,
he isn’t just saying master, he’s saying my teacher, I want to see. So he's affirming a personal relationship with Christ. So it’s not just hey you’re the Messiah, you're the king objectively, but subjectively he is putting himself under Jesus' tutelage, he’s saying my teacher, my Rabbi, I want to see. There's an implicit faith in that title of Rabbi or rabbouni
. Jesus responds to that and says, “Go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Then, finally, Mark's favorite expression immediately, euthus
in Greek. Immediately, immediately, immediately. We’ve been walking through this gospel all these weeks now and you see Mark over and over again say Jesus immediately did and immediately he did that and immediately he did this. Euthus, euthus, euthus
in Greek. Right here, same thing. Immediately he received his sight and then he followed him on the way.
Last element there, followed him on the way. What does that mean? Well hodos
in Greek is just the word for a path or a way or a road. So on one level what does that mean? Jesus was going on the road out of Jericho, he meets Bartimaeus, he heals him, and now Bartimaeus starts to walk with Jesus. He follows Jesus. He becomes a disciple of Jesus. However, there’s also a deeper possible meaning when you remember that the word the way was one of the earliest names for the church in the Book of Acts. So in Acts 4 it speaks about Jerusalem authorities persecuting those who belong to the way, hodos
in Greek, same thing, the path. This was just one of the terms that were used for the church. Sometimes called church, sometimes called the way, sometimes it’s called the Nazarene, sometimes Christians. There are all these different names, and in this case, though it's an evocative term, because if you are asking Jews about the way or the road, another connotation would be the road through the desert at the time of the exodus, when God made a path in the wilderness. So there are two ways in the Bible. There’s the way or the path of the exodus under Moses, and then there's the way or the path of the new exodus under Jesus. So we’ve mentioned before this theme of the new exodus in the Gospel of Mark at different points, like Jesus going out into the desert for 40 days at the opening of the gospel, just like Israel was in the desert at the time of the exodus. We saw Jesus talk about the Son of Man giving his life as a ransom for a multitude of people, just like God ransomed the multitude 600,000 Israelites from slavery to Pharaoh at the time of the exodus. So you got all these exodus images swirling around beneath the surface of Mark's gospel. Well here's one more. The new exodus, the new path, the new way that we’re all called out of bondage and called to journey into is the way of discipleship. It's the way of following the Lord.
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
The first one, once again we see that Jesus is being identified as high priest. But here Hebrews says what His purpose is:
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God… (Hebrews 5:1a)
What Hebrews is saying here is — not just Jesus in this case but — every high priest going back to Aaron has the principle function of acting as a mediator, a sacrificial mediator, who represents the people of Israel to God. He acts on their behalf. He speaks on their behalf. He pleads on their behalf with God, and he offers sacrifices on their behalf — in particular, or principally, the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement, which is meant to reconcile the people of Israel to God for all of the sins that have been committed within the community, within the whole people, within the whole nation, over the course of the entire year… including the sins of the high priest himself.
So Hebrews here is emphasizing that in the Old Testament, the high priest would be chosen to act as a mediator, a sacrificial mediator. And in that role of mediation, the high priest was actually able to sympathize with the sinful people of Israel (with all the people from the tribes), because he himself was a sinner:
… since he himself is beset with weakness. (Hebrews 5:2b)
And as I pointed out in another video, this is why — verse 3 is saying here — because of the fact that he himself was a weak sinner, he was not just bound to offer sacrifice on the behalf of the people. It wasn’t like for the Day of Atonement, he went in and just atoned for the people’s sin and he was fine. No, he first had to offer a sacrifice of atonement for his own sin and then for the sins of the people.
So the mediator is in one sense above the people, but in another sense, he’s a member of the people. He’s both representing them to God and also coming before God as a member of that people.
And here, Hebrews says something very fascinating. This is one of the only times in the New Testament where we see the language of “vocation” or “a call” being used with specific reference to the call to the priesthood. This is a very significant text. When he says that the high priest in the Old Testament…
… does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.
The Greek word there is kaleō
. You can actually hear the fruits of the word “call” in that. In Latin, it’s vocatur
. We get the word “vocation” from this. So in contemporary Catholic circles, we will talk about or we’ll raise the question, “Does this young man have a vocation?” What we tend to mean by that is, “Is God calling him to be a ministerial priest, to be ordained to the priesthood? Is he being called to receive Holy Orders, the Sacrament of Holy Orders?”
Now we always think about vocation in that way, in contemporary context. As I’ve pointed out in other videos, in the New Testament that’s not the most frequent use of the term vocation. The most frequent use of the verb kaleō
— or to be called, vocatur
— is actually the vocation to Baptism. So if you read through the letters of Paul, ordinarily when he talks to his audience about “when you were called” or “as you were called”, he’s actually talking about when they were baptized — when they were called by God to the grace of faith and the salvation and justification and righteousness given through Baptism.
So there’s the baptismal vocation that every single Christian has, but there’s also…
this is a scriptural foundation for the idea of a priestly vocation. And here, it’s interesting. What Hebrews is pointing out is, in the Old Testament, you couldn’t just take this honor upon yourself. So for example, if you were descended from the tribe of… let’s say, Dan. It’s my favorite tribe, the tribe of Dan. If you were a Danite — it’s not my favorite tribe, I’m just joking. There was actually a tradition that the antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan. And they’re left out of the list of tribes in the book of Revelation.
But I digress. Let’s say you’re a Danite, and you say, “Well, I feel like God is calling me to be high priest.” Sorry, you’re not. It’s not an honor that you can take upon yourself. It has to be a vocation. It’s a mission, an office, that God calls someone, and upon which, God has to bestow. He has to bestow this upon a person.
So in this case, the letter to the Hebrews is drawing an analogy here, making a comparison between the fact that just as in the Old Testament, the Aaronic high priest, the levitical high priest, didn’t take the honor upon himself but was called by God.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him… (Hebrews 5:5a)
This is very, very, important. One of the difficulties that the first readers of the letter to the Hebrews is going to encounter — or would have encountered — is the problem of how Jesus of Nazareth, who’s a Judahite (he’s not a member of the tribe of Levi) can offer an atoning sacrifice for sin. How can He be designated high priest? How can He offer a sacrifice? How can He perform the Last Supper, where it says “this is my body”, “this is my blood that’s going to be poured out”... when only priests could pour out the blood of sacrifice, sacrificial blood in the temple in order to atone for sins?
So they would have been — we’re not puzzled by that. We just think, “Oh yeah, of course, Jesus is the true high priest. Jesus is the high priest. He’s the one who offers the true sacrifice that atones for sins.” But for the original audience of Hebrews — which remember, are Hebrews — they would have recognized this is a difficulty. Because it might appear like Jesus the Judahite, Jesus the layman — because He’s a layman, He’s not a priest, at least according to the earthly priesthood of Levi. How can He presume to offer sacrifice if He’s not a Levite, if He’s not an Aaronite? And Hebrews tells us… Christ did not exalt Himself. He doesn’t ordain Himself high priest. He’s made high priest by God. He’s called by God just like Aaron was called by God. And what’s the proof for that? Here the author of Hebrews gives two texts from the Old Testament.
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