Blogging the Bible 264 – Mark 10:46-12:34 – Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

These chapters are very similar to Matthew’s account of the same events – so I’m going to try not to repeat myself! If you reread post 254 you’ll find what I’ve thought about the main events here – and as we come to Palm Sunday, they loom large.
This time, I want to say a bit about beggars and crowds. For there are two stages on Jesus’ journey here where people cry out to him. The big one is the crowd at the gates of Jerusalem, shouting Hosanna to the Son of David. The other, though is the beggar Bartimaeus, sitting in the gutter on the way out of Jericho.
The crowd near Jerusalem is full of celebration – Passover is close, and there must have been a bit of a festival feeling around. Jesus had picked up a crowd on the way, and some of those who’d come to Jerusalem would probably have seen or at least heard of him before. Perhaps they expected that now was the moment when he would show his Messianic hand and drive out the Romans and the corrupt Temple authorities. There’s no hint in the text that they didn’t mean their welcome – but it was a bit shallow. They weren’t there shouting and laying cloaks on the road a few days later when he walked out of the city carrying a cross.
It’s easy to praise God in church – a crowd can sweep us along, and lift up our hearts in ways that aren’t necessarily wrong but may be a bit shallow.
Bartimaeus, on the other hand, cried out not in celebration but in desperation. The crowd was telling him to be quiet, not joining in. But he knows that the man passing by is one who can help. So he shouts louder, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’ And Jesus calls him over to heal him.
Bartimaeus’ words have shaped perhaps the most-used Christian prayer after the Lord’s Prayer. It’s called the Jesus Prayer, and it’s at the heart of prayer especially in the Eastern tradition. In its most common form it goes,
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
The prayer is repeated over and over, often using a rosary or prayer rope, usually in time with the breath (the first line on breathing in, the second breathing out).
There are lots of resources available to help with this prayer, but if you haven’t used it before, it really is best to learn about it in person from someone who’s used to praying it. Try your minister first!
The important thing about this or any prayer is that it comes, like Bartimaeus’ prayer, from the heart, and not just from the crowd.
What is at the heart of your prayer?

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