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Mark 10:51a (NIV) – “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The verse above comes for the story of the healing of the blind man that Jesus encountered along the Jericho road. Bartimaeus had been doing what he had done for many years – in fact, it was the only thing he could do: sit by the roadside and beg for money. Jericho was a prosperous area, so Bartimaeus may have done fairly well, especially considering the Jews considered it righteous to give alms to the poor and disabled.
Still, day after day, month after month, year after year, he would sit by the road and call out as he heard people passing by. Some would give, others, I’m sure, walked right past him, either all engrossed in their own conversation and thoughts, or pretending not to notice him. Thinks really haven’t changed much in 2000 years, have they?
Bartimaeus yells out to Jesus who hears him, stops, and instructs the disciples to have the man come to him. The blind man jumps up, throws his coat aside (which probably was what he used to collect donations) and goes to where he’d heard the voice of Jesus. And then Jesus asks the question – the question that at the surface seems so silly: this is a blind man after all…what do you think he would like you to do for him, Jesus?
Don’t rush past that question. It is an important one – a very important one! Wrestle with it. Jesus didn’t just ask it of Bartimaeus. I think He is asking it of each of us or it wouldn’t have been recorded in Scripture.
It is oh, so easy, to rush to give the approved Christian answer, but please don’t. What is it that your soul really wants and longs for? What is it that you think would really, truly bring you satisfaction and peace? You may think it is a certain career. You may believe it is the “perfect” spouse for you. It may be that a child that you and your spouse long for. Those things aren’t bad. But are they really the thing you want Jesus to do for you?
I would imagine Bartimaeus though the question strange, but if he did, he didn’t let it show. I suspect that we, like Bartimaeus, don’t really know what it is that we are longing for. Bartimaeus thought it was his sight. But what happens after he gets what he asked for shows that he learned a lesson that we may not have grasped: when Bartimaeus answers the question, he says “Rabbi…” This isn’t the typical word used for a rabbi – a teacher. This was a special word that was usually only used when addressing God in prayer. The blind man, you see, is the only one who was seeing with crystal clarity: the man before him was God. And then, after he received his sight, it says he “followed Jesus along the road.” The verb tense is that he continued following Jesus. And in doing so, I believe he found what it was that he really wanted.
When this sermon was preached at church on Sunday, I asked myself how I would answer the question. I honestly am not sure what my answer would be, or is. I know what I’d hope it would be, what I think God wants it to be – but is that really what my heart soul is longing for?
How about you? What is it that you really want from Jesus this holy week and beyond?
PRAYER: Jesus, cause us to honestly seek for what You created us to long after and not just to give the trite, pat answer we think we should say! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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