“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. (Mark 10:51)
Passing through Jericho, the popular resort city which had been rebuilt by Herod the Great, Jesus and His disciples encountered a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. It was not uncommon in the ancient world to encounter beggars; there were a variety of different reasons for begging in that day. Any physical disability would have made it difficult to find work, as much of the work was of physical nature in that culture. Bartimaeus was begging due to his blindness, an affliction which many would have believed was God’s curse on this man because of sin in his life. Jesus’ own disciples asked Him if this was the case with the man who had been born blind whom Jesus healed (John 9:2).
When he was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, Bartimaeus called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” — identifying Jesus as the promised Messiah. This blind man asked in faith and Jesus answered. But notice the Lord’s response in our verse for today: “What do you want me to do for you?” It would seem obvious that the man wanted to be able to see, but Jesus asked a clarifying question. What kind of “mercy” did the man desire? Did he want some money? Food? Was he merely looking for another hand-out? In asking the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus was moving the man beyond his broken condition to his blessed cure.
Bartimaeus answered simply, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
It’s important to understand what happened just before this encounter with the blind man. Jesus had asked the very same question of His disciples James and John: “What do you want me to do for you?” Their response was a request for positions of honor in heaven, to which Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you are asking” (Mark 10:38). You see, James and John were afflicted with a broken condition called “sin,” which was evidenced by their desire to sit next to Jesus in glory. They too needed Jesus to bring them beyond their broken condition, and that is exactly what His clarifying question was designed to do.
Regardless of where this message finds you today, I’d like you to consider how would you answer Jesus when He asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?” Ask and He will answer. “Ask and it will be given to you,” He has assured us; “seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). But, as it was with James and John who evidenced that they were “truly blind” by asking for the wrong blessing, Jesus will always answer your request with what you need, not necessarily with what you want, because all too often we ask with the wrong motives (James 4:3), just as they did.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!