“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. (Mark 10:51)
Passing through Jericho, the popular resort city 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 who had a variety of different reasons for begging. Any significant physical disability would have made it difficult to find work, as most work in that day required manual labor. Bartimaeus was begging due to blindness, an affliction which many people believed to be a punishment from God levied because of sin. (You’ll recall that Job’s three friends immediately assumed that the terrible tragedies that suddenly befell Job were brought on my some sin in Job’s life.) Jesus would dispel this misconception when His disciples asked this very question about a man who had been born blind (John 9:2).
Blind Bartimaeus called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,” identifying Jesus as the promised Messiah. Bartimaeus asked in faith and Jesus answered. But notice the response from Jesus that is highlighted by our verse for today: “What do you want me to do for you?” It would seem obvious that Bartimaeus 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 or food? Was he merely looking for another hand-out? In asking Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus was moving the man beyond his broken condition to his blessed cure.
“Rabbi, I want to see,” Bartimaeus replied (Mark 10:51).
It’s important to keep in mind what had happened just before this encounter with the blind man. Jesus had asked the very same question of His disciples James and John, and their response was to ask for positions of honor in heaven. To this Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you are asking” (Mark 10:38). You see, James and John were also afflicted with a broken condition, which was evidenced by their desire for positions of honor. They too needed Jesus to lead them beyond their broken condition, and that is exactly what this clarifying question is designed to do.
Regardless of where this message finds you today, how will you answer Jesus when He asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?” Remember, ask and He will answer, but, as it was with James and John, who had demonstrated that they were every bit as blind as Bartimaeus when they asked for the wrong blessing, Jesus will always answer with what you need . . . but not necessarily with what you want.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!