In both yesterday and today’s Gospel reading Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Yesterday’s request by James and John was born of ignorance mixed with pride, today’s of hope for restoration and maybe a little anger.
As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ …Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ …So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go your faith has made you well.’ Mark 10:46ff
Bartimaeus wasn’t always blind. Something transpired in his life that robbed him of his sight. His blindness physically reduced him to the role of an insignificant beggar, yet his spirit retained the memory and the experience of being a person of consequence. In Jesus, he hoped for more than alms because of who he was, a blind beggar. He hoped for mercy.
Mercy, the quality that looks beyond the present reality to the original and intended plan of God. Mercy, originating in the caring heart of the beholder, not in the pitiable state of the one seen. Bartimaeus begs Jesus “Please don’t see me as I am now, a blind beggar in need of alms, see the real me, the me I am meant to be, a person returned to wholeness.”
Yesterday, James and John were bold in their request of Jesus because of their intimate relationship with him. Today, Bartimaeus’ boldness is energized by desperation. Both motivations for approaching Jesus are equally welcomed by him. Jesus will use your intimacy with him to take you deeper into his love. And your desperation to lead you into greater wholeness. “Let nothing separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” [Romans 8] Run to him with your heart’s desires. You are welcome in his presence. He longs to ask you, “What do you want me to do for you?”
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