December 8, 2016 • Life for Leaders
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
A common theme in folk stories is the granting of wishes. Sometimes it’s a genie that offers three wishes to the one who rubbed the magic lamp. The lucky person usually makes the first two wishes easily, perhaps too quickly. But then there’s that final wish, the one that shouldn’t be wasted. (According to the rules of storytelling, it’s not possible to use that last wish to ask for more wishes.)
Jesus doesn’t grant wishes because he isn’t a genie, though, sometimes, I fear, we can treat him as if he were. But Jesus does answer our prayers. Bartimaeus, the blind man who sat by the road begging, sensed that Jesus might respond to his desperate cry, so he called out to Jesus for mercy, even when the bystanders told him to pipe down.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Jesus called for Bartimaeus to be brought before him. Excited, Bartimaeus “jumped to his feet and came to Jesus” (10:50). But then Jesus asked a curious question, “What do you want me to do for you?” (10:51). Wasn’t it obvious? Couldn’t Jesus have figured out pretty quickly that Bartimaeus was blind and wanted to see? Why did Jesus want Bartimaeus to state his desire so obviously?
Mark does not reveal Jesus’s motivations in this scene. But it is clear that Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to say what he wanted, to ask, not just for mercy, but also for a specific kind of mercy. The blind man wanted mercy in the form of healing, so that he might see. And that’s exactly what he told Jesus: “Rabbi, I want to see.” Similarly, there are times in our lives when God, for his reasons, wants us to say clearly what we seek from him before he grants it.
I wonder what I would say if I were to stand before Jesus today and he were to ask me, “What do you want me to do for you?” I can think of many answers to that question. But what do I really want Jesus to do for me right now? To be completely honest, I’m not sure. I need to take time to reflect on what I most want from Jesus today.
Perhaps, like Bartimaeus, you know exactly what you’d like from Jesus. If so, I encourage you to be like Bartimaeus and ask him. Perhaps, like me, you aren’t clear on what you would say. If so, then let me urge you to find time to prayerfully reflect on how you need God’s mercy to take shape in your life today.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you know what you most need from the Lord today? If so, will you ask him for this?
If you’re not sure what you’d really like the Lord to do for you, what options are you considering? Will you offer these in prayer?
Gracious God, thank you for the example of Bartimaeus, for his boldness and clarity as he spoke his desire. Help me, Lord, to be like him as I come before you. Give me the courage to tell you the truth, to ask for what is in my heart. Help me to know what I really need from you.
Thank you for your mercy that invites us to speak openly with you. Thank you for your mercy that comes to us in so many different forms and ways. Indeed, Lord, your steadfast love never ceases. Your mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Glorious Spectacles
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.