Recently I was reading a story in the book of Mark that I have read many times. This time, however, something struck me differently. The story is in Mark 10:46-52 and tells of a man, Bartimaeus, who is blind.
“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”
What stood out to me this time was why Jesus would ask “What do you want me to do for you?” The man was blind. Obviously he wants to see, right? Why even ask? I believe Jesus asked Bartimaeus this question as a way to invite him to look deeper inside himself for his true need. It is a question each of us today has to answer.
Let’s look at our man Bartimaeus for a minute. He is sitting outside the city of Jericho. This city is not too far from Jerusalem and was located along an often traveled route. It is not unreasonable to think that Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus in many overheard travelers’ conversations. Whether he heard it from these travelers or it was divinely revealed to him, Bartimaeus recognized Jesus’ lineage, “Son of David”. Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah stated he would descend from the house of David. So stating “Son of David” already demonstrates faith on Bartimaeus’ part. His faith is further revealed when a crowd tries to hush this man. He cries out “Son of David” again. I feel what Bartimaeus is saying here is, “Jesus, I KNOW you are not an ordinary peddler of empty promises. I KNOW who you are, the Messiah!”
Upon calling out to Jesus a second time, Jesus acknowledges Bartimaeus’ plea. I have to laugh at what happens next. Jesus said, “Call him.” This reminds me when my mom would ask me to call my dad to supper. I would stand at the top of the basement stairs or at the back door and scream, “Dad, supper is ready.” My mom would look at me with that look only a mom can give and say, “Well I could have done THAT!” I wonder if Jesus is thinking the same thing when they only call out to Bartimaeus. I’m curious if Jesus wants to say to the men, “Well, I could have done that. Why aren’t you helping him come to me?” However, then I see something beyond that first look. Scripture says Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, jumped up, and went to Jesus. No one helps him to his feet. No one guides him. He is blind. How does he find Jesus? Jesus must be at some distance because Bartimaeus only starts to move after the people speak and NOT when Jesus says, “Call him.” Bartimaeus wants what Jesus can provide so desparately he relies on his others strengths, his other senses, to find Jesus. Do I do that? Do I let a single bump in my road keep me from Jesus? My morning didn’t go as plan so I guess I won’t spend time in prayer with Him today. Do I let my to-dos keep me from meeting Jesus during my day through kindness to others? At times do I fail to recognize and receive Jesus’ blessing through another’s actions?
Bartimaeus has made it to Jesus. He has overcome the crowd and himself to be at the feet of the Master. “What do you want me to do for you?” Why does Jesus ask? Why, when I am hurting, doesn’t Jesus just know what I need and do it? I felt like that when I was a teenager and was really hurting emotionally. I got angry with God. Why don’t You talk to me? Why aren’t You helping me? I was so into living inside my storm that I didn’t realize that He was the eye of the storm. He is always in the center and, more importantly, the calm in the center of the storm. He is always offering His perfect peace to me. The healing is always there but I have to take it, to be an active participant. I, like Bartimaeus, have to acknowledge to myself what my real need is and not what I think it may be. We might think we need a new job or more money. Maybe we are praying that our kids wouldn’t be so difficult or our spouse would love us better. What are we truly searching for though? I believe we are searching for the same thing as Bartimaeus, to be truly seen and heard and known. My friends, there is only one person who can fulfill that need that has been around since the beginning of time and that is the one who created us. Jesus, from the Garden of Eden to now, has wanted to be in a relationship with you, to walk with you every day, to have you bring your joys and hurts to Him. Bartimaeus did that. He acknowledged who Jesus really was and wasn’t going to stop until he could get to Him. When faced with that question, “What do you want me to do for you?” our fellow seeker asked to see. Not only did he see with his eyes again but He saw Jesus and how we are meant to be in relationship with Him. That true sight is what causes our friend Bartimaeus to “follow Jesus along the road”. What do you want Jesus to do for you?
(Photo credit of Jericho Road from lifeinthelabyrinth.com)