The tenth chapter in the gospel of Mark records an encounter Jesus has with a blind man in Jericho. Jesus is leaving town and heading to Jerusalem when he hears a man screaming. “Son of David, have mercy on me! ” The crowd is trying to silence the man, but Jesus tells them to let him come. When they are face-to-face, Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man responds, “I want to see!”. Jesus grants his request and says, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly, the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10:46-52)
Earlier in chapter 10, we read James and John (Sons of Zebedee) also request something from Jesus. They ask, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honour next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”(Mark 10: 37). Suggesting that when Jesus comes into His glory, they want power and prestige. Throughout Mark’s gospel, Jesus has been saying over and over and over that his way is the way of the cross, a willingness to give up what we consider essential so we can inherit eternal life. It is something that Jesus’ followers always seem to fail to understand.
Why did Jesus grant one request and deny the other?
James and John’s request comes from their desires. Their personal view of what a complete and good life envisions. It comes from what they want out of life. The request from Blind Bartimaeus is different. It’s a longing for wholeness and a life God has always intended for us. Bartimaeus gets what he asks for, not because he wants the perfect life. Bartimaeus is healed because he can see what he needs; the healing that God gives.
Ironically Bartimaeus isn’t the blind one in these stories. The disciples are blind because they can’t see that God isn’t about rearranging our lives and the world for our benefit. God is about rearranging our souls, re-aligning everything in us, and healing us from the inside out. God wants to open our eyes and reset our hopes and dreams to benefit the world God loves.
The difference between the two requests and results is the spiritual path. The way of Jesus is not about us attaining the success, the power, the fame, and the glory that we think characterizes a good and full human life. It’s not about finding the life we’ve always wanted. It’s about salvation. It’s about putting everything else aside to see the world as God sees it. It’s about spiritual healing and experience transformation.
We’ve probably asked for plenty of things throughout our life but may feel Jesus has yet to deliver on our requests. We may think we rarely get what we want out of God. Maybe the problem isn’t with God but with us. Maybe the problem is what we’re asking. Maybe the problem is our answer to the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”