What Do You Want?

There is a very well-known Bible story in Mark 10 and Luke 18. Young Life leaders around the world have made this one of their favorite talks. It’s the story of blind Bartimaeus and his encounter with Jesus. Young Life leaders often call this the story of Blind Bart.

You probably remember the story. Jesus, His disciples and a large crowd are on their way to Jerusalem. This is Jesus’ final trip there. It will end with His death and resurrection. They have come to Jericho, and sitting by the roadside is a blind man. Bartimaeus is his name, and he is no dummy. He hears that Jesus of Nazareth is nearby. He has probably heard about His healing powers, and it seems that he has arrived at a conclusion about Jesus because he calls out over and over again, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” He knows who’s there (Jesus); he’s convinced He’s the Messiah (“Son of David”); and he knows what Jesus can do (“have mercy on me”).
His yelling engenders two responses. The first is sad. Many in the procession rebuke him and tell him to be quiet. That doesn’t stop the blind man. He shouts out all the more, and that leads to the second response, which is superior. Jesus says, “Call him.” Mark says Bartimaeus throws his cloak aside, jumps to his feet and comes to Jesus.

Then Jesus asks an amazing question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus knows the answer. “I want to see,” he says.
Jesus replies, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  Immediately, Bartimaeus receives his sight and follows Jesus, praising God. The people in the crowd have the same reaction. They praise God as well.

We’ve heard the story. Now I’d like us to think about both responses. The first is the “Shut Up” response. This is the reaction of those who don’t want Jesus interrupted or the parade halted. What would have happened if their response had prevailed? What would have happened if Bartimaeus had shut up and never met Jesus? Several things would have occurred. Bartimaeus would never have received his sight; the Lord would not have been praised; and the crowd would not have had the opportunity to see a miraculous healing performed and have their faith strengthened. What a huge tragedy!
How many of us have responded like the crowd? Instead of becoming fellow travelers with a blind man who joined us on the journey, we have become self-appointed crowd-control specialists, part of the security detail instead of the first aid crew. How many of us have kept someone from meeting Jesus by our attitude, our actions and our words? Instead of being conduits through which God’s grace can flow, we have become dams that interrupt the river of God’s mercy. If we are guilty (and I know I am), let us pray that Jesus will overrule us like He did in this story and extend His grace in spite of us to those who need to see.
Now let’s look at the second response: the “What Do You Want Me to Do for You?” response. I’d like all of us to put ourselves in Bartimaeus’ place. Imagine that we are standing in front of Jesus, and He has asked us that question. What will we say? And before we decide not to participate in this mind game, I’d like to remind us that Jesus is still alive; He wants us to be all that we can be; and He is asking the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Maybe it’s:
    • I’d like you to make me a more loving, forgiving parent.
    • I’d like you to help me be a kinder spouse or friend.
    • I’d like you to help me reach out to my neighbors with the Good News.
    • I’d like to see what you want me to see, to hear what you want me to hear. Please give me sight and hearing.
    • I’d like you to give me the courage to _________ (fill in the blank).
Whatever it is we want, I’d like us to be clear and tell that to Jesus right now.
Then I’d like us to permanently move away from being those who say, “shut up” to those who say, “Lord, I want to see.”