“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” – Mark Twain
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
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…” “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see” (Mark 10:46-52).
Two things bother me about this passage. The first is that Jesus, upon seeing a blind man, has the audacity to ask him what he wants. Wouldn’t you assume that if a blind beggar has the temerity to shout at the Son of David, “Have mercy on me!” that Jesus would know what the man needed? But that may not be point. Perhaps the point is, “Did Bartimaeus know what Bartimaeus needed?”
The second bothersome question is, “Do I know what I need?” In other words, in what areas of my life am I as blind as poor Bartimaeus? In this way, ‘ol Bart is probably smarter than poor Jim. At least he knew what his greatest need was. Do I?
What is the one thing you would request of God’s mercy if the Lord were to ask, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
I, too, am blind in so many ways. Like the father of the boy with an evil spirit, I find myself praying, “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Since I have already received from the Lord the greatest gift, that is, eternal salvation, then what more could I ask for? Do I know?
Paul said he wanted to know Christ above all else (Philippians 3:10). Solomon asked for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:10). Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9). There is no one right answer for every Christian, but there is a right answer for me. And for you.
If I knew what I needed, I wonder how my prayer life would change. How many things would I stop seeking while I pursued the most needful things? In how many ways do I spend money on what is not bread and labor for what does not satisfy my soul (Isaiah 55:2)?
Isaiah 55 reminds us that the most important and satisfying items in our life are those things that cannot be purchased with money: Wisdom, knowledge, sight, and salvation. Eating what is good satisfies the soul, and is a delight in the richest of fare. Jesus said His food was to obey God, “to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34).
Like Bartimaeus, I too am blind in so many ways. I don’t even know all the things I don’t see. So I choose to respond to the Lord’s question, “What do you want me to do for you, Jim?” with “Lord, I want to see. I want to understand, comprehend, and know what is in front of me and wisely do that which You have created for me to do.” Perhaps then, like Bartimaeus, I can move from simply being a beggar who stumbles through life into a disciple who follows Jesus down the road.
you asked: What is the one thing you would request of God’s mercy if the Lord were to ask, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
i would ask to be saved from the fire.
you said: “Since I have already received from the Lord the greatest gift, that is, eternal salvation, then what more could I ask for? “
I think that’s rather presumptious. Islam teaches that salvation is attained by God’s Grace, and that God bestows His Grace upon those who have both inner belief and good works. The difference, then, between Western Christianity and Islam is not that one religion believes inner faith is important while the other does not; indeed, both Western Christianity and Islam believe that inner belief is the most integral factor for attaining salvation. The difference is that Islam teaches that although belief is the most important factor, it is not the only one. In order to attain salvation, inner belief must be coupled with good works.
Jim: Wonderful insight. I usually know what I want, but it’s probably far from what I NEED. Maybe my prayer ought to be for closer alighment of my wants and needs.
Thanks for a great thought this morning.
Aligning my wants and needs is a life-long struggle. Even when I was a monk and everything I “needed” was provided for me, I still struggled with my “wants.” It seemed taking a vow of poverty did not stop me from wanting a new winter jacket even when I already had one!
Thanks for your response to my blog. The other difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity teaches “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christianity teaches I am saved by grace through faith. Any works that I do are not to achieve salvation, but are a response to my salvation. My works for God’s kingdom are many, but they are a response of my salvation, not the cause of it. If my salvation came through my works, there would have been no need for Jesus to die, and certainly no need for His resurrection. But He was resurrected, and now I know He has power over my sin and death, both spiritual and physical. Therefore, I no longer fear the “fire.” Rather, I anticipate an eternity in God’s immeasurable love.
Yet, such a concept is rejected by the Bible itself; verse 7:21 of Matthew tells us that merely declaring one’s Lord as Jesus is not enough, but rather one has to obey God’s Commands to reach Salvation:
“Not everyone who says to me: “Lord, Lord”, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
God will give to each man commensurate to whatever he has earned with his own two hands (i.e. works). Eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven can only be achieved by persistence in doing good deeds; we read from the Bible:
“God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give Eternal Life.” (Romans 2:6-7)
Therefore, Eternal Life is contingent upon doing good. The Bible says that those who do good (i.e. good deeds) will reach Heaven, and those who do evil (i.e. evil deeds) will enter Hell:
“…Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28)
Salvation is not achieved overnight as some Christians believe, but rather it is something which must be worked for throughout life, as the Bible says:
“…Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12)
The Bible says further:
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
In the Bible, Jesus, may God raise his name, is reported to have said that in order to enter the Heavenly Life, one must obey God’s Commandments. This is a clear indication that faith alone is not enough to attain Salvation, but rather entrance into the Heavenly Life is dependent on obeying God’s Commandments. The Bible says:
Jesus replied: “…If you want to enter Life, obey the Commandments!” (Matthew 19:17)
There is no discrepancy. Initial salvation is by grace through faith. All that follows is a result of that faith. I still do not earn my salvation. My works are done not in fear of God’s wrath but in response to His ultimate love shown on Calvary. I could answer every one of your Scripture quotations, but this is not the place to do that. I appreciate your response, and enjoy seeing your perspective, while at the same time I respectfully disagree with your conclusions.
Great post, Jim! Thought provoking, as always. I love coming here… because you really make me think. That’s such an awesome gift!
Interestingly, it lines up with one of the verses from my memory passage from last week: “My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. I have declared my ways, and You have answered me. Make me to understand the way of Your precepts, so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works…” It has been the cry of my heart this week to understand what He desires of me more and more… to know Him through His Word more and more… and in turn, to be changed by it.
I guess that would be my answer to the question. “What do you want me to do for you, Heather?” Grant me understanding, Lord, so that I can look more like You.
I love your honesty. And, the fact that you took those vows to spite the unknown! (I read a few other posts since this is my first visit.)
As I came to the place where you asked the question of yourself, I found that I really couldn’t give an answer. I thought, “What would I say?” “How would I have responded to Jesus?” But I have to agree with your final decision…I WANT TO SEE!
Bart could have said anything. But Jesus knew what he would say, and He knew what it would teach us by studying it. I just love the way that works!
God bless you today.
On a side note, I like the fact that this takes place in Jericho because that is where the Israelites “SAW” the miracle of the waters of the Jordan being heaped back to allow them to cross. The Lord allowed them to “see” what He was willing to do for them although they did not deserve it.
Thanks for your comments. “Seeing,” both physically and spiritually, is so very important. I wonder if that is why light was the first thing God created. He wanted us to see, spiritually and physically, every good thing He created.