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.