Summary: When Jesus asked the same question, first to James and John and then to Bartimaeus, Bartimaeus received because of his faith. When we ask in faith, so can we.
“What Do You Want Me To Do For You?” – Part One
February 8, 2004
Purpose: When Jesus asked the same question, first to James and John and then to Bartimaeus, Bartimaeus received because of his faith. When we ask in faith, so can we.
There’s a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge.
He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge.”
Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one. So, he led the man through the streets, to the sea, and into chest deep water.
“What do you want?” Socrates asked.
“Knowledge, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile.
Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under.
Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up, “What do you want?” Socrates asked again.
“Wisdom,” the man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates...wisdom.”
Socrates pushed him under again. Thirty seconds passed…thirty-five…then forty.
When Socrates let him up, the man was gasping for air. “What do you want, young man?”
Between heavy, heaving gulps the fellow wheezed, “Knowledge, O wise and great and wonderful…”
Socrates jammed him under again. This time for almost a minute, and then he let him up “What do you want?” came the familiar question.
Without any hesitation the young man answered, “Air! I want air!”
It was then that Socrates looked sympathetically at the young man gasping before him, “When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge.”
(M. Littleton in Moody Monthly, June 1989, p.29)
Telling the Biblical Story
In our passage this morning, we see Jesus asking the same question as Socrates. First, he asked it of two disciples, and then to the blind man.
In the encounter with James and John, they came looking for prestige and recognition, Jesus told them that it was not for Him to give.
They asked for preferential treatment, Jesus replied that the kingdom of God doesn’t work that way. And in the midst of uproar among the disciples over James and John’s bold request, Jesus reminded his disciples that in the kingdom, those who wish to be great must serve, those who wish to be first, must be a slave.
In short, if you want prestige, power, and recognition in the kingdom, you don’t ask for it (like the young man visiting Socrates) you earn it by being baptized as servants just as Jesus came to serve, giving his life as a ransom for many.
But then there’s the rest of the story…
We now hear from the blind man. Screaming at the top of his lungs to get Jesus’ attention as he walked down the dusty road.. He’s not looking for prestige or recognition. He’s only looking to be healed.
So when the crowd, probably including the disciples, tried to quiet him, he became even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” was his cry.
And when Jesus stopped and called the blind man forward, the question reappeared again, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man simply answered…. “I want my sight.”
The words “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” was heard by the blind man, but then, in that very instant, Bartimaeus saw as well as heard.
The blind man got what he wanted, the disciples did not. Why?
Today, there are millions of people praying to God for something. And one of the greatest challenges to our faith is when we don’t get what we’re praying for.
When June Ailman Yoder was with us to preach on this passage, she left Jesus’ question hanging with each of us. She asked us to picture Jesus standing right in front of us asking “what do you want me to do for you?” And she reassured us that it is okay to ask for what is really on our hearts and to expect Jesus’ response.
This morning, I don’t want to negate that, but clearly, this Scripture shows us that the disciples didn’t get what they wanted, but Bartimaeus did.
Could it be that this miracle was another teaching moment for the disciples, including ourselves?
James and John, I am sure, heard that Jesus used the same question with the blind man as he did with them. Can you imagine standing there having that inside information?
And we know that Jesus never asked a question that he didn’t already know the answer to. So, what made this blind man’s request so different?
Was it the way he asked? No, both the disciples and Bartimaeus addressed Jesus with respect.
Was it what they asked for? Maybe, but in both cases it was something that would personally benefit.