What Do You Want Me To Do For You?
Key Verse 10:51
“‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’”
When Jesus said “the son of man must suffer many things….” he was saying to his disciples “I have to die to give you eternal life and the kingdom of God. I have to suffer and die to achieve glory. Glory doesn’t come easily, not even to me. But I will achieve it through suffering and death.” And, “, if you want glory, you must follow in my footsteps. To achieve glory, you should accept the truth that the way of glory is through carrying your own cross as well. My suffering and death will bring you eternal life and the kingdom of God, but it cannot bring you an ounce of glory, nor can it make you into a great man. To receive glory, you have to give up desire for human glory and walk with me in the way of compassion, humility and of servantship. You need to do as I do. Strive for what really counts in the eyes of God and not for what your sinful heart desires. You should learn to love those who are hard for you to love. You need to serve those who are helpless. Bless those who curse you. Plant hope in the hopeless. Endure the wretched. That, will distinguish you in the eyes of God and set you on the road to glory— the glory that counts— the one I seek— the one that pleases God”
But it was as if they didn’t hear him. Perhaps they thought it was just another parable. They could not imagine a way of life that is marked by suffering and death. They just couldn’t! The next moment, instead of saying “Lord please explain to us why you must suffer and die” two of them came to him secretly and said: “We want you to do for us what we ask… let one of us sit on your right and the other on your left.” What they were saying was: “We don’t really care much about eternal life and the kingdom of God. We only care to be your second of command. We do not care to suffer. And we have had enough suffering already to care for more at the moment. So, please let us enjoy some of your glory and power. We’ve done enough already to deserve it.” It is amazing that Jesus did not try to kick some “spiritual sense” into them. The Good Shepherd simply taught them again about the most fundamental principle of true greatness. Greatness is in serving. Greatness is in being the servant of all. Jesus himself demonstrated this when he said: “The son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We grow up in a generation that idolizes self-love and hates self-sacrifice. It detests self-denial and adores self-indulgence. It glorifies self-pride and detests meekness and humility of heart. It is hard in a culture like ours to understand the beauty and wonder and virtue of a teachings such as this: “Even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.” What a glorious teaching it is. What a life it would be if we were to surrender our desires to be honored and privileged and recognized by the world, and adopt Jesus’ life style— the life of a servant of all. The world may no longer recognize us, but there is no doubt that the Lord will. The song “oh to be like thee” is very meaningful.
After Jesus had spoken these words to his disciples who seemed to go deaf on him every time he talked about suffering and death, the company reached a suburb of Jerusalem known as Jericho, and were on their way out of the city. Mark makes no mention of the incident that occurred while Jesus passed through the city. But Luke dedicated an entire section to what had happened while Jesus was actually passing through Jericho. Jericho was a famous and historical city. For those of you who have not heard of Jericho, the city was conquered by Joshua when its walls came tumbling down. Then Joshua who conquered it, did not remain in that city, for it had defied the armies of the living God. Instead he put a curse on this godless city. He basically cursed anyone who attempted at rebuilding this city. Later on, the curse came true when someone tried to rebuild the city and paid the price by losing both his sons in the process. After that, no one wanted to rebuild this city anymore and another city was built close to the original location, and they named it Jericho.
But, going back to what the author Luke recorded, Jericho had become the tax center for all of Israel. It had become the place where tax collectors as well as chief tax collectors built mansions and lived in luxury in this Jerusalem suburb. In this city of Jericho, and on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus met a man named Zacchaeus. Unlike Matthew the tax collector whom Jesus called to follow him, Zac was a chief tax collector! Jesus was glad that this man had a desire to know who Jesus was. So Jesus invited himself to Zac’s house. The man was a contemptible chief tax collector . He had extorted money from the people of the land. He had extorted money from tax collectors themselves. But when this terrible man spent some time with Jesus, his conscience came to life. His heart was melted. He was captivated by the fact that Jesus had compassion on him. Zacchaeus then repented . Which means he felt sorry for having lived a selfish life and wanted to change that. Not only that, but he also decided to learn from Jesus the life of love and sacrifice and servantship. It is amazing how a few moments with Jesus changed this man’s heart. He learned what true glory is all about. He had gone after worldly glory and had ruined his life and the lives of many. But the truth he learned from Jesus was that true glory comes to the heart when a man is ready to imitate the humility and servantship of the Lord. The disciples had been with Jesus for more than three years. And they were still looking for human glory and worldly honor. But this man Zac understood what Jesus and the Christian life is all about. He became a hero of faith. After this, Jesus was ready to leave the city of Jericho. He had passed by to rescue this one man from his life of sin.
Read verse 46. “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, Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging.” The city was a wealthy suburb of Jerusalem where the rich and the mighty isolated themselves from the common crowds. And on the outskirts of the city, there must have been countless beggars who lived in the hope that some of these more fortunate people might pity them and hand them a coin or two as they rode off to Jerusalem in their chariots. One of these countless beggars sat there by the roadside as usual and hoped to be noticed by someone who might toss him a coin or two. He was a beggar but not an ordinary beggar. Mark tells us that he was as a blind beggar. Mark tells us his father’s name Timaeus, and so he was a son of Timaeus. Timaeus might have been known to many. But his son, the blind beggar was only known as his son. He had a name. But no one called him by his name. No one even recognized him as a human being. They only recognized him a beggar— a blind beggar for that matter. Day after day, Bartimaeus— or whatever his name was— sat there by the roadside with an outstretched hand to anyone who would notice him among the many beggars who sat there by the wayside. Most days, the pleading of the other beggars muffled his own pleas and he couldn’t get anyone to notice him. I wonder what thoughts went through his mind as he sat there— day after day— hoping someone would notice him? I wonder what he felt. I wonder what he imagined the meaning of his life to be. I wonder if he was confused about the reason why he was born to this misery. I wonder, because I really don’t know. But I would imagine that most people in his situation may have been bitter with God and hostile at life. The miseries of life can either make us or break us. Only few go beyond the treachery of their misery and look to God.
But from the story here, it seems that he was different from the rest of the beggars. He was another hero in the book of life— one who was recognized by the Lord and included among those who are blessed. What made him so different from the others? How was he able to keep his heart free from the bitterness that so easily seeps into and oozes out of the heart? Maybe if we listen to his words and examine his actions we can understand. Read verse 47. “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
Many had heard about Jesus. Many had heard some of the teachings Jesus went around spreading among the people. Many had even seen and heard Jesus personally. Many had heard and witnessed all that Jesus had been doing from place to place. But not many had the spiritual sense to put two and two together. They had seen Jesus heal the sick, and preach the message of life. But even though they had seen what Jesus was doing and heard what Jesus was saying, they still had no spiritual sense to figure out what they should do. They should have seen the face of God in Jesus— the God who had come to bless and to heal and to restore and to recover. (God is still visiting people all the time but they are not seeing him) They should have heard the voice of God in Jesus (God is still speaking to people today but they are not listening) They should have heard God’s voice of hope and promise of life— even if they were most wretched and unworthy. But they just couldn’t understand what they were seeing and hearing. (Today, people look and listen but they do not see nor do they hear). Every word of God, every act of love and mercy and forgiveness— all come from God but they are blind and deaf.
But this blind beggar— though he was helpless and wretched— was different! He had spiritual sense. (everyone has been gifted with spiritual sense, but they choose not to use it. Their pride gets in the way. Their own ego gets in the way.) But when blind Bartimaeus heard what Jesus had been doing and what Jesus had been saying, he thought to himself: “This is the voice of God. This is the promised Savior. This is the one who had come to heal me and to bless me and to forgive me and to raise me up from the dust and to wrap me in arms. I may be less than nothing to these people— just but a cursed beggar. But from what I hear about Jesus, it is not true! I am a precious child of God. And this very day God is visiting me. And he wants to make me well again.” Although he was a blind beggar, he could sense what the Messiah had come to do. There were many who saw and many who heard— but were too blind to see the Messiah and too deaf to hear his voice. (Are you seeing the Messiah today in your life all around you. Are you hearing his voice?) But this blind man was among the few who could see Jesus and welcome him into his heart.
He shouted “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” What’s going on here? What’s going on is that his faith was at work— his faith came to life— he believed that Jesus was the Messiah— the Son of God. And that he had finally come to bless him and to change his life. It was also his assurance at work— the assurance that Jesus loved him and had come to heal him. It was also his prayer at work— that he would be heard above all the noises in the world. (The world’s noises are many and they drown out the voice of God to our ears, and we begin to believe that God does not hear— but he does!) this man’s eyes did not work for him, but he had many things working for him in his heart— his faith— his assurance— his prayer. He had spiritual sense to know when God had given him an opportunity to exercise his faith. Not many people have that sense to realize when God is with them, around them, speaking to them, revealing to them his unending love. They know what Jesus came to do. They had heard his teachings. They may have PhDs in many subjects. But they can’t figure out that he is their Messiah who has come to save them from their sins. That’s a tragedy!
But the blind beggar did! Look at what he said: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He understood the character of the loving God. He appealed to God’s loving character. The problem was that the crowd. They wouldn’t let him come near Jesus. Read verse 48. “Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” The crowds really didn’t understand the character of the loving God. They didn’t understand the purpose of the Messiah’s coming. They didn’t know what was on Jesus’ heart. They didn’t know that Jesus had especially come to help people like this blind beggar. People didn’t know. But the blind beggar knew! And because he knew, nothing could stop him from reaching out to the Savior. He was convinced that God loved him. And when he knew this truth in his heart not even a crowd of a thousand could stop him from reaching out to the Savior. Nothing could hinder his faith. His faith was stronger than a crowd of ignorant people. In this troublesome world, it’s easy to blame something or someone for the condition(s) in our lives that seems to never change. It’s easy to blame others for our failures, for our handicaps. But the truth is that we can only blame ourselves and our lack of faith. When this blind beggar had faith, nothing could stand between him and God. Faith is a powerful element in our lives, when we decide to exercise faith in our dire circumstances.
And his pleas finally reached Jesus’ ears. But surely his faith reached God’s heart first. Read verses 49-51a. “Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him.” Don’t you think it’s obvious what he wanted Jesus to do for him? Yet, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Why would Jesus ask such a question? To see what’s in his heart! The heart is the place of many desires. And most of the heart’s desires are sinful. Jesus asked him: “What do you want me to do for you?” “What’s on your heart now that you’ve gotten my attention. What do you want? What do you want more than anything else?” In this moment, the blind beggar understood that Jesus was offering him whatever he wanted. Come to think of it, “If I am made to see, I would still be a poor beggar. But if I’m no longer poor, and had riches instead, I could live with my blindness being served for the rest of my life.”
The truth is that the desires of the human heart are wicked and changeable according to the situation. How often has a good intentioned person said, “If I get rich, I would build a church. I would relieve the debts of my family and friends.” But if this good intentioned person ever holds this money in his or her hands, it would be interesting to note the changes in the heart’s desires. Selfishness and greed might convince him otherwise. It’s not hard to understand why Jesus would ask the blind beggar such a question. It’s the kind of question that digs deep into our heart to expose its hidden desires. Jesus’ question to him was a test of faith— a test of resolve— a test of truth— a test of heart desire. When God puts (asks us) a question like this on our own hearts, how would we respond? What we want from him? What’s on our hearts? A lot of times what’s on you heart, what you want from the Lord is mundane and worldly and casual— for some of us it’s even godless! It would be good to have a ready-answer— something above what’s base and godless. It’s good to have your heart prepared to give the Lord an answer that reflects the will of God for you— something more noble than the desires of your hearts.
The blind beggar’s answer is remarkable. Read verse 51b. “The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’” He could have asked for anything he wanted. (The Lord may not have granted him what he may have wanted; but he could have asked for anything). Shouldn’t he at least tale some time to think about an answer to get the best deal from Jesus? He could ask for vengeance on all who had hurt him during his life— those who despised him— who left him to wallow in his own misery! (Don’t be surprised! If we do not deal with the hurts and disappointments of life in a manner worthy of the gospel— if we don’t deal with our pain and sorrow with the gospel of forgiveness— what we end up wanting and praying for is not much more than some relief, some gratification, something ignoble!) But blind Bartimaeus did not. He simply voiced what was on his heart. He wanted to see.
How was it possible that he was so quick to give such an answer? We need to think about this for a little! Is it because he wasn’t greedy! Is it because his way of thinking wasn’t crooked! Could it be that his heart was right with God! Could it be that he had prayed for a while now to meet the Savior of his soul and to receive his healing touch! All the time he had been praying for this. And he wasn’t ready to give up what he had been praying for. He was a blind beggar, but he was noble at heart. His prayer was not complicated— rather it was simple— and concise. He just wanted to see! And he prayed with this till God answered his prayer. He shames us the way he held on to his prayer until God visited him. As I said, the heart has many desires. And there are also many prayer topics that we might have— half of which we soon forget. But here’s what pleases God— when you, in faith, abandon your hearts’ desires and take upon yourself noble prayers for yourself and for those you love— prayers you would hold on to— in faith— that God will answer in his own wisdom and time. Do you have a prayer to hold on to, even against the many desires of your heart?
Read verse 52. “‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” He was helpless, but he wasn’t hopeless. He was hard pressed, but not discouraged. He heard Jesus’ teaching and took them to heart. Then with spiritual sense he concluded that Jesus the Messiah had come to preach the good news to the poor and to bind up the brokenhearted (Isa.61:1; Luke 4:8); and he believed that Jesus would visit him with grace and show him mercy. To summarize all that, he put his faith in Jesus. And he waited patiently on him with a prayerful heart. And when the light of Jesus came to shine on his life, he expressed that faith: “Jesus son of David have mercy on me” “Lord I want to see”. Now that’s faith— to believe the mercy of the Lord, and to expect his blessing and healing touch.
Jesus saw his faith. And Jesus honored his prayer. He gave him what he wanted the most. He healed his eyes and his soul. His life shone with the love of God for all humanity. What do you pray for? What do you want Jesus to do for you today? David said: “Whom have I in heaven but you; and being with you, I desire nothing on earth.” (Ps.73:25) Paul’s heart’s desire was this: “I want to know Christ.” (Phi.3:10) Jesus’ prayer was this: “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1) If your heart’s desires is in this world, you pray greedily for selfish things. And when your heart’s desires is noble, you pray according to the noble desire of your hearts. Be noble in your heart’s desire. Let your prayer reflect the will of God! And persist— until your prayer is answered. “Lord, make me a servant. Make me humble like you. Use me in the gospel work to reflect your love and mercy to everyone, until they too come to know you and love you and serve you. Bless your church to grow more and more in your image and to fulfill its purpose until the kingdom of God comes upon us.”