November 17, 2019

What Do You Want Me to do For You?

Mark 10:46-52

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

—  Mark 10:51

Bartimaeus was in the dark, a blind man who had to beg—until the day Jesus came by on his way to be crucified in Jerusalem (Mark 10:32-34).

Shouting above the crowd, Bartimaeus calls to the Savior, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” People tell him to be quiet, but he shouts all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Graciously Jesus responds: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus had just asked James and John the same question (Mark 10:36). They had said they wanted places of honor in heaven with Jesus. And he had replied, “You don’t know what you are asking.”

But Bartimaeus only pleads, “Rabbi, I want to see.” And Jesus does not disappoint.

Bartimaeus knew what he needed; Jesus’ followers were the ones in the dark. They wouldn’t see the light of Jesus until later.

This incident has raised a question ever since: Who is truly blind, anyway? And after Jesus restores Bartimaeus’s sight and sends him away, the man sees what he must do next. Bartimaeus is a model disciple. No longer blind, he follows Jesus.

Christ’s question echoes through history: “What do you want me to do for you?”

As we worship together today, can we say, “Rabbi, we want to follow your way”?

Son of David, like Barti­maeus we cry, “Have mercy on us!” Give us eyes to see your way and ears to hear your Word so that we can live as your disciples. In your holy name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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