Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.
They (James and John) replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’
‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him.
The blind man (Bartimaeus) said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’
‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
What do you want Jesus to do for you?
In seasons of reflection, it’s not just suppressed sins that can bubble to the surface. So can suppressed desires, unfulfilled dreams, and long-cherished hopes that now don’t just seem impossible, they feel downright ridiculous – like Sarah becoming pregnant years after menopause or Bartimaeus being healed of blindness.
Could this ashen relationship ever splutter back into life?
Could my contentedly atheist son ever become a follower of Jesus?
Could this decade-long disease really be vanquished?
Blind Bartimaeus wanted to see. That is not remarkable. What is remarkable is his belief that Jesus could give him his sight, and that he asked him for it so unashamedly. He believed Jesus could do the impossible. Jesus could. He did. He might not have.
Still, this is the second time in the chapter that Jesus asks that question.
Bartimaeus gets what he is looking for. James and John don’t. But all three have their eyes opened. The brothers want to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when he comes into his kingdom. This might simply be a desire to continue the particular closeness that they, along with Peter, already enjoyed. Jesus, however, detects an unholy desire for position and status.
We can ask for what we want, but what Jesus wants first and foremost is that we would imitate the one who ‘came not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45), empty ourselves of ourselves (Philippians 2:7), and serve where he sends – whether to a palace or the cross.
He is looking for radical humility, an utter dependence on God, and an openness to his will. In Christ, we see just such humility to the will of the Father: in emptying himself to leave heaven; in taking the form of a human servant (Philippians 2:7); in his atonement, humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death; and in his ascension, the reward for his humility – ‘he humbled himself… therefore God exalted him to the highest place’ (Philippians 2:8-9). Humility is never more clearly expressed than in God the Son.
Humility? Do we really want that?
Is it perhaps much easier to ask Jesus for that impossible thing that our heart yearns for than to ask him to do the impossible in us and give us a Christlike humility?
Perhaps our heart fears that we would not be able to bear the process required for such a transformation? And without him, we wouldn’t.
Humility. Do you really want that?
Mission Champion, LICC