Washington Evening Journal
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What would you request from Jesus if he asked you, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Twice in Mark Chapter 10, Jesus asks that question. First, to James and John in Mark 10:36. Then to blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:51.
James and John request to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in his glory.
Bartimaeus asks to receive his sight.
James and John’s request is for personal position; they do not understand Jesus’ purpose as Messiah. They realize Jesus is the Messiah, but they cannot conceive of a Messiah that suffers and dies for their sin.
Bartimaeus, on the other hand, recognizes his own shortcomings, and he knows that the human being, Jesus of Nazareth, is the Son of David (a divine, messianic title).
James and John are identified as the sons of Zebedee. They do not own, yet, Jesus’ admonition in Mark 3:35 that Jesus’ family does God’s will. Jesus had not come to do James and John’s will. James and John should have been asking, “What can we do for you? What would you like us to do?”
Jesus rebukes James and John, but he fulfills Bartimaeus’ request.
James and John’s request comes on the heels of Jesus’ third prophecy in Mark’s gospel of his suffering, death and resurrection.
The first time in Mark 8:31, Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. But, then, Jesus rebukes Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”
The second time in Mark 9:3, we learn that the disciples do not understand what Jesus meant, and they are afraid to ask him about it.
The third time is Mark 10:32-34. We might imagine, after hearing Jesus’ prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection, if we had our wits about us and a measure of emotional intelligence, “Oh my, I don’t understand, what should we do, how can we help?” Rather, James and John ask for positions of prestige.
None of the disciples in Mark’s gospel see clearly that Jesus is the suffering Messiah come to die for sinners. At first, they (and we) do not perceive that Jesus’ life is our example of servanthood and our ransom from sin.
Although James and John physically see, their spiritual eyesight is blurry. Eventually they will see clearly. James dies as a martyr in Acts 12:2. John cares for Jesus’ mother, Mary, after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension (John 19:27). Further, John dies as an exile on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).
Bartimaeus, on the other hand, cannot see physically, but he understands spiritually, so he cries out to Jesus for mercy. Not a bad example for us. Instead of seeking after glory, we should cast ourselves on the mercy of God.
Instead of asking for self-aggrandizement, how about humbly asking for better insight of our own defects, and God’s wisdom to overcome them.
Instead of desiring to be served, let us serve one another even as we point to Jesus, the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.