I’ve always been outraged at the sheer audacity of James and John. Unbelievable. They came to Jesus and prefaced their question: we want you to do whatever we ask. They had an inkling the Kingdom was coming and they were about to jockey for position, to sit one on His right and one on His left. Jesus began the conversation, asking, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36)
I’ve always been put off by James and John. But what do I want Jesus to do for me? Well, I have a few things that come to mind. Quite a few. And I start out very much like they did: Jesus, do whatever I want. Only I don’t wait to hear His response before I begin reciting my list of cares and pleasures. Oh yes, I’m guilty of that attitude.
Just a few verses farther along, helpless, blind Bartimaeus also called out to Jesus. Through the dust and the crowd, above the noise of a host of followers, he called out: “Have mercy on me.” Even for that humble plea, he was reprimanded by those around him, shushed and pushed aside. It is unthinkable that he would approach the Messiah yelling, “Do whatever I ask you to!”
Bartimaeus was desperate for mercy and would not be quieted. He called again and Jesus heard him. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”It is no accident that Jesus asked the same question of both supplicants. It is striking.
Lately I’ve found this a helpful guide to my prayers. Sometimes I catch myself approaching the Throne of Grace with an attitude expecting Jesus to answer my every request. I’m not turned away, though I’m thinking only of myself, not His Kingdom, not His glory.
Better to see I am blind and helpless. Better to cry out for mercy. Better to cry out again and again. Better to hear the words of a merciful Savior say, “Your faith has made you well.”