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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

What Do You Want Me to Do For You?

Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout,

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!”

Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

Mark 10: 46-51 NLT

I’m writing from Austin, Texas, where it’s hot enough to bake tortillas on the asphalt.

The locals smile at our incredulity. Just pre-heatin’ the oven, they say. Mike and I have been helping our youngest son settle into his new home following a corporate move: installing a washer and dryer, fixing a broken toilet, hanging pictures, researching potential churches. There’s nothing parents won’t tackle when our children need us.

Jordan and his fur baby Lilly. It was 105 during our evening stroll the other night!

It’s what parents do.

Moves are overwhelming for families but equally challenging for singles who have no one to share housing decisions, navigate an unfamiliar city, or locate service providers. As soon as we arrived, we asked Jordan to name his top priorities: What did he want us to do for him? While we could conjure up dozens of projects, Jordan needed to identify them.

Most of you who join me here on the Ridge each week are followers of Jesus. Like me, you care deeply about what our Rabbi teaches on the road of discipleship. You pay attention to his words, listen to his instructions, and seek to walk faithfully with him in the world he loves.

Tell me what to do, Master, you pray, and I’ll obey. Beyond the limits of my understanding, I’ll do as you say.

But what happens when Jesus stops teaching and starts questioning instead? Have we thought of how we might answer him?

I’ve been reflecting lately on the many questions Jesus asked in the four biographical accounts we have of him.

Matthew: Can anxiety add a single hour to your life?

Mark: What were you discussing on the way?

Luke: If you lose your flavor, how will you become salty again?

John: Do you love me?

But perhaps Jesus’ most puzzling question appears in the tenth chapter of the book of Mark.

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho following a ministry trip, a blind beggar’s cries rose above the din of the crowd.

“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

Shushed and scolded by the crowd, the man persevered. Bartimaeus had no eyes to see where to direct his entreaties but used his ears instead, directing his shouts towards the place his heightened senses told him Jesus was passing.

“Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard Bartimaeus, he stopped.

He waited.

He bid him come. Watched the unsighted man toss aside his outer garment and stumble through the densely packed crowd towards the sound of the Rabbi’s voice.

Jesus knew – of course he did – what the blind beggar needed. Yet still he asked. There was no pity, no impatience, not a trace of supposition in the words he shaped into a question:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

A question that granted dignity to a man whose poverty had debased him.

A question that assumed nothing, presumed nothing, but gave the listener the power of choice in a culture where he had none.

A question that put the second person of the Trinity – the “me” of the triune God - directly in the middle of the second person singular: the double you. “What do you want me to do for you?”

In Jesus’ question, the blind beggar discovered the personal relationship offered him that day.

“My Rabbi!” His Master, his teacher, his Savior.

And out of that relationship, Bartimaeus named the cry of his heart.

“I. Want. To. See!”

As I type these words from Texas, my own vision blurs. Oh, the ones I love, Lord!

My longtime friend from whom cancer has taken so much but her courage.

The dear one whose daughter demands the one thing her mother’s love cannot give her: affirmation of destructive choices.

The prayer partner whose heart is cracked open for her children who have suffered loss upon loss.

An upcoming sea change in the lives of some of my own family members.

Jesus, as I intercede there don’t seem to be solutions in sight. Like Bartimaeus, I cannot see how healing will come. I am sightless, groping my way through intercession for those I care about.

Maybe these days you’re feeling a bit like a blind beggar, too.

But though we cannot see, Jesus has heard our cries, and we have ears to hear his voice calling. He’s asking what he can do for us.

Lord, thank you for your mercy. Please grant us the faith to fully trust in the plans you have in store for those we love.

Rabbi, we want to see!

“And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. “ Mark 10: 52

- Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2023

Congratulations to Linda Teeple of Indianapolis, IN, winner of last week's drawing of He Holds My Hand by Carol Kent.


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