July 14, 2023

What do You Want Me to do for You?

Prayer of Illumination:

Gracious Lord, we pray for a humble and teachable heart. A heart that is eager to listen to Your words and learn. May we abide by Your commandments all the days of our lives. Amen.

A few years ago, my husband, Thomas, was in a panic because he was supposed to fly to Korea in two days, but he couldn’t find his passport. It was already too late to apply for an express passport. He had searched everywhere several times and asked my daughters and me to help him find it.

We all started searching for his passport. He told me that he last saw it in his car so I went to check inside the car. And in less than a minute, I found it under the driver’s seat.

He often calls me asking, “Lydia, have you seen my keys?” “Honey, do you know where the shoes I bought last year are?” “Lydia, where’s the BBQ sauce?” He constantly asks me where things are. My daughters often tell my husband that he is blind and deaf because he cannot see things right before him and doesn’t hear what we say.

Thomas justifies himself by saying it’s because he’s getting old but in reality, he has been like that since he was much younger. Today, we will meet those whose eyes are open but cannot see and the blind who can see.

Jesus and his disciples started off their last journey to Jerusalem. On their way, in vv 33-34, Jesus foretold His disciples about His suffering and death. James and John, however, … we studied this last week … not getting what He was talking about, rather came to Jesus and demanded “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

Jesus asked them back, “What do you want me to do for you?” They requested, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Do you remember what Jesus told them? He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

Then Jesus and His followers arrived in Jericho. At the time of Jesus, Jericho was known as an oasis city. In fact, Herod the Great built his winter palace near here because of its warm climate and freshwater springs. The Bible describes Jericho as the “City of Palm Trees.” Since Jericho satisfied the rich and the powerful, the homeless and the outcasts often lined the roads in and out of town to encounter them.

We don’t know how long Jesus and His followers stayed in the city, but as they were about to leave the city, there was a man sitting by the roadside. The Bible kindly describes the man - he was blind and a beggar; and his name was Bartimaeus, meaning the son of Timaeus.

In ancient times, if you were blind and didn't have a family to support you, you had not many choices but to become a beggar. Bartimaeus had nothing to sell. He was stuck. He was completely dependent upon those who would toss him a few coins so he could buy food to survive another day. To take advantage of the generosity of the travelers, he was sitting by the roadside near the city gate.

It must have been just another tiring day for blind Bartimaeus when he heard a commotion coming down the street. He asked people what was going on. “Hello, hi, what’s going on? Please tell me why it is noisy there?” People told him, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth, the miracle worker.”

He couldn’t see, but he probably heard about Jesus from in-and-out travelers as he was sitting at the gate of Jericho - how Jesus healed the sick - the mute, the paralyzed, the leprous, and the blind - and how he fed thousands of people, casted out demon spirits, and even raised the dead. When Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus, he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

He shouted and cried out with intensity and with passion. Is God deaf? Of course not. But his desire translated into urgency and earnestness in his voice.

Pay attention to how Bartimaeus addressed Jesus. This man may lack his physical sight, but he saw better than anybody else in the crowd. Most of the people including His disciples didn’t clearly know who Jesus was, but somehow this man did. The Son of David is a Messianic term - the Jewish Messiah. The Messiah the Jews had been deeply waiting for from generation to generation.

The disciples and His close followers had heard what Jesus taught but didn’t understand what He was saying. They had seen what Jesus did and had lived with Jesus for the past three years but couldn’t recognize who Jesus really was. They still didn’t get why Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem. Their physical eyes were open but spiritually they couldn’t see it.

As the blind beggar cried out for Jesus, people around him rebuked him and told him to be quiet. “Shh, be quiet, Bartimaeus. Do not bother him. He doesn’t care about you. In fact, no one really cares about you. You are just a blind beggar.”

The huge crowd surrounded Jesus, and each of them had various expectations from Him - hoping to hear His great teachings, to touch Him, to be healed, to be fed, to see a miracle, and maybe just to see who Jesus was.

He was indeed a famous teacher and healer from Nazareth, and people might have thought that a filthy and cursed blind beggar was not worthy of the attention of Jesus. And the crowd fenced him out from Jesus.

Have you ever been mocked or teased by others because of your persistent prayers and sincere faith? We have likely heard or witnessed talk show hosts, celebrities, comedians, educators, politicians, and many others openly mock anyone who professes belief in God, Jesus Christ, or any part of the Bible. “Hey, I guess God doesn’t care much about you. Stop calling Jesus.” “It seems like God is too busy to answer your prayer.”

OR have you ever been told even by other believers, “I don’t think it’s God’s will for you to be healed.” “That’s not how you're supposed to sing on Sunday or behave at church. Stay away and be quiet.”

Blind Bartimaeus didn’t give up and shouted more loudly and persistently than before, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Surely, Jesus stopped and responded to Bartimaeus’s cries by telling His disciples to call him over. Those who scolded him now said, “Hey Bartimaeus, Cheer up! Jesus is calling you.”

Throwing his cloak aside, Blind Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus. It was like, “I don’t need these beggar's garments anymore.” In the Bible, cloaks or clothes represent identity or status. ‘Throwing his cloak aside’ metaphorically means that Bartimaeus left his old self - a blind beggar - behind. He’s not a marginalized, unseen, rejected, ignored, lonely outcast anymore.

And when Bartimaeus came to Jesus, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Do you remember this question? Jesus asked the same question to James and John. What did James and John answer? They said, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

Being a beggar, he could have asked for money or for food. We sometimes treat Jesus like a Genie and ask for success, praise, reputation, or recognition like James and John. But Bartimaeus could see more fundamental needs. Bartimaeus said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” He simply expressed to Jesus his deepest and life-long desire, trusting that Jesus was both willing and able to fulfill it.

Jesus said to him, “Go . . . your faith has healed you,” and Blind Bartimaeus instantly recovered his sight. He earnestly sought the Lord, and Jesus restored him, praising his faith, ‘Your faith has healed you.’ The more amazing thing is that the first thing Bartimaeus saw with his physical eyes was the face of Jesus.

On top of that, he became a new creation. The encounter with Jesus was not limited to the recovery of his physical sights, but it transformed his life. His identity had changed. The adjective that described him all his life didn’t fit him anymore. He was blind but now he sees. Jesus told him to ‘Go’ but this man decided to follow Jesus.

If Jesus asked you, “What do you want me to do for you?”, What would you say? Like James and John, some might demand, “Lord, I want a long life” “God, I want my children to be prosperous.” “I want my grandchild to succeed.” “I want to win 649.” Of course, your prayer for your spouse, children, and grandchildren to be successful and to get blessed is important. However, we should be able to see the deeper needs of ourselves and our loved ones.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?” If Jesus asked you today, what would you say? Can you answer Him right away sincerely and passionately OR do you need some time to think about it?

What do you want Jesus to do for you today? Each of us has our own needs - our own prayer requests - for health, for the salvation of our loved ones, for peaceful life and happiness, etc. Yet, more than that, I pray that our deepest desire is to see Jesus, to know God more, to follow Jesus faithfully for the rest of our lives, and be transformed … even now.

Brothers and sisters, even though due to aging, our physical eye sights are getting worse and we need glasses to see clearly. But spiritually, the older or the more mature we become the more clearly we can see Jesus. Because we’ve tasted and seen His goodness and His faithfulness. Jesus has walked with us and shown us Himself.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to keep our spiritual eyes getting better every day, so we can see the face of Jesus daily until we see Him face-to-face in our eternal home. Believe who Jesus truly is and what He is able to do. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God who died on the cross to take away our sins. And persistently tell others who Jesus is.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see Your face, open the eyes of our minds to understand Your words, and open the eyes of our hearts to the needs of our neighbours. You are the Messiah, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. Help us seek You more than anything. In the precious name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.