Turn to Mark 10:46ff. Last week, I started a series on “The Questions of Jesus.” Today, we are going to look at another one of the questions Jesus asked. He asked it of a blind man. I want you to see the question ahead of the reading of the Scripture passage. Here it is: “What do you want me to do for you?” Woah! What a loaded question! Was this a blank check? What an invitation Jesus was giving to a blind man to ask Him for anything. What did the man request? How did the man participate with Jesus in the exchange? Let’s check it out.
Mark 10:46-52 46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
The first word I want you to consider as it relates to the question, “What do you want me to do for you,” is the word, “BELIEVE.” Believing something about Jesus opens the door to receiving from Him. Now, can He bless you and be at work in your life without your belief in Him? He absolutely can. He is the Sovereign God, but Scripture teaches us that our expression of faith works in concert with the power and resources of God. In other words, faith matters. Hebrews 11:6 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God. The blind man’s faith played a role in his healing. Jesus even said it was his faith that brought healing into his body, into his life.
The blind man was used to shouting out. He sat and begged for a living. He had become accustomed to asking people for help, for sympathy, for resources. Verse 47 of our text, however, says, that he wasn’t calling out for help from just anyone who was present in the crowd. It says, “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
There had to be a reason the blind man used Jesus’ name. He had heard about Jesus’ interaction with other people. He had heard about how Jesus had performed healing miracles for other people. He had also heard, somehow, that Jesus was the “Son of David.” That title is a Messianic title. He had heard that Jesus was the Messiah, and he believed it. Only the Messiah could be the mercy giver, and he had cried out, “Have mercy on me.
What you believe about Jesus will determine, in large part, what you receive from Him because it will impact what you say in response to His question, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
What do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe He was raised from the dead? If you do, you’ll be able to trust that He has conquered death for all who follow Him. Do you believe He can heal your physical body or soothe your emotional pain? If you do, you will direct your answer to His question appropriately. Do you believe He has all authority, power, and wisdom? If so, you will be looking to Him for help to navigate life’s challenges and to know your next steps. Do you believe Jesus is the Messiah? If your answer is “yes,” then you’ll trust Him to take care of your sin problem and to give you eternal life with God. What you believe about Jesus will determine what you receive from Him.
We see not only the belief of the blind man, but we see His humility to express his need. He cried out to Jesus, and he wasn’t quiet about it. He shouted out to Jesus, and his volume only increased when people tried to quiet him down. He confessed he needed Jesus’ help, and notice it was a public cry. He was desperate. It didn’t matter that others could hear him or see him express his need. He wanted the help of Jesus regardless of how his cry appeared to other people.
He didn’t have another option besides shouting out to get Jesus’ attention. He didn’t have someone in his corner who could quietly get Jesus to the side for a private meeting. He couldn’t wait for a moment in hopes of catching Jesus alone. He was going to have to put his need out there publicly, and Jesus didn’t disappoint him.
Listen, God will never ignore a cry for mercy from a humble heart. No one else can give you mercy in your time of need like Jesus. He is the Mercy Giver. He is the One qualified to pour out mercy on your life. He will hear the cry of one over the cries of the crowd, every time. In fact, He is listening for it. Like a mother listening for the cry of a newborn at night, who is ready to meet that baby’s needs, so the Lord is listening for our cry.
To cry out to the Lord is to reveal our absolute dependence upon Him. God is delighted when we express dependence upon Him. That is the relationship He is seeking with us, like a child would seek help from a loving Father, He wants us to seek out His care. We were made to be able to count on Him. Many may conclude that crying out to God or making a need known, especially in such a public way, would be an expression of weakness. Guess what? It is. (II Corinthians 12:9) It is in our weakness that Christ’s strength can be seen. It is into our weakness that Christ’s strength can flow. As we express our weakness, our need, Christ’s power comes into our lives.
I love Psalm 14514 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
Your cry doesn’t bother the Lord. It doesn’t distract the Lord. It delights Him. He is waiting for you to cry out to Him.
Believe in Him. Cry out to Him. The third thing I want to point out is that Bartimaeus persevered in his quest to receive something from Jesus. There were many in the crowd that tried to hush Bartimaeus, many who tried to quiet him, to cancel his cry, but it made him shout all the louder, verse 48. The text actually says that many rebuked him. To rebuke someone is to condemn what they are doing. They disapproved of Bartimaeus attempt to get Jesus’ attention. They were critical of his cry.
Maybe they saw Bartimaeus as unworthy of Jesus’ time. Maybe they simply relegated the sideline sitter to a sideline life. Maybe they didn’t see his need as something Jesus should bother with. Good thing the help we can receive from Jesus isn’t dependent on someone else’s approval!
Bartimaeus didn’t retreat. He didn’t shrink into the shadows on the sideline. No, he became the center of attention as he sought for Jesus’ attention. He couldn’t continue life the way he was living it. He had to have an encounter with Jesus. He had to have life change. He believed Jesus could provide it. His faith helped him stand when voices in the crowd would have him shut up.
Perseverance is a spiritual principle. We are to ask, to seek, to knock and to keep asking and to keep seeking from God and to keep knocking on Heaven’s doors until answers come (Matthew 7:8). Perseverance in asking is about the development of our dependence upon God. It is a spiritual discipline to persevere in prayer. As we seek help from the Lord with all of our heart, Jeremiah 29:13, we find more than what we are seeking; we encounter Him in a deeper way.
When you are seeking something from God, there will be no shortage of voices that whisper into your ear. The world will try to pull you away. Doubters will tell you that it is useless to go after God, that you are wasting your time. Satan will try to convince you to rely on self. He wants you to be hopeless. He will tell you anything and everything to keep you from persevering in prayer in faith. You have to battle. You have to fight. You have to stand in faith. You have to persist in prayer. Jesus will come to you with the help you need.
Verse 49ff: 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
This is my favorite part of the whole story. Jesus stopped. For me, it’s right up there with the verse that says, “Jesus wept.” Jesus stopped. Bartimaeus’s cry caused Jesus to stop. Some translations say, “Jesus stood still.” The Master in Motion, the Master on a Mission, the Master of Miracles, stopped. He stopped for a blind beggar. How much confidence does that give to each of us today? If He will stop, for a blind beggar, He will stop for anyone!
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. Hold onto this phrase about throwing his cloak aside and just focus on the fact that he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. Let’s remember the steps he took in this story. He believed something about Jesus, he persevered in crying out to him and then we see here that he positioned himself closer to Jesus.
By positioning himself closer to Jesus, he was expressing an expectation that something was about to change. When you have a need and desire for Jesus to meet it, you need to seek to move closer to Him. You want to make your way through the crowd, through the noise, through any opposition, and you want to be in a receiving position. The closer, the better.
Back to the fact that he threw his cloak aside, that is a detail Mark inserted for a reason. Blind beggars would do well to keep their possessions close at hand. I love the way one person described Bartimaeus’s cloak:
Instead of real relationships, Bartimaeus had his cloak. It kept him warm – warm enough anyway. It wasn’t the warmth of hearth and home, but it was enough to survive and endure. More importantly, he could hide himself in his cloak, staying isolated physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I imagine that most of the time, he did not want to be seen. Whatever scraps of pleasure he could manage to carve out for himself, he could then indulge in secretly. His cloak was perhaps the closest thing he had to a friend. His life was not one that knew much by way of nurture of soothing. In his cloak, he managed to find fleeting moments of comfort and safety. I can only imagine, over time, how dilapidated and disgusting his cloak became. But up to that day, it had been his most loyal companion. How many times had other people betrayed him or harmed him, rejected him or abandoned him? His cloak would not do that! It was predictable, even if it was only a surrogate – even if it was providing less and less authentic comfort or warmth. (Derek Sakowski)
Church, he tossed aside the only thing he had to comfort him, to shield him from the elements, the thing that surely identified him as a beggar, probably the only thing that was truly his, because he expected to receive something far greater from Jesus. Like a blind man who would leave his cane behind, Bartimaeus left his cloak in anticipation that Jesus was going to do something life-changing for him. What great expectation, what great faith he had!
What cloaks us today? To what do we look to for comfort? How do we try to shield ourselves from the criticism of others? What is causing us to live in isolation? Is it some stronghold of sin? Is it a lack of understanding about the love of God? Is it fear that nothing could ever change, even if we come to Jesus? Whatever it is that keeps us cloaked, and on the sidelines, until we leave it behind or at least express that we want to leave it behind, we cannot experience the miracle Jesus has for us.
Here is what I believe: Far too many people are settling for survival when Jesus wants them to have an abundant life.
Why? Because they don’t want to leave their cloak behind. They have gotten comfortable with life as it is, and even though it is less than desirable, they have some sense of control and comfort with the status quo. Listen, to really position himself to receive his healing miracle and his spiritual miracle (and he received both) he had to leave his cloak behind.
Then Jesus asked the all-important question, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Seeing would change his entire life. The encounter with Jesus would change him spiritually, physically and would have relational and financial and emotional implications as well. His whole life would change if his request was granted, and it was!
What if he hadn’t answered Jesus that day? What if he let doubt creep in, the kind of doubt that made him feel stupid for reaching out to Jesus in the first place? What if he let the fear of man creep in, the kind that would relegate him to the sideline life forever? What if he refused to believe that anything could change? But he didn’t allow any of those thoughts to stand in his way. He answered the question. After you believe, after you cry out to God, after you position yourself closer to Jesus, you need to answer the question Jesus is asking you. What do you want Jesus to do for you…today?
Well, you heard the story. Bartimaeus received his sight. Jesus told him that his faith, Bartimaeus’s faith, had healed him. Look at verse 52 again: Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
The last thing Bartimaeus did was to make a decision not just to cry out to Jesus, not just to try to position himself to receive from Jesus, but he chose to follow Him as a way of life. What a picture of discipleship. Don’t just get close enough to receive, but get close enough to follow Jesus forever.
Bartimaeus began his journey with Jesus on the sidelines and he ended up healing and as a follower of Jesus.
I know the story is about physical blindness, but the reality is we are all born spiritually blind. We are all cloaked by the darkness of sin. We are all born with warped desires to want the wrong things and to try to run our own lives apart from God. Sometimes, we become aware of the brokenness, and we try to leave that life behind, but we can’t fix our broken desires. We keep wanting the wrong things, the things that feel familiar, the sin that has just become our way of life, our way of coping, our way of existing. Sometimes we settle for surviving when we could be thriving.
Before Bartimaeus asked for the healing of his physical sight, he asked for mercy. If he had gotten physical healing but not spiritual healing, he still would still have been miserable in his soul. But he asked for mercy. He saw himself as a guilty sinner. First, he cried out to the Son of David for mercy.
We all need mercy. It’s our greatest need. Our lust, our greed, our short tempers, our pride, our jealousy, our evil thoughts, our impure mouths, our sin makes us all guilty before God. It is only by receiving mercy and forgiveness of our sins that we can rest in what Jesus has done for us and discover everything else He wants to do for us. Anyone need that? Anyone need mercy?
You aren’t doomed to sit on the sidelines. What do you want Jesus to do for you today? Do you long for a harmonious marriage? Do you need healing for a relationship with a friend or family member? Are you struggling financially? Do you have physical and emotional pain from which you need to be healed? Has addiction got you trapped in a vicious cycle of sideline living? Have you opened yourself up to the darkness of sin and Satan? Have you trusted in horoscopes and things of the occult instead of seeking God’s Word for your life? Have you been living for sexual pleasure instead of living a life of fulfillment and freedom with Jesus? What do you want Jesus to do for you today?
Throw off your cloak. Come close to Jesus, and see what He can do for you.