Blue spring flowers on the Cathedral grounds

Mark 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Jesus often asked hard questions. At first glance, the answer to what Jesus asks “blind Bartimaeus” (“What do you want me to do for you?”) seems obvious. But it’s not always an easy question to answer. What we say we want is often not what we really long for. The easier “ask” is usually the remedy for some perceived cause of our unhappiness or pain. (For Bartimaeus, blindness.) However, there is almost always a real and profound need for which that cause is but a symptom of a deeper unhappiness. We may “want” the newest iPhone, exotic vacation, or sexual fling, but what we really want is something deeper.

Jesus knows that it is not Bartimaeus’ blindness that’s killing him but everyone else’s condemnation of him because he is blind. In Jesus’ Palestine, illness, deformity, and suffering were evidence of sin by the one so afflicted (or by his forebears), so the sufferer is getting what he deserves. What Bartimaeus really wants and needs is to be treated like the child of God he is and welcomed into the community, instead of ostracized and left on the side of the road to fend for himself.

Answering the deeper question of what we want Jesus to do for us, acknowledging our deeper needs to one another and to God, puts us in a vulnerable place, which is always scary. Avoiding the discomfort and fear of that vulnerability may keep us from getting what we really need to make our lives happier and more meaningful.

What do you want Jesus to do for you?


Good and gracious God, you want only what is best for us. But often it is hard to know what I want and to ask for what I really need. Give me wisdom to discern what it is that will make my life more purposeful, so that I might serve you and my neighbor better. And grant me the courage to search for answers to the hard questions you ask us. Amen.