The same question but radically different answers.
Jesus asked two of his closest followers. They had come to him. They had spoken to him. They had even brought their mother who knelt before him. Surely they would know how to answer the questions of the Master.
“Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Full stop! What? Had they said, “We want to do for you whatever you ask,” would Mark have recorded the conversation? Aren’t disciples learners? Why didn’t they call him ‘Master?’
Notice the graciousness of the response of Jesus – “What do you want me to do for you?” Carte Blanche? Blank cheque? How should they answer his kind invitation? Do they want courage, boldness, grace, peace, guidance? No, they have thought through their agenda and want Jesus to bless it.
They are on a power trip. They want position and they were ‘wise’ enough to beat the other 10 disciples to the draw. They will soon draw the indignation of the 10 demonstrating the sinfulness of the hearts of every member of this leadership team.
As I write this blog, I’ve completed another day of instruction in our Grad Certificate in Church Health & Evangelism. Our prof for this module has reminded us of our desperate need for the gospel, our own sinful hearts and the wonder of God’s amazing grace. Leaders need grace, God’s grace, in abundance, if they are to serve effectively. We’ve been warned about our own strength, the folly of presuming to know far more than we actually have experienced. We’ve been challenged with a new sense of our inadequacy and God’s all-sufficiency, something essential to spiritual growth.
In the following verses after the scorch of Christ’s exhortation has burned into the hearts of these men, we encounter another inquirer, a blind man who refused to be deterred as a distraction by the rebuking crowd. Jesus responds to the cry of Bartimaeus and offers him help with the same question he plied to James and John. “What do you want me to do for you?”
Can you imagine the looks between James and John as they overhear this conversation. “Get it right Bartimaeus,” I’m sure they whispered under their breath. “Don’t blow it, like we did!”
The blind man has one thing on his mind. He wants sight, one thing which Jesus is wiling to provide. And how does this grateful man receive the blessing of sight. He followed Jesus immediately. He joins the company of followers, disciples who are blessed to know and serve the Master!
Today in Christian History
June 9, 1894
Birth of Wilbur M. Smith, American Fundamentalist Presbyterian educator. Ordained in 1922, Smith held no academic degrees, but taught English Bible at Moody Bible Insittute (1938-1947), Fuller Theological Seminary (1947-1963) and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1963-1971).
I always find it fascinating that though he had just a two-year diploma from Moody Bible Institute. He was a gifted preacher and passionate shepherd of Go’s people. He was a proponent of high scholarship, yet he possessed a keen ability to explain complex ideas in terms that everyone could grasp. He reminds me of Jesus, of whom it was written, “The common people heard him gladly.” One of his most ensuing works was a book entitled Therefore Stand, a work on Christian apologetics.