By Julia Phillips
“And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to him, ‘Rabbi, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” - Mark 10:51–52
Close your eyes and imagine being blind. This passage highlights a theme that repeats in the book of Mark: those who see and those who don’t see. The disciples were with Jesus when he multiplied loaves of bread, healed a mute man, and walked on water. Yet they still struggled to understand who Jesus was. So Jesus finally asked them: “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” (Mark 8:18). The disciples watched a man doing miracles that only God can do, but they didn’t yet fully see that the man doing these miracles was God himself.
Bartimaeus’s story presents a stark contrast to the disciples’ vision. Bartimaeus could not see the physical world around him, but spiritually he could see Jesus. Picture this blind beggar sitting along the side of the road. He hears a large crowd moving, and he learns that Jesus of Nazareth is walking by. So he shouts, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48). At this point in his ministry, others had called Jesus similar names. By asserting that he was the Messiah or Son of David, they thought Jesus would rise to power as an earthly king and bring prosperity to the Jewish people. The disciples asked Jesus to give them positions of power and greatness. They didn’t understand who Jesus really was.
But when Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51), the blind man’s answer reveals that he saw that Jesus was more than an earthly king. He asks for something only the king of creation could give him: “I want to see.”
Bartimaeus expected Jesus to give him his sight. On this side of history, we know more about who Jesus is than the disciples did when they walked with him that day. But do we come to Jesus with expectation and hope, as Bartimaeus did? Do we expect him to do a God thing, as Bartimaeus did? Do we live with a certain kind of blindness, as the disciples once did, relying too much on our own limited understanding? Or do we trust the God of creation, who is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20)?
Close your eyes again. Imagine Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Imagine seeing and believing that he is all that the Bible tells us he is. How do you reply to his question? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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