No. 6 "What Do You Want Me To Do For You?" (Episode Two)

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Bothwell & Clachan

October 29, 2006

Mark 10:46-52

Message Series (B) - JESUS’ CURIOUS QUESTIONS FOR CONFUSED FOLLOWERS: Message No. 6 - "What Do You Want Me To Do For You?" (Episode 2) Mark 10:46-52

1. Introduction

1. A. Location, Location, Location

A realtor was driving around a young couple to search for their first dream house. After listening to their concerns about mortgage points, maintenance costs, and school systems, he decided to give them a bit of advice. "I've been selling homes for 23 years," he said, "and I've discovered only three things matter when you're buying a home: location, location, location." 

To prove his point, he drove the couple to see two homes. The paint was peeling on the first house, and the driveway was heaving in spots. "It may be a handyman's special," he said, "but look at the view." The house sat at the foot of a purple mountain, adjacent to ten acres of untouched forest. Then the group went to see a charming two-story stone farmhouse with five bedrooms, a big kitchen, and plenty of closets. "Everything's immaculate," the wife exclaimed after a brief tour inside. "In fact, we might buy it if it was located somewhere else." Then she pulled back a curtain to see an interstate highway and a busy airport runway. 

Location, location, location. It is a good rule in considering real estate. It is also a good rule in biblical interpretation. Anybody who wants to know the deeper meaning of a biblical text can benefit by looking around its neighborhood.  -- William G. Carter, No Box Seats In The Kingdom, CSS Publishing

1. B. Grabbing Opportunity

Batimaeus didn't have that opportunity. He didn't have a NT he could open up in order to see the Biblical neighbourhood he was living in. 

William Barclay once said there are three things that cannot come back: the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity. Unlike us with our Bibles, Bartimaeus could not know what lay just ahead for Jesus less than 25 km away in Jerusalem. He could not know that the Master would be crucified there and that this opportunity would never come again. He did know, however, that the opportunity was here, now, and he wasn't going to allow it to pass him by.  -- King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

2. Our Story Begins

Mark’s account has all the graphic details of an eyewitness account.  Bartimeus is persistent and determined to catch Jesus' attention v.47-48.  It is a desperate desire combined with great faith in Jesus as the one who will save him. And so he begins to call out vigorously, loudly, contuinually (v.46). v.46  Jericho at the time would be very crowded with pilgrims on their way to celebrate Passover up in Jerusalem.  Bartimaeus made such a noise that everyone began to notice. And it lead to our curious question for today.

2. A. "What Do You Want Me To Do For You?"

On the surface Bartimaeus also didn't need to have his problem defined. It seemed very simple. He was blind. 

2. B. Why did Jesus even take time to ask? 

Jesus clearly felt that, although it was pretty obvious to all of them who were watching, that it was still very necessary that Bartimaeus' problem be defined.

2. B. i. Define the Problem

Thousands of years ago a young Chinese emperor called upon his family's most trusted advisor. "Oh, learned counselor," said the emperor, "you have advised my father and grandfather. What is the single most important advice you can give me to rule my country?" And Confucius replied, "The first thing you must do is to define the problem."

Many unhappy people cannot put their finger on what is really causing their distress. Many unfulfilled people cannot even tell you what it would take to satisfy them. Many of us have no clear idea or conception what our real needs, our real desires, and our real priorities are. And because we have never defined the problem or clarified our goals, we spend a lifetime anxiously wandering with very little to show for the pilgrimage.  -- King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

What do I need spiritually? We must not tell Jesus how to meet the need. But we must define our needs and then bring them to him.

3. Another Challenge

But in defining the problem and offering a cure, there is something deeper at work in our story. And we must not rush over it.

In verse v.48 we read that others discouraged this man from seeking help.

Why do people scold this blind man? It was customary for a rabbi or distinguished teacher to teach the crowd while on his journey to Passover celebration. The crowd following Jesus may be offended by Bartimeus' cry drowning out what they are trying to listen to. If so, then they do not understand Jesus, who is always merciful. 

3. A. So Much for Feeling Good…

It is amazing how many dumb things people can say, in the face of problems, in the name of religion. You hear them at funerals. How many hearts have been broken because of someone's outrageous interpretation of adversity.

Even Charlie Brown, in the Peanuts cartoons, encountered this. One day Charlie Brown says to Linus, "I feel good. I just got back from the grocery store. Guess what? The owner and his wife both complimented me. They said I was a very nice boy."

Linus replied, "In the sixth chapter of Luke, it says, `Woe to you when all men speak well of you.'"

Charlie Brown leans his head on his hand and sighs, "So much for feeling good."

It is amazing how, in the name of religion, people can spread such ill feelings. Probably Bartimaeus had to put up with some of this. He was blind, and he was a beggar, and he was probably rejected.  -- King Duncan, adapting Charles Schultz, Collected Sermons,

4. The Dramatic Encounter

The crowd quickly backs down when in verse v.49 we hear Jesus call out to Bartimeus. They are no longer disturbed by the blind man’s noisy bellowing. Suddenly its OK to help out this loud fellow sitting beside the roadway. "Cheer up, he's calling you!"

On Bartimaeus part the response is immediate and enthusiastic! He does not say "Wait until the crowd stops picking on me" or "Wait until I have done this or that."  Someone once claimed that: "Persistence and faith are the two great moral forces that distinguish Christians" (Brent Porterfield).   Bartimaeus  is focused on Jesus as the source of his salvation.  He is able "to leap up, to spring up" and makes his way to Jesus without aid.He rejoices when he is called, throwing away whatever he holds dear, in faith that what Jesus gives is worth much more. And in answering the call of Jesus, we see Bartimeus "throw aside his cloak". For a beggar, the cloak may be his bed at night, it may be what he uses to collect the coins he begs. The beggar throws aside what little security he has.

Please make note of that. For some of us, this is the very point where we hesitate to come close to Jesus. On the one hand, yes, with a healing from Jesus, Bartimaeus would be able to see.

But on the other hand there will be some real life consequences. Have we truly defined and understood the problem and the implications of being cured?  Someone wisely mentioned to me the other day, that for one to really work to solve a problem in some situations could actually create problems in itself, if it further upsets the balance of an unhealthy situation.  Helen Keller is given credit for coining the phrase "There are none so blind as those who refuse to see."  This is why we commented earlier about the neccessity of Jesus' strange question: "What do you want? "What do you want me to do for you?"

4. A. Some People Are Never Satisfied

In fact it is so important that I am going to stoop to using one of Monthy Python's rather irreverant movies to illustrate this point.  (Adapted from Brett Blair,  Adapted from The Catholic Apologetics Network)  I am afraid that some of us act like the beggar in the movie "Monty Python’s Life of Brian." Brian and his mother are walking through town and get hit up by a beggar. "Alms for an ex-leper. Alms for an ex-leper, please." And Brian says: "What do you mean an ex-leper?" And the leper says: "Well I was cured" "Who cured you?" Brian says. And the leper says: "That Jesus fellow." He says: "Now I have a hard time making a living, all I’ve ever known how to do is beg." And Brian says: "Well why don’t you go back and ask him to make you a leper again?" And the leper says: "Well, I might not like that. Maybe he could just make me a leper during working hours or something."So Brian just sighs, drops a coin into his cup and walks away. And the ex-leper looks into his cup and says: "A half a dinari! Look at this - he only gives me a half a dinari!" And Brian says: "Some people are never satisfied." To which the leper replies: "That’s just what Jesus said!"

4. B. A Determined Demand

Now Monty Python might be on to something. Jesus may not have said exactly these words but he certainly ran into people like the so-called "rich young ruler" who were unable to carry through on Jesus' spiritual prescription. 

So when Jesus asks Bartimaeus ( v.51 ) "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus, and probably everyone else there, knows the man's need. In the simple brilliance of  asking the question, Jesus confirms his (and our) freedom to choose. With that question, we are forced to decide what is really important in our lives.

We can even compare Bartimaeus' answer with what we saw last week when we looked at this same question up in the earlier verse v.36 You will remember that Jesus asked some of his closest followers, "What is it you want me to do for you?" Sadly, they ask for status - for prestige - for power. But when Jesus asks Bartimaeus here in verse 51 exactly the same question, the blind man gets it right. "Let me see again!" v.51 

5. Afterwards

And Jesus simply says one word, "Go." ( v.52 ) Then he adds "You faith has healed you."

The word translated "healed" can also mean saved, and Mark probably intended a double meaning. The man was healed physically and saved spiritually. The latter is implied by the fact that he began to follow Jesus.

When this man can see, he chooses to go Jesus' way.  Bartimaeus joined with the other pilgrims in accompanying Jesus on the road to Jerusalem-as the NIV indicates-but again it is likely that Mark intended a double reference. "Following Jesus on the way" is used in the Bible as a term for discipleship. That Bartimaeus’s name was remembered and recorded probably means that he did become a disciple. Certainly, the contrast between his sitting beside the road v.46 and his following Jesus on the road ( v.51 ) serves as a graphic picture of conversion.

5. A. There are at Least Two Spiritual Lessons from Bartimaeus

He refused to be silenced by those who sought to dampen his enthusiasm for Christ v.48. He asked the right person (Christ) for the right thing (mercy and healing) at the right time v.47, 51 and his following Jesus on the road serves as a graphic picture of conversion.

Mark shows us the irony of a blind man who had spiritual insight, while many who could see, were spiritually blind. It is not the crowd or even the religious leaders that really sees Jesus; rather it is this blind man who truly sees him: Bartimaeus sees Jesus as the one to whom he needs to go to have mercy on him

5. B. Meeting Christ

History records a time when two people met each other on July 25, 1807, at a spot in the Tilsit River in Prussia. It was a dramatic meeting to discuss matters which carried serious consequences. In the middle of that stream Napoleon and Alexander held a much publicized private conference. It was widely described in advance as a meeting which would "arrange the destinies of humankind." Cannons boomed, and the shouts of thousands of soldiers gathered on each side of the river added to the noise as the conference began. There the Treaty of Tilsit was drawn up which allied Russia and Prussia with Napoleon. World history and millions of lives were forever changed.

Bartimaeus had an opportunity to meet Christ, one on one, and took advantage of it. As a result, he was greatly blessed. You and I have the same privilege of meeting with Christ, one on one. Christ is calling you. Will you come? Such an encounter, for each one of us, is by far the most important in our lives, for it will arrange the destiny of your life. -- Brett Blair,, Adapted form Harold H. Lentz, Preaching The Miracles, CSS Publishing.

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