A question from Jesus.

What do you want me to do for you?

It’s a question from Jesus. Asked twice. Same chapter. But a very different answer.

The chapter is Mark 10 and the first time Jesus asked the question was when James and John approached him because they wanted him to do for them whatever they asked him. (Matthew’s account of the story implicates James’ and John’s mother).

What do you want me to do for you?

The second time follows 15 verses later. This time it’s a blind man called Bartimaeus who calls on Jesus for mercy.

What do you want me to do for you?

Twice the question is asked but the answer turns out to be quite different.

For James and John, it’s about importance. They want Jesus to guarantee them key seats in the Kingdom. One on the right and one on the left. In one sense it’s a noble ambition – it was the Kingdom, after all: what better venue for significance? – but beneath it lay a seriously flawed understanding of importance.

For Bartimaeus, it’s about recovering his sight. Was it strange that Jesus should have asked him what he wanted? Was it not obvious? Or was there some value in requiring Bartimaeus to specify what it was that he needed? At any rate his request was granted. Immediately.

What do you want me to do for you?

It’s a revealing question. How would you answer? Importance? Or mercy? Do you want Jesus to be your passport to status and importance? Or is he your hope for mercy?

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