The Question

Jesus asked Bartimaeus the question: “What do you want me to do for you?”  Did you catch that?  He said “want”.  Want. Shouldn’t He have asked, “What do you need me to do for you?”  After all, Jesus takes care of our needs. (“And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need…”  “And God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches….”)  I would be much more comfortable with the question, “What do you need?”  But want?  Is that really what He asks?  Why does that make me so uneasy?  That is a question that’s very hard for me to answer.

I try to make my response sound spiritual.  I say, “What is it You want me to ask for Lord?”  I am afraid I will want the wrong thing, have my shallowness revealed, sound selfish.  If He would just tell me what to want, I will want that.  But such a response rings hollow.  If I asked my kids, “What do you want for Christmas?” and they said, “What do you want me to want?”  I wouldn’t accept that.  “No,” I’d say, “what is your desire?  I need to know what’s in your heart.”

It seems to be a dangerous place – this whole idea of wanting.  Just before going into Jericho and healing Bart, Jesus was approached by two of his disciples: The Sons of Thunder.  James and John boldly came to Jesus with this ultimatum: “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.”  Can you imagine the nerve of those two?  Jesus calmly responded, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Same question He asked Bartimaeus.  Very different situation.  But same question.  After voicing their ridiculous request Jesus told them that they didn’t know what they were asking.  And that was the end of that.

I fear doing something Sons-of-Thunder-ish and being abruptly dismissed.  I don’t want to mistake arrogance for boldness.  I don’t want to make a request that is totally out of line.  I really don’t know how to answer that question.  What do you say to a Savior that stops, singles you out of the crowd, and, although you can’t see clearly, you feel the warmth of his breath as he says, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Bart was ready with his request.  He didn’t have to stop and think about that for a moment.   Jesus asks me, “What do you want me to do for you?”  I’ll have to think awhile before I answer.  Can I get back to you?