Now or Later
The text is Mark 10:17-31.
In this reading, we hear Jesus ask the same question twice. He asks, “What would you have me do for you?”
In the context of just healing the blind man, who asks for his sight back. Which always begs the question when did he lose it? How long had he had it? How long had it been gone? This man's request is about now. He wants his sight back now . He wants to see (probably proverbially and physically.) And when I've preached the text of just Bartimaeus asking for his sight, this question seems appropriate to turn on us. If Jesus asked us, would we be able to answer? Would we want to answer?
But when we hear the text in its entirety and realize that Jesus asked this same question earlier in the story to the two brothers who wanted to be on his “right and left” when he gets to glory. Really?! That's what they're thinking about. What will come of us when you are in power? What is going to happen to us... later?
I, like the others, are indignant. What kind of request is that? Why did they need that? Why did they want that kind of security for what was to come?
One asking for his sight back and the other two are asking for security in what is to come. Do we want Jesus' help now or are we concerned with later? Which is most common in prayers these days? Do we look to see what is or are we most concerned about seeing what will be?
I don't know that I'm willing to judge either request. Both can be subject to Jesus' call to serve and not be served. We're left without the final story in either case. We don't know how the brothers respond when told to serve rather than serve. We don't know how Bartimaeus lived his life after he regained his sight.
We all have wants, needs. It seems the lesson that Jesus was teaching his followers as they walked themselves to Jerusalem was to serve.
What do you think? What direction are you taking this text in your sermon?
We at Grace Presbyterian are using posters from Illustrated Children's Ministry. to continue discussion in an intergenerational setting. And here's a download of a devotional to use for individuals or families.
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