Scott Jones – Gilbert Campus Pastor
If you’re a parent then you’ve heard this question at least once in your life. “Would you do something for me?” Now no intelligent person ever responds to that question with an unqualified “Yes.” And if you ever have you could tell stories about how badly that may have ended. But the reality is often times people ask us for things without taking into consideration whether it is truly good for them or not. Sometimes we just want what we want. Have you ever thought about that….what you really want. What would you say if you were asked that question by God?
I came across this situation recently in my daily Bible reading. (Oh and if you haven’t developed this practice in your life then let me encourage you to begin as soon as possible. That one is for free.) Anyway, the reading plan that I’m currently doing has me reading a chapter of a Gospel and a couple chapters of a New Testament letter. As you read through them simultaneously you eventually finish with the book of John and the Revelation of John. Really good plan. But I digress.
Last week I found myself in Mark 10. By the way, one of the benefits of reading large sections of Scripture is it allows you to capture the nuances and some of the purpose of the original writer that is often missed when passages are read out of context. About half way through the chapter is a story that you might be familiar with. It’s the account of two brothers and followers of Jesus, James and John, who come to Jesus with a question. The context has the same feel of when your son or daughter comes to you and asks you the question mentioned above.
They basically approach him and say, “We want you to do us a favor.” And Jesus simply responds with, “What do you want me to do for you?” He doesn’t qualify anything. No, he casually invites them to reveal what is on their hearts. And they come forth with the audacious ask of sitting on his left and right in his kingdom. So this is no small request. It’s being assigned the positions of #1 and #2 right alongside the King. You probably know the story he tells them that they don’t have a clue what they’re asking for.
The greatest positions in the Kingdom of God are granted to those who would never dream of asking for them.
They are reserved for those who don’t think they deserve them. This is humility at its finest if we can even talk in those terms. Now before you draw any conclusions here, this is not even the point of this writing. Let’s press on to explore this idea of context and authorial intent. If you continue reading in Mark 10 you arrive at the story of a blind guy named Bartimaeus. Day after day this guy sits on the streets begging. He has no life. He has no hope. He’s an outcast. But when he hears that this miracle-working prophet named of Jesus is within earshot, he figures he has one shot at redemption. One shot at hope. He’s perhaps one yell away from his life being changed forever. And he let’s it fly. “Jesus, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stops, has the blind man brought to him and poses the question. And here it is. Here is Mark bringing the reader in.
He records Jesus asking the same question he posed to James and John. “What do you want me to do for you?” There it is again: those penetrating words that reveal the heart of the one on the other side of the question. But the response of Bartimaeus wasn’t to be #1 one or #2 or even #1000. He simply said, “I want to see.” And Jesus is response to that was completely opposite of his reply to James and John. Because he saw in Bartimaeus not the heart of a prideful, ambitious position grabber but a humble, dependent member of humanity who was content with being made whole.
I can’t adequately describe the emotion I felt when I saw these two stories and the penetrating question in juxtaposition. But what the Spirit of God did in me was to stir my heart about what I would say to Jesus if he asked me the question in Mark 10. “What do you want me to do for you?” How would you respond to Jesus if he asked you that question? And before you look at this as some hypothetical question I would venture to say that one day that invitation may truly come. And the way we respond to it will be determined by how much we have allowed the work of god to emerge within us. So be careful what you ask for.
I believe that Jesus ask us what he can do for us to find out what kind of person we are.
And that’s the question I had to ask myself. What kind of person am I? What matters to me most? What do I believe would bring me the greatest satisfaction if it were granted to me by the Lord of the Universe? These questions haven’t been completely resolved within me. But they have begun a new conversation between me and the One who asks.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Let that question sink in, lead you to explore your own heart and have your own conversations with Jesus so you are ready when he asks.