Posted by: Postordinandy | November 26, 2009

What do you want me to do for you?

Last night we looked at the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar who Jesus healed one day on the outskirts of Judea – the full story can be found here.

It is reasonable to presume that a blind person in those days would have considered their lack of sight to be the result of some sin that they had committed. Certainly others would have thought this about Bartimaeus, and his initial cry to Jesus – “Son of David, have mercy on me” – is a cry of desperation, possibly more about his spiritual state than his physical one.

Jesus asks Bartimaeus an odd question: “what do you want me to do for you?” Surely Jesus, Son of the living God, knew what this poor man wanted from him – why ask?

Bartimaeus’ answer, the wish for physical sight, might have come as a surprise to the beggar himself. Perhaps he was thinking of asking Jesus for a blessing, a promise of sins forgiven, or maybe he had assumed that Jesus would pass him by as so many others had before. Whatever the reasoning behind the request, Jesus takes it as an indicator of a faith great enough to heal.

Bartimaeus’ faith is not the robust, sure-of-everything, confident, all-knowing kind that so many of us often think of when we hear the word ‘faith’. His faith was more earthy, needy, all-other-options-have-failed; a certainty rooted in desperate doubt and fear, echoing the Apostle Peter: “Lord, there is no one else that we can go to!” and an anguished father: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

And this is an essential ingredient to the Christian faith – a readiness to admit doubt, acknowledge desperation, and hold onto a hope that cannot be seen, heard or touched – but must be there (please). And the wonder is that God looks kindly upon such weak, desperate, clutching-at-straws – and rewards us for our faith.

I wonder what your answer to Jesus’ question is?


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