What do you want me to do for you?
"What do you want me to do for you?"
What a great question. It's the question that Jesus asks two lots of people in a row in Mark 10.
Mark 10:35-37 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." 36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" 37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."
First up are James and John. I imagine them sidling up to him on the quiet. "Psst, Teacher..." They've got something to ask which not everyone else is going to like.
Jesus waits for their request: "What do you want me to do for you?"
James and John spell it out. They want to be next to him when he's king, when he's important. They want to be important too.
Jesus' reply is kind, given the circumstances. He doesn't reject them, but he does spell out that their request is inappropriate for those who are his followers. Christians are not to put themselves above others. In fact, they are to do the opposite - to serve others.
James and John's request is interesting and instructive for us as it stands, but keep reading and you'll see their request contrasted sharply with the request of the next guy Jesus encounters.
This time, it's a blind beggar. And he is making a LOT of noise.
Mark 10:47-52 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" 49 And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart. Get up; he is calling you." 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Rabbi, let me recover my sight." 52 And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
His whole being is focused on getting to Jesus, despite what other people say. Everyone around him is telling him to sit down and shut up, but he persists.
Jesus' question to him is exactly the same as the question he asked James and John: "What do you want me to do for you?"
But the blind beggar's answer is so different to the disciples: "I want to SEE!" His request is a heartfelt, genuine desire to be made whole. He knows he has a problem. He wants to be cured. He wants to be able to see.
And he gets his request, plus words of affirmation from Jesus: "Your faith has made you well."
I'm blown away by the contrast between these two stories. The disciples, who know Christ, but who desire importance and being put over others; the beggar, who only knew of Christ, but who desired most of all to be made whole.
Which do we want more often?
The other thing that amazes me is that Jesus stopped to ask them "What do you want?"
It would have been obvious that the blind beggar wanted healing, surely? And if Jesus knows everyone's thoughts, surely he could have known what James and John were after?
But despite Jesus' divinity, he didn't presume to speak for people, nor to do for them what they had not asked for.
Do I know what I want Jesus to do for me? Can I articulate my needs and desires, or do I muffle them in good-sounding Chrisitian jargon? Can I shout out with similar abandon to the blind beggar, "I want to SEE!"