A free lunch, a miraculous cure, a wise word–all these Jesus was known to dispense. No wonder people flocked to him. Jesus always had an answer but it was not always what was hoped for. Take for instance the three conversations Mark captures for us in Mark 10. First there is the hopeful ‘young ruler’ wanting to know what more he can do to merit eternal life. He was looking for something he could tick off as he had presumed to do with each of the commandments. Jesus stunned him with the ‘one thing’ he lacked: Sell all your treasures and give the money away, then you’ll be able to follow me. He went away deeply dismayed. His treasure was too great to trade for a life of following.
James and John then step up. They’ve left everything to follow Jesus. They have a request–‘Teacher, we want You to do something for us if we ask You.” Don’t we all? But sometimes we just don’t know what we’re asking. They didn’t. They wanted first dibs on the seats beside Jesus when He entered glory. They had high hopes but no idea of the cost of such seating. Request deferred. And with that, quiet talks about the upside-down greatness of the Kingdom of God. The truly great are the greatest servants. Jesus showed the way.
Final entry, a poor blind beggar named Bart, crying out at the top of his lungs by the roadside: “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” The passers-by, straining to hear Jesus’ every word, find Bart’s behavior odious. But he would not be silenced and Jesus heard his plea. Calling him near, Jesus gave the beggar His undivided attention: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus might have asked for lunch or some pocket change but he knew what he wanted most of all and he believed Jesus could do it for him. “I want to see!” he blurted out. And Jesus, seeing his faith, restored his vision. Then with his newfound sight Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus.
What might I have asked Jesus for? What do I want more than anything in the whole wide world? The successful business man wanted riches here and hereafter. James and John wanted a slice of privilege, a bit of glory for themselves in exchange for their dutiful following. The blind beggar wanted mercy. He wanted an undeserved hearing with Jesus. He was then granted the desire of his heart.
What do I want? How will I get it? What will it cost?*
These questions help me to sort out my frustrations when life doesn’t seem to be satisfying my soul. They help me to zero in on the ‘one thing’ that is needful. And these stories of real people who came to Jesus with their desires help me to see how mine may need refining.
Do I take consolation in my own achievements, fearing for the loss of what I have if I should follow more faithfully? “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ…in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord!” (Phil.3:8)
Do I value serving above recognition? Can I serve unseen for ‘an audience of One’ and trust Him with any future reward. “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (Lk.17:10)
Or, am I coming to Jesus pre-eminently for Mercy and too, that I may see Him more clearly and follow Him more closely. “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” (Mt.5:3)
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.–You desire and do not have…you fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.–Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
Jn.15:7,8; James 4:2,3; Prov.37:4 HCSB
*I owe to Elisabeth Elliot the succinctness of these questions. She says that in answering them we establish the basis for a steadfast heart and greatly simplify our lives. See: ElisabethElliot.org https://elisabethelliot.org/resource-library/lectures-talks/a-steadfast-heart-part-1-2/
It’s been many moons since I’ve posted here; I’m not even sure who’s still along for the listen. But if you are, and wouldn’t mind saying hello, I’d be so encouraged ( : –LS