Specificity (Luke 14:41)

“What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, [I want] to regain my sight!”

Luke 14:41

As Jesus enters the city of Jericho, there is a blind man — another gospel tells us that his name is Bartimaeus — who cries out asking Jesus to have mercy on him.

Mercy, it occurred to me, is a rather non-specific request. When Jesus stops and has Bartimaeus brought over, Jesus asks what it is that Bartimaeus wants Him to do; what sort of mercy the blind man is after.

Yesterday morning, I was drawn to the tax collector’s cry for mercy. Be merciful to me, the sinner. His request was bound up in how he saw himself: the sinner. Bartimaeus, according to Luke’s account, only says Have mercy on me. He knows who Jesus is — son of David is a prophetic name for the Messiah — but he says nothing that might indicate what sort of mercy he is asking for. So Jesus comes right down to business: “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Sometimes, I wonder if I do not receive an “answer” to prayer because my prayer was too general, à la “God, please bless so-and-so.” I can imagine God sitting on His throne saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” It is not as though He does not know what I mean — He knows everything — but that He wants me to be able to see that He has responded to me and to my request in particular. If Jesus had simply told Bartimaeus that his sins were forgiven, Bartimaeus might have been content to leave things there. It is possible that word had traveled about the paralytic and that this blind man would have been well content to know that he was forgiven by God. Jesus draws out specifics. “What do you want Me to do for you?”

I think that God is still asking those with the right view of Him and Who and what He is and enough faith to pray this very same question: “What do you want Me to do for you?” Let me pray specifically so that I can see clearly when God responds to my requests.


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