A Bold Pitch

Mark 10:51 “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Observation: Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” is His response to one of the most arrogant statements in all of Scripture. James and John had just come to Him saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

Jesus’ rebuke was both blunt and direct, saying that among unbelievers men rule over one another, but the Kingdom is different; here we are to serve one another, even to the point of laying down our lives for one another (v. 42-45). Just a few verses later, in a completely different setting, Jesus asked the same question of blind Bartimaeus, saying “What do you want Me to do for you?” but with a very different result.

Application: Just think of it! Try reading their demand slowly, half a dozen times, and see if its brazenness, its arrogance doesn’t increase with each reading. Apparently they didn’t even have enough wisdom to make their bold pitch privately, because the other disciples heard and became indignant (v. 41).

What sense of superior privilege must James and John have carried in their hearts to make such a presumptive statement to the Lord? It isn’t hard to think critically of them, but I wonder…am I all that different? As I stop to reflect honestly, I have to admit that I, too, have carried within my heart a litany of desires revealing self-serving, self-promoting plans. How many times have I asked Him to bless the work of my hands when the better course would have been to ask Him to let me in on whatever He is up to?

On the other hand, poor blind beggar Bartimaeus was well in touch with his need.  But his cry to Jesus seems not to have been motivated by the arrogance of the Sons of Thunder. When he cried, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” it flowed from a heart filled with faith in the only One who could truly heal. It was a request…a plea…not a demand.  Jesus rewarded his faith by healing him with just a spoken word. I should realize that when Jesus asks the question, “What do you want Me to do for you?”, it is never motivated by His need for more information; rather, it is always for my benefit. I need His light shined into my interior darkness.

Verses 43–45 are worth repeating here, and remembering: “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus…reveal the motivation of my heart! Bring conviction when I ask in arrogance rather than in humility, when I seek to prevail in a situation rather than to assume the position of servant. Cause me to become effective in advancing the kingdom, Lord, that I might spent eternity in Your sweet presence.


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