17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”
50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.
51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
– Mark 10:17, 35-37 & 50-51
While Mark 10 is loaded with questions that people bring to Jesus – e.g. the Pharisees question Jesus about the law, the disciples ask Jesus who can be saved, etc – these three questions give us much to think about. In the case of the rich young ruler, we see a young man with everything who believes that he has kept the ten commandments, approaches Jesus as merely an elevated teacher, and thinks he can work his way into good standing with God. He doesn’t recognize Jesus’ identity as God, and mistakenly thinks that anyone but God Himself can be called “good.” In the case of James and John, his zealous disciples, we see two men who, although they are truly children of God, mistakenly step beyond their boundaries, seeking proximity to the Lord in His prestige, while failing to grasp that while they were His royal subjects, they were still called to be servants of one another. And lastly, we come to the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who acknowledged Jesus’ divine Kingship and didn’t ask for instructions on how to inherit eternal life (as the rich young ruler did), or about a future position of prominence within God’s kingdom (as the disciples did), but who asked for two things:
1. Mercy (cf. Mark 10:48)
So, I’ll ask you what I asked myself:
Who are you?
What manner are you approaching the Lord Jesus in? Is Christ your equal, a “good” Man perhaps but not God, who is here to give you the keys/information you need to work your way into eternal life?
If so, then you are an unbeliever.
But if you are a believer, have you forgotten that even the Son of Man did not come to be served to serve others (as the disciples frequently did)?
Or are you, like Bartimaeus, blind and poor and willing to giving up even the shirt on your back, crying out in God given faith to Christ for sight to see the King of all kings and worship Him?
I found myself, unfortunately, in James and John, seeking to reign rather than serve; seeking position of prominence within the Lord’s kingdom, while He alone has chosen all things according to the effective power of His will, yet lovingly corrected by Him.
The rich young ruler bows the knee to Christ, while the disciples see His Kingdom as a future event, and the blind man acknowledges Jesus’ present role as King of Israel, Son of David, but doesn’t bow the knee. The rich young man goes his own way after being corrected by Christ, the disciples continue to follow Him as He travels to the cross, but Bartimaeus, when he is told to “go [his] way,” follows Jesus. What is interesting here is the contrast drawn between the rich man and the blind beggar, the first an unsaved man, the second a man saved by the grace of God alone. As in other places in Scripture, I think the Lord here makes the situation clear by drawing these antithetical parallels.
So, who are you?
Given the command to sell all you have to follow Christ, have you grown sad and walked your own way?
Or, given the command to “go your own way” do you, instead, follow Christ to the cross?
There can be no doubt that the Holy Spirit intended to draw out this parallel between the rich man and the poor man, the ruler and the beggar, the man who can see and the man who can’t. But we often fail to realize a very subtle distinction found in their respective manner of approaching Christ.
Let’s compare the words of these two men and how the Lord responds to them.
1. Rich Young Ruler: 17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
2. Bartimaeus the Blind Beggar: 48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
& 51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
The difference is very subtle, so I’ll draw it out: The rich young ruler first calls Jesus teacher, neglecting entirely Jesus’ identity as God in the flesh; but the beggar first acknowledges Jesus as “Son of David” (divine Messiah-King of all kings) and then calls Him “Rabboni” (or, teacher). Before the beggar’s physical eyes were opened, his could see Christ spiritually.
Who are you?
Is Christ simply a teacher, a good man, but not God who requires all from you?
Or is He the King of Israel, God in the flesh, who can be called upon in order to receive mercy and sight?