"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Lord, I want to see." "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:51-52
Spiritual blindness, as a consequence of the fall, has smitten the entire human race. Not that they are conscious of it. A spiritually blind man does not know his blindness. He imagines he sees- declares that he sees, and denounces you as ignorant if you affirm the contrary. And yet he is blind. "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into the world, that they who see not might see, and that they who see [who imagine they see] might be made blind"- be blinded to their own righteousness. And when this spiritual sight is restored, then comes the knowledge of former blindness: "This one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." A consciousness of former blindness is an evidence of present sight. Here is one of the unmistakable marks of a "man of God"- he is one who sees.
Let us first contemplate CHRIST'S COMPASSIONATE INQUIRY, "What do you want Me to do for you?" That our Lord was perfectly acquainted with the case of this poor man none can doubt. He did not, therefore, propose the inquiry from any ignorance on His part. Is there not something in this fact deeply instructive and encouraging- that the case of the petitioner was minutely, perfectly known to the Son of God? Have you a need, my Christian reader, that Jesus does not know? Have you a trial that has not first tried His heart? Are you battling with a corruption of which He is not sensible? Methinks there is something in this individual and perfect knowledge of our case that is vastly encouraging. I draw near to Christ with the thought, "He knows what is in man, for He created him, and He is acquainted with all the circumstances of my individual case." Sweet thought! Place the crown on His Godhead, for were He not absolutely God you would know nothing of the sweetness of this truth.
But the question arises, Why this inquiry? One or two answers will suffice. Although Christ knows all His creature's needs, He often appears not to know them until made known to Him in prayer. So costly and precious is prayer in His sight! He is often mute until His people speak. True prayer is the breathing of the Divine life in the soul of man. It is but of little moment what the wording is; it may be simple, hesitating, and ungrammatical to a human ear- yet it is the voice of God's blessed Spirit, and is eloquent with Him, and prevails. I would be far from undervaluing a stated ritual where infirmity pleads for it, but in all prayer let us see that we do not straiten the Spirit: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Beloved, the Lord will hear His people's cry, be the mode of its presentation what it may. Believing prayer is all powerful with God. Prayer is the utterance of poverty- the cry of need. See what it was wrung the cry from David's lips, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the Lord; O Lord, I beseech you, deliver no soul." The Lord laid the pressure upon David, trouble and sorrow, and then he cried. Blessed trouble, hallowed sorrow, that stirs us up to take hold upon God! Little, often, do we envision what intent the Lord permits a need or sends a trial. "Let me hear your voice, for sweet is your voice," is the message from God of your trouble.
The case of Jonah is another instance worthy of your devout consideration: "I cried, by reason of my affliction, unto the Lord, and he heard me." My reader, if you will honestly examine your walk with God, I think you will discover this marked feature, that, until God has placed upon you some pressure, has touched you where you feel the keenest, your voice has been too much as a strange voice to God.
Another reason for Christ's inquiry: He would call especial notice to the compassion and power He was about to display in the case of the petitioner. It is thus the Lord awakens expectation. His work shall not be done in a corner, that all men may behold His wonders, and glorify God. Going to God on the basis of the atonement, the blood in the hand of faith, every chamber of God's heart will open, and all the treasures of His wisdom and grace will be at our command. But, before He unlocks the treasury, He will bring us into David's experience, "My expectation is from Him." He will cause us to make known our need, that in Him might be our expectation.
You will mark, too, the speciality of His request. It was not a general one. We too much deal with generalities in prayer. We often lose a particular request in a multitude of general ones. We generalize too much in prayer, asking many blessings, and yet not feeling the deep conviction of the need of any one in particulars. But learn instruction from this petitioner. The Creator of all worlds was before him; a blank card, as it were, was placed in his hand- "What do you want me to do for you?" He might have filled that card with innumerable petitions; but no! he felt the need of one, and that one swallowed up all others.
What if the Lord had offered him wealth, rank, estate? he would have exclaimed: "Lord, this is not what I need, and what I crave at Your hand; it is, that I might receive my sight. I am blind, open my eyes that I may see." My dear reader, what is it that we all need, but spiritual sight? When the Holy Spirit convinces a sinner of sin, he needs Jesus. What will you place before a poor inquirer asking for salvation but Jesus? His plaintive, earnest cry is, "I want Jesus- I want to see my interest in Christ- my adoption in the family of God. I want to see God in Christ as my reconciled God and Father." This experience and this cry tests the reality of a man's spiritual conviction. When the Holy Spirit creates in the soul a desire for salvation, the cry is, "Give me Christ, or I die!''
And what is the desire of the more advanced believer? Is it not that he might see more of Jesus, more of the hatefulness of sin? He desires to see more glory in Christ's person, more tenderness in His heart, more efficacy in His blood. His prayer is, "Open my eyes, let the scales fall from them; anoint them with fresh eye-salve, that I may see more clearly God, and Christ, and truth."
Now mark THE PERFECT CURE. In the first place, Jesus recognizes and crowns his faith. What spiritual mind is not struck with the marvellous power of this poor man's faith? Observe how emphatically he acknowledges Christ's divine Messiahship: "Jesus Son of David," "Lord," "Jehovah." The multitude contemptuously styled Him, "Jesus of Nazareth;" but this man, enlightened by a ray from the throne of God, his spiritual eye already opened, he places the diadem upon His deity, and crowns Him "Lord of all."
You will then mark the working of His faith. He doubted not the willingness of Christ. What does the Lord Jesus require on the part of the petitioner? Is it gift? is it sacrifice? is it penance? Oh no! All He asks is, "do you believe that I am able to do this? Do you believe that I am willing to grant this? Only, believe either in my power or my love." My reader, what is your request? Come, nothing doubting; let but your faith, though with trembling hand, crown Christ's willingness and power, and you shall have to the uttermost all that you need and all that you ask.
The grant was instantaneous: "Immediately he received his sight." Why should there be delay? Why postpone the cure? He had touched the spring of Christ's heart, and he was instantly cured. Oh, happy Bartimeus! What a Being of power and of glory bursts upon your gaze! On whom but the compassionate Savior does your new-born vision rest? So is it when the Eternal Spirit opens the eye of the soul to see spiritual things- the first object the believing sinner sees is Jesus! The scale falls, the veil is uplifted, and JESUS stands before the enraptured soul- the loveliest, the dearest Being in the universe! My reader, have you so seen Jesus? Has Christ been revealed to you?
Then mark the grateful acknowledgment. Jesus said unto him, "Go your way: I have granted you your request, I have poured the light of day upon your eye, and you see." "No," exclaims the grateful man, "not my way, Lord, but Yours. Love and gratitude constrain me to follow You wherever You go. You are my all to You would I cling. Let we go where You go, let me dwell where You dwell, and let me be with You, and that forever." See how powerful is the drawing of Divine love! Having received his petition, does he return to find the garment he had cast away? No, he seems to say, "I have found a better garment, the righteousness that completely justifies me: I do not need the robe that impeded my coming to the Savior- it was the emblem of my poverty and blindness, I have obtained one the emblem of my new-born state, and henceforth I will walk with Jesus in white, for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness."
My reader, are you so following Jesus in the way- His way? Have you cast from you the filthy garments, and are you clothed with change of clothing? Place no confidence in your baptism, in keeping your religious days, in your sacraments. See, oh see, that you have the root of the matter in you. It is a narrow way, though a way of holy liberty; and as sure as you are found walking this narrow way, just as sure will it conduct you to everlasting glory, where you shall exchange the humiliation and burden of the cross, for the deathless splendor of the crown.
May the Holy Spirit bless this His oven truth! May He bring you to see how empty the world is, how sinful your heart is, how worthless your own righteousness is! And seeing Jesus to be "made of God unto you wisdom; righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," may you henceforth follow Him in the way, until you arrive where He is- in heaven's eternal glory!