About a year and a half ago, I mined the gospels for the questions Jesus asked the people he encountered during his life on earth. Maybe it’s the lawyer in me, but I find questions fascinating. And Jesus’ questions are no exception. In fact, I have found them to be incredibly helpful in my own spiritual journey. As I think about the practices we will focus on this Fall — silence and centering prayer; sabbath; and simplicity — one particular question Jesus asked came to mind immediately. It’s the one he asks in this story from Mark 10:46-52:
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
The thing that got me first about this story wasn’t Jesus’ question, but how quickly Bartimaeus answered. It seems that Jesus barely gets the question out before the answer comes. Bartimaeus knew exactly what he needed. It got me thinking: How would I answer this question if Jesus asked me? Jesus asks this same question in a slightly different way in Matthew 20:21: “What is it you want?” What is it I want?
In his book Befriending Our Desires, Philip Sheldrake says, “Desire lies at the very heart of what it is to be human. There is an energy within all of us that haunts us and can either lead us to set out on a quest for something more or frustrate us with a nostalgia for what we do not have.” He also says that God can be found at the heart of all desire. I have come to believe this to be true in my own life and like Bartimaeus, I have encountered our grace-giving, healing, compassionate God at the heart of my desire.
This week, consider spending some time in silence with one or both of Jesus’ questions. Try starting out by sitting in a comfortable, but attentive position, set a chime or gentle-sounding alarm that will let you know when 10-12 minutes has passed, take three or four deep breaths, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Imagine sitting with Jesus and him asking you:
What do you want me to do for you?
What is it you want?
How did God speak to you as you sat silently and listened?
by Kellye Fabian