Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
Back in 2000 the film Traffic was released, where Michael Douglas plays Robert Wakefield, a prominent Federal Judge, who is appointed to serve as the national drug czar, to combat drug trafficking. But he runs into some trouble when he finds his own daughter, Caroline, has fallen into the clutches of drug addiction.
He is extremely angry and politically embarrassed. Father and daughter become estranged, totally alienated, after repeated confrontations. “What do you want me to do for you?” he screams. “There’s nothing you can do for me,” she shrieks back at him. She runs away from home and in her misery and hopelessness, ends up on the streets.
The father, in utter desperation, finally stops, stands still and prays for God’s mercy, realising that his love for his daughter is greater than his anger. So he goes after her in the depths of urban hell, even though she is so wasted that she can no longer call for help, and he finds her, takes her home and weeps over her. At the end of the film, we see a father and daughter working together to battle her disease of drug addiction and a new life of hope for both of them.
The Unstoppable Blind Beggar
I’m thinking of that father’s question, What do you want me to do for you? and I can think straightaway of another time when Jesus asked this same question to a blind man named Bartimaeus. The story is told in three books of the New Testament, the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Bartimaeus was a beggar sitting by the road—and that’s all he could really do. Without sight, he was cut off from the daily events of life—he couldn’t work and was cut off from people around him, in total darkness, a burden for his family and society. People who had some coins threw them to him—enough perhaps to buy some bread.
Blindness and eye disease were very common in the ancient world, and he was one man whose physical impairment had stripped from him the dignity of providing for himself. Others thought he was a dreadful sinner, condemned by God. But one thing he does have is a good pair of lungs. He becomes aware of a large crowd coming and that Jesus of Nazareth was in that crowd. He had heard about this powerful Man who had healed others, and he yells out with all his might, ”Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” A man in deep poverty keeps his ears open for hope—in other words, Jesus do something for me.
To See Is Not to Understand
The crowd tells him to be quiet and stop being a nuisance, but this only makes him more determined than ever—”Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” And Jesus stops and asks for someone to bring him over. Bartimaeus throws his cloak aside and jumps to his feet. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks. “Rabbi, I want to see,” he replies simply. And Jesus, Son of David and the Son of God, has mercy on him. “Go—your faith has healed you.” And immediately, the blind man’s sight is restored.
Do you notice that the blind man did not say, I want a rich man to come by and give me all I need to eat this month or I wish you could get my brothers and sisters to help me out. No—I want to see again. He knew there was a world about him, and he wanted to recognise his friends and could try and earn his own money instead of begging for help. Bartimaeus could have had his sight restored and suddenly discover that his wife was ugly; that he was old and that he lived in a dry, barren land; that he was an old pathetic man dressed in rags.
It’s true, isn’t it, that to see is not to know, to see is not to understand so often.
(To be continued in What Do You Want Me to Do? – Part 2)
© 2008 Lakeview Church