James and John were brothers. They had been working in the family fishing business – a successful business that had employees. A couple of years earlier, the two brothers had decided to take time out to follow and to learn from Jesus. The business was, no doubt, left in their father’s hands to run with less staff for a while – or temporary staff.
Jersey businessmen and Jersey-based employees are facing similar situations. The global credit crisis and the global recession have given rise to the question, “What do I really want?” I know what I have been striving for until now. But what about the future if, as many able experts are saying, the Western world has turned the corner into decline. What if my children, reversing the position of many past generations, will not be able to have a better life, better chances, than I have had? Is this all that there is?
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked the two brothers who had been his close followers for two years. The reply? Your reply?
It’s very interesting that, a few hours later, Jesus was asking the identical question to another man. This time it was a single man – a blind man, a beggar. This man’s father was named Timaeus but the man himself had no name. He was merely called, “Son-of-Timaeus”. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus said to the Tim’s son. The reply? Your reply?
The wants –
James and John: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Notice the last three words – “in your glory.” Yes, these chaps wanted position, wanted authority over others. In many ways they were asking to be the bosses – in the same way as they had been bosses under their father in the family fishing business. When they said “jump”, folk jumped.
Tim’s son: “Let me recover my sight.” The word “recover” is definitely the correct translation. Had he seen at some stage in his life? If so, not now.
Did they get what they wanted from Jesus? Do you?
To James and John: “You don’t know what you are asking.” Jesus then explained that his glory will come to him because he will ‘drink a cup’ of great sorrow and suffering so as to do everlasting good to other men and women who would otherwise founder. That was, in fact, ‘his glory’ – the glory of being the ultimate servant. They could have a high position in that glory - if they wanted it.
Jesus wanted them to see that their wants were, in fact, only more of the same thing which had occupied them all their lives - authority over others, having more than others. They couldn’t see any glorious ‘other’.
To Tim’s son: ”Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he recovered his sight and followed Jesus on the way. Jesus said, “Go your way”. Jesus was on the way to his death for others in Jerusalem and Tim’s son chose that way. It seems as though this man had seen much more than James and John.
By faith? Yes, Jesus said that it was his faith that had made him well. The only act of faith of Tim’s blind son in the record is an interesting one. When, still blind, he heard that Jesus had called for him, “throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” The cloak was probably all he had – no family fishing business. The cloak was not important, even to a blind man.
Yes, Tim’s son could see – ever before he saw with his restored eyes.
And James and John, Christians (as it were), needed to have their sight restored to what it was aeons ago. This was the sight that Jesus never lost - always had - of restored humanity.
“What do you want me to do for you?”