You will need a sheet of paper, coloured pens, a glue stick and a pair of scissors.
Cut the paper in half longways, then cut each of those in half again to make 4 long strips and each of those in half again to make 8 long thin strips.
Using the coloured pens, write the following words on the strips, making them fill the whole strip if possible. If you like, you can decorate any spaces with short lines to make it look like a tape measure.
- I pray that you may grasp
- is the love of Christ
- more than
- how wide and long
- who is able to do
- all we ask or imagine.
- and high and deep
Alternatively, you can print out the immeasurably more PDF and cut it up.
When you have your strips, arrange them in order and glue them end-to-end in to one long measure and then roll it up, starting with the word ‘imagine’. The correct order is: I pray that you may grasp / how wide and long / and high and deep / is the love of Christ / who is able to do / immeasurably / more than / all we ask or imagine. (From Eph 3:17-20)
Take your measure in your hands and think what the one thing is that you would ask Jesus for if you were Bartimaeus. Unroll your measure and read the words.
I don’t want to be disrespectful, but really, Jesus, that was a bit of a stupid question. What do you want me to do for you? Seriously? The guy is blind. What would you have asked for?
Actually, that’s maybe not such an easy question. If I had won a competition and could name my prize, what would I choose? Money is an obvious answer, but money itself is not that useful. I can’t eat it, I can’t wear it, and it certainly can’t get me the things that are really important.
Money can’t mend a broken heart. Money can’t bring a loved one back. Money can’t reverse dementia or cure cancer. Money can’t do anything that’s really important. Money can’t fix broken eyes.
Just as well Bartimaeus didn’t ask for money then, isn’t it?
Instead, he asked for the one thing in his life that was really important. What is the one thing in your life that is really important, the thing you would want to fix if you knew you were going to die in five minutes? If you could ask one thing of Jesus and know that he would say yes, what would it be?
It’s interesting to look back a bit from this passage. We’ve just had the rich young man, and James and John. They both asked Jesus for things, but with rather different motives from Bartimaeus. The rich young man wanted easy salvation – eternal life but without any costs. James and John wanted power and prestige. It says a lot about what they thought was important.
Back in the Old Testament we have Solomon, who was faced with a similar question. “Ask what I shall give you.” Solomon asked for “an understanding mind to govern your people” Good choice! “And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, … I give you a wise and discerning mind … I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honour, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.’ ” (1 Ki 3:5-13)
Solomon had worked out what was important, so he did not ask for what he wanted, but what he needed. And God very nicely gave him the stuff he wanted as well. The problem we often have is that we cannot see our deepest need and ask for trivial stuff that we think will make us happy instead. We look at the symptoms, not the disease. We ask for cough drops, which soothe the throat but do not cure the cold. We ask for the small, superficial solutions to the problems we can see. Bartimaeus could have asked for a good day’s takings, or a job, or a benefactor. Instead he asked for the impossibly big thing.
Now there’s nothing wrong with bringing our small wants before our loving Lord. He knows them anyway and loves to be asked. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:11) But God sometimes has bigger plans that we can ever ask or imagine.
Bartimaeus asked for the impossible. And he got it. Let us be bold in presenting our requests to God. Nothing is beyond his capacity or care. Paul put it beautifully:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:17-21)
God of love far beyond our understanding,
teach us to grasp in some tiny part
your incomprehensible power and your unfathomable love,
your unsearchable wisdom and your indescribable mercy,
so that, firm in the knowledge
that we can never out-ask your generosity or power,
we may dare to answer truthfully when you ask us,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many scolded him to get 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 the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied, “Rabbi, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road.
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