"You don’t know what you are asking!" -- Mark 10:38 (NLT)
In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus healed a blind guy named Bartimaeus. It is a story most of us have heard from childhood. You know the story:
Jesus sees him and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“My rabbi,” the blind man answers with the obvious, “I want to see!"
On Sunday, our pastor, Bodi, who is also a medical doctor, explained exactly what would have to happen in the intricate complexities of the eye for a blind man to completely receive sight instantaneously.
First, consider how complex the eye truly is:
"The human eye is enormously complicated - a perfect and interrelated system of about 40 individual subsystems, including the retina, pupil, iris, cornea, lens and optic nerve. For instance, the retina has approximately 137 million special cells that respond to light and send messages to the brain. About 130 million of these cells look like rods and handle the black and white vision. The other seven million are cone shaped and allow us to see in color. The retina cells receive light impressions, which are translated to electric pulses and sent to the brain via the optic nerve. A special section of the brain called the visual cortex interprets the pulses to color, contrast, depth, etc., which allows us to see "pictures" of our world. Incredibly, the eye, optic nerve and visual cortex are totally separate and distinct subsystems. Yet, together, they capture, deliver and interpret up to 1.5 million pulse messages a milli-second! It would take dozens of Cray supercomputers programmed perfectly and operating together flawlessly to even get close to performing this task." (Lawrence O. Richards, It Couldn't Just Happen, Thomas Nelson 1989)
So Jesus would have to heal the man in a way that brought all these complex systems into proper order, restoring all damage. But that alone would not be enough to restore his sight. Even if the eyes were instantly healed and placed in proper working order, he would not be able to see until the brain re-learned how to interpret all those impulses, like an infant learns to see in its first few months outside the womb.
So the healing had to reach far beyond his eyes and into his brain. And it did. Instantly, everything fell into perfect working order, all damage restored AND the brain supernaturally knew how to interpret all these new signals.
When Bartimaeus cried out, "I want to see!" He did not know all that he was asking of Christ. He wasn't thinking, "Hey Jesus, could you get all those millions of cones and rods in my eyes to start working properly along with fixing the problems with the retina and optic nerve and then make sure the brain can interpret the signals so I can see." He simply wanted to see. Jesus understood the complexities of what he was asking but He did not bat an eyelash. He just did it. And Bartimeus eye's instantly beheld a world that he had previously known only by sound and touch.
However, in the scene before this (Mark10:35-40), two of Christ's disciples made a spiritual request. They wanted to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. It is not necessarily a bad aspiration. Aspiring toward spiritual greatest on some level is a good thing, right? And Christ does not chastise them for the desire, but instead He responds with chilling sobriety, "You do not what you are asking."
Indeed there is a price to be paid for spiritual greatness, for it is not like the greatness of this world, regardless of culture. It requires humility, sacrifice, and pain. A tough journey. It was a request that involved what Christ would have to bring them through. And Christ appropriately responds, "You do not know what you are asking..."
But as I reflect on these two requests, I begin to realize that in all those requests that we so readily throw up to heaven, we rarely truly know what we are asking. Even the little things that do not seem so remarkable or miraculous, those things our Lord does not hesitate to answer, often require his workings in things far beyond what we think we are asking.
And all the more in our spiritual requests. We see only the glory and not misery and wilderness we will have to pass through to reach it. We do not know what we are asking.
Perhaps we would do well to reflect a little more on the magnitude of God's workings and what He has called us to in this life.
May we begin to grasp with sobriety what we are asking as we utter supplications to our Lord. For when we begin to understand what we are asking, we will begin to understand more of who He is.