Mark 10:36

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.


when about to be played
for the Oke-Doke
clarity is your friend

you may still be played
but the field is evener
when the deal is on record

when asking for a world
not available
what part crystallizes your request

when we get the terms straight
we’ll see if a deal can be struck
or if you’ll strike out


This same question will be used in a different setting (10:51) when blind Bartimaeus cries out for “mercy”. Whether the situation is a manipulative one (internally with James and John) or an up-front ask (externally with Bartimaeus), there is wisdom in clarifying what is being asked.

Parents quickly learn to ask this question when their children are trying to wheedle something out of them or have a naïve question that doesn’t need a yard-long answer complete with footnotes.

This is a question that honors even unhonorable inquiries. This begins to put us in a partnership relationship rather than one where the privileged party is able to make assumptions about what the request really is about and become compromised and trapped by their response. This would have been a good question for Herod to ask rather than venturing forth with a grand gesture.

Having read Mark this far, it is a good time to ask this question of ourself. Simply in terms of Chapter 10, we might wonder: What or whom are we trying to separate from and find the easiest way to achieve our goal? Why are we not experiencing being picked up and blessed? What currency or current ideation do we hold dearer than a larger integrity? How controlling are our fears of suffering and death? How might we guarantee a privileged place in a better place? What aspect of mercy are we specifically in need of?

Even though Mark’s Greek has some difficulties, the import is clear enough. In both matter and spirit (knowing they cannot be neatly separated) “the devil is in the details”.

Spending a few extra moments in clarifying what is at stake for all the parties involved goes a long way to keeping our intentions in accord with our behavior. This is particularly important around “spiritual” matters where it is all too easy to say more than we know.

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