Ask. Day 41 of Lent. Thanks for Asking.
As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.
Matthew 20:29-34 is a layered story.
One that arrests you if you let it.
First of all, it’s about beggars – the pure ragamuffins among us, the poor in spirit and the actually poor of people, who are in need. Spiritually we need to never forget that is the blessed state we should migrate our minds back to as we seek to live humbly.
So we find two blind beggars, they’re sitting by the side of the road, and they find out that Jesus is coming their way, so they began shouting.
This is where it gets uncomfortable for a crowd. Especially a churchy kind of crowd who either are very concerned about not missing a word that Jesus would say or other churchy folks who just don’t like things out of the box and people misbehaving.
Well these two guys are yelling at the top of their lungs, trying to get noticed. This is what desperate people do. People who are at rock bottom and see a way out, they break the rules of society, they go anti-social and anti-politically correct and they don’t even know it and least of all care about it, because, ‘Hello!’ they are desperate.
Most of us self-sufficient strivers would be embarrassed by this display of neediness, and if we had kids with us, we’d pull them close and cover their curious eyes, if we were with friends we’d give each other the look as they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if someone in the crowd got it. If instead of shhhh-ing them they said, “Hey, come with me. This Jesus he can heal you and I’ll get you to him. Take me hand.”
But this crowd tried to shut them up and push them out. It’s uncomfortable to have desperate people screaming for help. It’s uncomfortable to have people with such obvious needs, being so obviously needy. And maybe this crowd had seen these guys for years and they’d given and given until they were annoyed. Who knows. But these desperate beggars, they got rowdy and shouted louder. I like these two ragamuffins. They know they have a need, a great need and a once in a life time opportunity.
And then we read two awesome words: Jesus stopped.
Then Jesus stopped and asked them a dangerous question. It was only the second time he’d ask this question. Earlier he’d ask James and John the same thing, when they were scheming and dreaming and fixated on being great and sitting to the left and the right of Him. (Mark 10:36) It shows me there is always an endless amount of layers in the Scripture, overlapping subtexts, from past to present, linking A to B and this person to that person, and one lesson to another. I’m sure this question re-asked, got James and John’s attention because it cuts to the very heart of the matter.
“What do you want Me to do for you?”
Do you ever get that one? The bold request to put your finger on it, exactly, what it is you want Jesus to do for you. To name it specifically. It’s a crazy intense kind of heart probing question. But these two guys knew exactly what they wanted, and it wasn’t all that spiritual. “Lord,” they said, “We want to see.”
Jesus felt compassion for them, touched their eyes, and suddenly they could see. They were delivered, “Made Well” and received their sight. Then they ‘followed him‘.
What exactly do you need from Jesus today?
Sometimes it makes my heart pound when I imagine Jesus asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”
I think the question cuts through all the motives and the spiritual grandeur. It takes the wide and makes it impossible to fit into the narrowness of the request. It wants us to name it specifically, with honesty and authentically what we need.
And thinking it through I find I’m just as needy as these ragamuffin blind beggars and what I really need isn’t something Jesus wants me to whisper quietly to Him now. He wants me to be blessed and to have His divine favor rest upon me, so this poor in spirit Christian needs to open her hands and beg.
I can hear it. I really just heard you say it or think it. Beg?
Yes. Beg. It’s the spiritual word for people who realize their spiritual poverty. It’s the mature way the sanctified ‘Ask’. We get in the humble posture, we agree we can’t do this or get this need met on our own. We lift our empty uncapable hands out and up to God. And we beg, out loud, in fact loudly in this case would be from a pounding heart of a body that is suddenly urgent to express a need, a great need, feeling like this is a once in a life time opportunity to get that need met because we heard Jesus ask us the question, “What is it you want me to do?”
We need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable with the fact that we need help.
Everybody is desperate to know that Jesus still stops for them.
Everybody is desperate and needy, especially the ones who look like they aren’t. Everybody has a need that Jesus wants us to express specifically.
Jesus ASKS “What is it you want me to do?”
Lord, we are the crowd who sometimes get in the way of the needy. We hush people up. Shame on us. Help us to love the ragamuffins, to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable, to lead people to you, not shut people down and keep them out.
We are also the beggar, poor in spirit, and how blessed to know that you stop, Jesus, you see us and Ask us what we need. Lord let us speak out loud our need. Let us shout it once we realize, let us beg you for it. And let us not forget the answer came with your infamous ‘follow me’.
Thanks so much for stopping to ask us, Jesus.