“What Do You Want Jesus To Do For You?”
& Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 21 Apr 2013
20:29 Now, as they were proceeding out from
Jericho, a numerous crowd followed Him,
20:30 and, get this, two blind men sitting
beside the road heard that Jesus was coming along [and] cried out saying, “Have
mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”
20:31 But the crowd reprimanded them in
order that they might hush,
but as for them, they were crying out more, saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord,
Son of David!”
Jesus stood [still] and whistled to them and said, “What are y’all wanting me
to do for you?”
20:33 They say to Him, “Lord, that our eyes
might be opened!”
20:34 And Jesus, gut-wrenched, touched
their eyes, and immediately their eyes saw again!
Then they followed Him.
Earlier this month, I received three emails from a missionary friend in
- The first one said “Shawn
cannot breathe. Please pray.”
- The next one said, “Please pray that Shawn will live, not die, and
proclaim the salvation of the Lord. Please pray for Shawn’s Kidneys,
breathing, and Urea level. Please pray that [he] not go into Coma. Shawn
is Zoroastrian. Please pray for his salvation.”
- And the third read, “The Pakistani hospital says Shawn will die any minute.
Shawn's kidneys have failed. He cannot breathe… Please pray that Shawn live
and not die, and be healed. Please pray for his salvation.”
Well, I must admit that my first impulse was to wonder if my missionary
friend was being overly optimistic. Pray for
a pagan in a third-world country with liver failure and unable to breathe, who
had rejected the gospel; isn’t that a bit presumptuous? But because
my friend asked me, I prayed for Shawn that day. Then I pretty quickly forgot it
because I wasn’t very hopeful.
A week later, I got the following email:
“Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Dear Pastor Nate, The medical science in Pakistan is primitive, BUT JESUS! Shawn is breathing on his own now. His urea level is normal.
His kidneys are normal. He is talking… Praise Jesus. Glory to God. Thank you so
much for praying.”
Wow! O me of little faith.
In later reports, my friend has mentioned that Shawn is not a believer yet, but
I am hopeful that God will answer that prayer as well.
In this sermon I want to explore a
little bit about how to pray. In Matthew 20:21, we just saw
James and John’s mom ask Jesus for something, and now again in v.29ff, we have
someone else making a request of Jesus.
- In both cases Jesus
asks, “What do you want?”
- However, in the
first case, Jesus is appalled at the presumptuousness and pride of the
- But in the second
scenario before us today, we see that Jesus is “moved with compassion,”
and fulfills the request of the blind men.
made the difference? I want to explore the status we
have as children of God which privileges us to ask God for things, and I
want to look at what characterizes the sort of requests that Jesus honors
so that we can become better at praying to God!
- As Jesus makes His way closer to Jerusalem for
the feast of Passover, He reaches the town of Jericho – the very city that
Joshua captured when the walls fell down some thousand four hundred years
before then, and here, the road which had been running South along the
Jordan river turns up West into the hills toward Jerusalem. In about 15 miles it will ascend 3,300
feet to the gates of the holy city where He will be crucified.
- But for
now, Jesus is just approaching Jericho, a lovely resort town where He will
spend the night. He was apparently pretty famous by this
time and had many out-of-town people following Him in, as well as people
like Zaccheus who were from Jericho and wanted to see Him.
- Dr. Kenneth Bailey, author
of the book, Jesus Through Middle
Eastern Eyes, shares a story of when the president of Egypt came to visit his family’s town in the 1960’s. According to tradition, in order to
welcome so great a man, thousands of residents walked over 10 miles out of
town to greet him as he came in to town. They insisted on having the
president’s motorcade shut off their engines and be pulled by hand on
ropes into the town as a gesture of honor.
It appears Jesus was getting a real
Middle-Eastern welcome as He approached Jericho!
- This, by the way, was
the same crowd that Zaccheus was trying to see through to get a glimpse of
Jesus, and it was because of this throng that he climbed the tree. Matthew
doesn’t tell us the story of Zaccheus, only Luke does, but the story of
Zaccheus reminds us that Jesus was not merely concerned for the needs of
the poor, blind beggars but also for the miserable, rich oppressors
in the town of Jericho!
20:29 Now, as they were proceeding
out from Jericho, a numerous crowd followed Him,
20:30 and, get this, two blind men
sitting beside the road heard that Jesus was coming along [and] cried out
saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”
Ελεησον ‘ημας Κυριε
- This is remarkably
like the account of the 2 blind men Jesus healed in Capernaum in Matt.
- The blind men in Capernaum said the same thing,
“Have mercy on us, Son of David.”
- Is it possible that these two blind men on the
other side of the country in Jericho had heard about this and were
modeling their request after their northern counterparts?
- Perhaps these blind men in Jericho hadn’t
heard of the blind men healed in Capernaum. Perhaps all they had to go
on was the prophecy of Isaiah 35:4ff, “Be strong; do not be afraid. See
your God come… He will save you! Then the eyes of blind men will be
opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.”
- Later on in Matt. 22:41-42, when Jesus asks the
Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ/Anointed One/Messiah,
whose son is He?’ They say to Him, ‘He is the son of David.’” So, the
title “Son of David,” was the title of the Messiah, speaking of His being
descended from the great king David and fulfilling the promise God made
to David that a descendent of his would reign as a king forever.
- So these blind men cry out for
the Messiah’s attention.
- Now, the gospel of
Luke traces the story of only one of these two blind men, and in
Mark’s gospel we find his name: Bar-timmaeus (Mk. 10:46) which can
be interpreted, “Son of Filth.”
- There is no problem with the fact that Matthew
mentions a second blind man with Bartimaeus. It doesn’t contradict
Luke and Mark’s account that there was at least one blind man
there. If there were two, then there was one… plus another.
- There does appear to be a discrepancy,
however, between the gospel accounts in the timing of this incident.
- According to Matthew (20:29), the
encounter with the blind beggars happened as Jesus was leaving Jericho,
- but according to Luke (18:35), it
happened as they were approaching Jericho,
- and according to Mark (10:46), it
happened as they were both coming to Jericho and as they
were going out from Jericho! How can that be?
- I like A.T.
Robertson’s explanation the best, that there were two Jericho’s: the ancient city site and the township newly rebuilt by Herod,
with only a short distance between.
- A distinction
between the old city and the new city is pretty common in
ancient cities around the world. [You can see in the photo that the mound
of the old city is still on the NW side of the modern town of Jericho.]
- So Jesus
encountered these beggars on the road in-between the two sites. Thus
Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, says that they had just passed the
historic site of old Jericho, where “Joshua fit the battle,” and Luke, writing
to a Greek audience says that they were approaching the new Roman resort
Mark, writing to a Roman audience, locates them geographically between
leaving the old city and entering the new city of Jericho. God’s word is amazingly accurate when you chase
down its details!
20:31 But the crowd reprimanded them in
order that they might hush,
but as for them, they were crying out more, saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord,
Son of David!”
‘Ο δε οχλος
- Have you ever wanted God to do something special,
then shared it with somebody and got laughed at or even rebuked for it?
- What if I had written back to my missionary
friend in Pakistan and told him, “Give it up! Shawn is too far gone to
pray for! He’s an unbeliever under God’s wrath and curse. Let’s pray for
something more promising… like for you to have a good day today.”
Would Shawn have lived another day? I
- The things we pray for should not be evaluated on
the basis of whether other people think we should pray for it, but
rather whether God wants you to pray for it. We know God wants us
to pray for something if He has laid it on our heart and if it is
consistent with what He has already revealed in the Bible.
- The majority of the people on the street that day
in Jericho, however, thought that the best thing for these blind men was
to be quiet – to hold their peaceKJV.
- So when the blind men kept their racket up, the
crowd said to them, “We wish you were dumb as well as blind! If you
don’t shut up, we’ll make you shut up!
- But the blind men
had faith in Jesus:
- They openly confessed
not only that Jesus is the Messiah – the promised Son of David,
- but that He is also
- Furthermore they
confess that Jesus is capable of extending the mercy of God to
them by healing them.
- These are
staggering statements to make about any man – Messianic King, God
Almighty, and Mediator of God’s blessings. These two men seem to
understand better than anyone else in that vast crowd who Jesus really is
and what Jesus is capable of doing. Such
faith arrests Jesus’ attention:
interrupted His very important mission to Jerusalem and responded to these
faith-filled men. Likewise, we Christians, who are supposed to be
imitators of Christ, are we also willing to be interrupted in our work?
Bible commentator Matthew Henry remarked on this point, “Why are we ever
so much in haste about any business[? … W]e should be willing to stand
still to do good.”
20:32 Then Jesus stood [still] and whistled
to them and said, “What are y’all wanting me to do for you?”
Και στας ‘ο Ιησους εφωνησεν
ειπεν Τί θελετε
- I’m going out on a
limb to translate the Greek word ephwnesen
as “whistled,” seeing as all the other English translations render it “called.”
However, the word literally means to “make a sound” which seems to be
distinct from actually speaking words, and the only other
time Matthew uses this word is to describe a rooster crowing
- Even if I am off-base about Jesus whistling, it
is curious to me that Jesus does not go over to them. Instead He
stands where He is and calls them over to Him.
- According to Luke’s
account (18:40), Jesus commands the very people who have been insulting
the blind men to now escort the blind men for a personal audience
(10:49) has the same people that had been shushing the blind men now
saying, “Cheer up; get up; He’s calling for you!” If it weren’t so hypocritical, it would be
- It is as though, when Jesus heard Himself
referred to as the “Lord” and Messianic King – “Son of David,” He obliged
these men by playing the part of a great king.
- Great kings don’t come to you; you come
- Great kings have courtiers that bring you
to the king.
- And great kings ask for formal proposals,
- so Jesus transforms the dusty street into a
king’s palace for these two beggars who have recognized, more than
anyone else, how great a king stands before them – perhaps due, in
part, to the fact that they had no eyes to see how humble a form
the Lord of the universe had taken upon Himself!
- When you close your eyes to
pray, do you realize how great the God is that you are
- Now, at that moment,
before Jesus on the street, the blind men could have asked for anything.
What would you have asked for,
if it were you, and Jesus offered to make one wish come true?
- All their life they had asked for “mercy” as
beggars, soliciting passers-by for coins. Would they ask for money? They could ask for enough to
live on for the rest of their lives – and never have to beg again!
- Mark’s gospel gives us one clue before either
beggar says a word: In Mark 10:50, it says that the blind man “threw off
his cloak” when he went to Jesus. He decided to leave his beggar’s garb
behind because he anticipated a miraculous answer to the audacious
request he was about to make.
this was truly the Messiah, and if Isaiah prophesied truly, then
blind men would see. The blind men’s reasoning appears to be as
simple as that.
- No doctor in the world could have healed them,
and apparently not even God had healed a blind person in the history of
the world until the time of Christ.
- This would be the ultimate proof that Jesus was
the Messiah. If He couldn’t give them sight, then Jesus was a sham and God
was a liar.
they also longed, like Simeon, that their own eyes might see God’s salvation
– the prophecied Son of David, the Messiah finally come?
- These two blind men were going
to go for broke and ask to see!
20:33 They say to Him, “Lord, that
our eyes might be opened!”
- Now think about what
the blind men chose to ask for.
- All their lives they
have made their living by sitting in public places begging for money. It
was considered a community service for them to do so. It gave the
community an opportunity to give to the poor and win favor with God (and
man) with their generosity, and such beggars provided a very desirable service
by praying for God to bless those who gave to them. (“God bless” is still
a common parting word from panhandlers in our country today.)
- All this, of course,
hinged on the beggar’s inability to work at gainful employment. Blindness
was such an obvious handicap that their status as beggars worked well. But
if they were to receive their sight, all that would change. They
would no longer be able to continue the life they had once led as beggars.
Suddenly they would have to learn to read, learn a trade, and take up new
and different responsibilities – start up a business, maybe get married
and have children.
- Considered from that
perspective, it is remarkable that they were willing to embrace a whole
new world of responsibilities and ask to see.
there are responsibilities that naturally come along with being a
recipient of God’s free grace. Are you willing to accept the responsibilities
that come along with whatever it is you are asking God for?
20:34 And Jesus, gut-wrenched, touched
their eyes, and immediately their eyes saw again! Then they followed Him.
δε ‘ο Ιησους ‘ηψατο
- Jesus’ response was first of all to be moved with
compassion/pity. Literally, He was “gut-wrenched.” Do you realize what an
awesome thing it is to have as God One who can be moved with
compassion? – who sympathizes with us! When we are torn up inside,
when we cry, the Ruler of the Universe enters into those feelings with us.
Brothers and sisters, let us pray from our heart when we pray to Him!
- The crux of the
story, of course, is that, with a mere touch, Jesus physically healed 2
- In Mat 8:3, after
the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus touched a man with a skin disease, and the
leprosy was immediately cured,
- In Mat 8:15 Jesus
touched Peter’s mother-in-law, and she was relieved of a fever,
- Others touched Jesus
and were cured (9:20; 14:36)
- In Mar. 7:33, Jesus
touched a deaf man who was immediately healed, and later with a touch,
Jesus restored a servant who had gotten his ear chopped off (Luke
- In Luke 7:14, we
read of Jesus touching a coffin, and, sure enough, the young man inside
- In Mat 9:29, Jesus
touched the eyes of two blind men and they were healed,
- and now, at a
touch, four more eyes that were not able to physically function suddenly regain/
recover/ receive the marvel of sight.
- The touch of Jesus has no limit to its power to
bring physical healing.
- Luke’s account mentions an additional statement
from Jesus, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” – This
reveals another staggering miracle. Jesus not only just fixed their eyes, He
saved their souls from hell!
- But wait, you may say, “The Bible reads, ‘your
faith saved you.’”
- Yes, but what was the content of their
faith? It was that God had sent Jesus to be the Messiah, the savior of
the world. Their faith did not make Jesus the savior-Messiah, it
merely acknowledged and acted upon the truth that Jesus is
the savior of the world. It is God’s grace that sent Jesus to die
for our sins and save us from eternal damnation, and it is God’s grace
that plants faith in human hearts to believe that. As we exercise
that faith, we are saved, but our faith is a response, not the cause
of our salvation.
- But the story doesn’t end there; Jesus goes on to
provide employment for these men who just lost their jobs as
beggars due to His healing them. Unlike many of the people He healed whom
He would not allow to follow Him, Jesus let these men become
His followers, providing a context for them to learn a new life as men
with seeing eyes.
- Luke’s account says that the formerly-blind men
then followed Jesus, “glorifying God,” and that when all the people saw
this, they praised God as well!
- I expect they were some of the ones shouting “Hosanna”
the loudest, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, and that they
- followed Him to hear him teach in Bethany, and maybe even saw Him crucified.
- I bet they were among the 500 people who saw
Jesus after His resurrection -
- and among the 120 people in the upper room upon
whom the Holy Spirit fell.
- The genuineness of their faith in Jesus was
demonstrated to the world by the fact that they continued to
follow Jesus after they were healed.
Conclusion: 6 Principles of Effective Prayer Drawn
From 2 Blind Beggars
- The Holy Spirit works in our minds in real time
throughout the day. If you feel like you need something or if you are
impressed to pray for a certain person, don’t wait until your bedtime
prayers to speak to God about it. Go for it right away. You can pray for
it later, too.
- Matthew Henry commented, “When they heard that Jesus passed by,
they asked no further questions, who were with him, or whether he was in
haste, but immediately cried out.
Note, It is good to improve the present opportunity, to make the best of
the price now in the hand, because, if once let slip, it may never return;
these blind men did so, and did wisely; for we do not find that Christ
ever came to Jericho again. Now is the
- These men did not say, “Jesus, we really ought to
be healed. You know, we’re really poor, but we have given a large
PERCENTAGE of our income to the Lord, and we have been such good people,
and our parents were such good people, and we have suffered so much from
our blindness that you owe it to us.” No, they came humbly, simply asking for mercy. That is a good
example for us. “Sovereign Lord, please have mercy.”
- “It is the will of
God that we should in every thing make our requests known to him by prayer
and supplication; not to inform or move him, but to qualify ourselves for
the mercy. The waterman in the boat, who with his hook takes hold of the
shore, does not thereby pull the shore to the boat, but the boat to the
shore. So in prayer we do not draw the mercy to ourselves, but ourselves
to the mercy.” ~Matthew Henry Lord,
have mercy on us.
- The two blind beggars were convinced that Jesus
is the Lord, that He is the Messiah, and that He could give
them God’s mercy, and they said that out loud.
- That got Jesus’ attention, and we can learn a
lesson from that. We must know the truth about who Jesus is and
place our faith in Him, even confess it out loud, if we want to
grow in our prayer life.
- And we must believe that Jesus will do whatever
we’re asking Him to do before we can pray for Him to do it. If you have
some doubt, go back to the Bible to find out if it’s the kind of thing He
would do and if He has the power to do it! Then pray with faith in Him!
- “It is of excellent use in prayer to eye Christ
in the grace and glory of His Messiahship; to remember that He is the Son
of David, whose office it is to help and save, and to plead it with Him.”
- Peer pressure can be
a good thing. Sometimes when we pray with somebody else, we experience a
holy uprising of faith that emboldens us to pray for what we might never
have had the faith to believe God could do if we had been praying alone.
- Twice a month I pray
with a group of other pastors in town, and often I step into those prayer
meetings without much of a passion to pray for anything. Then one of the
other pastors starts praying maybe for God to transform the lives of
families in his church, and that seems to spark the faith of someone else,
and he’ll pray maybe for transformation in the lives of the children in
all the schools, and that gets somebody else praying for all the lost in
our town, and pretty soon I’m ready to pray for revival for the whole
- Matthew Henry noted something about corporate prayer in
his commentary, “These joint-sufferers were joint-suitors; being
companions in the same tribulation, they were partners in the same
supplication. Note, It is good for those that are labouring
under the same calamity, or infirmity of body or mind, to join together in
the same prayer to God for relief, that they may quicken one another's
fervency, and encourage one another's faith. There is mercy enough in
Christ for all the petitioners.”
- Remember the Syro-Phonecian woman who would not
take “No” for an answer until Jesus healed her daughter? And the widow in
Jesus’ parable who wore out the unjust judge? Even in Jesus’ question,
“What is your will?” He acknowledges that in these two blind men there has
been, for a sustained period of time, an exercise of their will,
trained by the Holy Spirit to press for the fulfillment of a particular
goal. There is something to persisting in prayer with a determined will
is need of constancy to transcend all hindrances, and the
more barriers that Satan erects, the more must we be kindled to prayer, just as we see the blind men redoubling
their cries.” ~John Calvin
- “Hence learn, O beloved, that though we be very
vile and outcast, but yet approach God with earnestness, even by ourselves
we shall be able to effect whatsoever we ask. See, for instance, these
men, how, having none of the apostles to plead with them, but rather many
to stop their mouths, they were able to pass over the hindrances,
and to come unto Jesus Himself… These then let us also emulate. Though God
defer the gift, though there be many withdrawing us, let us not desist
from asking. For in this way most of all shall we win God to us… although
it be mercy and grace, it seeks for the worthy.” ~John Chrysostom
- “In following Christ
with our prayers, we must expect to meet with hindrances and
manifold discouragements from within and from without… Men ought always to
pray and not to faint; to pray with all perseverance (Luke 18:1); to
continue in prayer with resolution and not yield to opposition… This
wrestling with God in prayer… makes us the fitter to receive mercy; for
the more it is striven for, the more it will be prized and thankfully
acknowledged.” ~Matt. Henry
- When your prayer is answered, don’t forget to thank
- After your prayer is answered, continue to
walk with Christ - and pray about other things. Even remind yourself
from time to time so that you never forget God’s mercy in your life!
- And when prayers are answered, tell other
people about it! Show your gratitude by being, as John Calvin put it,
“a spectacle of Christ’s grace to many on this journey.”
So, what is it that God would have
YOU pray for?