Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?”
29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
There are times in our lives that we cry out to Jesus and we know exactly what our needs are; other times we think we know our needs, still other times that we have no clue what we need, yet our spirit compels us to turn to the only source we know. Why would Jesus ask this question of us? Is it to test our self-awareness? Our motivation? Is it to test our understanding of who Jesus is? Do we underestimate the ability of God to provide for us? Are we even aware of our deeper needs, or do they get overshadowed by our inability to see past the surface?
Just before this encounter with the two blind men, Jesus asked the same question of the mother of James and John (vs. 21). Her response? ‘Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ Her desire from Jesus was for power for her sons. How different that is from the request made by the blind men, who seek mercy and physical healing.
Two brothers ask (here through their mother, in Mark’s gospel more directly) ‘expand my power,’ two blind men ask, ‘expand our vision.’
Is the desire of our heart for power, influence, and domination? Or, do we, like the blind men, recognize our poverty, brokenness, blindness – our need for God – and simply seek the mercy that Jesus so compassionately gives?
Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” How shall we respond?
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude“