The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 
"Jesus called them, saying 'What do you want me to do for you'"

Scripture: Matthew 20:29-34

29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, two blind men sitting by the roadside, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out the more, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" 32 And Jesus stopped and called them, saying, "What do you want me to do for you?" 33 They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they received their sight and followed him.
Meditation: If Jesus were to pass through your neighborhood today, what would you do?  Climb a tree like Zacchaeus to get a good view?  Or cry out with a loud voice, like the two blind beggars who met him on the road to Jerico?  Matthew tells us that the two blind men recognized Jesus as the Son of David. The Jews understood this expression as a title for the Messiah.  These men had "eyes of faith" to recognize that Jesus could change their lives and their circumstances if they simply asked for his mercy and help. It must of have taken some "guts" and persistence  to get the attention of Jesus over the din of a noisy throng who crowded around Jesus as he made his way out of town. Why was the crowd annoyed with the persistent shouts of these beggars? They were interrupting Jesus' discourse and destroying the peace. It was common for a rabbi to teach as he walked with others. Jesus was on his way to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and a band of pilgrims followed him. When the crowd tried to silence these blind men they overpowered the crowd with their emotional outburst and thus caught the attention of Jesus.

This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind men were determined to get Jesus' attention and they were persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have ignored or rebuffed them because thye were disturbing his talk and his audience. Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking. They were in desperate need and Jesus was ready, not only to empathize with their suffering, but to relieve it as well. A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more.

Jesus put a question to them: "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus wanted to test their earnestness and strengthen their  trust in his power.  Their faith grew as they responded to his word with confident hope. He restored their sight -- both physically and spiritually to the reality of his kingdom. Faith opens the way for us to see the power of Godís kingdom and to experience his healing presence in our lives. The word mercy literally means "sorrowful at heart".  But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another's misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer.  But mercy goes further; it removes suffering.  A merciful person shares in another's misfortune and suffering as if it were his own. In Jesus we see the fulness of God's mercy and the power of his kingdom -- power to save from death and destruction, to forgive sins and lift the burden of guilt, and to heal infirmities and release the oppressed. Jesus never refused to bring God's mercy to those who earnestly sought it.

How can we seek and obtain God's mercy?  God gives mercy to the lowly in heart -- to those who recognize their need for God and for his forgiveness and healing power.  Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love.  For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience -- an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands.  Do you recognize your need for God's healing grace and do you seek Jesus out, like these blind beggars, with persistent faith and trust in his goodness and mercy?

"Lord, help me to draw near to you with confidence and trust in your saving power and mercy. Free me from doubt and unbelief that I may approach you confidently and pray boldly with expectant faith. Let your kingdom come and may your will be done in me."


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager