“What do you want me to do for you?” **
That’s the question Jesus asks a blind beggar, the answer to which seems glaringly obvious.
He can’t see. His blindness isolates him as he sits every day, panhandling for anything he can get to scrape by. He’s dependent on the generosity, or most likely pity, of anyone who will glance his direction. His physical condition pushes him to the edges of society.
He’s further isolated by the crowds of people who want this man who can’t see, to become unseen.
His ears however work fine. He hears that Jesus is passing.
His mouth works great too. He causes a disturbance as he shouts out, “Jesus! Have mercy on me.” It’s a desperate plea for help from perhaps the last person he believes will give him what he really wants.
Jesus stops and has the man brought to him.
Standing face to face, Jesus asks, “what do you want me to do for you?”
Again, the answer seems obvious. I probably would have ruined my opportunity by saying something sarcastic. But the blind man is simple and clear.
“I want to see.”
As Jesus heals him and restores his sight, he tells him to “go”.
But rather than leaving and going his own direction to explore a whole new world, he uses his new found clarity to follow Jesus.
What else could you do?
I’ve been thinking about this story for awhile now, especially the question Jesus asks.
I’ve been trying to place myself in the blind man’s shoes as I ask, “what do I really want Jesus to do for me?”
Imagine that Jesus comes to you – he’s in your neighborhood, in your office building, at your school, in the restaurant – you flag him down and he approaches with this question:
“So, what do you want me to do for you?”
If you don’t have an answer ready, you should.
I don’t want to over-spiritualize this story, but try narrowing your response to fit the narrative by putting your request in this blank.
“I want to see ______.”
The things I’ve heard from friends and family, and a few things circling in my own mind, fit nicely in that sentence.
“I want to see…how this is going to work out.”
“I want to see…my next step.”
“I want to see…the road ahead…the future…your hand at work…what you’re doing…why this is happening…”
Now, maybe you grew up in an environment where you didn’t ask Jesus to do things for you. After all, you’re supposed to be doing things for him right? It feels too bold, too presumptuous, as if God is a vending machine where we see what we want, place our order and somehow place God under our control.
For others of us, in all honesty, this kind of arrangement just seems too impossible.
And yet some of us, wearing the disguise of “I just want God’s will to be done”, have ignored things in our life that we simply want and desire.
I want to propose that this is exactly what prayer is. It’s a conversation with Jesus in which one of the things he says to us, is the same thing he says to the blind beggar: “What do you want me to do for you?”
Here are few ways I’ve been processing my thoughts on this lately.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
You need to be specific.
Many years ago I was having lunch with a guy from the church I was working. He was a very young, successful, independently wealthy entrepreneur. In the course of our conversation he simply asked this question: “what things would you do at the church with $100,000?” No one had ever asked me that question before. I was just thinking about meeting budget and making sure the staff was going to get paid that week. I hadn’t thought about that before. And because i didn’t have a good answer, guess what I didn’t get? You got it. I didn’t get anything.
What is is that you really want Jesus to do for you?
It’s okay to be specific.
“I want to see ____.”
CHECK YOUR MOTIVES
When Jesus asks this question of the blind beggar, it’s not the first time he’s asked this of someone.
It appears in a previous story only 15 verses prior.
Two of Jesus’ followers, James and John, come to him for help and he asks;
“What do you want me to do for you.”
“Jesus, we want special seats of privilege and honor. We deserve it.”
I can’t help but to think that Mark orders these stories so close together that we notice just how opposed their answers are to one another.
And it highlights the importance of our motives.
Is what I’m asking for my gain? Is it about selfish ambition? Fame? Wealth? Comfort? Recognition?
Or could I ask for something better?
Something that would help me better see Jesus so that I can better follow Jesus.
If the blind man doesn’t cause some noise, raise his voice and get Jesus’ attention, he likely keeps on walking by.
Now, certainly Jesus isn’t obligated to fulfill anyone’s request just because he asks what we want.
But when you have his attention, ask whatever you want.
I tend to find that Jesus answers in 1 of 3 ways usually.
- He DOES it
He does exactly what I want him to do and suddenly we have all the clarity we hoped for.
I want to see and he restores my sight.
- He DOESN’T do it
Not everyone that was sick in the 1st century was healed by Jesus. And even someone like Lazarus, who he brought back from the dead, eventually died again. I can’t say I understand it all.
Maybe the motive is wrong, like James and John.
Maybe the thing you’re asking for is wrong and receiving it might be harmful.
Sometimes he does what you want and sometimes he doesn’t. Keep asking.
- He DELAYS it
Maybe Jesus will do what you want him to do, but differently than you expected.
Maybe you need time to see it become a reality or to have a change of perspective.
Or maybe you wanted it done last week, but He knows you really need it done next month.
DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING
If you’re waiting for God to do what you want him to do, you do what you know to do.
Don’t let your waiting for God to do his thing, keep you from doing the next right thing.
In those times when God doesn’t answer us the way we want him to and it seems he’s keeping us in the dark, we follow him by doing the next right thing.
Physically I have terrible eyesight. Many many years ago I was considered 20/400. I have no idea what it is today but it’s definitely not any better. Recently I visited the optometrist who tried to change my prescription but the adjustments actually made things worse for me. I can not see anything during the daytime without contacts or glasses.
I’ve learned to get around during the night without them. Which also means I don’t need any lights since I can’t see anyway. I can actually make my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Partly because I have knowledge about where things are and the path to get there. I know how the room is laid out and what I left on the floor when I went to bed. And partly because I’m a 40+ year old man and this is my routine.
I don’t wait for my eyes to be healed or even take time to locate my glasses before I can get up and go to the bathroom. There are things that I can do without having perfect vision.
That’s called “doing the next right thing”.
Just because I can’t see perfectly what God is doing OR if he will do what I want him to do – doesn’t keep me from taking the steps that I already know to take.
I don’t stop doing everything until my eyesight is fixed.
I do what I can.
Taking the next obvious step. That’s called following Jesus.
What are some of these “next right things” that I’m doing?
I’m loving God.
Living in Community
I’m just trying to see.
And if I get that, I think that’s enough.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
(**You read these stories at the end of chapter 10 in Mark’s account.)