“What do you want?” I’ve always thought that was a strange question for Jesus to ask. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and his death when a pair of blind beggars start shouting out to him. The story is found in Matthew 20:29-34. The crowd tried to quiet them down, but they cried out all the louder. Jesus stopped and called them to come. When they got to him, Jesus asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” They replied, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” It seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? I mean, if I had the power to restore sight to the blind and a couple of blind guys called out to me, I think I could figure out what they wanted without asking. It makes me wonder why Jesus would ask that question. We can’t know for sure what was in Jesus’ mind at that moment, but perhaps we can speculate a bit.
Maybe it was important for these two men to admit their deepest need. They could have asked Jesus for some money or possibly for Jesus to miraculously feed them. They could have asked for what they needed in that moment. But Jesus tended to quickly go beyond the surface issues and cut to the heart of the matter (see John 3:1-21 & 4:1-42 for examples of this). Maybe by asking this question Jesus was forcing them to think about what they really needed.
How often do we seek Jesus’ aid with the attitude that if Jesus would take care of this little problem for us life would be great? If Jesus would only take care of this ache, or this bill, or this situation at work or home then everything would be hunky-dory. While at the same time, failing to seek his help for the deeper, eternal issues of our lives.
Perhaps Jesus asked that question because he knew it was important for these men to set aside their pride and ask for help. You wouldn’t think that a blind beggar would be so prideful that he wouldn’t ask for his sight, but pride keeps many people for asking Jesus to help them with even their most obvious problems. We live in a culture that tells us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Many of us were raised to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. And we end up not fully enjoying life because we think we have to handle our problems ourselves.
Maybe Jesus asked the question because he wanted his disciples to learn an important lesson. That is, ask and you will receive. Jesus told this to his disciples over and over again and as he was approaching his death, he wanted to make sure that they got that lesson down pat.
If Jesus asked you today, “What do you want me to do for you?” how would you answer? Would it be something superficial? Would it be something that requires that you humble yourself by asking? Would it be something you could ask for with confidence? Figure out just what it is you really want from Jesus, and then ask him for it. Maybe like the blind men Jesus is simply waiting for you to ask in order to grant you the deepest desires of your soul.