Prepare to Listen. What do you want me to do for you?
Prayerfully Read Matthew 20:29-34
29As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 31The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ 32Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ 33They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ 34Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.
Matthew rarely gives geographical locations, so when he does, we probably should take a second gaze. Earlier he’d told us that Jesus “left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan” (19:1), which is on the eastern shore, outside Israel’s borders. From there he crossed the Jordan, back into Israel. He went to Jericho, before Jerusalem and the cross.
This may seem irrelevant except for one thing. Jesus took the same route as Joshua when he led the children of Israel into the promised land for the first time. It’s as if Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew) was following his namesake’s journey into the Promised Land. It’s significant because it signals that Jesus was about to bring all the promises of God to fruition, not just for Israel, as Joshua did, but for the world. On his mind, was this awesome and frightening mission, that would begin with drinking the cup of God’s wrath for all peoples.
As he left Jericho for Jerusalem he was immersed in this mission, but not so distracted that he didn’t hear the cry of two unnamed blind beggars pleading for mercy. He stood still, called them, and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Instead of asking for a beggar’s usual—money, food, clothing—they asked for their sight, showing a faith not even seen in his disciples. With the weight of the world on his heart, Jesus was “moved with compassion” for two unknown outcasts on the edge of society. He stopped and healed them. Jerusalem could wait.
How would you answer Jesus’ question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
Respond in Prayer
Jesus, give me the faith of these two blind men to dare to ask you to do the seeming impossible and open my eyes to see more clearly. Amen.
Live Obediently. Practice compassion today.
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Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.