What Do You Want Me to Do for You? (Matthew Sermon 97 of 151)
April 26, 2009 | Andy Davis
So when I was growing up, one of my favorite types of fairy tales were the kind of stories in which some supernatural being would drop into an ordinary person's life and offer them one wish or, even better, three wishes. Wasn't long before thinking myself more clever than any other child, I came up with the idea of asking for unlimited wishes, like I were the only one that ever thought of that. I'm sure you thought of it too. But there are all kinds of stories like the fisherman and his wife, and he catches a supernatural fish who grants him ever increasingly better homes to live and mansions. Or the tree, the woodsman who is about to cut down a tree fairy's favorite oak tree and she offers him three wishes and all of that. But of all of those stories, I think the most popular and well known is Aladdin and his magic lamp. It's one of the thousand and one nights, the Arabian Nights.
And in that story, this Chinese Muslim young man comes in possession of a mysterious lamp, he doesn't understand its powers. And he starts to polish it because it's a bit dingy. And suddenly a genie appears before him and says, “I am the slave of whoever holds the lamp. Ask whatever you wish and it'll be done for you.” And it's interesting in the story, I re-read it last night and just trying to remind myself of the details, but he really just little by little starts to use the power of this genie. Just asked for food initially, 'cause he's hungry. And as the story unfolds he starts to use the genie’s power more and more, gains more and more wealth and power and influence and eventually marries the sultan's daughter. Happy ending. But we, as we grow up, we start to realize this is just a fairy tale and no supernatural being's ever gonna drop into your life and stand in front of you and say, “Ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” You have to work for what you get, you have to labor with your own hands, everything you get will come as a result of your efforts and your energy.
And then you read the New Testament. And here is Jesus the Son of God giving us lavish commands and promises on prayer, many of which I prayed back in my prayer. If you believe, you'll receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Ask and it will be given to you that your joy may be full. Ask and you will receive. Over and over these kinds of promises. And in our passage today though it's not directly about our prayer life I think it is relevant the point of connection to us today is that Jesus still stands in front of us and asks this question, “What do you want me to do for you?” And how different is Jesus from Aladdin's genie. Aladdin's genie is just mindless supernatural power that does whatever the human being wants. That is not the God of the Bible, my friends. Thanks be to God that we don't get everything we ask for. Thanks be to God that neither I nor you run the universe. God in his wisdom will filter our requests and our prayers and do what is best for us.
Now, I've known that for a long time. I believed from the beginning of my Christian life that God is sovereign, he's providential, he rules over all things, orchestrates them for his own power and glory. So how do my prayers fit into that? God's gonna do what God's gonna do and it's going to be good and right so why should I ask him for anything? Now when Jesus stands in front of us and says, “What do you want me to do for you?” Most people in the world in effect say, “Absolutely nothing. I want nothing from Jesus.” Either they don't believe he really exists or can do anything or he's irrelevant to their situation, they ask nothing of Jesus, literally nothing. Some sinners recognize their dire straits and they ask simply for salvation. They want forgiveness of sins, they wanna live with Christ forever. In the providence of God, Uta’s converting text, I get to preach on today, isn't that sweet? He asked me, “Did you do that on purpose?” I said “No, that was the sovereign hand of God.” Oh the joys of expositional preaching. I didn't orchestrate that, God did.
But that can happen. Just an unbeliever standing before God and in effect Jesus is saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I wanna, I wanna live forever. I want my sins forgiven.” So they ask and he forgives. But I say to you, there's not a single Christian in this room that asks enough of Jesus. We, all of us, under ask. We ask for less than we should. We ask with less specificity. We ask with less confidence than we should and my desire is to reverse that today by the power of the Word of God that we can picture Jesus continually standing in front of us and saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” knowing that he will filter our requests and do what's best according to his will and his purpose but we should be asking more and more with greater and greater intensity. So what do you want Jesus to do for you today?
The Context of the Healing: Jesus Passes Through Jericho
The End of a Major Section, the Beginning of a New Chapter
Now, the context of this healing Jesus is passing through Jericho. This is the end of a major section in Matthew's gospel and the beginning of the final section. The overall theme of Matthew's gospel is the king of the kingdom of heaven, presents Jesus as the King and the realm that he rules over called the Kingdom of Heaven. The beginning of Jesus' preaching ministry in Matthew 4:17, “From that time on he began to preach ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Now, everything in the gospel of Matthew exists, I think either to establish Christ as the King of the kingdom of heaven, what he's like, what kind of king he is, or to tell us the nature of the kingdom of heaven or to exhort us as sinners to enter the kingdom of heaven or to live according to kingdom principles. That's what the gospel of Matthew is about.
So in the first three and a half chapters from Matthew 1:1 through 4:11, we have the prologue of Jesus' ministry. We have the genealogy establishing Jesus' right to rule as the king of the Jews. We have the birth narrative with the gifts of the Magi and all that. We have John the Baptist’s ministry in Jesus' baptism and then Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. All of this just setting the stage for the central section which we are just completing today from Matthew 4:12 to 20:34, Jesus' ministry in Galilee and his journey to Jerusalem. We see teachings, we see miracles, we see the calling of the first disciples as he walked by the Sea of Galilee or as he calls Matthew from his tax collector's booth. We see the Sermon on the Mount and we start to understand the nature of the kingdom life that Jesus would have for us. A life of the heart, of the spirit that transforms from within. We see more miracles, the training of the twelve, they're sent out on mission, trained and prepared. We see the ongoing and the increasing rejection of Christ by the Jewish leaders and by some of the people.
We see the parables in which Jesus uses that form of teaching to tell us about the kingdom of heaven and what it's like. And the end of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, including his acceptance by some and rejection by others. And then the journey which we're on now, the journey to Jerusalem always under the shadow of the cross in which he is increasingly preparing his apostles for his own death, making it very plain what's going to happen when he gets to Jerusalem. And so in the final section of Matthew's gospel, Matthew 21 through 28, we will see Jesus' basically the final week of his life. Eight chapters of Matthew's gospel devoted just to the final week of Jesus' life. His ministry there in Jerusalem, his trial, his crucifixion and death and then his glorious resurrection and the Great Commission.
En Route to Jerusalem: On the Way to the Cross
So we're on route here in this account to Jerusalem, on the way to the cross. This is the time of the Passover in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are making their way to the city of Jerusalem and Jesus and his disciples are among them. But for Jesus, it is a unique and painful time. He would be the Passover lamb. His blood would be shed finishing therefore the animal sacrificial system. His blood would be shed for the sins of the world. Jesus had just warned in verses 17 through 19 of Matthew 20, his disciples about his impending death. He took his disciples aside and told them very plainly what was going to happen. “We are going to Jerusalem and the Son of man will be betrayed to the chief priest and the teachers of law. They will condemn him to death and turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. And on the third day he will be raised to life.”
He's also instructed them about the importance of humility in his kingdom. You remember how James and John took Jesus aside and asked that he might grant them the right to sit at his right and his left at the kingdom. So they're jockeying for position. We talked about that last time. And Jesus instructs his twelve apostles, at that point, about the nature of greatness in the kingdom. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them, not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” So the last two sections that we looked at focused on Jesus' death. Jesus is thinking about it all the time. As I said, he's traveling to Jerusalem under the shadow of the cross. Now, this is the last detailed healing account in Matthew's gospel. We do have a passing reference in Matthew 21:14, but it's just a general statement. This is the last healing account we get.
Jericho: A Historic and Beautiful City
Now, as he's passing through Jericho, he's passing through a historic and a beautiful city. The Jericho of Jesus' day lay somewhat south of the ruins of the Old Testament Jericho that was destroyed by Joshua at the time of the crossing and the entrance into the promised land by the Jews. This city of Jericho rebuilt now, locates, is located 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, built up on a series of mountain ridges up on Mount Zion, it's called, Mount Moriah, and was 3,300 feet higher than Jericho. Thus in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus speaks of going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, this man that's beaten by these robbers. Jesus is making the opposite journey. He's going up from Jericho, up to Jerusalem.
Now Herod the great and later Archelaus had strengthened and beautified the city of Jericho. They gave it an amphitheater, villas and a public bath. It was a little paradise with an oasis of fresh water, with palm trees and rose gardens, lavish crops of fig and citrus and other fruits. It's winter climate was delightful. Josephus said that when it was snowy in Jerusalem, Jericho was by contrast warm and pleasant. And thus Herod built a winter palace there. Now, as I mentioned, it's a historic city of course, you know about Joshua and the walls of Jericho falling down. And there was saved Rahab, the prostitute, who was Jesus' ancestress whose name is mentioned in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew chapter 1. It was also near here that Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days of temptation by the devil. So it's historic even in Jesus' life.
Now, as we come to this account, there are problems in harmonizing it with Mark and Luke's account, that I think it's reasonable for us to mention. One of the hardest things to do in New Testament studies is to harmonize Matthew, Mark and Luke in their accounts. And I don't often mention this to you, but this time I think it's worthy of mention because in Mark's gospel, you just have one blind man, Bartimaeus, he's named and it's not mentioned that there are two. And in one of the accounts Jesus is going out of Jericho, in another account he's going in. Well, I'm not gonna burden you with all of the details in the different ways that these things can be harmonized. I think simply, there were two beggars. Whenever any gospel account gives us additional information, you add the additional information on as true and try your best to harmonize it with the simpler accounts. And so I think there were two beggars and one of them was named Bartimaeus. Concerning Jesus leaving or entering Jericho, I know this, that it was right around this time in Luke 19 that he sees Zacchaeus up in the tree.
So it could be that it was just his intention to be leaving Jericho and he goes back into the city to have a meal with Zacchaeus. So it is possible to harmonize all of these things. But let's concentrate on the story primarily as Matthew gives it to us.
Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
Beginning at verse 29 it says, “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho a large crowd followed him. 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!’ The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, son of David have mercy on us!’ Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. Lord, they answered, we want our sight. Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
Now, Matthew heightens the sense of intensity here by saying as they're going by the road “behold” or “look, two blind men sitting there.” So suddenly there they are. He wants us to see them with our minds eye as we really read the text.
Their Wretched Condition
And they were in a wretched condition. First of all, they were blind. Modern surveys list blindness as one of the greatest medical fears that anyone has. Many of us probably fear that more than any loss that could happen to our bodies. We rely so much on our vision for our lives in the world. Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness then how great is that darkness?” Blindness was very common in the Middle East in Jesus' day. Many were blind from venereal diseases gotten from their mothers through the birth process. There's no cure for that. Other infants became blind though trachoma, a virulent form of conjunctivitis. Of course, there were accidents and other things that could happen.
Reading between the lines, it seems that these men had at one point been able to see and had lost their sight. So they're unlike, I think, the man born blind in John chapter 9. They knew what they were missing, at least in part, and they yearned to have their sight again. Now, Jericho was apparently a haven for blind people since it is reported that there was a special balsam wood bush, that would grow there that had healing powers for some types of blindness. So there actually was a very large population of blind people that would be there to be treated. But these men were not only blind, they were beggars. And the two don't necessarily go together. You become a beggar if you don't have a family system around you to care for you with sufficient resources or compassion to take care of you. So these men were cast adrift in the world as blind men and only if they would beg, could they eat. There's a sense of desperation. And like most beggars they would congregate outside the city to interact with those going in and out of the city.
And so they cried out to Jesus. They could not see Jesus but they heard that he was coming. They had heard reports about him, they of course it would be of great interest to them to know that there was a prophet from Nazareth and Galilee who seemed to be able to do anything. Including it was told, healing blind men. Something that had never been done in the Old Testament. There's never an account of it in the Old Testament, something Jesus alone seemed to be able to do. So they knew about Jesus. They'd heard reports about him but now their ears are telling them that Jesus himself is passing by now. This might be their last and best chance ever to have their sight restored by miraculous power. And so with a great intensity they cry out, “Lord, son of David have mercy on us!” Now I would imagine that blind beggars must learn not to be shy about asking for anything. Being shy doesn't get you anywhere. They had needs and they wanted to make their needs known and so they cried out.
And notice they used this beautiful messianic title Lord, son of David. I don't know that they really fully knew everything about Jesus but I think by the end of this encounter they had been given not only physical sight but also a spiritual sight to see who Jesus really was. But I think they're already beginning to wonder if perhaps he might be the Messiah. And notice also what they're begging for. Could sum it up in one word, “Lord, son of David have mercy!” Have mercy on us. Oh, how we need mercy. We don't deserve it. It's not a matter of justice, we can't demand it, it is given freely or it's not given at all but we need mercy. And they knew that they needed mercy. They're crying out for mercy.
Their Added Burden
But they have an additional burden and that is the surrounding crowd. Look at verse 31, “The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet.” This was particularly cold and vicious of this crowd. Oh, how cold our hearts are and how much we violate the second great commandment to love our neighbors as ourself or the golden rule, to do to others what we would have them do to us. I can't understand why the crowd would do this, maybe they just didn't wanna be bothered by the shrillness of this cry or by dealing with their problems. Maybe they didn't want these blind men to hinder Jesus, probably noticed Jesus always seems to stop. Everybody gets what they need from Jesus and maybe they were in a hurry to get on to Jerusalem, who knows. But I tell you this, if any of these annoyed, impatient, cold-hearted crowd had been in their situation, they would have done the exact same thing and cried out for mercy. How hard it is to forget that we are suffering too, and to remember how merciful God's been to us.
Their Commendable Persistence
But you noticed that it doesn't seem to bother these guys? They just have to shout louder, that's all. If you're gonna tell me to be quiet, then I'm gonna have to shout even louder. “Lord, son of David have mercy on me!” Louder and louder they're shouting, they will not be denied. Shout it even louder. With great intensity, with commendable persistence, pictures of Jesus most poignant parables on the need for persistence in prayer. To always pray and never give up. They would not stop, but they kept crying out, “Lord, son of David have mercy on us.”
Jesus’ Essential Question
And so we come to the essential point, the essential question of this text. Jesus stopped and called them and he asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now at one level this could be the strangest moment in the entire encounter, alright. Could it be that Jesus was really that obtuse? Could it be that he was really that dense? Everyone knew what these blind men wanted. It could be like sometimes there are these geniuses that just don't function well in every day life, but they can do special things really well, to an nth degree maybe they call them idiot savant. Now, we know Jesus isn't one of those, but maybe he just doesn't know kind of every day life type of things, and he's really not sure what these blind men want.
Maybe he's distracted, maybe he's thinking about the cross and the pressure of that is on his mind all the time. I read an account about Albert Einstein and how he used to go out in the winter, in Princeton, New Jersey, without any footwear at all, no socks, no shoes, no boots, nothing. His beloved sister had to run out after him and be sure that he wasn't trudging in the snow and ice in his bare feet thinking about something great.
Well, is that the picture you get of Jesus in the New Testament? It's not the picture I get, not at all. There's always a purpose to what Jesus does. There was a reason why, He knew very well what they wanted, He knew very well what was in their mind, what the pressure on their lives was and yet he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” I think this is the essential issue. Jesus makes us ask him for what we want. He makes us ask for what we want. He already knows exactly what we need, he knows far better than we do, what we need. He has searched our hearts, he has studied our lives, he knows the world better than we do. He knows our past, our present, and he knows our future better than we do, he knows exactly what we need.
Jesus already taught on this in Matthew 6 in the Sermon on the Mount, verse 7 and 8, “And when you pray, do not be like the pagans who keep on babbling for they think they'll be heard for their many words. Do not be like them for your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him.” And yet, for all of that, he still wants us to ask, to put it into words, to make our request specifically known to Jesus. And so they give a simple, specific answer.
Their Simple, Specific Answer
Verse 33, “‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’” They knew exactly what they wanted. Literally in the Greek it's, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened, open our eyes, Lord.” It was crystal clear in their own minds, they'd dreamed of recovering their sight from the time they lost it, to see again the blue sky, the white wispy clouds, maybe a breeze blowing the clouds across the sky, to see that same breeze tickle the leaves of palm trees, to see the color of the roses, to see the faces of children, not just hear their musical laughter, but to see their faces, their facial expressions, to see the faces of loved ones, of wives, of parents perhaps. This was no small gift really.
But I say to you like everything Jesus does, it would have taken no effort whatsoever for him to do it. Isn't that amazing how God can create the universe in six days with no effort at all. Don't imagine he needed to rest on the seventh day like he was exhausted. It wasn't anything like that. It was a theological resting as a king on his throne, that's what it was, he wasn't exhausted by the effort, and it was no effort for Jesus to heal these blind men.
The Astonishing Compassion and Power of Jesus
So, see the astonishing compassion and power of Jesus, verse 34, “Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes, immediately they received their sight and followed him.” The more I go on in my Christian life, I'm not sure which is more astonishing: his compassion or his power. I think they're really equally astonishing. As I see just how wretched we are in our sin, and how high and holy and lifted up he is, his compassion is infinite, and infinitely astonishing to me. And when you consider what was going on in Jesus's mind, in his soul, in his life, remember I'm telling you, he's making every step up that 3,300 foot incline to Jerusalem under the shadow of the pressing weight of the cross. He says in Luke 12, “I have a baptism to undergo and it's like I'm in a straight jacket until I undergo it. How distressed I am until it is completed.”
And yet, for all of that, interestingly, he never stopped caring about the needs of others. That other-centered attitude would come to its greatest fruition while Jesus hung on the cross. I counted three statements he makes from the cross, which are other-centered and compassionate in nature. Of those who crucified Him, He said, “Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing.” To the thief on the cross who said, “Lord, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” He said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” And concerning his mother and the disciple whom Jesus loved, John, he connected them together so that John would take care of his mother from that day forward. Three of Jesus' seven statements were other-centered, and he was suffering under the wrath of God. Can I just pause for a moment and urge you not to complain if you're sick, if you're hurting don't complain, serve others, pray for others, think about there are probably others worse than me. I could actually be praying for others, I could use this grief I'm going through to minister to others. I'm not saying we can't grieve, we can't hurt, we can't go to the doctor or any of those, I'm just saying it's so sweet to look at how Jesus died and get our minds off of our own suffering and start ministering to others.
And so, Jesus' compassion is endlessly astonishing to me. Compassion is the number one emotion that Jesus displays, to be moved with the feeling in the situation of others. Scriptures reveal that Jesus is a high priest who is deeply moved with our infirmities. Hebrews 4:15 says, “We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities.” And so Jesus is moved with compassion and he reaches out and touches them. Jesus could have healed anyway he chose, frankly, he heals a lot of different ways. The centurion servant, he heals him remotely and the centurion’s servant doesn't even know how he's getting healed, he's just healed. From a great distance Jesus did it.
In John 9, he spits on the ground and makes mud and smears it on the man's eyes, and the man goes and washes off the mud, and he can see. I think it's remarkable that when we consider the centurion's healing that Jesus could have banished blindness from the face of the earth with a word, he could still do that today, he has that kind of sovereign power. All he has to do is say, “Blindness be gone,” and every person on the face of the Earth will be able to see perfectly right now, he has that kind of power. But yet how many times in his healing does he wanna touch people, does he want that encounter with them, that touch.
Do you remember the woman who was bleeding for 12 years, and she touches the hem of his garment, and Jesus wants to have that encounter with her, “Who touched me?” And he wants to force that encounter, even though it brings her some embarrassment he wants to connect with her. He touches Peter's mother-in-law, she's lying in bed with a fever, he touches the leprous man, and he's cured, he loves to touch people, and so he touched these blind men and instantly they received their sight. How easy it is after all of this time, to minimize the power of God, to minimize what Jesus can do. If you minimize Jesus's power, you won't get the point of my sermon, because I'm gonna say in a few moments that you need to ask him for what you want. And if you think he can't do anything you ask then, you won't ask. But he can do infinitely more than all you can ask or imagine. Now, that's amazing. And so we see both the compassion and the power of Christ.
The Results of the Healing
And what are the results of the healing? Well, they were healed physically, they received their sight, but I think more than that happened to them that day. It says in Mark 10:52, “Jesus said unto him,” this is in the KJV, “‘Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.’” The Greek word could mean a simple healing, but it is the word most consistently used for salvation, and what's especially important is that they followed Jesus after the healing, and they were praising and glorifying God. I think this man blind Bartimaeus became a well-known disciple of Jesus, I think that's why he was named, and I think he became a follower of Jesus. The deepest need that we have is not for physical sight, even if we're blind, the deepest need that we have is for forgiveness of sins. To be saved from sin, to be healed from sin, to be freed from sin's penalty that we might not sink under it for eternity. And so Jesus stood in front of them and said, “What you want me to do for you?” and he healed them I think to the infinite degree of bringing them to salvation.
Spiritual Lessons for Us
Every Miracle of Jesus is a Parable of Spiritual Truth
Now, what are some spiritual lessons for us from this account? Well, first of all, every miracle of Jesus is a parable of spiritual truth. All miracles of healings are pictures of human weakness and inability, combined with God's power, divine power, always the blind man cannot, he cannot see. Jesus has the power to heal, he can. The lame man cannot walk, Jesus has the power and He can heal him. The deaf man cannot hear, but Jesus has the power to heal him. The dead man cannot do anything and Jesus can raise him from the dead. So every miracle is a picture of Jesus' sovereign power come face to face with human complete weakness and inability. Thus each of these healings also translates into a spiritual realm. We are weak, and Jesus is strong, we are unable, and Jesus is able, we are paralyzed, Jesus can move us. We therefore must be spiritual beggars. Blessed are the spiritual beggars, Matthew 5:3, Those that know that they're destitute, that they cannot, that they have no resources, and they cry out to God and he moves powerfully.
So Jesus stands in front of you today and says, “What do you want me to do for you?” And if you're lost, the Bible says you're dead in your transgressions and sins, and it could be that this sermon you can hear Jesus' voice cutting through the haze, the satanic blindness, and you're able to see for the first time a light, a savior, Jesus shed his blood on the cross. He suffered under the wrath of God, he died. And in that, you can be forgiven, the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins, and not only that, but God raised him from the dead, His death, His resurrection can be yours through simple faith. Maybe for the first time you're seeing that. And so now, Jesus is standing in front of you saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” And like Uta, answer, “I want you to forgive my sins. I want you to take me with you, forever to heaven. I wanna live with you, I don't wanna go to hell, I don't wanna get what I deserve for my sins. I wanna live with you forever.” Then tell him.
It's really not that hard. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, just tell him. It doesn't matter what words you use, what matters is what's in your heart, what do you want Him to do for you? I want you to forgive my sins.
And what of our blindness? Well, blindness is especially a metaphor for the darkened state of our hearts. God is light, God's truth. The Bible is a lamp for our feet, and a light to our path, Christ is the light of the world, the radiance of God's glory, the exact representation of his being. He is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, you can see it in his face, and in his life, and in his actions. Well, let me tell you something, this specific divine supernatural light, is the very thing that Satan wants to keep you blinded from seeing. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”
So ask him and say, “Lord I want my sight. I wanna be able to see you. I wanna see you in your glory. I wanna see you high and lifted up. I wanna see you with my own eyes.” It says in Revelation, “They will see His face.” I wanna see his face, but even we Christians, our sight isn't totally restored. Did you know that? We see through a glass what? Darkly, then we shall see face-to-face. If our eyes are good, our whole body will be what? Full of light. Someday we will be filled with light, because our eyes will be good at last, and we will see God, perfectly. We will see him face-to-face, we will see him as he is, and we will be transformed and made just like him, and our whole being will be filled with the light of his glory. But I think it behooves us as it says in 1 John 3: 3, “Everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself just as he is pure.” Get pure by seeing more and more of that divine Supernatural Light. Ask God, say, “Lord, increase, improve, my spiritual vision. Open the eyes of my heart, Jesus, so I may see you better. I wanna see you right now in my heart. I don't have to see you physically, but I need to see you standing here at the moment of temptation. When I'm being tempted and pulled toward the flesh, I wanna see you in my mind's eye that I might not sin against you. Open the eyes of my heart. I wanna see my heavenly reward. I want it to drive out lust of the eyes, and lust of the flesh, and boastful pride of life.”
Our Intense Cry for Mercy
The account talks about an intense cry for mercy. How's your prayer life? I've often thought of prayer as like a rod of iron being put into a coal bed in a big bellows, and blowing that air.
Like that, and then the black, cold, hard iron gets hotter and hotter and brighter and brighter and starts to shine. And then the master can take it and shape it whatever way he wants. That's prayer. How is your prayer life? Is it cold and distant and formal or is it hot? So maybe Jesus stands in front of you and says, “What do you want me to do for you?” Say, “Lord, give me a heart to pray, give me intensity in prayer, I don't care about things like I should. Give me intensity in prayer.” Or maybe you need perseverance. “I start praying and then I kind of give up. I pray for a little while, and I stop. You told that prayer in Luke 18, that we should always pray and never give up, the persistent widow. I'm not the persistent widow. I try once or twice and then I get frustrated. Oh God, give me persistence in prayer.” Jesus stands in front of us and says, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Change my heart and make me persistent in prayer, do that for me, Lord, transform me. Finally, I'd like to say that you need to get specific in prayer. No more of this bless brother so-and-so, bless sister so-and-so. How will you know whether it got done? Could we get specific, say, “Bless brother so-and-so, give them a heart for the Word of God so that they plainly transform in their love for it and read through the Bible in a year, and actually start talking Bible verses, so we can actually see that they love the Word of God. And give them a heart to memorize a chapter, even a book of the Bible, in Jesus's name, amen.” Pray that until they do it, pray specific things, not just pray that somebody would be healed, that's specific enough. We can tell whether, but do more than that, God's doing more than that in the sickness. If they're lost say, “Lord I pray that this physical sickness would be used by you to bring them to saving faith. God use it, and God use me to bring it about.” Pray specifically.
George Muller prayed specifically for orphans, he cared for 10,000 orphans in his life. He wrote down 50,000 specific prayer requests. 50,000. How specific are you in your requests? Do you know whether God's even blessed the world or not, “Bless the world in Jesus name.” I wouldn't think that would cover it, wouldn't you? “Bless the world in Jesus' name, amen.” What else do we need, right? Well, I think we need a lot more, be very, very specific in prayer. And then how about the boldness of these blind men? Do you need some boldness? Jesus stands in front of you and says, “What do you want me to do for you?” Say, “Lord, I'm a coward. I don't do what I should. I'm afraid of the crowd, I'm afraid of what people say. I wanna be a witness for you, Lord. I wanna be able to lead someone to Christ, I wanna see them get baptized. I wanna see them grow, I wanna be part of it Lord, include me. Give me boldness. Give me boldness Lord, to speak and to live for the glory of God, that's what I want.
The Unchanging Compassion and Power of Jesus
Jesus Christ never changes. I think in this text, through this sermon, he is in fact standing before you today, spiritually, and saying, “What do you want? Do you want anything from me? Is there anything I can do for you? What do you want me to do for you?” Now this week, I saw a van advertising one of the local churches. And it was, I perceived, I hadn't seen the van before, or the name of the church before, but I perceived it was a health and wealth kind of church. And on the side of the van, they were advertising their church that if you came to their church and got involved you would have... And this is the big phrase, in big letters, “guaranteed success.”
Well, I was thinking I just wanted to go to see how they're gonna do it. “Guaranteed success.” But I have a suspicion that it isn't the kind of success that the New Testament talks about, away with that, away with it. Jesus isn't Aladdin's genie, giving you wealth, and lasting power and all of that, He's not doing that. Ask for this, “Lord, make my heart like yours, make my life well pleasing to you that I might live for your glory and so not be ashamed, on judgment day, but have a whole array of beautiful fruit to show you for my life.” Close with me in prayer.