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Sermon April 24, 2016

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1254

April 24, 2016 Matthew 20:29-34

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“What Do You Want Me To Do For You?”

 

 

Decisions decisions. Sometimes we struggle with what we want or even what we need or the difference between the two. It may be something as simple as what we want for supper or as complex as which medical procedure to choose. Jesus asks two blind men, what do you want me to do for you? With blind men, it may seem obvious what they would want, and it turns out that it is obvious to them as well. Today I want us to consider the same question Jesus asked the blind men, but to consider that he is asking us, you and me, what do you want me to do for you? Jesus is come by us today on the road of life and worship and he is asking you now, what do you want me to do for you? As you ponder your response, let me also distract you with Matthew 20:29-34.

 

  • Lord, Have Mercy

 

This story takes place on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem, just before the triumphal entry. The disciples and Jesus are followed by a crowd of people. These were probably a mix of others who followed Jesus, disciples who were not of the twelve, but those who still believed and followed Jesus everywhere. I would imagine there were also people who followed for a time and others who just joined in as Jesus was near their home. There could have been some who just jumped on the bandwagon for a brief time. Imagine probably hundreds of people walking along the road and as they go along they hear two guys calling out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy, Son of David.” The cry tells us three things they know, Jesus is Lord, Jesus shows mercy, and Jesus is the Messiah. Son of David would have been understood as the one who comes in the line of David to deliver God's people. If nothing else, they demonstrate that they believe Jesus can heal them.

Those who are following Jesus, at least some of them, try to silence the blind men. We are not told why, but their rebuke only leads to more pleas from the blind men. They may have felt that the men were disrupting Jesus' progression toward Jerusalem or maybe they thought they were protecting Jesus, we really don't know why. Yet nothing will stop these guys from getting Jesus' attention. The are persistent and loud. “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.” It is a plea to be noticed, These were among the marginalized in society. They had no right to call out to Jesus. But Jesus does take notice.

Jesus stops and calls them out. Jesus had time for the kinds of people that many others believed should get no time. But that is how Jesus surprises. He hangs out with the sinners, talks to Samaritan women, reaches out to Gentiles, and in so doing breaks down all kinds of barriers.

 

 

 

  • What do you want me to do for you?

 

The question is direct and specific. What do you want me to do for you? I wonder if they were a bit startled at first? The story does not say. Instead, they are quick to reply, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” The could not see Jesus as he walked by, but the could see something spiritually. They could see hope. They could see possibility. They could see the healer. “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

 

 

  • Request and Recovery!

 

Make us see! Immediately they could see! Jesus just reached toward them with a touch and whamo! They could see. We do not know if these men were blind from birth, but even so, it must have been quite a shock to be able to see, even able to know what they were looking at when they saw something. Now they could physically see Jesus and all those around him. They could see even more as they turn to follow the one who healed them.

 

  • Obedience

 

When Jesus called the disciples he would simply say, follow me. A simple command with a great depth of meaning for following Jesus meant and means giving our lives for Jesus' sake. I like the way this story ends with the words, “immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.” They see now that Jesus is the one to whom they must go and the one they must follow. He gave them sight, we might even say he gave them two ways to see, physical and spiritual.

 

  • What Jesus Has Already Done

 

A few years ago there was the popular acronym WWJD for, what would Jesus do? People still use that as something of a guide, wearing in on wristbands and other ways. I have always had a bit of resistance to that particular question, not because it is wrong or inappropriate to use it, but I question how much we might know of what Jesus would do in any given situation. What would Jesus do if I pleaded with him to show me mercy? I really don't know. He might stop and ask me what I want him to do for me.

The acronym that I have imprinted on a wrist bracelet is WDJD, what did Jesus do? We may not know for sure what Jesus would do, but we do know what Jesus has done. Jesus has already shown us great mercy by giving himself on the cross and rising from the tomb. Jesus has already made deep promises for his own. Jesus has loved us and shown us mercy time and time again. Jesus has shown us obedience, grace, love, mercy, faith, and he is the fulfillment of God's plan of redemption. We can learn from what Jesus has already done to help us trust in what he might do for us.

We know that he gives sight to the blind, makes the lame to walk, and opens the ears of the deaf. We know that he preached the word, performed miracles, and drove out demons. He has already done for us what we could not do for ourselves and has set us right with God.

 

  • What do you want me to do for you?

 

I asked us earlier to consider this question asked of us, what do you want me to do for you? What do you want Jesus to do for you? Ponder the question for a moment. What might be your response? Healing? To see things more clearly? To have wisdom? To grow in faith? Financial concern? Family issues? Perhaps you cannot think of anything in particular right now. That's okay. Something might come to mind later today or later this week. It is not like getting three wishes from a genie! One thing about Jesus is that he does not limit his mercy or grace or love. He will give us that which is best for us. Lamentations 3 gives us an important help to our understand this passage in Matthew, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). His love for us is forever, his mercies are fresh every day.

 

 

  • Lord, Have Mercy

 

If we were to bring nothing else before God to answer the question Jesus asks us today, it would be enough to bring the words of the two blind men, “Lord, have mercy on us.” It may be a perfect prayer. Lord, have mercy on me, on us, on our church and community, on our state and nation. Lord, have mercy on us, for we know that we have fallen short of your glory. We know that we have sinned against you and we need your mercy. We know that we have weaknesses and pains and hurts and regrets and we have lacked faith. But you have promised great things for your people. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

I want to invite you to come forward to join me in prayer. We will gather here, those of you who would choose to do so, and make a circle or oval or whatever shape we can, with the question of Jesus in our hearts and minds, what do you want me to do for you?