Listen to: Danny Gokey, "Tell Your Heart To Beat Again"
“What do you want me to do for you?” How often are we asked this question? Usually by business or sales person who wants to assist in selling something or fixing a problem we might have. Maybe our doctor or lawyer might ask us a version of this question to help us with something we are facing. It is noteworthy that this is the last question that Jesus asks someone in need before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem -- which we celebrate as Palm Sunday – this Sunday, March 20. In Luke, it is a blind beggar who is the last person Jesus heals. In Mark the blind beggar’s name is Bartimaeus. In Matthew it is two blind men whom Jesus aids. In each case they cry out, “Jesus, or Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd tries to silence the cries with rebukes, but fails. They continue to shout out until Jesus stops and asks, “what do you want me to do for you?”
What an unusual question to ask. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus can see that they are blind. However, Jesus doesn’t presume to know what it is that they want. Maybe they want money. Something to eat. To have a blessing. There are many things they may want. Jesus wants them to be able to name what they want. “Lord, I want to see,/We want our sight” is their response: which Jesus grants. It is the final healing miracle in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) before Jesus enters Jerusalem and the saga of Holy Week unfolds.
If Jesus were to ask each of us, “What do you want me to do for you?” How would we answer him? What is it that we want? Holy Week wants us to focus on this question. Otherwise, what does Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection matter? It becomes just a riveting story about terrible things that happened to a good person with victorious ending. That's all. We have to know what we want.
As people of faith, this upcoming week is the epicenter of our spiritual walk. What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asks. Can we answer this basic question. What do we need to see? Is it in matters of faith? How our life is going? How well we are loving? The lens through which we view the world? How we judge others? Are we worried about somebody? Something? Who am I, really? What is my purpose in life? In all that is happening around me, what am I not seeing?
If we want to change, we need to name our need. We need to be willing to come up against the judgment and rebukes of the crowd who would silence us. Sometimes the voice of that crowd is in our head, all the opinions we have internalized over the years. So we need to be able to shout out to Jesus, “Lord, I want to see!”
This Holy Week, hear Jesus as he asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Hear that question, as he washes the feet of the disciples. As he is betrayed and denied by those he loves. As he prays in Gethsemane. As he is being tortured and mocked by soldiers. As he is condemned by the officials of religion, state, and mob rule. As he suffers and dies on the cross. Hear that question with all the love he has to offer: “What do you want me to do for you?”
Then may you see!