What do you want? (Matthew 20:29~34)

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.

(Matthew 20:29-34) 

The passage we just read is from Matthew 20, where Jesus healed the eyes of two blind men. They were blind and unable to see, and they called out to Jesus. When they cried out, “Jesus, Son of David!” the Lord called for them and asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They answered, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened!” Then the Lord said, “According to your faith, it will be done!” and their eyes were opened, and could see again.

For those who haven’t lived faith lives, this may seem quite unusual, and it’s easy to think of them as events that only took place in the past. However, these miraculous works were not limited to Jesus alone; He promised that those who believe in Him will also experience them. Of course, they may not happen exactly when we desire, but individuals who have faith in Jesus and strive to obey God’s word are continually inspired by the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and bring about healing.

In fact, as we lead our faith lives, we often experience such things. When we obey through faith, we experience God and are led to trust in Him more. Since I began to believe in Jesus, I experienced healing from sickness countless times and have also helped heal many others. Among these experiences, it’s difficult for me to count how many times fevers went down and shoulder pains have ceased. There have been instances where a blind person’s eyes were opened as well.

Once, there was an individual who had undergone brain surgery due to a car accident, resulting in a deep indentation at the back of his head. Since this area was connected to the optic nerve, he had lost their vision. He attended a crusade that I was leading, seeking healing. He participated for the entire week and received the Holy Spirit. I prayed fervently for his healing, but it didn’t happen. Later, when I visited the next village, he came once more. At the end of the crusade, as I was praying for the sick, he came forward again. To be honest, I had hoped he wouldn’t come forward.

But I prayed for him. After I prayed, I felt a strong urge to say this to him: “If you continue to lead your faith life well, your condition will get better”. If I said that, I wouldn’t have to bear the responsibility for the outcome. However, Jesus always healed the sick on the spot. So, as I needed to obey, I extended my fingers before his eyes and asked, “How many fingers can you see?” Despite his attendance for the entire week of the second crusade, he still couldn’t see. I felt embarrassed.

Then I moved on to the next village, and he came again, accompanied by his mother. I thought to myself, “Oh they’re here again!” Facing various challenges, I couldn’t deliver the same sermon as before. During the previous week-long crusade, I had preached extensively, and I could have reused some of the content if none of the previous attendees were present. However, since several individuals from the previous crusade were also there, I had to deliver different sermons. Of course, my message continued to preach Jesus.

When it was time for prayer at the end, he came forward again. It was the third time I prayed for him. Afterwards, I asked, “How many fingers do you see?” But he couldn’t answer again. Then he went back to his seat. This happened until the last day of the crusade, and I thought it wasn’t going to happen this time. But not long later, I heard him sitting at his seat shout, “I can see!” He was Chinese so spoke in Chinese, “I can see!” “What do you see?” I asked. “I see light!” he said, pointing to the lights in the room as well as the window through which light was entering the room. He said the light was becoming brighter. Later, he was able to recognize people’s faces. In this way, I witnessed the opening of the blind man’s eyes.

I didn’t have such power at all. I had never experienced anything like this before I believed in Jesus and even after becoming a believer. However, when I was testifying about God during that time, I declared, ‘God is alive! God can heal! He answers my prayers!’ And for a person who is blind, what would be his greatest desire? It would be to regain his sight. Since I introduced God as the Almighty, I prayed for him. Although I prayed for him over 3 weeks, he wasn’t healed. If that man had given up after just two weeks and returned home, he wouldn’t have experienced God. He might have said, “The prayer didn’t work! God isn’t real!” But this man didn’t give up; he came for three weeks. Every day for three weeks, he approached me and asked for prayers.

If we count the number of times I prayed for him, it’s quite a few. However, what he gained was not just a satisfaction of having his eyes opened by meeting God. Instead, he came to believe that God is alive as a result of that experience. Not only did he believe that and receive healing, but he also developed hope to receive everything that God intends to give. Most importantly, he understood the reason why Jesus came. Jesus did not come to only open the eyes of the blind. Even though his eyes were opened, they would close again the day he died. He wouldn’t be able to see once more. However, what Jesus truly came to offer is eternal life. He was merciful upon our spirits, which are vessels to receive God’s eternal life, and thus, He saved us. As a result, that man will one day experience resurrection and enter heaven with an eternal body. This is the most important hope that we all desire to have.

When you came to Church, what did you come to receive? You probably came seeking various forms of help. However, if you stop there, you won’t receive the most important thing. Furthermore, that which you truly desire, even if you pray for it earnestly, may not come to you for a while. But if it is really necessary, and you have a deep longing for it, and you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God will grant it at the right time. It may not be the best for you to receive it right now; in fact, receiving it later may be more beneficial. That is a decision for God to make. He will provide you with that, but He doesn’t stop there. He will grant eternal life to those who experience God. Thus, I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will be able to meet God.

I have witnessed many people who came with the intention of obtaining what you desire but left only with disappointment. There was a lady who had a child suffering from polio, and she sought help from various places, including Buddhist temples and different churches, before eventually coming here. Her mother’s wish was for her child to recover, and with that purpose in mind, she came to church diligently for a year. It would’ve been better if she had discovered what God wanted to give her during that year. However, because her sole attention was on her child, she didn’t have room for anything else on her mind. She wasn’t interested in getting to know God. Consequently, when her child didn’t receive healing at the church within a year, she started to complain and eventually stopped coming to church except for her child.

Later on, her child attended a church camp and received the Holy Spirit. It was an incredible event. That means the beginning of God’s work in the child’s life. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, and after receiving the Holy Spirit, the child began to speak tongues. However, speaking in tongues is not easily understood. So, when the child spoke in tongues at home, it shocked the mother. She called the church, saying, “What’s happening to my child? Something is wrong with her!” She told her child to stop, but the child insisted, “No mom. God is alive”. However, in the mother’s eyes, her child appeared to be mentally unstable. As a result, she forbade the child from going to church.

In the case of this mother, when she came to church with her child, she came seeking to meet Jesus, but she was solely focused on her own desires. However, when her child wasn’t healed immediately, she gave up. On the other hand, her child persevered, received the Holy Spirit, and of course, gained salvation. However, in the mother’s eyes, her child began speaking in what she called “tongues” instead of being healed, and her child’s spiritual passion appeared as mental illness. Consequently, she prevented her child from attending church any longer. The child wanted to continue attending, but her mother wouldn’t allow it. In the end, the child couldn’t convince her mother, as she was only in primary school. It’s truly heartbreaking situation. When we come to church, we should be open to receiving what God wants to give us. In the beginning, you may come to church seeking something specific, but when you’re here, you should also seek to meet God.

The blind men we read about in today’s passage were truly unique. While the Bible contains numerous accounts of Jesus healing the sick, this specific story seems to stand out unexpectedly in a context that may make you wonder why it’s included. At that time, Jesus was on his journey to Jerusalem, where He would ultimately face crucifixion. This event marked the final stages of Jesus’ three-year public ministry.

Before this event occurred, Jesus had forewarned His disciples, saying, “I will journey to Jerusalem, where I will be arrested and put to death by the chief priests and elders. However, I will rise again in three days.” But did the disciples truly understand what He was saying? No, they did not. None of the disciples who had faithfully followed Jesus for three years understood His words.

As Jesus and His disciples entered Jerusalem, the disciples were filled with anticipation. Do you know why? The disciples believed that the reason Jesus was entering Jerusalem to lead a revolution. At that time, Israel was under Roman colonial rule, and the situation was similar to Korea’s 36-year period of Japanese oppression. The Jewish people, oppressed by the Romans, yearned for independence. To achieve this, they needed a strong and charismatic leader. They had been waiting for such a leader to emerge, and finally, Jesus appeared.

Jesus, as a figure, gathered crowds of people and then performed miracles and signs. Walking on water, healing the sick, feeding thousands with five loaves and two fish – when they saw these actions, they thought, “He must be the leader to bring about a revolution!” So, they believed that if they entered Jerusalem with Jesus, which was the political center, they would remove the Roman governor. Afterward, they expected that fire would come down from heaven to consume the Romans, and they would regain their independence.  and then fire would come down from heaven to consume the Romans. These were the thoughts they had.

Thus, when Jesus said, “I am going to die!” the people thought He meant, “I will fight to the death!” That is why Peter said to Jesus, “I will die with You! I will die with You, Lord!” Perhaps those people would’ve fought to the death. If Jesus had been fighting for the flesh, the disciples might have taken up swords and fought to the death as well. But contrary to the disciples’ expectations, Jesus had a different purpose. He went to die. That’s why later the disciples scattered and went their own ways.

As Jesus was entering Jerusalem with determination to lay down His life, the disciples had different thoughts. They were thinking about their positions in the future when the revolution succeeded. They wanted to be in high-ranking positions. John and James, the sons of Zebedee, along with their mother, approached Jesus during this crucial moment. They came to Jesus with a request, asking Him to grant that one of them would sit at His right hand and the other at His left when He entered His kingdom, which they associated with the success of the revolution.

This request put Jesus in a perplexing situation. Jesus was on His way to die on the cross, yet here were His disciples, after spending three years with Him, completely misunderstanding His purpose. They were only focused on seeking positions of honor, the right and left-hand seats of power, in His kingdom. What is more, the disciples who listened to this conversation became resentful, thinking, “If you take those seats, what about us?”

Jesus, in response to their desire for positions of power and authority, gathered His disciples and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. I, the Son of Man, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He emphasized His mission of sacrificial service, but the people continued to misunderstand His true purpose.

As they were on their way to enter Jerusalem, near the city of Jericho, there were blind beggars sitting by the roadside. Two of them called out loudly to Jesus, calling out Him, “Jesus, Son of David!” At that time, there were many people. Tens of thousands had gathered and they shouted, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” They welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, believing it was the arrival of the king and the beginning of a revolution.

In that moment, the blind beggars sitting by the gate cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on us!” Why were these men calling out to Jesus? In a typical scenario, beggars would be sitting and asking for help, saying, “Have mercy on us!” This was the same as saying, “Please spare us some change!”

When I went to China, I noticed that beggars use different phrase to ask for help compared to what we commonly hear in Korea. In Korea, what do beggars typically say? “Spare us a penny!” That’s right, in the past, they might have something like, “Spare us a scoop of rice,” but when I was growing up, I often heard beggars say, “Please spare us a coin”. However, when I visited China, I noticed that beggars across the country all used the same phrase: “Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!”

When these blind men cried out, saying, “Have mercy on me!” it was a common beggar’s request. The people around them rebuked them, telling them to be quiet. It was a crucial moment; these beggars were calling out to the future king. However, Jesus didn’t dismiss their cries as merely beggar requests; instead, He called them closer and asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” If these blind men had expectations similar to Jesus’ disciples, what would they have requested from the man they believed to be their future king? They might have said something like this: “If you become king, please prioritize social welfare for the disabled. Life is incredibly challenging for us, so providing disability pensions would be a tremendous help. We would greatly appreciate your support for our community’s welfare. Since it’s difficult for disabled individuals like us, it would be a blessing if the government could offer free meals.” They would’ve said something like that.

But what was their answer when Jesus asked them, “What do you want?” They wanted to see. Is that even a request that one can possibly ask of a king? If you met the president, would you say to him, “I want to see”? If they made such a request to Jesus, who did they believe Jesus to be? They believed Him to be God. They believed Him to be One who can do what is only possible for God to do, that is, the Son of God, the One sent by God who is equal to God. That’s what’s so remarkable about them.

Even the disciples regarded Jesus as a mere man, but these beggars saw Him as One who came from God. That is truly remarkable. Consequently, this event was written in this very important and decisive chapter.

Therefore, we are not any less than these blind men. Some people come to church only seeking physical healing from their sickness. Others may come with the idea that attending church will improve their chances of getting into a good university or finding employment. Additionally, some young individuals attend church with the goal of meeting a potential spouse. For example, if someone is in LA of USA, and goes to church, do you know why? It’s because it’s a gathering place for Kroeans. By attending church, they can gain valuable information and support, which is why many people choose to come. Regardless of the initial reason that brought you here, it’s good that you made the decision to attend. However, once you have gained a deeper understanding of who God is through your time here, it’s time to shift your focus from “What did I come here for?” to “What do I want from God?” You are not here right now seeking something from other people; rather, in the church, you should be seeking what God wants to do for you.

There is definitely something that God wants to give you, and for this purpose, He sent Jesus.  So, you must meet Jesus at church and then receive what He wants to give to you through Jesus. This gift will be much greater than anything you can imagine or expect. You might have thought to yourself, “I hope my life will improve by coming to church!” However, what God wants to provide you with goes far beyond that. You must receive it. Focus on receiving what God has prepared for you, rather than clinging to your own desires. Otherwise, you won’t be able to accept what God gives, and you will leave unsatisfied. God’s gift is so immense that it may not be immediately visible, and it’s eternal, which is why those seeking immediate, tangible results may miss it. In Jesus’ name, I bless you to seek what only God can provide.

In order to draw God’s attention, you must be able to persistently seek Him, just as the blind men did, even when those around you try to quiet you down. When I first sought to meet God, it wasn’t easy journey, despite my earnest desire to meet Him. I prayed, “God, I confess I am a sinner. If you are alive, please meet with me!” I prayed for three months and came to church, but still, I didn’t meet God. At one point, I even considered leaving the church after a few days.

Towards the end, when did I finally meet God? Driven by an intense yearning, I went to the church camp and found myself praying fervently on its last day. I was aware that this was my last opportunity. While others went for dinner, I chose to remain and pray alone. In that spacious hall, I started praying quietly, “God, please meet with me!” But my earnestness grew, and my voice gradually became louder. To my surprise, I eventually found myself crying out loudly, “God! I want You to meet me!” Prior to that moment, I couldn’t do that and prayed softly because I was afraid that others would hear me and I felt embarrassed. However, my deep longing overpowered my previous feeling, and I cried out with all my heart.

While I was crying out in prayer for about an hour, suddenly I had an experience where my spirit met God. Words cannot describe enough what happened next, but I met God. I went through a profound repentance, and in that moment of meeting God, I called Him “Father!” for the first time. Before then, I couldn’t bring myself to say “Father”. I used to just pray by saying, “God! O truth!” However, when the Holy Spirit came upon me and I met God, the word, “Father!” came out of my lips, and I wept very hard. My spirit finally met God. Since then, the truthful experience of meeting God and receiving everything that He gives has continued to this day. Therefore, I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will also have the same experiences.

God is asking you right now. “What do you want?” You are seeking something that only God can provide. “I want a thousand dollars!” That is something you can find elsewhere, even if you don’t come here. You might as well go find a part-time job on Lord’s Day rather than coming here. Or if you are saying, “God, I want peace in my heart!” You don’t have to be here. You might find it better to go to the library. What you are seeking here right now is what only God can give, and that’s what you should receive. The blind men said, “Jesus, Son of David!” However, we know that Jesus is the Son of God. So, let’s say it together. Let’s say “Jesus!” loudly, so that He can hear. Jesus is passing by right now, and many people are surrounding Him. We want to shout as loudly as we can, so Jesus can hear us. One, two, three!

“Jesus!”

It’s challenging, isn’t it? Let’s try it one more time. Give your best try. I am here to assist you. Open your mouth and give it a try. Put strength into it and say, one, two, three!

“Jesus!”

That’s right. When you pray, try doing it this way. Then God will hear you. I will pray.

God our Father, we earnestly desire to meet You here. While our flesh may desire other things, our spirits long to know and meet You. Please help each one of us to meet You. When You ask, “What do you want?” may we seek that which only You can provide. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center