The two blind men were in earnest. They had a very obvious disability. And when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they recognised Him as one who was able to give the blind their sight. They cried out: “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Thou Son of David”. Jesus, we are told, “stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?” To them, the appropriate answer was obvious: “Lord, that our eyes may be opened”. And the Saviour, in His mercy, gave them what they asked.
Christ is no longer physically in the world. But if we had eyes to see Him as He is revealed in the Scriptures, we would know that He comes very near to us. And if we were to cry as the blind men did, “O Lord, have mercy on us”, we would get a similar response. Every time we hear the gospel preached, Christ is particularly near to us. He is, as it were, asking: “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”
But how do sinners respond? Their reactions vary enormously. We may listen first of all to the careless sinner. Were he alive in the time when the Saviour was on earth, he would be much more interested in receiving sight for the eyes of his body than for the eyes of his soul. Indeed he would have no interest in echoing the request of the Greeks who came to Jerusalem for that final Passover before Christ was crucified. Apart from an idle curiosity, the careless sinner would never say: “We would see Jesus”. Yet how great is the willingness of Christ to reveal Himself to sinners of all kinds! And how great is their need of that revelation!
Some are so careless that they reject Christ and His blessings altogether. The miracle of rescuing the man who lived among the tombs from his legion of devils should have taught the people of Gadara the willingness of Christ to bless. But they could only think of the loss of their swine – unclean animals which the Jews were forbidden to eat. So they asked Him to depart from their area, refusing to accept that He was the One who had come in God’s great name to save. Many since then have had the same attitude. Particularly guilty are those who have had real contact with a pure gospel but have turned their backs on it. They have no doubt seen something of the power of Christ to bring real blessing in saving others, but they have persuaded themselves that what is truly worthwhile lies elsewhere. They have assumed that there is lasting satisfaction in the things of the world, but they are destined to find out otherwise. Unless they repent, theirs will be an eternity of regret over choosing what was apparently good but was in fact evil, when they might have chosen what was genuinely good, to which God will add no real sorrow.
When Christ spoke to the people after the feeding of the five thousand, He pointed them to Himself as the Bread of life. But their minds did not rise above the things of time and sense. They had no conception that the Saviour was pointing them to Himself as the One who could satisfy far greater needs, those of their souls. They could only say, “Lord, evermore give us this bread,” thinking of the bread which He had provided them with, just before then, by the shores of the sea of Galilee. Let us by all means bring our bodily needs to the throne of grace, but let us remember the time when the Saviour referred to the questions that so occupy the minds of the unconverted: What shall we eat? What shall we drink? and, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? He then set out a true perspective on life: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.
But when it comes to the things of the soul, the carnal mind is much more anxious to do than to receive. The rich young ruler was by no means the last to ask: “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Yes, Christ did point him to the Commandments, but it was with a view to showing him the impossibility of a sinful creature keeping the law with the perfection that will please God. How essential it is to learn that it is by grace we are saved, not by works! It is the soul that has understood the spiritual significance of the word grace that will be ready to respond eagerly to the Saviour’s question: “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”
If we listen now to the seeking soul, what can we expect to hear? Whatever aspect of spiritual need the sinner focuses on, the response will be along the lines of that of the blind men: “Lord, that our eyes may be opened”. How appropriate this petition is for the sinner who feels he cannot respond to this gospel call: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”. Christ is altogether willing to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or think. He came into the world to do all that was necessary for the salvation of sinners. He finished the work that was given Him to do, and so He rose from the dead on the third day and, 40 days later, ascended to heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father. No sinner, however deeply he may feel his guilt and corruption and inability, need have any fear that he will be turned away from Him who said: “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out”.
Finally, let us listen to the response of God’s children. They still need to seek saving mercies from their great High Priest. Their eyes have been opened, but their spiritual eyesight is still far from perfect. They know that there is a great deal still to be learned from God’s Word, for their capacity to receive the spiritual blessings there described is extremely limited and they are still relatively ignorant. Accordingly, as they are encouraged to seek the supply of all their needs from Christ, they ask, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law”.
They have been justified; their sins have been forgiven. But they have not ceased to sin; they still need forgiveness. So they must again and again echo the prayer of David: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”. And this they are encouraged to do, as God for Christ’s sake is able to supply all the needs of those who come to Him. And He is as willing as He is able to do all things for them. When they see their corruptions, let them go to Him for sanctification. When they see their weakness, let them go to Him for strength. When they feel their unbelief, let them go to Him for faith. When they feel their poverty, let them go to Him for a portion of those infinite riches that are in Christ Jesus. Whatever their need, let them remember the kindness of the invitation of Christ: “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”
But the petitions of God’s children are not confined to themselves. And should not these petitions be as unrestricted as that of David: “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory?” There is much to instruct us in the Larger Catechism’s exposition of the petition, “Thy kingdom come”, in the Lord’s prayer: “In the second petition . . . acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the Church furnished with all gospel-officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of His second coming, and our reigning with Him for ever: and that He would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of His power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends”.
Today the Saviour still calls to us: “What will ye that I shall do unto you?” How do we respond? Do we value our opportunity? We cannot expect to escape divine wrath if we refuse to ask for blessings from the infinite fulness of the provision which Christ has made for the unworthy.