And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus…
There he sits hoping for mere worldly gain. He has not come to meet Christ. It was not in all his thoughts to get his eyes opened. How many like him are before me — dying sinners on whom God's curse is resting, who yet did not come to secure the great salvation. God grant a further parallel; that you may get what you did not come for, even a solemn meeting and saving closing of your souls with Jesus Christ. A multitude with Jesus! a multitude of followers! How can He then complain, I have laboured in vain, I have spent My strength for nought? Simply because He had many followers, but few friends. A multitude with Jesus! But it is not all following that blesses. A multitude with Jesus! Yes, when His march is at all triumphal — when as He goes He invests His progress with the splendour of miracles, there will be no want of a crowd to gape after Him. A multitude with Jesus! Take care, then, ye members of the Church. Examine yourselves closely. Profession of religion is easy now. Numbers give power, respectability, fashion, even enthusiasm. A multitude with Jesus! Blessed be God, in that multitude some true disciples may be found; some who, though weak and sinning, forward, like Peter, when they should be backward, and then backward, of course, when they should be forward; ambitious, like Zebedee's children, or doubting, like Thomas, are still true friends of Jesus, living for Him, suffering for Him, growing like Him day by day, and dying for Him without a murmur, if He so appoint. Among the professed people of God there have always been real people of God. "And hearing the multitude." Oh, what a blessing is that! His ears are open though his eyes are shut. Thus God remembers to be gracious. Where He takes one mercy He leaves another. My text shall be my guide. The roadside was the church, the multitude preached, and Bartimeus was the hearer. And now for the sermon — "And they told him, Jesus of Nazareth passeth by!" "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by! "So you see it was a powerful sermon. It went to the heart and took complete possession of it. It was a very simple sermon. Who cannot preach it? "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." There is no follower of Jesus who cannot tell poor blind souls this. A good preacher tries to make all truth simple. He is a bad shepherd, say the old writers, who holds the hay too high for the sheep. According to Lord Bacon, little minds love to inflate plain things into marvels, while great minds love to reduce marvels to plain things. "The very essence of truth," says Milton, "is plainness and brightness; the darkness and crookedness are our own." "Better the grammarian should reprehend," says Jenkyn, "than the people not understand. Pithy plainness is the beauty of preaching. What good doth a golden key that opens not?" An old lady once walked a great way to hear the celebrated Adam Clarke preach. She had heard he was "such a scholar," as indeed he was. But she was bitterly disappointed, "because," said she, "I understood everything he said." And I knew a man who left the church one morning quits indignant, because the preacher had one thing in his sermon he knew before! It was a little explanation meant for the children; dear little things — they are always coming on, and I love to see their bright little faces among the older people. We used to need and prize these simple explanations, and why shouldn't they have them in their turn? But, best of all, this sermon was about Christ. He is mentioned alone. "The excellency of a sermon," says Flavel, "lies in the plainest discoveries and liveliest applications of Jesus Christ." He passeth by! Now is your time; make haste to secure your salvation. How near He is! He passeth by in the light of every Sabbath sun, in every church built to His name, in every reading of His Word, in every gospel sermon, in sacraments and prayers and psalms, but most of all in every movement of His Spirit on the heart. But He "passeth by!" He will not always tarry. The day of grace is not forever. Its sun will go down, and the night that follows is eternal despair. Christ never passed that way again; He may never pass your way again. That was His last visit to Jericho; this call may be His last visit to you. This was Bartimeus' only opportunity; today maybe your only opportunity.
(Prof. W. J. Hoge.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.