A certain blind man sat by the wayside.
This teaches us —
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE IMMEDIATE SEIZING OF OPPORTUNITIES.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF PERTINACITY, IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE SOUL.
III. THE ROOT OF THIS PROMPTNESS OF ACTION — OF THIS UNDAUNTED PERTINACITY — WAS FAITH.
IV. THE RESTORED SIGHT IS USED IN FOLLOWING CHRIST, AND IN GLORIFYING GOD.
HINDRANCES WHICH BESET US IN COMING TO CHRIST FOR MERCY.
1. Our own blindness.
2. Impediments that others cast in the way.
II. ACTIONS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OUR COMING TO CHRIST.
1. Jesus stood still.
2. On Jesus showing Himself favourable, then at once did multitude.
3. In eagerness to go to Jesus, man left garment behind (Mark 10:50). Must cast off custom and habit of sin. Then, going to the Saviour will be easy, and prayer will be heard and answered.
III. BLESSING RECEIVED; EFFECT PRODUCED.
1. What the poor man willed, the Lord granted.
2. A new follower.Application:
1. Let no worldly hindrances debar from Christ.
2. Many encouragements to go. Go.
3. Having gone, truly, wholly — surely follow Him.
Now, looking stedfastly that this may be the case, I wish to speak very pointedly to you about two or three things. First, when Jesus passed by the blind man it was to that man A DAY OF HOPE. It was an hour of hope to that blind man, and if Jesus passes by now this is an hour of hope to you. But, does He pass by? I answer — Yes. There are different respects in which this may be interpreted of our Lord's conduct. In a certain sense He has been passing by some of you ever since you began to discern right from wrong. More especially is is a time of Christ's passing by when the gospel is preached with power.
II. Secondly, as it was a time of hope to that poor blind man, so was it especially A TIME OF ACTIVITY. You that anxiously desire salvation, regard attentively these words. A man cannot be saved by what he does; salvation is in Christ, yet no man is saved except as he seeks earnestly after Christ.
1. This man listened attentively.
2. He inquired with eagerness what it meant.
3. When this man had asked the question, and had been told in reply that Jesus of Nazareth passed by, notice what he did next, he began to pray. His cry was a prayer, and his prayer was a cry.
4. After this man had thus pleaded, it is noteworthy that Jesus stood still and called him. That much-prized, though all patched and filthy garment, he threw right away; it might have made him a minute or two slower, so off he threw it, and away he flung it. Ah! and it is a great mercy when a poor soul feels that it can throw away anything and everything to get to Christ.
5. Once more. When this man had come to Jesus, and Jesus said to him, "What wilt thou that 1 should do unto thee?" the man returned a straightforward and intelligent answer, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."
6. Still, I cannot withhold one other remark. That which really brought salvation to this blind man was his faith, for Christ says, "Thy faith hath saved thee." Now, here is the greatest point of all — faith! Faith; for work without faith is of little worth. Faith is the great saving grace; it is the real life-germ.
III. It was also AN HOUR OF CRISIS.
IV. Lastly, remember that this hour of Jesus passing by is AN HOUR THAT WILL SOON BE GONE. Did you notice that word, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by?"
As people do not recognize that Christ passeth near to them when they are in health, even so they do not see as they ought His hand in their sickness. An invalid lamented to a lady who came to see her, that she had abused her health before it was taken from her. The friend replied, "I hope that now you will take care not to abuse your sickness." Assuredly we abuse our sickness when we do not see the hand of God in it, and do not allow Jesus of Nazareth, who passeth by our bed, to bring us nearer to Himself.
Blind Bartimeus has to encounter obstructionists; the unsympathizing crowd interfered to silence the man. "Hold thy peace, Bartimeus; have done with all this frenzied excitement; Christ has other things to do than listen to thee!" So long ago was it a settled matter that a man may get excited about anything in the wide world except about Christ! You are quite at liberty to get excited about the latest war news, about politics, about the race-course, about the money-market, about anything you like, save the interests of your soul. Yes; these highly respect. able people of eighteen hundred years ago have left a numerous progeny. There are always plenty of persons ready to give good advice to seeking souls, or to young Christians, after this fashion: "Keep quiet, my friend; don't get excited; hush! don't make a noise about such things; whatever you do, keep calm, and don't make a fuss." I observe that the devil has his own fire-brigade, who are always ready with their hose — waiting to throw cold water on any little flame that the Holy Spirit kindles, and to offer sedatives to any startled sinner who is beginning to be in earnest about his soul. These excellent people will tell you that it is all right and proper to be religious, to be earnest up to a certain point, but you must be careful not to go beyond this. When you come to inquire what this point is, you make the astonishing discovery that it is just the point at which religion begins to do one any real good! Be earnest, so long as your earnestness does not bring you salvation; be pious, so long as your piety fails to reveal the living God to your heart; but be sure and stop short of receiving God's gift of everlasting life, or you will be going too far!
A year ago last winter an affecting scene occurred in the streets of Baltimore. Two little sisters were looking through a large store window at the toys within, and trying to describe what they saw to a little blind sister who was with them. They were exhausting their feeble powers of description to bring home to the mind of their blind companion what they saw, although she listened greedily. But, after all, they failed to present anything more than an imperfect representation. The gentleman who saw the circumstance said that it was extremely touching, that they tried hard to describe the collection in the store, but they could not do it. That is just like our trying to tell you of Christ.
By merely opening my eyes all the glories of light burst upon me. I take in at a glance the human face or the stretch of magnificent scenery. I gaze across the vast ocean, or, looking up through the night, I grasp millions of worlds and embrace infinitude. What an amazing result from merely opening the eyes and looking up! How often, too, a single incident, the meeting of a particular friend or the encountering of some difficulty or danger, or the gaining of a little information, colours the whole of a man's subsequent life — indeed, gives him an entirely different direction and turn. His whole attitude is altered by what occupied but a moment. It is, then, quite in accordance with God's arrangement and man's world that great things should depend on very simple matters. And the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, though a simple thing, though not a complex, laborious, lengthened operation, is yet the very act most fitted to open the soul for God. It is not labour that is required for the reception of God. It is the feeling of emptiness, and desire to receive. It is trust in God, the belief in His great love. No labour will enable a man to behold the light of the sun or the multitude of the stars, but opening his eyes will. Opening the eyes to God's great love in Christ, receiving that marvellous display of God's inmost heart, that opens the heart, that brings into true accord with God, that gives a wholly different outlook on the world, that alters a man's entire attitude.
Let us therefore review THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE HISTORY BEFORE US — arid endeavour to derive SOME USEFUL ADMONITIONS FROM IT. One of the characters of our Saviour's miracles was publicity. Impostors require secrecy and darkness. Thus He recovered this man before a multitude in the highway, and close to the city of Jericho. Several of our Saviour's miracles seem to have been unintentional. Thus it is said, "As He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men, that were lepers, who stood afar off." Thus again we read, that "when He came nigh to the gate of the city of Nain, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." And so here: "It came to pass, that as He was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side begging." You may ask then, Was His finding these objects accidental or designed? Unquestionably, designed. He was not taken by surprise. He saw the end from the beginning. His plan was formed; and He was "working all things after the counsel of His own will." Our Saviour is acquainted with all our sins, but He requires us to confess them; He understands all our wants, but He commands us to acknowledge them; He is always graciously affected towards our case, but He would have us properly affected with it ourselves. He knew the desire of this man, but He would know it from him himself; and therefore, when he was come near, He asked him, saying, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" So here: as soon as Bartimeus received sight from the Lord Jesus, "he followed Him in the way, glorifying God." We may view this two ways. It was first an evidence of the reality and perfection of the cure. In other cases where human skill has removed blindness by couching, the restored orbs cannot be immediately used; light is admitted into them by degrees; the man cannot measure distances, nor judge with accuracy; and he is not fit to be left to himself. But it is said our Lord "did all things well." His manner distinguished him — the man saw at once clearly; and was able to conduct himself. Secondly, it was an improvement of the greatness of the mercy. "I can never," says he, "discharge my obligations to such a gracious and almighty Friend. But let me devote myself to His service — let me continually ask, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'" From the narrative thus explained, I would take occasion to bring forward four admonitions.
1. BE PERSUADED THAT YOU ARE ALL SPIRITUALLY IN THE CONDITION OF BARTIMEUS — and that without Divine illumination, you are no more qualified for the concerns of the moral world than a blind man is for those of the natural world.
2. BE PERSUADED THAT, WITH REGARD TO THE REMOVAL OF THIS BLINDNESS, YOU ARE IN AS HOPEFUL A CONDITION AS THIS POOR MAN. In all these miracles our blessed Lord holds Himself forth as the all-sufficient helper of sinners.
3. BE PERSUADED TO IMITATE THE IMPORTUNITY OF THIS BLIND BEGGAR, IN CRYING FOR MERCY. And especially let your importunity, like this poor man's, appear with regard to two things. First, like him, seize the present moment. Let not the opportunity afforded you be lost by delay. Secondly, like him, be not silenced by discouragement and opposition.
4. If He has healed you! — if you can say, "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." LIKE BARTIMEUS, BE CAREFUL TO FOLLOW THE SAVIOUR. This is the best way to evidence your cure. This is also the best way to improve your deliverance. Thus you will "show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." Follow Him, then, as an imitator of His example.
What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?
All who come to church should come not to keep up an ancient form, do a duty, discharge an obligation, but to meet with Christ. And we do meet with Him (Matthew 18:20
). And He asks of each the question in the text. Three classes of replies.
1. The reply of some is, "Let us alone — leave us." Diogenes wished Alexander, as the greatest favour he could bestow, to "stand out of my sunshine." Christ stands between some men and what they imagine to be sunshine.(1) How ungrateful is such a reply. What pain and grief it must give Him who died to save us.(2) How mad it is. If we could succeed we should have destroyed our only hope — broken the only bridge by which we might return.
2. The reply of others is, "Lull our consciences to rest." They want ease, but not holiness, pardon without change of heart.(1) How vain is such a search. Christ's offers are always coupled with requirements ( Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 5:8).(2) How utterly worthless it would be. It would be a sham, and we should know it and despise
3. The reply of others is, "Cleanse, purify, renew us." Like this man they ask for sight. Like the leper they ask to be made clean. They cry in their doubts and fears, "I believe; help Thou mine unbelief." And such never come in vain. Christ meets with them, and though they touch but the hem of His garment, grants, their requests (Luke 4:18).
Much as blind people lose by not having the use of their eyes, they have often made themselves not only useful, but even distinguished. Professor Sanderson, of Cambridge, England, lost his sight when only a year old, but became a great mathematician. Dr. Blackwood was master of Greek, Latin, Italian, and French, and a poet of no mean degree. Dr. Henry Moyes was skilled in geometry, optics, and astronomy, and he could judge very accurately of the size of any room in which he happened to be by the effects of his voice. John Metcalf, an Englishman, was employed first as a wagoner, and afterwards became a surveyor of highways. By the help of a long staff, he would traverse the most difficult mountain roads, and was able to do more than many men accomplish with their eyes open. William Metcalf laid out roads and built bridges. Euler, the mathematician, was blind. John Gough, who was an accurate botanist and zoologist, was also blind. Lord Cranbourne, blind from his childhood, published, a history of France for the young. Huber, who has written such an interesting book about bees, was blind. Homer was blind. The same was true of Ossian and Milton. Zisca, the famous Bohemian general, performed great acts of valour after the loss of his sight. The Rev. J. Crosse, vicar of Bradford, England, was blind, but as he knew the Church service by heart, he was able to conduct public worship with impressiveness and solemnity, only requiring the help of another person to read the lessons for him.
To be vain is to be blind, and to persist in blindness, and in the ignorance of one's blindness, and to refuse the opportunities of sight. To be worldly is to be blind; to grope among the dusty ways, the opaque and earthly objects of this lower sphere, contented with their darkness, or expecting light to shine out from it — is to be grossly blind. To be without religion, to look not up above for cheering and guiding light, to seek not the rays of that eternal Sun, which alone can warm and invigorate the soul — that is to be blind. But to be humble is to see. To feel that we are ignorant, that we are weak, that we are poor, and that the darkness within needs illumination from the Light above, and to pray for that illumination is to have our eyes opened, and to see. To receive Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith, to go to Him for the precept and example, the doctrine and direction which we so much need, and which we can obtain from no one but from Him who was sent to us from the Father of lights, is to be cured of our blindness, and to receive our sight. To follow His blessed steps, to write His instructions on the tables of our hearts, to shun all allurements and pass over all obstacles which interfere with the duty of discipleship, is to walk as children of the light and of the day.