We have here an account of the cure of two poor blind beggars; in which we may observe,
I. Their address to Christ, Matt. 20:29, 30. And in this,
1. The circumstances of it are observable. It was as Christ and his disciples departed from Jericho; of that devoted place, which was rebuilt under a curse, Christ took his leave with this blessing, for he received gifts even for the rebellious. It was in the presence of a great multitude that followed him; Christ had a numerous, though not a pompous, attendance, and did good to them, though he did not take state to himself. This multitude that followed him for loaves, and some for love, some for curiosity, and some in expectation of his temporal reign, which the disciples themselves dreamed of, very few with desire to be taught their duty; yet, for the sake of those few, he confirmed his doctrine by miracles wrought in the presence of great multitudes; who, if they were not convinced by them, would be the more inexcusable. Two blind men concurred in their request; for joint-prayer is pleasing to Christ, Matt. 18:19. These joint-sufferers were joint-suitors; being companions in the same tribulation, they were partners in the same supplication. Note, It is good for those that are labouring under the same calamity, or infirmity of body or mind, to join together in the same prayer to God for relief, that they may quicken one another’s fervency, and encourage one another’s faith. There is mercy enough in Christ for all the petitioners. These blind men were sitting by the way-side, as blind beggars used to do. Note, Those that would receive mercy from Christ, must place themselves there where his out-goings are; where he manifests himself to those that seek him. It is good thus to way-lay Christ, to be in his road.
They heard that Jesus passed by. Though they were blind, they were not deaf. Seeing and hearing are the learning senses. It is a great calamity to want either; but the defect of one may be, and often is, made up in the acuteness of the other; and therefore it has been observed by some as an instance of the goodness of Providence, that none were ever known to be born both blind and deaf; but that, one way or other, all are in a capacity of receiving knowledge. These blind men had heard of Christ by the hearing of the ear, but they desired that their eyes might see him. When they heard that Jesus passed by, they asked no further questions, who were with him, or whether he was in haste, but immediately cried out. Note, It is good to improve the present opportunity, to make the best of the price now in the hand, because, if once let slip, it may never return; these blind men did so, and did wisely; for we do not find that Christ ever came to Jericho again. Now is the accepted time.
2. The address itself is more observable; Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David, repeated again, Matt. 20:31. Four things are recommended to us for an example in this address; for, though the eye of the body was dark, the eye of the mind was enlightened concerning truth, duty, and interest.
(1.) Here is an example of importunity in prayer. They cried out as men in earnest; men in want are earnest, of course. Cold desires do but beg denials. Those that would prevail in prayer, must stir up themselves to take hold on God in duty. When they were discountenanced in it, they cried the more. The stream of fervency, if it be stopped, will rise and swell the higher. This wrestling with God in prayer, and makes us the fitter to receive mercy; for the more it is striven for, the more it will be prized and thankfully acknowledged.
(2.) Of humility in prayer; in that word, Have mercy on us, not specifying the favour, or prescribing what, much less pleading merit, but casting themselves upon, and referring themselves cheerfully to, the Mediator’s mercy, in what way he pleases; “Only have mercy.” They ask not for silver and gold, though they were poor, but mercy, mercy. This is that which our hearts must be upon, when we come to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy, Heb. 4:16; Ps. 130:7.
(3.) Of faith in prayer; in the title they gave to Christ, which was in the nature of a plea; O Lord, thou Son o David; they confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and therefore had authority to command deliverance for them. Surely it was by the Holy Ghost that they called Christ Lord, 1 Cor. 12:3. Thus they take their encouragement in prayer from his power, as in calling him the Son of David they take encouragement from his goodness, as Messiah, of whom so many kind and tender things had been foretold, particularly his compassion to the poor and needy, Ps. 72:12, 13. It is of excellent use, in prayer, to eye Christ in the grace and glory of his Messiahship; to remember that he is the Son of David, whose office it is to help, and save, and to plead it with him.
(4.) Of perseverance in prayer, notwithstanding discouragement. The multitude rebuked them, as noisy, clamorous, and impertinent, and bid them hold their peace, and not disturb the Master, who perhaps at first himself seemed not to regard them. In following Christ with our prayers, we must expect to meet with hindrances and manifold discouragements from within and from without, something or other that bids us hold our peace. Such rebuke are permitted, that faith and fervency, patience and perseverance, may be tried. These poor blind men were rebuked by the multitude that followed Christ. Note, the sincere and serious beggars at Christ’s door commonly meet with the worst rebukes from those that follow him but in pretence and hypocrisy. But they would not be beaten off so; when they were in pursuit of such a mercy, it was no time to compliment, or to practise a timid delicacy; no, they cried the more. Note, Men ought always to pray, and not to faint; to pray with all perseverance (Luke 18:1); to continue in prayer with resolution, and not to yield to opposition.
II. The answer of Christ to this address of theirs. The multitude rebuked them; but Christ encouraged them. It were sad for us, if the Master were not more kind and tender than the multitude; but he loves to countenance those with special favour, that are under frowns, and rebukes, and contempts from men. He will not suffer his humble supplicants to be run down, and put out of countenance.
1. He stood still, and called them, Matt. 20:32. He was now going up to Jerusalem, and was straitened till his work there was accomplished; and yet he stood still to cure these blind men. Note, When we are ever so much in haste about any business, yet we should be willing to stand still to do good. He called them, not because he could not cure them at a distance, but because he would do it in the most obliging and instructive way, and would countenance weak but willing patients and petitioners. Christ not only enjoins us to pray, but invites us; holds out the golden sceptre to us, and bids us come touch the top of it.
2. He enquired further into their case; What will ye that I shall do unto you? This implies, (1.) A very fair offer; “Here I am; let me know what you would have, and you shall have it.” What would we more? He is able to do for us, and as willing as he is able; Ask, and it shall be given you. (2.) A condition annexed to this offer, which is a very easy and reasonable one—that they should tell him what they would have him do for them. One would think this a strange question, any one might tell what they would have. Christ knew well enough; but he would know it from them, whether they begged only for alms, as from a common person, or for a cure, as from the Messiah. Note, It is the will of God that we should in every thing make our requests known to him by prayer and supplication; not to inform or move him, but to qualify ourselves for the mercy. The waterman in the boat, who with his hook takes hold of the shore, does not thereby pull the shore to the boat, but the boat to the shore. So in prayer we do not draw the mercy to ourselves, but ourselves to the mercy.
They soon made known their request to him, such a one as they never made to any one else; Lord, that our eyes may be opened. The wants and burthens of the body we are soon sensible of, and can readily relate; Ubi dolor, ubi digitus—The finger promptly points to the seat of pain. O that we were but as apprehensive of our spiritual maladies, and could as feelingly complain of them, especially our spiritual blindness! Lord, that the eyes of our mind may be opened! Many are spiritually blind, and yet say they see, John 9:41. Were we but sensible of our darkness, we should soon apply ourselves to him, who alone has the eye-salve, with this request, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
3. He cured them; when he encouraged them to seek him, he did not say, Seek in vain. What he did was an instance,
(1.) Of his pity; He had compassion on them. Misery is the object of mercy. They that are poor and blind are wretched and miserable (Rev. 3:17), and the objects of compassion. It was the tender mercy of our God, that gave light and sight to them that sat in darkness, Luke 1:78, 79. We cannot help those that are under such calamities, as Christ did; but we may and must pity them, as Christ did, and draw out our soul to them.
(2.) Of his power; He that formed the eye, can he not heal it? Yes, he can, he did, he did it easily, he touched their eyes; he did it effectually, Immediately their eyes received sight. Thus he not only proved that he was sent of God, but showed on what errand he was sent—to give sight to those that are spiritually blind, to turn them from darkness to light.
Lastly, These blind men, when they had received sight, followed him. Note, None follow Christ blindfold. He first by his grace opens men’s eyes, and so draws their hearts after him. They followed Christ, as his disciples, to learn of him, and as his witnesses, eye-witnesses, to bear their testimony to him and to his power and goodness. The best evidence of spiritual illumination is a constant inseparable adherence to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Leader.