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the dispute, by telling them that their office in His kingdom would not be to exercise authority, but to serve, and to suffer tribulation; in the same manner as He had told them that He was about to suffer ; 45 and that therefore they need not expect any higher station than that which He would occupy before them.
While our Saviour was speaking to His disciples respecting what should befal Him at Jerusalem, they were proceeding on their way thither. And it came to pass, that, as He was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging. It was the custom of persons who were unable to obtain a livelihood in consequence of being afflicted with a disease which rendered them incapable of doing any thing for their own support, to solicit alms in this manner. There was no public provision for the maintenance of the diseased, and infirm, and aged poor, as there is among us.
The diseased and destitute have great reason to be thankful for the poor laws of this country. This poor man was blind, and therefore was unable to work for his living, and as he had no means of support, he sat by the way-side, to beg relief of those who passed along the road.
Our Saviour was attended on His journey by others besides His disciples. For the
25 Matthew xx. 25–28.
Mark x. 42—45.
blind man, hearing the multitude pass by, asked what it meant. He was surprised to hear the noise of such an unusual number of passengers going along the road. Wherever Jesus went, multitudes were continually thronging around Him, to see His miracles, and to hear His words. In reply to the inquiry of the blind man, they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. He had heard, it appears, who Jesus was. The fame of Him who healed all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease, among the people, had reached the ears of this poor man.
He resolved, therefore, not to lose such an opportunity of obtaining the relief which he needed. And he cried, saying, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
He had heard also, not only of His benevolent character, but of His high dignity; that He was the Son of David, the long-expected Messiah. As such, he implored Jesus to show him that mercy and compassion which he needed. This was a simple cry.
It consisted of only a few words. But they were uttered with great earnestness. This affords us an example of what prayer is. It is the cry of the heart expressing its anxious desires. This, uttered in few words, is of more avail than the most lengthened modes of expression. The reason why it
26 Matthew iv. 23.
is desirable in general that some length of time should be spent in prayer, is, that thereby the mind may be brought more into a praying frame ; that we may be led to realise more the Divine presence, and that our spirits may be more solemnised. But however long we may be occupied in it, unless we utter the desires of our hearts for what we ask of God, we cannot properly be said to pray.
The consideration of the shortness of the petitions contained in the holy Scriptures; and especially of those which were uttered by persons who besought our Lord Jesus Christ, in the days of His flesh, to interfere in their behalf, has often proved a consolation and encouragement to the sick and afflicted, who have not been able to utter more than a few words at a time in prayer. O that we prayed with more fervency than we do. It is the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous that availeth much, that enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.27 It is not the time spent in prayer, it is not the multitude of words, that attracts His regard; but the cry of the heart for the gifts of His bounty, which He has represented Himself as waiting to bestow.
As some of the people, who accompanied the Lord Jesus on His journey, marched on before Him; when they came up to the blind man, and heard him utter his piteous cries, they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. They had no feeling for the distresses of a fellow-creature, and did not like to be disturbed by the cries which he uttered. Similar is the conduct of many towards the man whose conscience is awakened to a sense of his misery and danger as a sinner against God, a transgressor of His holy law, and who is therefore earnestly crying for pardoning mercy. They endeavour to quiet his fears with commendations of his past conduct, or if that will not answer the purpose, they endeavour to persuade him to hold his peace, that their minds may not be disturbed. But these rebukes will have no more effect on the mind of the convinced sinner, than those of the multitude had upon the blind
27 James v. 16, 4.
He cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
He felt that this was an opportunity for obtaining relief, which, if it were once inissed, might never occur again; and therefore he redoubled his cries for compassion and help to Him who was able to supply his need.
When the Lord Jesus heard the cry of the poor man, He did not despise his misery, as the multitude which accompanied Him had done. None ever sought mercy from Him in vain. The cry of distress always attracted
His notice and obtained His aid. On this occasion it is said, Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him. Instead of pursuing His journey, and passing by on the other side, to avoid having any trouble, as the priest and Levite 28 are said to have done, in one of His parables, in which the neighbourhood of Jericho is introduced as the scene of action ; He stopped to perform the part of the good Samaritan, and desired that the blind man might be led to Him. And when he was come near, He asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? He knew well what the man meant by imploring mercy, but He would hear from his own mouth what it was that he particularly desired.
Thus the sinful children of men are encouraged to enlarge their petitions at the throne of grace; and not only to ask for mercy in general, but for particular blessings according to their own special circumstances. How kind, how condescending, how gracious, did our Lord Jesus Christ manifest Himself to be on this occasion ! But we may also consider Him as putting this question to us, when we implore His mercy earnestly. He permits us to state our case to Him in our own words, to prove that we are sensible of our need of His help, and are persuaded that He
28 Luke x. 31, 32.