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“Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And it came to pass, that as He was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him: and when he was come near, He asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God”—Luke 18:31-43.
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This portion divides into two parts: verses 31 to 34 stand together, and verses 35 to 43 go together. In the first section we read that Jesus and the disciples turned their faces toward Jerusalem. This was for the last time. Our Saviour had visited Jerusalem on other occasions— though after leaving Nazareth He made His earthly-home in Capernaum of Galilee-—but now He was going to Jerusalem in order to fulfil the purpose for which He came from the Father’s glory into this poor world: He was going to Jerusalem to lay down His life as a sacrifice for sin. He understood perfectly what would happen. People have often spoken as though our Lord was overtaken by surprise, as though He had ventured too much in going to Jerusalem where so many were opposed to Him, and that He might have lived longer and accomplished more if He had been more cautious and remained in Galilee where many were learning to know and love Him, but this is contrary to the Word of God. Such reasoning makes manifest how people misunderstand the mystery of His Person. He came from heaven to give His life a ransom for many, but until the set time appointed of the Father when that great sacrifice was to be made, He could not die. No man could take His life from Him. But when the hour to which all eternity past had been looking forward, and to which all eternity future will ever be looking backward— when that hour came, then He laid down His own life. So with full knowledge of what was before Him, He said to His disciples, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.” Notice that everything that had been declared of Him before by inspired men was now about to be fulfilled. All Scripture is “God breathed.” There is no word in it that is void of power. And so our Lord told His disciples that everything the prophets had written was about to be fulfilled: that is, everything in connection with His first coming. The Son of Man was going to Jerusalem that He might die for the sin of the world.
Every prophecy that had reference to His first coming was fulfilled literally while He was here on earth, or when He hung upon the cross. Because of that we may be very sure that every scripture that has to do with His second coming—that glorious advent which many feel is to take place very soon—will be fulfilled just as definitely. Patrick Henry said to the Assembly of Virginia, “I have no way of judging the future but by the past.” So we too have no way of judging the future but by the past. Judging by the past we see that everything that had to do with the first advent was literally fulfilled; therefore, everything that has been predicted concerning the second advent will be fulfilled in the same way. Many attempt to spiritualize the prophecies and try to apply promises to the Church of God that refer primarily to Israel and to the land of Palestine. All will be fulfilled as written, for so it has been throughout the past centuries. The Lord Jesus told His disciples that He would be delivered unto the Gentiles, and He was; that He would be mocked, and He was; that He would be spitefully entreated, and He was; that He would be spat upon, and, yes, He was. The holy Son of God, they spat in His lovely face, and they mistreated Him in every way that the satanic influence could suggest; yet He gave His life as a ransom for their sins. He saw it all as though it had already been accomplished, but He went on unflinchingly to accomplish the work of redemption. He looked beyond the cross and told His disciples that on the third day He would rise again. One would suppose that those listening to Him as He spoke these words would have understood exactly what He was talking about; but the disciples were expecting Him to go down to Jerusalem and declare Himself the promised King, overthrowing at once the Roman power, and restoring Israel to the first and preeminent place among the nations of the earth. They were so obsessed with these ideas that they could not understand even the plainest words concerning His rejection, His crucifixion, and His coming resurrection. We read that “they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” It is significant enough that after these words were fulfilled concerning His rejection and death, His enemies remembered what His disciples had forgotten, for we read that they came to Pilate and said, “We remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, after three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead.” And Pilate said, “Ye have a watch: go your way, and make it as sure as ye can.” And so they went and made it as sure as they could; but they could not overthrow the purpose of God. When the third day dawned Jesus rose in triumph from the grave. But His disciples had not understood; their minds were blinded. They were so occupied with the idea of His setting up immediately His kingdom and with the restoration of Israel, that they could not comprehend what His words really meant.
In the second section we have the story of blind Bartimaeus. In it we see the wonderful way in which God responds to faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a re-warder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb, 11:6). Here we have a beautiful picture, historically exact, but a lovely picture nevertheless, of the reward of faith. On His way to Jerusalem, going down through Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, our Lord made His way across the ford, into the land of Judaea. As He was drawing near to the city of Jericho (not the Jericho of Joshua’s day; that was destroyed, but another Jericho that had grown up near the site of that ancient city), we are told, “A certain blind man sat by the way side begging.” Matthew’s Gospel tells us there were two blind men, and that Jesus healed them both. Those who like to find fault with the Bible and try to discredit the truth of its inspiration, point to these two different accounts and say, “Can both be inspired? One writer says there are two blind men, and another says there is only one.” But notice that Luke does not say there was only one; he does not say there was no other. Matthew went farther than Luke and said there were two, and he was correct. But Luke fastens our attention on the one man who had the greater faith. There may have been a measure of faith in the other man, but that of Bartimaeus was outstanding. There is no contradiction here; it is simply that Matthew gives added information which the Holy Spirit was pleased to withhold when Luke wrote his account. Every incident in the four Gospels where there seem at times to be discrepancies could be easily explained if only we knew more of the facts. God’s Word is perfect; it is our understanding that is limited. Here we are told, “And it came to pass, that as He was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.” What a picture of hopelessness and distress. I suppose this man had been without sight for many years, and there was no one to care for him, and so he earned a precarious living by begging, sitting day by day on the side of the highway leading to Jericho, in order to receive gifts from the passing multitude. Those who have visited Palestine, as some .of us have, find it easy to visualize that sight. One will see the same thing today: there are sick people, those who are blind and maimed, sitting along the highway, crying, “Backsheesh! Backsheesh!” It seemed to me we heard that word more than any other all the time we were in Palestine. It means “a gift! a gift!” Sometimes there will be thirty or forty crying, “Backsheesh.” One’s heart aches as he gazes upon them and realizes how miserable and wretched many of them are. So there was this blind man, Bartimseus. “And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.” Oh, what a message that was! “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by!” Jesus, the Friend of sinners; the One whose voice has power; the One who had healed the lepers, and who, on many other occasions, had opened the eyes of the blind. Bartimaeus had heard that name. He said in his heart, “He is the One who can do something for me!” Bartimaeus felt his need. The trouble with many today is that they do not feel their need; they are contented and self-satisfied just as they are. They have no sense of their true condition before God. Bartimaeus felt his need: he had suffered for years. He was in earnest as he cried, saying, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” He expressed himself intelligently. He recognized the fact that Jesus was truly the promised Messiah of Israel. That is what was involved in using the expression, “Thou Son of David.” For many centuries the people had waited for the coming of the promised Son of David, who was to bring everlasting blessing to them, and Bartimaeus had heard enough about Jesus to be convinced in his own soul that He was the promised One. That is real faith based on the Word of God. “And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” The more they tried to quiet him, the more he cried, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” There are some people who think it is a terrible thing when folk become a little effervescent about religion. They do not like emotion in religion, but they get excited about everything else. They go to a ball-game, and yell themselves hoarse as they watch someone chasing after a little globe as though it were the most wonderful thing in the world; but when they go to a gospel meeting and find people who are anxious about their souls, they say, “Oh, there is too much excitement about this!” If one is out of Christ and he becomes excited about his soul, it is something worth getting excited about. Many are like the sluggard in the Book of Proverbs (6:10), who cried, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” A little more sleep and many will awake in hell to sleep no more! It is time to waken and become excited, as this man Bartimseus was. You have a soul to be saved; you have a soul to be lost if it is not saved, and you should be in earnest about your salvation. Bartimaeus would not be put to one side; he must reach Jesus, and so he continued crying. And no one ever cried to Him in vain: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). You lift up your heart to Him; you cry out, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!” and He will hear. “And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him: and when he was come near, He asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?” This is a question that He is asking today. Do you want something from Him? Be .definite about it. If you are unsaved, look up to Him as He asks this question and say, “Lord, I would that Thou wilt save my soul, that Thou wilt give me eternal life, and the assurance that I have peace with God.” He is waiting to grant your request. If you are in any trouble or distress, He is ready to give you peace and to hear your supplication. But be sure you ask in faith, “nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5). Bartimseus had genuine faith. He had a real need and he wanted that need met. “And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.” “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” That was God’s answer to faith’s plea. “Thy faith hath saved thee!” The Lord discerned the faith that was in the heart of this man. And so Bartimseus was not only healed, but he was also saved. Christ will do the same for you if you will come to Him as Bartimaeus did, in simple faith and put in your plea.
He received the answer, and we read, “And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.” When we are saved, when we ourselves have received spiritual sight, when we have been delivered, we are interested in Christ; we want to follow Him and to be in His presence; we want to keep company with Him; we enjoy fellowship with Him, and the heart goes out in worship, praise and thanksgiving. So we read that Bartimaeus glorified God. He was not like many who receive God’s good gifts and never think to lift their hearts to Him in a word of acknowledgement. This man’s deliverance was a testimony to the multitude when they saw him giving praise unto God, and thus witnessing for the Lord Jesus. You who have had your eyes opened, you who can say, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see,” do you seek to witness for Him that others too may be attracted to Christ and led to trust and praise Him?