Call to Worship September 30 2018
Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 18:35-43
“The miracle described in these verses is rich in instruction. It was one of the great works which witnessed that Christ was sent by the Father. (John 5:36.) But this is not all. It contains also some lively patterns of spiritual things which deserve attentive study.
We see, for one thing, in this passage — the importance of diligence in the use of means. We are told of ‘a certain blind man who sat by the wayside begging.’ He sought the place where his pitiful condition was most likely to attract notice. He did not sit lazily at home, and wait for relief to come to him. He placed himself by the road-side — in order that travelers might see him and give him help.
The story before us, shows the wisdom of his conduct. Sitting by the wayside, he heard that ‘Jesus was passing by.’ Hearing of Jesus — he cried for mercy, and was restored to sight. Let us mark this well! If the blind man had not sat by the wayside that day — he might have remained blind to the hour of his death.
He who desires salvation, should remember the example of this blind man. He must attend diligently on every means of grace. He must be found regularly in those places where the Lord Jesus is especially present. He must sit by the wayside, wherever the Word is read and the Gospel preached, and God’s people assemble together.
To expect grace to be put into our hearts, if we sit idling at home on Sundays, and go to no place of worship — is presumption and not faith. It is true that ‘God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy’ — but it is no less true that He ordinarily has mercy, on those who use the means of grace. It is true that Christ is sometimes ’found by those who seek Him not’ — but it is also true that He is always found by those who really seek Him. The Sabbath breaker, the Bible-neglecter, and the prayerless man — are forsaking their own mercies, and digging graves for their own souls. They are not sitting ‘by the wayside.’
We see, for another thing, in this passage — an example of our duty in the matter of prayer. We are told that when this blind man heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he ‘he cried out: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ We are told further, that when some rebuked him and told him to be quiet — he would not be silenced, ‘He shouted all the more!’ He felt his need, and found words to tell his story. He was not to be stopped by the rebukes of people who knew nothing of the misery of blindness. His sense of wretchedness, made him go on crying out. And his importunity was amply rewarded. He found what he sought. That very day he received sight.
What the blind man did on behalf of his bodily ailment — it is surely our bounden duty to do on behalf of our souls. Our need is far greater than his. The disease of sin — is far more grievous than the lack of sight. The tongue that can find words to describe the necessities of the body — can surely find words to explain the needs of the soul.
Let us begin praying — if we never prayed before. Let us pray more heartily and earnestly — if we have prayed in times past. Jesus, the Son of David, is still passing by — and He is not far from any of us. Let us cry to Him for mercy, and allow nothing to hinder our crying out. Let us not go down to the pit speechless and silent, without so much as a cry for help. None will be so excuseless at the last day — as baptized men and women who never tried to pray.
We see, for another thing, in this passage — an encouraging instance of Christ’s kindness and compassion. We are told that when the blind man continued crying for mercy, our Lord ‘stopped, and ordered the man to be brought unto Him.’ He was going up to Jerusalem to die, and had weighty matters on His mind — but He found time to stop to speak kindly to this poor sufferer.
Then Jesus asked the man, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ he pleaded, ‘I want to see!’ We are told, ‘Jesus said unto him, receive your sight — your faith has saved you.’ That faith perhaps was weak, and mixed with much imperfection. But it had made the man cry to Jesus, and go on crying in spite of rebukes. So coming with faith — our blessed Lord did not cast him out. The desire of his heart was granted, and ‘immediately he received his sight.’
Passages like these in the Gospels, are intended for the special comfort of all who feel their sins and come to Christ for peace with God. Such people may be sensible of much infirmity in all their approaches to the Son of God. Their faith may be very feeble — their sins may be many and great — their prayers may be very poor and stammering — their motives may be far short of perfection. But after all, do they really come to Christ with their sins? Are they really willing to forsake all other trusts — and commit their souls to Christ’s hands? If this is so — then they may hope and not be afraid. That same Jesus still lives — who heard the blind man’s cry, and granted his request. He will never go back from His own words, ‘Him who comes unto me, I will never cast out.’ (John 6:37.)
We see, lastly, in this passage — a striking example of the conduct which befits one who has received mercy from Christ. We are told that when the blind man was restored to sight, ‘He followed Jesus, glorifying God.’ He felt deeply grateful. He resolved to show his gratitude, by becoming one of our Lord’s followers and disciples. Pharisees might cavil at our Lord. Sadducees might sneer at His teaching. It mattered nothing to this new disciple. He had the witness in himself, that Christ was a Master worth following. He could say, ‘I was blind — and now I see!’ (John 9:25.)
Grateful love is the true spring of real obedience to Christ! Men will never take up the cross and confess Jesus before the world, and live for Him — until they feel that they are indebted to Him for pardon, peace, and hope. The ungodly are what they are — because they have no sense of sin, and no consciousness of being under any special obligation to Christ. The godly are what they are — because they love Him who first loved them, and washed them from sin in His own blood. Christ has healed them — and therefore they follow Christ.
Let us leave the passage with solemn self-inquiry. If we would know whether we have any part or lot in Christ — then let us look at our lives. Whom do we follow? What are the great ends and objects for which we live? The man who has saving faith in Jesus — will always be known by the general bent of his life.”