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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Mark 10

Verses 13-36

Children Brought to Christ, and Not to the Font

July 24th, 1864

by

C. H. SPURGEON

"And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them:

and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw

it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little

children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the

kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive

the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he

took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed

them"--Mark 10:13-16 .

My attention has been specially directed to this passage by the fact that

it has been quoted against me by most of the authors of those sermons

and letters which are, by a stretch of imagination, called "replies" to

my sermon upon "Baptismal Regeneration." Replies they certainly are

not, except to one another. I marvel that a Church so learned as the

Anglican, cannot produce something a little more worthy of the point

in hand. The various authors may possibly have read my discourse, but

by reason of mental absorption in other meditations, or perhaps

through the natural disturbance of mind caused by guilty consciences,

they have talked with confusion of words, and have only been

successful in refuting themselves, and answering one another. They

must have been aiming at something far removed from my sermon, or

else I must give them credit for being the worst shots that ever

practiced with polemical artillery. They do not so much as touch the

target in its extreme corners, much less in its centre. The whole

question is, Do you believe that baptism regenerates? If so--prove that

your belief is Scriptural! Do you believe that baptism does not

regenerate? Then justify your swearing that it does? Who will reply to

this? He shall merit and bear the palm.

The Scripture before us is by several of the champions on the other

side exhibited to the people as a rebuke to me. Their reasoning is

rather ingenious than forcible: forsooth, because the disciples incurred

the displeasure of Jesus Christ by keeping back the little children from

coming to Him, therefore Jesus Christ is greatly displeased with me,

and with all others like me, for keeping children from the font, and the

performance there enacted; and specially displeased with me for

exposing the Anglican doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration! Observe

the reasoning--because Jesus was much displeased with disciples for

hindering parents from seeking a blessing upon their children,

therefore he is much displeased with us who do not believe in

godfathers and godmothers, or the signing of the cross on the infant

brow. I must say at the outset that this is rather a leap of argument,

and would not ordinarily be thought conclusive, but this we may

readily overlook, since we have long ceased to hope for reasonable

arguments from those who support a cause based upon absurdity. My

brethren, I concluded that there must be something forcible in such a

text as this, or my opponents would not be so eager to secure it; I have

therefore care fully looked at it, and as I have viewed it, it has opened

up to me with a sacred splendour of grace. In this incident the very

heart of Christ is published to poor sinners, and we may clearly

perceive the freeness and the fulness of the mighty grace of the

Redeemer of men, who is willing to receive the youngest child as well

as the oldest man; and is greatly displeased with any who would keep

back seeking souls from coming to him, or loving hearts from bringing

others to receive his blessing.

I. In handling this text in what I believe to be its true light, I shall

commence, first of all, by observing that THIS TEXT HAS NOT THE

SHADOW OF THE SHADE OF THE GHOST OF A CONNECTION WITH BAPTISM. There is no

line of connection so substantial as a spider's web between this incident

and baptism, or at least my imagination is not vivid enough to conceive

one. This I will prove to you, if you will follow me for a moment.

It is very clear, Dear Friends, that these young children were not

brought to Jesus Christ by their friends to be baptized. "They brought

young children to him, that he should touch them," says Mark.

Matthew describes the children as being brought "that he would put

his hands on them and pray," but there is not a hint about their being

baptized; no godfathers or godmothers had been provided, and no sign

of the cross was requested. Surely the parents themselves knew

tolerably well what it was they desired, and they would not have

expressed themselves so dubiously as to ask him to touch them, when

they meant that he should baptize them. The parents evidently had no

thought of regeneration by baptism, and brought the children for quite

another end.

In the next place, if they brought the children to Jesus Christ to be

baptized, they brought them to the wrong person; for the Evangelist,

John, in the fourth chapter, and the second verse, expressly assures us

that Jesus Christ baptized not, but his disciples: this settles the

question once for all, and proves beyond all dispute that there is no

connection between this incident and baptism.

But you will say, "Perhaps they brought the children to be baptized by

the disciples?" Brethren, the disciples were not in the habit of

baptizing infants, and this is clear from the case in hand. If they had

been in the habit of baptizing infants, would they have rebuked the

parents for bringing them? If it had been a customary thing for parents

to bring children with such an object, would the disciples who had

been in the constant habit of performing the ceremony, have rebuked

them for attending to it? Would any Church clergyman rebuke parents

for bringing their children to be baptized? If he did so, he would act

absurdly contrary to his own views and practice; and we cannot

therefore imagine that if infant baptism had been the accepted

practice, the disciples could have acted so absurdly as to rebuke the

parents for bringing their little ones. It is obvious that such could not

have been the practice of the disciples who were rebuked.

Moreover, and here is an argument which seems to me to have great

force in it, when Jesus Christ rebuked his disciples, then was the time

if ever in his life, to have openly spoken concerning infant baptism,

godfathers and godmothers, and the whole affair. If he wished to

rebuke his disciples most effectually, how could he have done it better

than by saying, "Wherefore keep ye these children back? I have

ordained that they shall be baptized; I have expressly commanded that

they shall be regenerated and made members of my body in baptism;

how dare you then, in opposition to my will, keep them back?" But no,

dear friends, our Saviour never said a word about "the laver of

regeneration," or, "the quickening dew," when he rebuked them--not a

single sentence. Had he done so, the season would have been most

appropriate if it had been his intention to teach the practice; in the

whole of his life, there is no period in which a discourse upon infant

regeneration in baptism could have been more appropriate than on this

occasion, and yet not a single sentence about it comes from the

Saviour's lips.

To close all, Jesus Christ did not baptize the children. Our Evangelist

does not inform us that he exclaimed, "Where are the godfathers and

godmothers?" It is not recorded that he called for a font, or a Prayer

Book? No; but "He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon

them, and blessed them," and dismissed them without a drop of the

purifying element. Now, if this event had any connection with baptism

whatever, it was the most appropriate occasion for infant baptism to

have been practiced. Why, it would have ended for ever the

controversy. There may be some men in the world who would have

raised the question of engrafting infants into the body of Christ's

Church by baptism after all this, but I am certain no honest man would

have done so who reverently accepted Christ as his spiritual leader. I,

my brethren, would sooner be dumb than speak a single word against

an ordinance which Christ himself instituted and practiced; and if on

this occasion he had but sprinkled one of these infant s, given him a

Christian name, signed him with a cross, accepted the vows of his

godparents, and thanked God for his regeneration, then the question

would have been settled for ever, and some of us would have been

saved a world of abuse, besides escaping no end of mistakes, for which

we are condemned, in the judgment of many good people, for whom

we have some affection, though for their judgment we have no respect.

So you see the parents did not ask baptismal regeneration; Christ did

not personally baptize; the disciples were not in the habit of baptizing

infants, or else they would not have rebuked the parents; Christ did not

speak about baptism on the occasion, and he did not baptize the little

ones.

I will put a case to you which may exhibit the weakness of my

opponents' position. Suppose a denomination should rise up which

should teach that babes should be allowed to partake at the Lord's

Table. Such teaching could plead precedents of great antiquity, for you

are aware that at one period, infant communion was allowed, and

logically too; for if an infant has a right to baptism, it has a right to

come to the Lord's Table. For years children were brought to the

Lord's Table, but rather inconvenient accidents occurred, and there

fore the thing was dropped as being unseemly. But if some one should

revive the error, and try to prove that infants are to come to the Lord's

Supper, he might prove it from this passage quite as clearly as our

friends can prove infant baptism from it. Moreover do not forget that

even if infant baptism could be proved from this text, the ceremony

prescribed in the Prayer Book is quite as far from being established.

Whether the baptism of infants may or may not be proved from other

Scriptures I cannot now stay to enquire, but even if it can be, what are

we to say for godfathers or godmothers, or the assertion that in

baptism children are made "members of Christ, children of God, and

inheritors of the kingdom of heaven?" Truly I might as well prove

vaccination from the text before me, as the performance which the

Prayer Book calls "infant baptism." I do not hesitate to say that I could

prove any earthly thing, if I might but have such reasoning granted to

me as that which proved infant baptism from this passage. There is no

possible connection between the two. The teaching of the passage is

very plain and very clear, and baptism has been imported into it, and

not found in it. As a quaint writer has well said, "These doctrines are

raised from the text as our collectors raise a tax upon indigent,

nonsolvent people, by coming armed with the law and a constable to

distrain for that which is not to be had. Certainly never was text so

strained and distrained to pay what it never owed; never man so

racked to confess what he never thought; never was a pumice stone so

squeezed for water which it never held." Still hundreds will catch at

this straw, and cry, "Did not Jesus say, 'Suffer the little children to

come unto me?'" To these we give this one word, see that ye read the

Word as it is written, and you will find no water in it but Jesus only.

Are the water and Christ the same thing? Is bringing a child to a font

bringing the child to Christ? Nay, here is a wide difference, as wide as

between Rome and Jerusalem, as wide as between Anti-christ and

Christ, between false doctrine and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

II. Now, for our second and much more pleasing task, WHY THEN WAS JESUS

CHRIST DISPLEASED?

Read the passage and at once the answer comes to you. He was

displeased with his disciples for two reasons: first, because they

discouraged those who would bring others to him; and secondly,

because they discouraged those who themselves were anxious to come

to him. They did not discourage those who were coming to a font, they

discouraged those who were coming to Jesus. There is a mighty

distinction ever to be held between the font and Christ, between the

sprinkling of the priest and living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, his disciples discouraged those who would bring others to him. This

is a great sin, and wherever it is committed Jesus Christ is greatly

displeased, for a true desire to see others saved is wrought in the believer

by God the Holy Spirit, who thus renders the called ones the means of

bringing wandering sheep into the fold. In this case they discouraged those

who would bring children to him to be blessed. How can we bring children

to Jesus Christ to be blessed? We cannot do it in a corporeal sense, for

Jesus is not here, "he is risen;" but we can bring our children in a true,

real, and spiritual sense. We take them up in the arms of our prayer. I hope

many of us, so soon as our children saw the light, if not before, presented

them to God with this anxious prayer, that they might sooner die than live

to disgrace their father's God. We only desired children that we might i n

them live over again another life of service to God; and when we looked

into their young faces, we never asked wealth for them, nor fame, nor

anything else, but that they might be dear unto God, and that their names

might be written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We did then bring our

children to Christ as far as we could do it, by presenting them before God,

by earnest prayer on their behalf. And have we ceased to bring them to

Christ? Nay, I hope we seldom bow the knee without praying for our

children. Our daily cry is, "O, that they might live before thee!" God knows

that nothing would give us more joy than to see evidence of their

conversion; our souls would almost leap out of our bodies with joy, if we

should but know that they were the children of the living God. Nor has this

privilege been denied to us, for there are some here who can rejoice in a

converted household. Truly we can say with the apostle Paul, "I have no

greater joy than this, that my children walk in the truth." We continue,

therefore, to bring them to Christ by daily, constant, earnest prayer on

their behalf. So soon as they become of years capable of understanding the

things of God, we endeavour to bring them to Christ by teaching them the

truth. Hence our Sabbath-schools, hence the use of the Bible and family

prayer, and catechizing at home. Any person who shall forbid us to pray

for our children, will incur Christ's high displeasure; and any who shall

say, "Do no t teach your children; they will be converted in God's own time

if it be his purpose, therefore leave them to run wild in the streets," will

certainly both "sin against the child" and the Lord Jesus. We might as well

say, "If that piece of ground is to grow a harvest, it will do so if it be

God's good pleasure; therefore leave it, and let the weeds spring up and

cover it; do not endeavour for a moment to kill the weeds, or to sow the

good seed." Why, such reasoning as this would be not only cruel to our

children, but grievously displeasing to Christ. Parents! I do hope you are

all endeavouring to bring your children to Christ by teaching them the

things of God. Let them not be strangers to the plan of salvation. N ever

let it be said that a child of yours reached years in which his conscience

could act, and he could judge between good and evil, without knowing the

doctrine of the atonement, without understanding the great substitutionary

work of Christ. Set before your child life and death, hell and heaven,

judgment and mercy, his own sin, and Christ's most precious blood; and as

you set these before him, labour with him, persuade him, as the apostle did

his congregation, with tears and weeping, to turn unto the Lord; and your

prayers and supplications shall be heard so that the Spirit of God shall

bring them to Jesus. How much more like the Scripture will such labours

be than if you were to sing the following very pretty verse which disfigures

Roundell Palmer's "Book of Praise!"--

"Though thy conception was in sin,

A sacred bathing thou hast had;

And though thy birth unclean has been,

A blameless babe thou now art made.

Sweet baby, then forbear to weep;

Be still, my dear, sweet baby, sleep."

I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn words of my good

mother. It was the custom on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little

children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the

table and read verse by verse, an d she explained the Scripture to us.

After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little

piece of "Alleyn's Alarm," or of Baxter's "Call to the Unconverted,"

and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we

sat round the table; and the question was asked how long it would be

before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek

the Lord. Then came a mother's prayer, and some of the words of a

mother's prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I

remember on one occasion her praying thus: "Now, Lord, if my

children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they

perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day

of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ." That thought of a mother's

bearing swift witness against me, pierced my conscience and stirred

my heart. This pleading with them for God and with God for them is

the true way to bring children to Christ. Sunday-school teachers! you

have a high and noble work, press forward in it. In our schools you do

not try to bring children to the baptistry for regeneration, you point

them away from ceremonies; if I know the teachers of this school

aright, I know you are trying to bring your classes to Christ. Let Christ

be the sum and substance of your teaching in the school. Young men

and young women, in your classes lift up Christ, lift him up on high;

and if anybody shall say to you, "Why do you thus talk to the

children?" you can say, "Because my soul yearns towards them, and I

pant for their conversion;" and if any should afterwards object, you can

remember that Jesus is greatly displeased with them, and not with you,

for you only obey the injunction, "Feed my lambs."

The case in our text is that of children, but objectors rise up who

disapprove of endeavours to bring any sort of people to Christ by faith

and prayer. There are some who spend their nights in the streets

seeking after the poor harlot, and I have heard many harsh

observations made about their work; some will say it is ridiculous to

expect that any of those who have spent their days in debauchery

should be converted. We are told that the most of those who are taken

into the refuges go back and become as depraved as ever; I believe that

to be a very sad and solemn truth; but I believe, if I or anyone else

shall urge that or anything else as a reason why my brethren should

not seek the harlot, that Jesus would be greatly displeased; for any man

who stands between a soul-seeker and the divine object of getting a

blessing for the sinner's soul, excites the wrath of Christ. Some have

hopes of our convicts and criminals; but every now and then there is

an outcry against those who even believe it possible for a transport or a

ticket-of-leave man to be converted. But Jesus is greatly displeased

with any who shall say about the work, "It is too hard; it is

impossible." My brethren in Christ, labour for souls of all sorts: for

your children and for those who are past the threescore years and ten.

Seek out the drunkard; go after the thief; despise not the poor down-

trodden slave; let every race, let every colour, let every age, let every

profession, let every nation, be the object of your soul's prayers. You

live in this world, I hope, to bring souls to Jesus; you are Christ's

magnets with which through his Holy Spirit he will attract hearts of

steel; you are his heralds, you are to invite wanderers to come to the

banquet; you are his messengers, you are to compel them to come in

that his house may be filled; and if the devil tells you will not succeed,

and if the world tells you that you are too feeble and have not talent

enough, never mind, Jesus would be greatly displeased with you if you

should take any heed to them; and meanwhile he is greatly displeased

with your adversaries for endeavouring to stop you. Beloved, this is

why Jesus Christ was greatly displeased.

A second ground of displeasure must be noticed. These children, it

strikes me, and I think there is good reason for the belief, themselves

desired to come to Christ to obtain a blessing. They are called "little

children," which term does not necessarily involve their being infants

of six months or a year; indeed, it is clear, as I will show in a moment,

that they were not such little children as to be unconscious babes. They

were "infants," according to our version of Luke, but then you know

the English word "infant" includes a considerable range of age, for

every person in his minority is legally considered to be an infant,

though he may be able to talk to any amount. We do not, however,

desire to translate the text with so great a license. There is no necessity

in the language used that these should have been anything but what

they are said to be--"little children." It is evident they could walk,

because in Luke it is said, "Jesus called them;" the gender of the Greek

pronoun used there refers it to the children, not to the persons, nor to

the disciples. Jesus called them, he called the children, which he

would hardly have done if they could not comprehend his call: and he

said, "Suffer the little children to come," which implies that they could

come, and doubtless they did come, with cheerful faces, expecting to

get the blessing. These perhaps may have been some of those very

children, who, a short time after, pulled down branches from the trees

and strewed them in the way, and cried, "Hosanna," when the Saviour

said, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained

strength." Now Christ was greatly displeased with his disciples for

pushing back these boys and girls. They did, as some old folks do now-

a-days, who cry out--"Stand back, you boys and girls! we do not want

you here; we do not want children to fill up the place; we only want

grown-up people." They pushed them back; they thought that Christ

would have too much to do, if he attended to the juveniles. Here comes

out this principle, that we must expect Christ's displeasure, if we

attempt to keep anybody back from coming to Christ, even though it be

the youngest child. You ask how persons can come to Christ now?

They cannot come corporeally, but they can come by simple prayer and

humble faith. Faith is the way to Jesus, baptism is not. When Jesus

says, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden," he did

not mean, "be baptized," did he? No; and so when he said, "Suffer the

little children to come unto me," he did not mean, "Baptize them," did

he? Coming to Jesus Christ is quite a different thing from coming to a

font. Coming to Christ means laying hold upon Christ with the hand

of faith; looking to him for my life, my pardon, my salvation, my

everything. If there be a poor little child here who is saying in her

little heart, or his little heart, "I would like to come to Christ, O that

I might be pardoned while I am yet a little one"--come, little lamb; come,

and welcome. Did I hear your cry? Was it this?

"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,

Look upon a little child;

Pity my simplicity,

Suffer me to come to thee."

Dear little one, Jesus will not despise your lispings, nor will his

servant keep you back. Jesus calls you, come and receive his blessing.

If any of you say a word to keep the young heart back, Jesus will be

displeased with you. Now I am afraid some do that; those, for instance,

who think that the gospel is not for little children. Many of my

brethren, I am sorry to say, preach in such a way that there is no hope

of children ever getting any good by their preaching. I cannot glory in

learning or eloquence, but in this one thing I may rejoice, that there is

always a number of happy children here, who are quite as attentive as

any of my audience. I do love to think that the gospel is suitable to

little children. There are boys and girls in many of our Sabbath-school

classes down below stairs who are as truly converted to God as any of

us. Nay, and if you were to speak with them about the things of God,

though you should get to the knotty points of election and

predestination, you would find those boys and girls well taught in the

things of the kingdom: they know free will from free grace, and you

cannot puzzle them when you come to talk about the work of Jesus and

the work of the Spirit, for they can discern between things which

differ. But a minister who preaches as though he never wanted to

bring children to Christ, and shoots right over the little one's heads, I

do think Jesus is displeased with him.

Then there are others who doubt whether children ever will be

converted. They do not look upon it as a thing likely to happen, and

whenever they hear of a believing child, they hold up their hands at

the prodigy, and say, "What a wonder of grace!" It ought to be, and in

those Churches where the gospel is simply preached, it is as common a

thing for children to be converted as for grown-up people to be brought

to Christ. Others begin to doubt the truth of juvenile conversions. They

say, "They are very young, can they understand the gospel. Is it not

merely an infantile emotion, a mere profession?" My brethren, you

have no more right to suspect the sincerity of the young, than to

mistrust the grey-headed; you ought to receive them with the same

open-breasted confidence with which you receive others when they

profess to have found the Saviour. Do, I pray you, whenever you see

the faintest desire in your children, go down on your knees, as your

servant does, when the fire is almost out, and blow the spark with your

own breath--seek by prayer to fan that spark to a flame. Do not despise

any godly remark the child may make. Do not puff the child up on

account of the goodness of the remark, lest you make him vain and so

injure him, but do encourage him; let his first little prayers be noticed

by you; though you may not like to teach him a form of prayer--I shall

not care if you do not--yet teach him what prayer is; tell him to express

his desires in his own words, and when he does so, join ye in it and

plead with God on his behalf, that your little one may speedily find

true peace in a Saviour's blood. You must not, unless you would

displease my Master, keep back the smallest child that longs to come

to Christ.

Here let us observe that the principle is of general application, you

must not hinder any awakened soul from seeking the Saviour. O my

brethren and sisters, I hope we have such a love for souls, such an

instinct within us to desire to see the travail of Christ's soul, that

instead of putting stumbling-blocks in the way, we would do the best

we could to gather out the stones. On Sabbath days I have laboured to

clear up the doubts and fears which afflict coming sinners; I have

entreated God the Holy Spirit to enable me so to speak, that those

things which hindered you from coming to the Saviour might be

removed; but how sad must be the case of those who delight

themselves in putting stumbling-blocks in men's way. The doctrine of

election for instance, a great and glorious truth, full of comfort to

God's people; how often is that made to frighten sinners from Jesus!

There is a way of preaching that with a drawn sword, and say, "You

must not come unless you know you are one of God's elect." That is

not the way to preach the doctrine. The true way of preaching it is,

"God has a chosen people, and I hope you are one of them; come, lay

hold on Jesus, put your trust in him." Then there be others who preach

up frames and feelings as a preparation for Christ. They do in effect

say, "Unless you have felt so much depression of spirit, or experienced

a certain quantity of brokenness of heart, you must not come to

Christ," instead of declaring, that whosoever will is permitted to come,

and that the true way of coming to Christ is not with a qualification of

frames and feeling and mental depressions, but just as you are. Oh! it

is my soul's delight to preach a gospel which has an open door to it, to

preach a mercy-seat which has no veil before it; the veil is rent in

twain, and now the biggest sinner out of hell who desires to come, is

welcome. You who are eighty years of age, and have hated Christ all

the time, if now the Spirit of God makes you willing to come, Christ

seems to say, "Suffer the grey- headed to come unto me, and forbid

them not:" while to you little children, he stretches out his arms in the

same manner, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." O my

beloved, see to it that your heart longs to come to Christ, and not to

ceremonies! I stand here this day to cry, "Come ye to the cross, not to

the font." When I forget to lift up the Lord Jesus, and to cast down the

forms of man's devising, "let my right hand forget her cunning," and

"let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth"--

None but Jesus, none but Jesus,

Can do helpless sinners good;"

The font is a mockery and an imposition if it be put before Christ. If

you have baptism after you have come to Christ, well and good, but to

point you to it either as being Christ, or as being inevitably connected

with Christ, or as being the place to find Christ, is nothing better than

t o go back to the beggarly elements of the old Romish harlot, instead

of standing in the "liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," and

bidding the sinner to come as a sinner to Christ Jesus, and to Christ

Jesus alone.

III. In the third and last place, let us also gather from our text, that

WHEN WE DISCOURAGE ANY, WE ALWAYS GO UPON WRONG GROUNDS. Here was the case

of children. I suppose that the grounds upon which the apostles kept back

the children would be one of these--either t hat the children could not

receive a blessing, or else that they could not receive it worthily.

Did they imagine that these little children could not receive the

blessing? Perhaps so, for they thought them too young. Now, brethren,

that was a wrong ground to go upon, for these children could receive

the blessing and they did receive it, for Jesus took them in his arms

and blessed them. If I keep back a child from coming to Christ on the

ground that he is too young, I do it in the face of facts ; because there

have been children brought to Christ at an extremely early period. You

who are acquainted with Janeway's "Tokens for Children," have

noticed very many beautiful instance of early conversion. Our dear

friend, Mrs. Rogers, in that book of hers, "The Folded Lamb," gave a

very sweet picture of a little son of hers, soon folded in the Saviour's

bosom above, who, as early as two or three years of age, rejoiced and

knew the Saviour. I do not doubt at all, I cannot doubt it, because one

has seen such cases, that children of two or three years of age may

have precocity of knowledge, and of grace; a forwardness which in

almost every case has betokened early death, but which has been

perfectly marvellous to those who have talked with them. The fact is

that we do not all at the same age arrive at that degree of mental

stature which is necessary for understanding the things of God.

Children have been reported as reading Latin, Greek, and other

languages, at five or six years of age. I do not know that such early

scholarship is any great blessing, it is better not to reach that point so

soon; but some children are all that their minds ever will be at three or

four, and then they go home to heaven; and so long as the mind has

been brought up to such a condition that it is capable of understanding,

it is also capable of faith, if the Holy Spirit shall implant it. To suppose

that he ever did give faith to an unconscious babe is ridiculous; that

there can be any faith in a child that knows nothing whatever I must

always take ground to doubt, for "How shall they believe without a

preacher?" And yet they are brought up to make a profession in their

long-clothes, when they have never heard a sermon in their lives. But

those dear children to whom I have before referred, have understood

the preacher, have understood the truth, have rejoiced in the truth, and

their first young lispings have been as full of grace as those glorious

expressions of aged saints in their triumphant departures. Children are

capable, then, of receiving the grace of God. Do mark by the way, that

all those champions who have come out against me so valiantly, have

made a mistake; they have said that we deny that little infants may be

regenerated; we do not deny that God can regenerate them if he

pleases; we do not know anything about what may or may not happen

to unconscious babes; but we did say that little children were not

regenerated by their godparents telling lies at a font--we did say that,

and we say it again, that little children are not regenerated, nor made

members of Christ, nor children of God, nor inheritors of the kingdom

of heaven, by solemn mockery, in which godfathers and godmother s

promise to do for them what they cannot do for themselves, much less

for their children. That is the point; and if they will please to meet it,

we will answer them again, but till such time as that, we shall

probably let them talk on till God give s them grace to know better.

The other ground upon which the apostles put back the children would

be, that although the children might receive the blessing, they might

not be able to receive it worthily. The Lord Jesus in effect assures

them t hat so far from the way in which a little child enters into the

kingdom of heaven being exceptional, it is the rule; and the very way

in which a child enters the kingdom, is the way in which everybody

must enter it. How does a child enter the kingdom of heaven? Why, its

faith is very simple; it does not understand mysteries and

controversies, but it believes what it is told upon the authority of God's

Word, and it comes to God's Word without previous prejudice. It has

its natural sinfulness, but grace overcomes it, and the child receives

the Word as it finds it. You will notice in boyish and girlish

conversions, a peculiar simplicity of belief: they believe just what

Christ says, exactly what he says. If they pray, they believe Christ will

hear them: if they talk about Jesus, it is as of a person near at hand.

They do not, as we do, get into the making of these things into

mysteries and shadows, but little children have a realizing power.

Then they have great rejoicing. The most cheerful Christians we have

are young believers; and the most cheerful old Christians are those

who were converted when they were young. Why, see the joy of a child

that finds a Saviour! "Mother," he says, "I have sought Jesus Christ,

and I have trusted him, and I am saved." He does not say, "I hope,"

and "I trust," but "I am;" and then he is ready to leap for joy because

he is saved. Of the many boys and girls whom we have received into

Church-fellowship, I can say of them all, they have all gladdened my

heart, and I have never received any with greater confidence than I

have these: this I have noticed about them, they have greater joy and

rejoicing than any others; and I take it, it is because they do not ask so

many questions as others do, but take Jesus Christ's word as they find

it, and believe in it. Well now, just the very way in which a child

receives Christ, is the way in which you must receive Christ if you

would be saved. You who know so much that you know too much; you

who have big brains; you who are always thinking, and have tendency

to criticism, and perhaps to scepticism, you must come and receive the

gospel as a little child. You will never get a hold of my Lord and

Master while you are wearing that quizzing cap; no, you must take it

off, and by the power of the Holy Spirit you must come trusting Jesus,

simply trusting him, for this is the right way to receive the kingdom.

But here, let me say, the principle which holds good in little children

holds good in all other cases as well. Take for instance the case of very

great sinners, men who have been gross offenders against the laws of

their country. Some would say they cannot be saved; they can be for

some of them have been. Others would say they never receive the truth

as it is in Jesus in the right manner; ay, but they do. How do great

sinners receive Christ? There are some here who have been reclaimed

from drunkenness, and I know not what. My brethren, how did you

receive Christ? Why in this way. You said, "All unholy, all unclean, I

am nothing else but sin; but if I am saved, it will be grace, grace,

grace." Why, when you and I stood up, black, and foul, and filthy, and

yet dared to believe in Christ, we said, "If we are saved, we shall be

prodigies of divine mercy, and we will sing of his love for ever." Well

but, my dear friends, you must all receive Jesus Christ in that very

way. That which would raise an objection to the salvation of the big

sinner is thrown back upon you, for Christ might well say, "Except ye

receive these things as the chief of sinners, ye cannot enter the

kingdom." I will prove my point by the instance of the apostle Paul. He

has been held by some to be an exception to the rule, but Paul did not

think so, for he says that God in him showed forth all longsuffering for

a pattern to them that believe, and made him as it were a type of all

conversions; so that instead of being an exception his was to be the

rule. You see what I am driving at. The case of the children looks

exceptional, but it is not; it has, on the contrary, all the features about

it which must be found in every true conversion. It is of such that the

kingdom of heaven is composed, and if we are not such we cannot

enter it. Let this induce all of us who love the Lord, to pray for the

conversion both of children and of all sorts of men. Let our

compassion expand, let us shut out none from the plea of our heart; in

prayer and in faith let us bring all who come under our range, hoping

and believing that some of them will be found in the election of grace,

that some of them will be washed in the Saviour's blood, and that some

of them will shine as stars in the firmament of God for ever. Let us, on

no consideration, believe that the salvation of any man or child is

beyond the range of possibility, for the Lord saveth whom he wills. Let

no difficulties which seem to surround the case hinder our efforts; let

us, on the contrary, push with greater eagerness forward, believing

that where there seems to be some special difficulty, there will be

manifested, as in the children's case, some special privilege. O labour

for souls , my dear friends! I beseech you live to win souls. This is the

best rampart against error, a rampart built of living stones--converted

men and women. This is the way to push back the advances of Popery,

by imploring the Lord to work conversions. I do not think that mere

controversial preaching will do much, though it must be used; it is

grace-work we want; it is bringing you to Christ, it is getting you to

lay hold of him--it is this which shall put the devil to a nonplus and

expand t he kingdom of Christ. O that my God would bring some of

you to Jesus! If he is displeased with those who would keep you back,

then see how willing he is to receive you. Is there in your soul any

desire towards him? Come and welcome, sinner, come. Do you feel

now that you must have Christ or die? Come and have him, he is to be

had for the asking. Has the Lord taught you your need of Jesus? Ye

thirsty ones, come and drink; ye hungry ones, come and eat. Yea, this

is the proclamation of the gospel to-day, "The Spirit and the bride say,

Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst

come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." I do

trust there may be encouragement in this to some of you. I pray my

Master make you feel it. If he be angry with those who keep you back,

then he must be willing to receive you, glad to receive you; and if you

come to him he will in nowise cast you out. May the Lord add his

blessing on these words for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Verses 46-52

The Blind Beggar

August 7th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." Mark 10:46-52Mark 10:46-52 .

This poor man was beset with two great evils blindness and poverty. It is sad enough to be blind, but If a man that is blind is in possession of riches, there are ten thousand comforts which may help to cheer the darkness of his eye and alleviate the sadness of his heart. But to be both blind and poor, these were a combination of the sternest evils. One thinks it scarcely possible to resist the cry of a beggar whom we meet in the street if he is blind. We pity the blind man when he is surrounded with luxury, but when we see a blind man in want, and following the beggar's trade in the frequented streets, we can hardly forbear stopping to assist him. This case of Bartimeus, however, is but a picture of our own. We are all by nature blind and poor. It is true we account ourselves able enough to see; but this is but one phase of our blindness. Our blindness is of such a kind that it makes us think our vision perfect; whereas, when we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we discover our previous sight to have been blindness indeed. Spiritually, we are blind; we are unable to discern our lost estate; unable to behold the blackness of sin, or the terrors of the wrath to come. The unrenewed mind is so blind, that it perceives not the allattractive beauty of Christ; the Sun of Righteousness may arise with healing beneath his wings, but 'twere all in vain for those who cannot see his shining. Christ may do many mighty works in their presence, but they do not recognize his glory; we are blind until he has opened our eyes. But besides being blind we are also by nature poor. Our father Adam spent our birthright, lost our estates. Paradise, the homestead of our race, has become dilapidated, and we are left in the depths of beggary without anything with which we may buy bread for our hungry fouls, or raiment for our naked spirits; blindness and beggary are the lot of all men after a spiritual fashion, till Jesus visits them in love. Look around then, ye children of God; look around you this morning, and ye shall see in this hall many a counterpart of poor blind Bartimeus sitting by the wayside begging. I hope there be many such come here, who though they be blind, and naked and poor, nevertheless are begging longing to get something more than they have not content with their position. With just enough spiritual life and sensitiveness to know their misery, they have come up to this place begging. Oh that while Jesus passes by this day they may have faith to cry aloud to him for mercy! Oh may his gracious heart be moved by their thrilling cry, "Jesus thou Son of David have mercy on me!" Oh may he turn and give sight unto such, that they may follow him and go on their way rejoicing! This morning I shall address myself most particularly to the poor and blind souls here to-day. The poor blind man's faith described in this passage of Scripture, is a fit picture of the faith which I pray God you may be enabled to exert to the saving of your souls. We shall notice the origin of his faith, how his faith perceived its opportunity when Jesus passed by; we shall listen to his faith while it cries and begs; we shall look upon his faith while it leaps in joyous obedience to the divine call; and then we shall hear his faith describing his case: "Lord, that I might receive my sight;" and I trust we shall be enabled to rejoice together with this poor believing man, when his sight is restored, as we see him in the beauty of thankfulness and gratitude follow Jesus in the way. I. First, then, we shall note THE ORIGIN OF THIS POOR BLIND MAN'S FAITH. He had faith, for it was his faith which obtained for him his sight. Now, where did he get it? We are not told in this passage how Bartimeus came to believe Jesus to be the Messiah; but I think we may very fairly risk a conjecture. It is quite certain that Bartimeus did not come to believe in Christ from what he saw. Jesus had worked many miracles; many eyes had seen, and many hearts had believed because of what they saw. Bartimeus also believed, but certainly not as the result of his eyesight, for he was stone-blind. No ray of light had ever burst into his soul; he was shut up in thick darkness and could see nothing. How then was it that he came to believe? It certainly could not have been because he had traveled much through the country, for blind men stay at home; they care not to journey far. There is nothing they can see. However fair the landscape, they cannot drink it in with their eyes; whatever lovely spots others may behold, there are no attractions for their blank survey. They therefore stay at home. And especially a mendicant like this, how should he travel? He would be perhaps unknown out of the city in which his father Timeus had lived even Jericho. He could not move the heart of strangers to charity, nor would he be likely to find a guide to conduct him throughout the dreary miles of that land. He would be almost necessarily a poor blind stay-at-home. Then how did he acquire his faith? Methinks it might be in this fashion. On the nearest bank he could find outside Jericho, he sat begging in the sunlight; for blind men always love to bask in the sun. Though they see nothing, there is a kind of glimmering that penetrates the visual organ, and they rejoice in it. At least they feel the heat of the great orb of day if they see not his light. Well, as he sat there, he would hear the passers by talking of Jesus of Nazareth, and as blind men are usually inquisitive, he would ask them to stay and tell him the story some tale of what Jesus had done; and they would tell him how he raised the dead, and healed the leper; and he would say, "I wonder if he can give sight to the blind." And one day it came to pass, that he was told Jesus had restored to sight a man who had been born blind. This indeed was the great master-story that the world has to tell, for it had never been so known before in Israel, that a man who had been born blind should have his eyes opened. I think I see the poor man as he hears the story, he drinks it in, claps his hands, and cries, "Then there is yet hope for me. Mayhap the Prophet will pass this way, and if he doth, oh I will cry to him, I will beg him to open my eyes too; for if the worst case has been cured, then surely mine may be." Many and many a day as he sat there, he would call to the passer by again, and would say, "Come tell me the story of the man that was born blind and of Jesus of Nazareth that opened his eyes," and perhaps he would even get tiresome, as blind men are wont. He must hear the story told him a hundred times over, and always would there be a smile on the poor fellow's face when he heard the refreshing narrative. It never could be told too often, for he loved to hear it. To him it was like a cool refreshing breeze in the heat of burning sun. "Tell it me, tell it me, tell it me again," says he "the sweet story of the man that opened the eyes of the blind." And methinks as he sat all alone, and unable to divert his mind with many things, he would always keep his heart fixed on that one narrative, and turn it over, and over, and over again, till in his day-dreams he would half think he could see, and sometimes almost imagine that his own eyes were going to be opened too. Perhaps on one of those occasions, as he was turning over this in his mind, some text of Scripture he had heard in the synagogue, occurred to him; he heard that Messiah should come to open the eyes of the blind, and quick in thought, having better eyes within than he had without, he came at once to the conclusion that the man who could open the eyes of the blind was none other than the Messiah; and from that day he was a secret disciple of Jesus. He might have heard him scoffed at, but he did not scoff. How could he scoff at one who had opened the eyes of the blind? He might have heard many a passer-by reviling Christ, and calling him an impostor, but he could not join in the reviling. How could he be a deceiver who gave sight to poor blind men? I fancy this would be the cherished dream of his life. And perhaps for the two or three years of the Saviour's ministry, the one thought of the poor blind man would be, "Jesus of Nazareth opened the eyes of one that was blind." That story which he had heard led him to believe Jesus must be the predicted Messiah. Now, O ye spiritually blind, ye spiritually poor, how is it ye have not believed in Christ? Ye have heard the wondrous deeds which he has done; "Faith cometh by hearing." Ye have understood how one after another has been pardoned and forgiven; you have stood in the house of God and listened to the confession of the penitent and the joyous shout of the believer, and yet you believe not. You have journeyed up year after year to the sanctuary of God, and ye have heard many stories many a glorious narrative of the pardoning power of Christ; and how is it, O ye spiritually blind, that ye have never thought on him? Why is it you have not turned this over and over in your minds. "This man receiveth sinners, and will he not receive me?" How is it that ye have not recollected that he who put away the sin of Paul and Magdalene can put away your's also. Surely, if but one story told into the ear of the poor blind man could give him faith, if his faith came but by one hearing, how is it that though ye have heard many times that there was no salvation without faith in Christ, and listened to many an earnest appeal, yet ye have not believed? Yet, it may be, I have among these poor blind men some here to-day that are simply believing. You have never yet laid hold of faith, but still in the depths of your soul there is a something which says, "Yes he is able to save me; I know he hath power to forgive," and sometimes the voice speaks a little louder, and it cheers your heart with a thought like this, "Go to him he will not cast you away, he has never cast out one yet who did venture upon his power and goodness." Well, my dear hearer, if thou art in this plight, thou art happy, and I am a happy man to have the privilege of addressing thee it shall not be long ere the faith within thee, which has been born by hearing, shall acquire strength enough to exercise itself to gain the blessing. That is the first thing the origin of the faith of poor blind Bartimeus, it doubtless came by hearing. II. Now, in the next place, we shall notice his faith in ITS QUICKNESS AT GRASPING THE GRACIOUS OPPORTUNITY. Jesus had been through Jericho, and as he went into the city there was a blind man standing by the way, and Jesus healed him. Bartimeus however seems to have resided at the other side of Jericho, therefore he did not get a blessing till Christ was about to leave it. He is sitting down upon his customary spot by the wayside where some friend has left him, that he might remain there all day and beg, and he hears a great noise and trampling of feet, he wonders what it is, and he asks a passer-by what is that noise? "Why all this tumult?" Aml the answer is, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." That is but small encouragement, yet his faith had now arrived at such a strength that this was quite enough for him, that Jests of Nazareth passeth by. Unbelief would have said, "He passes by, there is no bearing for you; he passes by, there is no hope of mercy; he is about to leave, and he takes no notice of you." Why, if you and I needed encouagement, we should want Christ to stand still; we should need that some one should say, "Jesus of Nazareth is standing still and looking for you;" ay, but this poor man's faith was of such a character that it could feed on any dry crust on which our puny little faith would have starved. He was like that poor woman, who when she was repused, said, "Truth, Lord, I am but a dog, yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the master's table." He only heard "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by;" but that was enough for him. It was a slender opportunity. He might have reasoned thus with himself, "Jesus is passing by, he is just going out of Jericho; surely he cannot stay now he is on a journey." No, rather did he argue thus with himself, "if he is going out of Jericho, so much the more reason that I should stop him, for this may be my last chance." And, therefore, what unbelief would argue as a reason for stopping his mouth did but open it the wider. Unbelief might have said, "He is surrounded by a great multitude of people, he cannot get at you. His disciples are round about him too, he will be so busy in addressing them that he will never regard your feeble cry." "Ay," said he, "so much the greater reason then that I should cry with all my might;" and he makes the very multitude of people become a fresh argument why he should shout aloud, "Jesus of Nazareth have mercy upon me." So, however slender the opportunity, yet it encouraged him. And now my dear hearers, we turn to you again. Faith has been in your heart perhaps for many a day, but how foolish have you been; you have not availed yourself of encouraging opportunities as you might have done. How many times has Christ not only passed by, but stopped and knocked at your door, and stood in your house. He has wooed and invited you, and yet you would not come, still trembling and wavering, you durst not exercise the faith you have, and risk the results and come boldly to him. He has stood in your streets, "Lo these many years," till the poor blind man's hair would have turned grey with age. He is standing in the street to-day to-day he addresses you and says, "Sinner come to me and live." To-day is mercy freely presented to you; to-day is the declaration made "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." You poor unbelieving heart will you not, dare you not take advantage of the encouragement to come to him? Your encouragements are infinitely greater than those of this poor blind man, let them not be lost upon you. Come now, this very moment, cry aloud to him now, ask him to have mercy upon you, for now he not only passes by, but he presents himself with outstretched arms, and cries, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest, and life, and salvation." Such was the encouragement of this man's faith, and I would that something in the service of this morning, might give encouragement to some poor Bartimeus, who is sitting or standing here. III. In the third place, having noticed how the faith of the blind man discovered and seized upon this opportunity, the passing by of the gracious Saviour, we have TO LISTEN TO THE CRY OF FAITH. The poor blind man sitting there, is informed that it is Jesus of Nazareth. Without a moment's pause or ado, he is up and begins to cry "Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me thou Son of David, have mercy on me." But he is in the middle of a fair discourse, and his hearers like not that he should be interrupted "Hold thy tongue, blind man. Begone! he cannot attend to thee." Yet what does the narrative say about him?" He cried the more a great deal;" not only cried he more, but he cries a great deal more. "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." "Oh," says Peter, "do not interrupt the Master, what are you so noisy for?" "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me:" he repeats it again. "Remove him," says one, "he interrupts the whole service, take him away," and so they tried to move him; yet he cries the more vigorously and vehemently, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Methinks we hear his shout. It is not to be imitated; no artiste could throw into an utterance such vehemence or such emotion as this man would cast into it. "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me " Every word would tell, every syllable would suggest an argument, there would be the very strength, and might, and blood, and sinew of that man's life cast into it; he would be like Jacob wrestling with the angel, and every word would be a band to grasp him that he might not go. "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." We have here a picture of the power of faith. In every case, sinner, if thou wouldst be saved, thy faith must exercise itself in crying. The gate of heaven is to be opened only in one way, by the very earnest use of the knocker of prayer. Thou canst not have thine eyes opened until thy mouth is opened. Open thy mouth in prayer, and he shall open thine eyes to see; so shalt thou find joy and gladness. Mark you, when a man hath faith in the soul and earnestness combined with it, he will pray indeed. Call ye not those things prayers that ye hear read in the churches. Imagine not that those orations are prayers that you hear in our prayer-meetings. Prayer is something nobler than all these. That is prayer, when the poor soul in some weighty trouble, fainting and athirst, lifts up its streaming eyes, and wrings its hands, and beats its bosom, and then cries, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Your cold orations will ne'er reach the throne of God. It is the burning lava of the soul that hath a furnace within a very volcano of grief and sorrow it is that burning lava of prayer that finds its way to God. No prayer ever reaches God's heart which does not come from our hearts. Nine out of ten of the prayers which ye listen to in our public services have so little zeal in them, that if they obtained a blessing it would be a miracle of miracles indeed. My dear hearers, are you now seeking Christ in earnest prayer? Be not afraid of being too earnest or too persevering. Go to Christ this day, agonize and wrestle with him; beg him to have mercy on you, and if he hear you not, go to him again, and again, and again. Seven times a day call upon him, and resolve in your heart that you will never cease from prayer till the Holy Ghost hath revealed to your soul the pardon of your sin. When once the Lord brings a man to this resolve "I will be saved. If I perish, I will still go to the throne of grace and perish only there," that man cannot perish. He is a saved man, and shall see God's face with joy. The worst of us is, we pray with a little spasmodic earnestness and then we cease. We begin again, and then once more the fervor ceases and we leave off our prayers. If we would get heaven, we must carry it not by one desperate assault, but by a continuous blockade. We must take it with the red hot shot of fervent prayer. But this must be fired day and night, until at last the city of heaven yields to us. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent must take it by force. Behold the courage of this man. He is hindered by many, but he will not cease to pray. So if the flesh, the devil, and your own hearts should bid you cease your supplication, never do so, but so much the more a great deal cry aloud, "Thou Son of David have mercy on me." I must observe here the simplicity of this man's prayer. He did not want a liturgy or a prayer-book on this occasion. There was something he needed, and he asked for that. When we have our needs at hand they will usually suggest the proper language. I remember a remark of quaint old Bunyan, speaking of those who make prayers for others, "The apostle Paul said he knew not what to pray for, and yet," says he "there are many infinitely inferior to the apostle Paul, who can write prayers; who not only know what to pray for, and how to pray, but who know how other people should pray, and not only that, but who know how they ought to pray from the first day of January to the last of December." We cannot dispense with the fresh influence of the Holy Spirit suggesting words in which our needs may be couched; and as to the idea that any form of prayer will ever suit an awakened and enlightened believer, or will ever be fit and proper for the lip of a penitent sinner I cannot imagine it. This man cried from his heart, the words that came first the simplest which could possibly express his desire "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Go and do thou likewise thou poor blind sinner, and the Lord will hear thee, as he did Bartimeus. High over the buz and noise of the multitude and the sound of the trampling of feet is heard a sweet voice, which tells of mercy, and of love, and of grace. But louder than that voice is heard a piercing cry a cry repeated many and many a time which gathers strength in repetition; and though the throat that utters it be hoarse, yet does the cry wax louder and louder, and stronger still, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." The Master stops. The sound of misery in earnest to be relieved can never be neglected by him. He looks around: there sits Bartimeus. The Saviour can see him, though he cannot see the Saviour: "Bring him hither to me," saith he; "let him come to me, that I may have mercy on him." And now, they who had bidden him hold his clamor change their note, and gathering around him they say, "Be of good cheer; rise, he calleth thee." Ah, poor comforters! they would not soothe him when he needed it. What cared he now for all they had to say? The Master had spoken; that was enough, without their officious assistance. Nevertheless they cry, "Arise, he calleth thee;" and they lead him, or are about to lead him, to Christ, but he needs no leading; pushing them aside he hurls back the garment in which he wrapped himself by night no doubt, a ragged one and casting that away, the blind man seems as if he really saw at once. The sound guides him, and with a leap, leaving his cloak behind him, waving his hands for very gladness, there he stands in the presence of him who shall give him sight. IV. We pause here to observe HOW EAGERLY HE OBEYED THE CALL. The Master had but to speak, but to stand still, and command him to be called, and he comes. No pressure is needed. Peter need not pull him by one arm, and John by the other. No; he leaps forward, and is glad to come. "He calleth me, and shall I stand back?" And now, my dear hearers, how many of you have been called under the sound of the ministry, and yet you have not come: Why is it? did you think that Christ did not mean it when he said "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?" Why is it that you still keep on at your labors and are still heavy laden? Why do you not come? Oh, come! Leap to him that calleth thee! I pray you cast away the rainment of your worldliness, the garment of your sin. Cast away the robe of your self-righteousness, and come, come away. Why is it that I bid you? Surely if you will not come at the Saviour's bidding, you will not come at mine, If your own stern necessities do not make you attend to his gracious call, surely nothing I can say can ever move you. O my poor blind brothers and sisters! you, who cannot see Christ to be your Saviour, you that are full of guilt and fear, he calleth you,

"Come ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall."

Come ye that have no hope, no righteousness; ye outcast, ye desponding, ye distressed, ye lost, ye ruined, come! come! to-day. Whoever will, in your ears to-day doth mercy cry, "Arise, he calleth thee!" O, Saviour! call ye them effectually. Call now: let the Spirit speak. O Spirit of the living God, bid the poor prisoner come, and let him leap to lose his chains. I know that which kept me a long time from the Saviour was the idea that he had never called me: and yet when I came to him, I discovered that long ere that he had invited me but I had closed my ear, I thought surely he had invited every one else to him, but I must be left out, the poorest and the vilest of them all. O sinner! if such be thy consciousness, then you are one to whom the invitation is specially addressed. Trust him now, justly thou art, with all thy sins about thee, come to him and ask him to forgive thee; plead his blood and merits, and thou canst not, shalt not plead in vain. V. We proceed towards the conclusion. The man has come to Christ, let US LISTEN TO HIS SUIT. Jesus, with loving condescension takes him by the hand and in order to test him, and that all the crowd might see that he really knew what he wanted, Jesus said to him "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" How plain the man's confession, not one word too many, he could not have said it in a word less "Lord that I might receive my sight." There was no stammering here, no stuttering, and saying, "Lord I hardly know what to say." He just told it at once "Lord that I might receive my sight." Now if there be a hearer in this house who has a secret faith in Christ, and who has heard the invitation this morning, let me beseech you go home to your chamber, and there, kneeling by your bedside, by faith picture the Saviour saying to you "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" "Fall on your knees, and without hesitation tell him all, tell him you are guilty, and you desire that he would pardon you. Confess your sins; keep none of them back. Say, "Lord, I implore thee pardon my drunkenness, my profanity, or whatever it may be that I have been guilty of;" and then still imagine thou hearest him saying "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" Tell him, "Lord I would be kept from all these sins in the future. I shall not be content with being pardoned, I want to be renewed;" tell him thou hast a hard heart, ask him to soften it; tell him thou have a blind eye, and thou canst not see thine interest in Christ. Ask him to open it; confess before him thou art full of iniquity and prone to wander; ask him to take thine heart and wash it, and then to set it upon things above, and suffer it no longer to be fond of the things of earth. Tell it out plainly, make a frank and full confession in his presence; and what if it should happen, my dear hearer, that this very day, while thou art in thy chamber, Christ should give thee the touch of grace, put thy sins away, save thy soul, and give thee the joy to know that thou art now a child of God, and now a heir of heaven. Imitate the blind man in the explicitness and straight-forwardness of his confession and his request, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." Once again, how cheering the fact, the blind man had no sooner stated his desire than immediately he received his sight. Oh! how he must have leaped in that moment! What joys must have rushed in upon his spirit! He saw not the men as trees walking, but he received his sight at once; not a glimmer, but a bright full burst of sunlight fell upon his benighted eyeballs. Some persons do not believe in instantaneous conversions, nevertheless they are facts. Man! a man has come into this hall with all his sins about him, and ere he has left it has felt his sins forgiven. He has come here a hardened reprobate, but he has gone away from that day forth to lead a new life, and walk in the fear of God. The fact is, there are many conversions that are gradual; but regeneration after all, at least in the part of it called "quickening," must be instantaneous, and justification is given to a man as swiftly as the flash of lightning. We are full of sin one hour, but it is forgiven in an instant; and sins, past, present, and to come, are cast to the four winds of heaven in less time than the clock takes to beat the death of a second. The blind man saw immediately. And now what would you imagine this man would do as soon as his eyes were opened. Has he a father, will he not go to see him? Has he a sister, or a brother, will he not long to get to his household? Above all has he a partner of his poor blind existence, will he not seek her out to go and tell her that now he can behold the face of one who has so long loved and wept over him? Will he not now want to go and see the temple, and the glories of it? Does he not now desire to look upon the hills and all their beauties, and behold the sea and its storms and all its wonders? No, there is but one thing that poor blind man now longs for it is that he may always see the man who has opened his eyes. "He followed Jesus in the way." What a beautiful picture this is of a true convert. The moment his sins are forgiven, the one thing he wants to do is to serve Christ. His tongue begins to itch to tell somebody else of the mercy he has found. He longs to go off to the next shop and tell some workfellow that his sins are all pardoned. He cannot be content. He thinks he could preach now. Put him in the pulpit, and though there were ten thousand before him, he would not blush to say, "He hath taken me out of the miry clay, and out of the horrible pit, and set my feet upon a rock, and put a new song into my mouth and established my goings." All he now asks is, "Lord, I would follow thee whithersoever thou goest. Let me never lose thy company. Make my communion with thee everlasting. Cause my love to increase. May my service be continual, and in this life may I walk with Jesus, and in the world to come all I ask is that I may live with him." You see the crowd going along now. Who is that man in the midst with face so joyous? Who is that man who has lost his upper garment? See he wears the dress of a beggar. Who is he? You would not think there is any beggary about him; for his step is firm and his eye glistening and sparkles, and hearken to him; as he goes along, sometimes he is uttering a little hymn or song; at other times when others are singing, hearken to his notes, the loudest of them all. Who is this man, always so happy and so full of thankfulness.? It is the poor blind Bartimeus, who once sat by the wayside begging. And do you see yonder man, his brother, and his prototype? Who is it that sings so heartily in the house of God, and who when he is sitting in that house, or walking by the way is continually humming to himself, some strain of praise? Oh! it is that drunkard who has had his sins forgiven, it is that swearer who has had his profanity cleansed out, it is she who was once a harlot, but is now one of the daughters of Jerusalem, 'tis she who once led others to hell, who now washes her Redeemer's feet and wipes them with the hairs of her head. Oh, may God grant that this story of Bartimeus may be written over again in your experience, and may you all at last meet where the eternal light of God shall have chased away all blindness, and where the inhabitants shall never say, "I am sick."

Verse 51

A Definite Challenge for Definite Prayer

by

C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted © 2000 by Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.

“‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him.”- Mark 10:51

No doubt our Lord’s disciples imagined that he was going up to Jerusalem to establish the Kingdom. They hoped that they would be partakers of that earthly grandeur which they had fondly pictured would glitter around the person of the Son of David. Therefore, when the blind man ventured to vehemently cry out to him, whom they esteemed to be a great King, they thought it was daring intrusion. Who was the son of Timaeus that he should say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”? They were all anxious to quiet the voice of misery in the presence of so much majesty.

But our Lord Jesus Christ did not spurn the blind man’s prayer as intrusive or impertinent. He was not angry with him. He did not even pass by without taking any notice. What he did was to stand still, and command the man to be brought to him.

May we not draw some comfort from the thought that our prayers are never intrusions? Whenever we go before God in deep distress, he is always ready to listen to our cry. Whatever grand purpose or important project engages his mind, he will surely be attentive to the longings of his needy petitioners. Though our Lord Jesus Christ is at this moment King of kings and Lord of lords, and inconceivably glorious, though hosts of angels count it their highest delight to do his bidding, yet he bears in heaven the same heart towards sinners which he had on earth. Amidst the thunders of the everlasting hallelujahs, he can detect the sighs of the prisoners, the cries of sorrow from the sufferers, and the groans of the contrite. He will pause to pay attention to the requests of blind beggars and, in his pity, he will relieve their distress. Shouldn’t this encourage those of you who are seeking him?

Whatever Satan may suggest to the contrary take this passage of God’s Word as an encouragement. He did hear the blind man’s cry when he was on earth, and he will hear you now that he is in heaven. And you, backsliding child of God, difficult as you may find it to pray, if unable to clearly express your griefs, your sighs will be heard, your tears will be seen, and you will certainly have an audience from him who delights in mercy. There are times even with those who live nearest to God when they fall into despondencies, and imagine that their voice is shut out from heaven’s gate, but it is not true. When I cannot come to God as a saint, what a mercy it is that I may come to him as a sinner! And if I have lost all my evidences of salvation, what a blessing it is that I need not stop to find them, that I may go to the mercy-seat without any!

“Just as I am without one plea, But that his blood was shed for me.”

When I am reduced to being a beggar of internal grace, and I find myself naked, and poor, and miserable, I can still hear God saying to me, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” In our worst condition, prayer is still effective. As long as we live, let us pray. Until you hear the gates of hell closing, and you are locked up in eternal darkness, don’t doubt the right of petition, or the effectiveness of your earnest plea. There is an ear to hear in heaven so long as there is a heart to plead on earth.

Let this first thought be riveted on your minds, and you will, I trust, be prepared for three further reflections which I now wish to introduce to you. Our Lord, before he healed the blind man, said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Therefore, I infer that: -

I. It is important that a seeking sinner should know what it is that he really wants, and sometimes Christ delays to give salvation until men and women are brought more clearly to understand what is comprehended in that immeasurable blessing.

A large proportion of those persons who express a certain desire to be saved have no Scriptural idea whatever of what being saved is. I am afraid that many who profess to have found salvation are really the victims of religious excitement, greatly moved by the exhortations they have heard, yet they have little or no real understanding as to the fundamental truths on which their hope is based.

The most current idea, of course, is that to be saved means to be delivered from going down into the pit, from enduring the sentence of everlasting torment. We grant that it does comprise this, though that is far from being its sole intent. This is a result of salvation, though it is not the essence of salvation as it is discovered in the souls of the redeemed. Men and women are saved, blessed be God, many years before the time of their death, and are conscious of being saved too. In some respects they are as thoroughly and perfectly saved as they will be when they get to heaven. Salvation is not postponed until the Day of Judgment, when you will have deliverance from hell; it may be enjoyed here on earth when your sins are forgiven, and you are redeemed from the present evil world.

Or it may be that you have a vague impression that salvation consists in the pardon of your sins. This is true, but it does not include all the truth. When you say, “I want to have my sins forgiven,” do you know what sin is? Have you ever had any clear view of what it really means? We often use certain terms and common words, I fear, without a corresponding thought in our minds. Be aware then, that you have broken God’s law, both by omitting to do what you should have done, and by doing that which you should not have done. Those ten commandants which you will find in the twentieth chapter of Exodus are like many mirrors, in which you can see what you have done, and what you have not done; which crimes cry out against you before the judgment throne of God, which will certainly drag you down to hell unless you are delivered from the fearful penalty.

Consider, too, the heavy weight, as well as the grievous guilt, of sin.

Have you felt the load and burden of sin? “Stone is heavy and sand a burden,” said Solomon; but, oh! what is the weight of a stone or sand as compared to the weight of sin! David said it well, as he groaned beneath the load, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.”

All the burdens that may come your way in life, the calamities of the world, or the visitations of Providence, cannot equal the load of sin, for this is a burden that oppresses the conscience, crushes the heart, and paralyses every faculty of the soul. “A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” A conscience stricken with a sense of sin will readily understand that crushed spirit which is not bearable for a man. Were that terrible nightmare to stay with him for a long time, and then his spirit would utterly fail before the Lord. If mercy did not quickly come to their rescue, men and women might soon lose their minds, and become frantic, despondency leading to despair, and despair to insanity. Oh! how lethal is the poison of sin, when it enters our lives and festers! Have you known what sin is? If not, I am afraid your prayer will be meaningless as that of James and John, to whom it was said, “You do not know what you are asking.” Have you any idea, when asking for the forgiveness of sin, what sin really deserves? What kind of payment it justly demands? Let us always remember by us that every sin we have committed exposes us to the wrath of God - a wrath that is represented by terrible pictures in God’s Word, as a flame that is never extinguished, a fire that never ceases to burn. In order to deliver us from this penalty, it was absolutely necessary that someone else should bear this punishment on our behalf. I do not think that we intelligently ask for the pardon of sin unless we have some view of the crucified Savior, the slaughtered Lamb, who stood in our place, and paid for our sins by the sacrifice of himself. Oh! seeking soul, if you know the weight of sin, and if you know that Christ carried it, then you can say, “Lord, I want to have my sins forgiven,” in answer to the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

And yet salvation includes more than deliverance from hell and a free pardon; for it liberates the soul from the dominant power of sin.

Those among us who are saved from the guilt of sin are abundantly conscious that we are not fully released from the power of sin in our own hearts. Loved ones who have died and gone to heaven, and now see God’s unveiled face, are saved, completely saved, from indwelling sin, but none of us here enjoy that blessed liberation, though there are some who boast a perfection that is hard to prove; but, sadly! they slightly prejudice their profession by their pride. Still, salvation, from the dictatorial power of sin, must be achieved, and all believers must experience it or they will never see God’s face of approval. Brethren, we must have our controlling sins subdued. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. We must turn away from these sins; they must be eliminated and overcome. And so far as any other sins are concerned, they must be no longer be residents of the heart. You must look on them as intruders and aliens that are to be driven out, like the Canaanites out of the land of promise. Discipline you body; subdue your lusts, overcome your wickedness. “But,” a man replies, “how can I do this?” A most fitting question! You can’t do it, but Christ says, “What do you want me to do for you?” His power is equal to every urgent situation. There is no sin too strong for Christ. During his life on earth, there was no devil that he could not cast out, so there is no sin which he cannot eject and eradicate. A legion of devils fled at the command of our Lord. Do not doubt that, legions of raging lusts and fiery tempers can be overcome by the faith that pleads the pure and precious name of Christ. Brethren, let us never be content with small degrees of sanctification. Do not reason with yourselves that you can never grow beyond your present dwarfed spiritual state. Others have outgrown it. There have been men and women far more distinguished for holiness, and humility, and every grace, than we are. The attainments to which Jesus has led them are accessible to all saints under the same guidance, through the same divine power. Let us seek holiness. Let us follow after it with fresh passion. Do not be satisfied merely to live, but seek to grow; do not be content to remain babes, taking your portion of milk, but seek to be strong men and women who will enjoy the strong meat of the Word of God.

Now I believe there are hundreds of persons who have no desire to be saved, and would rather not be saved, if this is what salvation means .

Why, dear man and dear woman, if you are saved, you will be saved from those pleasurable sins in which you now love to experience. Some of which, when you have free time, following the inclinations of a corrupt heart, lead you off to places where birds of your own feather congregate. Should you be saved, you will seek far different company. The company you now love you will then hate, and the pleasures you enjoy so much now will become as detestable as they were delightful to you. When you say, “Lord, save me,” do you mean, “Lord, save me from being what I am; Lord, I have been a drunkard, make me sober; I have been immoral, make me pure; I have been dishonest, make me upright; I have been deceitful, make me to speak the truth to my neighbor; I have been violating your commands, make me mindful of your Word; I have been your enemy, Lord, make me your friend; I have made my stomach my god, now please, you be my God; I desire to be reconciled to you, so that your will, will be my will, your service my delight, and your way the path which I will choose”? Do you mean that? If any man or woman honestly says, “I desire to be saved from sin,” I don’t think you will have to wait long to have such a desire gratified; for the Lord Jesus will say, “Your faith has made you whole.” he can and he will save you, if that is what you mean.

As for you good Christian people who are seeking the conversion of sinners, try to go about it in Christ’s own way. It is right for you to exhort them to believe in Christ. But just remember that a man or woman must have some understanding, both of what sin is, and who the Savior is, before they can believe, for “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Endeavor, therefore, to instruct persons in the gospel. Merely to exhort them to believe; simply to cry, “Believe, believe, believe!” is of little worth, for no matter how serious and intense you be in commanding the unbeliever to believe, the sinner will naturally ask the question, “What is it that I have to believe? On whom am I to believe? Why do I need to believe?” So, go about your work of soul-winning in the power of the Holy Spirit. Go about it intelligently, understanding that, just as Jesus Christ would not open the blind man’s eyes until he had first made him state, not for Christ’s benefit, but for the man’s own recognition, what it was that he wanted, and made him say, “Rabbi, I want to see,” in the same way, you also must endeavor, when you share the gospel, to let men and women know what the gospel commands of them, that is: What they have to believe; who they have to believe in; and why they have to believe. Do not merely give them the warnings and the urgings of the gospel, but tell them what it means and exactly what they are to do. Therefore, understand clearly that it is your responsibility to instruct sinners in the way of the Lord. As David says, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.” We will now leave that first point, and proceed to our second. Our text clearly indicates to us all: -

II. THE GREAT NECESSITY OF PRAYING SPECIFICALLY.

This poor man was not allowed to pray in general. “Son of David, have mercy on me”; a very proper prayer, and a very blessed prayer, but certainly it was a very broad prayer. So he was encouraged to be more specific in his request. “What do you want me to do for you? You ask for mercy; what form of mercy do you need? In what particular shape will the bountiful hand dispense the mercy to you?” The blind man immediately replies, “Rabbi, I want to see.” He hits the mark with precision. It is sight he wants, and so for sight he asks. This is the right way for believers to pray. I wish we had more of it in our prayer meetings; I do not find fault, for we have had blessed times of prayer here; but rest assured that the best prayers in all respects, are those which are intense, sincere and directly to the point.

You know there is a way of praying in the closet, and praying with the family, in which you do not ask for anything. You say a great many good things; introduce much of your own experience, review the doctrines of grace very thoughtfully, but you do not ask for anything in particular. Such prayer is always uninteresting to listen to, and I think it must be rather tedious to those who offer it. A black man, who was noted for his great earnestness in prayer, was once asked how it was that, whenever he prayed, he seemed to be so earnest, and he said, “Because I always have a specific purpose when I go to the King; I always have a specific purpose; I go to him knowing that I want something, and I ask him for it, and I don’t stop until he gives it to me; and if he does not give it to me, I ask him again and again, for I know what I need.”

What use would it be to keep going in and out of a door at the bank all day if you have no business to transact, and nothing to get? But it is quite different when you go to the teller with your withdrawal request and receive in return the cash. It would be very uninteresting to have an audience with a king every morning and evening, only to state, “Your Majesty’s most loyal subject,” if you never asked for anything. Yet how much prayer of that kind is addressed to heaven; a bright flash of diffused light - not the distinct lightening bolt that does the work. We need to imitate David, when he said, “In the morning I will direct my prayer to you.” He looked at the target, marked the bull’s-eye, then drew the bow; and after he had shot the arrow he adds, “And will look up” - as if to see whether the arrow really went to the mark, whether the prayer had sped its way to God so that a gracious answer would be given.

Shouldn’t we sometimes, when alone, and about to pray, sit down for a little while to consider what we are about to ask? Wouldn’t we often pray better if we remembered that the preparation of the heart in man, as well as the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord, and that the preparation of the heart precedes the answer of the tongue? In offering our petitions to God, a helter-skelter approach does not become us. We must never rush into His presence without thinking about what we are going to say to Him. The decorum which is due to a king’s court should cautiously remind us of the reverence due to the King of kings. Although we enjoy the privileged familiarity which permits us to say “Our Father,” as dear children of the Lord of heaven and earth, let us never forget to be humble and in honor to bow as subjects of the great King. Tenderly he asks; devoutly may we answer, “What do you want me to do for you??”

Now, dear friends, let me dare to give a plain answer to a plain question. As you are sitting here in this church, what is your desire before the Lord? Let your conscience make such a reply that, when you get home, you may intelligently, in the closing prayer of the day, approach the Lord for what you want. What is the uppermost desire of your soul? Perhaps with some of you it is that you may overcome the sin that so easily entangles you. “Oh!” you say, “what I would give if I could get rid of that bad temper of mine! It is my daily cross, and I do not want to have it in my life any longer.” “Oh!” says another, “I am so unbelieving, a little trouble soon casts me down; oh! that I could get rid of my unbelief!” Well now, very likely, dear friends, the sin you ought to pray against is one you are not striving against. Were I to come to you in the aisle, and look directly at you, and tell you what your principal sin is, you would feel very annoyed with me, for we are apt to resent the faithfulness of those who tell us of our faults. To touch the tender place makes the nerves tingle, and it seems like deliberate torture. When somebody complains of something which our conscience does not support, we take it kindly, and accept their good intentions, thinking that if they had known us better they would have esteemed us more highly; but if they really touch the most tender sores, then we do not appreciate their treatment. We feel the embarrassment and seek to hide blush on our face. Yet don’t hide the evil which an Omniscient God discerns. Let this be a time of heart-searching. Say, “Lord, is my sin greed or materialism?” These are sins which I have never yet heard a man or woman confess. People will confess dreadful iniquities of every kind, even murder and adultery, but almost never will a man or woman confess the sin of greed or materialism. These are crimes they christen and call by another name. A greedy man thinks he is prudent; he is just laying aside a little money for a rainy day. His greed, he tells you, is not to gratify himself, but a generous impulse to provide for his family. They would have us believe, that they waste their strength and wither their souls only for the good of their wives and their children. Nevertheless, their fortune is their god. To grab and to gain, to have and to hold, is their desire so long as they live, and very often they manage to lose it all before they pass it on to their loved ones. Sadly! We are often wicked enough to try to make our love for our family an excuse for our greediness.

Let us honestly come to the point. When we are dealing with our sin let us confess it with all its iniquity and its evilness. Do not evade the truth of it by accepting only a small part of the guilt. David, when he wanted complete forgiveness, said, “Save me from bloodguilt.” He acknowledged the atrocity when he sought the atonement - ” Save me from bloodguilt” - as one who saw his crime in the light of its consequence, not as one who attempted to “gloss over it” with vain excuses.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

If you have no particular sin to confess - if that is not your uppermost concern at this time - what, then, is your petition? What need do you have to have met? Is it some great need? Have you numerous little needs? They may all be told to God. Get a clear idea of what it is that you really do need; what you want him to do for you, knowing that, whatever your needs may be, there is the promise, “My God will meet all your needs” - not some of it, but “all your needs”; not that he may do it, but that he will do it; not that you will have to meet it yourselves, but that he will meet it; “My God will meet all your needs.” Think, therefore, what your needs are, and then go to God. Is there any special blessing that you desire? Get a clear idea of the blessing before you pray for it. What form of blessing do you wish to have? Oh! if I could have my choice, it would be heavenly-mindedness. Oh! if a man could only get that, he need not be too concerned about where he lived, nor what he had to eat, nor how much he slept, nor how much he suffered, for a heavenly mind is heaven. The mind makes its own heaven here below, and up above. Though, doubtless, heaven has a locality - yet it is much more a state than a place. Oh! for more heavenly-mindedness!

What is it you would have? Communion with Christ? Love for souls? A broken heart? True humility? I may say of all these things, “The whole country lies before you; go wherever you please; ask whatever you will, and it will be done for you.”

What promise is there that you would wish to have fulfilled to you today? It is a good exercise to sit down before your time of private prayer, and look up the promise that seems most suitable, or to ask the Lord to look it up for you, and apply it to your soul. If there is a plague or severe disease in your neighborhood, even right next door, then take this promise “Lord, you have said, ‘Thousands will fall at your side, and tens of thousands at your right hand, but it will not come near you.’ Lord, fulfill that promise now.” Are you startled by a noise in the middle of the night, then quote this promise, “You will not fear the terror of night.” Perhaps it is your dwindling food supply that troubles you. Then here is another promise, “Your bread will be supplied, and water will not fail you.” When you lost a key the other day, and could not open the drawer, what did you do? You sent out for a locksmith, and in he came with a whole bundle of old rusty keys. What for? Why, he looked for the one that fit the lock of your drawer, and opened it for you at once. Now many people’s Bibles are just like that bundle of rusty keys. There is always a key in the Bible that will fit the lock of your necessities, if you would but seek till you find it. But sometimes we are in distress, as Christian and Hopeful were in Doubting Castle, and we have to say, as Christian did,

“What a fool I am to lie rotting in this stinking dungeon, when I have a key in my pocket that I am persuaded would open every lock in Doubting Castle!” Search out the promises, then, and go before God with a distinct answer to the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to have that promise fulfilled, or that grace bestowed, or that need supplied, or that sin forgiven.”

So, dear friends, when praying for others, I think it is very necessary, in order to keep up our own interest in it, that we should have distinct things to pray about. I don’t find that I can pray fervently for all of mankind, but I can pray fervently for my own children. I don’t find that I can pray for the nation as well as I can for London. When I pray for London, I seek to do it earnestly. It behooves us to pray for all men and women, according to Scripture. All sorts of men and women are to be included in our supplications. I must, however, confess that I am most fervent in prayer when I pray for this congregation, and that is because I have the most vivid thought of this people, and the clearest idea of their present requirements. If you want to pray for any particular person, or any special matter, the better you understand the case you have in hand, the warmer and livelier your pleading will be. There are people in this church who have asked me to pray for them. Well, I have tried to do so, and I hope the Lord heard my prayer. But since I have known more of them, and found out where they live, and who they were, I can pray for them with more freedom than I could before. Once they were a sort of abstraction to me, but now I have a definite acquaintance with them. How easily you remember anything that is tied to something else, or linked by association with a place.

For example, you remember an event that occurred to you in the City of London. Every time that you go by the Bank, just at one particular spot, you say, “I met so-and-so here just the day before he died.” You will never forget it, and you think of it every time you go by that spot. Or perhaps at an intersection of two roads in the country, such and such a thing happened to you, and the very sight of that place brings back the circumstances. In the same way we remember our friends in prayer when we get to know them, when we can bring them to mind, and know, as it were, the private matters of their lives as we have seen them and when we have talked with them and been interested in their trials. Some good people have prayed for others by name. Well, you cannot do that if you have a long list, and happen to be a busy man; still, it is good to pray for others by name, if you can. I like those prayers, even in public, in which we pray for others with some distinctness. Oh! What time we waste when we go beating round the bush! We know individuals who pray for their minister with roundabout expressions that distracts the listener. They travel round and round a circle, instead of going directly to the point. A man often avoids saying, “Lord, save my wife.” Rather, he prefers to say “please save those who are dear to us in our families, and she who is the partner of our being.” Yes, that sounds pretty, very pretty indeed, but wouldn’t it be better if you just said, “Lord, convert my, wife”? There is one brother here who does pray in that manner at the prayer-meetings, and who uses those very words. When pleading with God, do let us come straight to the point, stating our case clearly in answer to the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” May the Lord teach us to pray in this distinct manner! Time fails us; therefore, we will only briefly mention a third point. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in asking this question of the blind man, makes: -

III. NO RESERVATION. BUT THROWS OPEN THE ABUNDANCE OF HIS HEART, AND THE INFINITENESS OF HIS POWER.

“What do you want me to do for you?” is the same as saying, “Whatever it is that you want I will do it; I can do it. Only tell me what you want.” There is no limit to the Savior’s ability. Nor does he put a limit on the petitioner’s freedom to command the favor he desires. It would not have been appropriate for the blind man to say, “Lord, if you can.” He has the opportunity of procuring any help he seeks. Note, brethren, it is not a question of “can” with regard to Christ; the question is, what do you desire? Now, sinner, observe the Lord Jesus Christ did not stop to ask about this man’s blindness, whether he had been blind from his birth, or whether he had been affected with a cataract or by a disease of the optic nerve or retina or brain . He just said, “What do you want me to do for you?” No type of eye problem could baffle him. In any form, or at any stage, it was possible for him to cure it.

The Lord Jesus Christ speaks to you. He says to you today, “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” He does not say anything as to whether you have been moral or immoral, whether you have been wicked or religious, but simply, “What do you want me to do for you?” Your blackest sins will disappear the moment the scarlet of the blood touches them. Your foulest crimes will melt like snow as soon as the thaw begins. You cannot have sinned yourself beyond the reach of the long arm of Christ, nor can the weight of your sin be too heavy for the back of Christ, the great Sin-bearer, to bear. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Some of us would have no hope if we did not know that Christ will save the chief of sinners. We would have long ago sunk into remorse and despair if we had not seen it written in letters of gold, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” You know John Bunyan’s thoughts about that text. He says, “Who is this man? Who is this ‘whoever comes’? Why, ‘whoever comes’ in all the world, no matter who he or she is, they will never, under no circumstances, for no reason, and in no way, ever be driven away from Christ.” If you come to Christ, he will keep his word. He cannot be a liar. He must be as good as his own declaration. If you come to him, he will not drive you away. What do you want him to do for you?

Oh! believer, do you have a desire in your soul, do you have a longing in your heart, then Christ does not say that he will give you this mercy, if it is possible, but that he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. I hear that text still quoted by some of my brethren, “More than all that we can ask or imagine.” I beg their pardon; that is not a faithful quotation of Scripture. It says, “More than all we ask or imagine” - more than all we ask. God can open a person’s mouth as wide as his mercies, and he can make us ask for anything, but he generally does for us more than all we ask or imagine. Never keep your mouth closed because you think the mercy you want would be too great. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Do not restrict yourself. Enlarge your desire. Open your mouth wide, and he will fill it. He gives you carte blanche; ask for what you want. He puts it before you, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” So may it be to us, according to our faith, and his will be the glory. Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Mark 10". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/mark-10.html. 2011.