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SUNDAY CALLED QUINQUAGESIMA.
THE BLIND BEGGAR HEALED.
Luke xviii. 38.
AND HE CRIED, SAYING, JESUS, THOU SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME.
THE Gospel for this day commences with an admonition given by our blessed Saviour to His disciples, that the predictions of the prophets concerning His sufferings, and death, and resurrection, were about to be speedily accomplished. This seems to be the reason why this portion of His history is appointed to be read on the next Sunday before Lent. He had given an intimation on the same subject previous to His transfiguration; when Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, as if he had imagined that his Lord and Master was speaking in this manner
only because of the ill will expressed towards Him by the Pharisees, and was therefore labouring under a depression of spirits. But the reply of the Lord Jesus showed that other ideas occupied His mind. He told Peter that his language was an offence to Him; and He warned all His disciples that they must expect to endure the cross while following Him on earth, if they would partake of His glory in heaven.15
On the occasion referred to in the Gospel for this day, the Evangelist relates that Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. The mind of our adorable Redeemer appears to have been frequently occupied with the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning Himself. He knew all things that were coming upon Him, before they took place. He knew for what purpose He had come into the world, and that the time during which He was to exercise His public ministry would be of short duration when, as Daniel had foretold, the Messiah should be cut off, but not for Himself;16 and as Isaiah had predicted, He should be cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of His people He should be
15 Matthew xvi. 22-24.
16 Daniel ix. 26.
stricken." He knew that He had become the Son of man, had been born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for 18 them. This He had declared, at the commencement of His ministry, to Nicodemus, when He said, As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.19 He knew that the purposes of Divine grace to man were to be carried into effect by His obedience unto death. And at the time here spoken of, He was going up to Jerusalem to present Himself as a free will offering, to be sacrificed for the sins of the people. He therefore informed His disciples of this event beforehand, that they might be prepared for it when it should take place.
He said to them respecting Himself, as the Son of man, He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully intreated, and spitted on; and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again. He was to be delivered to the Gentiles, because the manner in which He was to be put to death was one that was not customary among the Jews. But although the Gentiles were to do this, the Jews would He knew mock Him, and
17 Isaiah liii. 8. 18 Galatians iv. 5, iii. 13.
19 John iii. 14, 15.
revile, and insult, and smite, and spit upon Him, as they did in their own place of judicature, the high priest's palace; and then would deliver Him to the Gentiles to scourge, and to crucify Him, and thus put Him to death. How painful must the previous knowledge of all that was to come upon Him, have been to the mind of our blessed Saviour. Yet we are told that for the joy that was set before Him, the joy of bringing many sons to glory as the reward of the travail of His soul, He endured the cross despising the shame,20 What reason have we to thank and
praise Him for it!
But he knew likewise that on the third day He should rise again; that, as it had been foretold, His soul should not be left in the grave, neither should His flesh see corruption; but He should rise triumphant over all His enemies, as the Conqueror of death and the grave; and, as the Forerunner of His people, should open the kingdom of heaven to all believers in His name.
When our Saviour spoke of His sufferings and death to His disciples, it is said, They understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. St. Mark observes on this occasion, that they were amazed, and as they followed, they were afraid. All the expectations which they
20 Hebrews xii. 2, ii. 10. 21 Acts ii. 31.
22 Mark x. 32.
had formed of earthly aggrandisement would, they perceived, be completely destroyed by the fulfilment of what our Saviour here predicted; so that they were unwilling to believe any thing of the kind. They entertained such ideas of the worldly grandeur of the Messiah's kingdom, and of their own advancement to posts of eminence in it; that they could not allow it to be possible that such ill treatment should be received by Him, that He should suffer these things, and be put to death. They were still ready to say, Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee. They were anxiously looking out for the setting up of a temporal kingdom, in which the Jewish nation would be raised to the exercise of earthly dominion, instead of being in subjection to the Roman power. And they had no idea of the spiritual nature of the kingdom of the Messiah, and that it was to be established by means of His sufferings and death.
The other Evangelists inform us, that, immediately after this conversation of our Saviour with His disciples; James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to request of Him the two highest posts of honour in His future kingdom; which excited the indignation of the rest against the two brethren.24 But our Saviour soon settled
23 Matthew xvi. 22.
24 Matthew xx. 24.