The Day The Sun Stood Still
“And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”
We read in the tenth chapter of Joshua how that he, by whom the walls of Jericho fell, commanded the sun to stand still in the midst of heaven. At the command of a man “the sun stood still!” We are told, “There was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man” (Josh. 10:14). But here the Spirit of God inspired Matthew to describe something even more remarkable than that. Matthew tells us about a day when the Sun, not the created star in heaven that Joshua caused to stand still, but Christ the Sun of Righteousness, the Son of God, stood still. As he was coming up out of Jericho on his way to Jerusalem to redeem his people, the Son of God heard two blind beggars crying for mercy. At the sound of their cry, we are told, “Jesus stood still!” What a wonderful, amazing picture we have before us in these verses! Here is the omnipotent God stopped in his tracks, held fast by two needy souls crying out for mercy. He was on his way to Jerusalem to accomplish the redemption of his people, to fulfill the will of his Father. Nothing could stop him. Nothing could cause him to pause. Nothing could detour him from his work. Herod could not stop him. Satan could not hinder him. The Scribes and Pharisees failed in all their efforts to impede him in his determined course. Not even his disciples or his own mother could stop him as he made his way to the appointed place. But two blind beggars crying for mercy, two helpless souls, looking to him for help, believing him, crying to him, stopped the Son of God in his tracks. — “Jesus stood still!”
What an encouragement this passage of Holy Scripture ought to be to any sinner who needs his mercy to pour out his need to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God will never ignore the cry or refuse the faith of a sinner seeking mercy.
Luke tell us about our Savior healing one blind man as he approached Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Here, Matthew tells us that he healed two more blind men, “as they departed from Jericho.” Mark was inspired to describe the same event Matthew speaks of; but Mark only mentions the healing of one of these men, a man by the name of “Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus” (Mark 10:46-52). Obviously, there is no contradiction in inspired accounts of that momentous day. Three blind men were publicly healed by the Son of God as he passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem to accomplish our redemption. It is that fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were inspired to record for our learning. Here are three great miracles performed by the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Light of the world,” as he was going to Calvary to die in the room and stead of poor, blind, helpless sinners, that we might obtain mercy in him and from him.
These things are not intended merely to inform us that the Lord Jesus Christ had and has the power to perform miracles. And they are not intended merely to teach us that we are to look to him as the great Physician for the healing of our bodily infirmities; though both of those things are true. These three great miracles are object lessons, proclaiming the gospel of God’s free, omnipotent grace in Christ. May God the Holy Spirit bring the lessons home to our hearts. Robert Hawker suggested the following four points of instruction:
1. The mighty miracles were themselves a proof of our Savior being the Messiah (Isa. 35:5).
2. The fact that our Lord performed these miracles near Jericho, the cursed city (Jos. 6:26; 1 Kings 16:84), may have reference to that which he would accomplish as our Substitute upon the cursed tree. All the blessings of grace come to chosen sinners because the Lord Jesus Christ was made a curse for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21).
3. Hawker further suggested, “The sovereign act of Jesus, in the freeness and fulness of his mercy, was a testimony of his Godhead; for on the supposition of an eyeless socket, it is not simply giving sight to the blind but a new creation. And who but God himself can do this?”
4. “The conduct of those blind, also hold forth many sweet instructions. They were in the highway begging. It is good to be found in the highway of ordinances, where Jesus passeth by. The cry of those men under a sense of their misery, and Jesus’ power afford great lessons to teach men how to pray, and not to faint. But who taught them that Jesus was the Son of David; that is the Messiah which should come? Who indeed, but he to whom they came could lead them to himself?”
Faith in Christ
These blind men are, also, great examples of faith in Christ. Faith is frequently found where it is least expected. There were great multitudes who followed the Lord Jesus as he walked along and taught the people. — Some for loaves and some for love. — Some out of curiosity and some out of conviction. — Some for greed and some for grace. But there were few, very few, who believed on Christ. Many, many saw his miracles, yet, believed him not (Matt. 11:20-24; John 2:23-24). But here are three blind men who had never seen any of our Lord’s miracles. They knew him only by hear-say, by the testimony of others. Yet, they believed him.
They simply heard other men and women talking about the Savior. They heard people in the streets talking about the Son of God and the great wonders of mercy he had performed. — “When they heard that Jesus passed by” (v. 29). Spurgeon called that, “blessed gossip.” Would to God we had more of it!
We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). It was “when they heard that Jesus passed by” that “they cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David” (v. 29). Perhaps they had heard how the Master had healed a blind man on his way into Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Without question, they had heard who he is. They called him, “Jesus,” Savior, and openly acknowledged him to be both their God and the Messiah.
John Gill tells us that the things stated by these men declare their faith in Christ, “calling him ‘Lord,’ expressing their sense of his deity, dominion, and power; and ‘Son of David,’ thereby owning and professing him to be the Messiah.” (See Isaiah 35:5; 42:7; 61:1). They looked to him as their God and Savior, the only One from whom they hoped to obtain mercy, mercy that only God could perform. They looked to him, hoping that he would cause their blind eyes to see. No doubt, they heard about his mighty miracles of mercy. And they heard that “Jesus passed by.” Knowing that he might never pass their way again, they seized the opportunity before them and sought his mercy.
Yes, the cry of these blind men was the cry of faith. They believed on the Son of God. Their faith puts me to shame. I have books of evidence, a library full of good commentaries and books of theology, volumes of biographies. Yet, how little there is of this childlike confidence and faith in Christ! Even among true believers, simple, confident, unhesitating faith is found where we least expect it. The humble soul believes God and walks in peace; while learned, well-read theologians are often harassed with doubts and questions.
Use of Means
The blind men healed by our Savior along the Jericho road clearly teach us that sinners in need of mercy ought to avail themselves of every means of good to their souls. I know that God is sovereign. I know that salvation is of the Lord. I know that every chosen, redeemed sinner shall be saved. I am fully aware of these facts. Yet, the Scriptures clearly teach us that every man is responsible for his own soul. We are responsible to use the means of grace God gives us. When these two blind men heard that “Jesus passed by,” they were found “sitting by the way.”
What wisdom they displayed! They took up a hopeful position “by the way.” There they would be likely to hear any good news that might be spread among the people. There they were most likely to meet with and be seen by the compassionate. Though they were blind, they were not deaf; and they used what they had for good.
Do not forsake the assembly of God’s saints and the preaching of the gospel (Heb. 10:25). Do not forsake the reading of Holy Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15). Do not forsake private prayer (Luke 18:1). These are God’s ordained means of grace. To despise them is to despise his grace. To neglect them is to neglect his grace. To use them is to be in the path of mercy (Matt. 18:20).
These blind men seem to be vivid examples of our Savior’s doctrine in Matthew 11. As “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence,” so “the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).
“And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David” (vv. 30-31).
These men were earnest. They needed mercy. They wanted to see. Therefore, though they were rebuked by the crowd, who urged them to be quiet, they held on, like Jacob of old (Gen. 32:26). We ought to be just that earnest before the throne of grace. Such importunity is the fruit of our great need before our God, knowing that he can supply the mercy needed (Heb. 4:16). And it is the forerunner of the mercy itself (Luke 11: 8-11).
“And do thou blessed Master and Lord, give the grace to thy children, both to be sensible of our spiritual blindness; and to be as earnest in the cry of the soul for deliverance from it: and may that grace of thine in our hearts be more powerful to lead to thee, than all the world, or sin, or unbelief, to keep from thee. But may all thy redeemed, though blinded by sin, be so taught by grace, that they may besiege thy throne night and day, until the Lord hath heard and answered prayer; and then follow thee in the regeneration, ‘beholding with open face, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, and be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 3:18).” (Robert Hawker)
These men needed mercy. They knew that Christ could give them the mercy they needed. They knew that they might never get this opportunity again. Consequently, the opposition they met with was hardly noticed by them. Rather, “they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us O Lord, thou Son of David!”
We read, first, that “Jesus passed by.” What a marvelous picture this is of God’s prevenient grace! These men were born blind, that they might be found “sitting by the wayside” on that day when “Jesus passed by.” Then, “Jesus stood still.” He “made a full stop, when he was near, or right against where these blind men sat. Which shows the strength of faith, the force of prayer, and the great regard Christ has to both.” (Gill) Then, he “called them.” He called them personally, them and only them, and said, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?” They answered, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”
“So Jesus had compassion on them.” He who stood still, when he heard their plaintive cry, was moved to his heart with pity for them. Their need drew forth his tenderness; and he “touched their eyes.” — “And immediately their eyes received sight.” With all the ease of omnipotent divinity, the Son of God caused these poor, blind men to see. How merciful our Savior is to our souls! Truly, “the love of Christ passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). Faith always gets what it seeks from him — mercy! Having obtained mercy, “they followed him.” He who gave sight to their eyes gave life to their souls, and they followed him. May God ever give us eyes to see and hearts to desire our Savior, that we may follow him by faith here, until, with open vision, we shall see him as he is and dwell with him forever.