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Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Gospel


Christ's Suffering Foretold. 

31 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. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.  

Here is, I. The notice Christ gave to his disciples of his sufferings and death approaching, and of the glorious issue of them, which he himself had a perfect sight and foreknowledge of, and thought it necessary to give them warning of, that it might be the less surprise and terror to them. Two things here are which we had not in the other evangelists:-- 1. The sufferings of Christ are here spoken of as the fulfilling of the scriptures, with which consideration Christ reconciled himself to them, and would reconcile them: All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man, especially the hardships he should undergo, shall be accomplished. Note, The Spirit of Christ, in the Old-Testament prophets, testified beforehand his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, 1 Pet. i. 11. This proves that the scriptures are the word of God, for they had their exact and full accomplishment; and that Jesus Christ was sent of God, for they had their accomplishment in him; this was he that should come, for whatever was foretold concerning the Messiah was verified in him; and he would submit to any thing for the fulfilling of scripture, that not one jot or tittle of that should fall to the ground. This makes the offence of the cross to cease, and puts an honour upon it. Thus it was written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, thus it became him. 2. The ignominy and disgrace done to Christ in his sufferings are here most insisted upon. The other evangelists had said that he should be mocked; but here it is added, He shall be spitefully treated, hybristhesetai--he shall be loaded with contumely and contempt, shall have all possible reproach put upon him. This was that part of his sufferings by which in a spiritual manner he satisfied God's justice for the injury we had done him in his honour by sin. Here is one particular instance of disgrace done him, that he was spit upon, which had been particularly foretold, Isa. l. 6. But here, as always, when Christ spoke of his sufferings and death, he foretold his resurrection as that which took off both the terror and reproach of his sufferings: The third day he shall rise again. 

II. The confusion that the disciples were hereby put into. This was so contrary to the notions they had had of the Messiah and his kingdom, such a balk to their expectations from their Master, and such a breaking of all their measures, that they understood none of these things, v. 34. Their prejudices were so strong that they would not understand them literally, and they could not understand them otherwise, so that they did not understand them at all. It was a mystery, it was a riddle to them, it must be so; but they think it impossible to be reconciled with the glory and honour of the Messiah, and the design of setting up his kingdom. This saying was hidden from them, kekrymmenon ap auton, it was apocrypha to them, they could not receive it: for their parts, they had read the Old Testament many a time, but they could never see any thing in it that would be accomplished in the disgrace and death of this Messiah. They were so intent upon those prophecies that spoke of his glory that they overlooked those that spoke of his sufferings, which the scribes and doctors of the law should have directed them to take notice of, and should have brought into their creeds and catechisms, as well as the other; but they did not suit their scheme, and therefore were laid aside. Note, Therefore it is that people run into mistakes, because they read their Bibles by the halves, and are as partial in the prophets as they are in the law. They are only for the smooth things, Isa. xxx. 10. Thus now we are too apt, in reading the prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, to have our expectations raised of the glorious state of the church in the latter days. But we overlook its wilderness sackcloth state, and are willing to fancy that is over, and nothing is reserved for us but the halcyon days; and then, when tribulation and persecution arise, we do not understand it, neither know we the things that are done, though we are told as plainly as can be that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. 

Sight Restored to the Blind. 

35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.  

Christ came not only to bring light to a dark world, and so to set before us the objects we are to have in view, but also to give sight to blind souls, and by healing the organ to enable them to view those objects. As a token of this, he cured many of their bodily blindness: we have now an account of one to whom he gave sight near Jericho. Mark gives us an account of one, and names him, whom he cured as he went out of Jericho, Mark x. 46. Matthew speaks of two whom he cured as they departed from Jericho, Matt. xx. 30. Luke says it was en to eggizein auton--when he was near to Jericho, which might be when he was going out of it as well as when he was coming into it. Observe, 

I. This poor blind man sat by the wayside, begging, v. 35. It seems, he was not only blind, but poor, had nothing to subsist on, nor any relations to maintain him; the fitter emblem of the world of mankind which Christ came to heal and save; they are therefore wretched and miserable, for they are both poor and blind, Rev. iii. 17. He sat begging, for he was blind, and could not work for his living. Note, Those ought to be relieved by charity whom the providence of God has any way disabled to get their own bread. Such objects of charity by the way-side ought not to be overlooked by us. Christ here cast a favourable eye upon a common beggar, and, though there are cheats among such, yet they must not therefore be all thought such. 

II. Hearing the noise of a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant, v. 36. This we had not before. It teaches us that it is good to be inquisitive, and that those who are so some time or other find the benefit of it. Those who want their sight should make so much the better use of their hearing, and, when they cannot see with their own eyes, should, by asking questions, make use of other people's eyes. So this blind man did, and by that means came to understand that Jesus of Nazareth passed by, v. 37. It is good being in Christ's way; and, when we have an opportunity of applying ourselves to him, not to let it slip. 

III. His prayer has in it a great deal both of faith and fervency: Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me, v. 38. He owns Christ to be the Son of David, the Messiah promised; he believes him to be Jesus, a Saviour; he believes he is able to help and succour him, and earnestly begs his favour: "Have mercy on me, pardon my sin, pity my misery." Christ is a merciful king; those that apply themselves to him as the Son of David shall find him so, and ask enough for themselves when they pray, Have mercy on us; for Christ's mercy includes all. 

IV. Those who are in good earnest for Christ's favours and blessings will not be put by from the pursuit of them, though they meet with opposition and rebuke. They who went along chid him as troublesome to the Master, noisy and impertinent, and bade him hold his peace; but he went on with his petition, nay, the check given him was but as a dam to a full stream, which makes it swell so much the more; he cried the louder, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Those who would speed in prayer must be importunate in prayer. This history, in the close of the chapter, intimates the same thing with the parable in the beginning of the chapter, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. 

V. Christ encourages poor beggars, whom men frown upon, and invites them to come to him, and is ready to entertain them, and bid them welcome: He commanded him to be brought to him. Note, Christ has more tenderness and compassion for distressed supplicants than any of his followers have. Though Christ was upon his journey, yet he stopped and stood, and commanded him to be brought to him. Those who had checked him must now lend him their hands to lead him to Christ. 

VI. Though Christ knows all our wants, he will know them from us (v. 41): What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? By spreading our case before God, with a particular representation of our wants and burdens, we teach ourselves to value the mercy we are in pursuit of; and it is necessary that we should, else we are not fit to receive it. This man poured out his soul before Christ, when he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. Thus particular should we be in prayer, upon particular occasions. 

VII. The prayer of faith, guided by Christ's encouraging promises, and grounded on them, shall not be in vain; nay, it shall not only receive an answer of peace, but of honour (v. 42); Christ said, Receive thy sight, thy faith hath saved thee. True faith will produce fervency in prayer, and both together will fetch in abundance of the fruits of Christ's favour; and they are then doubly comfortable when they come in that way, when we are saved by faith. 

VIII. The grace of Christ ought to be thankfully acknowledged, to the glory of God, v. 43. 1. The poor beggar himself, that had his sight restored, followed Christ, glorifying God. Christ made it his business to glorify his Father; and those whom he healed pleased him best when they praised God, as those shall please God best who praise Christ and do him honour; for, in confessing that he is Lord, we give glory to God the Father. It is for the glory of God if we follow Christ, as those will do whose eyes are opened. 2. The people that saw it could not forbear giving praise to God, who had given such power to the Son of Man, and by him had conferred such favours on the sons of men. Note, We must give praise to God for his mercies to others as well as for mercies to ourselves.