Ryle: Means and Mercy

J.C. Ryle comments on the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43

The miracle described in these verses is rich in instruction. It was one of the great works which witnessed that Christ was sent of the Father. (John 5:36.) But this is not all. It contains also some lively patterns of spiritual things which deserve attentive study.

jesus_healing_blindWe see, for one thing, in this passage, the importance of diligence in the use of means. We are told of “a certain blind man who sat by the wayside begging.” He sought the place where his pitiful condition was most likely to attract notice. He did not sit lazily at home, and wait for relief to come to him. He placed himself by the road-side, in order that travelers might see him and give him help. The story before us shows the wisdom of his conduct. Sitting by the wayside, he heard that “Jesus was passing by.” Hearing of Jesus he cried for mercy, and was restored to sight. Let us mark this well! If the blind man had not sat by the wayside that day, he might have remained blind to the hour of his death.

He that desires salvation should remember the example of this blind man. He must attend diligently on every means of grace. He must be found regularly in those places where the Lord Jesus is specially present. He must sit by the wayside, wherever the word is read and the Gospel preached, and God’s people assemble together. To expect grace to be put into our hearts, if we sit idling at home on Sundays, and go to no place of worship, is presumption and not faith. It is true that “God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy;”–but it is no less true that He ordinarily has mercy on those who use means. It is true that Christ is sometimes “found of those who seek Him not;”–but it is also true that He is always found of those who really seek Him. The Sabbath breaker, the Bible-neglecter, and the prayerless man are forsaking their own mercies, and digging graves for their own souls. They are not sitting “by the wayside.”