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ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
At the time appointed by the FATHER, our LORD left his secret retreat, and resolved to go up to the passover: his readiness to go to Jerusalem astonished his disciples, for their hearts sunk within them from the apprehension of the evils that threatened him and themselves. In order that they might be prepared for his sufferings, JESUS took them into a private place, and informed them of many particulars concerning the circumstances which would befall him at the passover: what he now spake was so contrary to the notions they had of the MESSIAH and his kingdom, and such a disappointment to their expectations from their Master, that they were quite confounded. Our LORD did not think proper to enlighten their minds any farther at this time; the intent of his uttering these prophecies seems to have been, that the accomplishment of them might be some confirmation of their faith, and encourage them to expect his resurrection from the dead, during a series of events which he knew would severely try them.
Notwithstanding the apostles could not comprehend the whole of our LORD's predictions, as they were unwilling to take them in a literal sense, they had so much faith in him, as to believe that he would finally overcome all difficulties, and reign in a glorious manner; but still they expected a temporal kingdom. John and James in particular, who appear to have been admitted to the greatest degree of intimacy with their Divine Master, were desirous of obtaining places of the highest dignity in this kingdom. It is likely that they employed, their mother to make the request, that if it should be displeasing to our LORD they might not incur his anger;
which was a very mean action, and they surely must have forgot that JESUS knew all hearts. To convince them that the ambition which they secretly harboured in their bosoms was open to his view, instead of answering their mother, our LORD addressed himself to James and John, and put a question which led them to reflect on the sufferings they were to endure for his sake. By the cup which he drank of, our LORD meant afflictions; and by the baptism, overwhelming calamities. They readily. answered, that they could endure whatever should befall them, not considering their own natural weakness; and our LORD, knowing the aid they were to receive from the HOLY SPIRIT, assured them they would be able to follow him in sufferings: but he informed them that it did not belong to him, as the MESSIAH, to confer honour and rank by partial friendship: for exaltation and happiness in the other world would be dispensed according to the original appointment of GOD the FATHER, in proportion to the degrees of piety and holiness each person should attain to here.
This desire of pre-eminence naturally awakened the jealousy of the other disciples against James and John; to prevent the ill consequences of it, our LORD called them all to him, and informed them, that his kingdom was of a very different nature from the kingdoms of this world for, instead of appointing any of them as chief to govern the rest, they were to regard each other as brethren, and be ready to perform the lowest offices, not only for their own little fraternity, but for any whose spiritual interest and benefit they could promote by their humility.
Our LORD then proposed his own example as a pattern for their imitation. He came, not to exercise dominion, but to labour, and even die, for the good of
others; and to give his own life as a ransom for many, who had forfeited theirs to Divine justice.
From our LORD's answer to James and John we should learn to consider, whether what we desire for ourselves, in respect to temporal blessings, be proper for us; and, if we cannot obtain them, we should rest satisfied with the denial: since we may be certain, that wisdom and love, and not unkindness, produce it. We should often ask ourselves, whether we are willing to bear our share of sufferings in this world; for if we do not desire to do so, as far as God shall appoint, we are not worthy to be called the disciples of CHRIST. But if with true resignation and humility we are ready to endure all evils, and to do all we can for the welfare and salvation of others, we may rest assured, that, however we suffer here, we shall inherit glory and happiness in a future state.
JESUS GIVETH SIGHT TO A BLIND MAN, AND CON VERTETH ZACCHEUS THE PUBLICAN.
From Mark, Chap. x.-Luke, Chap. xix.
AND they came to Jericho; and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples, and a great number of people, blind Bartimeus, the son of Timeus, sat by the highwayside, 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, arise; 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.
AndJesus said unto him, Go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying GOD: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
And JESUS entered and passed through Jericho, And behold, there was a man named Zaccheus, which was chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
And he sought to see JESUS who he was, and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamoretree to see him; for he was to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zaccheus stood, and said unto the LORD, Behold, LORD, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
As our LORD was pursuing his journey towards Jerusalem, an occasion offered for a remarkable display of his miraculous power. The Evangelist Mark, from whose Gospel the Scripture for this Section is selected, mentions only one blind man; and Luke's account accords with his, but Matthew mentions two. The reason of this variation might possibly have been, that Bartimeus was well known, the other not. But it is not worth while to spend time in reconciling such trifling contradictions as these, since it is evident, that if JESUS could cure one, he certainly could cure two; and the giving sight to one who was blind, incontestably proved him to be the SON of DAVID, prophesied of by Isaiah.
Our LORD probably suffered Bartimeus to repeat his petition for mercy, in order to exercise his faith, and make the miracle more conspicuous.
The news of this extraordianary affair drew vast multitudes together. JESUS, knowing the good disposition of Zaccheus, and that he would gladly receive the Gospel, vouchsafed to visit him, and met with a joyful welcome. The Pharisees, as usual, were much offended with our LORD, that he should shew favour to a publican; but Zaccheus, to vindicate himself in some degree, and shew that he was not so deficient in moral duties as they supposed him to be, stood forth before them all, and assured our LORD, that he had conscientiously endeavoured to regulate his conduct by the rules of charity and justice. JESUS, knowing that he had in reality acted upon upright principles, gave him the promise of salvation, because he had shewn himself a true son of Abraham,