And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus…
We beg then with eager hope. We are sure we shall not be disappointed. Games, holidays, sight-seeing, all promise much, and childhood begs them to make it blessed. Vexed, wearied, sent empty away again and again, the boy sees, further on, the youth, pursuing his great hopes, and hastens to join him, confident that in higher excitements and larger liberty, in new aspirations and tenderer love, his soul's thirst shall be slaked. Deluded once more, he grows sober and wise and firm. He is older. He is a man. He lays deep plans now, puts on a bolder face, and begs with sterner importunity. He can take no denial. He must have happiness; he will be blessed. Fame, wealth, power — these have the hidden treasure he has sought so long. He knows now where it is, and they must give it up. Years are passing, his time will soon be gone, and now he begs indeed! How these idols lead his soul captive! How he toils, cringes, grovels, sacrifices for their favour! Fame, wealth, power — deceitful gods! — still promise that tomorrow the long-sought good shall be given. But how many tomorrows come and go, and leave him still trusting to the next! Now he forsakes the pleasures he might have, dries up the fountains of his early love, sweeps all sentiment from his heart, crushes his dearest affections, tasks every power to the utmost, wrings out his heart's blood, and lays all his soul before his idol's feet — and is disappointed! Disappointed alike in failure and success! If he wins the prize, this is not what he coveted, and worshipped, and bargained away his soul for, and he curses it for a cheat. If he fails, he still believes that the true good was there, and he was near it; and he curses the chance, or envy, or hate which snatched it from his grasp. But who shall describe the base arts of this beggary? The disguises, the pretences, the fawnings — all the low tricks of street beggars — are adopted and eclipsed by those who will be rich, will be great, will have fame. And what are the profits of thus begging the world for what God alone can give? Observe a street beggar for a while. How many go by and give nothing, where one drops even a penny in the hat! So many of the passing things of time refuse altogether to give the soul the good it asks. See again. Do you mark the impudent leer of that mean boy? He knows the beggar is blind, and so he comes up pretending sympathy, and puts a pebble, a chip in that trembling hand. So a thousand times have you seen the world do for a begging soul. But there comes a still meaner boy; he puts that which, when the grateful old man's hand closes on it pierces or stings it, and, laughing loudly in the blind, bewildered face, he runs away. And thus have I seen the gay, polished world put a sparkling cup to the young man's lips; but when at last it bit him like a serpent and stung him like an adder, the polished world, jeered his imprudence, and turned him from its door. His excesses and agony and death must not be seen there! And when the beggar's gains for the day are fairly counted, what are they? A few copper coins, foul with gangrene, and little bits of silver, rarely, — enough to buy a scanty meal and a poor lodging, and tomorrow all is to begin again. And thus the world gives — few pleasures, low pleasures, brief pleasures. They stay the soul's hunger for a while, but never satisfy it, so that straightway we must go out and beg again. The world never raised a man's soul above beggary. It is both too selfish and too poor. It gives but little of what it has, and if it gave all, gave itself, that would not fill and bless an immortal soul. These things make me think how sadly all this begging from the world ends. The hour comes when the world can do no more. It is a bitter hour — an hour of pain and anguish, of weakness and despair — the hour of death. The world is roaring away as ever, in business and mirth, all unconscious that the poor man who loved and worshipped it so, is dying. But oh, the begging of God which now begins! Bitter crying to Him whose gracious heart has been waiting to bless these many years, waiting in vain for one sigh of contrition, one prayer of faith to His infinite grace! But it is too late. His patient, insulted Spirit has been grieved at length. He has departed.
(Prof. W. J. Hoge.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.