An Unparalleled Cure
“As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the mute spoke: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never seen like this in Israel.”
Matthew 9:32, 33
As we read the chapter we noticed the rapidity with which the cures worked by the Savior followed each other, how much of mercy was compressed into a short space of time. He has no sooner healed the paralytic than, straightway, we find Him curing the woman who had an issue of blood, then raising to life the ruler’s dead daughter and next giving sight to two blind men, then quickly after that, healing this poor man who was deaf and dumb–and possessed with a devil. Matthew seems to call attention to this succession of cures–“As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil.” The blind men disposed of, here is a dumb demoniac ready for the great Physician’s hands. No sooner is one act of mercy done than there is another person needing an equal display of Grace and power–and the Savior at once goes to the task and heals again, again, again and yet again! What an inexhaustible fullness there is in Christ! He can bless and bless, and bless, and bless and still remain as full of blessing as ever.
I think that this ought to encourage us who have heard of revivals of religion. There is no time in which anyone is so likely to be converted as when many others are being brought to the Lord. When the Savior seems to rouse Himself up to an extraordinary display of power, it is well to be present and to put in our plea that we may share in those waves of mercy which follow so quickly, one upon the other! Have you heard of any who have been saved of late? Have your own friends been converted? Has the Lord been gracious to any of your old companions? Come, then, and put your case before the Lord Jesus Christ, feeling that you will not weary Him, that He will not need to pause till He has gathered fresh strength, but that He can continue to bless without cessation! Say to Him, as we have many times sung–
“Lord, I hear of showers of blessing
You are scattering, full and free.
Showers, the thirsty land refreshing–
Let some drops fall on me.”
And you need not be so modest as to say, “Let some drops fall on me,” for when the Lord blesses, He delights to giveshowers of blessing–showers in one place and then showers in another. He can still act in this glorious fashion, blessing one after another without a pause.
Then observe, dear Friends–for it lies at the very door of our subject–the wonderful readiness of the Lord thus to bless men. You do not often find them kneeling down and importuning Him to bless them. It does occur, sometimes, when there is great faith and He means to try and prove it, but, as a rule, and especially in this chapter, you can see how ready the Lord was to bless. A paralyzed man is dropped through the ceiling by four friends and the Savior at once sees their faith before a word is spoken–and He bestows both forgiveness of sin and healing of sickness. In another case, the child lies dead and the father asks Christ to come and He comes. He was as willing to come as the father was that He should come. Then, next, a woman comes behind Him and touches the hem of His garment and the virtue flows out even from the blue fringe of the seamless robe which He wore! Then the blind men asked for sight and Jesus gave it to them!
But here was one who could not ask, for he was dumb. I do not suppose that he even went the length of a desire, forhe was possessed of a devil–and that devil mastered the poor creature who was both deaf and dumb, for the Greek word means that he was a mute. He could not speak and he could not hear others speak, so the Savior, though He perceived no faith in him, and no prayer could come from him, yet noticed and honored the faith of those who brought him–andswiftly and spontaneously did His mercy flow out to this poor deaf and dumb demoniac!
Let us admire this readiness of Christ to bless and put our admiration to a practical use. Come, dear Heart, you have not to plead with Him to make Him merciful, for He loves you better than you love yourself! You have not to persuade Him to be gracious–Christ is no churl, holding His blessings with a tight hand as though He would rather hoard than bestow them on the needy. No, as freely as the sun scatters his light. As freely as the clouds dispense rain, so does Christ bless where He sees that there is need of blessing! Then let us put our friends in Christ’s way by breathing a secret silent prayer for them. And let us also put ourselves in Christ’s way–and may the great Master speedily heal us to the praise ofthe Glory of His Grace!
So I think we see very clearly in our Lord’s working these two things, rapidity and readiness.
Then, once more, observe the great ease with which the Savior moved in every case. I do not know whether it strikes you, but it seems to me that Matthew, in the text before us, intimates the remarkable ease of the Savior. I will read it to you again. “As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the mute spoke.” The Evangelist does not say that Jesus Christ cast out the devil–it was done so much as a matter of course by the Savior that Matthew takes it for granted that it was done! When you have to get into the swing of such a narrative as this and you have some five or six different cures to relate, you seem to arrive at the feeling, “Well, they have only to come to Christ and the cure is worked at once.”
Sometimes the Master healed with a word. At other times with a touch. Occasionally, it was not His touch, but the touch of the person healed. And here we are not told whether it was by a word, or a look, or how it was that the healing act was done. Let Christ, Himself, once meet the devil and that is an end to Satan’s dominion! I may stand here and preach my very soul away–and effect nothing by the most earnest labor. But when the Master comes into the field, whatis there that can stand before Him? The devil must flee even out of a deaf and dumb man who cannot plead for himself! He must depart when once the Master puts forth His Divine Power.
O Sirs, this is my hope for the salvation of the unsaved! If it depended upon my pleading, Iwould have scant hopes! But as it depends upon Him who has risen from the dead and who always lives at the right hand of God. As it depends upon Him who has pledged us His Presence wherever two or three are met together in His name and who has promised to be with His people wherever the Gospel is preached, then we expect to see wonders of Graceworked by Christ the mighty Miracle-Worker! May we see some of them worked in our midst this very hour!
This will suffice by way of introducing the subject and now let me call your careful attention to this special case as an encouragement to any who are seeking mercy from the Lord.
- The multitudes said, “It was never seen like this in Israel” and the multitudes spoke the truth, for, first, IT WAS A VERY EXTRAORDINARY CASE. Here was a man deaf and dumb and possessed by a devil–and probably deaf and dumb because possessed by a devil.
The parallel of this poor man’s case, if we take the miracle and spiritualize it, can be found in some sinners who aredumb so that they cannot express their needsto do so, but they are honest when they say that they cannot even describe themselves, or cannot so plead for themselves as to cry to God for mercy. They have the conviction that they would be hypocrites if they did. They feel as if it would be an insult to God if they were to attempt to pray. All this is a mistake, but yet such is their feeling. This poor man’s dumbness came of the possession of the devil and so does this inability to pray–it is often the work of Satan upon the heart of sinners when they cannot speak. If anyone were to ask them about their soul’s affairs, they could not say anything. They have often, perhaps, been addressed by earnest Evangelists who have tried to find out what was wrong with them, but they could never give an answer. There are such spiritually dumb persons who have long come to this Tabernacle. I often wonder that they continue to come, yet they do, and Brothers and Sisters have tried in all manner of ways to get at them, but they cannot. These people seem to be shut in by impenetrable barriers of ice, so that they cannot be reached by any ordinary means. They cannot reply to a question, for they are dumb. It must be a dreadful thing to feel as if you could not tell even the Lord about your case!
But then, perhaps, it is worse to be deaf, and this dumb man was also deaf so that he could not hear Jesus speak. It isa great deprivation to be unable to tell the Master our trouble, but it is a greater deprivation not to be able to hear that dear Voice which can wake the dead, which can heal the sick, which can change the nature, which can speak Grace into the soul! There are some in our midst who seem as if they could not hear. They come to the place of worship, but they say–
“I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel.
If anything is felt, ‘tis only pain
To find I cannot feel.”
I am glad when they get as far as that last line, but they are deaf until the voice of God goes with the voice of the ministry. If they read the Bible, it does not have that effect upon their conscience and their heart which it does when it is accompanied by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit.
Then there are persons who appear to be like this demoniac, not even desiring good. They feel as if they were underthe influence of Satan. I know a well-educated man in a good position in society who might be a comfort to his wife and family. You would like to speak to him if you could see him just now, but I would not like you to see him at any timewhen he is drunk–then he is a curse to his poor family and to the whole district! Oh, what a life a man leads when once the demon of drunkenness has gained the mastery over him! I do not wonder that such a man is both deaf and dumb to the Gospel!
Some are in the grip of that foul and loathsome demon of licentiousness–they seem as if they went after their lust greedily, they cannot be kept back from it and, of course, they cannot pray–they cannot hear the Word with any right realization of its power. Satan has such a mastery over them that theirs is a terrible case, like that of this deaf and dumb demoniac. I do not wonder that the multitudes said, when Christ had cured him, “It was never seen like this in Israel.”
II. So, next, it was not only an extraordinary case that was brought to Christ, but IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY CURE that He worked, for we read that the devil was cast out and the mute spoke!
Note, first, that the devil was cast out. Whenever he goes out of himself, he always comes back again. But when he iscast out, He that threw him out keeps him out. There are some men that reform, though they hardly know why, and then, by-and-by, they go back to their old sin and they are worse than ever. But whenever Christ comes to deal with this strong-armed man, He ejects him with a Divine Violence and never permits him to return, for the stronger Man who drove him out keeps that house in peace. This casting out of the devil is a very wonderful work. May the Lord come and perform it in our midst! May the demon of drunkenness, or lust, or whatever it is, be flung out of the window, never to return to the soul again!
Then, next, the dumb man spoke. That, also, was a wonderful thing. Deaf and dumb, how did he know the meaningand value of different sounds? Ordinarily we would have to explain to such a person what was the force of such a vowel, or of such a combination of vowels and consonants, but this man at once spoke! Matthew does not record what the man said, though he does tell us what the multitudes said. Curiosity might lead us to want to know what this man said than what the multitudes said, but the Lord knew that it would be more to our edification to know what the multitudes testified concerning the miracle! What is recorded is of much more value than what is omitted, we may be sure of that.
I wonder, however, what the man did say. I do not know, but I can imagine what I would have said if I had been in his place. I would have said, “Blessed be the Lord God who has delivered me from the power of the devil!” I would also have said, “O Lord Jesus, I love You! Let me follow You wherever You go!” I would not have known what I did not wantto say under such circumstances, but if there had been some great unusual word to express intense gratitude, I would have wanted to use that–
“Oh, for this love, let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,
And all harmonious human tongues
The Savior’s praises speak!”
It is always amazing to me, but I have often seen it–some foul blasphemer, or some other great sinner has been converted and almost immediately he has spoken the language of Canaan as sweetly as if he had been an old saint! I have known a woman rescued from the streets, foul with vice, yet as soon as ever she has been truly penitent at the Savior’s feet, the tears with which she has washed those precious feet have been as pure as ever fell from a godly matron’s eyes! The Grace of God makes marvelous changes where it comes into the soul, for the devil is cast out and a holy tongue is put in! Saintly speech is taught–not in 12 lessons, as I hear that some teach the German tongue–but in a single lesson is taught that blessed language of prayer, praise and testimony to the power and love of Christ which, I think, must have been what this man said. “It was never seen like this in Israel,” said the multitudes, for they could hardly believe their own ears when this poor deaf-mute commenced talking at such a rate! It was wonderful and I am sure that if some people I know are saved, the world will scarcely believe it!
I saw a Brother this week. I had seen his wife some time ago and I had known how brutally he had treated her. And when I saw him confessing Christ and weeping over his sin, I was ready to weep on his neck to think that he should be among us loving the Savior when once his mouth was full of oaths and cursing and the drunkard’s cup seemed to be always at his lips. The Lord does great wonders! If there are any more of these outrageous sinners here, may He come and deal with you till everybody shall say of Tom, or Harry, or Jack, or Polly, “The Lord has made such a change in that great profligate, it was never so seen in Israel.” God be thanked for the very hope that such a miracle of mercy may yet be worked! Thus, first, this was an extraordinary case, and next, it was an extraordinary cure.
III. But, then, it is all accounted for by this fact, IT WAS WROUGHT BY AN EXTRAORDINARY PERSON!
There had been many Prophets in Israel and God had worked miracles by them, but now there stood in Israel the Incarnate God Himself. He who had now come to deal with the sick and with those possessed of devils was “The Mighty God.” Omnipotence was in His hands, Omniscience was in His eyes, Infinite Love was in His heart and He had come to deal with the woes and needs of men. Surely, Brothers and Sisters, in such a case we might expect that there would be things done that had never before been seen in Israel! Israel was the land of wonders and yet here was a wonder such as Israel never marveled at before and, if it had never been seen in Israel, you may depend upon it that it had never been seen anywhere else in the whole world! So, if Christ comes and saves great sinners and makes even His people wonder and say, “It was never seen like this among us,” then, depend upon it, it was never so seen anywhere else!
If conversion had to be worked by ministers, Evangelists and teachers, we would like to pick out some very tender hearts and gentle spirits–those who had been trained from their youth up in the ways of godliness–but as conversion is always the work of the Lord, Himself, and the new birth is worked by the Holy Spirit, then it does not matter what are the materials with which the Lord has to deal! God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham! He can call Saul of Tarsus from among the Pharisees and Matthew from among the publicans–and the woman who loved much from among the harlots! Christ could save the dying thief, yes, and the very chief of sinners had an open gate of mercy because God, Himself, had assumed human flesh and had come down to save the guilty. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and truth.”
I seem to myself to stutter and stammer over these glorious Truths of God! Oh, that my soul could speak without being hindered by my lips and that I could fully tell how great a Savior this is, to whom nothing is difficult, much less impossible! You greatest sinner, you blackest sinner, you most hardened sinner, the Lord Jesus is able to save you now! Believe it and believe Him and, according to your faith, so shall it be to you! Yes, it shall be so to you this very night before you leave this House of Prayer!
I have now only to speak for just a few minutes to someone who may be saying, “If I were to be saved, Sir, it would be the most extraordinary thing that ever happened! If I were to become washed in the blood of Christ and made a child of God, it would be the greatest novelty that ever was known! I do not think it could be because it was never so seen in Israel.”
Now listen to me. You say it was never so seen in Israel–how do you know that? It is highly probable that you aremaking a great mistake and that there have been some saved who were quite as bad as you are, perhaps some who, in certain respects, were worse than you. What a splendid book might be made out of the records of the conversion of greatsinners! The wildest romance is dull compared with the true history and mystery of the salvation of sinners! Whatever you may be, there is someone like you gone to Heaven. Though you are blacker than any other in the circle of your companions, yet there have been some who were blacker than you are who, nevertheless, have been washed whiter than snow and have been eternally saved. Do not persuade yourself into the conviction that it was never so seen in Israel, for great things have been seen in Israel, of which you know nothing.
But suppose that you speak the truth and are correct? Then, if it was never so seen in Israel, that is no reason why itshould not be so seen just now. Because a thing has not happened, shall it never happen? The Israelites stood before the Red Sea and they might have said that a nation had never marched through the sea. Well, then, it was time that theyshould do so! And when God divided the waters, they went through the sea on foot and there did they rejoice in the might of Jehovah. Is not the Scripture full of the surprises of Grace–and has God changed? No, dear Friend, if this wonder has not happened yet, it is time that it should happen–and if it never has been so seen in Israel, I hope the hour has come when it shall be so seen in our midst! This which the multitudes said Israel had never seen, Israel did see, for the dumb man was delivered from the power of the devil and was enabled to speak the Savior’s praise! And you, great sinner as you are, may become an instance of the surprise power of Divine Grace. It is time that it should be so!
Now let me ask you a question which may, perhaps, put an end to your belief that in your case this marvel cannot happen. Are you beyond the limit of Divine Power? Can God’s Grace come, like the waves of the sea, right up to yourfeet and then shall some cruel voice say, “Up to this point shall you come, but no further”? Do you really believe that you are above the high-water mark of Divine Mercy? Will you just ponder this question over and think what a strange kind of man you must be? Neither the wandering Jew, nor any other fictitious character in the world of romance is so strange a creature as you–a man outside the limit of almighty love, one who has sinned beyond the boundary of Infinite Mercy–a sinner whom Christ’s blood cannot wash! When you get to Hell, what a parade they will make of you! “Here is a man whom Christ could not save! He was willing to be washed, but Christ’s blood could not cleanse him!” I fancy I hear you say, “Do not talk so, Sir–it is almost blasphemy.” Why do you think so, then, if I may not say it? Why do you have the impudence to think that, after all, you are going to be master over Christ and that for once He will have to draw back and say, “This man has beaten Me. I cannot touch him. I cannot in any way soften, renew, or convert him”? You do not believe it–I am sure you do not! Get, then, out of this horrible falsehood of despair which is now upon you. If it was never so seen in Israel, believe that it may be so seen–and this very hour trust yourself with Christ and live!
Again, suppose it never was so seen in Israel. Suppose that you are the hardest sinner to save. Suppose that you are the most unlikely person to be forgiven. Suppose that your sins have well-near reached the limit of forgiving love. Well, now, here is a fine opportunity for Christ to show what He can do–there is all the more room for the Glory of God'sGrace to be seen. Let me quote a text–“Where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound.” Now here is an opportunity for the splendor of Divine Love to be seen in chasing away the midnight darkness of your sin and despair! Where are you, dear Sir, where are you? I am right glad to think that I am speaking to such a person, for, by-and-by, when you sit among the angels and sing to the praise of Free Grace and dying love, surely there will be no voice sweeter than yours!
I used to think that I should sing among the Saints above as loudly as any, for I owe so much to the Grace of God! And I once said so in a sermon, long ago, quoting those lines–
“Then loudest of the crowd I’ll sing,
While Heaven’s resounding mansions ring
With shouts of Sovereign Grace!”
I thought that I was the greatest debtor to Divine Grace and would sing the loudest to its praise. But when I came down out of the pulpit there was a venerable woman who said to me, “You made a blunder in your sermon this evening.” I said, “I daresay I made a dozen, good Soul, but what was that particular one?” “Why, you said that you would sing the loudest because you owed most to Divine Grace. You are but a lad, you do not owe half as much to Grace as I do at 80years of age! I owe more to Grace than you and I will not let you sing the loudest.” I found that there was a general conspiracy among the friends, that night, to put me in the background. And that is where I meant to be and wished to be–that is where those who sing the loudest long to be–to take the lowest place and praise most the Grace of God in so doing!
Brother, if you are the biggest sinner out of Hell, there will be the more music in Heaven when they get you there and, at this moment, if you believe in Jesus, angels shall re-string their harps and new hallelujahs shall sound through the streets of Heaven when they see such a sinner as you washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb! “It was never so seen in Israel,” well then, let it be so seen now to the praise of God’s glorious Grace! “Ah,” says one, “I do not think Ishall ever be saved, for the very devil is in me.” Yes, but the devil’s Master has come to turn him out. Only believe in Jesusand He will cast him out of you. “But he will not go out.” Never you mind what the devil says about that matter! His Master can make him go out. The Omnipotent Jehovah knows of no power which is capable of standing against Him–
“When He makes bare His arm,
When He His people’s cause defends
Who, who shall stop His hand?”
Almighty Grace can cast Satan out and keep him out, too. “Oh, but Sir, I do not feel as if I could pray. Oh, that I could pray!” But you have prayed–that was a prayer that you uttered. “I cannot pray, Sir, I wish I could.” You haveprayed, already, that very wish is a prayer. “Sir, I cannot pray. I scarcely dare look up to Heaven.” That confession thatyou dare not look up has in it the very essence of prayer! “But I cannot pray.” Well then, groan. “But I can scarcelygroan.” Then, desire. “But I can hardly get to a desire.” Then be wretched because you cannot desire! I do not exhort youto act like that–I only want to lead you away from your feelings or lack of feelings. If you wish to be saved, look to Jesus Christ right now, whatever you feel or do not feel! Whether you can groan, or pray, or do anything else, or cannot do anything else, look to Jesus! The only hope of a poor sinner is in Christ Jesus and Him crucified. As I have said already, He is the devil’s Master and He, alone, can be your Savior. Cast yourself at His feet and He will not let you go! Lie before Him just as you are, in all the horror of your condition, and say, “Lord, look on me, for I look alone to You.” Look, look, look to Jesus! Look and live!–
“There is life for a look at the Crucified One!
There is life at this moment for you.”