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Healing the Blind and Dumb Possessed

Returning to Capernaum, the Lord heals one pos- Matt. xii. 22-45, sessed with a devil, blind and dumb. The Pharisees Mark iii. 22-30. hereupon charge Him with casting out devils by the help of Beelzebub, and some, tempting Him, ask a sign from heaven. He replies to their charge, and while speaking it is announced to Him that His mother and Matt. xii. 46-50. brethren stand without, desiring to see Him. He points Luke viii. 19-21. to His disciples, and says, Behold my mother and my Mark iii. 31-35. brethren.

There is not a little difficulty in the arrangement of these events. We have first to inquire whether the healing in Matt. xii. 22 is identical with that in Luke xi. 14 ? * There are two cases of healing of dumb possessed persons related by Matthew. first in ix. 32, second in xii. 22. These have much in common, and at both did the Pharisees make the charge that Jesus cast out devils through the prince of the devils. There is, however, this important difference, that in the former the possessed was dumb only, in the latter, both dumb and blind. In the healing related by St. Luke the possessed was dumb. Some, as Greswell, find here three distinct cases of healing ; others identify l!hat in Luke with that in Matt. ix. 32;* but most with that in Matt. xii. 22. The chief ground for this identity is the great similarity of the Lord's reply, as given by the two Evangelists to the charge that He cast out devils by Beelzebub. (Compare Matt. xii. 25-45 with Luke xi. 17-36.) Against this identity is the position in which it is placed by Luke, as if occurring during the Lord's last journey to Jerusalem. Matthew also calls the possessed " blind and dumb ;" Luke only " dumb." But this difference is unimportant.

3 So many, Bobinson, Meyer, Lange, Bloomfield. Krafft, Neander.

All depends upon the point whether Christ's reply to the Pharisees is identical in the two Evangelists. In favor of this is the general similarity in thought and expression, making it improbable that we have the reports of two distinct discourses. On the other hand, Luke brings it into immediate connection with a dinner at the house of a Pharisee, (v. 37,) which seems upon internal grounds to have been at a later period.1 Some, however, do not think this dinner with the Pharisee to have followed immediately upon the preceding discourse, and render the phrase "And as He spake," ev Se To AaA^o-ai, as meaning simply, " at some time when He was teaching," and thus find in it no chronological sequence.3 This is hardly satisfactory. Shall we then say that all that Luke relates (vs. 14-54) is in chronological order? It is not impossible that all from v. 29 may be referred to a later period, as he seems to bring together, (vs. 15, 16,) the charges of the Pharisees, which Matthew keeps distinct. Krafft (85) attempts to show that the discourse given by Matthew (xii. 25-45) was not all spoken at once, nor has reference to the same miracle. In chapter ix. 32-34 mention is made of the healing of a dumb possessed man, when a like charge was made by the Pharisees that He cast out devils through the prince of the devils. It is in connection with this miracle that Krafft would place what Matthew narrates in xii. 38-46. But this division seems arbitrary. It is by no means impossible that this healing of the dumb possessed man in Luke is to be identified with the healing in Matt. ix. 32.5 It is however very difficult to reach any satisfactory conclusion.

1 See His words to the Pharisees present at the dinner, vs. 39-54, which indicate that the breach between Him and them was irreparable.

2 Norton, notes, 268.

s So Tischendorf, who makes Luke xi. 17-26 = Matt. xii. 43-45; Luke xi. 29-36 = Matt. xii. 38-42.

According to many harmonists, the two Evangelists refer to two distinct cases of healing, and give two distinct discourses.1 It is remarked by Greswell that cures of dispossession were among the earliest and commonest of the Saviour's miracles, and that Matthew himself gives two alike in almost every feature, and in both the same charge of being aided by the prince of the devils, was brought against Him. It is not, therefore, to be thought strange that His reply upon different occasions should be substantially the same. There is much force in this, and notwithstanding the strong objection that two distinct discourses should have so much in common, we shall, in the absence of all definite data, assume that Matthew and Luke refer to different cases of healing, and give different discourses.

That the healing of the dumb and blind possessed man took place at Capernaum, may be inferred from the mention of" the scribes which came down from Jerusalem," (Mark iii. 22,) and who would naturally seek Him in the place of His residence. Their presence at this time may be ascribed to the powerful impression which the raising of the widow's son at Nam had made upon all who heard of it, and the consequent necessity on the part of His enemies of taking some steps to counteract it. The cure of the possessed, it is said, amazed the people, and led them to ask, "Is not this the Son of David?" So far as we know, this was the first time that this specially Messianic title had been given Him; nor does it clearly appear what there was in this miracle that should lead them thus to speak. It would, however, naturally arouse the jealousy of the Pharisees, and make them the more eager to oppose Him. As the fact of the healing was beyond dispute, they could only assert that it was done through the aid of the prince of the devils. This ascription of His miracles to Satanic agency marks a decided progress in Pharisaic hos

1 McKnight, Greswell.

tility. Heretofore they had said of Him that He was a Sabbath-breaker and a blasphemer ; now they say that He is in league with evil spirits. And this charge reached much farther than this particular miracle. It was virtually ascribing all that He said and did to a diabolical origin, and made the Spirit of God that rested upon Him to be the spirit of Beelzebub ; and hence the severity of His language in reply, (Matt. xii. 34.)

It appears from Mark (iii. 22) that those who made this charge were the scribes which came down from Jerusalem. Luke (xi. 15) rises the indefinite expression, "some of them said." Matthew (xii. 24) refers it to the Pharisees. These scribes were doubtless themselves Pharisees, perhaps also priests, or Levites. Alexander well remarks: " It is a serious error to suppose that these descriptive titles are exclusive of each other, and denote so many independent classes, whereas they only denote different characters or relations, which might all meet in one and the same person, as being at the same time,a priest and Levite by descent and sacred office, a scribe by profession, and a Pharisee in sentiment and party connection." It is not improbable that they came as a formal deputation to watch His proceedings, and to organize His enemies against Him throughout Galilee. Doubtless their calumny that He was aided by Beelzebub, was caught up and reiterated by the Pharisees of Capernaum.

The visit of His mother and brethren is mentioned by all the Synoptists; and that it occurred during, or immediately after, the reply to the Pharisees, appears from Matt. xii. 46. Luke (viii. 19) has it in another connection, but without any note of time. It is, perhaps, fairly inferrible that they now resided at Capernaum.1 It is evident that Mary and His brethren were presuming too much on their near relationship to Him, and that He wished to teach them that when engaged in His Father's work, merely human bonds must give place to higher obligations. Mary here showed the same spirit that twice before He had rebuked, (Luke ii. 49 ; John ii. 4.)

1 Greswell, ii. 270, admitting this, still affirms that " they had no house of their own, or none in which our Lord was living along with them."