Jesus returns to Capernaum, and heals a paralytic. (1-8) Matthew called. (9) Matthew, or Levi's feast. (10-13) Objections of John's disciples. (14-17) Christ raises the daughter of Jairus, He heals the issue of blood. (18-26) He heals two blind men. (27-31) Christ casts out a dumb spirit. (32-34) He sends forth the apostles. (35-38)
Verses 1-8 The faith of the friends of the paralytic in bringing him to Christ, was a strong faith; they firmly believed that Jesus Christ both could and would heal him. A strong faith regards no obstacles in pressing after Christ. It was a humble faith; they brought him to attend on Christ. It was an active faith. Sin may be pardoned, yet the sickness not be removed; the sickness may be removed, yet the sin not pardoned: but if we have the comfort of peace with God, with the comfort of recovery from sickness, this makes the healing a mercy indeed. This is no encouragement to sin. If thou bring thy sins to Jesus Christ, as thy malady and misery to be cured of, and delivered from, it is well; but to come with them, as thy darlings and delight, thinking still to retain them and receive him, is a gross mistake, a miserable delusion. The great intention of the blessed Jesus in the redemption he wrought, is to separate our hearts from sin. Our Lord Jesus has perfect knowledge of all that we say within ourselves. There is a great deal of evil in sinful thoughts, which is very offensive to the Lord Jesus. Christ designed to show that his great errand to the world was, to save his people from their sins. He turned from disputing with the scribes, and spake healing to the sick man. Not only he had no more need to be carried upon his bed, but he had strength to carry it. God must be glorified in all the power that is given to do good.
Verse 9 Matthew was in his calling, as the rest of those whom Christ called. As Satan comes with his temptations to the idle, so Christ comes with his calls to those who are employed. We are all naturally averse from thee, O God; do thou bid us to follow thee; draw us by thy powerful word, and we shall run after thee. Speak by the word of the Spirit to our hearts, the world cannot hold us down, Satan cannot stop our way, we shall arise and follow thee. A saving change is wrought in the soul, by Christ as the author, and his word as the means. Neither Matthew's place, nor his gains by it, could detain him, when Christ called him. He left it, and though we find the disciples, who were fishers, occasionally fishing again afterwards, we never more find Matthew at his sinful gain.
Verses 10-13 Some time after his call, Matthew sought to bring his old associates to hear Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Those who are effectually brought to Christ, cannot but desire that others also may be brought to him. Those who suppose their souls to be without disease will not welcome the spiritual Physician. This was the case with the Pharisees; they despised Christ, because they thought themselves whole; but the poor publicans and sinners felt that they wanted instruction and amendment. It is easy, and too common, to put the worst constructions upon the best words and actions. It may justly be suspected that those have not the grace of God themselves, who are not pleased with others' obtaining it. Christ's conversing with sinners is here called mercy; for to promote the conversion of souls is the greatest act of mercy. The gospel call is a call to repentance; a call to us to change our minds, and to change our ways. If the children of men had not been sinners, there had been no need for Christ to come among them. Let us examine whether we have found out our sickness, and have learned to follow the directions of our great Physician.
Verses 14-17 John was at this time in prison; his circumstances, his character, and the nature of the message he was sent to deliver, led those who were peculiarly attached to him, to keep frequent fasts. Christ referred them to John's testimony of him, Joh. 3:29 . Though there is no doubt that Jesus and his disciples lived in a spare and frugal manner, it would be improper for his disciples to fast while they had the comfort of his presence. When he is with them, all is well. The presence of the sun makes day, and its absence produces night. Our Lord further reminded them of common rules of prudence. It was not usual to take a piece of rough woolen cloth, which had never been prepared, to join to an old garment, for it would not join well with the soft, old garment, but would tear it further, and the rent would be made worse. Nor would men put new wine into old leathern bottles, which were going to decay, and would be liable to burst from the fermenting of the wine; but putting the new wine into strong, new, skin bottles, both would be preserved. Great caution and prudence are necessary, that young converts may not receive gloomy and forbidding ideas of the service of our Lord; but duties are to be urged as they are able to bear them.
Verses 18-26 The death of our relations should drive us to Christ, who is our life. And it is high honour to the greatest rulers to attend on the Lord Jesus; and those who would receive mercy from Christ, must honour him. The variety of methods Christ took in working his miracles, perhaps was because of the different frames and tempers of mind, which those were in who came to him, and which He who searches the heart perfectly knew. A poor woman applied herself to Christ, and received mercy from him by the way. If we do but touch, as it were, the hem of Christ's garment by living faith, our worst evils will be healed; there is no other real cure, nor need we fear his knowing things which are a grief and burden to us, but which we would not tell to any earthly friend. When Christ entered the ruler's house, he said, Give place. Sometimes, when the sorrow of the world prevails, it is difficult for Christ and his comforts to enter. The ruler's daughter was really dead, but not so to Christ. The death of the righteous is in a special manner to be looked on as only a sleep. The words and works of Christ may not at first be understood, yet they are not therefore to be despised. The people were put forth. Scorners who laugh at what they do not understand, are not proper witnesses of the wonderful works of Christ. Dead souls are not raised to spiritual life, unless Christ take them by the hand: it is done in the day of his power. If this single instance of Christ's raising one newly dead so increased his fame, what will be his glory when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth; those that have done good to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation!
Verses 27-31 At this time the Jews expected Messiah would appear; these blind men knew and proclaimed in the streets of Capernaum that he was come, and that Jesus was he. Those who, by the providence of God, have lost their bodily sight, may, by the grace of God, have the eyes of their understanding fully enlightened. And whatever our wants and burdens are, we need no more for supply and support, than to share in the mercy of our Lord Jesus. In Christ is enough for all. They followed him crying aloud. He would try their faith, and would teach us always to pray, and not to faint, though the answer does not come at once. They followed Christ, and followed him crying; but the great question is, Do ye believe? Nature may make us earnest, but it is only grace that can work faith. Christ touched their eyes. He gives sight to blind souls by the power of his grace going with his word, and he puts the cure upon their faith. Those who apply to Jesus Christ, shall be dealt with, not according to their fancies, nor according to their profession, but according to their faith. Christ sometimes concealed his miracles, because he would not indulge the conceit which prevailed among the Jews, that their Messiah should be a temporal prince, and so give occasion to the people to attempt tumults and seditions.
Verses 32-34 Of the two, better a dumb devil than a blaspheming one. Christ's cures strike at the root, and remove the effect by taking away the cause; they open the lips, by breaking Satan's power in the soul. Nothing can convince those who are under the power of pride. They will believe anything, however false or absurd, rather than the Holy Scriptures; thus they show the enmity of their hearts against a holy God.
Verses 35-38 Jesus visited not only the great and wealthy cities, but the poor, obscure villages; and there he preached, there he healed. The souls of the meanest in the world are as precious to Christ, and should be so to us, as the souls of those who make the greatest figure. There were priests, Levites, and scribes, all over the land; but they were idol shepherds, ( Zechariah 11:17 ) ; therefore Christ had compassion on the people as sheep scattered, as men perishing for lack of knowledge. To this day vast multitudes are as sheep not having a shepherd, and we should have compassion and do all we can to help them. The multitudes desirous of spiritual instruction formed a plenteous harvest, needing many active labourers; but few deserved that character. Christ is the Lord of the harvest. Let us pray that many may be raised up and sent forth, who will labour in bringing souls to Christ. It is a sign that God is about to bestow some special mercy upon a people, when he stirs them up to pray for it. And commissions given to labourers in answer to prayer, are most likely to be successful.
Matthew 9:1-8 . HEALING A PARALYTIC. ( = 2:1-12 Luke 5:17-26 ).
This incident appears to follow next in order of time to the cure of the leper ( Matthew 8:1-4 ). For the exposition,
Matthew 9:9-13 . MATTHEW'S CALL AND FEAST. ( = 2:14-17 Luke 5:27-32 ).
The Call of Matthew ( Matthew 9:9 ).
9. And as Jesus passed forth from thence--that is, from the scene of the paralytic's cure in Capernaum, towards the shore of the Sea of Galilee, on which that town lay. Mark, as usual, pictures the scene more in detail, thus ( Mark 2:13 ): "And He went forth again by the seaside; and all the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them"--or, "kept teaching them." "And as He passed by"
he saw a man, named Matthew--the writer of this precious Gospel, who here, with singular modesty and brevity, relates the story of his own calling. In Mark and Luke he is called Levi, which seems to have been his family name. In their lists of the twelve apostles, however, Mark and Luke give him the name of Matthew, which seems to have been the name by which he was known as a disciple. While he himself sinks his family name, he is careful not to sink his occupation, the obnoxious associations with which he would place over against the grace that called him from it, and made him an apostle. Mark alone tells us ( Mark 2:14 ) that he was "the son of Alphæus"--the same, probably, with the father of James the Less. From this and other considerations it is pretty certain that he must at least have heard of our Lord before this meeting. Unnecessary doubts, even from an early period, have been raised about the identity of Levi and Matthew. No capable jury, with the evidence before them which we have in the Gospels, would hesitate in giving a unanimous verdict of identity.
sitting at the receipt of custom--as a publican, which Luke ( Luke 5:27 ) calls him. It means the place of receipt, the toll house or booth in which the collector sat. Being in this case by the seaside, it might be the ferry tax for the transit of persons and goods across the lake, which he collected.
and he saith unto him, Follow me--Witching words these, from the lips of Him who never employed them without giving them resistless efficacy in the hearts of those they were spoken to.
And he--"left all" ( Luke 5:28 ), "arose and followed him."
The Feast ( Matthew 9:10-13 ).
10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house--The modesty of our Evangelist signally appears here. Luke says ( Luke 5:29 ) that "Levi made Him a great feast," or "reception," while Matthew merely says, "He sat at meat"; and Mark and Luke say that it was in Levi's "own house," while Matthew merely says, "He sat at meat in the house." Whether this feast was made now, or not till afterwards, is a point of some importance in the order of events, and not agreed among harmonists. The probability is that it did not take place till a considerable time afterwards. For Matthew, who ought surely to know what took place while his Lord was speaking at his own table, tells us that the visit of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, occurred at that moment ( Matthew 9:18 ). But we know from Mark and Luke that this visit of Jairus did not take place till after our Lord's return, at a later period from the country of the Gadarenes. (See Mark 5:21 , &c., and Luke 8:40 , &c.). We conclude, therefore, that the feast was not made in the novelty of his discipleship, but after Matthew had had time to be somewhat established in the faith; when returning to Capernaum, his compassion for old friends, of his own calling and character, led him to gather them together that they might have an opportunity of hearing the gracious words which proceeded out of His Master's mouth, if haply they might experience a like change.
behold, many publicans and sinners--Luke says, "a great company" ( Luke 5:29 )--came and sat down with him and his disciples. In all such cases the word rendered "sat" is "reclined," in allusion to the ancient mode of lying on couches at meals.
11. And when the Pharisees--"and scribes," add Mark and Luke ( 2:6 , Luke 5:21 ).
saw it, they said--"murmured" or "muttered," says Luke ( Luke 5:30 ).
unto his disciples--not venturing to put their question to Jesus Himself.
Why eateth your Master with publicans and
12. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them--to the Pharisees and scribes; addressing Himself to them, though they had shrunk from addressing Him.
They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick--that is, "Ye deem yourselves whole; My mission, therefore, is not to you: The physician's business is with the sick; therefore eat I with publicans and sinners." Oh, what myriads of broken hearts, of sin-sick souls, have been bound up by this matchless saying!
13. But go ye and learn what that meaneth--( Hosea 6:6 ),
I will have mercy, and not sacrifice--that is, the one rather than the other. "Sacrifice," the chief part of the ceremonial law, is here put for a religion of literal adherence to mere rules; while "mercy" expresses such compassion for the fallen as seeks to lift them up. The duty of keeping aloof from the polluted, in the sense of "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," is obvious enough; but to understand this as prohibiting such intercourse with them as is necessary to their recovery, is to abuse it. This was what these pharisaical religionists did, and this is what our Lord here exposes.
for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance--The italicized words are of doubtful authority here, and more than doubtful authority in Mark 2:17 ; but in Luke 5:32 they are undisputed. We have here just the former statement stripped of its figure. "The righteous" are the whole; "sinners," the sick. When Christ "called" the latter, as He did Matthew, and probably some of those publicans and sinners whom he had invited to meet Him, it was to heal them of their spiritual maladies, or save their souls: "The righteous," like those miserable self-satisfied Pharisees, "He sent empty away."
Matthew 9:14-17 . DISCOURSE ON FASTING.
Matthew 9:18-26 . THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD HEALED.--THE DAUGHTER OF JAIRUS RAISED TO LIFE. ( = Luke 8:40-56 , 5:21-43 ).
For the exposition,
Matthew 9:27-34 . TWO BLIND MEN AND A DUMB DEMONIAC HEALED.
These two miracles are recorded by Matthew alone.
Two Blind Men Healed ( Matthew 9:27-31 ).
27. And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him--hearing, doubtless, as in a later case is expressed, "that Jesus passed by" ( Matthew 20:30 ).
crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us--It is remarkable that in the only other recorded case in which the blind applied to Jesus for their sight, and obtained it, they addressed Him, over and over again, by this one Messianic title, so well known--"Son of David" ( Matthew 20:30 ). Can there be a doubt that their faith fastened on such great Messianic promises as this, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened," &c. ( Isaiah 35:5 ).9 and if so, this appeal to Him, as the Consolation of Israel, to do His predicted office, would fall with great weight upon the ears of Jesus.
28. And when he was come into the house--To try their faith and patience, He seems to have made them no answer. But
the blind men came to Him--which, no doubt, was what He desired.
and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? they said unto him, Yea, Lord--Doubtless our Lord's design was not only to put their faith to the test by this question, but to deepen it, to raise their expectation of a cure, and so prepare them to receive it; and the cordial acknowledgment, so touchingly simple, which they immediately made to Him of His power to heal them, shows how entirely that object was gained.
29. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you--not, Receive a cure proportioned to your faith, but, Receive this cure as granted to your faith. Thus would they carry about with them, in their restored vision, a gracious seal of the faith which drew it from their compassionate Lord.
30. And their eyes were opened: and Jesus straitly charged them--The expression is very strong, denoting great earnestness.
31. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all
A Dumb Demoniac Healed ( Matthew 9:32-34 ).
32. As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil--"demonized." The dumbness was not natural, but was the effect of the possession.
33. And when the devil--demon.
was cast out, the dumb spake--The particulars in this case are not given; the object being simply to record the instantaneous restoration of the natural faculties on the removal of the malignant oppression of them, the form which the popular astonishment took, and the very different effect of it upon another class.
and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel--referring, probably, not to this case only, but to all those miraculous displays of healing power which seemed to promise a new era in the history of Israel. Probably they meant by this language to indicate, as far as they thought it safe to do so, their inclination to regard Him as the promised Messiah.
34. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils--"the demons through the prince of the demons." This seems to be the first muttering of a theory of such miracles which soon became a fixed mode of calumniating them--a theory which would be ridiculous if it were not melancholy as an outburst of the darkest
Matthew 9:35-10:5'. THIRD GALILEAN CIRCUIT--MISSION OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES.
As the Mission of the Twelve supposes the previous choice of them--of which our Evangelist gives no account, and which did not take place till a later stage of our Lord's public life--it is introduced here out of its proper place, which is after what is recorded in Luke 6:12-19 .
Third Galilean Circuit ( Matthew 9:35 )--and probably the last.
35. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people--The italicized words are of more than doubtful authority here, and were probably introduced here from Matthew 4:23 . The language here is so identical with that used in describing the first circuit ( Matthew 4:23 ), that we may presume the work done on both occasions was much the same. It was just a further preparation of the soil, and a fresh sowing of the precious seed. "with healing in His wings," Peter no doubt alludes, when, in his address to the household of Cornelius, he spoke of "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with Him" ( Acts 10:38 ).
Jesus Compassionating the Multitudes, Asks Prayer for Help ( Matthew 9:36-38 ). He had now returned from His preaching and healing circuit, and the result, as at the close of the first one, was the gathering of a vast and motley multitude around Him. After a whole night spent in prayer, He had called His more immediate disciples, and from them had solemnly chosen the twelve; then, coming down from the mountain, on which this was transacted, to the multitudes that waited for Him below, He had addressed to them--as we take it--that discourse which bears so strong a resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount that many critics take it to be should seem, the multitudes still hanging on Him, Jesus is touched with their wretched and helpless condition, and acts as is now to be described.
36. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted--This reading, however, has hardly any authority at all. The true reading doubtless is, "were harassed."
and were scattered abroad--rather, "lying about," "abandoned," or "neglected."
as sheep, having no shepherd--their pitiable condition as wearied under bodily fatigue, a vast disorganized mass, being but a faint picture of their wretchedness as the victims of pharisaic guidance; their souls uncared for, yet drawn after and hanging upon Him. This moved the Redeemer's compassion.
37. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous--His eye doubtless rested immediately on the Jewish field, but this he saw widening into the vast field of "the world" ( Matthew 13:38 ), teeming with souls having to be gathered to Him.
but the labourers--men divinely qualified and called to gather them in.
38. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest--the great Lord and Proprietor of all. Compare John 15:1 , "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman."
that he will send forth labourers into his harvest--The word properly means "thrust forth"; but this emphatic sense disappears in some places, as in Matthew 9:25 , and John 10:4 --"When He putteth forth His own