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14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and 'was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
f Chap. ix. 36; Mark vi. 34.
14. Was moved with compassion. That is, pitied them. He was moved with compassion, because they were as sheep having no shepherd. Mark vi. 34. A shepherd is one who takes care of a flock. It is his duty to feed it; to defend it from wolves, and other wild beasts; to take care of the young and feeble; to lead it by green pastures and still waters. Psal. xxiii. In eastern countries this was a principal employment of the inhabitants. When Christ says the people were as sheep without a shepherd, he means, that they had no teachers and guides who cared for them, and took pains to instruct them. The scribes and Pharisees were haughty and proud, and cared little for the common people; and when they did attempt to teach them, they led them astray. They therefore came in great multitudes to him who preached the Gospel to the poor (Matt. xi. 5), and who is the good Shepherd. John x. 14.
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
g Mark vi. 35; Luke ix. 12; John vi. 5.
15. The time is now past. That is, the day is passing away; it is near night; and it is proper to make some provision for the temporal wants of so many.
16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 16. Jesus said-They need not depart; give ye them to eat. John adds, that previous to this, Jesus had addressed Philip, and asked, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? This he said to prove him; that is, to try his faith; to test the confidence of Philip in himself. Philip, it seems, had not the kind of confidence which he ought to have had. He immediately began to think of their ability to purchase food for them. Two hundred penny worth of bread, said he, would not be enough. In the view of Philip this was a great sum; a sum which twelve poor fishermen were by no means able to provide. It was this fact, and not any unwillingness to provide for them, which led the disciples to request that they should be sent into the villages around, in order to obtain food. Jesus knew how much they had, and he required of them, as he does of all, implicit faith, and told them to give them to eat. He requires us to do what he commands; and we need not doubt that he will give us strength to accomplish it.
17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
17. We have here but five loaves, &c. These loaves were in the possession of a lad, or young man, who was with them, and were made of barley. John vi. 9. Barley was a cheap kind of food, scarcely one-third the value of wheat, and was much used by poor people. A considerable part of the food of the people in that region was probably fish, as they lived on the borders of a lake that abounded in fish.
19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, "he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
h Chap. xv. 36.
19. And he commanded the multitude to sit down. In the original it is to recline on the grass, or to lie as they did at their meals. The Jews never sat, as we do at meals, but reclined, or lay at length. And looking up to heaven, he blessed. In seeking a blessing on our food, we are to pray that it may be made nourishing to our bodies; that we may be filled with gratitude to God, the giver, for supplying our wants; and that we may remember the Creator, while we partake the bounties of his providence. Our Saviour always sought a blessing on his food. In this he was What he did we should do. In God we live, and move, and have our being. He provides for us; he daily opens his hand, and satisfieth our wants; and we are bound to acknowledge his hand in all his mercies-and pray for a blessing upon them all.
an example to us.
20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
20. And they did all eat, and were filled. This was a great miracle. The quantity must have been greatly increased, to have supplied so many. He that could increase that small quantity so much, had the power of creation; and he that could do that, could create the world out of nothing, and had no less than divine power. Twelve baskets full. The size of these baskets is unknown, They were probably such as travellers carried their provisions in. They were used commonly by the Jews in their journeys. In travelling among the Gentiles, or Samaritans, a Jew could expect little hospitality. There were not, as now, inns for the entertainment of strangers. At great distances there were caravansaries, but they were intended chiefly for lodging places for the night, and not to provide food for travellers. Hence in journeying among strangers, or in deserts, they carried baskets of provisions. It is probable that each of the apostles had one, and they were all filled. John (vi. 12) says, that Jesus directed them to gather up these fragments, that nothing might be lost: an example of economy. God creates all food; it has, therefore, a kind of sacredness; it is all needed by some person or other, and none should be lost.
21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
21. Five thousand men, besides, &c. To feed so many was an act of great benevolence, and a stupendous miracle. The temporary effect produced upon those present was that they were convinced by it that he was that Prophet that should come into the world; that is, the Messiah. John
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 'And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
i Mark vi. 46. k John vi. 16.
22, 23. And straightway Jesus constrained, &c. "Christ sent the people away; he sent them away with a blessing-with some parting words of caution, counsel, and comfort. He constrained the disciples to go into a ship first. They were loth to leave him alone, without any attendance. He went apart into a solitary place, and was there alone. Those are not Christ's followers who do not care for being alone; that cannot enjoy themselves in solitude, with God and their own hearts. He was alone at prayer; that was his business in solitude-to pray. Though Christ, as God, was Lord of all, and was prayed to, yet Christ, as man, had the form of a servant, and prayed. Christ has here set before us an example of secret prayer. There he was when the evening was come, and there he was till towards morning, the fourth watch of the night. It is good, at least sometimes, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and to take full scope in pouring out our hearts before the Lord. We must not restrain prayer. Job xv. 4."
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him 'walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
I Job ix. 8.
24-27. And in the fourth watch of the night. "The fourth watch of the night began three hours before sunrise; and during these three hours Jesus came to his disciples, perhaps after daybreak. 'Note, that to walk on the sea is made the property of God, who alone spreadeth the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.' Job ix. 8." The picture of two feet, walking on the sea, was an Egyptian hieroglyphic for an impossible thing.' It was, no doubt, an attestation that He was the God of nature, the Lord of the creation; and also an emblem of his power over all the troubles and persecutions which disquiet his Church. The disciples, however, cried out for excess of terror;
supposing that what they saw was either the apparition of some deceased person, foreboding evil, or an apostate spirit coming to do them some mischief. That the Jews had then an opinion of hurtful spirits walking in the night, is evident from the Seventy, who render, from the pestilence walking in darkness' (Psal. xci. 6), from the fear of the devils that walk in the night. To allay their terror, Jesus spake to the disciples with his usual voice, assuring them that it was he, their Lord and Friend."
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind || boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
28-31. "Peter, from the first, appears a man of integrity, who had very exalted thoughts of Jesus, and a cordial affection to him; but of a sanguine temper, and not deeply acquainted with his own heart: he was, therefore, always most forward to speak, to propose, to object, and attempt. When he saw Jesus walking on the sea, he found himself excited to a very high confidence, and he desired permission to come to him on the water; probably, expecting a commendation of the strength of his faith. But our Lord, to show him his weakness, and to teach all his disciples many useful lessons, bade him come; and Peter, without hesitation, attempted to walk on the unstable waves! Indeed, as long as his faith was fixed upon the divine power of Christ, he was actually enabled to do it; but the boisterousness of the elements soon drew off his attention, and staggered his faith, and then he began to sink. Yet still he relied on his Lord for deliverance in this extreme danger; and, in answer to his application, Jesus caught him by the hand, and brought him safe to the vessel, at the same time rebuking him as one of little faith. By faith we tread under our feet even the tempests themselves; but yet by the virtue' (or power) of Christ, who helpeth that virtue, which he of his mercy hath given.' Peter's doubting did not relate to his own acceptance or final salvation, but to the power of Christ to preserve him from sinking amidst the violence of
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth mthou art the Son of God.
m Psal. ii. 7; Mark i. 1; chap. xvi. 16, xxvi. 63; Luke iv. 41; John i. 49, vi. 69, xi. 27; Acts viii. 37; Rom. i. 4.
32, 33. And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Here was a new proof of the power of Jesus. He that has power over winds and waves has all power. John adds (vi. 21), that the ship was immediately at the land whither they went; another proof, amidst this collection of wonders, that the Son of God was with them.
34 ¶ "And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
n Mark vi. 53. o Chap. ix. 20; Mark iii. 10; Luke vi. 19; Acts xix. 12.
34-36. "Gennesaret is the title of the whole province, which contained in it the lake so called. It is likely that our Lord landed not far from Capernaum, which some think was situated in the land of Gennesaret, for he very soon went to that city. John vi. 24, 59. As the inhabitants had previous knowledge of Jesus, they flocked to him with their sick, who only desired leave to touch the hem or fringe of his garment; and, as this was done in faith and expectation, they were all imme diately and perfectly healed. In that, that Christ healeth the sick, we are given to understand
that we must seek remedy for spiritual diseases at his hands; and that we are bound not only to run ourselves, but also to bring others, to him.'"
How dreadful a thing is it to have a guilty and accusing conscience! and how remarkable was the force of it in the instance before us! Herod was a king, yet it addressed him in language of terror, and made itself heard and felt amidst all the hurries and flatteries of a court. Vain was the power of a prince; vain the caresses of a favourite mistress, basely gratified with the blood of a prophet; and vain the yet more besotting tenets of a Sadducee. In one instance, at least, a resurrection shall be believed; and if a prophet arise in Israel, Herod shall be among the first to say, It is John the Baptist, risen from the dead; and shall be ready to forebode the sad effects of his recovered life, and to prognosticate evil to himself from the mighty works he performed. Let us make it our care to preserve a conscience void of offence, that, instead of a continual torment, it may be to us a continual feast! And if we really desire to preserve it, let us take heed that we be not excessively transported with the entertainments of life, or rashly enter ourselves into engagements which, perhaps, may plunge us into some degree of guilt, whether they be performed or violated.
We see, in this dreadful instance of Herodias, what an implacable degree of malice may arise in the hearts of sinners, on being reproved for the most scandalous and mischievous vices. Instead of owning the obligation to one that would have plucked her as a brand out of the burning, she thirsts insatiably for his blood; and chooses rather to indulge her cruelty and revenge in taking away his life, than to gratify her avarice and ambition in demanding a gift that might have been equal to the half of a kingdom.
But how mysterious was that Providence which left the life of so holy a man in such infamous hands, and permitted it to be sacrificed to the malice of an abandoned harlot to the petulency of a vain girl, and to the rashness of a foolish and perhaps an intoxicated prince, who made the prophet's head the reward of a dance? The ways of God are unsearchable! but we are sure he can never be at a loss to repay his servants in another world for the great sufferings they endure in this, and even for life itself, when given up in his cause.
We may reasonably conclude, that death could never be an unseasonable surprise to this excellent saint-(the baptist.) When the executioner came into the prison by night, perhaps breaking in upon his slumbers, and executed his bloody commission almost as soon as he declared it, a soul like his might welcome the stroke as the means of liberty and glory; assured that the transient agony moment would transmit it to a kingdom where the least of its inhabitants would be, in holiness, honour, and felicity, superior to John in his most prosperous and successful state on earth.
John's enemies might awhile insult over him, whilst his disciples were mingling their tears with his dust, and lamenting the residue of his days cut off in the midst. His death was precious in the sight of the Lord, and the triumphing of the wicked was short. So will he, ere long, plead the cause of his injured people, and give a cup of trembling and astonishment to those that have made themselves drunk with their blood. Let cruelty and tyranny do their worst, verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily there is a God that judgeth the earth. Psal. lviii. 11.
The disciples received from the hand of Christ the food they delivered to the people and so should ministers be concerned, that they may receive from Christ what they dispense to others as the bread of life; and that they also, at the same time, may live upon it, as the support of their own souls. How great an honour is it to be employed as stewards of the mysteries of God! Let not immoderate secular cares, let not the desire of worldly riches or greatness, interrupt us in this blessed work! Christ withdrew from those who would have made him king: ill, therefore, does it become his disciples to pursue earthly grandeur; and most unworthy is it of his ministers to act as if his kingdom were of this world. May we learn in every state to be content! Phil. iv. 11. In want, may we cheerfully trust Providence! In plenty, may we not wantonly abuse it! but learn, by his command of gathering up the fragments even of this miraculous feast, a wise frugality in the use of our enjoyments; that nothing may be lost, nor a reserve be wanting, by which the streams of future liberality may be fed.
At the command of Jesus, Peter ventured to go to him on the sea. And through what storms and dangers may we not safely venture, if we are sure that our Lord calls us! Yet the rebuke which he suffered may warn us not rashly to throw ourselves on unnecessary trials, lest our excess of confidence end in fear and disgrace. Modesty and caution will adorn our other virtues, and render us amiable in the eyes of the humble Jesus.
In how many circumstances of life does the Christian appear to his own imagination like Peter, beginning to sink in the waves! But in the time of our distress, like him, let us cry to Jesus for
help; and, while we are lifting up the hands of faith and prayer, we may humbly hope that Christ will stretch forth his omnipotent arm for our rescue. Let every experience of this kind, and all the seasonable aid he is from time to time imparting to us, establish our dependence on him, and enforce our obedience to him, as the Son of God. May divine grace deliver us from that hardness of heart, that stupidity and insensibility of mind, which sometimes remains unconvinced in the midst of evidence, and unaffected under the most moving illustrations, of his abilities and willingness to help us!-DODDRIDGE.
3 Christ reproveth the scribes and Pharisees for transgressing God's commandments through their own traditions: 11 teacheth how that which goeth into the mouth doth not defile a man. 21 He healeth the daughter of the woman of Canaan, 30 and other great multitudes: 32 and with seven loaves and a few little fishes feedeth four thousand men, besides women
HEN "came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which where of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Ver. 1, 2. Transgress the tradition of the elders. The word elders means literally old men. It here means the ancients, or their ancestors. Tradition means something handed down from one age to another by memory; some precept or custom not commanded in the written law, but which they held themselves bound to observe. The Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not. Mark vii. 3. Mark has also added, that this custom of washing extended not merely to their hands before eating, but in coming from the market; and also to pots, and cups, and brazen vessels, and tables. Mark vii. 3, 4. They made it a matter of superstition. They regarded external purity as of much more importance than the purity of the heart. The foolish rules they had made about these matters our Saviour did not think it proper to regard; and this was the reason why they found fault with him.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
3. But he answered, &c. They accused our Saviour of violating their traditions, as though they were obligatory. In his reply he shows, that instead of these traditions being obligatory, they were to be condemned. Not only were many of the traditions foolish and trifling, but many of them were also opposed to the divine law. In the fourth verse a case is specified.
4 For God commanded, saying, "Honour thy father and mother: and, "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
d Exod. xx. 12; Lev. xix. 3; Deut. v. 16; Prov. xxiii. 22; Eph. vi. 2.
e Exod. xxi. 17; Lev. xx. 9; Deut. xxvii. 16;
4. For God commanded, &c. That is in the fifth commandment (Exod. xx. 12); and in Exod. xxi. 17. To honour, is to obey, to reverence, to speak kindly to, to speak and think well of. To curse, is to disobey, to treat with irreverence, to speak ill of, to think evil of in the heart, to meditate or do any evil to a parent. All this is included in the original word. Let him die the death. A Hebrew phrase; the same as saying, Let him surely die. The Jewish law punishes this crime with death. This commandment they had violated by their tradition, in the following way :5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, 'It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
f Mark vii. 11, 12.
5, 6. It is a gift. In Mark, it is corban. The word corban is a Hebrew word, denoting a gift. It here means a thing dedicated to the service of God, and therefore not to be appropriated to any