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loved as their own brethren, being their fellow-labourers and pleasant comrades; not only relations, but companions, and old acquaintances, must be left for Christ.
When Christ came into Capernaum (ver. 21), he straightway applied himself to his work there, and took the first opportunity of preaching the gospel. Those will think themselves concerned not to lose time, who consider what a deal of work they have to do, and what a little time to do it in. Christ religiously observed the Sabbath day, though not by tying himself up to the tradition of the elders, in all the niceties of the Sabbath rest, yet (which was far better), by applying himself to, and abounding in, the sabbath-work, in order to which, the sabbath-rest was instituted. Sabbaths are to be sanctified in religious assemblies, if we have opportunity; it is a holy day, and must be honoured with a holy convocation; this was the good old way, Acts xiii. 27, xv. 21. Christ did not preach as the scribes (ver. 22), who expounded the law of Moses by rote, but were neither acquainted with it, nor affected by it; it came not from the heart, and therefore came not with authority. He taught as one that had authority, as one that knew the mind of God, and was commissioned to declare it. There is much in the doctrine of Christ, that is astonishing; the more we hear it, the more cause we shall see to admire it.
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy one of God. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26 And when the unclean spirit "had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. 28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee
6 Luke iv. 33. c Matt. viii. 29. d Ver. 34. e Chap. ix. 20.
As soon as Christ began to preach, he began to work miracles for the confirmation of his doctrine; and they were such as intimated the design and tendency of his doctrine, which were to conquer Satan, and cure sick souls.
In these verses we have Christ casting the devil out of a man that was possessed, in the synagogue at Capernaum. This passage is also related in Luke iv. 33. Observe, The rage which the unclean spirit expressed at Christ, He cried out, as one in an agony, and afraid of being dislodged; thus the devils believe and tremble, have a horror of Christ, but no hope in him, nor reverence for him. We are told what he said, ver. 24. He calls him Jesus of Nazareth; for aught that appears, he was the first that called him so, and he did it, perhaps, with design to possess the minds of the people with low thoughts of him, because no good thing was expected out of Nazareth; and with prejudices against him as a deceiver, because every body knew the Messiah must be of Bethlehem. Yet a confession is extorted from him, Thou art the Holy One of God. Those who have only a notion of Christ, that he is the Holy One of God, and have no faith in him, or love to him, go no farther than the devil doth. He in effect acknowledgeth that Christ was too hard for him, and that he could not stand before the power of Christ; "Let us alone, for if thou take us to task, we are undone, thou canst destroy us.” This is the misery of those wicked spirits, that they persist in their rebellion, and yet know it will end in their destruction. He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus Christ; for he despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being destroyed by him. "What have we to do with thee? If thou wilt let us alone, we will let thee alone." See whose language they speak, that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. It is in vain for Satan to beg and pray, Let us alone; his power must be broken, and the poor man must be relieved, and therefore Jesus commands. As he taught, so he healed with authority. Jesus rebuked him; he chid him and threatened him, imposed silence upon him; Hold thy peace. But this is not all, he must not only hold his peace, but he must come out of the man; this was what he dreaded-his being restrained from doing farther mischief. But the unclean spirit yields, for there is no remedy (ver. 26); He tore him, put him into a strong convulsion, that one could have thought he had been pulled in pieces; when he would not touch Christ, in fury at him he grievously disturbed this poor creature. Thus, when Christ by his grace delivers poor souls out of the hands of Satan, it is not without a grievous tumult in the soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy.
This miracle made a deep impression on those who witnessed it, They were all amazed (ver. 27). It was evident, beyond contradiction, that the man was possessed,-witness the tearing of him, and the loud voice with which the spirit cried; it was evident that he was forced out by the authority of Christ; this was surprising to them, and put them upon considering with themselves, and inquiring of one another, "What is this new doctrine? For it must certainly be of God which is thus confirmed. He hath certainly an authority to command us, who hath ability to command even the unclean spirits, and they cannot resist him, but are forced to obey him." The Jewish exorcists pretended by charm or invocation to drive away evil spirits; but this was quite another thing, with authority he commands them. Surely it is our interest to make him our friend, who has the control of infernal spirits. This miracle raised also Christ's reputation among all that heard it; immediately his fame spread abroad into the whole adjacent region of Galilee, which was a third part of the land of Canaan. The fame of this miracle spread the farther, because as yet the Pharisees, who envied his fame, and laboured to eclipse it, had not advanced their blasphemous suggestion, that he cast out devils by compact with the prince of the devils.
29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and "suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. 38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for 'therefore came I forth. 39 And he preached in their throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
f Matt. viii. 14; Luke iv. 38. g Matt. viii. 16; Luke iv. 40.
1 Or, to
h Chap. iii. 12; Luke iv. 41; See Acts 16, 17, 18. say that they knew him. i Luke iv. 12, 42. k Luke iv. 42. Isa. Ixi. 1; John xvi. 28, xvii. 4. m Matt. iv. 23; Luke iv. 44. When Christ had done that which spread his fame throughout all parts, he did not then sit still, he continued to do good, for that he aimed at, and not his own honour. When he came out of the synagogue, where he had taught and healed with a divine authority, he conversed familiarly with the poor fishermen that attended him, and did not think it below him (ver. 29). He went into Peter's house, and cured his mother-in-law, who was sick. Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good, and will be sure to pay richly for his entertainment. The cure was complete; when the fever left her, it did not, as usual, leave her weak, but the same hand that healed her, strengthened her, so that she was able to minister to them; the cure is, in order to that, to fit for action, that we may minister to Christ, and to those that are his, for his sake. See Matt. viii. 14.
A general account of many cures he wrought-diseases healed, devils expelled, is contained in vers. 32-34. It was on the evening of the Sabbath when the sun did set, or was set; perhaps many scrupled bringing their sick to him, till the Sabbath was over, but their weakness therein was no prejudice to them in applying to Christ. Though he proved it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days, yet, if any stumbled at it, they were welcome at another time. The patients were numerous; All the city was gathered at the door. That one cure in the synagogue occasioned this crowding after him. Others speeding well with Christ should quicken us in our inquiries after him. Now the Sun of Righteousness rises with healing under his wings; to him shall the gathering of the people be. The Physician was powerful; he healed all that were brought to him, though Nor was it some one particular disease that Christ cured, but he healed those that were sick of divers diseases. And that miracle particularly which he wrought in the synagogue, he repeated in the house at night; for he cast out many devils, and suffered not the devils to speak, for he made
them know who he was, and that silenced them.
ever so many.
His retirement to his private devotion (ver. 35); He prayed, prayed alone; to set us an example of secret prayer. Though as God he was prayed to, as man he prayed. Though he was glorifying God, and doing good in his public work, yet he found time to be alone with his Father; and thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness.
His return to his public work. The disciples thought they were up early, but found their Master was up before them, and they inquired which way he went, followed him to his solitary place, and there found him at prayer, ver. 36, 37. They told him that he was much wanted, that there were a great many patients waiting for him: All men seck for thee. They were proud that their Master was become so popular already, and would have him appear in public, yet more in that place, because it was their own city; and we are apt to be partial to the places we know and are interested in. No, saith Christ, Capernaum must not have the monopoly of the Messiah's preaching and miracles. Let us go into the next towns, the villages that lie about here, that I may preach there also, and work miracles there, for therefore came I forth, not to be constantly resident in one place, but to go about doing good. Even the inhabitants of the villages in Israel shall rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, Judg. v. 11. Observe Christ had still an eye to the end wherefore he came forth, and closely pursued that; nor will he be drawn by importunity, or the persuasions of his friends, to decline from that; for (ver. 39), he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and to illustrate and confirm his doctrine, he cast out devils.
40 "And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
n Matt. viii. 2; Luke v. 12. o Lev. xiv. 3, iv. 10; Luke v. 14. p Luke v. 15. 9 Chap. ii. 13.
We have here the story of Christ cleansing the leper, see also Matt. viii. 2-4. It teaches us how to apply ourselves to Christ; come as this leper did. 1. With great humility; this leper came beseeching him, and kneeling down to him (ver. 40); whether giving divine honour to him as God, or a less degree of respect as a great Prophet, it teaches us that those who would receive grace and mercy from Christ, must ascribe honour and glory to Christ, and approach him with humility and reverence. 2. With a firm belief of his power; Thou canst make me clean. Though Christ's outward appearance was but mean, yet he had this faith in his power, which implies his belief that he was sent of God. He believes it with application, not only in general, Thou canst do every thing (as John xi. 22), but Thou canst make me clean. What we believe of the power of Christ, we must bring home to our particular case; Thou canst do this for me. 3. With submission to the will of Christ; Lord, if thou wilt. Not as if he had any doubt of Christ's readiness in general to help the distressed, but with the modesty that became a poor petitioner, he refers his own particular
case to him.
It teaches us what to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it shall be to us. 1. Christ was moved with compassion. This is added here, to show that Christ's power is employed by his pity for the relief of poor souls; that his reasons are fetched from within himself, and we have nothing in us to recommend us to his favour, but our misery makes us the objects of his mercy. And what he does for us he does with all possible tenderness. 2. He put forth his hand and touched him. He exerted his power, and directed it to this creature. In healing souls, Christ toucheth them, 1 Sam. x. 26. 3. He said, I will, be thou clean. Christ's power was put forth in and by a word, to signify in what way Christ would ordinarily work spiritual cures; He sends his word and heals, Psal. cvii. 20; John xv. 3, xvii. 17. He was confident of Christ's power; Thou canst make me clean; and Christ will show how much his power is drawn out into act by the faith
of his people, and therefore speaks the word as one having authority.-Be thou clean. Power accompanied this word, and the cure was perfect in an instant; Immediately his leprosy vanished, and there remained no more sign of it, ver. 42.
1 Christ healeth one sick of the Palsy: 14 calleth Matthew from the receipt of custom: 15 eateth with publicans and sinners: 18 excuseth his disciples for not fasting, 23 and for plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath-day.
ND again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts. 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all: insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
a Matt. ix. 1; Luke v. 18. b Job xiv. 4; Isa. xliii. 25. c Matt. ix. 4. d Matt. ix. 5.
Christ, having been for some time preaching about in the country, here returns to Capernaum, his head-quarters, and makes his appearance there, in hopes that, by this time, the talk and crowd would be somewhat abated.
Great resort was made to him. Though he was in the house, yet people came to him as soon as it was noised that he was in town; they did not stay till he appeared in the synagogue, which they might be sure he would do on the Sabbath-day, but straightway many were gathered together to him. Christ gave good entertainment to them, the best his house would afford, and better than any other could; he preached the word unto them, ver. 2. Many of them perhaps came only for cures, and many perhaps only for curiosity, to get a sight of him; but when he had them together, he preached to them. Though the synagogue door was open to him at proper times, he thought it not at all amiss to preach in a house on a week-day; though some might reckon it both an improper place and an improper time. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, Isa. xxxii. 20.
And they came unto him bringing one sick of the palsy. The patient was one sick of the palsy, it should seem not as that, Matt. viii. 6, grievously tormented, but perfectly disabled, so that he was borne of four, was carried upon a bed, as if he had been upon a bier, by four persons. It was his misery, that he needed to be carried, and bespeaks the calamitous state of human life; it was their charity who did so carry him, and bespeaks the compassion that is justly expected should be in the children of men toward their fellow-creatures in distress, because we know not how soon the distress may be our own. These kind relations or neighbours thought, if they could
but carry this poor man once to Christ, they should not need to carry him any more; and therefore made hard shift to get him to him; and when they could not otherwise get to him, they uncovered the roof where he was, ver. 4.
Christ spoke in a kindly way to this poor patient; He saw their faith; perhaps not so much his, for his distemper hindered him from the exercise of faith, but theirs that brought him. In curing the centurion's servant, Christ took notice of it as an instance of his faith, that he did not bring him to Christ, but believed he could cure him at a distance; here he commended their faith, because they did bring their friend through so much difficulty. True faith and strong faith may work variously, conquering sometimes the objections of reason, sometimes those of sense; but, however manifested, it shall be accepted and approved by Jesus Christ. Christ said, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. The compellation is very tender-Son; intimating a fatherly care of him, and concern for him. Christ owns true believers as his sons; a son, and yet sick of the palsy. Herein God deals with you as with sons. The cordial is very rich; Thy sins are forgiven thee. 1. Sin is the pro
curing cause of all our pains and sicknesses. The word of Christ was to take his thoughts off from the disease, which was the effect, and to lead them to the sin, the cause, that he might be more concerned about that, to get it pardoned. 2. God doth then graciously take away the sting and malignity of sickness, when he forgives sin; recovery from sickness is then a mercy indeed, when way is made for it by the pardon of sin. See Isa. xxxviii. 17; Psal. ciii. 3. The way to remove the effect is, to take away the cause. Pardon of sin strikes at the root of all diseases, and either cures them, or alters their property.
The scribes unreasonably cavil at that which Christ said. They were expositors of the law, and their doctrine was true that it is blasphemy for any creature to undertake the pardon of sin, and that it is God's prerogative, Isa. xliii. 25. But, as is usual with such teachers, their application was false, and was the effect of their ignorance and enmity to Christ. It is true, None can forgive sins but God only; but it is false that therefore Christ cannot, who had abundantly proved himself to have a divine power. But Christ perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves; this proves him to be God, and therefore confirmed what was to be proved, that he had authority to forgive sins; for he searched the heart, and knew what was in man, Rev. ii. 23. God's royalties are inseparable, and he that could know thoughts, could forgive sins. This magnifies the grace of Christ, in pardoning sin, that he knew men's thoughts, and therefore knows more than any other can know, both of the sinfulness of their sins, and the particulars of them, and yet is ready to pardon. Now he proves his power to forgive sin, by demonstrating his power to cure the man sick of the palsy, vers. 9-11. He would not have pretended to do the one, if he could not have done the other; that ye may know that the Son of man, the Messiah, has power on earth to forgive sin, that I have that power, Thou that art sick of the palsy, arise, take up thy bed. Now, 1. This was a suitable argument in itself. He could not have cured the disease which was the effect, if he could not have taken away the sin, which was the cause. And, besides, his curing diseases was a figure of his pardoning sin, for sin is the disease of the soul; when it is pardoned it is healed. He that could by a word accomplish the sign, could doubtless perform the thing signified. 2. It was suited to them. These carnal scribes would be more affected with such a suitable effect of a pardon as the cure of the disease, and be sooner convinced by it, than by any other more spiritual consequences; therefore it was proper enough to appeal, whether it is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, and walk? The removing of the punishment as such, was the remitting of the sin; he that could go so far in the cure, no doubt could perfect it. See Isa. xxxiii. 24.
The sick man not only arose out of his bed, perfectly well, but, to show that he had perfect strength restored to him, he took up his bed, because it lay in the way, and went forth before them all; and they were all amazed, as well they might, and glorified God, as indeed they ought; saying, We never saw it on this fashion; never were such wonders as these done before in our time. Christ's works were without precedent. When we see what he does in healing souls we must own that we never saw the like.
13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 'And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. 15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him
e Matt. ix. 9. Matt. ix. 9; Luke v. 27. Or, at the place where the custom was received. g Matt. ix, 10.