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might be lost: an example of economy. God creates all food; it is all needed by some person or other; and none should be wasted.
21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Probably the number might have been ten thousand. To feed so many was a stupendous miracle. The effect was such as might be expected. John says, vi. 14, that they were convinced by it, that he was that prophet that should come into the world; that is, the Messiah.
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.
'And straightway Jesus constrained,' &c. See Mark vi. 45— 56. John vi. 15-21. To constrain, means here, to command. They were at this time on the east side of the lake of Gennesareth. He directed them to get into a ship, and cross over to the other side; that is, to Capernaum. The effect of the miracle on the multitudes was so great, John vi. 15, that they believed him to be the Messiah, the king that they had expected; and they were about to take him by force and make him a king. To avoid this, Jesus got away from them as privately as possible. An example for all who are pressed with human honours and applause. Nothing is better to keep the mind humble and unambitious, than to seek some lonely place; to shut out the world, with all its honours; to realize that the great God, before whom all creatures and all honours sink to nothing, is round about us; and to ask him to keep us from pride and vain glory.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
John says they had sailed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs. About seven and a Half Jewish furlongs made a mile; so that the distance they had sailed was not more than about four miles. At no place was the sea of Tiberias more than ten miles in breadth; so that they were literally in the midst of the sea.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
In the time of our Saviour the Jews divided the night into four watches. These watches consisted of three hours each. The first commenced at six, and continued till nine; the second from nine to twelve; the third from twelve to three; and the fourth
from three to six. The first was called evening; the second midnight; the third cock-crowing; the fourth morning, Mark xiii. 35, It was in the last of these watches, or between three and six in the morning, that Jesus appeared to the disciples. So that he had spent most of the night alone on the mountain in prayer. Walking on the sea.' A manifest and wonderful miracle. It was a boisterous sea. It was in a dark night. The little boat was four or five miles from the shore, tossed by the billows.
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.
"They were troubled.' They were afraid. It was sufficient to awe them. In the dark night, amidst the tumultuous billows, appeared the form of a man walking on the waves. They thought it was a spirit, an apparition. The ancients believed that the spirits of men frequently appeared after death to the living.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 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?
Here is an instance of the characteristic ardour and rashness of Peter. He had less real faith than he supposed: more ardour than his faith would justify: rash, headlong, and incautious, really attached to Jesus; but still easily daunted, and prone to fall. He was afraid therefore when in danger, and sinking, cried again for help. Thus he was suffered to learn his own character, and his dependence on Jesus: a lesson which all christians are permitted to learn by dear-bought experience.
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 thou art the Son of God.
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;
that is, at the land of Gennesaret. 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.
'Land of Gennesaret.' This region was in Galilee, on the west side of the sea of Tiberias; and in this land was situated Capernaum, to which he had directed his disciples to go. Jesus only can make us perfectly whole. No other being can save us. He that could heal the body, can save the soul. A word can save us. How ought we to beseech him, for the privilege of obtaining his saving grace, ver. 36.
1 THEN came to Jesus scribes and pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
See also Mark vii. 1-9. Then came to Jesus,' &c. Mark says, that they saw the disciples of Jesus eating with hands unwashed.
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
'Transgress the tradition of the elders.' The word 'elders' means ancients, or their ancestors. 'Tradition' means something handed down from one to another by memory: some precept or custom not commanded in the written law. The Jews supposed that when Moses was on mount Sinai, two sets of laws were delivered to him: one was recorded, and is contained in the Old Testament; the other, they said, was handed down from father to son, and kept uncorrupted, till it was recorded in the Talmuds. In these books these pretended laws are now contained. They are exceedingly numerous, and very trifling, and many of them opposed to the truth. They are, however, regarded by the Jews as more important than either Moses or the prophets.
"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 did this professedly for the sake of cleanliness. So far it was well. But they made it a
matter of superstition. They regarded external purity as of much more importance than the purity of the heart. They had many foolish rules about it, which 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?
They accused him of violating their traditions, as though they were obligatory. In his answer, he said, that those traditions could not be binding, as they violated the commandments of God. He proceeds to specify a case.
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
'For God commanded,' &c. That is, in the fifth commandment, Exod. xx. 12; and xxi. 17. To honour,' is to obey, to reverence. To curse, is to disobey, to treat with irreverence. 'Let him die the death.' This is a Hebrew phrase, the same as saying, let him surely die.
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.
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 other use. The Jews were in the habit of making such dedications. They devoted their property to him, for sacred uses, as they pleased. The law required that when a dedication of this kind was made, it should be fulfilled, Deut. xxiii. 21. Psa. lxxvi. 11. The law of God required that a son should honour his parent; that is, among other things, provide for his wants when he was old, and in distress. Yet the Jewish teachers said that it was more important for a man to dedicate his property to God, than to provide for the wants of his parent. If he had once devoted his property-once said it was corban, or a gift to God-it could not be appropriated even to the support of a parent. The son was free. They would not suffer him to do any thing for his father after that. Thus he might in a moment free himself from the obligation to obey, or support his father or mother.
Besides, the law said that a man should die who cursed his father; that is, who refused to obey him, or to provide for him, or spoke in anger to him. Yet the Jews said, that though in anger
and in real spite and hatred, a son said to his father, all that I have which could profit you, I have given to God, he should be free from blame. Thus the whole law was made void, or of no use, by what appeared to have the appearance of piety. No man, ac. cording to their views, was bound to obey the fifth commandment, and support an aged and needy parent, if either from superstition or spite he chose to give his property to God, that is, to some religious use.
Jesus meant to condemn the practice of giving to God, where it interfered with our duty to parents and relations; where it was done to get rid of the duty of aiding them; and where it was done out of a malignant and rebellious spirit, with the semblance of piety, to get clear of doing to them what God required.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Hypocrisy is the concealment of some base principle under the pretence of religion. Never was there a clearer instance of it than this-an attempt to get rid of the duty of providing for needy parents under an appearance of piety towards God. 'Esaias.' That is, Isaiah. This prophecy is in Isaiah xxix. 13.
'Draweth nigh unto me with their mouth,' &c. That is, they are regular in the forms of worship. They are strict in ceremonial observances, and keep the law outwardly; but God requires the heart, and that they have not rendered.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
In vain do they worship me.' That is, their attempts to worship are vain, or are not real worship-they are mere forms. Teaching for doctrines,' &c. The word 'doctrines,' here means, the requirements of religion-things to be believed and practised in religion. God only has a right to declare what shall be done in his service; but they held their traditions to be superior to the written word of God, and taught them as doctrines binding the conscience.
10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
See also Mark vii. 15-17. And he called the multitude.' In opposition to the doctrines of the pharisees, he took occasion to show them that the great source of pollution was the heart. They supposed that external things chiefly defiled a man. On this, all their doctrines about purification were founded. He took occasion, therefore, to direct the people to the true source of real defile ment-their own hearts.