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Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Matthew 9

 

 

Verse 1
MATT. 9

And he entered into a boat, and crossed over, and came into his own city. (Matthew 9:1)

Christ simply and immediately complied with the request of the citizens of Gadara and shipped immediately to his own city, Capernaum, directly across the lake. This body of water, some 12 or 13 miles in length and only about six miles wide, did not require long to cross. Deductions from this abrupt departure of Jesus are significant: (1) Christ will not force his gospel upon any man or upon any community. (2) The fact that Jesus never returned to Gadara shows how a single decision may have the most extensive consequences. (3) The future history of this area was determined in a single day, even in an hour, when these hapless citizens, ignoring the fantastic blessing which had come to two of their number, and thinking only about the loss of the swine, requested the Saviour of the world to leave their shores. Foolish and irrevocable as their decision was, it does not stand by itself, because countless souls are continually making decisions just as tragic.

Verse 2
And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven.

This is one of those "mighty works" mentioned by Jesus in his reproach of Capernaum (Matthew 11:23). Important details are mentioned in Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26 which are not contained in Matthew. Mark tells that he was carried by four men, and Luke relates the breaking up of the roof to let him down to Jesus.

Seeing their faith refers not merely to the faith of the four but of the man with the palsy as well. He could not have permitted or encouraged such activity on his behalf if he had not truly believed in Jesus. What a reward he received, "Thy sins be forgiven!" Christ dealt with the sin problem first, for it was most important. Also, there is the possibility that in his case sin was the cause of his illness. Christ's announcing the forgiveness of this man's sins was clearly the assertion of the prerogatives of deity. "Who can forgive sins, but one, even God" (Mark 2:7).

Verse 3
And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

The thinking of the scribes that only God could forgive sins was altogether correct. Moreover, if Christ was not God, as he claimed to be, they were correct in attributing blasphemy to Jesus. Christ himself accepted both these assumptions and demonstrated his divinity in the miracle that followed. The Scriptures relate in this place what the scribes said "within themselves!" This is one thing which no other literature except the Bible can relate, that is, what people say "within themselves."

Verse 4
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

Two things are plainly apparent in this verse: (1) that Christ knew people's thoughts, an ability only God could have, and (2) the Scriptural "heart" is the part that THINKS, thus equating it with the mind, or the seat of the intelligence.

Verse 5
For which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise and walk?

Of course, one of these is as easily "said" as the other; but the overwhelming impact of this lies in the plain truth, presented here by Christ, that a person who cannot do BOTH can do NEITHER! Those of every age who dare to say, "I absolve thee," should prove their power really to do it by demonstrating the other side of the same power, performing miracles. Christ consented to do this, and "the servant is not above his master" (Matthew 10:24). Inability to do the miracle is proof that the pretender is also unable to forgive sins.

Verse 6
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house.

But that ye may know ... is equivalent to saying men could NOT KNOW Jesus' power to forgive sins without such a demonstration of his power. Now, if it is allowed that the Christ himself could not cause people to know of his power to forgive sins without the accompanying power to heal the body, how much more is it certain that people should never expect to have their claims to powers of absolution accepted without a similar demonstration on their part? Jesus' handling of this entire case shows that the power to forgive sins pertains to God alone and that only divine power can accomplish it. Here Christ places the absolution of sins on parity with performing a miracle, affirming in fact that one is as easily done as the other. What sophistry, then, must be attributed to those who "pretend" to do one but cannot even pretend to do the other! A clear understanding of these words of Christ would prohibit the unwarranted assumption of authority by those who make it their business to forgive the sins of other people!

Verse 7
And he arose, and departed to his house.

Thus, another mighty wonder performed by the Master followed the usual pattern: (1) It was complete. (2) It was immediate. (3) It was accomplished by a mere word. (4) There were no incantations. (5) There was no agonizing. (6) There were no loud prayers. (7) It was totally accomplished with the utmost ease in the presence of his enemies, without prior staging, and without any props.

Verse 8
But when the multitudes saw it, they: were afraid, and glorified God, who had given such authority unto men.

The fear of the multitude is proof that they saw in this great miracle nothing but the power of God in a dramatic display of authority over sin and disease. God's power, even in nature, is always awe-inspiring; and it is much more so when seen in those areas of the soul itself which are concerned with man's spiritual health.

The words "unto men" are at first surprising, Why is it said, "unto men," whereas men simply cannot do the things mentioned here? Trench explained it thus: "They felt truly that what was given to one man, to him who had just set himself forth under the title of `the Son of man,' was given for the sake of all, and given ultimately to ALL, that thus it was indeed given `unto men'."[1] Also, Jesus did appoint plenipotentiaries with full authority to announce men's forgiveness, namely, apostles, with authority to bind and loose on earth with equal consequences in heaven. (See Matthew 16:19). Those who profess to see in this spontaneous comment from the rabble positive sanction of THEIR authority to forgive sins certainly see far more than is in it.

ENDNOTE:

[1] Richard H. Trench, Notes on the Miracles (Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1953), p. 227.

Verse 9
And as Jesus passed by from thence, he saw a man, called Matthew, sitting at the place of toll: and, he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

How many of Jesus' mighty deeds were done "as he passed by"? (John 9:1; Matthew 4:18; 9:27; Mark 11:20, etc.). He seized the golden chances as they came. Whatever came to hand, that he did to the glory of God. Note that he saw "a man." Some would have seen only a tax collector, but Jesus saw the scholarly student of the prophecies, the human heart that beat beneath the tax-taker's shirt. Disciples in this generation would do well to follow his example. How often men's eyes are blinded by prejudice, social bias, or self-interest, and they fail to see "the man." They see instead a banker, a policeman, a farmer, a negro, a doorman, a taxi driver, a soldier, a grocer, etc. How comforting is the thought that the Saviour always saw (and sees) the man, whatever the outward circumstances that may disguise him from his fellows! One wonders if this call of Matthew was as spontaneous as it seems from this brief account of it. Very probably, Matthew, like the four fishermen, already had some knowledge of Christ and his teachings when the call occurred. The brevity of this account shows the humility and modesty which characterized this ancient publican who rose to such heights in the service of the Lord.

Matthew's call was a challenge to the Pharisees and other snobbish groups of that day. A publican was a social outcast. Nothing good was expected of such a person; and, in this call, Jesus showed that the church has a mission to the downtrodden as well as to others.

Adam Clarke makes this feast to occur in the house of Matthew, as indicated in Luke 5:29.[2] Publicans were renters of the Roman taxes, an occupation particularly odious to the Jews, and the more so on the part of one of their own race who was thus leagued with the despised oppressors of the land. PUBLICANS and SINNERS were synonymous terms in the culture of that day. That the Messiah would attend a feast with such a man and even name him to the apostleship was a fact which few people of that day, especially the rulers, could accept with any degree of tolerance. Their bitterness toward the despised and socially unacceptable masses was the prime reason for their failure to recognize Jesus as their Lord. Snobbishness is still a reality in many hearts, and its effect of spiritual blindness are just as real and fatal now as then.

ENDNOTE:

[2] Adam Clarke, Commentary (New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), Vol. V, p. 109.

Verse 10
And it came to pass as he sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Teacher with the publicans and sinners? But when he heard it, he said, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick.

Regarding the place and make-up of the company that attended the feast mentioned here, see final paragraph under Matthew 9:9 above. Note that the Pharisees, by directing their questions to Jesus' disciples instead of to him, were attempting to open a wedge between them and were trying to inoculate the disciples with their own blind prejudice.

Jesus' rejoinder to the effect that the sick, not the whole. require a physician, was rich in irony. It passed over the fact, known to all, that spiritually the Pharisees themselves were about the sickest people of that generation. Whether the Pharisees got the point or not is not revealed; but it may safely be assumed that if they did not, others did. The whole population was fully acquainted with the greed, cunning, duplicity, and general wickedness of those evil men who sat in Moses' seat. Jesus' remark might well have been the occasion for a roar of laughter.

Verse 13
But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice: for I came not to call the righteous but sinners.

Both here and in Matthew 12:7, Christ quoted from Hosea 6:6. The context in that passage shows that Christ was here comparing the Pharisees with the reprobate priesthood of Hosea's times. In that same paragraph, Hosea charged, "And as the troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent; for they commit lewdness" (Hosea 6:6-9). This, of course, must have infuriated the Pharisees who, as subsequent events would prove, were every whit as wicked as the Lord indicated. His words continued to be ironical when he said, "I came not to call the righteous"; for of course he did call the truly righteous, and, for that matter, even the Pharisees; but they would not be called.

Verse 14
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

At this point, the disciples of John were already beginning to be jealous of the rising popularity of Christ (John 4:1-3). The use of the participle "were fasting" in Mark 2:18, show that this feast in the home of Matthew probably took place on a Monday or Thursday, when the Pharisees and disciples of John the Baptist were observing their customary feasts. The appearance of John's disciples at that moment shows that the Pharisees had not overlooked any occasion for making trouble. They had obviously tried, with some success, to maneuver a breach between the followers of Christ and those of the Baptist. How could Jesus defend the conduct of his disciples without drawing a rebuke from John whose public endorsement of Jesus had, in effect, launched our Saviour's ministry? In an answer as diplomatic, and devastating, as the famous reply on the tribute money, Jesus gave three parables, the last of which is given only by Luke, in which he fully defends both his own and John's respective views. These parables are: (1) new cloth on old garments, (2) new wine in old wineskins, and (3) the person familiar with old wine does not desire new. The reference to the relaxation of rules during a wedding, however, was the most devastating of all.

Verse 15
And Jesus said unto them, Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast.

This was an answer calculated to convince John's disciples, because John had already identified Jesus as the bridegroom, saying, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom" (John 3:29). There is heavenly genius in this answer of Christ. The habit of the Pharisees of indulging every appetite, to the point of gluttony and drunkenness, at a wedding, makes this a center shot. Since Christ is the bridegroom, THIS IS A WEDDING (in a spiritual sense)! It is likely that this reply was greeted with howls of laughter. Yet there is a tragic note here also. The holy bridegroom will be "taken away from them," that is, MURDERED by these same pious hypocrites who were so solicitous about the strict observances of their petty fasts.

Verse 16
And no man putteth a piece of undressed cloth upon an old garment; for that which should fill it up taketh from the garment, and a worse rent is made.

The illustration in this place is simply that of trying to patch an old garment with a piece of new, that is, unshrunken, cloth which, if attempted, would prove unavailing as soon as the garment was washed. The shrinkage of the new piece would tear itself out and the rent be made worse. The application is that Jesus did not come to apply Christianity as a new patch upon the old garment of Judaism. Christianity was not designed as an addition to Judaism, not as a patch upon an old system, but as an excitingly new and different religion altogether.

Verse 17
Neither do men put new wine into old wineskins: else the skins burst, and the wine is lost, and the skins perish: but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.

This illustration refers to the custom of putting wine into the bladders and skins of animals. Only new wineskins could serve for unfermented or new wine. After fermentation, the skins hardened and became brittle, thus becoming entirely unsuitable for new wine, yet continuing to serve well enough as containers for old wine. The application was that Christ did not pour the new wine of his teaching into the old wineskins (John's disciples) but into new wineskins (his disciples). It is noteworthy that none of Jesus' disciples had previously been followers of John. The reason is explained in this passage. It took new hearts, fresh viewpoints, unaccustomed to the practices and prejudices of old ways, to contain the marvelous new teachings of Christ.

Verse 18
While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a ruler and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

This miracle of raising Jairus' daughter from the dead is the first resurrection recorded in the New Testament. There were three such wonders, forming a sequence: (1) Jairus' daughter had been dead only a very short time. (2) The son of the widow of Nain had been dead longer and was being carried to the tomb. (3) Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days (Luke 7:12; John 11). Christ considered raising the dead a part of his ministry (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22), and he delegated the power to the apostles (Matthew 10:8). Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, acting under this commission (Acts 9:40).

Regarding Jairus' daughter, the quibble is raised that she might not have been dead but had merely swooned; however, the statement of the damsel's father, the presence of the hired mourners, and their laughing Jesus to scorn, knowing her to be dead, remove any thought that only a swoon had occurred. Such quibbles are grounded on false premises, namely, that one type of miracle was more difficult than another for Jesus to perform. Actually, there is no difference in raising a person from the dead who has been dead only a few minutes, and raising one who has been dead a thousand years. Furthermore, such miracles as cleansing lepers, healing the blind, deaf, mute, palsied, etc. were in no sense either easier or more difficult than raising the dead. All such wonders were done effortlessly by the Son of God.

Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue, and was among the most respected and honored citizens of Capernaum. It is strange that after so much was done by Jesus for so many, including wonders worked on behalf of the city's leading citizens, that Capernaum rejected him.

Verse 19
And Jesus arose and followed him, and so did his disciples.

From the other accounts, it is learned that only Peter, James, and John accompanied him into the inner chamber where this great deed was wrought. The other disciples, however, were doubtless not far away.

Verse 20
And behold, a woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment.

This remarkable case was mentioned by Eusebius, whose remarks quoted by Dummelow are:

She was a heathen living at Caesarea Philippi, near the sources of the Jordan. Her house is shown in the city ... and at the gates of which, on an elevated stone stands a brazen statue of a woman on her bended knee, with her hands stretched out before her like one entreating. Opposite to this is another statue of a man, erect, of the same materials, decently clad in a mantle, and stretching out his hand to the woman. This statue, they said, was a likeness of Jesus Christ.[3]

The so-called Report of the Procurator Concerning Our Lord Jesus Christ contains this:

And a woman that had an issue of blood for many years, and whose joints and veins were drained by the flowing of the blood, so that she did not present the appearance of a human being, but was like a corpse, and was speechless every day, so that all the physicians of the district could not cure her (was in such a condition) that there was not any hope of life left to her. And when Jesus passed by, she mysteriously received strength through his overshadowing her; and she took hold of his fringe behind; and, immediately in the same hour, power filled up what was in her empty, so that, no longer suffering any pain, she began to run swiftly to her own city Kepharnaum, so as to accomplish the journey in six days.[4]

Perhaps these ancient quotations have little value, but they serve to focus a little further attention on this wonderful deed which came as a parenthesis in the more important miracle of the raising of Jairus' daughter.

[3] J. R. Dummelow, One Volume Commentary (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 659.

[4] Pontius Pilate, quoted in ancient writings, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), Vol. VIII, p. 460.

Verse 21
For she said within herself, If I do but touch his garment, I shall be made whole.

Here again is noted that characteristic of the Scriptures which reveal what people said within themselves. In this chapter is recorded what the Pharisees said within themselves, and here is related what this woman said within herself. Other examples are those of the unjust steward and the prodigal son (Luke 15:17; 16:3). The surmise of this woman that only a touch was required to heal her was altogether correct. One of the profoundest statements in Holy Writ is Mark 6:56. "As many as touched him were made whole." If with all our striving, we may but TOUCH HIM, we shall be made perfectly whole.

Verse 22
But Jesus turning and seeing her said, Daughter, be of good cheer; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

It is plain from this that Jesus rejected whatever of superstition there may have been in the woman's act. A suspicion that some element of superstition might have motivated her comes from the fact that she touched a particular part of his garment supposed to be especially holy. That was the tuft,Matthew 9:22 (Brooklyn, New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), p. 38.">[5] or tassel, which, according to Numbers 15:37, every Jew wore on the four corners of his cloak to remind him of God's commands, and which was considered the holiest part of his apparel. Jesus' action, as more fully given in Mark 5:25-34, and his plain words made it clear to the woman that he, of his own will, had healed her; and that she had not merely taken advantage of some supernatural influence radiating from his person.

ENDNOTE:

Matthew 9:22 (Brooklyn, New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), p. 38.">[5] Emphatic Diaglott, Matthew 9:22 (Brooklyn, New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), p. 38.

Verse 23
And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute-players, and the crowd making a tumult.

The flute-players were the hired mourners who took part in every funeral of that day. The large crowd and the general tumult were due to the prominence of the family in which this tragedy had occurred. The very suggestion that a prominent ruler of the Jews, such as Jairus, had gone so far as to hire public mourners for a daughter who was merely sick or had swooned, is ridiculous. Are there any examples, even in modern times, when a funeral was actually planned and under way for a person who was not actually deceased?

Verse 24
He said, Give place: for the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

Here, in the words of Jesus, of course, are the grounds for cavil; but it should be remembered that Christ said the same concerning Lazarus who had been dead and buried for four days (John 11:11). The actuality of death is not the point in either case, but the nature of death. IT IS A SLEEP. In death, as in sleep: (1) there is a loss of consciousness; (2) both are terminated, sleep by awakening, and death in the resurrection; (3) there is a rejuvenation or rebuilding of powers during the period of waiting; or, more properly, both are followed by an IMPROVED state of the person; (4) there is no total destruction and loss of the person in either case; (5) and there is no loss of personality or identity. Jesus thus gave an utterly new concept of death; and from that came the custom, universally observed among Christians, of writing "asleep in Jesus" upon the tombs of the departed.

The words "And they laughed him to scorn" should be read in close connection with what immediately followed and is recorded in the next verse.

Verse 25
But when the crowd was put forth, he entered in, and took her by the hand; and the damsel arose.

They scorned him, but it resulted in their being put out of the room. Then, as in all ages, scorners proved witnesses only against themselves. What an opportunity they denied themselves! Ever afterwards, it must have been a source of remorse to some of that company that their conduct had made it impossible for them to witness one of the great wonders of all time, and to see that remarkable outflashing of the glory from the Majesty on high.

Mark recorded the actual words Jesus spoke to the maiden, "Talitha Cumi," an Aramaic expression meaning "Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise!" There was no strain or pressure on Christ. This astounding deed was done as easily as he spoke the words, and with no more exertion on his part.

Christ was delayed, due to the incident concerning the woman with the issue of blood, in reaching the home of Jairus. Thus, it might be said that Jairus' prayer for our Saviour's aid was answered after delay. Prayers are often answered, not at once, but after delay; and the child of faith should not despair during the interval when it appears that no answer is forthcoming. God in his own time will bless those who call upon Him in faith.

Verse 26
And the fame hereof went forth into all the land.

Mark mentions Jesus' request that the deed should not be publicized; but, in this case, there was no possible way to prevent its being widely known. Breaking up a funeral already in progress would be an event almost impossible to conceal. From this, it is supposed that Jesus merely meant that Jairus should conceal the truth until Jesus and his disciples could have safe passage through the throng of people. Mark also noted that Jesus commanded that the damsel should be given something to eat (Mark 5:43).

Verse 27
And as Jesus passed by from thence, two blind men followed him, crying out, and saying, Have mercy on us, thou Son of David.

As Jesus passed by ... (See under Matthew 9:9). The symbolism of this incident is magnificent. Although the learned Pharisees and doctors of religion could not see Christ as the Messiah, or Son of David, these blind people COULD! Even a blind man knew that the Messiah had indeed appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. Matthew alone recorded this incident. From various Old Testament passages, it is clear that blindness is a type of sin (See Deuteronomy 28:29; Isaiah 59:10; Job 12:25; Zephaniah 1:17; Isaiah 29:8; also Ephesians 5:8; and Matthew 15:14). A number of examples of Jesus' restoring sight to the blind are recorded and were prophetically included as a positive mark of the Messiah's power when he should be revealed. Isaiah said of the Messiah and his times, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened" (Isaiah 35:5).

The expression "Have mercy on us, thou Son of David" has seven words as do so many forceful expressions in Scripture. See other examples in Matthew 6:7,11,20,28,24 - all in a single chapter. Countless others may be noted in both the Old and New Testaments.

Verse 28
And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

Christ tested the faith of the two men by waiting until he had entered the house and they had followed, and also by asking them if they believed he was able to do it. They passed the test, and Jesus healed them.

Verse 29
Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it done unto you.

Jesus often touched the person of the ones he healed. In this case, he touched their eyes. In a sense, Christ's words to those ancient blind men are applicable to all in every age who seek his blessing. "According to your faith be it done unto you."

Verse 30
And their eyes were opened. And Jesus strictly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they went forth, and spread abroad his fame in all the land.

The Greek term in this place translated "strictly" is actually "sternly," as a glance at the English Revised Version (1885) margin will show. It must follow, then, that those recipients of the Lord's healing grace were most reprehensible in their violation of his orders not to tell it. Trench noted that most Catholic commentators on this place, "applaud rather than condemn these men for not adhering strictly to Christ's command (which) conduct should be regarded, not as a fault, but a merit."[6] On the other hand, interpreters of the Reformed Church see in this "a blemish in the perfectness of their faith who thus disobeyed; a fault which remained a fault, even while they recognize it as one which only grateful hearts could have committed."[7] This profound difference of the views of expositors is ascribed by Trench to the desire of the reformers to "take God's word as absolute rule of law, and to worship him not with self-advised services, but after the pattern which he has shown ... that obedience is better than sacrifice, even though the sacrifice be intended for God's special honor."[8] We say the same and can only wonder at the disobedience of those who had been so signally honored and healed by the Saviour.

[6]Richard C. Trench, op. cit., p. 215.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

Verse 32
And as they went forth, behold, there was brought to him a dumb man possessed with a demon.

On demon possession, see under Matthew 8:28ff.

Verse 33
And when the demon was cast out, the dumb man spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, By the prince of the demons casteth he out demons.

See under Matthew 12:24ff for more on the prince of demons. The Pharisees were absolutely unwilling to admit any good thing in Jesus. When they were unable to deny his wonderful deeds, they questioned the source of his power. In addition to accusing Christ of being in league with the devil, they made a big issue of the cures wrought on the sabbath day; and, it may be assumed, they denied, whenever practical, that any good deed had been done. There is an implicit admission of this in their words, "A notable miracle hath been wrought through them ... and we cannot deny it" (Acts 4:16). This is very nearly the equivalent of their saying that they would have denied the miracle of the apostles performed at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, if they could have done so with any prospect of being believed.

Verse 35
And Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness.

The total number of Jesus' miracles must have been truly fantastic. There were mighty deeds in all the cities and villages and upon all kinds of sicknesses and diseases, as well as upon demoniacs. What significance, in the light of this, must be in the words of John who said:

Many, other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name (John 20:30,31).

Verse 36
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd.

This records Jesus' own reaction to the extensive tour of Galilee mentioned in the preceding verse, in which the opposition of the Pharisees had been so evident, with the consequent confusion and distress of the people. Christ viewed the situation with profound pity for the multitudes and proposed, at once, to correct it by sending out his disciples as missionaries to bear widespread testimony to the truth. The word "compassion" in this place gives an insight into the benevolent and gracious heart of Christ. It indicated a combination of love, pity, concern, and deep emotional feeling for the "lost sheep" of the house of Israel.

Verse 37
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest.

Christ here asked his disciples to pray for that which he himself was about to initiate, namely, the sending forth of more witnesses to the truth of the kingdom. The sending forth of the Twelve was Jesus' own response to the marvelous opportunity for reaping a great harvest of souls. Significantly, Christ asked the disciples to pray about it; and he himself continued all night in prayer before naming the Twelve (Luke 6:12,13). In view of this, should Christ's disciples today undertake any project without prayer for guidance and blessing? If Jesus leaned so heavily upon the arm of prayer, how much more should his disciples ask, and seek, and knock to obtain that providential support, without which every human endeavor must inevitably come to naught?

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 9:14-17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/view.cgi?bk=mt&ch=9&vs=14-17". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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