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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 9

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Verses 1-8


Matthew 9:1. Ship.Boat (R.V.). His own city.—Capernaum (see Matthew 4:13; Mark 2:1).

Matthew 9:2. Palsy.—Suffering apparently from a less severe type of paralysis than the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:6). Their faith.—The faith of the sick man and of his friends who brought him (Morison). Son.—A young man apparently. It would scarcely be too strong to translate it thus: “My dear child, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven” (Gibson). Thy sins be forgiven thee.—This forgiveness was doubtless the very boon which, above all others, the young man needed and desired. Jesus was reading his heart. Possibly, too, there may have been in this case a peculiar connection between the youth’s sins and his sickness (Morison).

Matthew 9:4. Knowing.—Or seeing.

Matthew 9:6. Take up thy bed.—The Oriental frequently spreads a mat upon the ground and sleeps in the open air; in the morning he rolls up his mat and carries it away (Carr).

Matthew 9:8. Marvelled.Were afraid (R.V.). Unto men.—This power, which hitherto had been enthroned in the most holy place as the prerogative of Jehovah, now stood embodied before them, as it were, an incarnate Shechinah. Hence their joyous expression, He has given it to the Son of man, and therefore to men (Lange).


The pardon of sin.—The miracles of the Saviour had both a temporal and a spiritual side. The multitudes mentioned in Matthew 8:18 appear to have thought too much of the former. Therefore it was that He went away to the other side of the lake; and so, as it were, for a season, cut off the supply. Now, it appears, in coming back, that He has the same error in view, but desires to treat it (if we judge Him rightly) in a different way, viz. in the way of rather fixing attention on the spiritual side of His works. The probable evidences of this will be found:

1. In the claim with which He begins.

2. In the proof with which He concludes.

I. The original claim.—This was remarkable, first, in its general scope. It was a tacit claim to a right to speak on the most momentous of topics, viz. on the “forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 9:2). No topic reaches so far as this does both towards God and towards men. It affects the Ruler because it affects the equity and so the continuance of His rule. It affects the offender because it affects the continuance of his life. It was doing not a little to undertake to speak at all on such a matter. Remarkable, next, because of its special manner and tone. On this highest of topics He claimed the right to speak in the highest possible way. It is both as a Father and as a King; and as both these in such a way that His word may be trusted to the full, the Saviour speaks in this case. “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven” (R.V.). In other words—“The cause is over, the question settled; I pronounce thee forgiven.” Equally remarkable was the claim made in regard to the effect it produced. This was of a twofold description. On the one hand it produced in those who stood by and heard it a certain feeling—in all probability partly real and partly also affected—of horror. It seemed to them, and they were men who professed to be both diligent students and special teachers of truth, that there was nothing less than absolute blasphemy in the words they had heard. At the same time it is observable that they do not seem to have dared to put this thought of theirs into words; not, at any rate, to Himself. Only “in themselves”—to their own hearts—do they whisper their thought. Any way, this silence itself may seem to show the more what they thought of His claim, viz., as one involving that which it was hardly befitting to speak of out loud. Finally, the claim is remarkable as being one which we have never heard from Him before. So far as we can judge there had been other occasions for it quite as fitting as this. The case of the leper (Matthew 8:1-4); the case of the centurion’s servant, a case of palsy (Matthew 8:6); the case of “Peter’s wife’s mother” (Matthew 8:14-15) (to say nothing of the unnumbered cases of bodily healing that are referred to, in the mass, without being severally described in Matthew 8:16-17)—are all cases in which, if this claim had to be made, it would have been in its place. Why, then, was it deferred until now? Apparently, because the Saviour, as we saw before, had a special object in view, the object, viz., of drawing special attention to the spiritual side of His works. Therefore it was, in this case of healing, that He begins with this claim.

II. The subsequent proof.—Having made such a claim He could hardly leave it unsupported by proof. Having Himself provoked such thoughts, and knowing He had (Matthew 9:4), He could hardly leave them alone. At any rate, He did not. On the contrary He proceeds to give good evidence that He could really do as He said; and that, in drawing attention in this way to the spiritual side of His work, He was not only declaring what was transcendantly important but absolutely indisputable as well. The evidence in question was two-fold in character. It proved, on the one hand, that He had the requisite knowledge. He who would pardon sin rightly must be acquainted with “all about” it, of course. What the sinner has done. Why he did it. How much he was tempted. What he thought to do more (Acts 8:22). In other words, any one who would be beyond the reach of mistake on this matter must be a judge of the heart. Such accordingly, in this case, by the language He uses, the Saviour proves that He is. He “sees”—so some copies—in the case before Him, the hidden thoughts of the heart; and He proves Himself thereby to be fully competent—if we may so express ourselves—to “try” the question in hand. Why should He not be, indeed, if He is seen, in this way, to have all the requisite “data” on hand? There is evidence also, in the next place, that He has the requisite power. Witness the “order” He gives. Speaking Himself to the man who is sick—who is so sick as to be unable to move of Himself (Matthew 9:2), and had been brought there in pity by others—He bids him go back of himself. “Arise, and take up thy bed”—the previous sign of his feebleness to be thus the sign of his recovery—“and go unto thy house.” No challenge could be bolder—no token clearer—no issue more sure. If he can do as I tell him, it is with him as I say. Witness, next, the results of that order. The first result, on the sick man himself. The paralytic does as he is told to do. He took up “that whereon he lay” (Luke 5:25). He did so “before them all” (Mark 2:12). Witness the second result on all that stood by. They see at once what it means. Things are, indeed, as Jesus has said. What He has claimed He possesses. Let God be praised that He does. However marvellous, it is strictly true. The thesis propounded has been proved to the full. “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.”

Besides this most vital of truths, we may learn, from the passage thus analysed, two others of hardly less, if of any less weight.

1. How all important is this question of the forgiveness of sin.—What our Saviour put first from His point of view we may well put first from our own. What the Saviour begins with we should begin with as well. What other advantage, indeed, is worthy of mention along side of this? It is like a ship at sea which has sprung a leak, which, if not “stopped,” will infallibly sink it. What other things are worth striving for—what other things are worth seeking for—what other things are worth thinking of, until this is done?

2. How utterly impossible it is for us to obtain this blessing except in the way presented here.—Who else has the requisite knowledge? Who else has the requisite power? Who else can give the requisite proof? Our Saviour, when challenged, gave proof of His claim. Is it too much to ask as much in all similar claims?


Matthew 9:1-8. The great Healer.—

I. The diseased man.—Paralysed. The result of sin. His friends brought him “on a bed,” i.e. on a mat, or cushion, which could easily be thrown over one’s arm (Matthew 9:6).

1. There are many who from spiritual disease cannot come to Jesus and have to be brought.
2. Faith is necessary to the overcoming of the great difficulties and obstacles that beset the way.

II. The great Physician.—Jesus saw their “faith” and honoured it. How tender His first word “Son”! Then He proceeded to encourage him, “Be of good cheer. Cheer up!” Then the Saviour exceeds all their wishes, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” He forgave the sins first and healed his body afterwards to show:

1. His sovereignty.
2. That the taking away of the guilt of the soul was vastly more important.
3. To try the disposition of the company, and to bring out as they were able to bear it, His true character.

III. The cavillers.—The accusation they made was right from one standpoint, and it was wrong from another.

1. They were right in asserting that God alone can forgive sins.
2. It was wrong inasmuch as they counted Jesus a mere man.

IV. The effects.—The cure was:

1. Immediate.
2. In sight of them all.
3. Complete.
4. Perfect.
5. Glorifying to God. So in spiritual healing.—The Study.

The Peace-bringer in the world of conscience.—

I. The apparently irrelevant answer which Christ gives to the unspoken petition of the paralytic and his friends. “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” It was far from their wish, but yet the shortest road to it. Probably the palsy was the result of fast living—“a sin of the flesh, avenged in kind.” Perhaps, too, whatever his friends may have wanted for him, the poor man himself dimly knew that forgiveness was his most pressing want. Christ would not thus abruptly have offered the pearl of pardon to an altogether unprepared heart. The gospel cures sorrow second and sin first.

II. Forgiveness is an exclusively Divine act.—The same deed may be a sin, a vice, and a crime, according as we regard its aspect towards God, towards morals, or towards law. As sin God can forgive it; as a breach of ethical law there is no forgiveness, for ethics cannot pardon; as a breach of the law of the land, the supreme power may remit penalties. God’s pardon often leaves some of the natural consequences, which are the penalties of our sins, in order that we may hate and avoid the evil; but it brings the assurance that there is nothing in God’s heart towards the sinner but pure and perfect love.

III. Jesus Christ claims and exercises this Divine prerogative of pardon.—His claims to Divinity were urged in such a fashion that, if they are denied, it is impossible to save the beauty and lowliness of His character.

IV. Christ brings visible facts into the witness-box, in attestation of His invisible powers.—We may make a more general application of this principle of the visible evidences of invisible powers. Are not the results of every earnest effort to carry the message of forgiveness to men—in homes made Bethels, passions tamed, and lives elevated—witnesses of the reality of Christ’s claim to exercise the Divine prerogative of forgiveness? All the difference between Christendom and heathendom attests Him as the Fountain of the invisible good which has passed into visibility in the secondary results of the gospel, which the blindest can see and the least spiritual can appraise.—A. Maclaren, D.D.

The Gospel of forgiveness.—Many truths are here presented to us, e.g.

1. A strong faith will overcome difficulties.
2. The readiness of our Lord to welcome the needy, and to reward faith.
3. The enmity and opposition of the human heart.
4. The superiority of spiritual to temporal blessings.
5. Testimony given to the Divinity of Christ by His,
(1) forgiving sins;
(2) searching the heart;
(3) healing the body. But the central truth of the passage appears to be the gospel of forgiveness preached to the poor. The gospel of communism sends the weakest to the wall; the gospel of modern science, with its doctrine of natural selection, destroys the feeble. It was the glory of Christ’s mission that He stooped to the poorest and the lowest, and brought the message of life and hope within the reach of all. View this miracle, then, as proclaiming the gospel of forgiveness.

I. The need it meets.—The figure presented to us—a paralysed man, helpless, incurable, a mere wreck. Three things combined in him.

1. Disease.—Perhaps the consequence of sinful indulgence; certainly to be traced to sin. The parable of sin.

2. Poverty.—The “bed” a mere couch or mat.

3. Poverty of spirit.—Our Lord’s words imply this.

II. The hope it awakens.—The hope of good.

III. The blessing it bestows.

1. Forgiveness.

2. Manner of bestowment.—

(1) Immediate;
(2) free;
(3) complete;
(4) authoritative;
(5) effectual.

IV. The opposition it excites.—The spirit of opposition to grace always the same—the form differs. Man will be saved, but not on God’s terms.

V. The vindication it receives.—Christ proves His power to forgive, confutes His adversaries, saves the man. The gospel may appeal to results. Application to:—

1. The careless.—Many went away unsaved. “Will ye also go away?”

2. The anxious.—No rest except in Christ. Never rest until you have found Him.

3. The healed.—Go sin no more.

Walk in newness of life—in the power which Christ imparts.—Sir E. Bayley, Bart, B.D.

Verses 9-13


Matthew 9:9. Receipt of custom.Place of toll (R. V.). See Introduction.

Matthew 9:10. Jesus.He (R. V.), probably Matthew. 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 (Brown).

Matthew 9:11. When the Pharisees saw it.—Rev. A. Carr thinks that though not guests, they came into the house—a custom still prevalent in the East.

Matthew 9:12. They that be whole.—A touch of irony.

Matthew 9:13. I will have mercy and not sacrifice.I.e. the one rather than the other. Quoted from Hosea 6:6. “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 (Brown). To repentance.—Omitted by leading MSS. and R.V.


The treatment of sinners.—The calling of “Matthew the publican” appears to have excited a great deal of attention. The mingled wealth and infamy of his avocation; the fact that he was actually engaged in it when called away from it by the Saviour; and the readiness and completeness with which he responded—“rising” up, and, as it were, leaving the “violence” which was then “in his hands” (Jonah 3:8)—would all have this effect. All men of all sorts would hear of it with wonder. Nor is it surprising, that being the case, that it soon led, as described to us here:

1. To a great movement.

2. To a strong remonstrance.

3. To a most instructive reply.

I. A great movement.—A great movement, on the one hand, in the way of desire. It is characteristic of the true disciple that he wishes other men like himself (Acts 26:29). Having learned the truth—and that happy truth—and that truth, moreover, which, amongst its first teachings, teaches both the duty and privilege of “loving one another”—such a man cannot help desiring that others should be as he is. And he will desire this first, also, as a matter of course, for those nearest to himself (John 1:41). And he will desire this most, when, as in the present instance he has given up much for its sake. What can I do for my brother outcasts in regard to this matter? How can I show them that there is something better than all their idolised gains? How have I learned this myself? I will bring them, if I can, under the same influence which has taught it to me. They shall meet in my house with my Master Himself. The thought was as new—but as natural under the circumstances—as his conversion itself. In the way of effort. The thing desired was soon brought about. Soon after there was a new sight—a very new sight—in the city of Capernaum. In the tax-gatherer’s house there is a vast assemblage of such men as himself, or rather, we should say, of such men as he had previously been. “Many publicans and sinners” are “sitting down” in his company. They are sitting down as his guests. In order to bring them together he has made a “great feast” (Luke 5:29); of which, however, it may be noted by the way, he does not tell us himself. To this feast he has invited also both the Saviour and His disciples. All that can be done, therefore, Matthew has done to bring about his desire. It is a very notable fact. The previous gain-lover is now a soul-lover instead. The man who was always for making money is now spending it freely. He who sat formerly in the “receipt of custom” is now at the feet of the Saviour; and is doing all he can to bring others under the sound of His voice. All Capernaum, we cannot doubt, would look on with surprise.

II. A strong remonstrance.—Some would look on, we are reminded next, with much more than surprise. They would look on, we may almost say, with indignation and hate; with a degree of indignation that very soon found expression in words. The persons so speaking, would, very naturally, be amongst the Pharisees of the place. Their very name signified that they held themselves aloof from all others. It would shock them, therefore, especially to see an assembly where the very opposite idea was in force. They might almost be excused, indeed, if they looked upon it as a kind of reproach to themselves. The ground of their remonstrance would, therefore, be connected with this self-same idea. Are we not as Israelites, a people separated from the rest of the world? (Deuteronomy 16:2, etc.). Are we not as Pharisees, a body of Israelites pledged to see that this separation be carried out to the full? But what is it we see here? We see this new Teacher, though a teacher of holiness, sanctioning confusion instead; sitting down at the same table at a common feast with men notorious for their sins. “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2). That is the point—that is the sting—of their cry. A remonstrance, finally, which is all the more remarkable because of the persons to whom it is made. “When the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples,” Why doth your Master do thus? Apparently there was a holy majesty about Him which prevented them from saying this to Himself. Apparently, on that very account, they felt the supposed scandal the more. That such a man should eat with such! This, to them, was the unendurable wrong.

III. A complete reply.—This was given by going further into the nature of things. What seems so objectionable was not at all so when further examined. So far from this, the thing objected to was what ought to be done. Whether we consider the needs of men on the one hand, or what is pleasing to God on the other, it is what ought to be done. If mercy is to be shown it should be shown to those who need it the most (Matthew 9:12, end of 13). Also, that mercy is to be shown is abundantly manifested from what God Himself has said on the point. Of the two ways, in fact, of worshipping God this is the way He prefers. “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” If you can give both, give “mercy” the first. If you cannot give both, give “mercy” alone. Nothing, therefore, is more pleasing to God than what is being done at this time. Also, it is just that which ought to be done by Myself. Here, as we saw, was the crowning grievance in this Pharisaic remonstrance. Herein, on the contrary, the Saviour shows them, was His crowning justification. He had come into the world—He had been sent into the world—to carry out in practice the very spirit described in that text. “Mercy, and not sacrifice,” was to be in all things the rule of His life. Why should He be blamed, therefore, for acting upon it in “calling sinners” to Himself? Especially when it was remembered that in doing so He was calling them to “repentance” as well?

Here, therefore, in conclusion, we see the special glory of the mercy of Christ. It is mercy to the sinner, but not to his sins (cf. Psalms 130:4). It is mercy to the man who needs mercy the most—to the greatest, the most notorious, the most generally despised. But mercy to him, at the same time, with still more mercy in view, viz., that kind of mercy which shall help to make him the greatest of saints. See how conspicuously this change was effected in the person of Matthew himself! How much more he had learned of the mind of Christ than those Pharisees who despised him! How holy he had become both in his desires and efforts through coming to Christ! And how well he discerned (and acted on) both the kind of “separation” that is desirable, and where it should come in. Separation rather unto Christ than away from our fellows. Separation as a consequence, and not as a means! Separation in love, and not in contempt!


Matthew 9:9. The call of St. Matthew.—It may be that this was their first meeting, and that a magnetic attraction was exerted upon the publican by that countenance which owed its majesty not to external comeliness so much as to the dignity and goodness of soul reflected in its features. It is, however, much more likely that Jesus had become previously acquainted with Matthew in Capernaum, had secured his affection and permitted him to return for a while to his tax-collecting, as the sons of Jonas to their fishing, so that now there needed but the recognition and. repeated claim. That claim was peremptory. Not less prompt was the obedience rendered.

I. It was a good indication of energy that he rose up. The man who rouses himself to receive a message, who starts to his feet and reflects in the attitude of activity and readiness, like the children of Israel in their early observance of the Passover, is more likely to obey his conscientious conviction than he who remains seated and will scarcely shake off habitual lethargy sufficiently to give fair attention.

II. It was a noble thoroughness of surrender.—He “left all.” And yet to leave all is often easier than to leave half, to evacuate an untenable position at once than to retreat by a few yards at a time and be beaten back blow by blow. Hesitation petrifies resolution now as it did in Lot’s wife.

III. Thus he “followed,” esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. He was to find the preciousness of a clear conscience and of investments made, not in material securities but in the gratitude and happiness of men whose welfare he advanced; he was to learn the value of his Lord’s teaching, to enjoy the golden smile of His friendship and the heavenly rewards of His service.—C. E. B. Reed, M.A.

Matthew 9:10. Matthew’s feast.—The scene now shifts. Hitherto Christ had been the inviter, Matthew the invited; the order is inverted and the Master becomes His disciple’s guest. Levi made Him a great feast, expressive of gratitude; for he could look even upon commands as mercies and on self-denying service as a privilege. Jesus came to the feast thus prepared for Him; and so it ever is. He calls us to Himself and then accepts our invitation, not disdaining to enter the poor chamber of our heart; for unlike the petty lords of earth who stand on ceremony as a stool to give them height, His native glory fears no eclipse but freely condescends to men of low estate. It is interesting to remark the character of Levi’s feast. “There was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.” One can see that Matthew had already studied to good purpose his Lord’s character.

I. First of all he perceived that he could best serve Him, not by eating and drinking alone in His presence, but by inviting the outcasts of society and befriending them for the sake of Him who made their cause His own.

II. He invited to the feast his old associates.—Many men would have forsworn the class from which they had been called and sought some new field of benevolence; whereas he does not disown his publican comrades, but selects them as earliest recipients of his bounty.

III. He recognised that the best thing he could do for them was to bring them into contact with Jesus.—Instead of going among them and talking about his new Master, he wisely brought them face to face with Him whose teaching he could not match either for breadth or power.

IV. This intercourse between Christ and the publicans Matthew contrived to bring about by means of an entertainment.—He knew well that most of them would never come to hear a formal discourse from the Lord, but that meat and drink would open their hearts to receive the scattered seeds of His teaching. Upon the same principle may be defended many acts of the modern church to which exception is often taken.—Ibid.

Matthew 9:11-12. The words that came of Matthew’s promotion. (For children).—Do you children know what is meant by promotion? It means going up. From a tax-gatherer for the Roman Emperor, Matthew became an Apostle, that is, a messenger of our Lord and Saviour. Was not that a promotion for Matthew? Yes, and he felt it to be so, and he was very glad, and to show his gladness he made a feast, and he invited Christ and His disciples, and a number of his old friends who were publicans as he had been. But some other people came to the feast besides the Saviour and the disciples, and the publicans and sinners. Some Pharisees were there, and they began to find fault and to say, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” And what I want to speak to you most about is the answer which Jesus made to the Pharisees, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

I. Jesus is a Physician for all, because all are sinful.—Some years ago I used to visit a large hospital every week. In the first room I used to find men very thin, with very bad coughs, and hardly able to breathe. They were in consumption. The next room was the accident ward, where men were lying with broken legs, or walking about with bandages on their heads or arms. Then, in another room, there were men with fever, tossing from side to side, and finding no rest anywhere. And last of all there was a room strongly bolted, where men were put who were prisoners and were sick. This was a very sad case to be in—not only to be sick but to be in prison. Now, did all these people need a doctor? Yes. Were they all equally sick? No; some were much worse than others, but they all wanted a doctor or they would not have been in a hospital. Now, my dear children, this world is like a hospital—everybody in it needs to be cured of sin.

II. But Jesus does not cure everybody’s sin.—How is this? It is not because He is not able, nor yet because He is not willing, but because some people do not want to be cured. In a sad railway accident which happened some time ago a young lady was taken out of one of the carriages, and she said she was not hurt at all, she felt no pain. She stood up and tried to walk, and then fell back dead. She had received a very serious injury, and yet she did not feel it at the moment. So it was with these Pharisees. Now you will say, “How do we come to feel that we need Jesus to heal us?” It is by trying to do right by ourselves that we find out how weak we are.

1. Jesus is a physician who can see what is the matter with us as soon as He looks at us.
2. Jesus is always at home.
3. Jesus can attend to all who come to Him at the same moment.
4. Jesus never fails to cure. There is an old saying I am sure you will remember if I tell it to you. It is, “The three best doctors that a man can have in this world are, Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merryman.” Now let the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour be these three doctors to you.—W. Harris.

Matthew 9:11. Jesus with the sinners.—

I. He sympathised with them as His brother-men.
II. He knew that they had in them the making of better men.
S. Pendred.

Matthew 9:12. The soul’s malady and cure.—The charge brought against Christ (Matthew 9:11) was groundless.

1. He did nothing but what was according to His commission (1 Timothy 1:15).

2. He went with sinners, not to join in their sins, but to heal them of them. To accuse Christ was, as Austin saith, as if the physician should be accused because he goes among them that are sick of the plague.

I. The dying patients.

1. Sin is a soul-disease.—Sin may be compared to sickness.

(1) For the manner of catching: (a) Often through carelessness. So Adam. (b) Sometimes through superfluity and intemperance. So our first parents.

(2) For the nature of it. (a) Sickness is of a spreading nature (Isaiah 1:5-6). The understanding, memory, will, affections, conscience, are diseased. Conscience is either erroneous, dumb, or dead. (b) Sickness debilitates and weakens the body. So the soul (Romans 5:6). (c) Sickness eclipses the beauty of the body. Sin has turned beauty into deformity. (d) Sickness takes away the taste. So the sinner has lost his taste for spiritual things. (e) Sickness takes away the comfort of life. So the sin-sick soul is void of all true comfort. (f) Sickness ushers in death (James 1:15).

2. Sin is the worst disease.—

(1) The body may be diseased and the conscience quiet. But see Isaiah 57:21.

(2) The body may be diseased and the favour of God enjoyed. But soul-diseases are symptoms of God’s anger.
(3) Sickness, at worst, doth but separate from the society of friends; but this disease, if not cured, separates from the society of God and angels.

II. The healing Physician.

1. Christ is a soul-physician.

2. Why Christ is a physician.—

(1) In regard of His call (Luke 4:18).

(2) Because of our need. Not because we desired Him, but because we needed Him.
(3) Because of the sweetness of His nature. Like the Good Samaritan.
3. Christ is the only physician (Acts 4:12).

4. How Christ heals.—

(1) By His word.

(2) By His wounds (Isaiah 53:5).

(3) By His Spirit.
(4) By His rod. Why are not all healed? (a) Because all do not know that they are sick. (b) Because they love their sickness. (c) Because they do not look out after a physician. (d) Because they would be self-healers. (e) Because they do not take the physic which Christ prescribes them. (f) Because they have not confidence in their physician.

5. Christ is the best physician.—

(1) The most skilful.
(2) He cures the better part, the soul.
(3) He causeth us to feel our disease.
(4) He shows more love to His patients than any other physician. (a) In that long journey He took from heaven to earth. (b) He comes to His patients without sending for (Isaiah 65:1). (c) He Himself lets blood to cure His patients. (d) Our repulses and unkindnesses do not drive Him from us. (e) He Himself drank that bitter cup which we should have drunk.

(5) The most cheap physician (Isaiah 55:1).

(6) Christ heals with more ease than any other.
(7) He is the most tender-hearted physician.
(8) He always prescribes the physic which is suitable, and withal blesseth it.
(9) He never fails of success.—Thos. Watson.

Verses 14-17


Matthew 9:14. The disciples of John.—The passage is interesting as showing:

1. That the followers of the Baptist continued during our Lord’s ministry to form a separate body (as in Matthew 11:2, Matthew 14:12).

2. That they obeyed rules which he had given them, more or less after the pattern of those of the Pharisees. They had their own days of fasting (the context makes it probable that the feast in Matthew’s house was held on one of them), their own forms of prayer (Luke 11:1). They, it would seem, acting with the Pharisees, and perhaps influenced by them, were perplexed at conduct so unlike that of the master they revered, and came, therefore, with their question. But they were, at least, not hypocrites, and they are answered, therefore, without the sternness which had marked the reply to their companions (Plumptre).

Matthew 9:15. The children (sons, R.V.) of the bridechamber.—On the day of marriage the bridegroom went, adorned and anointed, to the house of the bride, attended by his companions (Judges 14:11), and led her, attended by her maidens, in festive procession, with music and dancing, at even, by torchlight, into the house of his father. The marriage feast, which was defrayed by the bridegroom, lasted seven days (Lange).

Matthew 9:16. New cloth.Undressed (R.V.). It denotes cloth that has not passed through the process of fulling—that process by which cloth is thickened and made compact, as well as cleansed. When the up-filling patch shrinks it takes along with it a margin of the old and tender robe, and the rent is made worse (Morison). John was not a member of the newly inaugurated kingdom of God (Matthew 11:11). In accordance with this, Jesus declared the forms of righteousness practised by John’s disciples to be antiquated and out of keeping with the new righteousness which He taught as belonging to the kingdom of God (Wendt).

Matthew 9:17. Bottles.—Wine-skins (R.V.).


The law of fasting.—The connection of this passage with the preceding one may be only in the order of thought; the thought of “feasting” (Matthew 9:10) leading to that of “fasting” in the Evangelist’s mind, by the rule of opposites, as it were. Or there may have been a connection between them of a closer description. As some understand Mark 2:18, “the disciples of John and of the Pharisees were keeping a fast at that time” (Wordsworth, in loc.). If so, there would be both “fasting” and “feasting” side by side, as it were; and nothing would be more natural, therefore, than that those who were fasting should then and there ask the others why they were not. “Why is it that Thy disciples never do what is done so often by us?” (see end of Matthew 9:14). The Saviour’s answer seems to take in the case of all the parties concerned:—His own disciples; the “disciples of the Pharisees; the “disciples of John.”

I. His own disciples.—Their case could be disposed of by the mere consideration of time. There was a time for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1); amongst other things for lamentation and grief, and for that abstinence from food which is so usual an accompaniment and token of grief (2 Samuel 12:16). For that very reason such abstinence was not suitable for a season of joy; such a season, e.g. as when the “friends” of a “bridegroom” come to congratulate him on his happiness. This applied to the then condition of the disciples of Christ. Unlike the disciples of John (so it is supposed by some), who were then separated from their master and head in consequence of his imprisonment by Herod, these disciples were enjoying the full sunshine of the presence of their Head. The very thought of fasting, therefore, in their present circumstances, was wholly out of the question. The time would come, indeed, when their case in this respect would be different; when their “Bridegroom” also would be taken away. In one sense they would have “fasting” enough at that time. But for the time then present, and as things were then, the observance of fasting was not to be asked at their hands. “Can the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them?”

II. The disciples of the Pharisees.—Their case, also, could be disposed of in an equally summary way. The question here was that of purpose and aim. If there were times, as implied before, in which it was not unbecoming to deny the body in a greater or less degree the support it required, with what object and in what spirit should such denial be practised? Our Saviour’s parable seems to answer this question by showing what ought not to be in this case. In particular, He warns men against the view which the Pharisees held on this subject. Their great idea in enjoining fasting was that of reparation and atonement. The mortification of the body was prescribed by them in order thereby to “make up” for the sins of the mind. Was there a “rent,” as it were, in the garment of righteousness through the commission of sin or omission of duty? They looked to “fasting” to mend it. See how this idea is involved in Isaiah 58:3; Luke 18:12. See, on the other hand, how emphatically it is here rejected by Christ. To “put” such a piece of “new cloth”—rather a piece of such “unfulled,” and therefore unfinished, and therefore imperfect and unsuitable material as this on the faulty garment—is not to improve the matter but to make it much worse. It is to “take away” in fact, and not to “make up”; to make the “rent” at once larger and more conspicuous; and to add to nothing, in any way, except the original fault. No guilt, in a word, can be atoned for by such a clumsy mockery of atonement! The very idea of it is sin.

III. The case of the disciples of John was the case of men in a transitional state. It was the kind of case, therefore, in which the disciples of Christ would find themselves before long, in passing from the comparative darkness and bondage of the law (cf. Acts 15:10) to the light and liberty of the gospel. The first thing for all persons so situated to remember is this, that no transition of the kind can take place without some amount of dislocation and shock. Also, that this dislocation will affect primarily the question of ordinances and customs. Customs proper enough where the light is partial may not be so proper where the light is complete; or, at any rate, may require to be greatly modified in order to render them so. It is like that, in a word, which is so well known to be true about wine-skins and wine. Old wine-skins do all that is wanted in the case of old wine. It is when men fill them with new wine that they make a mistake, and find that, instead of gaining much, they lose everything by so doing (Matthew 9:17). The same is true of the strictly parallel question of ordinances and doctrines. Some ancient ordinances were only intended for an undeveloped measure of truth. To try to use them, therefore, for a fully developed measure, is to make confusion of all. Let this be remembered, therefore, with regard to the special question at issue. How far can “fasting” be made to fit the new condition of things? How far, under it, can fasting be employed to do what it doubtless accomplished before? This is the direction in which they must search in order to settle this point. What He had said at first had settled it for the present. What He now says is in order to help them to settle it in the future. Much, in short, as they were seen to do afterwards in the kindred subject referred to in Acts 15:0.

On the whole, therefore, of this subject, we seem able to say:—

That Christ Himself does not positively settle it for us.—He does not say, in so many words, either fast or fast not. He does not forbid; neither does He enjoin. The utmost on one side seems to be, “It may have to be done.” The utmost on the other seems to be, “It is quite possible so to do it as to increase your transgression.”

2. That we cannot settle it for each other.—The considerations it depends on are of too private a nature to admit of interference on the one side, or to warrant it on the other. Whether we are rejoicing, individually, in the sense of Christ’s presence or lamenting His absence; whether we profit most by bewailing the one (1 Samuel 7:2) or by realising the other (Nehemiah 8:10; Matthew 28:20); whether we are of vigorous or weakly bodily health; whether we are most tempted to evil by fulness or want (Proverbs 30:9)—who can settle these questions for others? And yet who, without them, can settle that question at all? See therefore Romans 14:3.

3. That we ought to settle it for ourselves.—If a man thinks that the practice is not incumbent on him individually, he ought to know why. If he thinks that it is he ought to know why. Also, how far, at what times, and in what way too, ought these to be clear. Men may be wrong, of course, even so, in the conclusions they come to; but they can hardly, even so, be more wrong than in refusing to give it a thought.


Matthew 9:14-17. Spiritual life more authoritative than custom.—The spirit of the Christian religion is the spirit of liberty and progress. The question “Why do we,” etc., shows the readiness with which men learn to worship a custom, and give to some temporary form all the dignity and authority of an everlasting law.… They made the mistake of supposing that what was good and helpful for them, must be binding upon every person in every condition; or in other words, that the religious observances which they had received and used, must be of constant and universal obligation. The same mistake is often made still. Because a custom is of service to us, we have no right to make it a hindrance to others; that which inspires and uplifts us may cramp and restrain them. Men do harm when they try to transform the temporary into the immutable, and the local into the universal; by seeking to gain undue reverence for forms which are of human origin, they lessen men’s regard for the invisible, changeless laws of God. The divine life survives all the changes of form and system. The teaching of the New Testament on this point seems to be that when men seek to give to outward forms of religious expression that importance which belongs only to the inner spiritual life, they hinder the free development of soul-life and stay the progress of divine truth.

I. The question propounded by these men rests upon a wrong assumption, viz. that all religious life should manifest itself in precisely the same way.

1. This receives no countenance from the variety of life and beauty in nature.
2. The varied manifestations of intellectual life disprove it.
3. The diversity of character displayed in the Bible contradicts it.

II. This question leaves out of sight an important principle, which is that our spiritual experience must regulate the outer life, and not any mere custom.—Jesus says, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn,” etc.? Or to put it into common speech, “Can you expect My disciples to mourn when they are just beginning a new and joyous life? They are realising the power of My teaching, and the inspiration of My presence; if they were to hang down their heads and look sad now, they would belie their experience and play the part of hypocrites. Let them be happy, they are serving God in their own simple way; and bear in mind the time will soon come when they shall fast, because it will be in harmony with their deep feeling. The Shepherd shall be smitten and the sheep scattered abroad. I shall be nailed to the bitter cross, and My followers will wander in sad, dark loneliness; they will feel themselves orphans in the world, desolate and bereaved, then shall they fast.”

III. After correcting these false assumptions, our Lord declares the principle that real spiritual life will always find appropriate forms of expression.—“No man putteth a piece of new cloth,” etc. We take this to mean that it is of no use attempting to bind new life down to old forms; whenever this is done there is conflict and confusion. Illustrate by reference to early attempt to chain the Christian religion to the old ceremonial forms of Judaism. “I am come that they might have life,” etc.—W. G. Jordan, B.A.

Matthew 9:16-17. Garments and wineskins.—By these illustrations our Lord conveyed a lesson on the charm of naturalness and the law of congruity in religion. Times of transition are critical. The disciples of John the Baptist were anxious to know whether Jesus meant only to reform the old Judaism, or to break away from it and introduce a new faith, with new rules and usages. On the question of fasting, for instance, they agreed with the Pharisees, and were concerned to find that the disciples of Jesus differed. Then the Lord answered them with heavenly metaphors which clothed a grave lesson with a veil of kindly humour. As old cloth and new cloth are one in being cloth, old wine and new are one in being wine; so the religion before Christ and that which He introduced are essentially one in kind, if not in quality. But it would not answer any good purpose to limit the new by the conditions of the old, or to place the Christian faith and life under the rules of the Pharisees, or even of thes disciples of John. So Jesus put it very plainly that He had not come to patch up Pharisaism, or garnish Rabbinism, or to pour His doctrine and all its vital force into the rigid forms of the later Judaism. The effect of a forced junction of the old and the new would be injurious to both. This is shown by throwing the illustration of the old garment patched with undressed cloth into two forms. St. Matthew and St. Mark report the Lord as indicating the damage to the old, whilst St. Luke reports Him as pointing out the injury to the new. In either case, it will be observed, the disruptive force is in the new. So to make Christianity a mere addendum to Rabbinical Judaism would only spoil the former, and would not preserve the latter. The second metaphor is to the same effect. To insist on the disciples of Jesus fasting because the Pharisees and the disciples of John fasted by rule, was to repress their joy at a time when they had a right to rejoice, and this was as unwise as to pour new wine into old wine-skins and shut it up. Thus again the Lord taught that a forced amalgamation of the old and the new dispensations would be disastrous to both. Let the law of congruity be observed.—D.Fraser, D.D.

Verses 18-26


Matthew 9:18. A certain ruler.—The president of a synagogue. His name was Jairus (see Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41). Every synagogue had its president, who superintended and directed the services. The ruler of a synagogue was at the same time president of its college of elders (Lange). My daughter.—Mark 5:23, τὸ θυγάτριον = the “little thing.” Luke says she was about twelve years of age. Is even now dead.—But see Mark 5:23; Luke 8:42. It is probable that he would employ various expressions in representing the case; and very likely, indeed, the case itself was such that he would be fairly puzzled to determine precisely whether she were dead or alive (Morison).

Matthew 9:19. And Jesus arose, etc.—It thus happened that Jesus could prove to the objectors (Matthew 9:11; Matthew 9:14) that He was able and willing to rise from the feast and to sympathise with the deepest suffering, nay, to enter the valley of death itself. This constituted both the fasting of Jesus and His mission to relieve the sick (Lange).

Matthew 9:20. A woman.—Tradition makes her a resident, not at Capernaum, but at Paneas or Cæsarea Philippi, who had wandered to Galilee, seeking relief from her trouble. A group of two statues, supposed to commemorate the miracle, existed at that place in the time of Eusebius (fourth century), and one was seen by him as he records (Eccles. Hist., vii. 18). Another church historian (Sozomen), a century later, describes the destruction of the same monument by order of the Emperor Julian (Laidlaw). An issue of blood.—See Leviticus 15:19 seq. Hem of His garment.—The border or fringe of the loose outer garment, probably of a bright blue mingled with white (see Numbers 15:38; Matthew 23:5).

Matthew 9:21. She said.—The imperfect tense of the original denotes intensity of feeling. “She kept saying over and over to herself” (Carr).

Matthew 9:22. Daughter.—A pure and affectionate, yet masterful name (Chadwick). Thy faith.—Not thy touch merely.

Matthew 9:23. Minstrels.—Flute-players (R.V.). Their presence indicated that the preparations for the funeral ceremonies had commenced.

Matthew 9:24. Not dead, but sleepeth.—Christ used the same expression afterwards of Lazarus; and when misunderstood He put it plainly, “Lazarus is dead” (Laidlaw).


A succession of answers.—In these “interlaced stories,” as they have been called, there seems some confusion at first. The way out of it seems to be that of recognising the Saviour as the centre of all. If so regarded, we shall here see presented to us His manner of dealing:

1. With outspoken request.

2. With tacit desire.

3. With insult and scorn.

I. With open request.—Openness, first in action. A man “enters in” (so some) in such a way as to cause men to “behold,” and so ask, we suppose, why he has come? The same man next acts in such a manner as to show why He has come. He worships Jesus—he casts himself at His feet (Mark 5:22)—he is in the position of a suppliant—evidently he has something of moment to ask Openness of speech, in the next place. How fearfully plain are his words. His daughter—his “little” daughter (Mark 5:23)—is “even now dead”; or, if not quite dead, as near to death as she can be (ibid.); as a matter of fact, in his anguish, he hardly knows which. Nor does it, from one point, signify much. Only let Jesus touch her, and whatever is wrong will be right. That is, therefore, what he now asks for, in so many words. To this open request the Saviour replies in as open a way, though not as express. “He rises up” to show He is ready. He does that, in fact, which is the beginning of “coming.” The action is so understood by the ruler, who, therefore, leads the way home, and is confirmed by Jesus, who “follows him,” and by the disciples, who follow both. All things, in short, signify hope!

II. With tacit desire.—This tacit desire was on the part of a woman who is hidden in the crowd which follows the Saviour. Those who read countenances could see this desire in her looks. “Twelve years” of suffering and hope deferred had not passed over her without leaving their footprints behind them, if only in that touching and wistful expression which we so often see in like cases, saying so plainly, “Oh! what would I give to be rid of this plague!” Those who read actions would see it in hers. Coming “behind Him,” so as not to be seen—“touching His garment,” so as to be in touch with His grace—she yet touches only the “hem” of it—perhaps, so as not to be felt. All shows not only how much she desires, but how secretly too. Those who read thoughts, also, would see this desire amongst hers. “If I may but touch,” she said to herself, “I shall get all I desire.” That was the spring of the whole—that burning desire which, for all that, she could not bring herself to put into speech. The Saviour’s reply to it was, first of all, most express and direct. That it had reached Him was plain from His “turning about”; that He knew where it had come from, by His looking at her. If her “looks” had said much, so also did His. Next, it was overflowing with kindness. She had come as a stranger. He addresses her as a “daughter.” Only in fear and trembling had she ventured so far. He bids her, notwithstanding this, to “be of good cheer.” Already, therefore, if we may say so, was she mentally cured. Full of assurance and power. What you desire is now yours. It is yours by your faith. Now she is one who is “whole”—whole, too, from that hour (Matthew 9:22).

III. With insult and scorn.—Two successive “pictures” represent this. A picture of uproar and insult. The uproar is outside the house of the ruler to which he has now come with the Saviour; and is due to the fact that, meantime, his little daughter has unmistakably died; and so caused the place to be filled with the usual “minstrels” and others “making a noise” (Matthew 9:23). The insult is provoked by the request of the Saviour to be allowed to pass through (Matthew 9:24), and by the character of the reason by which He supports it. Knowing, that, with the purpose He had in view, the child was only “dead,” so to speak, for a time, He speaks of her as such. “The maid is not dead, but sleepeth.” This was beyond endurance to them. “Knowing,” as they did, “that she was dead” (Luke 8:53), knowing that they had only come there on that account, “they laughed Him to scorn” (Matthew 9:24). On the other side, in marked contrast to this, we have the picture of the Saviour’s reply, a picture of stillness and power. When the multitude were “thrust out” at last, Jesus went in. How silent the scene! How still that “little one” on the bed! How collected and quiet the Master! How markedly so after the rudeness just shown Him! How simple, also, His action—“touching her hand”! How instantly wonderful—how profound—the result! She that was prostrate is now sitting up! She that had been dead—certainly dead—so dead that it was thought madness to doubt it—is now as certainly living! More than that, more than a hundred throats are now proclaiming the news (Matthew 9:26).

See, therefore, in these consecutive answers:—

1. What encouragement there is to prayer of all sorts.—By whomsoever it is offered, whether by a ruler or by one of the crowd; in whatever way it is offered, whether openly or secretly, whether by action or speech; and in whatsoever place it is offered, whether on the highway, or in the house of the living, or in that of the dead—it is acceptable to the Saviour.

“Where’er they seek Thee Thou art found,

And every place is hallowed ground.”

2. What double encouragement to continuance in it.—The greatest blessing vouchsafed here was the longest in coming, and had most obstacles in its way. But no obstacle can remain such in the way of “continuous prayer.” No distance, no interruptions, no delay, no unbelief of others, nor any depth of need, however undoubted, or beyond hope in the eyes of men! (Zechariah 4:7) Much is meant by every word in that counsel of the Apostle—“continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).


Matthew 9:18-33. The Healer and the healed.—

I. Christ’s side.

1. The Speaker was called upon for action. It is a long way from eloquence to beneficence in the case of some speakers; in the case of Christ speech and action were convertible terms.

2. Christ will interrupt an exposition for the sake of a man who mourns a little dead girl (Luke 8:42).

3. It is more congenial to Christ to be binding up a broken heart than to be debating with factious Pharisees respecting intercourse with publicans and sinners, or even to be explaining to sectarians the conditions which make “fasting” acceptable to God and useful to man.
4. Christ was ever equal to the call of the hour. Was exposition required? The living stream flowed from His gracious lips. Was a miracle required? The same voice had but to alter its tone, and the miracle was complete.

II. The human side.—Here are four miracles, the raising of the dead; the healing of the issue of blood; the opening of the eyes of the blind; the cure of a dumb man possessed with a devil. These diversified cases reveal the human side of the transactions under several aspects:

1. The right spiritual state in which to approach Christ—the ruler “worshipped Him;” the poor woman modestly and trustfully said, “If I may but touch His garment I shall be whole;” the blind man said, “Have mercy on us;” the dumb man possessed with a devil found in his utter helplessness the best possible recommendation to Christ’s mercy.
2. The indispensableness of faith in any transaction between the natural and the supernatural. Faith is the link; without that connection is impossible.

3. This transactional faith can operate only in connection with profound consciousness of want. “To know ourselves diseased is half the cure.”—J. Parker, D.D.

Matthew 9:20-22. The woman with an issue of blood.—I. The woman’s faith in the Saviour, its strength and its weakness.

1. She put herself in Jesus’ way on this eventful occasion, and thus proved the strength of her faith. She had, most likely, never seen Him before, had never heard Him speak, had never beheld one of His miracles. In these circumstances it would not have been surprising after all she had suffered and spent through her wasting disease and her physicians together, had she thought of coming to the Galilean Healer as a forlorn hope. On the contrary, she not only had hope so much as led her to think it worth while to make the journey, but she had somehow gathered a strong persuasion of His ability, such that she said to her neighbours, to herself, or to both, “If I may touch but His clothes I shall be whole.” Nor was the persuasion arbitrary or fanatical. It was simple and generous, but it was thoroughly reasonable, because justified by facts. It was when she had “heard the things concerning Jesus” (Mark 5:27, R.V.), that she came to Him.

2. No doubt there were defects in this faith. Its strength and weakness lay close together. It had the defect, so to say, of its quality. Its promptness may have owed something to the mechanical or material conception of the Healer’s power, as if it were some atmosphere that surrounded Him, or some magical influence that flowed even from His garments. The swift and secret touch was directed perhaps to the sacred fringe of His Jewish robe, in which, with a superstitious fondness, the healing power was thought specially to reside. The confidence she had in Jesus was typical, in that it was strong and well-founded. That it was mixed with those other elements from which the Lord proceeds immediately to purify it may teach us a double lesson. It hints, on the one hand, how small a part of gospel truth may save the soul if there be faith to receive and love to act upon it. Yet, on the other hand, the trust which is well-founded and generous, will meet with its reward in a rapid and progressive enlightenment through Christ’s word and Spirit.

3. This faith, as it was buoyant in persuasion, was prompt and immediate in action (Matthew 9:20).

4. It was as immediate in its success (see Mark 5:29).

II. The Saviour’s action towards the woman, its wisdom and tenderness.—The critical point in this miracle is that at first sight it seems “as if it had been wrought outside the consciousness and will of Jesus” (Godet). But He was not unconscious of the virtue He put forth, nor of the faith which received it. We can see why, for His own sake, and His work’s sake, Jesus had to make this cure public. But we are also to note how good it was for the sake of herself. Reserve was her fault, a wish to hide the cure; thus at once cheating her own self of comfort, and withholding from the Lord His due honour. He corrects that fault most gently and wisely. He does not insist upon publicity till the healing had taken place, thus making confession as easy as possible for her. The object of its publication then becomes apparent.

1. To show that the medium of the cure was faith, not physical contact.
2. To confirm what she had already taken by His own pronounced bestowal of it.
3. To bring her out in grateful acknowledgment both for His glory and her good. There are Christians whose fault is reserve. They would be saved, as it were, by stealth. The Saviour will not have it so. True conversion, no doubt, is first of all a secret transaction, very close and personal, between the soul and Christ. But because it is so, it cannot remain so. A seen religion is not always real, but a real religion is always seen.—Professor Laidlaw, D.D.

The teachings of the incident.—The incident has ever been a favourite and piquant analogue for the effects of living faith in Christ as contrasted with mere professed or traditional adherence to Him. As that day in the streets of Capernaum many pressed Him, but one touched Him, so is it still. Why it is so this story may instruct us.

1. This woman came at once to the vital touch, because she was so convinced of her disease and its danger. But so many nominal followers of Christ are trying to persuade themselves that their disease is not fatal.

2. She was quite done with all other physicians, and broken off from them. But many of us have not been conclusively shut up to Christ.

3. This woman went straight to Jesus so soon as she heard that He was nigh. But so many among us are waiting for the “convenient season.”

4. She made the most inconvenient season serve her turn. The Healer was on His way elsewhere. Jairus and the disciples were hurrying Him along. It was the worst time and place for such an invalid. But it was hers, for it was given her of God; she made the best of it, and was saved.

5. Some of our hearers say their difficulties are peculiar. There is nothing in ordinary preaching, in the common statements of the gospel, that meets their case, and relieves their perplexities. They are waiting for some clearer light, for some more special agency. This woman’s case was peculiar. She was by Jewish law unclean. She could not repair to the synagogue, where so many met Jesus and were healed. She could not stand up before the Healer in a public audience, and tell her case, and get His hands laid on her, as so many did. The ordinary mode of even these healing miracles would not have met her need. So she got her health in the crush of the street procession, by stealing behind Him, and pressing with the energy of hope till her fingers grasped His garment; for she was fully persuaded that, peculiar as was her case, she would find in Him an appropriate and certain cure. Those who in their soul-search for spiritual health follow her example will be as successful and as blessed as was she.—Ibid.

Matthew 9:20-21. The woman with the issue of blood.—

1. Poor and rich are alike welcome to Christ, for here, while He is going with the ruler, He neglecteth not this poor sick woman.
2. That which separates us from the society of the holy must not separate us from Christ, but rather drive us unto Him. This woman legally polluted, and so separate from the temple and all clean persons, draweth near to Christ to touch Him.
3. Though all remedies fail and our evil be of long endurance, yet Christ must be run unto.
4. Although Christ seem to take no notice of us, but to be about the helping of others only, yet must we take notice of Him and draw near to Him upon all occasions offered.
5. None can come to Christ rightly, but such as expect to be the better for coming.—David Dickson.

Matthew 9:22. The woman cured.—

1. Though modest souls resolve quietly to creep to heaven, unknown to others, yet God will have His work in them brought to light, for His own glory.
2. Faith in Christ gets a sweeter welcome than it can expect. It may come trembling, but shall find joy ere it go.
3. Our Lord will not suffer any means of our devising to take the place of means appointed by Himself. Therefore He doth not say, “touching my garment,” but “thy faith hath made thee whole.”—Ibid.

Matthew 9:24. The lowest depth.—“And they laughed Him to scorn.” These words throw light:—

I. On the nature of our Saviour’s work.

1. How wonderfully they reveal to us the great depth of His humiliation. He was man, that is much; a poor man, that is more; more still one of the “homeless poor” (Luke 9:58); most of all a man derided and despised. So psalmists and prophets had foretold, and so Evangelists relate.

2. Notice, also, the completeness of His sorrow. “He was acquainted with grief,” with every side and shape and variety of it, even with that form which we should have expected to be the farthest of all from His lot.
3. This consideration may teach us yet further the greatness of His love. All this depth of suffering was for our sake. Like one descending a coal shaft, who does not stop short of the very lowest depth, because those he would rescue are known to be trembling there, so was it with the Lord. He endured even the scorn of contemptible man in order to save man.

II. On the right interpretation of His words.—And so, generally, of those Holy Scriptures which bear testimony of Him. The special saying which called forth this outburst of scorn was the following: “The maid is not dead, but sleepeth;” and the special ground of it was the intimate conviction of the hearers that she had actually died—“knowing that she was dead.” It is evident, therefore, that they took the words in their most ordinary and obvious sense, never stopping to search for another, and never considering whether such a Teacher and Miracle-worker could have meant anything so absurd. It was a confounding the obvious with the true—mistaking the apparent for the real—and considering “first thoughts” so much better than “second,” that no second thoughts are required. The mistake is very common. “He that believeth on Me shall never die”; “Ye must be born again”; “Destroy this temple”; “This is My body,” are all cases in point. The mistake arises from not recollecting:

1. That the true significance of a passage is not that which the hearer imagines, but which the speaker himself designed.
2. That in the sayings of the Bible where God is practically the speaker and man the hearer, these two meanings are often so far from identical that they are as wide asunder as the poles.

As a concluding thought, take notice of the profound wisdom here displayed. See how this contempt of man was made to minister to the mission of Christ. These scorners built up the very platform on which the evidence of the miracle stood. When the damsel arose and took food (Mark 5:43) there could be no doubt about life. Was it restored life? Had it really been preceded by unmistakable death? These unhappy despisers, without meaning it, had established this beyond doubt. They had shut their own mouths on this point by their scorn. They had shut the mouths of mankind. So will it be at the last of all wilful despisers of Messiah. “Every knee shall bow to Him,” etc.—Mathematicus in “Homilist.”

Verses 27-31


Matthew 9:27. Two blind men.—This miracle narrated by St. Matthew only. Blindness is a far more frequent calamity in Palestine and the adjoining countries than with us. Its frequency is attributable to various causes, as, e.g. to the flying dust and sand pulverised by the sun’s intense heat; to the perpetual glare of light; to uncleanness; to the effect of dews during night on those who sleep on the roof of their houses, etc. Thou Son of David.—See on Matthew 1:1.

Matthew 9:28. The house.—The house in which He sojourned at Capernaum, probably that of Peter and Andrew (Mark 1:29). Believe ye? etc.—His early cures had been wrought almost without solicitation. Now that evidences were multiplied, the kingdom recognised, a proportionate expression of faith is expected (Laidlaw).

Matthew 9:30. Straitly.Strictly, sternly (R.V. and margin). The word, implying originally the panting breath of vehement emotion, is one of the strongest used by the New Testament writers (Mark 1:43; Mark 14:5; John 11:33; John 11:38) to express repugnance, displeasure, or the command that implies annoyance. It is as if our Lord saw the garrulous joy on the point of uttering itself, and sought by every means in His power to restrain it. The reasons may be sought, as elsewhere, either:

1. In its being good for the spiritual life of the men themselves that they should show forth their praise of God, not with their lips, but in their lives; or
2. In the shrinking from mere notoriety, from the gaze of crowds drawn together to gaze on signs and wonders, and ready to make the Wonder-worker a king because He wrought them (Plumptre).


A sharp contrast.—The earlier and later halves of this passage are alike in one thing. They both speak of requests. They are different in almost everything else. The first request was the request of two blind men to Jesus. The second request was the request of Jesus to them. The first request was complied with. The second was not.

I. The request of the blind men, which we consider first, was natural enough in their case. He being such as they had doubtless heard Him to be, and they being such as they knew themselves to be, what more natural than that they should ask from Him what they required? If others had been helped by Him, why not they? What was more remarkable was the apparent strength and depth of their faith. Not every one, at that time, had recognised Jesus as the “Son of David.” Not every one was ready by calling Him so, virtually to salute Him as Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 2:8). It is carefully to be noted, therefore, that these two blind men—not blind in mind—were not afraid so to do; and still more to be noted that they followed this up with much endeavour and prayer. It is never very easy for blind men to “follow” any one. Perhaps for two blind men more difficult still. Yet we are told here with something of emphasis that this was done by these two. They follow Jesus in the way (ver: 27); they follow Him into the house (Matthew 9:28); they come finally to Himself. If their effort is to fail it shall not fail through any slackness of theirs. Nothing could better prove the strength of their faith. Yet before He blesses them, the Saviour requires from them a further proof still. They have virtually professed faith in His mission. They must now openly declare their faith in His power. “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” That question must be answered, and answered aloud, before anything can be done. When it was answered, as answered it was immediately, then all that was needed was done. Done by a “touch,” done by a word, done by the exercise of their faith (Matthew 9:29), done with a yet added blessing at least as great as the first. “Their eyes are open,” and they are looking on Christ! A double blessing indeed!

II. The request of Jesus to them.—This was noteworthy in its matter. In what it did not ask. In what it did. What might not have been asked of two men who had just been enabled, so to speak, to gain half the world at a stroke? Certainly, compared with what it had been a moment before, the world was now double to them—twice as full of sources of pleasure, of the means of knowledge, of ideas of beauty and glory. To them, in a word, what Christ had done was to say “Let there be light.” How strange, therefore, that all He asks in return should be of a negative kind, not to publish what He had done for them, to be silent about it, to leave it untold. That, in substance, is all He asks. The manner of His request is as surprising, in an almost equal degree. He “sternly” charged them, so some; He peremptorily forbad them, so others; He did with them, in a word, in a manner which is illustrated by what is said (the word is the same) of the severity and indignation of some of the disciples in Mark 14:5. Do not you go and begin telling this story. That is My express word and command. Whatever you do if you wish to please Me, do not take up that line. The reception accorded to this request is the last surprising thing here. It was as uncompliant and defiant in every way as it could possibly be. Instead of being silent, the two men did nothing but speak. Instead of not telling it at all, they spread it abroad. Instead of confiding it only to a few, they proclaimed it wherever they could. They acted, in a word, just as though the request of the Saviour had commanded them the very thing He forbade. Apparently His request was as strange to them as it is, at first, to ourselves.

To us, who look on from a distance, and compare what is said here with what is said elsewhere of our Saviour, there are two truths which this very strangeness seems all the more to enforce.

1. The superiority of Christ’s character.—At the least we see here that He does not seek for that praise of men which is sought for by most; which is the very breath of their nostrils to many men; and about which they are more jealous than anything else (1 Samuel 18:8; Proverbs 15:30; Matthew 27:18). The love of fame, it has been said, is “the last infirmity of noble minds.” Evidently, in His case, there is not a trace even of this.

2. The identity of His natureHis human naturewith ours.—This supreme anxiety to avoid the praises of men in this case points to something behind; to something which is deeper than it is possible for us in all points to explain. But we may at least hope that we are on the right track to such an explanation when we bear in mind the mysterious yet indubitable truth that our Divine Lord and Master, on the human side of His being, was “tempted in all points as we are.” Viewed in this light, what we read of here seems quite parallel to such passages as Matthew 4:10, Matthew 16:23; and not altogether dissimilar to those words of Bishop Hooper, who, when someone was led to speak, on the night before his martyrdom, of all the misery he might escape from if only willing to recant, replied by saying, “As you love my soul do not speak to me so.” At any rate, in those words of His we seem to hear something of the same indignant earnestness as that noted by us above. We may believe, therefore, that it was due in part to a similar cause!

“He knows what sore temptations mean,

For He hath felt the same.”


Matthew 9:29. Expectancy and success.—“According to your faith,” etc. These words embody a principle which applies to church work. If we expect little we shall have little; if we expect much we shall have much. Large success is greatly to be desired. A hopeful spirit is important in order to success in any work. If the school-boy believes himself a dunce, he loses heart, his lessons become irksome, and there is great danger of his becoming the dunce he fears he is already. If a man takes up a business without much hope of succeeding, if he imagines he sees the bankruptcy court ahead, it is not unlikely that he will see it indeed. How can he go into his new enterprise with enthusiasm if he indulge in gloomy forebodings, and how can he achieve any considerable success without enthusiasm? So in church work; if we expect large success, we are much more likely to realise it than if there be no such expectation. Notice how this spirit of expectancy works:—

I. It stimulates prayer.—Our praying will be very different if there be a lively expectation of receiving, from what it will be if this be absent. There will be a ring of joyous exultation about it, and the voice of thanksgiving and praise will be heard as well as the voice of prayer. It might seem, at first, as though expectation would check prayer rather than stimulate it, for why should we ask if we are already confident of receiving? But experience teaches that this is not so. Having prayed, and received the assurance that blessing will be given, we continue in prayer; our expectant eyes are raised unto the Lord our God, and we wait before Him still with eager desire. Indeed, our confidence enlarges our desire.

II. It stimulates effort.—To achieve nothing requires no great exertion; so if the members of a church are not expecting success they will not work for it.

III. It promotes co-operation.—Where the members of a church are not standing shoulder to shoulder and together striving for the faith of the gospel, it is an indication that there is no expectation of large success.

IV. It promotes consistent Christian living.—The conversion of souls to God being much in the thoughts, Christians are careful about their conduct lest they should be stumbling-blocks in the way of any.

Why should we not have success?

1. Think of the material we have to operate upon—in the congregation, the Sunday-school, the town.

2. Think of the power of the gospel.

3. Think of the capabilities of the church. 4. Think of the experience of the past. Has not God granted success when the conditions have been fulfilled? Experience should work hope. He may be depended upon for the future.—H. M. Booth.

Faith.—It is the bucket let down into the fountain of God’s grace, without which the man could not draw up out of that fountain; the purse which does not itself make its owner rich, but which yet effectually enriches him by the treasure which it contains.—Anon.

Matthew 9:30. A time to be silent.—

I. When silence is commanded.
II. When the truth itself may be out of season

III. When the truth is only partially known.

IV. When it might be as pearls cast before swine.J. C. Gray.

Verses 32-35


Matthew 9:33 Marvelled.—This miracle produced a great impression. Why so, we may easily understand. The Jewish Rabbis and teachers practised exorcism. They professed to cast out evil spirits. They did, perhaps, produce effects of a noticeable kind on nervously disturbed persons. But a deaf and dumb “possessed” person was beyond their reach. They could do nothing with such a case. They could not address the man. He was beyond the scope of any influences which they could bring to bear. Jesus Himself explains to the disciples in another case, where “possession” is ascribed to a “dumb spirit,” that such were peculiarly hard even for faith to deal with (Mark 9:29). Here, then, was an instance of Jesus’ power specially fitted to impress the people, and it also specially exasperated the hostility of His enemies (Laidlaw).


Continuance in well-doing.—As the two blind men go out a dumb man is brought in. This is the key of this passage. Whoever may be brought to Him, whatever His enemies say about Him, Jesus goes on as before.

I. The case of the dumb man illustrates this, to begin.—It does so, in the first place, by the singularity of its features. There was something about it that pointed at once to a supernatural cause; something, it may be, in the evident sense of oppression on the part of the sufferer; or in the peculiar obstinacy of his dumbness; or in the utter absence of anything in physical organization, or in lack of mental power in other respects, to account for it. What is evident is that no one present doubted its cause; not the multitude who were so unusually impressed by its cure; not the Pharisees, who would only too gladly have ascribed the evil to something else than demoniac possession had they thought that their doing so would be of any avail. All were agreed that it was a true case, and apparently, also, a very marked case of being “possessed of” the evil one. If the poor man said nothing himself, his very appearance said that. It did so, next, by the completeness of the cure. This was complete in regard to its origin—“the devil went out.” Complete in its issue—the dumb man spake. He has regained his own will. He has regained his old powers. He proves both by his speech. We can well believe that, when he spake at first, no one spake but himself. All ears would listen to hear speech where they had not heard it for so long. But all those ears, and all minds behind them as well, were fully satisfied when they did. There was no doubt of the matter in the judgment of any. The miracle really “spoke for itself.” However abnormal the case, the treatment of it had been triumphant. And this, yet further, all the more so, because of the manner of action. For the Evangelist, it may be observed, speaks of the process almost as a matter of course; like one who does not think it necessary to describe what he has described so often before, or even to state expressly by whose intervention the result described was effected. His language, in fact, to use a modern expression, was almost casual in its tone. “When the devil was gone out, the dumb spake.” Nothing else need be said. Not Who did it. Nor how it was done. Nor how well it was done. In this respect the cry of the multitude “It was never seen so in Israel,” did not apply. On the contrary, very much of the kind had been so seen in Israel in the case of the Saviour. What was so observable here was His doing so now, after having done like it so often before, and in such an exceptional case.

II. The case of the Pharisees illustrates the same point.—When those enemies of Jesus saw what was done, and still more, when they saw the effect it produced, their envy and perplexity were equally great. Something must be attempted to stay this effect; some explanation offered; some pretext put forth. What they bethink themselves of is what they often afterwards tried. They ascribe the power displayed against the devils to a source of like kind; in fact, to the highest source of like kind. These minor devils, they said, were cast out by the greatest of all. Passing over for the moment the absurdly impossible and absolutely suicidal character of this explanation, what we would here notice in it more especially is its outrageous spite and ingratitude. There is no token of sympathy with the rescued victim; no word of thankfulness to the God of Israel, as, apparently, on the part of the multitude; only a resolution, while admitting the facts, not to admit their true force, if possible. Anything rather than allow them to be to the credit of Jesus, and in support of His work. How then, we ask next, does He meet this attempt? This ungrateful action? This cruel wrong? Not, as afterwards, by spoken language, and in a singularly telling manner, but by going on with His work. That, indeed, seems to be all that the Evangelist has to tell us at present. As day follows day; as place after place is visited; as He meets with many or few; as He is confronted with this or that kind of malady; in all this variety there is no variation in His own objects and plans. First of all, everywhere He is the Teacher and Preacher. Next, everywhere the Physician and Friend (Matthew 9:35). Not even that “contradiction of sinners against Himself,” of which we have just heard, prevents Him from going on in that course. Anything less like the “works of the devil” it is impossible to conceive. Anything more triumphant it is folly to ask. It is like burying darkness under mountains of light!

1. What a pattern of work we have here.—“Be not weary in well-doing.” So the Apostle taught us by word. So the Saviour here by His life.

2. What an incentive to work we have here.—What was the incentive to work in Christ’s case? To recommend the “gospel of the kingdom.” To rescue men from the power of the devil, however exhibited. To “do good” to us men—us sinners—us lost ones—us undeserving ones. Can we do better than imitate Him? Can we do anything less, indeed, and do right?


Matthew 9:33. Spiritual dumbness.—I. Some complain that their intellectual culture is not sufficient to enable them to speak to edification. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God hath ordained praise. The demon of intellectual pride must be cast out.

II. Some say, “I have very little ability, others can do so much better.” God does not want ability so much as availability. The demon of selfishness must be cast out.

III. Others say, “I can’t and I won’t use my tongue in the church’s service. I have not been used to it.” The demon of wilfulness must be cast out.J. F. Clymer.

Matthew 9:35. Christ the Physician.—In Christ we are allied to the highest and the largest ideal of the most disinterested efforts for the physical and moral welfare of man that our earth has ever seen. Times, indeed, there were in His ministry when it might even have seemed that the human body had a greater claim on His attention than the human soul.

I. Now it would be a great mistake to suppose that this feature of our Saviour’s ministry was accidental or inevitable. Nothing in His work was accident; all was deliberate; all had an object. We may infer with reverence and certainty that Christ’s first object was to show Himself as the Deliverer and Restorer of human nature as a whole—not of the reason and conscience merely, without the imagination and the affections—not of the spiritual side of men’s nature, without the bodily; and therefore He was not only Teacher, but also Physician.

II. What is the present function of the human body? We see in it at once a tabernacle and an instrument; it is the tabernacle of the soul and the temple of the Holy Ghost. And thus the human body is, in our idea, itself precious and sacred; it is an object of true reverence, if only by. reason of Him whom it is thus permitted to house and to serve.

III. And again there is the destiny of the body.Canon Liddon,

Christ’s care of the multitude.—

1. Diligence in teaching and preaching the gospel is the proper way to convert and save souls, which Christ Himself hath appointed and practised in His own person.
2. Justly is the gospel called “the gospel of the kingdom,” both of grace and glory, seeing it is the light which showeth the kingdom, the furnisher of weapons to fight for it, the sceptre whereby the subjects of the kingdom are guided, the rules and law for the subjects’ life. It containeth the evidences of the subjects’ right to the kingdom, and being received in a man’s heart it bringeth with it a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.

3. The best opportunity of people’s convening must be taken for teaching the gospel, and no pains should be spared for that purpose. Christ, the Prince of pastors, went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues.
4. Christ’s miracles were, all of them, profitable to men.
5. There is no evil or malady of soul or body among people which our Lord is not able and willing to heal in all those that employ Him.—David Dickson.

Verses 36-38


Preparing for change.—We seem here to be like men arriving at a new stage on their journey. At such a juncture they naturally ask, on the one hand, how far they have reached; and, on the other, what is required by them more. With regard to our Saviour’s ministry, we shall find that both these questions are answered for us in the passage before us.

I. The nature of the position arrived at.—This was a position in which, on the one hand, there were great evidences of success. Twice before we have had special mention of such evidences. One (Matthew 4:25) just before the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount. One (Matthew 8:18) before leaving Capernaum for “the other side.” So also here, as it were, we see the Saviour stirred by like evidence of success on seeing the “multitudes” at His feet. To a feeling heart it is always affecting to see a vast assemblage of souls. Still more to know that they have assembled together to hear what can be said to them by that heart. Much must have been done by it already, very much, before they were brought to that point. A position, on the other hand, in which there were still greater evidences of necessity. For what, in fact, and as they were were these vast multitudes like? They were like those who had already received very much; but who also, on that very account, were in need of still more. They were like unnumbered “sheep,” who, just because of their numbers, needed tending the more. They were like plenteous crops which, because of their plenteousness, needed reaping the more. If it was affecting, therefore, to see their abundance, it was still more so to see their condition. So many sheep waiting to be tended, and no one to do it! So many harvests asking to be reaped, and no one to reply! No one at any rate, in such way as that Master-shepherd desired; and desired so because only His wisdom knew as well the depth as the reality of their need. Oh! for more and better means of following up this success!

II. The nature of the requirements thus brought into view.—These are shown by reverting again to the nature of the comparisons which are here employed by our Lord. To what, e.g. are we pointed, on the one hand, by the figure of “sheep?” What do “sheep” need but to be shepherded? To be under pastoral care? Also to be so in such degree as both their condition and their numbers demand? Being so many, and being so exposed, and being also so recently “found” and acquired, as it were, and not having as yet gone very much farther—if all so far—as to “know the voice” of their shepherd, they required attention, so to speak, at every moment and side. Instead of which, as things were, the Saviour beheld them “fainting and scattered abroad”—fainting (so some) because “fleeced” (?)—deprived of support rather than supplied with it—scattered from the fold, not gathered into it. Under that aspect the great need was that of “pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11) to labour under the Saviour. On the other side what are we pointed to by the similitude of the “harvest”? Is it not to the fact that amongst those vast multitudes gathered together before the Saviour (representatives of others beside) there were very many who could hardly yet be rightly described as His “sheep.” They were rather ready to hear than hearers already; disciples rather in desire than in attainments; souls that “had need” of being made acquainted with the first principles of the kingdom of God (Hebrews 5:12). Little was possessed by such but the desire to possess. If they were to be taught, there must be some to teach them. If they were to be “gathered in,” there must be those to do it. Under this head, therefore, the great need was that of “evangelists” and preachers of Christ—reapers rather than shepherds—the men of the sickle rather than those of the crook.

This being so, what ought to be done? What ought first to be done? The close of this passage teaches to pray. “Pray ye, therefore”—because of these things—before anything else. This is the first lesson taught by this Scripture. In all your necessities begin with prayer. Too often too many of us only bring it in last. “There is nothing left but to pray”—we sometimes hear said of the sick. “I am sure I have tried all and every one. I see nothing now but to pray.” Observe here, therefore, how exactly different was the way of our Lord. Whether, on the one hand, with His counsel, in teaching His disciples. Whether, on the other hand, with Himself as we find at this very time from Luke 6:12-13. Why go to prayer first? Because it takes us at once to the right quarters. Who so certain to know about the harvest and all its needs as the Lord of the harvest? Who so likely to be interested in them? Who so able to help? Who so able, especially in this case where the need of help is extreme; where labourers have to be even “thrust forth” (Matthew 9:38) to this work? Who so able to do this as He who sent Saul of Tarsus into His harvest? Also, because it is not only worse than idle to begin anywhere else; but self-sufficient and presumptuous and distrustful also in an equal degree.


Matthew 9:36-38. Motives to missionary work.—The two emblems Christ uses present most strikingly the great motives to missionary work.

I. Compassion for the lost.

II. Zeal for the Divine glory.—“Sheep having no shepherd”—this appeals to our human sympathies; the Lord of the harvest deprived of His harvest for want of labourers to gather it in—this appeals to our love and loyalty to God.—J. M. Gibson, D.D.

Compassion for the multitude.—Under two aspects the state of the people appeared to the Saviour’s eye and affected His heart.

I. As scattered sheep having no shepherd.—In all antiquity, both heathen and Hebrew, it was usual to speak of nations as flocks and their rulers as shepherds. A people without instruction, guidance, and motive, were sheep without a shepherd. The Old Testament uses this mode of speech frequently. In the time of our Saviour’s sojourn in Galilee the rulers, priests, and scribes were bound to shepherd the people, to watch over them, and feed them with knowledge, disclosing to them the love of the Divine Shepherd of Israel. But these men went about to establish their own righteousness, exalting and pleasing themselves, while the people were perishing for lack of knowledge.

1. The eye of Christ, while fixed on men’s outward condition, is fastened most earnestly on their moral and spiritual condition.—So should ours be.

2. The Lord spoke of the fault of the shepherds rather than of the sheep.—i.e. He will reckon most strictly with men that have positions of trust and opportunities of usefulness.

3. The cure of moral and spiritual neglect must be gradual.—Why did not the Son of God, at one stroke, with Divine power, remedy all that was wrong? Conversions may be in the twinkling of an eye, but much has to be done and taught before, and much after.

II. As a plenteous harvest spoiling for want of reapers.

1. Labourers are needed.

2. The Spirit of God blesses the pains we take to bring our instruments to the best efficiency.

3. But men are demanded sent by the Lord of the harvest Himself.—How to get them is clearly indicated in Matthew 9:38. There is another array of reapers coming for whom you do not need to pray (Matthew 13:41).—Donald Fraser, D.D.

Matthew 9:36. Compassion for the multitude.—This compassion is:—

I. The incident of brotherhood.—The one great mark of the humanity of Jesus is the perfect naturalness of the feeling which it expresses the moment the scene calls it forth. Nothing is ever arranged for. Nothing is ever got up. As He goes, that happens which sets the fountain playing. That is Christ’s brotherhood, and Christ’s brotherhood is not a thing of yesterday, it is to-day too. He is what He was. “I am He that liveth and was dead.” Wherever there is the Christ-spirit there is the sense of kinship with the struggling, with the weary, with the restless, with the ever moving multitudes.

II. The mainspring of action.—Human action, like human life, is very complex. Motives are various. There is a man who does kind things now and again. He does generous things even now and again, but it is by a sort of fluke. He is, perhaps, religious in a sense, but he is essentially selfish. The mainspring is self. And the multitudes—why, they are only to him what he can get out of them! His interest does not really travel beyond that. There is another man. Occasionally he does a hard thing; occasionally he speaks a harsh word and his judgment is harsh, but it is a mistake. In the core of his being he is a really generous-souled man. And yet, because Christ loved the multitudes so well, He never pandered to them. That is what a great many people are doing in this day. It is very very difficult to find persons who will speak honestly and deal faithfully and truly with the multitudes.

III. The revelation of God.—He who is thus moved is the very brightness of the Father’s glory. All love in us is a reflection of a love that is greater than ours. But Christ is more than a reflection; He is the exact likeness. He is God in our very flesh. What you behold in Him is the sign of that which God eternal is.—J. M. Lang, D.D.

Multitudes.—A right view of a multitude cannot but deeply affect a right-hearted man.

1. Diversified histories.
2. Conflicting emotions.
3. Opposite relations to God and truth.
4. Different destinies.—J. Parker, D.D.

Pity.—Balzac, in “The Alchemist,” in depicting an ideally perfect love, makes the object of it deformed, thus profoundly indicating that love is not at its height and perfection without the element of pity (T. T. Munger). Nothing but the infinite Pity is sufficient for the infinite pathos of human life.—Shorthouse’sJohn Inglesant.”

Matthew 9:37-38. The abundance of the harvest and the scarcity of the labourers.

I. The harvest.
II. The labourers

III. The Saviour’s plan for increasing the number of the labourers.

1. Where persons offer this prayer in sincerity, they make a solemn acknowledgment that God must do all the work.

2. They mean that, when God raises up men, they will furnish the means to convey them to the heathen, and support them when they get there.

3. When young men utter this prayer, they mean that, if it is the will of God, they are ready to become labourers.

4. When Christian parents offer up this prayer they express their willingness that their children should go.—Richard Knill.

Matthew 9:38. The Lord of the harvest.—

I. The seed is His.

II. The field is His.

III. The harvest is His.J. P. Lange, D.D.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Matthew 9". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/matthew-9.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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