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The HOLY GHOST is pleased to record, in this Chapter, the cure which the LORD JESUS wrought on the Man sick of the Palsy; CHRIST's call of Matthew; his sitting at meat with Publicans; and his divine Discourses at the Table. The Chapter closeth with an account of his passing through the Corn-field on the Sabbath-day.
AND again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
It is very blessed to behold the earnestness of the people in following JESUS. Luke saith, they pressed upon him to hear the word of GOD. Luke 5:1 . Reader! are we as earnest to follow JESUS? Are the public offices, and the gates of great men crowded with persons, and shall not you and I delight to be found waiting at the pardon office of JESUS?
(2) And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. (3) And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. (4) And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. (5) When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. (6) But there were certain, of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts. (7) Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? (8) And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? (9) Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? (10) But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) (11) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. (12) And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
I stay not to remark, what might otherwise be very profitably attended to in the several circumstances of this man's case, the disease of his body; but I have so much to say in relation to the state of his soul, and the souls of GOD's people, who are all so highly concerned in what is here said, that I fear I shall trespass, and exceed the limits I ought to observe, before that I have said all I wish to say on a subject so abundantly interesting. But otherwise, here would be ample opportunity to enlarge upon such a subject, as a misery of nature, in the painful crippled state of a poor Paralytic, and the mercy of JESUS in healing him. But it is the palsy of the soul, which this of the body became a lively emblem of, that demands our special notice; and may the LORD render our contemplation of it profitable to our hearts. Think, Reader! what a crippled, benumbed, and helpless state our whole nature is reduced to by the fall! And behold, as in the instance of this man, he had no power of himself to come to CHRIST; so neither have we. See, in proof, John 6:44 . But what a beautiful lesson is read to us in the friends of this poor creature, in the earnestness with which they brought him to CHRIST. No throng, no obstructions, will they allow to stop them. Even the housetop shall be opened, but CHRIST shall have him brought before him. Oh! that the LORD's people, who know, in their own cases, the blessedness of JESUS's grace, would feel somewhat of the same earnestness for the salvation of others. Methinks I would bring to ordinances, and also in private approaches, to the mercy seat, the whole of my carnal, graceless relations; and do as they did by this man, lay them down before the presence of JESUS. More than this I am not able to do; but thus far I am encouraged to do. And that compassionate LORD, who hath healed my crippled soul, can cure theirs.
And I pray the Reader to observe, how infinitely JESUS's love out run their desires of favour. They brought the poor man to be healed only in his body, whereas JESUS extended his mercy also to the cure of the soul. And do not overlook the gracious manner in which the lord of mercy did it. Son (said JESUS) thy sins are forgiven thee. Did not Jesus mean, by the tender appellation, that he was, indeed, one of those children which the FATHER gave him in the everlasting covenant? One of those concerning whom JESUS hath already said, he will, at the last day, when presenting his Church to himself and Father, say; behold I and the children whom thou hast given me. Isaiah 8:18 ; Hebrews 2:13 . Reader! do not forget, in this view to remark, that a Son of JESUS may be, and frequently will be, deeply afflicted, in body, while blessed in soul. Sickness, and the thousand other ailments of life, are not tokens of being out of the covenant, but rather of being in it. Whom the LORD loveth, it is said, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he receiveth. Hebrews 12:6-8 . And what I particularly beg the Reader to remark is, the unconsciousness of this relationship, in the poor man, until JESUS told him of it. So that though one of CHRIST's own, a son by adoption, and given to CHRIST, in an everlasting covenant, yet he himself knew, it not, but was crippled with disease, and borne down with affliction. Let the sons and daughters of the LORD GOD Almighty, who, by regeneration, know themselves to be such, by adoption and grace, think of this, as they review this man's history. If ye endure affliction, saith the HOLY GHOST, GOD dealeth with you as with Sons. The reasoning of the Scribes and Pharisees, though resulting from malice to CHRIST, was founded in what is right, concerning the thing itself. None but GOD can forgive sins. But here JESUS manifested that he was truly GOD, as well as man, by exercising this divine prerogative. And in confirmation that he was GOD who possessed this sovereign power, he instantly wrought a miracle, in nature, to cure the body, as he had wrought a miracle of grace in pardoning the soul. Look at this, ye people of GOD, and rejoice. Your JESUS is GOD; One with the FATHER over all, GOD blessed forever, Amen. Look at this, ye that deny the GODHEAD of my LORD, and be ashamed. Oh! that the LORD may carry conviction to the unbeliever, in such a striking testimony of CHRIST's eternal power and GODHEAD, and cause the knee of the heart to bend before JESUS, crying out with the Prophet. Who is a GOD like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin! Micah 7:18 . For other observations on this miracle, See Matthew 9:2-8 .
(13) And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. (14) (11 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. (15) And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. (16) And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him at with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (17) When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
We had the relation of the call of Levi, or Matthew, in the preceding Gospel, See Matthew 9:9 . to which I refer for the observations also. I only again beg the Reader to remark, the wonderful properties of distinguishing grace. Say what men will concerning it, the truth itself stands where it always did, and always will. For, saith the HOLY GHOST, by his servant Paul, in the case of Jacob and Esau, the children being not yet born, and neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of GOD, according to election, might stand; not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said, the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Romans 9:11-13 ; Malachi 1:2-3 . Hence Matthew, Mary Magdalene, the Thief on the cross, and multitudes have found CHRIST who sought him not; while Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for. Romans 11:7 . What decided testimonies to the doctrine of distinguishing grace?
(18) And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? (19) And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. (20) But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. (21) No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. (22) And no man putteth new wine into old bottles, else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
In addition to what was offered on this scripture, Matthew 9:14 , etc, it may be further remarked, that in cases where the outward ministry of the word is heard and received into the old unrenewed heart of the Adam-nature, as the fermentation of new wine will burst the old dried skins into which it is put, so men, unrenewed by the HOLY GHOST, will burst with hatred, both against CHRIST and his people. Perhaps no hatred is equal to that which the carnal mind fosters against the people of GOD. And not simply the carnal, but the professor, in whose heart no saving work of grace hath been wrought. It is painful to flesh and blood, sometimes, to meet the malice of the ungodly and openly avowed profane. But the persecution of professors of godliness, in the Pharisees and Self-righteous, under the cover of sanctity, comes with a deeper malignity. The LORD JESUS himself noticeth this in Judas. Psalms 55:12 , etc.
(23) And it came to pass, that he went through the corn-fields on the sabbath-day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. (24) And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath-day that which is not lawful? (25) And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? (26) How he went into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? (27) And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (28) Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
There is somewhat uncommonly beautiful and interesting in this view of JESUS and his disciples passing through the corn-fields; and the discourse which arose out of it, from the disciples plucking the ears of corn and eating them. The allusion which JESUS makes to the hunger of David and his companions, in eating the shewbread, gives a blessed spiritual application to the subject. On the LORD's day, and every day, when hungry souls seek for CHRIST, the true shew bread, and the bread of life, where, but to the house of GOD, shall they go for this spiritual sustenance? It is now indeed the most blessed days of our High Priest, of which those of Abiathar were but a shadow. And the LORD JESUS hath made all his redeemed, both kings and priests, to the Father. So that, when our spiritual David, and they that are with him, go into the house of GOD, the LORD sets a feast of fat things before them, in the enjoyment of his person, blood and righteousness, and saith, Eat, O friends! drink, yea drink abundantly, Oh beloved! Song of Solomon 5:1 . And I pray the Reader to observe, what our dear LORD saith in relation to the Sabbath, of which he himself is the LORD, that it was made for man. What man? Not only as a mere rest for the whole race of men, but for the LORD's people, as a sacramental ordinance of the LORD's rest front the works of creation. The rest is in CHRIST. Yea CHRIST himself is the rest wherewith he causeth the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing. Isaiah 28:12 . And hence the Psalmist saith, return to thy rest (thy Noah, thy Ark, the type of CHRIST). Psalms 116:7 . And hence the HOLY GHOST declares, there is a rest (JESUS himself) which remaineth for the people of GOD. Hebrews 4:9 . So that the Sabbath was made for man, the renewed man, for the special persons of those interested in the LORD of the Sabbath, and to whom He is, peculiarly and personally, both the LORD of the Sabbath, and the Sabbath itself, in whom they rest, and who is their soul-refreshing. It is precious thus to eye CHRIST as the sum and substance of all; the ordinance, the shewbread, the Sabbath, and the LORD of it; in whose house, yea in himself, it is lawful, and lawful only to his priests to eat of Him, the bread of life, and live forever. John 6:48-58 .
HAIL thou glorious LORD JESUS! Thou hast indeed, fully manifested thy power on earth to forgive sins; and as in this instance of the man with the palsy, thou hast healed the body, in confirmation of having saved the soul. Speak LORD but the word to my soul also, and sure I am of salvation. And oh! thou dear LORD, hast thou not taught, by thy freeness of thy call of Levi, that all thy calls on sinners, are the result of thy free sovereign grace, and not their deserts? Had Levi done anything to merit thy favor? Yea, had he not done everything to merit thy displeasure? And notwithstanding all his undeservings, was he called; and JESUS found of him, who sought him not? And is not JESUS as much now, in this day of his power, as then, in the days of his flesh, passing by, in ordinances, and in providences, and calling his redeemed from this world's custom, to follow him in the regeneration? And is it not JESUS who calls, and JESUS, who by his HOLY SPIRIT inclines, the hearts of them he calls to follow, and to take JESUS home, as this poor publican did, to their hearts and to their houses; and make JESUS a feast of his own bounties of the grace, JESUS gives them? Yea, is it not the wish and desire of every poor sinner, whom the LORD makes willing in the day of his power, to invite all poor sinners made sensible of sin, to come and sit down with JESUS and his disciples? What, though proud, unhumbled, self-righteous Pharisees, murmur at the grace of JESUS; let those who never felt the want of redemption, proudly reject it: but let every poor broken hearted sinner rejoice, in what the Sort of GOD hath said came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
And let it please thee, my gracious GOD, to bless all thou receivest with thy favor, as thou didst Levi, Never, never, may any poor sinner fast, while JESUS is with them, and in his fulness they have enough for the supply of all their poverty. Never take a part of JESUS' robe of righteousness, to mend their tattered rags, but receive at whole CHRIST as suited for a wholly ruined sinner; and be completely covered with CHRIST's garment of salvation. Never receive the new wine of the Gospel, into the old skin of a withered nature: but may the LORD, who sitteth on the throne, making all things new, give the new heart, and the new nature together, and make all his redeemed new creatures in CHRIST JESUS! And be thou, dearest LORD, both the corn and the wine, and the oil, yea, the very sabbath of all thy people, till thou shalt bring them all home, to thy self, in glory!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13