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CHRIST is here described in feeding the people by a miracle. He giveth Sight to a blind man, and sweetly discourseth with his disciples.
IN days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, (2) I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: (3) And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. (4) And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? (5) And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. (6) And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. (7) And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. (8) So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. (9) And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
In addition to the observations made on those miracles of JESUS feeding the multitude, see Matthew 15:32 ; Mark 6:35 . I would here only detain the Reader, to remark how unceasingly that compassion of JESUS is still exercised, now in the day of his power; in feeding his redeemed spiritually here, in grace, and above, in glory. Let the Reader turn to the beautiful and interesting account which is given of his Church in glory, where CHRIST leads them to fountains of living water. Revelation 7:17 . And when, he hath beheld, by faith, the Church above, let him look to the Church below, and see no less how Jesus still feeds them with, his grace. He is himself the living bread and the living water. John 6:51 ; John 4:14 . and as he promised): so his redeemed find; all, who are fed by him, feel such fulness, that they hunger no more, neither thirst any more, after the empty, unsatisfying things, of time and sense; but find CHRIST's flesh to be meat indeed, and his blood to be drink indeed. Reader! shall we not both say, LORD! evermore give us this bread! LORD! evermore give us this water, that we thirst not, neither go elsewhere to draw. John 6:34 ; John 4:15 .
(10) And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.
Matthew calls this place Magdala. Matthew 15:39 . but it should seem that Magdala was the larger, of which Dalmanutha formed a less place, in the same coasts.
(11) And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. (12) And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
The sighing of CHRIST, deeply in spirit, as it is said he did, is no doubt of great signification. I do not presume to explain. Yet I venture to differ from every Commentator on the passage, who speak of it, as if JESUS was grieved at the hardness of the Pharisees' hearts, in not believing on him. Surely this could never be the case. For as JESUS knew them, and spake openly of them as a generation of vipers, which could not believe; how could the LORD be supposed to sigh on this account? See Matthew 23:0 . throughout. But though I do not presume to assign the cause of the LORD's sighing deeply in spirit, I would beg to call the Reader's attention to the act itself, as a sweet testimony of his human affections. Oh! how truly blessed is it to discover, that JESUS was, and is, partaker of flesh and blood; and that in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren. Hebrews 2:14-17 .
(13) And he left them, and entering into the ship again, departed to the other side. (14) Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. (15) And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. (16) And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. (17) And when Jesus knew it, saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? (18) Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (19) When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. (20) And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. (21) And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
If the whole body of the Apostles were with CHRIST, the one loaf was a scanty allowance. But yet, He who had wrought so great a miracle but just before, could soon supply. The disciples then were much of the same complexion as now, soon forgetful, to overlook and forget CHRIST's power. But the precept of CHRIST, to be careful of the leaven, both of the Pharisees, and of Herod, is very striking and important. The Pharisee-leaven hath been a deadly weed in the Church of CHRIST; that is, I mean the real Church of CHRIST, which hath produced much obstruction and entanglement to the pure seed. What leanness of soul it hath produced, and is now producing, in numbers of the hearts of GOD's people, who shall calculate? The leaven of Herod, and of the Sadducees, one should conceive, was like our Free-thinkers, despising all revelation. LORD! I would say, preserve thy Church from every false leaven.
(22) And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. (23) And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought? (24) And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. (25) After that, he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. (26) And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
This Bethsaida is the town concerning which the LORD pronounced woe. Matthew 11:21 . And yet from thence came Peter and Andrew and Philip. John 1:44 . Reader! it is blessed to observe how the Church of CHRIST is gathered from various places, Even Jericho had a Rahab. Joshua 2:1 ; Hebrews 11:31 . And what is more wonderful, from Rahab, after the flesh, sprung CHRIST. Matthew 1:5 . And in what numberless instances do we find the children of the kingdom spring after the flesh, out of the loins of the carnal, who are not heirs of the promise. And again, on the contrary, how frequently the children of the kingdom are the progenitors of the ungodly. All which proves that grace is not hereditary. Such are among the mysteries of GOD!
I only detain the Reader over this miracle of the blind, here recorded, to whom Jesus gave sight, to remark, how the LORD was pleased to work this miracle by a progressive cure. It is not said in what state of blindness he was; whether without eyes, or only the eyes he had were totally void of vision. But I beg the Reader, once for all, to observe, and it is, in my view, a very important observation, always to have in remembrance, as well in this instance as in all others, of JESUS giving sight to the blind, that in cases where the sockets of the blind were eyeless, the LORD JESUS, in every cure, must have created eyes, as well as given sight. And this, by the way, became, in every instance, a complete demonstration of his GODHEAD, and proved him to be the Creator. Let the faithful believer never lose sight of it. And let the infidel, who denies the GODHEAD of CHRIST, explain the possibility, upon any of his infidel principles, if he can, how JESUS could create eyes, and yet not be GOD. The LORD challengeth the blind to come forward as his witnesses that he is GOD. And indeed if creation be, as it unquestionably is, the proof of GODHEAD, nothing can be an higher proof. Isaiah 43:8-10 . See John 9:0 . throughout. In the progressive cure of this man, no doubt the LORD was pleased to shew how the path of the just is as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto a perfect day. But we must not, from hence, conclude, that our being in CHRIST is obtained in a progressive manner, though our enjoyment of that being is increased by an increasing knowledge. Not so. The opening, or the creating of this man's eyes, became the consequence of a being in CHRIST, but the being itself was from all eternity. I am speaking upon the presumption of a spiritual sight, as well as a bodily, being given to this man.
(27) And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? (28) And they answered John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. (29) And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? and Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. (30) And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
We never can be sufficiently thankful to the LORD for putting this question to his disciples. Neither can we too highly prize that grace the LORD gave Peter in the answer. Oh! for the same divine teaching, whereby alone the knowledge he had is attainable. See Matthew 16:13 , etc.
(31) And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests aid scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (32) And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. (33) But when he had turned about, and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
Although, on the similar passage recorded by Matthew, I have made similar observations, and to which I refer, Matthew 16:22-23 , yet, if it be only to repeat them, they cannot be too often brought before us. Behold, Reader! in the instance of Peter, what man is! Who could give a more blessed testimony than Peter had just given, concerning his GOD and SAVIOR. And from whom did he learn it, but from GOD the HOLY GHOST? But how plain it is, that when Peter took JESUS, and began to rebuke him here, he learnt not this from that Almighty Teacher! Reader! let you and I learn the vast importance of being always under his blessed teachings, who teacheth not as man teacheth. And let us learn, moreover, from the instance of this great Apostle, how evident it is, that the people of GOD may be blessed of the LORD the SPIRIT to make blessed confessions at times, and yet at others, have indistinct views of some sweet and precious things of GOD.
(34) And when he had called the people unto him, with his disciples also, he said unto them, Who soever will come after me, let him deny himself; and take up his cross, and follow me. (35) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (36) For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (37) Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (38) Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation: of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
I cannot suffer this blessed discourse of the LORD JESUS to pass un noticed, though in the parallel passage, Matthew 16:24 to the end, (which see,) I have already remarked upon it. But it were a pity to let a single word of JESUS drop to the ground. A single soul is of more value than the whole world; and for this plain reason: The time is coming, when the whole world, and all that is in it will be destroyed; but the soul of every individual must live, either in happiness or misery, forever. Reader! pause over the subject, and calculate, if possible, the value of a single soul. The creation of it called forth the council of the whole persons of the GODHEAD. The redemption of it cost CHRIST his blood. The regeneration of it was the work of GOD the HOLY GHOST, The everlasting happiness of it engaged the services of angels, and of men continually. Angels rejoice in heaven in the recovery of every sinner. Hell rageth in the event of their salvation. The soul hath a capability of grace here, and glory forever. And therefore what a loss, incalculably great, must it be, that a being of such qualities, and so formed, should be exposed to everlasting destruction. Reader! Who is there, think you, capable of being ashamed of JESUS, and his words? Never man spake like him! Never any among the sons of men to be compared to JESUS! Ashamed of him! All nature might blush at the very thought. But yet, in fact, every son and daughter of men take shame at Jesus and his Gospel, who do not seek salvation in his name and righteousness only; and everyone who wishes to add unto, or take from, the finished salvation of the LORD Jesus CHRIST. LORD JESUS! grant that heaven and earth may now be able to witness for me, and Jesus himself will be my witness then; that in thee alone all my hopes, wishes, joys, expectations, are. And, like, Paul, may I be able to say with the same assurance of faith; GOD forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14 .
MY soul! see to it, that the frequent notice, the Gospel takes of those Scribes and Pharisees, the sworn foes to CHRIST, that thou do not overlook the important lesson to be drawn, from what is said of them.. They were zealous in their profession, of what they called godliness; but it was a godliness only of nature, unawakened by grace. It consisted in outside appearance, honoring GOD with the lips, while their hearts were far from him. My soul! see to it, that an union with CHRIST forms the basis of all thy worship. It is with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.
Precious LORD JESUS! do thou keep me, by thine Almighty power, through faith unto salvation. Give me to see, that from an everlasting union with thee, in a covenant which cannot be broken; here lies the security of grace, to suit the wants and circumstances of all thy people. JESUS will say, Ephphatha to the unopened eyes and ears of all his children, born in the Adam-nature of blindness, deafness, yea, dead in trespasses and sins. Thine LORD, is the work to accomplish, and thine all the glory. Cause me daily to see thy glory, to hear thy voice, and my whole heart and soul to speak thy praise!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11