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The Lord Jesus is here represented in the exercise of his ministry, working miracles, and going about through all the cities and villages, preaching his gospel, and healing every disease of the people.
In the relation of this miracle by Mark, he names Capernaum as the place where it was wrought; so that this may serve to teach us, that when Christ's own city is spoken of, it means Capernaum, and not Bethlehem, where Christ was born. This miracle is among the many, one of the highest in confirmation both of his Godhead, and of his mission as the Messiah. The Prophet had said, - Behold, your God shall come and save you; and then shall the lame man leap as an hart. Isaiah 35:4-6 . Observe, the first act in proof of Christ's eternal power and Godhead which he manifested towards this man with the palsy, was to pardon his sins. The reasoning of the Scribes was well founded in truth, though formed by them in malice, that none but God himself can forgive sins. And the Lord Jesus, by the exercise of this authority, and in the cure of the body, which immediately followed, proved that he was God. The second act in proof of his Godhead was, that Jesus knew their thoughts, and acted upon that knowledge, by telling them what they thought. This also is the sole prerogative of Godhead; and this Christ exercised. Jeremiah 17:10 ; Revelation 2:23 . And the evidence the Lord Jesus immediately gave of his person and power in the cure of the palsy, confirmed the whole beyond a doubt. When the Reader hath duly considered these grand things in this miracle, I would beg to call his attention to other considerations, which arise out of it. In this miracle the Lord Jesus seems to demand attention to his character as Messiah; for he calls himself the SON of Man. It was to be among the features of Him that was to come to be known under this character. Hence when John sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether he was the very person that should come, or were they to look for another, the Lord Jesus referred to those testimonies, in proof that he was the very SON of Man. Compare Isaiah 61:1 with Matthew 2:2-6 . And hence Jesus also, in his discourse with the Jews, when they attacked him for healing the man on the Sabbath day, declared that all authority was given to him to execute judgment, because he was the SON of Man. So that over and above his own personal power and Godhead, in the essence of JEHOVAH, he here acted in his mediator-character, and thereby manifested who he was, and the great object for which he came. I pray the Reader, in order that he may have a clear apprehension of this subject, and to distinguish between the SON of God's person, as one of the persons in the Godhead, and his office-character, as mediator,
God and Man in one person, that he will turn to those scriptures in proof before he goes further, John 5:17 to the end. John 17:2-3 ; Matthew 26:62-65 . There is one point more in this miracle, which merits our earnest attention; namely, the tenderness and compassion of Jesus, which unasked, pardoned the sin of the soul, while healing the disease of the body. Well might the astonished beholders, in the contemplation of this miracle, express their thankfulness to God. Just how is it, that under such impressions, no saving conviction of Christ is said to have been wrought upon their hearts? The Reader will find an answer to this, and similar questions of the like nature, Isaiah 6:9-10 ; Matthew 13:14 ; Mark 4:12 ; Luke 8:10 ; John 12:40 ; Acts 27:26 ; Romans 11:8 . For other observations on this miracle, I refer the Reader to Mark 2:9-12 .
The call of Matthew is most interesting, and serves to mark the distinguishing grace of God. His name from Mattan, a gift, seems suited to one who received the free gift of the Lord. Here was no preparation, no enquiry after Christ; no waiting at ordinances, yea, not so much as a conscious sense in the heart of Matthew, of his want of salvation. He was sitting in his gainful office of a Publican, or tax-gatherer: an office odious to all the people of Israel, and when exercised by a descendant of Israel, yet more hateful. Such was Matthew; and so employed, when the Lord Jesus passed by, and called him from a tax gatherer, to be an Apostle and Evangelist. Oh what grace was here? How truly was that scripture fulfilled, I am found of them that sought me not. Isaiah 65:1 . What an astonishing instance of mercy was this. How very powerful must have been the call! How gracious on the part of Jesus! How surprising to the heart of Matthew? And observe the instant effects. No sooner doth Jesus call, but Matthew obeys. And as Jesus opened Matthew's heart to receive him, Matthew opens his house to welcome Jesus. Neither is this all. For as this one Publican had found mercy from the Lord, Matthew invited other Publicans to come and find mercy also. There is enough in Christ for all. What a lovely view to behold the Great Redeemer, encircled at Matthew's table, with Publicans and Sinners! The murmuring of the Pharisees is just as might be expected, and such as hath marked Pharisees in all ages. But what a lovely answer the Lord gave to the charge. The very character of Christ, as the Physician of the Soul, naturally led him to haunts of sickness, for the exercise of his profession. And by referring them to that memorable passage in the prophet Hosea 6:6 . Jesus took the words as applicable to himself in confirmation of his office: Jehovah Rophe, I am the Lord that healeth thee. Exodus 15:26 .
It is wonderful to see how fond men have been in All ages to substitute anything, and everything, in the room of real godliness, and a change of heart. Fasting and alms-giving, and services, however costly, shall be set up, provided they may find pardon to the sins of nature. But all these are not regeneration. It is the old nature still. It is still the old creature, only dressed up in a new form: not transformed in the renewing of the heart. Jesus makes use of two beautiful similitudes to shew the folly of it. The new cloth put into the old garment; and the new wine into old bottles: neither of which can receive into union what is altogether the reverse of themselves. The strength of the new cloth will only tend to rend the old; and the old dried skins of bottles must burst if new fermenting wine is put into them. In like manner, the new robe of Jesus' righteousness cannot be joined to patch up our filthy rags: neither can the new wine of the Gospel be received into the old unrenewed skin of nature. But when the Holy Ghost hath by regeneration made all things new, and Christ's righteousness is received as the new robe of salvation; and the blood of Christ as the wine that maketh glad the heart of man; both then are preserved and blessed. Judges 9:13 ; Psalms 104:15 ; Isaiah 61:10 . See Mark 2:18 , etc.
We have here two most interesting miracles of the Lord Jesus; and they are blended into one view, because the one runs into the other, and both serve mutually to illustrate the glory of Jesus. The importunity of the poor man, that Jesus should hasten to his child, and the interruption which took place from the woman in detaining Christ for her cure, are finely worked up, both to heighten the miracle, to exercise the faith of the patient, and to manifest the sovereignty of the Lord. What an interruption was this woman's stopping Christ to the ardor of the ruler. How he must have felt! How his fears must have increased; lest, according to his views, Christ should come too late. Anti Mark, in the relation of this miracle adds to Matthew's account, that while Jesus was speaking with this woman, there came certain from the ruler's house which said, thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the master? Mark 5:35 . And Luke in like Manner, Luke 8:49 . Let the children of God in their exercises of faith, while at any time the Lord is suspending his gracious answers to prayer, or bringing them into difficulties, or under all their dead and dying frames, think of this! Remember, it is one thing to feel and know our own totally lost and helpless state; and another to have lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is not what we are, but what Christ is. And it is good to have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we may not trust in ourselves, but in him that raiseth the dead. Oh! the blessedness of entering into the full enjoyment of those sublime truths of Jesus, when he saith, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live; and lie that liveth and believeth in me shall never die. 2 Corinthians 1:9 ; John 11:25-26 .
The account of this woman, is uncommonly interesting. Mark, and Luke, add to the account of her twelve years labouring under this disease, that she had spent all her living upon physicians, and had suffered many things of many of them, and was nothing better, but rather worse. What a striking representation of the sinner, who is seeking relief to his sin-sick soul, in anything short of Christ! Such it is, and such it must be, in every case, and circumstance of spiritual malady. None but Jesus can cure. Twelve years, or eighteen years, as the woman in the synagogue, (Luke 13:11 ) or eight and thirty years, as the man at the Pool of Bethsaida, (John 5:5 ) are all the same, until Christ is found! Oh! that every poor sinner, crippled by sin, was made sensible of this: that instead of looking to Physicians of no value; in tears, and attempted reforms in their own strength, might, like this woman, be led to Christ. Job 13:4 . We never can sufficiently admire the faith of this woman; neither can we sufficiently bless Him who gave her such strong faith; for she said of Christ, if I may but touch his garment I shall be whole. Reader! let us not hastily pass away from the view of such illustrious faith in this daughter of faithful Abraham, without first crying out with the Apostles, Lord! increase our faith! I must beg the Reader also to notice the humbleness of the woman, in the midst of such exalted faith; she came behind Christ! The greatest faith is always blended with the greatest humility. Never will a soul, lay lower before God, than when that soul is entering into the sweetest communion with Cod. The higher views we have of the Lord's grace, the humbler views shall we have of our own understandings. Genesis 18:27 ; Ezra 9:15 . And I must beg the Reader also in noticing this woman's humbleness, in coming behind Christ, to remark; that our approaches to Jesus', in every direction, behind, or before, is the same. The lamb is in the midst of the throne. Revelation 7:17 . Hence Jesus is acceptable, all around, and in every direction. They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south. They shall come that are ready to perish. Isaiah 27:13 . So that any poor sensible sinner, who, like this woman, hath been spending all in pursuits after healing, and found none, because never looking wholly to Jesus; but now being led by the Holy Ghost to Christ; though blushing to come before Christ in the sight of any fellow creatures, from consciousness of disease, shall come behind Christ; the touch of faith, the trust in Christ, will find virtue from Christ; and, like her, the sinner be made perfectly whole.
We must not dismiss our review of this miracle before that we have also considered the grace and favor manifested by the Lord Jesus to this woman; for this is the chief point in the miracle. Jesus, which had, unknown to her, given her this lively faith to believe in him, as instantly gave his blessing to that faith. And however unnoticed, as she might suppose herself to have been, Jesus gave her to understand, that he both knew her complaint, and the cure he had wrought for her. Reader! what a precious consideration it is, that however unknown our cases are to men, they are all well known to our Cod. In the greatest throng, as well as in the secret place, Jesus sees all, knows all, and both appoints, and will sanctify, all and every individual case and exercise of his people We never can sufficiently admire the abundant tenderness the Lord Jesus manifested upon this occasion, to this poor woman. She wished the cure to be in secret: but no! Jesus will have her faith in him made public. His grace to poor sinners shall be proclaimed thereby; and, her trust in him shall make her history illustrious through endless generations. Both Mark and Luke relate this miracle with more particulars than, Matthew; for they observe, that when the woman touched Christ's garment, Jesus, immediately knowing in himself what was done, and that healing virtue was gone out of him, (Reader! mark that in testimony of his Godhead) turned himself about, and said, who touched one? And when all denied, his unconscious disciples wondered how Jesus should make such an enquiry, while such a multitude were thronging and pressing him. But He, who knew all that had passed, while looking round to eye her, (as he did in after days look on Peter, Luke 22:61 ) by his grace in her heart, inclined her to come and look on him. And oh! what a precious interview then took place, which neither of the Evangelists could relate; the love, and joy, and thankfulness to Jesus, in the consciousness of her cure, and the delight in the heart of Jesus in beholding the blessed effects of his salvation. Such, Reader! is now the case in every recovered sinner! And such will be the case of the whole Church of God, in every individual instance, when the ransomed of the Lord shall return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10 .
It is high time to follow Jesus to the Ruler's house. Here death had taken place, and according to all human calculations, all hope was over. But not so with Him who came to be the life and light of men. As the Lord Jesus quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins, so he was pleased in several instances to manifest the sovereignty Of his power, in raising from the dead many of the bodies of his people. Matthew 11:5 . Oh! with what ease can Jesus now raise up our dead, and dying affections! Never should a soul despair that reads this miracle. Neither when the enemy, or graceless friends would tempt one to give it over, saying, in words like those who came to the ruler, thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master; even then, when hope seems hopeless: oh! what cannot Jesus accomplish? And while he saith, be not afraid, only believe, may my soul say with one of old; Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him! Job 13:15 .
Concerning this miracle, I beg the Reader particularly to observe, that the cry of those men was evidently the cry of faith: for the name by which they distinguished Christ, Thou SON of David! was the known character in which the Jews were taught to expect Christ. And the opening of the blind eyes was to be a token of his mission. Isa_35:5; Isa_42:7; Isa_61:1 .
Let the Reader, as he beholds the succession of miracles, and remarks the woeful effects of sin, from whence all the maladies of the world are derived, contemplate the glory and loveliness of Him who came to do away sin by the sacrifice of himself! Oh! the awful estate of being possessed with an evil spirit! Such are everlastingly dumb to proclaim the praises of God. Well is it for us that the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8 .
What an interesting sight must it have been to have seen Jesus thus engaged, preaching the doctrines of grace, and confirming the word with ministering to all the wants of nature. And I beg the Reader not to overlook what is said of Jesus on those occasions: he was moved with compassion, that is, the compassions of Jesus were the compassions of God-Man, the divine and human nature blended. It is most essential to the proper apprehension of Jesus' feelings of our infirmities, always to keep this in view. For the Lord Jesus, having the same human nature as we have, hath the same affections, the same feelings as we have. And therefore, though the infinite perfections of his divine nature give all that dignity and power which make his mercies divine, yet from his human nature being united to the Godhead, his compassions are no less human mercies also, Oh! the blessedness of such views of Jesus. See Hebrews 4:15-16 . The similitudes of a shepherd, and harvest, are too plain to need a comment. But as Christ alone is the shepherd of his flock, and the Lord of the harvest, the only One who can authorize to the ministry in the labors of it; we are to pray, but it is the Lord who must send suited servants to the harvest.
READER! behold your God and SAVIOR in this chapter. See how he manifests who he is by what he wrought. As God! he pardons sin, as in the instance of the Paralytic! He reads the thoughts and reasonings of men's hearts, as in the case of the Scribes. He cures the souls, gives health to the bodies, raiseth the dead, casts out devils, and as man, yea the God-Man Christ Jesus, he is moved with compassion, and his bowels yearn over the lost estate and misery of our poor, ruined, and diseased nature. Oh! who that had seen his grace; to Matthew; to the woman with the bloody issue; the ruler of the synagogue, and his dead child; to the blind and the dumb; but must have said with the Prophet, behold your God is come to save you! And who that had seen him, at the table of Matthew, encircled with Publicans and Sinners, but must have said, was ever grace like this, in the unequalled condescension of the SON of God!
Oh! blessed Lord Jesus! do thou now still regard thy people, still behold them in all the miseries and sorrows of a state of nature and sin, in their palsied, blind, dumb, dead, and dying circumstances. Oh! thou Great Shepherd of thy blood-bought flock! Exalted as thou now art, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, send forth thine underpastors in thy fold, and let thine heritage be no longer scattered. Yea! dearest Lord Jesus! come thyself and visit them as thou hast said with thy great salvation, and bring them home to thy fold in heaven, from all places whither they are now scattered in the dark and cloudy day! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany