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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Luke 8

 

 

Verses 1-3

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . Went throughout every city.—This marks a new departure in the work of Christ: hitherto He had made Capernaum His headquarters, and had not gone very far away from it: now He began to extend the range of His activity. The time, however, is not precisely indicated. Shewing the glad tidings.—There is only one word in the original—"evangelising."

Luk . Certain women. Cf. Mat 27:55-56; Mar 15:40-41. Mary called Magdalene.—I.e. of Magdala, on the Lake of Gennesaret. As stated in a previous note, there is no authority for identifying her with "the sinner" of the last chapter. She is introduced here as one whose gratitude to Jesus had been excited by His having delivered her from the direst form of Satanic possession, and as a person evidently of wealth, both of which circumstances seem incompatible with those of the woman there named. Joanna.—Mentioned again in Luk 24:10 : nothing more known of her. As here stated, she had been cured by Jesus of some infirmity. Chuza.—Conjectured by some to be that "nobleman" (or courtier) whose son Jesus had healed (Joh 4:46). Herod.—I.e. Herod Antipas. Steward.—The word is a very vague one, and may denote lieutenant of a province, treasurer, house or land steward, agent or manager. The fact of Christ having a disciple or disciples among those in the court of Herod explains what is said (in Mat 14:2) about Herod's speaking "to his servants" about Jesus. Susanna.—Not again mentioned.

Luk . Ministered.—Supplied the necessaries of life. Unto Him.—Rather, "unto them" (R.V.), i.e. to the apostolic company.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

Grateful Disciples.—In some instances those who had profited by the exercise of Christ's miraculous power, and had been healed of their diseases, rewarded Him with ingratitude, and did not even thank Him for their cure. But in many, perhaps in most cases, those whom He healed became His disciples. Yet only some of these became, or were allowed to become, His followers in the literal sense of the word. One, at any rate, who wished to accompany Him whither soever He went was not allowed to do so, but was told to return to his friends and tell them of the great things God had done for him (Luk ). In this paragraph of the gospel history we read of a number of women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities being permitted to manifest their gratitude by following Him and by ministering to His necessities and to those of His apostles. There is something very pleasing in this eager desire to be with Christ—to listen to His teaching and to see His beneficent works, more especially those works of healing which would remind them of their own deliverance. Yet the love and gratitude thus manifested implied devotion of a heroic type, for many things conjoined to interpose obstacles in the way of carrying out the desire to accompany the Saviour in His missionary journeys. Two of these obstacles we may indicate.

I. The life they shared was not without hardships and dangers.—Perhaps, as we view them from this distance, the journeyings of the Saviour and His disciples seem full of excitement and interest; the varied scenes, the picturesque incidents, the remarkable persons who figure in them, the wonderful deeds of the Saviour and His gracious discourses, appear to us as clothed with an almost romantic charm. What could be more delightful than to listen to the Sermon on the Mount, to witness the raising of the widow's son from the dead, to partake of the food miraculously multiplied, or to be present on occasions when Christ showed mercy to the outcast and friendless, or overcame His adversaries by a wisdom which they would neither gainsay nor resist! But we need to remember that there must have been many days of hardship and discomfort. Sometimes the Son of man was wearied and exhausted, sad in heart at the sight of misery, distressed by the unbelief of the multitude and the hatred of the ruling classes. It was no light matter to follow Him day after day—to share His fatigues, and griefs, and humiliations, and to become subject to the danger which loyalty to Him often involved. Following Him when there was not leisure so much as to eat—when He spoke words which sifted the crowds and drove many away—when His enemies took Him up to the cliff to cast Him down, or when they were on the point of stoning Him—was possible only for those of strong love and ardent faith. We who are wedded to ease, and ruled by habit and custom, need not delude ourselves by imagining that following Christ in these circumstances was a privilege we would have been eager to secure. We are only too easily discouraged by obstacles in the religious life—by our aversion to discomfort and our regard for the world's opinion—to be sure that if we had lived in the days of Christ's earthly ministry we should have displayed a devotion like that of these disciples.

II. The perfect holiness of Christ, too, hindered many from following Him.—It did not hinder these. If holiness does not attract, it repels. It is a constant rebuke to all insincerity, double-mindedness, self-righteousness, and conceit, as well as to all positively vicious tendencies and practices: it assails the faulty motive as well as the sinful act. And the only way in which to live with any degree of comfort in the society of one who is truly holy is to strive to become the same. Following Christ, therefore, meant imitation of Him. In no other way could the spectacle of His piety, love, humility, and heavenly-mindedness be borne day after day. If we find ourselves incapable of a devotion to the Saviour like that of this faithful band of women, we may well ask ourselves, Have we like them known Him as a Healer and Deliverer? If we had really passed through their experience, we could scarcely fail to manifest a gratitude like theirs.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . "Throughout every city and village."—Christ now began to enlarge the sphere of His work, and, instead of making Capernaum His headquarters, to enter upon a systematic and complete visitation of the whole province of Galilee. From this time it is that He speaks of Himself as not having where to lay His head. His apostles too are called to give up their secular occupations and place themselves at His complete disposal—either to be with Him as He preached, or to go upon missions He might give them. The difference between the subject-matter of His preaching and that of John the Baptist is very plainly indicated. John spoke of preparing for the coming of the kingdom of God; Jesus announced the glad tidings that it had come. The main duty of the Christian preacher is, like Christ, to proclaim the good news of God's love to men, though he will feel bound also to speak words of warning to the indifferent and impenitent.

Luk . "Ministered unto them" (R.V.).—A subordinate but still an interesting question suggests itself as to how Christ and the twelve were sustained now that they had given themselves up to spiritual work among men. From what source was the common purse replenished? (Joh 13:29). How did they provide for bodily necessities and have wherewith to give to the poor? (Joh 12:6). St. Luke here gives the answer. It was not by making use of His miraculous power that Jesus provided sustenance for Himself and for His apostles, but by consenting to receive assistance from some of those who were grateful to Him for blessings they had obtained from Him. "He who was the support of the spiritual life of His people disdained not to be supported by their gifts of things necessary for bodily life. He was not ashamed to penetrate so far into the depths of poverty as to live upon the alms of love. He only fed others miraculously; for Himself, He lived upon the love of His people. He gave all things to men His brethren, and received all things from them, enjoying thereby the pure blessing of love; which is then only perfect when it is at the same time both giving and receiving. Who could invent such things as these? It was necessary to live in this manner that it might be so recorded" (Olshausen).

"All these things shall be added."—Jesus thus fulfilled the precepts, and found the accomplishment of the promises He gave to His disciples: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things (food, clothing, etc.) shall be added unto you" (Mat ); "Every one that hath forsaken houses, … or father, or mother, … or lands, … shall receive an hundredfold" (ibid. Luk 19:29).

A Messiah living on the Bounty of Men.—What a Messiah to the eyes of the flesh was this One who lived on the bounty of men! But what a Messiah, to the eyes of the spirit, was this Son of God, living by the love of those whom His love had made to live!—Godet.

The Maintenance of Ministers of Religion.—The principle according to which Christ acted is that laid down in the New Testament for the guidance of the Christian Church in the matter of maintaining those who minister to the spiritual needs of the community. "The labourer is worthy of his hire," and "the Lord hath ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel" (chap. Luk ; 1Co 9:14).

"Certain women."—The part played by women in ministering to the necessities of Christ and His apostles is most appropriate; for it is to Him that they owe their emancipation from degradation, and admittance on equal terms with men to all the privileges of His kingdom. In Christ there is "neither male nor female" (Gal ).

The Notices of Women in the Gospels.—It is interesting to notice that the Gospel history does not mention the case of any woman who was hostile to Jesus, but speaks of many who were devoted to Him. Martha served Him in Bethany, and Mary sat at His feet; Mary anointed Him, and so did the woman in the house of Simon; most signal examples of faith were afforded by the Canaanitish woman and by her who touched the hem of His garment; a woman, the wife of Pilate, bore witness to His innocence at the time the unjust sentence was passed on Him; women lamented Him on His way to crucifixion, and drew near to the cross; women went forth early to the grave of the risen Lord, and a woman was the first to see Him after His resurrection.

The Same Kind of Devotion, still Possible.—May not His loving people, and particularly those of the tender, clinging sex, still accompany Him as He goes from land to land preaching, by His servants, and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God? and may they not minister to Him of their substance by sustaining and cheering these agents of His? Verily they may; and they do. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." Yes, as He is with them "alway, even unto the end of the world," in preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, even so, as many as are with the faithful workers of this work, and helpful to them in it, are accompanying Him and ministering to Him of their substance.—Brown.

"Mary … out of whom went seven devils."—She had been

(1) delivered from the direst form of misery, and

(2) was now admitted to the highest felicity in following her Lord and in ministering to His wants.

"Joanna … wife of Herod's steward."—Not even the corruptions of Herod's court could hinder the holy influence of Christ from penetrating to the hearts of some of those there. In like manner there were Christians in the household of Nero (Php ).

"Susanna."—Otherwise unknown; but what more glorious record could be preserved of any life than is here indicated by the mention of her name in this connection? what purer or more lasting fame can any one win than that of having ministered to Christ?

The Needs of an Oriental comparatively Few.—It must be borne in mind that the needs of an Oriental are very small. A few dates, a little parched corn, a draught of water, a few figs or grapes plucked from the roadside trees, suffice him; and in that climate he can sleep during most of the year in the open air, wrapped up in the same outer garment which serves him for the day. Hence the maintenance of a poor man in Palestine is wholly different from the standard of maintenance required in such countries as ours with their many artificial needs.—Farrar.


Verses 4-18

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . A parable.—The word "parable" means a putting forth of one thing beside another for the purpose of comparison between them. Christ's adoption of this mode of teaching marks a certain change of procedure: He clothes the truth in a garb which will veil it from the carnally-minded, but illustrate it to the spiritually-minded. This parable was the first of the kind Christ spoke.

Luk . A sower.—Rather, "the sower," also "the rock" (Luk 8:6), "the thorns" (Luk 8:7). The wayside.—The hard, beaten pathway. Trodden down.—This detail is peculiar to St. Luke.

Luk . Rock.—That is, a rock covered with a thin coating of earth. St. Matthew and St. Mark speak of the seed's rapid growth and of the heat of the sun beating upon it. St. Luke lays stress upon its being unable to draw up the moisture it needs for growth.

Luk . Thorns.—I.e. roots of thorns: ground infested with weeds which spring up along with the good seed.

Luk . An hundred-fold.—St. Luke omits the varying degrees of fertility—"some thirty-fold, some sixty-fold, some an hundred-fold" (Matthew and Mark). He that hath ears, etc.—"In other words, ‘this teaching is worthy the deepest attention of those who have the moral and spiritual capacity to understand'" (Farrar).

Luk . Asked Him.—When He was alone (Mar 4:10).

Luk . Unto you it is given, etc.—This rather an answer to a question which St. Matthew says the disciples put to Him, as to why He spoke to the multitude in parables. Mysteries.—The word is generally used in the New Testament in reference to things that have once been hidden, but are now revealed. Seeing they might not see, etc.—Unwillingness to obey the truth leads to incapacity to see the truth. It is not Christ's wish to reserve knowledge of deeper truths for initiated disciples, but deprivation of the faculty of understanding follows as a necessary consequence of neglect of that faculty. There is abundant compensation, on the other hand, in the fact that the method of teaching He adopted opens up fresh vistas of truth to those who are willing to be taught—who receive what they hear into an honest and good heart.

Luk . Those by the wayside are they, etc.—Notice in this and following verses the seed is identified with those who hear it with varying results. In Luk 8:14 the identification leads to a certain confusion of metaphor in the use of the phrase "go forth." The first fault noted is hardened indifference to the word that is heard; it has no effect whatever upon them, and disappears without leaving a trace behind it.

Luk . They on the rock.—The second fault is want of moral earnestness, which is generally accompanied by impulsiveness of feeling. Temptation.—Trial, in the form of "affliction or persecution" (Matthew and Mark).

Luk . Among thorns.—The third fault is that of preoccupation with other things, which, whether morally innocent or evil, distract the attention and hinder growth in spiritual life.

Luk .—Several details in this verse are peculiar to St. Luke—"an honest and good heart," "keep [the word]," and "with patience." All lay stress upon "the need of perseverance in opposition to the various temptations to fall away which have just been described" (Speaker's Commentary).

Luk .—This section is connected with the foregoing parable, as is evident from the first sentence of Luk 8:18, and also from the fact that a similar section is found in the parallel passage in St. Mark's Gospel.

Luk . A candle.—Rather, "a lamp" (R.V.), and so "candlestick" should be "stand" (R.V.). "The object of this saying is to impress upon the disciples their duty: they must explain to others what has become clear to themselves" (Speaker's Commentary).

Luk .—The reference here is still to the light, or to Divine truth which was being unveiled to the disciples: the Divine purpose is that it should shine out and illuminate the world.

Luk . Seemeth to have.—Or, "thinketh he hath" (R.V.). For whoever hears without understanding may in one sense be said to have, in another not to have, the truth.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

The Same Seed and Differing Soils.—As Jesus watched the crowd assembling, and perceived the various dispositions with which the people came, he could not but reflect how much of what He had to say must certainly be lost on many. He was conscious of that in His own mind which, could it only be conveyed into the minds of those pressing around Him, would cause their lives to flourish with righteousness, beauty, love, usefulness, and joy. They came, some out of curiosity, some out of hatred, all thinking themselves entitled to hold and express an opinion concerning the importance or worthlessness of what He said. They needed to be reminded that, in order to benefit by what He had to say, they must bring certain capacities. The object of the parable is to explain the causes of the failure and success of the gospel. The seed is not in fault, the sowing is not in fault, but the soil is faulty.

I. The first fault of soil is impenetrability.—The hard, beaten footpath that crosses the cornfield may serve a very useful purpose, but certainly it will grow no corn. The hard surface does not admit the seed: you might as well scatter seed on a wooden table, or a pavement, or a mirror. The seed may be of the finest quality; but for all the purposes of sowing you might as well sprinkle pebbles or shot. It lies on the surface. This state of matters then represents that hearing of the word which manages to keep the word entirely outside. The word has been heard, but that is all. It has not even entered the understanding. Either from pre-occupation with other thoughts and hopes such hearers have their minds beaten hard and rendered quite impervious to thoughts of Christ's kingdom, or from a natural slowness and hard frostiness of nature: they hear the word without admitting it even to work in their understanding. They do not ponder what is heard; they do not check the statements they hear by their own thought; they do not consider the bearings of the gospel on themselves. The proposals made to the wayside hearer suggest nothing at all to him. His mind throws off Christ's offers as a slated roof throws off hail. You might as well expect seed to grow on a tightly braced drum-head, as the word to profit such a hearer; it dances on the hard surface, and the slightest motion shakes it off. The consequence is it is forgotten. When seed is scattered on a hard surface, it is not allowed to lie long. The birds devour it up. So when not even the mind has been interested in Christ's word that word is quickly forgotten; the conversation on the way home from church, the thought of to-morrow's occupations, the sight of some one in the street—anything is enough to take it clean away.

II. The second faultiness of soil is shallowness.—The shallow hearer our Lord distinguishes by two characteristics:

(1) he straightway receives the word, and

(2) he receives it with joy. The man of deeper character receives the word with deliberation, is one who has many things to take into account and to weigh. He receives it with seriousness, and reverence, and trembling, foreseeing the trials he will be subjected to, and he cannot show a light-minded joy. The superficial character responds quickly because there is no depth of inner life. Difficulties which deter men of greater depth do not stagger the superficial. These men may often be mistaken for the most earnest Christians; you cannot see the root, and what is seen is shown in greatest luxuriance by the superficial. But the test comes. The same shallowness of nature which makes them susceptible to the gospel and quickly responsive makes them susceptible to pain, suffering, hardship, and easily defeated. But how, then, can the shallow man be saved? The parable, which presents one truth regarding shallow natures, does not answer this question. But, passing beyond the parable, it may be right to say that a man's nature may be deepened by the events, and relationships, and conflicts of life. Many young persons are shallow: the old persons whom you would characterise as shallow are comparatively few.

III. The third faultiness of soil is "dirt."—There is seed in it already, and every living weed means a choked blade of corn. This is a picture of the preoccupied heart of the rich, vigorous nature, capable of understanding, appreciating, and making much of the word of the kingdom, but occupied with so many other interests that only a small part of its energy is available for giving effect to Christ's ideas. And as there is generally some one kind of weed to which the soil is congenial, and against which the farmer has to wage continual war, so our Lord specifies as specially dangerous to us "the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches." Among rich men and poor men alike you will find some or many who would be left without any subject of thought, and any guiding principle in action, if you took from them anxiety about their position in life. The actions of a year, the annual outcome or harvest of the man, are in many cases almost exclusively the product from this seed. Our Lord warns us that if the word is to do its work in us, it must have the field to itself. It is vain to hope for the only right harvest of a human life if your heart is sown with worldly ambitions, a greedy hasting to be rich, an undue love of comfort, a true earthliness of spirit. One seed only must be sown in you, and it will produce all needed diligence in business, as well as all fervour of spirit.

In contrast to these three faults of impenetrability, shallowness, and dirt, we may be expected to do something towards bringing to the hearing of the word a soft, deep, clean soil of heart, or as said here "an honest and good heart." There are differences in the crop even among those who bring good hearts; one bears thirty-fold, one sixty, one a hundred-fold. One man has natural advantages, opportunities of position, and so forth, which make his yield greater. One man may have had a larger proportion of seed; in his early days and all through his life he may have been in contact with the word, and in favouring circumstances. But wherever the word is received, and held fast, and patiently cared for, there the life will produce all that God cares to have from it. The requisites for hearing the word so as to profit by it are

(1) honesty,

(2) meditation,

(3) patience.—Dods.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . The Sower and the Seed.—Consider this seed of the everlasting gospel—

I. In the activities which it demands.—Sowing, watering, reaping. Casting the seed of Divine truth into the mind and heart, vigilant looking for the germinating of the seed, the expecting of results, and the gathering in of these in greater or less abundance.

II. In the conditions which it imposes.—Genuineness, skilfulness, and faith. The seed must be genuine, not bastard wheat: skilfulness comes through self-culture and experience. The full assurance of a simple and unhesitating faith.

III. There are risks which the seed encounters.—The incessant malevolence of the evil spirit, the emotional or the earthly nature of those you try to win, the peril from the home environment, an imperfect sense of responsibility, a one-sided view of duty, a specious self-esteem, a morbid self-distrust.

IV. The wages that it claims.—Visible results, "gathered fruit," the love of those instructed, the enriching of one's own spiritual life, the discipline of one's own understanding. To share our possessions is to double them. Truth is a possession not to be covetously hoarded, but to be eagerly passed on.

V. The joy of harvest.—Joy noble, holy, unselfish, Divine. Joy among the angels of God, in the heart of the crowned Jesus, to the Father who sees His Son glorified, to the husbandman who gathers the sheaves into his barn. What will your harvest be?—Thorold.

The Sower and the Seed.—Having our Lord's own explanation of the parable, the application of its various points is easily made.

I. The Sower.—He means Himself. He came forth into the world to sow good seed.

II. The seed.—God's message in His gospel.

III. The soil.—The four kinds are pictures of four kinds of human hearts:

1. Those into whom God's message never sinks.

2. Those who are temporarily influenced.

3. Those who are preoccupied—the commonest soil of all.

4. Those who have "honest and good" hearts.—Watson.

The Hearts which hear.

I. The heart which is never impressed.—Neither melted, attracted, nor terrified. Because they listen carelessly or with dislike. Satan, too, is ever at hand to hinder.

II. The heart which receives shallow impressions.—Eager to learn, but shallow-souled. Feelings touched, but conscience unaffected. The hard rock of an unchanged heart under the outward show of warmth and interest.

III. The preoccupied heart.—Cares keep some, riches keep others, from Him at whose right hand are "pleasures for evermore."

IV. The prepared heart.—Earnest, simple, grateful. The word is received with the full intention of obeying it.—W. Taylor.

Three Obstructions to Growth.—Three distinct obstructions to growth and ripening of the seed are enumerated. The statement is exact and the order transparent. The natural sequences are strictly and beautifully maintained. The three causes of abortion—the wayside, the stony ground, and the thorns—follow each other as the spring, the summer, and the autumn. If the seed escape the wayside, the danger of the stony ground lies before it; if it escape the stony ground, the thorns at a later stage threaten its safety; and it is only when it has successively escaped all three that it becomes fruitful at length.—Arnot.

How the Call of God is received.—This parable is both a solemn lesson and warning, and also a description of what is actually taking place in the world. It tells how the human heart actually treats the seed which is put into it—the word of God—the impulse which it receives from God to lead a good and holy life. All these receptions and all these rejections of the word are actually going on amongst us. There are calls perpetually going on; there are either sudden rejections or gradual forgetting of these calls perpetually going on also. The parable tells us how people treat these calls.

I. There is a certain class not necessarily without religious impressions and perceptions, but they think that they shall be able to make religious convictions and their treasured aim of success in life agree. All at once some impediment—something which goes against their conscience—bars the way. By a summary act they cast out the scruple, and are satisfied. Scripture assigns this to diabolical influence. Judas overcame with high hand his reluctance to betray our Lord; and it is said the devil entered into him. Where Satan succeeds he has gained a great victory, and goes far to achieve the loss of a soul.

II. The second class are those who from levity or carelessness of mind allow the word, which they at first received with gladness, to escape from them. They can be acted upon, "receive the word," but have no energy of their own to take hold of it and extract its powers, and so they soon fall away. It is one thing to begin a thing, and a totally different thing to go on with it. The commencement is fresh; the continuance becomes stale. Perseverance to the end is the Christian triumph. Love is tried by continuance, by going on with what we have begun. This class, however, had no depth of affection for what was right in God's law: they adopted it as a fancy, and threw it away again when they had tried it. Is not this very prevalent? What change, what inconstancy, do we see in the human heart!

III. The third class is guilty of worldliness—absorbed in the business, plans, and pursuits of this present life. They do not give a place in their thoughts to another world. The stream of life carries them along, being interested in the objects of this world, until that which has thriven by practice has completely driven out the principle which has had no exercise, and the result is a simple man of the world.

IV. Opposed to these different ways of treating the word of God, which end in its decay and suppression in man's heart, is the treatment given to it by the honest and good heart, which does not sin against light, abandon what is undertaken, is not ensnared by the deceitfulness of riches, or captivated by the pomp and show of this world. It is faithful to God, knows the excellence of religion, is able to count the cost, and to make the sacrifice for the great end in view.—Mozley.

Different Classes of Hearers.

I. The wayside hearers.—Some people become familiarised with the gospel; it ceases to be news of any kind. Every time we hear and do not, that is a hardening of the footpath. "A smile at the end of a sermon; a silly criticism at the church door; foolish gossip on the way home." Thus the seed is lost.

II. The rock hearers.—The word gets easily in, and as easily out again. Shallow, emotional hearers, who would do anything when they hear, except what costs trouble. They cannot resist temptation.

III. The thorny hearers.—The thorns are riches and worldly cares, and the poor are troubled with both as well as the rich.

IV. The honest hearers.—Sincere, earnest, believing, obedient.—Hastings.

Diverse Reception of the Word.

I. The wayside hearer hears the word, but does not understand it: the spiritually stupid.

II. The stony-ground hearer receives the word with joy, but without thought: the inconsiderately impulsive.

III. The thorny-ground hearer receives the truth, but not as the one supremely important thing: the double-minded.

IV. The fruitful-ground hearer receives the truth with his whole heart, soul, and mind: those of open and receptive mind.—Bruce.

Four Classes of Men.—Jesus discerned in the crowd four distinct kinds of countenances: some unintelligent and vacant; some enthusiastic and delighted; some of grave aspect, but evidently preoccupied; and some joyous and serene, as of those who had surrendered themselves wholly to the truth He taught. The first class includes those who are characterised by utter religious insensibility; they experience no anxiety of conscience, fear of condemnation, or desire of salvation: consequently they find nothing in the gospel of Christ which is congenial to them. The second is that of those whose hearts are fickle, but easily excited, and in whom imagination and sensitiveness of feeling supply for a time the lack of a moral sense. The novelties of the gospel, the opposition to received ideas which it proclaims, charm them. In almost every revival such men form a large proportion of the new converts. The third are those of serious but of divided heart: they seek salvation, and recognise the value of the gospel; but they long also for worldly prosperity, and are not prepared to sacrifice everything for the truth. In the case of those of the fourth class, spiritual interests rule the life. Conscience is not in their case asleep, as it is in those of the first of these classes: by it the will is governed and not by imagination or sentimental feelings, as in the case of the second; and it rules over those worldly preoccupations which are so potent in the lives of the third.—Godet.

Luk . "He spake by a parable."—The preceding verses indicate a change in the outward mode of life of our Saviour. What follows indicates a change in His mode of teaching, which arrested the attention and excited the surprise of His most intimate disciples (cf. Mat 13:10). Many were now gathered together about Him, and the mode of teaching He adopted was calculated to sift the crowd, and separate genuine disciples from mere careless hearers.

Parables have a Dark and a Bright Side.—A parable is like the pillar of cloud and fire, which turned the dark side to the Egyptians, the bright side to the people of the covenant; it is like a shell which keeps the precious kernel as well for the diligent as from the indolent.—Gerlach.

Local Colouring of this Parable.—The parable spoken, as St. Matthew tells us, while Christ taught on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, may have been suggested by the scene before Him. Dean Stanley, describing the shores of the lake, shows us how easily this may have been the case: "A slight recess in the hillside, close upon the plain, disclosed at once in detail every feature of the great parable. There was the undulating cornfield descending to the water's edge. There was the trodden pathway running through the midst of it, with no fence or hedge to prevent the seed from falling here and there on either side of it, or upon it—itself hard with the constant tramp of horse and mule and human feet. There was the "good" rich soil, which distinguishes the whole of that plain and its neighbourhood from the bare hills elsewhere, descending into the lake, and which, where there is no interruption, produces one vast mass of corn. There was the rocky ground of the hillside protruding here and there through the cornfields, as elsewhere through the grassy slopes. There were the large bushes of thorn springing up, like the fruit trees of the more inland parts, in the very midst of the waving wheat" (Sinai and Palestine).

Luk . "A sower."—Rather, "the sower," i.e. the servant to whom this task is entrusted. The figure Christ here uses of Himself—as one who by simple teaching begins the task of establishing the kingdom of God on earth—is in striking contrast to the conception of the Messiah which John the Baptist had formed: "whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor" (chap. Luk 3:17).

"Some fell."—Not "he sowed some by the wayside," but "some fell there." The intention of the sower is good, but it depends upon the hearer where the seed shall fall.

"Trodden down … devoured it."—Two dangers:

1. Careless obliteration of the truth heard.

2. The active malice of the devil.

"Fowls of the air."—These are the thoughts, talk, and business of the world, that dissipate the mind and keep it in an atmosphere of frivolity, preventing all entrance of what is heard to the heart.—Stier.

The Seed by the Wayside.

I. The beaten path.—

1. The heart is trodden down by habit and custom.

2. The heart is trodden down by sin.

3. The heart is trodden down by the very feet of the sower.

II. The lost seed.—

1. It lies on the surface for a little while and does nothing.

2. It is soon carried off.—Maclaren.

How are Human Hearts beaten into a Highway?—Every child's heart is sensitive to impression. But as it grows older—

I. The thousand influences, feelings, emotions, imaginations, treading over it continuously trample it into hardness.—Conviction of sin, not followed by turning from sin, leaves the heart harder.

II. The same effect is produced by the common experiences of life.—The wheels and carts of business. Too many make their hearts an open common, till they are beaten into an unimpressible callousness.

III. Another way is by the feet of sinful habits.—The vile feet of lust, of sensuality, of greed, of selfishness, of passion, are allowed to tread there. There is an impression that it does young people no harm to indulge in sin for a time, if they afterwards repent. It is a fatal falsehood. The heart that is trodden over by vile lusts or indulgences of any kind is never the same again.—Miller.

Luk . "It lacked moisture."—The moisture at the root of the seed is the same as what is called in another parable the oil, to trim the lamps of the virgins—that is, love and steadfastness in virtue.—Bede.

Luk . The Thorns.

I. They suck in the sap which should go to nourish the good seed, and leave it a living skeleton.

II. They outgrow the grain both in breadth and height.

III. They spring of their own accord, while the good seed must be sown and cherished.

IV. As long as they live they grow.

V. They tear the husbandman's flesh, as well as destroy the fruit of his field.

VI. It was where the seed and the thorns grew together that the mischief was done.

VII. When pulled up too late, they leave a mere blank in the field.—Arnot.

Luk . "Other fell on good ground."—Whence, then, is the difference? Not from the seed. That is the same to all. Not from the sower, neither; for though these be divers, yet it depends little or nothing on that. Indeed, he is the fittest to preach who is himself most like his message, and comes forth not only with a handful of seed in his hand, but with store of it in his heart, the word dwelling richly in him (Col 3:16). Yet the seed he sows, being this word of life, depends not on his qualifications in any kind, either of common gifts or special grace. People mistake this greatly; and it is a carnal conceit to hang on the advantages of the minister, or to eye them much.—Leighton.

"He cried."—The Lord calls the serious attention of the crowd to the unsatisfactory result of the sower's labours: "He exclaimed aloud"—He emphasised these words, which were intended to awaken in His hearers that faculty for recognising Divine things without which even the teaching of Jesus Himself would have been for them an empty sound. The parable, indeed, has that in it which might easily be heard without being understood: some might take pleasure in the picture which it presented to the imagination, without perceiving the spiritual truth that lay behind it. More than the bodily ear was needed for the perception of that truth.—Godet.

Luk . "Unto you it is given" etc.—Yet was there no permanent line of demarcation drawn between the disciples and the multitude. It was allowable for any hearer at any time to pass from the careless or hostile crowd into the company of those who intelligently and sincerely accepted Jesus as their Teacher and Saviour.

Luk . "The seed is the word of God."—The point of resemblance between the two is the powerful vitality that lies wrapped up in the unpretentious husk. The word, like the germ within the seed, has within it a force which is quite independent of human toil or effort, and which testifies to its Divine origin.

Luk . "The way side."—"The way is the heart beaten and dried by the passage of evil thoughts."

"Then cometh the devil."—"This is the most terrible saying in the whole Bible," says Luther, "and yet is so little thought of! For who thinks and believes that the devil too goes always to church and sees how men listen so carelessly to the word of God and do not even pray, and how their hearts are like a hard road, which the word does not penetrate? Alas! even in us who love the word of God there is still something of the hard road in our hearts."

Luk . "With joy."—There are two kinds of joy which the hearer of the word may experience. There is

(1) the joy which springs from a recognition of the greatness of the blessing as meeting a moral need, and which will lead the hearer to make any sacrifice to secure that blessing (cf. "for joy sold all that he had," Mat ); and

(2) the joy which springs from an overlooking the costs, and hazards, and hardships involved in a Christian life.

"In time of temptation fall away."—The heat which only matures a true faith scorches up that which is merely temporary.

Faith the Root.—Faith is to the Christian life what the root is to the plant.

I. It is hidden from sight in the depth of the soul; but—

II. It is the source of spiritual firmness, and stability, and prosperity.

Rocky Hearts.—O rocky hearts! How shallow, shallow, are the impressions of Divine things upon you! Religion goes never further than the upper surface of your hearts. You have but few deep thoughts of God, and of Jesus Christ, and of the things of the world to come. All are but slight and transient glances! The seed goes not deep. It springs up, indeed, but anything blasts and withers it. There is little room in some. If trials arise, either the heat of persecution without, or of temptation within, this sudden spring-seed can stand before neither.—Leighton.

Luk . Preoccupation with Worldly Things.—The failure of the seed among thorns is due to a preoccupation with worldly things which in different cases takes a different form.

I. The cares which harass the poor.

II. The distractions inseparably connected with a life devoted to the pursuit of riches.

III. The pleasures to which those who are rich are tempted to addict themselves. Cf. Jer : "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns."

"Go forth."—An indication of the restlessness of such characters, as contrasted with the "patience" of those of honest and good heart.

Childhood, Youth, and Age.—The first hindrance, viewed generally and as a whole, threatens the period of childhood, which lives for the outer world, and is as yet unsusceptible of the higher truth; the second, the period of youth, which is as susceptible as it is inconstant; the third, a still further advanced age, when the ripening in sanctification depends on the rooting out of indwelling sin.—Stier.

The Two-hearted Hearers.—The two-hearted come to no speed in anything. Friendship, it has been said, is one heart in two bodies; indecision is two hearts in one body, the one filled with earth's thorns, the other with heaven's seed. Your heart can hold many things at once, but you should never place side by side in it the seed and the thorns. Your whole soul must receive the seed as the Ark received the law, having no room for aught besides.—Wells.

Luk . "Honest and good heart."—As for captious inquiries concerning human goodness, we know indeed that "there is none good but one, that is God"; and yet Scripture, reason, and experience convince us that some natures afford a better soil for the growth of spiritual seed than others.—Burgon.

Types of Character not Necessarily Permanent.—The three unfruitful kinds of ground do not indicate three types of character which must necessarily remain permanent: nor is the good ground good in itself; it is made good by the operation of the word, which, though here described as seed, is elsewhere represented as the dew and rain, the hammer and the fire, which soften, crush, and purify the hearts of men.

Luk . "When he hath lighted a candle."—Having spoken of the effect of the word upon the hearers, Christ now tells His disciples what they must do as teachers of the word.

Christ the Bringer of Light.—Christ represents Himself as the bringer of light, just as He is the sower of seed. This light therefore comes to us from without, and is given to us that we may display it to others. The very purpose of a lamp is to shine and to give light to those in the house (cf. Mat ). The truth at present veiled from the careless and indifferent is communicated by Christ to His apostles, but not as a mystery to be possessed and enjoyed by themselves: they are illumined in order that they may communicate to the world what they have received. Hence the apostles should take care to learn the meaning of the parables, "not hiding them under a blunted understanding, nor when they did understand them, neglecting the teaching of them to others."

Luk . "Be made manifest."—Christ was now taking special care in teaching the apostles, imparting to them in private special instruction, and removing the veil that concealed His meaning from so many who heard His public discourses. But there was nothing like favouritism in His procedure. He had in view the benefit of all in imparting illumination to the few: the present concealing was for the purpose of future revealing. This explains the plan He took for giving light to all men. Instead of leaving the truth to its fate, and contenting Himself with a public proclamation of it, He took special care to see that a certain number were thoroughly acquainted with it, and qualified to teach it to others. Instead of leaving a vague, ill-understood impression of His teaching to pervade human society, He gave the twelve a thorough training in spiritual things.

Luk . The Pulpit and the Pew.

I. A critical spirit is a great hindrance to profitable hearing.

II. A formal spirit hinders profitable hearing.

III. The preparation of the heart is necessary to profitable hearing.

IV. A teachable spirit is helpful to profitable hearing.

V. Attention is requisite to profitable hearing.—Kelly.

"Whosoever hath."—This was a current proverb which Christ used to enforce one of His own parables. It is true in nature, and also in the spiritual sphere. Not that we acquiesce in any doctrine of God's arbitrary decrees. It may be true that few are chosen, but it is no less true that many are called; and if they do not respond to the call, if they are not disposed to receive the teaching of Christ, the fault lies with those who have so disposed them—at first with their parents, and also much more with themselves. The "irreducible minimum" of truth which a man must have if more is to be given him is the "honest and good" heart. It was just that honest and good heart which alone made the difference between the eleven and the multitude to whom the same call was given, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."—Beeching.

Progress in Knowledge.—The longing to know is that which the disciples "had," and on account of which it was granted to them to receive the fulness of knowledge. His word given to us raises ever deeper questions in our hearts, and we receive ever richer answers.

The Responsibility of Hearing.—

1. The reward of hearing aright—fresh knowledge communicated as the faculty for receiving it is developed and strengthened by exercise;

2. The penalty attaching to neglect—utter deprivation of knowledge, and atrophy of the very power by which it is apprehended. There is nothing arbitrary in this rule; it belongs to God's procedure in the kingdom of nature as well as in that of grace. "The fabric of the soul is affected by our indifference—the penalty of degeneration is the loss of functions, the decay of organs, the death of the spiritual nature."


Verses 19-21

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk .—St. Luke gives this incident as occurring after the parable of the sower, though without any precise note of time: St. Matthew and St. Mark relate it as occurring before that parable was spoken. It is probable that the latter evangelists follow the more correct order of time.

Luk . His mother and His brethren.—From the fact that Joseph is not mentioned, it is reasonable to suppose that he was dead. The fact that the members of His family came thus in a body seems to indicate that they wished to control His actions. St. Mark says that "they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said. He is beside Himself." The great excitement created by His teaching and miracles, His formal choice of apostles, the unfavourable reception accorded to Him in Jerusalem, convinced them that He was bent upon a career that was bound to be a failure; and mental alienation on His part seemed to be the only explanation of His conduct. St. John says, "His brethren did not believe in Him" (Luk 7:5). Who these "brethren" were is an almost insoluble problem. Three hypotheses on the subject have been maintained:

(1) that they were actual uterine brothers of our Lord, the sons of Joseph and Mary;

(2) that they were legal half-brothers, the sons of Joseph by a former marriage;

(3) that they were cousins of our Lord, the sons of Clopas (or Alphæus) and Mary his wife, sister of the Virgin, mentioned Joh . For a full discussion of these various hypotheses we refer the reader to Lightfoot on Galatians, Alford in his prolegomena to the Epistle of James and his note on Mat 13:55, article James in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, and to article Jacobus in Herzog's Real-Encyclopädie. On the whole the third of these hypotheses seems to be more in accordance with the passages of Scripture bearing on the matter than are either of the other two. The allusion in Mar 6:3 to Jesus as the son of Mary seems undoubtedly to distinguish Him as her only son from the "brethren" there named—a fact which if allowed would be fatal to the first hypothesis. While if Joseph had sons older than Jesus by a first wife, we could not understand how Jesus could be heir through him of the throne of David.

Luk . Are these.—St. Matthew and St. Mark add vividness to the narrative by their description of Christ's gesture and look as He spoke the words: the one says, "He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples," and the other, "He looked round about on them which sat about Him." The words assert the paramount claims of spiritual over natural relationships, and show that Jesus Himself exemplified the rule which He laid down for His disciples, and allowed no ties of human affection to draw Him aside from the path of duty (cf. Luk 14:26).

. Hence the two evangelists are in general agreement on this point. St. Matthew introduces it without any reference to time.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

Natural and Spiritual Relationships.—The purpose for which Christ's mother and brethren came explains the words He uttered on this occasion. It was not merely to see Him, but to persuade Him to give up the work in which He was engaged, or even to use force to compel Him to yield to their desire. From the zeal and ardour which seemed to render Him indifferent to food and repose, they concluded that He was beside Himself (Mar ), and probably also they were alarmed at the enmity towards Him which the Pharisees had begun to manifest. From their action and from the words which it evoked from Christ we may learn several important lessons.

I. Faith is often found wanting in those who are most highly favoured in outward circumstances.—Who could have been more highly favoured than the mother and brethren of Jesus, in being permitted for so many years to witness His pure and holy life? And yet they were at this time devoid of the faith in Him which is necessary for genuine discipleship. Others who had seen and known but little of Him had accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord, while they were quite out of sympathy with the work God had sent Him to do. Familiarity even with holy things is only too apt to breed indifference, and, as Christ Himself said, a prophet often finds comparative strangers more willing to listen to his message than those of his own country and kindred.

II. There may be collision between the claims of natural affection and those of the kingdom of God.—Christ Himself had now to choose between the two, and to subordinate the lower to the higher. And a like experience is familiar to all who have ever attempted to serve Him. This painful conflict is perhaps seen in its sharpest forms in cases where Christianity is beginning to make its way in heathen society. New converts have often to sacrifice ties of kindred and friendship for the sake of Christ, and to seem to be cruel to those whom they love most dearly. But in no state of society is the conflict between lower and higher duties altogether unknown. Circumstances often arise in which a sensitive conscience guides the believer to take a line of action which may be disapproved of by those whose good opinion and affection he is naturally most anxious to retain. The rule he should follow is here laid down for him by the example of his Master.

III. Obedience to God's will means intimate union with Christ.—It was His meat and drink to do the will of His Father, and all who are imbued with the same spirit come into the closest fellowship with Him. It is quite evident that the language which Christ here uses involves claims of a unique kind—that no mere man, however holy, could thus present Himself as the bond of union between heaven and earth. The high privileges which He thus proclaims as belonging to those who become His disciples place rich and poor, high-born and lowly, on the same level. And the union which exists between Him and them death itself cannot break.

IV. These family relationships suggest the spontaneous affection which believers should cherish towards Christ and towards each other.—The mere fact of relationships, such as are implied in the words "mother, sister, brother," naturally calls up feelings of love, and suggests strong and indissoluble ties. We experience a kind of horror at meeting with those who seem to be wanting in this natural affection, which appears to us as rather an instinctive impulse than an emotion which we can cultivate. Christ here uses these relationships with all that they imply to represent the spiritual ties formed between Him and His true disciples. And the common tie that binds them to Him should bind them to each other. So do we find it in actual fact. Christians recognise their brethren everywhere among those who believe in Christ, though they may differ from them in race, and blood, and colour. The relation of spirit to spirit is the profoundest of all. Civil wars, love of gain, and a hundred other things have been known to break the family bond, and to extinguish natural affection. But the mutual relations of believers with each other have been least disturbed of any, when those ties have been real and not nominal.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . "His mother and His brethren."—This is one of the cases in which the parallel narratives in the other Gospels serve to supplement the history given by St. Luke, and to make its significance clearer. Had we no other information than that given here, we should not have known the reason why His mother and brethren desired to see Him; we should not have had reason for supposing that they were bent upon checking or interfering with His work; and His depreciation of natural relationships as compared with spiritual would have seemed uncalled for. We learn, however, from Mark 3 that His mother and brethren were

(1) alarmed at the rupture between Him and the Pharisees, and

(2) solicitous also concerning His health—for He and His disciples were so thronged by the multitude as not to have leisure "so much as to eat bread." They came to the conclusion that He was beside Himself, and wished to put Him under restraint; or they alleged this as an excuse for His procedure, in order to pacify the anger of His enemies. Their conduct was, therefore, blameworthy, as prompted by excess of natural affection, an assumption of authority over Him or worldly policy. The comment of St. Chrysostom on these words is interesting, even if it show us only that belief in the sinlessness of Mary was not in his time an article of the Catholic faith: "What she attempted came of overmuch love of honour; for she wished to show to the people that she had power and authority over her son, imagining not as yet anything great concerning Him; whence also she came unseasonably. Observe then her and their recklessness. For when they ought to have gone in and listened with the multitude, or, if they were not so minded, to have waited for His bringing His discourse to an end, and then to have come near, they call Him out, and do this before all, exhibiting overmuch love of honour, and wishing to show that with much authority they enjoin Him; and this, too, the Evangelist shows that he is blaming; for with this very allusion he says, ‘while He yet talked to the people'; as if he should say,' What! was there no other opportunity? What! could they not have spoken with Him in private?' … Whence it is evident that they did this solely out of vain-glory."

Luk . The Spiritual Relationship takes Precedence of the Natural.—The reply of Jesus is virtually a statement of the fact that when natural and spiritual relationships come into conflict the former must be made to give way. "He does not despise His mother, but He gives higher honour to His Father" (Bengel). The principle Christ announced was one which had already been approved in the word of God, in the blessing pronounced by Moses upon the tribe of Levi: "Who said unto his father and his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed Thy word, and kept Thy covenant" (Deu 33:9). We have therefore the plain lesson taught us that we must not allow ourselves to be guided solely by natural feelings, but when earthly ties bring us into conflict with our duties towards God obey the higher call even at the risk of seeming to be cruel and hard-hearted. No friends or relatives have claims upon us superior to those which spring from our obligations to God and Christ.

"My mother and My brethren are these."—Perhaps in the first relationship Christ referred specially to those devout women mentioned in the earlier part of the chapter, as ministering to His wants and caring for Him with all the affectionateness of their sex; in the second He had in view the circle of apostles and disciples immediately surrounding Him. It is to be noticed that our Lord, though in St. Matthew's narrative He introduces the additional term "sister" into His answer, does not, and indeed could not, introduce "father," inasmuch as He never speaks of an earthly father. His Father was in heaven.—Alford.

Son of Man.—He is Son of man as well as Son of Mary, and in one sense is more identified with the race than with her.

"Brother, sister, and mother"—These words define the compass and limits of the relationship of the Son of God and man with the human race. This relationship has already been thrown open to the whole race by His birth in the flesh, already involved in the grace offered to all; but it is completed only in those who do the will of God, His Father in heaven.—Stier.

A New Relationship.—Nor is the separation between earthly and spiritual ties necessarily final: His mother and brethren, by becoming His disciples also, will become bound to Him by a closer than natural relationship.

But One True Nobility.—There is but one true nobility—that of obedience to God. This is greater than that of the Virgin's relationship to Christ. Therefore when a woman in the crowd exclaimed, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked," He did not say "She is not My mother," but "If she desires to be blessed, let her do the will of God"; He said, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."—Chrysostom.

A Widely Extended Privilege.—With the apparent severity of the answer there is wonderful gentleness blended: the claim to relationship is denied to be the exclusive right of a few, but the privilege of making it is extended to the many who obeyed His word and accepted His teaching. All who then heard the word of God and did it, or who should hereafter hear and do, are taken into this intimate fellowship with Himself. "This was surely sent for the comfort of as many as should come after; and it is well worthy of remark how our blessed Lord in countless ways contrived that ‘as many as are afar off'—even we at this distant day—should be made to feel that privileges of the highest order are ours—privileges equal to any which were enjoyed by kinsmen and disciples in the days of the Son of man" (Burgon).

One Family.—How glorious is the thought that there is a family even upon earth of which the Son of God holds Himself a part; a family the loving bond and reigning principle of which is subjection to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so embracing high and low, rude and refined, bond and free, of every kindred and every age that have tasted that the Lord is gracious; a family whose members can at once understand each other and take sweetest counsel together, though meeting for the first time from the ends of the earth—while with their nearest relatives, who are but the children of this world, they have no sympathy in such things; a family which death cannot break up, but only transfer to their Father's house! Did Christians but habitually realise and act upon this, as did their blessed Master, what would be the effect upon the Church and upon the world?—Brown.

Spiritual Affinity the Closest of All.—The deepest affinity is that of the spirit. Hence the supremacy, even in the present provisional state of things, of the wedlock relationship. Hence, too, the still higher supremacy of the relationship that will rule in the world of glory (Mat ).—Morison.


Verses 22-25

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . The other side.—The eastern side, which was comparatively uninhabited.

Luk . Fell asleep.—A pathetic touch, indicating as it does how wearied He was with the labours of the day. Came down.—From the hillsides. Recent travellers speak of these sudden and impetuous storms as characteristic of the Lake of Gennesaret. Thus Mr. Macgregor says: "The peculiar effects of squalls among mountains are well known to all who have boated much on lakes; but on the Sea of Galilee the wind has a singular force and suddenness; and this is no doubt because that sea is so deep in the world (six hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean) that the sun rarifies the air in it enormously, and the wind, speeding swift above a long and level plateau, gathers much force as it sweeps through flat deserts, until suddenly it meets this huge gap in the way, and it tumbles down here irresistible." He describes his own experience of "a great storm of wind": "A brisk breeze from Bashan had freshened while we paddled along these bays … The sea rose more and more, and at last heavy clouds in the east burst into a regular gale.… The wind whistled, and sea-gulls screamed as they were borne on the scud. Thick and ragged clouds drifted fast over the water, which became almost green in colour, as if it were on the salt sea, and the illusion was heightened by the complete obscurity of the distance, for the other side of the lake was quite invisible.… The storm lasted next day" (The Rob Roy). Were filled with water.—Rather, "were filling with water" (R.V.).

Luk . Master, Master.—The repetition of the name is a mark of anxiety caused by the danger in which they were. Rebuked the wind.—St. Luke agrees with St. Mark in representing Christ as stilling the tempest before He rebuked the disciples for unbelief. St. Matthew reverses the order. Probably the former are more exact in the order of events they follow; the rebuke for unbelief would have greater weight after the deliverance from danger.

Luk . Where is your faith?—"They had some faith, but it was not ready at hand" (Bengel).

Luk .—St. Luke's note of time is very vague—"on a certain day." St. Mark says that the incident happened on the evening of the day on which the parable of the sower was spoken

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

Faith and Fear.—Jesus was fast asleep amid the dashing waves and drenching storm. But was the danger real? Yes, to human eyes very real. To these fishermen, who had known that water all their days, it was real, and they were afraid for themselves and Him. It was very natural, this fear, though foolish: natural that they should dread the idea of all their hopes and prospects being lost in this premature grave, yet foolish that they should fear for themselves and Him so meaningless an end. Yet nature got the upper hand of faith, and they gave way to their headlong terrors.

I. Christ rebukes the storm.—Though unmoved by the piercing shrieks of the wind and the hoarse menace of the waves, He wakes at the first cry of the disciples. He arose calmly, composedly. The Son of man had been sleeping. The Son of God awakes and speaks,—for Himself exhausted, for others still mighty. He looked down at the waves; He looked up into the heavens. "He rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm." What a revelation of God in man! It is not so much the mere power that impresses. We have seen Him do as great works before, and greater. But, as the wondering disciples said, "it is the manner of the man." In what condition is man by himself more thoroughly helpless than in a storm at sea—in a frail boat—the sport of the elements—a mere straw upon the waters, with death opening all her mouths upon him? In no condition, unless you add that in which Jesus was a few moments before—fast asleep. A waking man in a shipwreck may be on the watch for some means of escape But a man asleep in a boat rapidly filling with water and on the point of going down!—such and so helpless did Jesus seem the one moment. And the next! He stands and speaks to the elements, and they hear with the facility and readiness of well-trained servants. "What manner of man is this! for He commandeth even the winds and the water, and they obey Him."

II. Christ rebukes His disciples.—He had His own disciples to rebuke and correct as well as the storm to still. "Where is your faith?" The question does not imply that they were absolutely faithless. This could not be. Their instinctive application to Him when things became so bad shows clearly enough their belief that He could and would deliver Himself and them from the danger. But He rebukes them for the littleness, the narrowness, of their faith, for the want of larger trust. They ought to have had such confidence in Him as to believe that sleeping or waking made no difference to Him, that the boat which carried Him and them together would not be overwhelmed. It was not that they had no faith; but—like one who has a piece, though in sudden panic he forgets to fire—it was as bad as if they had none. They failed to apply their faith fully. It was not ready for use. They believed Jesus to be the Christ, they had left all to follow Him, and had they been consistent with their own belief they had showed no such unworthy fear. But fear for the moment ruled, and not faith. Thus they became weak, as we all are when our faith is not at hand in the time of need: thus they justly incurred the rebuke, "Where is your faith?" They had entrusted to Him their souls, their lives, their all; and yet they forgot all this in a moment of panic, out of mere natural, human fear. How exactly like us and our unbelief! For unbelief is always the same confused, feeble, sinful thing. You have received Christ as your Saviour; you have long ago known His great salvation; and yet let any sudden squall arise, and you fear and cry out as if all were lost. You grow downcast "when days are dark and friends are few." You are unstrung when some sudden trial crushes your home. Your knees fail and your hands hang down. Why is this? Where is your faith? Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God; believe also in Jesus. You believe in His almightiness, as the Christ of God, to whom all things in providence are entrusted for His people's sake. Is there anything in your lot or life He cannot master whom the winds and waves obey? You believe in His wisdom. Are not your times in His hand? And your times of storm and terror you have found before to be His times of help and healing. You believe in His love; and His love is never more active toward you than in the tempest of trial. You believe in His faithfulness—that His promise stands sure, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

The distinctive teaching of the miracle may be summed up in these two items:

1. Directly, it teaches that to Him as Lord of providence belongs all power to defend His cause and people from danger, and that He is continually exercising that power which on special and signal occasions has called out not only the fervent adoration of His own, but has attracted the wonder and admiration of the world.

2. Less directly, but very significantly, the story suggests the perpetual presence of Christ in and with His Church, for its protection and deliverance.—Laidlaw.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . The Peace-bringer in the World of Nature.—Note:—

I. Christ's sleep in the storm.

II. The awaking cry of fear.

III. The word that calms the storm.

IV. The gentle remonstrance.—Maclaren.

Luk . "He went into a ship."—From a comparison of the various synoptical narratives we learn that this had been a very busy day in the life of Jesus—it had been crowded with works of healing, discourses, controversies with opponents, and conversation with disciples. St. Mark distinctly says (Luk 4:35) that the storm upon the lake occurred on the evening of the day when He first began to speak to the multitude in parables. We need not wonder, therefore, that He was fatigued and fell asleep in the boat. "The reason why He decided to cross over to the eastern shore of the lake does not seem to have been to secure a measure of needed repose. No hint of this being His purpose is given in the Gospels. His usual course after imparting instruction in one place was to go to another, and not to rest (Mar 1:38). This district of Decapolis, on the east of the Sea of Galilee, was a stronghold of heathenism, where there was an abundant field for religious work, and where rest would be out of the question" (Speaker's Commentary).

"A ship."—This ship which carried Christ, and in which He taught,—sometimes near shore, where the people stood; sometimes in calm, sometimes in storm,—was a beautiful emblem of the Church sailing over the waters of this world on her voyage to the harbour of eternity.—Wordsworth.

Luk . "He fell asleep."—The scene suggests that in Jon 1:5, where the prophet was asleep on board the Phœnician ship amidst the violence of the storm, and had to be roused from his slumbers. But with the disobedience of the prophet, and his helplessness to avert danger, are to be contrasted the untroubled conscience and serene majesty and power of Christ when He was in like circumstances.

The Wearied Saviour.—How touching that our Saviour should have been so speedily asleep! How suggestive of His great exhaustion that He should have been so sound asleep! Those delicate energies of His humanity, that needed to be statedly replenished, had been subjected to an excessive drain in consequence of the urgent demands of the people for teaching and healing.—Morison.

Luk . Lake and Shore.

I. A stormy lake.—

1. The weary sleeper.

2. The sudden danger.

3. The sure help.

II. The lake shore.—

1. A sad sufferer.

2. A gracious Healer.

3. A grateful would-be follower. Jesus calms the stormy sea, and then calms a storm-tossed soul.—W. Taylor.

Luk . "They awoke Him."

I. The roar of the storm He did not hear in His sound sleep, but the moment there was a cry from His disciples for help He awoke. What a revelation of heart we have here! He is never asleep to His praying people. He hears the faintest cry of prayer amid the wildest tumults of the world. He is never too weary to listen to the appeal of human distress.

II. Though aroused suddenly, He awoke calm and peaceful. Such an experience reveals the grandeur and purity of His nature. No terror, no resentment, no upbraiding, for being disturbed, but perfect calmness and peace. Here we see what Christ meant when He said, "My peace I give unto you." In this peaceful spirit He moved amid the various turbulent scenes of His earthly life.—Miller.

Even Weak Faith Effectual.—The disciples were in unbelief, which cried out, "We perish!" Yet were they at the same time sufficiently believing to call upon Him, "Lord, help us!" Even weak faith is faith still; the trembling hand yet holds fast the Deliverer.—Stier.

"Master, master!"—The exclamation which reveals

(1) timorous faith, reveals also

(2) genuine faith, for in their distress they flee to none but Jesus.

Alarm and Perplexity.—The disciples were

(1) alarmed by the violence of the tempest, and

(2) perplexed by the fact that for the moment Christ seemed oblivious to their danger.

"He arose."—Let any man reflect how one suddenly roused with outcries of distress and danger of death around him would in the weakness of humanity comport himself, and it will help him to perceive and estimate the unapproachable dignity of this Being. Even while one with us He is paying His tribute to the infirmity of our flesh. The Son of man slept; the Son of God in man awakes and speaks. For Himself exhausted, for others almighty.—Stier.

Christ's Calmness.—Cæsar's confidence that the bark which contained him and his fortunes could not sink forms the earthly counterpart to the heavenly calmness and confidence of the Lord.—Trench.

"Rebuked the wind."—Speaking to the wind and the billows of the water as though they were living powers (Psa , "He rebuked the Red Sea also"), or to the evil powers which may be conceived to wield them to the danger of mankind.—Farrar.

Union of the Divine and the Human.—What Moses performed in the might of Jehovah when he opened with his rod the way through the waters, that the Son of the Father does through the efficacy of His will alone. Here also we meet with that union of the Divine and human nature which we so often discover in the gospel. He who wearied with His day's work lays Himself awhile to sleep, because He needs bodily rest, and remains quiet in the most threatening danger, rises at once in Divine fulness of might, and commands the tempestuous wind and bridles the sea.—Van Oosterzee.

The Voice of Authority.—The elements which are deaf to us heard their Creator.—Jerome.

Luk . "Where is your faith?"—Christ acknowledges the faith which the disciples had; answers the prayer of faith by working a perfect calm; but rebukes them for not having the stronger, firmer faith to trust Him even when He seemed insensible to their danger.—Alford.

A Weapon not at Hand.—Faith they had, as the weapon which a soldier has, but cannot lay hold of at the moment when he needs it the most.—Trench.

Faith should be a Preservative from Terror.—Wherein were the apostles to blame? It was for the state of anxiety and alarm in which Christ found them when He awoke from slumber. Faith may and should add intensity to our prayers, but it should also save us from agitation and terror.

Wait Patiently.—By these words Christ censures all irregular ways of endeavouring to extricate ourselves from difficulties. Such irregular methods argue lack of faith. They are acts of irreverence, like that of the disciples disturbing Christ in His slumber. If the times are such that we can neither row nor sail in the vessel of the Church, we must wait patiently in the ship till He arises and calms the storm. Then the words apply: "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength" (Isa ); and, "Their strength is to sit still" (ibid., Luk 8:7); and "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exo 14:13).—Wordsworth.

"Being afraid."—Two kinds of fear agitated the minds of the disciples within the space of a very few moments: indeed, the one fear followed immediately upon the other. The first was sheer terror of perishing in the waters; the second, a reverential fear, a holy awe, at having experienced a deliverance at once so gracious and so astonishing.

The Teaching of the Miracle.—The miracle proves

(1) that Christ never forgets His people, though He sometimes appears to do so; and

(2) that He will certainly deliver His people at last.

The Wonder of the Disciples.—The wonder of the disciples may find explanation in the fact that this miracle was the first of the kind they had witnessed—the first example of Christ's power over the blind forces of nature. But we find in our own experience that each new manifestation of God's power and love in delivering us from danger excites as much astonishment in our hearts as if we were learning for the first time the greatness of His majesty and mercy.

"What manner of man is this!"—A question not of doubt, but of astonishment. The disciples were amazed at

(1) the unexpectedness of the miracle, and

(2) at its unexampled character. For not only was the violence of the wind instantly checked, but also the raging of the water, which is usually disturbed for some time after the wind falls, ceased in a moment, and "there was a calm." This miracle, like that in Luk , was wrought in a sphere familiar to them, and they were therefore fully able to appreciate the greatness of the power Christ displayed.

The Purpose of the Miracle.

I. It renewed and confirmed faith in Christ.

II. It gave prophetic assurance of His power and willingness to help in all subsequent times of danger. When at a later time storms threatened the bark of the Church, disciples could still believe that Christ was with them, and that in His own time He would deliver it and them from perishing in the waves.

The Miracle a Parable.—The symbolic application of this occurrence is too striking to have escaped general notice. The Saviour with His company of disciples in the ship tossed on the waves seemed a typical reproduction of the Ark bearing mankind on the flood, and a foreshadowing of the Church tossed by the tempests of the world, but having Him with her always. And the personal application is one of comfort and strengthening of faith in danger and doubt.—Alford.

Christ's Presence a Source of Safety.—We are sailing in this life as through a sea, and the wind rises, and storms of temptation are not wanting. Whence is this, save because Jesus is sleeping in thee? If He were not sleeping in thee, thou wouldest have calm within. But what means this, that Jesus is sleeping in thee, save that thy faith, which is from Jesus, is slumbering in thine heart? What shalt thou do to be delivered? Arouse Him and say, "Master, we perish." He will awaken—that is, thy faith will return to thee, and abide with thee always. When Christ is awakened, though the tempest beat into, yet it will not fill, thy ship; thy faith will now command the winds and the waves, and the danger will be over.—Augustine.


Verses 26-39

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . Country of the Gadarenes.—Rather, "of the Gerasenes" (R.V.). There is no doubt that the place mentioned is Kerzha or Gersa—now a ruined city near the sea opposite to Capernaum. "Directly above it is an immense mountain in which are ancient tombs. The lake is so near the base of the mountain that the swine rushing madly down could not stop, but would be hurried on into the water and be drowned" (Thomson, "The Land and the Book"). The reading "Gerasenes" was formerly rejected because the only Gerasa then known was an important town fifty miles away from the Lake of Gennesaret. St Matthew has "Gadarenes" (Luk 8:28, R.V.). The town of Gadara, which is three hours' journey distant from the south end of the lake, and separated from it by a deep ravine, probably gave its name to the district—"country of the Gadarenes."

Luk . Met Him out of the city.—Rather, "there met Him a certain man out of the city" (R.V.): he was a native of Gerasa, but since his frenzy began had lived among the tombs. St. Matthew mentions two demoniacs. There is not necessarily any contradiction between the narratives, as St. Mark and St. Luke simply record the healing of the man in connection with whom there were many circumstances of special interest. In the tombs.—There were, in ancient times, no asylums in which such persons could be confined and cared for. The isolation, and neglect, and the dreary nature of his place of abode would naturally tend to aggravate his madness.

Luk . Son of God most high.—This title is only found in Luk 1:32, and in Act 16:17, in which last case it is used by another demoniac. Torment me not.—The confusion of personality in consequence of the demoniacal possession is so great that sometimes it is the man who speaks, and sometimes the indwelling demon or demons.

Luk . Kept bound.—Rather, "he was kept under guard and bound," etc. (R.V.). Wilderness.—Rather, "deserts" (R.V.).

Luk . What is thy name?—The question asked perhaps to awaken the man's dormant consciousness. Legion.—The word is of course a Latin one, and came to be current in Palestine because of the Roman occupation. A legion consisted of six thousand soldiers. The fact of a multitude of evil spirits taking possession of one person is also alluded to in Luk 8:2 of this chapter and in Mat 12:45.

Luk . The deep.—Rather, "the abyss" (R.V.). "The word is used in Rev 9:1; Rev 20:3, where it is translated "the bottomless pit," and where it stands for the under-world, in which evil spirits are confined" (Speaker's Commentary).

Luk . A steep place.—Rather, "the steep" (R.V.), the precipice; there being from all accounts but one place where this could have happened. Were choked.—Many difficulties of various kinds are connected with this miracle. One of them is as to the injustice of inflicting this loss upon the owners of the swine. The common explanation is that the loss was deserved, as the animals were unclean, and can only have been kept in violation of the Mosaic law. But, on the other hand, the population seems to have been of a mixed character, and the animals may have belonged to Gentile owners. One point seems, however, to have been generally overlooked, and that is that the destruction of the herd was not apparently a necessary consequence of their becoming possessed by evil spirits. So that the permission given to the evil spirits was not a deliberate infliction of loss upon the owners of the herd. It was simply a case of panic to which all herds of animals are liable, and for which no one can have been held responsible. The evil spirits seem to have been carried against their will into the abyss they dreaded to enter. We have no right to speak of Jesus as having authority to punish breaches of the law in virtue of His Divine character, as we have His own word that He resolutely abstained from exercising any judicial powers while on earth (cf. chap. Luk 12:14).

Luk . What was done.—Rather, "what had come to pass" (R.V.); so in Luk 8:35.

Luk . Taken with great fear.—Rather, "holden with great fear" (R.V.), or "oppressed with great fear." Besought Him to depart.—Cf. with this Peter's request (Luk 5:8), and the different feelings which inspired the similar prayers. Christ seems to have revisited the region at a later period: see Mar 7:31; Mar 8:10. Gadara was one of the ten cities in the district known as Decapolis.

Luk . The reason why Christ told this man to publish the tidings of his cure is not very apparent. It may be that He wished him to be a witness of His Divine power in the midst of a degraded and godless population. Christ they had entreated to depart, but among them was one who would be a living testimony of His beneficence.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

The Lord of Demons.—The sufferer whom Christ healed was not merely a maniac, but a demoniac. He is not a man at war with himself, but a man at war with other beings, who have forced themselves into his house of life. The narrative of his restoration has a remarkable feature, which may help to mark off its stages. The word "besought" occurs four times in it (Luk ; Luk 8:31; Luk 8:37-38), and we may group the details round each instance.

I. The demons beseeching Jesus through the man's voice.—He was, in the exact sense of the word, distracted—drawn two ways. For it would seem to have been the self in him that ran to Jesus and fell at His feet, as if in some dim hope of rescue; but it is the demons in him that speak, though the voice be his. They force him to utter their wishes, their terrors, their loathing of Christ, though he says "I" and "me" as if these were his own. That horrible condition of a double, or, as in this case, a manifold personality speaking through human organs, and overwhelming the proper self, mysterious as it is, is the very essence of the awful misery of the demoniacs. The mere presenec of Christ lashes the demons to paroxysms; but, before the man spoke, Christ had given His stern command to come forth. He is answered by this howl of fear and hate. Clear recognition of Christ's person is in it. They know Him who had conquered their prince long ago. The next element in the words is hatred, as fixed as the knowledge is clear. God's supremacy and loftiness, and Christ's nature, are recognised, but only the more abhorred. This, then, is a dark possibility, which has become actual for real living beings, that they should know God, and hate as heartily as they know clearly. That is the terminus towards which human spirits may be travelling. The "torment" deprecated was expulsion from the man, as if there was some grim satisfaction and dreadful alleviation in being there, rather than in "the abyss," which appears to be the alternative. How striking is Christ's unmoved calm in the face of all this fury! No doubt His tranquil presence helped to calm the man, however it excited the demons. The distinct intention of the question, "What is thy name?" is to arouse the man's self-consciousness, and make him feel his separate existence, apart from the alien tyranny which had just been using his voice and usurping his personality. But for the moment the foreign influence is still too strong, and the answer comes, "My name is Legion: for we are many" (St. Mark). There is a momentary gleam of the true self in the first word or two, but it fades away into the old confusion.

II. The demons beseeching Jesus without disguise.—Why should the expelled demons seek to enter the swine? It would appear that anywhere was better than "the abyss," and that unless they could find some body to enter, thither they must go. It would seem, too, that there was no other land open to them—for the prayer on the man's lips had been not to send them "out of the country," as if it were the only country on earth open to them. That makes for the opinion that demoniacal possession was the dark shadow which attended, for reasons not discoverable by us, the light of Christ's coming, and was limited in time and space by His earthly manifestation. But on such matters there is not ground enough for certainty. Another difficulty has been raised as to Christ's right to destroy property. But destruction did not necessarily follow upon possession. The drowning of the herd does not appear to have entered into the calculations of the unclean spirits. They desired houses to live in after their expulsion, and for them to plunge the swine into the lake would have defeated their purpose. The stampede was an unexpected effect of the commingling of the demoniacal with the animal nature, and outwitted the demons. There is a lower depth than the animal nature; and even swine feel uncomfortable when the demon is in them, and in their panic rush anywhere to get rid of the incubus, and, before they know, find themselves in the lake.

III. The terrified Gadarenes beseeching Jesus to leave them.—They had rather have their swine than their Saviour. Fear and selfishness prompted the prayer. The communities on the eastern side of the lake were largely Gentile; and, no doubt, these people knew that they did many worse things than swine-keeping, and may have been afraid that some more of their wealth would have to go the same road as the herd. They did not want instruction nor feel that they needed a healer. Were their prayers so very unlike the wishes of many of us? Is there nobody nowadays unwilling to let the thought of Christ enter into his life, because he feels an uneasy suspicion that, if Christ comes, a good deal will have to go? How many trades and schemes of life really beseech Jesus to go away and leave them in peace? And He goes away. Christ commands unclean spirits, but He can only plead with hearts. And if we bid Him depart, He is fain to leave us for the time to the indulgence of our foolish and wicked schemes. If any man open, He comes in—oh, how gladly! but if any man shut the door in His face, He can but tarry without and knock.

IV. The restored man's beseeching to abide with Christ.—Conscious weakness, dread of some recurrence of the inward hell, and grateful love, prompted the prayer. The prayer itself was partly right and partly wrong: right, in clinging to Jesus as the only refuge from the past misery; wrong, in clinging to His visible presence as the only way of keeping near Him. Therefore He who had permitted the wish of the demons, and complied with the entreaties of the terrified mob, did not yield to the prayer throbbing with love and conscious weakness. Strange that Jesus should put aside a hand that sought to grasp His in order to be safe; but His refusal was, as always, the gift of something better. The best defence against the return of the evil spirits was in occupation. Therefore he is sent to proclaim his deliverance among friends who had known his dreadful state, and to renew old associations which would help him to knit his new life to his old, and to treat his misery as a parenthesis. Jesus commanded silence or speech according to the need of the subjects of His miracles. For some, silence was best, to deepen the impression of blessing received; for others, speech was best, to engage and so to fortify the mind against relapse.—Maclaren.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . "Country of the Gadarenes.—The connection is very striking in which this miracle stands with that other which went immediately before. Our Lord has just shown Himself as the Pacifier of the tumults and the discords in the outward world; He has spoken peace to the winds and to the waves, and hushed the war of elements with a word. But there is something wilder and more fearful than the winds and waves in their fiercest moods—even the spirit of man, when it has broken loose from all restraints, and yielded itself to be his organ who brings confusion and anarchy wherever his dominion reaches. And Christ will accomplish here a yet mightier work than that which He accomplished there; He will prove Himself here also the Prince of peace, the Restorer of the lost harmonies; He will speak, and at His potent word this madder strife, this blinder rage, which is in the heart of man, will allay itself, and here also there shall be a great calm.—Trench.

A Semi-heathen Population.—The region into which Christ had come was inhabited by a semi-heathen population, and both in the disobedience to the Jewish law manifested in the keeping of herds of animals reckoned as unclean, and in the earnest request proffered to Christ to depart from the district, we have indications of the spiritual condition of those to whom He now came to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Here where Satan was most obeyed the tyranny of his rule was manifested in its direct form.

Luk . "A certain man, which had devils."—We have here one of the greatest dangers, no doubt, to which Jesus was exposed in the course of His life: He was face to face with uncontrolled brutal force. But the sight of His perfect calmness, and of His holy majesty, and of the profound compassion which was expressed in His countenance, affect this furious maniac; as he recognises the contrast between himself and the Saviour, there is awakened even in him a sense of his moral degradation. He feels himself at once attracted by, and repelled by, this Man who holds him under the control of His commanding eye. A crisis arises; it is declared by a loud cry; and then, like a wild beast in the presence of its tamer, the man runs forward and falls upon his knees, though at the same time he protests in the name of the spirit who possesses him against the power which is being exercised upon him.—Godet.

Luk . "Met Him."—In the demoniac's coming to meet Christ, and yet entreating to be let alone, we have a picture of a divided consciousness:

(1) an instinctive feeling that He was the Deliverer; and

(2) a sense of the awful gulf between the evil nature and the Son of the most high God.

"Abode … in the tombs."—This wretched man was kept among the tombs by an unclean spirit, that he might have an opportunity of terrifying him continually with the mournful spectacle of death, as if he were cut off from the society of men, and already dwelt among the dead.—Calvin.

Luk . "Bound with chains."—The evil spirit is strong enough to break all chains and fetters, and is overmastered only by the power of Jesus. So too on the moral and spiritual side of things an evil habit often cannot be controlled by considerations of health or propriety, or any of the restraints which reason and conscience and public opinion would impose; yet no evil habit is too strong for the power of Christ to fail to give deliverance.

Luk . "Legion."—The name suggests not only numbers, but organised strength and tried courage—distinction of ranks and unity of purpose.

The Christian's Armour.—Our Lord describes the enemy as "a strong man armed" (Luk ). Hence the Christian who has to contend with him or his agents is furnished with weapons of warfare also: "the whole armour of God—girdle, breastplate, shield, helmet, and sword" (Eph 6:13-17).

Luk . "The abyss."—The power of Jesus Christ extends over animals, demons, and the abyss. This the demons themselves acknowledge.—Bengel.

Luk . "That He would suffer them."—The legion of devils would have had no power over the herd of swine unless they had received it from God: how much less will they have power over the flock of the Good Shepherd!

"And He suffered them."—If this granting of the request of the evil spirits helped in any way the cure of the man, caused them to resign their hold on him more easily, mitigated the paroxysm of their going forth (see Mar ), this would have been motive enough. Or still more probably it may have been necessary, for the permanent healing of the man, that he should have an outward evidence and testimony that the hellish powers which had held him in bondage had quitted him.—Trench.

Luk . "Ran violently down a steep place."—God's saints and servants appear not to be heard; and the very refusal of their requests is to them a blessing (2Co 12:8-9). The wicked Satan (Job 1:11) and his ministers and servants are sometimes heard, and the very granting of their petition issues in their worst confusion and loss. These evil spirits had their prayer heard; but only to their ruin.—Trench.

Luk . "Sitting at the feet of Jesus."—Note the change: the frantic demoniac has become a meek disciple.

Luk . Tested and Found Wanting.

I. The Gadarenes tested—by the presence of Christ as the Bringer of spiritual blessings and the Deliverer from evil.

II. The Gadarenes found wanting: they had no desire to be delivered from their sins, and felt that the presence of a holy Being would only bring further mischiefs upon them.

Impatience at Loss.—How hard it is to recognise the hand of God in anything which interrupts our present enjoyment, brings us loss, and in any way interferes with our worldly prosperity! We overlook the actual blessings which mingle with the most afflicting dispensation. We do not consider how near we may have been brought, by chastisement, to the sacred person of our Lord. We simply are impatient and afraid. We desire nothing so much as to be as, and what, we were.—Burgon.

God's Power and God's Goodness.—The Gadarenes cannot endure to have Christ among them; but he who has been delivered from the unclean spirit is desirous to leave his own country and follow Him. Hence we may learn how wide is the difference between knowledge of the goodness and knowledge of the power of God. Power strikes men with terror, makes them fly from the presence of God, and drives them to a distance from Him; but goodness draws them gently, and makes them feel that nothing is more desirable than to be united to God.

"Taken with great fear."—An example of slavish fear. Contrast the case of the Samaritans and the consequences. Fear is the beginning of wisdom (Pro ), but perfect love casteth out fear (1Jn 4:18).

The Answered Prayer.

I. "Besought Him to depart." This is one of the saddest sentences in the Gospels. We can scarcely conceive of any one asking Jesus to go away. He had come to bring blessings. He had begun His work of grace. He would have gone on to other gracious acts of love and mercy had they not besought Him to depart. It was probably all because of the loss of the swine.

II. Some feel like the Gadarenes when a work of grace begins in their community.—They are opposed to Christianity because it interferes with their business. They are against Christianity, because Christianity is against them. All of us are apt to want Christ to depart from us when He interferes with our cherished plans.

III. He complied with their prayer.—He did not stay after these people asked Him to go. He would not stay where He was not wanted. He carried back the gifts He had come there to leave. Does Jesus never turn away from any heart now because He is not wanted?—Miller.

"Besought Him to depart."—Need we wonder that to those who persist for a whole lifetime in saying to the Saviour, Depart from us, He should, wearied out at length, Himself say in the end, Depart from Me?—Morison.

Luk . "That he might be with Him."—Perhaps his motive was fear of a relapse, or it may have been gratitude for the deliverance he had experienced.

Luk . "Return to thine own house."—In the person of one man Christ has exhibited to us a proof of His grace, which is extended to all mankind. Though we are not tortured by the devil, yet he holds us as his slaves till the Son of God delivers us from his tyranny. Naked, torn, and disfigured, we wander about till He restores us to soundness of mind. It remains that, in magnifying His grace, we testify our gratitude.—Calvin.

Home Religion.—We should be careful to carry religion into the home

(1) Because home is the place of the most sacred relationships.

(2) We need religion in our homes because the commonness and the constancy of the home-relationships are apt to induce in us a semi-forgetfulness of them.

(3) We need religion in the home because home is the most hopeful place for religious service.

(4) Home religion is the best test of the reality of one's religion.

The Gadarene Missionary.—The saved man is sent first to his own house and friends.

I. Let all grace from Christ begin to tell at home.—If it cannot win its way there, it lacks some of its vital force.

II. The true method of the household missionary.—"Shew how great things," etc. He has a story to tell of personal experience, of grateful love, of marvellous mercy. This—in his mouth—touches men's hearts.

III. Success in the narrower leads to success in the wider sphere.—The mission was successful. Doing exactly as his Lord bade him, he was soon able to do more. The letter of his commission enlarged. In time he had told his story to all Decapolis. His doctrine enlarged as well as his diocese. He could not tell his story without giving Jesus all the praise, and he found that praising Jesus was giving glory to God, and so he preached a Divine Saviour. The most terrible sufferer from infernal power becomes a preacher of salvation to ten cities. A majestic entrance of the Sun of Righteousness into this region of the Shadow of Death! For though but a momentary gloom, a ray of light was left there. Jesus went a few hours to Gadara. He found a demoniac, and left a missionary.—Laidlaw.

"Jesus had done."—This is a very natural and beautiful trait in the story. Jesus had given all the glory to God—had told him to return home and "declare how great things God had done for him." He went his way and told how great things Jesus had done for him. He could not forget the Deliverer whom God had sent.


Verses 40-42

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . Returned.—I.e. to Capernaum. Gladly received Him.—The word "gladly" is inserted by the translators, but it is implied in the phrase in the original: "welcomed Him" (R.V.).

Luk . Jairus.—In Hebrew, Jair (Jud 10:3). Ruler of the synagogue.—The affairs of the synagogue were ruled by a college of elders, one of whom was president or "ruler." It is interesting to see that faith in Jesus was not altogether wanting among the official class in Galilee. Come into his house.—"Jairus had not the faith of the Roman centurion" (Farrar).

Luk . Lay a dying.—Was at the point of death. St. Matthew, who does not mention the coming of a messenger from the house of Jairus (here noted in Luk 8:49), describes her as "even now dead": he anticipates, that is, the mention of her actual death.

Luk . To go in.—Rather, "to enter in with Him" (R.V.). Peter, and James, and John.—These same three disciples were chosen by Jesus to be witnesses of His transfiguration and to be near Him during His agony in Gethsemane.

Luk . All wept.—Rather, "all were weeping and bewailing her" (R.V.). I.e. in the house, not in the chamber of death. The word translated "bewail" meant originally to beat or strike oneself: probably there is a reference to beating the breasts as a sign of grief. St. Matthew mentions "the minstrels" or flute-players, who together with other professional mourners were ordinarily employed on such occasions. Not dead, but sleepeth.—I.e. she is as one who sleeps, for she is shortly to awake. A similar word is used of Lazarus, Joh 11:11.

Luk . And He put them all out.—To be omitted: omitted in R.V., probably an interpolation from the parallel passages in the other Gospels. Maid, arise.—St. Mark gives the exact Aramaic words used, "Talitha cumi."

Luk .—The command to give her to eat shows that she was restored to actual life with its wants and weaknesses, and in that incipient state of convalescence which would require nourishment.

Luk .—St. Matthew tells us that secrecy was not maintained; but, on the contrary, "the fame thereof went abroad into all that land." We need not suppose the parents were disobedient to the command of Jesus; an event of the kind, known to so many, could scarcely be concealed.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk ; Luk 8:49-56

The Sleeping Child awakened.—Sorrows and need make short work of prejudices. Jairus, as a synagogue official, was probably not over-favourable to Jesus; but he must have known of the cures already done in the synagogue at Capernaum, and so he forgets his doubts and dignity, and flings himself at the feet of the new Teacher, who, whether a heretic or not, may heal his little girl. His "faith" was probably merely a belief in Christ's miraculous power; and he was far behind the heathen centurion, who did not ask Jesus to come, but only to speak. But his agony was sore, his need great, his beseeching plaintive, and Jesus does not stop to put him through a catechism before He responds to his prayer. We are taught to think more loftily of Christ's willingness and power by His swift and exuberant answers to the poorest faith. Jesus has just come from exhausting toils on the other side of the lake; but He asks for no leisure, but goes with the impatient father at once, attended by a gaping crowd of sight-seers. Take our Lord's three sayings (Luk ; Luk 8:52; Luk 8:54) as guides to the narrative.

I. He invites and encourages faith even at the moment when all seems hopeless.—The impatience of Jairus was justified by the message of the child's death. His faith, such as it was, was ready to collapse. He could believe that Jesus could heal, but to bring to life again was too much to expect. It obviously had not occurred to him as possible. How should it? And at that moment, when the last faint spark of light in the father's darkened heart has been blown out, Christ, for the first time in the story, speaks. His words sound strange and almost meaningless, "Fear not." What more was there to fear? The last and worst had come. "Only believe." What was there to believe now? "She shall be made whole." But she is dead. But there lies hidden to be found by the believing father a comfort which was enough for faith to lay hold of, though it might not be put in plain language. He gives Jairus enough to cheer him and relight the flame of hope. He never bids us not to be afraid without bidding us believe in Him, and giving faith something to cling to. A true faith will accept His assurances even when they seem to imply impossibilities; and many a mourning heart that has heard Jesus speak thus over the dear dead whom He has not raised, knows how true it is that dying they have been "made whole," and live a fuller life.

II. He announces that the irrevocable is not irrevocable to Him and His, for He comes to awake the sleeper.—This word was spoken in the house, at the door of the chamber. Flute-players, and hired mourners, and curious neighbours, and all the crowd that comes to buzz round sorrow, were there; and a yard off, on the other side of a wall, lay the poor child quiet and deaf to it all. It is absurd to imagine that the saying of Christ is to be taken literally, and that the child was simply in a swoon or trance. The bystanders' unfeeling laugh is proof enough that what men call death had unmistakably taken place. They had seen the last moments, and knew that she was dead. What then does the saying mean? Jesus is not dealing in sentimental fine names for the unchanged horror, as we sometimes do; but His change of names follows a change of nature. He has abolished death, and, while the physical fact remains, the whole character of it changes. Sleep is not unconsciousness. It suspends the power of affecting, or being affected by, the world of sense, but does no more. We live and think and rejoice in sleep. It has the promise of waking. It brings rest. Therefore our Lord takes the old metaphor which all nations have used to hide the ugliness of death, and breathes new hope into it.

III. His last word is the life-giving one in the death-chamber.—Silence and secrecy befitted it. He kept out the noisy mob, and with the parents and the three chief disciples enters the sacred presence of the dead. Why this small number of witnesses? Possibly for the sake of the child, whose tender years might be disturbed by many curious eyes; but also, apparently, because, for reasons not known to us, He desired little publicity for the miracle. How simply and easily the stupendous deed is done! One touch of His hand, two words, the very syllables of which St. Mark gives, and "her spirit returned." He is the Lord both of the dead and the living, and His word runneth very swiftly over the gulf between this world and the abode of the dead. They sleep lightly, and are easily waked by His touch. Their sleep, while it lasts, is sweet, restful, conscious, if they sleep in Jesus. As for the weary body, it slumbers; and as for the spirit, it may be said to sleep, if by that we understand the cessation of toil, the end of connection with the outer world, the tranquillity of deep repose; but, in another aspect, the sleep of the saints is their passing into a fuller and more vivid life, and they are "satisfied," when they close their eyes on earth, to open them for heaven, and sleep to "awake in His likeness."—Maclaren.


Verses 43-48

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . Issue of blood.—A disease which, in addition to its painful and weakening character, exposed her to the disagreeable restrictions imposed on those who were ceremonially unclean. Spent all her living, etc.—St. Mark says she "had suffered many things of many physicians, and was nothing better, but rather grew worse." The somewhat trifling remark has been, made that St. Luke, as a physician, is more gentle in his reference to those of his profession who had attempted to cure the woman. There seems to be little ground for the statement.

Luk . The border of His garment.—Perhaps the fringe or tassel of blue, worn in obedience to the law in Num 15:38-40.

Luk .—The hasty and almost impatient reply of Peter is very characteristic of him.

Luk . Virtue.—Rather, "power" (R.V.). I perceive that virtue, etc.—Rather, "I perceived that power had gone forth from Me." This proves Christ's knowledge of the circumstances at the very moment of the cure.

Luk . Before all the people.—Peculiar to St. Luke. It is a significant detail: she had sought a cure in secret, but is led to confess it openly.

Luk . Daughter.—This is the only occasion on which Christ is recorded to have addressed a woman in this way. The kindliness it expresses is specially appropriate to the circumstances of the case. Be of good comfort.—Omitted by the best MSS.; omitted in R.V.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

Timid Faith rewarded and confirmed.—This incident is marked out among our Lord's healings by these two peculiarities. It was a miracle within a miracle; and it was a cure obtained without a word spoken beforehand. Jesus is called to go on an errand of mercy, and finds another merciful work to do on the way. The power of Jesus not only flows out, but overflows and dispenses blessings by the way. The crumbs that fall from His table are better than the feasts of other masters. It was also a healing granted without any previous conversation. In this it was exceptional. He usually talked with the patient, or with those interested in the case, before He wrought the cure. The faith of this woman was so fearless, prompt, and resolute that without question or explanation, before a word had been spoken, she believes, resolves, acts. She has snatched the blessing, and is only not permitted to steal it. For He would not let her go until He had obtained a confession of her faith from her own lips. Thus, though the conversation was not held till the cure had been wrought, the exception confirmed the rule on which He acted, that, apart from faith, and the acknowledgment of faith, there would be no blessing. Two things in the narrative especially claim our attention: the woman's confidence in Christ, and Christ's action towards her.

I. The woman's faith in the Saviour, its strength and its weakness.—She put herself in Jesus' way on this eventful occasion, and thus proved the strength of her faith. She was filled with a belief that He was able to heal even her. She never seems to have doubted for a moment her right to take the cure if she could get it. Such a Saviour should not come within arm's length of her, but she would stretch out her hand for the blessing. Though she should have to press her way through the crowd to reach Him, she would touch Him and be healed. 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 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. The spiritual value of faith is not to be reckoned by the correctness of conception on which it rests. 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.

II. The Saviour's action towards the woman, its wisdom and tenderness.—The active faith of the sufferer, as it were, takes the blessing by storm, though from One who is always willing to bless. He was not, indeed, unconscious of the virtue He put forth, nor of the faith which received it. But to bring that faith into clearness and purity it was necessary to bring the subject herself into conscious and open relation to her Healer. Our Lord straightway turns round, and puts the question which amazed the disciples, and drew forth Peter's characteristic remonstrance. Searching the crowd around, and hitherto behind Him, His gaze falls upon the woman. The thin and pinched features, the pallor of habitual ill-health, helped, perhaps, to single her out. But now there mingles in it the glow of instantaneous success, and the blush of womanly sensibility. She knew instantly that she was healed. She felt in that moment how far her sanguine boldness had carried her. She perceived, indeed, that nothing was hid from her Healer, but also that His mien was as gracious as His person was mighty. What look of His met hers we can imagine. A rare delight filled His countenance—a foretaste of the joy set before Him—at the signal proof of confidence given by this poor, lone woman. This sunshine of His face, added to the joy of her own success, gave her courage to tell Him, both "for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately." The avowal cost her not a little. She came "trembling" as she "fell down before Him," and made her confession "before all the people." But it was richly rewarded. With a kindly word of greeting, He clears her faith to her own mind, He confirms her cure as a permanent healing, and He claims to be Himself the knowing and willing author of it all. We can see why for His own sake, and for His works' sake, Jesus had to make the cure public. But we are also to note how good it was for the subject of it herself. She did not mean perhaps "to filch the blessing." Her failing leaned to virtue's side. She deemed it not worth while to have Him stop for her, when He was in such urgency, and stand and speak the healing. One quiet touch would do all she needed. Had she been allowed to slip away without the public scene, she would have lost two things: the honour of confessing her faith, and of having her cure confirmed. 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, viz. to show that the medium of the cure was faith, not physical contact, to confirm what she had already taken by His own pronounced bestowal of it, and 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 is, no doubt, a secret transaction, very close and personal between the soul and Christ. But it cannot remain secret. The virtue which is gone out of Him is a savour which cannot be hid. A seen religion is not always real, but a real religion is always, seen. We cannot claim Christ for ours, but He will also declare His part in the blessed bond, and have us acknowledge that we are His. "To confess with the mouth" is an essential part of the salvation which comes by believing with the heart; indeed, it is the consummation of it. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." This is the private justification of the man before God. "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." This crowns the transaction. It is more than its mere publication—namely, its perfection. The salvation is neither comforting nor complete until it is openly acknowledged.—Laidlaw.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . "All waiting for Him."

I. A sad father waiting.

II. A dead child waiting.

III. A sick woman waiting.—Watson.

Luk . Two Forms of Faith.

I. Jairus openly appeals to Jesus on his daughter's behalf, but is secretly anxious: his faith, weaker than it appears, would have ebbed away but for the Saviour's word of encouragement.

II. The woman is too timid to make her case known to Jesus, but for all that her faith is stronger than one would have judged it to be from outward appearances.

Luk . "Besought Him that He would come."—Similarity between the raising of Jairus' daughter and the raising of Lazarus. In both cases there is (l) delay in bringing help;

(2) the patient dies before Christ's arrival;

(3) there is a mysterious promise of deliverance;

(4) death is spoken of as a sleep.

Luk . "She lay a-dying."

I. There is nothing like trouble to drive people to Christ.—So long as things go on prosperously, many men do not ask favours of Him; but when great trial comes, He is the first to whom they turn. This is one of the most obvious uses of trouble.

II. The little daughter "lay a-dying." This is a universal experience. The paths of earth run diversely, but they all reach this point at last. No one knows when he will come to it. Sometimes it is reached in early youth. Children should think of it, not sadly, and prepare for it, not regretfully.

III. The strongest men break down when their children are ill or in danger.—It is a touching sight to see this father falling at Christ's feet. Stern, hard men often reveal tenderness in such times of trial. Behind such sternness and severity there is often a gentle, loving, affectionate heart.—Miller.

Luk . "Could not be healed of any."—In like manner—

I. Sin is a disease of the soul.

II. When recognised, recourse is often had to inadequate means of cure.

III. No sinner, however inveterate his case may be, need despair of a cure if he will apply to Christ in faith.

Luk . Faith's Approach to Christ.

I. Faith comes with a deep despair of all other help but Christ's.

II. Faith has a Divine power to discover Christ.

III. Faith comes with an implicit trust in Christ.

IV. Faith seeks, for its comfort, close contact with Christ.

V. Faith, with all its imperfections, is accepted by Christ.

VI. Faith feels a change from the touch of Christ.—Ker.

The Power of Feeble Faith.

I. Very imperfect faith may be genuine faith.

II. Christ answers the imperfect faith.

III. Christ corrects and confirms an imperfect faith by the very act of answering it.—Maclaren.

Faith mingled with superstition.—This is a most encouraging miracle for us to recollect, when we are disposed to think despondingly of the ignorance or superstition of many who are nominally Christian: that He who accepted this woman for her faith, even in error and weakness, may also accept them. Superstition tinged her thoughts, but her feelings were ardent and pleasing to the Lord: the head may have been affected by vain imaginations, but the heart was sound.

Luk . "Who touched Me?"—The fact that many thronged about Christ, and only one, by reason of her faith, was healed by touching Him, is highly significant. Many in our day are in close contact with the Saviour, in worship, in reading the word of God, and in celebrating the sacraments, who are not healed by Him for want of the faith which this sufferer manifested.

Luk . "Virtue is gone out of Me."—The poor woman had approached His sacred garments as men are said to touch relics, with a blind faith in their mysterious virtue and efficacy. Even thus she obtained a blessing, for it was faith. But Christ would not so be touched. He will have us know that the fountain of grace is the living God, who beholdeth all things in heaven and earth, and who claims of His rational creatures a reasonable worship.—Burgon.

Luk . "She came trembling."—This woman would have borne away a maimed blessing, hardly a blessing at all, had she been suffered to bear it away in secret and unacknowledged, and without being brought into any personal communion with her Healer. She hoped to remain in concealment out of shame, which, however natural, was untimely in this the crisis of her spiritual life. But this hope of hers is graciously defeated. Her heavenly Healer draws her from the concealment she would have chosen; but even here, so far as possible, He spares her; for not before, but after she is healed, does He require the open confession from her lips. She might have found it perhaps altogether too hard had He demanded this of her before. But waiting till the cure is accomplished, He helps her through the narrow way. Altogether spare her this painful passage He could not, for it pertained to her birth into the new life.—Trench.

The Necessity for Open Acknowledgment.—It was necessary that this hidden act of faith should come to light in order that

(1) Christ might receive the glory due Him;

(2) the suppliant might be delivered from the false shame which would have hindered her openly acknowledging the benefit she had received; and

(3) others be led to faith in Christ.

Doubts and Fears.—In this case the cure came first—a cure wrought by Christ without a word or sign. She knew that what had been done in her was a result of her own act, without permission from Jesus, and she could scarcely hope that the faith which suggested it would be accepted as genuine; hence the terror and trembling, the sudden prostration and the full confession.

Confessing associated with Believing.—The apostle Paul lays equal stress upon the necessity of confessing with the mouth and of believing in the heart (Rom ): "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

Luk . "Thy faith."—Jesus wishes her fully to understand that it is not the contact of her hand with the border of His garment that has, as she expected, wrought the cure, but her faith. The idea of a physical and almost magical operation is dispelled, and the moral significance of the miracle is brought into view.

"Go in peace."—If we keep in mind how her uncleanness separated her off as one impure, we shall have here an exact picture of the sinner drawing nigh to the throne of grace, but out of the sense of his impurity not "with boldness," rather with fear and trembling, hardly knowing what there he shall expect; but who is welcomed there, and all his carnal doubtings and questionings at once chidden and expelled, dismissed with the word of an abiding peace resting upon him.—Trench.

Luk . "Trouble not the Master."—The words are kindly, and even indicate a measure of faith. "Had He arrived while she was still in life, He might have saved her; but now she is beyond the reach even of His help."

"Trouble not the Master."—The word σκύλλω is closely represented by our word "worry." Its primary application is to sheep, or other tame animals, hunted and torn by dogs or other natural enemies. It is used in this sense in Mat , and is translated in the R.V. by "distressed." But in ordinary colloquial use it came to mean no more than "tease" or "trouble."

The Dead Daughter.

I. Jesus is never in a hurry.—It seemed as if there was not a moment to lose. Why did Jesus not hasten? Why did He stop to heal the woman? Because He is never so much engrossed in one case of need that He cannot stop to give attention to another. He is never so pressed for time that we have to wait our turn. No matter what He is doing, He will instantly and always hear our cry of need.

II. Jesus never waits too long or comes too late.—It seemed as if He had tarried too long this time; but when we see how it all came out, we are sure that He made no mistake. True, the child died while He lingered; but this only gave Him opportunity for a greater miracle. He waited that He might do a more glorious work. There is always some good reason when Christ delays to answer our prayers or come to our help. He waits that He may do far more for us in the end. Even in answering our prayers it is best to let our Lord have His own way as to when and how to come to our help.—Miller.

Luk . "Fear not."—The cheering word doubtless was the more encouraging to Jairus, spoken as it was so soon after the miracle which he had witnessed.

Luk . "Peter, and James, and John."—Christ took with Him only those disciples who had hearts most open to receive the fulness of His grace; and it is interesting to notice that Peter long afterwards in Joppa, in performing a similar miracle, imitated exactly the method followed by Jesus in the house of Jairus (Act 9:40).

Luk . "She is not dead, but sleepeth."—She did but sleep till He who is the resurrection and the life came to waken her. In accordance with our Lord's teaching here the apostolic and later Church has instinctively substituted "sleep" for "death," in speaking of the believer's removal from this world (see Act 7:60; 1Th 4:14).

Luk . "Put them all forth."—

1.Their presence was not needed—they were mourners for the dead, and Christ was about to awaken the damsel from the sleep of death.

2. Their boisterous grief was incongruous with the solemnity of the occasion.

3. Their scornful laughter at His saying rendered them unworthy to witness the deed of power.

"Took her by the hand."—Our Lord adapted His manner of working miracles to the circumstances of the occasions. He called the four-days dead Lazarus from the grave with a loud voice (Joh ); but of this youthful maiden it is said that He took her by the hand and called her, "Damsel, arise," and woke her gently from the sleep of death.—Wordsworth.

"Maid, arise."—One of the Fathers remarks that if Christ had not named the child all the dead would have arisen at His word.

Luk . "To give her meat."—An indication of an affectionate care which, even in the midst of the greatest things, forgets not the least, and which would provide for the necessity of the exhausted child on her return to life—Stier.

"Give her meat."—Perhaps, too, partaking of food was to be a sign of actual restoration to bodily life, as when Christ Himself after His resurrection said, "Have ye here any meat?" (chap. Luk ).

Luk . "Tell no man."—The reason for the prohibition was doubtless to avoid a notoriety, which might excite the people and give occasion for tumultuous proceedings. The disciples would, of course, obey; but the parents could scarcely conceal their feelings of gratitude.—Speaker's Commentary.

Silence enjoined.—Observe the different courses followed by Christ in these two cases: she who sought healing by stealth was constrained to confess openly the boon she had obtained; he who publicly appealed for the healing of his daughter is enjoined to be silent about the miracle.


Verses 49-56

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . Returned.—I.e. to Capernaum. Gladly received Him.—The word "gladly" is inserted by the translators, but it is implied in the phrase in the original: "welcomed Him" (R.V.).

Luk . Jairus.—In Hebrew, Jair (Jud 10:3). Ruler of the synagogue.—The affairs of the synagogue were ruled by a college of elders, one of whom was president or "ruler." It is interesting to see that faith in Jesus was not altogether wanting among the official class in Galilee. Come into his house.—"Jairus had not the faith of the Roman centurion" (Farrar).

Luk . Lay a dying.—Was at the point of death. St. Matthew, who does not mention the coming of a messenger from the house of Jairus (here noted in Luk 8:49), describes her as "even now dead": he anticipates, that is, the mention of her actual death.

Luk . To go in.—Rather, "to enter in with Him" (R.V.). Peter, and James, and John.—These same three disciples were chosen by Jesus to be witnesses of His transfiguration and to be near Him during His agony in Gethsemane.

Luk . All wept.—Rather, "all were weeping and bewailing her" (R.V.). I.e. in the house, not in the chamber of death. The word translated "bewail" meant originally to beat or strike oneself: probably there is a reference to beating the breasts as a sign of grief. St. Matthew mentions "the minstrels" or flute-players, who together with other professional mourners were ordinarily employed on such occasions. Not dead, but sleepeth.—I.e. she is as one who sleeps, for she is shortly to awake. A similar word is used of Lazarus, Joh 11:11.

Luk . And He put them all out.—To be omitted: omitted in R.V., probably an interpolation from the parallel passages in the other Gospels. Maid, arise.—St. Mark gives the exact Aramaic words used, "Talitha cumi."

Luk .—The command to give her to eat shows that she was restored to actual life with its wants and weaknesses, and in that incipient state of convalescence which would require nourishment.

Luk .—St. Matthew tells us that secrecy was not maintained; but, on the contrary, "the fame thereof went abroad into all that land." We need not suppose the parents were disobedient to the command of Jesus; an event of the kind, known to so many, could scarcely be concealed.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk ; Luk 8:49-56

The Sleeping Child awakened.—Sorrows and need make short work of prejudices. Jairus, as a synagogue official, was probably not over-favourable to Jesus; but he must have known of the cures already done in the synagogue at Capernaum, and so he forgets his doubts and dignity, and flings himself at the feet of the new Teacher, who, whether a heretic or not, may heal his little girl. His "faith" was probably merely a belief in Christ's miraculous power; and he was far behind the heathen centurion, who did not ask Jesus to come, but only to speak. But his agony was sore, his need great, his beseeching plaintive, and Jesus does not stop to put him through a catechism before He responds to his prayer. We are taught to think more loftily of Christ's willingness and power by His swift and exuberant answers to the poorest faith. Jesus has just come from exhausting toils on the other side of the lake; but He asks for no leisure, but goes with the impatient father at once, attended by a gaping crowd of sight-seers. Take our Lord's three sayings (Luk ; Luk 8:52; Luk 8:54) as guides to the narrative.

I. He invites and encourages faith even at the moment when all seems hopeless.—The impatience of Jairus was justified by the message of the child's death. His faith, such as it was, was ready to collapse. He could believe that Jesus could heal, but to bring to life again was too much to expect. It obviously had not occurred to him as possible. How should it? And at that moment, when the last faint spark of light in the father's darkened heart has been blown out, Christ, for the first time in the story, speaks. His words sound strange and almost meaningless, "Fear not." What more was there to fear? The last and worst had come. "Only believe." What was there to believe now? "She shall be made whole." But she is dead. But there lies hidden to be found by the believing father a comfort which was enough for faith to lay hold of, though it might not be put in plain language. He gives Jairus enough to cheer him and relight the flame of hope. He never bids us not to be afraid without bidding us believe in Him, and giving faith something to cling to. A true faith will accept His assurances even when they seem to imply impossibilities; and many a mourning heart that has heard Jesus speak thus over the dear dead whom He has not raised, knows how true it is that dying they have been "made whole," and live a fuller life.

II. He announces that the irrevocable is not irrevocable to Him and His, for He comes to awake the sleeper.—This word was spoken in the house, at the door of the chamber. Flute-players, and hired mourners, and curious neighbours, and all the crowd that comes to buzz round sorrow, were there; and a yard off, on the other side of a wall, lay the poor child quiet and deaf to it all. It is absurd to imagine that the saying of Christ is to be taken literally, and that the child was simply in a swoon or trance. The bystanders' unfeeling laugh is proof enough that what men call death had unmistakably taken place. They had seen the last moments, and knew that she was dead. What then does the saying mean? Jesus is not dealing in sentimental fine names for the unchanged horror, as we sometimes do; but His change of names follows a change of nature. He has abolished death, and, while the physical fact remains, the whole character of it changes. Sleep is not unconsciousness. It suspends the power of affecting, or being affected by, the world of sense, but does no more. We live and think and rejoice in sleep. It has the promise of waking. It brings rest. Therefore our Lord takes the old metaphor which all nations have used to hide the ugliness of death, and breathes new hope into it.

III. His last word is the life-giving one in the death-chamber.—Silence and secrecy befitted it. He kept out the noisy mob, and with the parents and the three chief disciples enters the sacred presence of the dead. Why this small number of witnesses? Possibly for the sake of the child, whose tender years might be disturbed by many curious eyes; but also, apparently, because, for reasons not known to us, He desired little publicity for the miracle. How simply and easily the stupendous deed is done! One touch of His hand, two words, the very syllables of which St. Mark gives, and "her spirit returned." He is the Lord both of the dead and the living, and His word runneth very swiftly over the gulf between this world and the abode of the dead. They sleep lightly, and are easily waked by His touch. Their sleep, while it lasts, is sweet, restful, conscious, if they sleep in Jesus. As for the weary body, it slumbers; and as for the spirit, it may be said to sleep, if by that we understand the cessation of toil, the end of connection with the outer world, the tranquillity of deep repose; but, in another aspect, the sleep of the saints is their passing into a fuller and more vivid life, and they are "satisfied," when they close their eyes on earth, to open them for heaven, and sleep to "awake in His likeness."—Maclaren.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Luke 8:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/luke-8.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
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