Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
The Evangelist enters upon his records of the LORD JESUS with an account of John the Baptist. To this follow the Baptism of CHRIST, his temptation, preaching, the call of his Apostles; and the performing miracles.
THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; (2) As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (3) The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (4) John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (5) And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. (6) And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of skin about his loins and he did eat locusts and wild honey; (7) And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. (8) I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. (9) And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. (10) And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: (11) And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
It is remarkable, that in the opening of the Gospel according to Mark, he passes over the wonderful event of CHRIST's miraculous in carnation and birth. Probably the HOLY GHOST so appointed, as Matthew and Luke had been so circumstantial in the relation of the mystery of GOD manifest in the flesh. But the Reader will do well to turn to those scriptures, and connect them with what the Evangelist hath here related. Matt. chapters 1 & 2. Luke 1 and 2, John 1 throughout. 1 Timothy 3:16. When the Reader hath accomplished this service, I would refer him to the 3rd chapter of Matthew's Gospel, with the observations of the Poor Man's Commentary upon it, in relation to what is here said of John the Baptist. And also, in what follows in that chapter, in reference to the baptism of the, LORD JESUS CHRIST both subjects being there so largely dwelt upon as to render any enlargement here unnecessary. But I beg to detain the reader one moment longer, just to observe, that both in the beginning of the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST'S, and the preaching of the Baptist as the forerunner of the LORD JESUS, the great and leading point of all John's ministry, in holding forth JESUS, was to shew the necessity of CHRIST's baptism of his redeemed with the HOLY GHOST. Reader! do not, forget, that this vast and momentous principle in the gospel of salvation, as it concerns every individual heir of CHRIST's kingdom, is, after all, the great and distinguishing feature in the child of GOD. Paul put the question to the Church at Ephesus; and let you and I put it closely to our own consciences in the sight of GOD: have you received the HOLY GHOST since ye believed? Acts 19:1-6. Oh! for the precious testimony of that spirit of judgment, and spirit of burning, whereby every truly regenerated believer is savingly witnessed to, in his own heart and conscience, that he is born of GOD! Isaiah 4:2-4; Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6; John 1:12.
(12) And immediately the spirit drives him into the wilderness. (13) And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
I refer the Reader to the observations made on CHRIST's temptations in Matthew 4:3-11. And in addition to what is there offered, I would just beg to say, that very sweet are the consolations every child of GOD may draw, and indeed ought to draw, from those exercises of JESUS, when, at any time, brought under peculiar trials of his own. If the SON of GOD, when dwelling upon earth in sub stance of our flesh, was with the wild beasts, as well as tempted forty days of Satan, surely none of the members of his mystical body can wonder at their habitation and their exercises. And what can console a member of CHRIST's mystical body, under the sharpest conflicts, equal to the assurance, that JESUS, in our flesh, was all this, and more; purposely that he might be the better suited to ad minister relief to all the trials of his people. And while as GOD, his divine nature enabled him both to know and provide a largeness equal to all that might be needed for their relief, as man, his human nature gave him a fellow-feeling, that the mercies he imparted should be so loving and similar as one man is to another. The HOLY GHOST has said as much, and infinitely more, when by his servant we are told; for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:18.
(14) Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. (15) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (16) Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. (17) And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. (18) And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. (19) And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. (20) And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him. (21) And they went into Capernaum; and straight way on the sabbath-day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. (22) And they were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
These verses are almost the same as was noticed, Matthew 4:17-22. It appears from both accounts, that the LORD JESUS entered upon his preaching with only those four Apostles at the first; and there should seem to have been some interval between their call and the others. But what a surprising call must it have been to those men; how unlooked for; and yet how powerful: instantly to leave all their earthly concerns and connections to follow Jesus. Reader! it is still the same in every instance where the claims of nature would thwart the calls of grace. Painful to flesh and blood, as numberless circum stances are sometimes found, the plucking out an eye, or cutting off an arm, are needful to be done if they stand in the way of CHRIST, See that scripture, Luke 14:26-27.
(23) And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, (24) Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. (25) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. (26) And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. (27) And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. (28) And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout the region round about Galilee.
We have here the first miracle CHRIST manifested in the relation of Mark's Gospel. The Son of GOD was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. And here he begins to overthrow both his person and empire, This poor man, we are told, had an unclean spirit. Every man, by the fall, is under the dominion of sin and Satan. The children of GOD, as well as the whole race of men in the Adam-nature, in which they are born, are equally vassals and subjects to Satan. For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage. 2 Peter 2:19. Hence therefore, we have all by nature an unclean spirit. Oh! for grace to be made sensible of this! Titus 3:3-7. The next thing we meet with in this poor man's history is, that he was in the synagogue on the sabbath- day. Reader do not fail to remark, that notwithstanding this dreadful malady, he attended the worship of GOD. It is blessed to be found waiting at ordinances, whatever state the mind is in. Who would have thought, when he went into the synagogue under such a state of captivity to Satan, that he should come out so blessedly de livered by the Almighty power of GOD. Had he not been there, humanly speaking, he would have lost this opportunity of being healed. How sweet was that scripture fulfilled in this instance. Isaiah 49:24-26. The loud cry from the evil spirit, which had, at that time, the mastery over him, is worthy our closest observation in confirmation of the GODHEAD of CHRIST. Reader! do not fail to remark this! While thousands, who saw JESUS daily going about the streets of Jerusalem, knew not who he was, devils were compelled to give their unwilling testimony to his person and authority, and publickly to own him as the HOLY ONE of GOD! Oh! what will modern infidels to the GODHEAD of CHRIST have to say in the great day of his power; when devils themselves confessed their knowledge of him, even in the day of his flesh! Reader! remark with me also, the great awfulness of the blinded state of man by reason of sin, that even devils are not blinded, as sinners in nature are, to the knowledge of CHRIST. But let every child of GOD who reads my Poor Man's commentary, and whose eyes the LORD hath opened, take sweet comfort in this; that while devils, in head knowledge, exceed in nature those whom, by their temptations, they have made blind at the fall, they never can receive in heart-influence what poor sinners recovered by sovereign grace, attain unto, both in an apprehension of; and interest in, the person, work, and glory of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. When the Reader hath duly pondered over these precious views of the case before us, I would request him to attend to another circumstance presented to us in it, namely, the acknowledgement the evil spirit made of CHRIST's power, and the dreadful alarm expressed in the apprehension that JESUS was come (as was indeed the case) to their destruction. Let every child of GOD here learn, what frights and fears devils are in, even in the midst of their cruel tyranny over our poor nature, which Satan, the Old Serpent, ruined at the Fall. Behold! in this instance, how, at the very approach of JESUS, they tremble. Oh! what confidence ought every child of GOD to feel in the consciousness of an interest in CHRIST. No weapon formed against them can prosper. No temptation can take them, but under it the LORD will make a way for them to escape. And the GOD of peace is engaged to bruise Satan under their feet shortly. See Isaiah 54:17; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Romans 16:20. The victory, of CHRIST in dispossessing the evil spirit, the recovery of the poor man, the astonishment of the whole congregation, and the rumour of such a miracle circulating through the neighborhood, these would furnish large subjects for our meditation. But I must study shortness, and therefore refer the Reader to similar records of our LORD, where the improvements may be found to the same amount. See Mark 5. And I particularly request the Reader, if he hath the little penny number by him of my Poor Man's Concordance, under the article Nazarene, to consult it in this place.
(29) And forthwith when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (30) But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever; and anon they tell him of her. (31) And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. (32) And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. (33) And all the city was gathered together at the door. (34) And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. (35) And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (36) And Simon, and they that were with him, followed after him. (37) And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. (38) And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth. (39) And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
I refer the Reader the comment on this passage, to what was said on the same, Matthew 8:14, etc.
(40) And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. (41) And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will: be thou clean. (42) And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. (43) And he straightly charged him, and forth with sent him away; (44) And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. (45) But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
The case of this leper is so fully considered, Matthew 8:1-4. that it were unnecessary, in this place, to add anything upon the subject.
READER! let us, while opening this precious record of the beginning of the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, the SON of GOD, look up for grace from the Spirit of GOD, that the outward ministry of the word may be accompanied with inward instructions in our souls, to make us wise unto salvation through the faith that is in CHRIST JESUS. May the HOLY Three, which bear record in heaven, grant to us such sweet testimonies in our hearts and consciences of the truth as it is in JESUS, that we may enjoy that life eternal, to know the LORD JEHOVAH, FATHER, SON, and SPIRIT, to be the only true GOD and JESUS CHRIST whom he hath sent. Precious beginning of the Gospel, I would say; beginning, as it did, before all worlds, when hid in GOD, who created all things by JESUS CHRIST, and now made manifest by the preaching of the everlasting gospel, to the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of GOD!
Here LORD I behold thy herald, the Baptist, preparing thy way before thee! Come, LORD, and bring my soul under the baptism of thy HOLY SPIRIT. Prepare me, by His enlightnings, to stand against the temptations of the devil. Oh! for the distinguishing calls of my LORD, as to his disciples. LORD! dispossess every unclean affection from my heart; and do thou reign there, and rule there, the LORD of life and glory! So will my soul, by thy grace, be made clean, though, in myself, polluted as the leper; and JESUS will be my LORD and my GOD, and my portion forever!
Sunday, March 26th, 2017
the Fourth Sunday of Lent
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