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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Mark 5

 

 

Verses 1-20

Mark 5:1-20

Into the country of the Gadarenes.

The country of the Gadarenes

I spent a night and part of two days in the vicinity of the Lake of Tiberias. My tent was pitched near the Hot Baths, about a mile south of the town of Tiberias, and, consequently, near the south end of the lake. In looking across the water to the other side, I had before me the country of the Gadarenes, where the swine, impelled by an evil spirit, plunged into the sea. I was struck with a mark of accuracy in the sacred writers which had never occurred to me till then. They state that “the swine ran violently down the steep place, or precipice” (the article being required by the Greek), “and were choked in the sea.” It is implied here, first, that the hills in that region approach near the water; and, secondly, that they fail off so abruptly along the shore that it would be natural for a writer familiar with that fact to refer to it as well known. Both these implications are correct. A mass of rocky hills overlook the sea on that side, so near the water that one sees their dark outline reflected from its surface, while their sides are in general so steep that a person familiar with the scenery would hardly think of speaking of a steep place or precipice, where so much of the coast forms but one continuous precipice. Our translators omit the definite article, and show, by this inadvertence, how naturally the more exact knowledge of the evangelists influenced their language. (H. B. Hackett, D. D.)

The tombs

These tombs were caverns, natural or artificial, in the sides of the rocks, containing cells in which the dead bodies were placed and closed up. The entrance to the cave itself was not closed, and thus it might be used as a habitation. Such ancient tombs still exist in the hills above Gersa, as well as at Gadara, indeed the whole region, as Mr. Tristram remarks, is so perforated with these rock chambers, that a home for the demoniac might be found, whatever locality be assigned as the scene of the miracle. (Dean Mansel.)

Eastern tombs

In the East the receptacles of the dead are always situated at some distance from the abodes of the living; and if belonging to kings or men of rank, are spacious vaults and magnificent structures, containing, besides the crypt that contains the ashes of their solitary tenants, several chambers or recesses which are open and accessible at the sides. In these the benighted traveller often finds a welcome asylum; in these the dervishes and santons, wandering mendicants that infest the towns of Persia and other eastern countries, generally establish themselves, and they are often, too, made the haunts of robbers and lawless people, who hide themselves there to avoid the consequences of their crimes. Nor are they occupied only by such casual and dangerous tenants. When passing through a desolate village near the Lake of Tiberius, Giovanni Finati saw the few inhabitants living in the tombs as their usual place of residence; and at Thebes the same traveller, when he was introduced to Mr. Beechy, the British Consul, found that gentleman had established himself, while prosecuting his researches among the ruins of that celebrated place, in the vestibule of one of the tombs of the ancient kings. Captain Light, who travelled over the scene of our Lord’s interview with the demoniac, describes the tombs as still existing in the form of caverns cut in the live rock, like those at Petra-as wild and sequestered solitudes, divided into a number of bare and open niches, well suited to be places of refuge to those unhappy lunatics for whom the benevolence of antiquity had not provided a better asylum. (R. Jamieson, D. D.)

Power of evil spirits, and power over them

I. The power of evil spirits.

1. As seen in its extensiveness. Their field is the world.

2. As seen in its effects.

II. Christ’s power over evil spirits.

1. Feared by them-“I adjure Thee by God, torment me not.”

2. Hated of them-“What have we,” etc.

3. Absolute over them-“Come out of him, thou unclean spirit,” etc.

Demoniacal possession

The four evangelists give themselves very little concern about pathology and diagnosis, although one of them was a physician. But taking the Gospels as an honest and not unintelligent record of the phenomena, we make out two points very clearly concerning this demonism.

I. It was not mere lunacy or epilepsy, for these diseases are recognized and clearly distinguished from the work of the evil spirits. There are patients in whom the work of the infesting spirit produces symptoms like epilepsy, and other patients in whom it produces symptoms of dumbness, and there are still other manifestations, but beneath these symptoms they detect indications, which the sufferer himself confirms, of something different from the mere physical diseases of like symptoms by which these eases were surrounded.

II. As this demonism was not mere disease, so, on the other hand, it was not mere wickedness-the wilful giving up of one’s self to the instigation of the devil-a mistake to which we are inclined by the unhappy mistranslation of demon into devil. It is always spoken of and dealt with as an involuntary affliction, looked upon by the Lord with pity rather than censure. Neither is it treated as if it were in any special sense a visitation for sin. Doubtless these sufferers were sinners, and doubtless their sufferings stood in some relation to their sins, but it was not this relation, that they were “sinners above all others.” The truth seems to be this: that sin, unbelief, opened the way for this awful curse, and that when the alien spirit had taken hold of body and mind and will, it had the power of plaguing with various disorders-with wild, moping, melancholic madness, or with epileptic convulsions, or blindness, or dumbness. Both the disciples and the evangelists, and even the popular apprehension of the Jews, distinguished clearly between such of these maladies as were merely physical, and such as were inflicted by malign spirits. (L. W. Bacon.)

Christ and the demoniac

From this strange but suggestive incident we may learn-

I. The immediate connection of the world of darkness with the evil heart. Today men break through moral and social restraints, and with else unaccountable recklessness destroy their every interest; suffer disgrace, lose their situations, break up their homes, and for a mess of pottage sacrifice all their hopes in life. Human passion, or even selfishness, is no explanation of such follies. They have a demon; they are possessed.

II. The great power of the inhabitants of darkness over the evil heart. To drive men from the comforts of an honourable life, and to lead them to seek happiness in vagrancy; to make them think they are all right, though daubed with dirt and pollution; to cause men who are sane in the ordinary affairs of life to frequent such places and cherish such companions as reveal to others their moral madness.

III. The utter impotency of man to deliver the possessed from the power of the inhabitants of darkness.

IV. The weakness of the powers of darkness in conflict with Christ. A legion of demons expelled by a word!

V. Conclusion.

1. Beware of tampering with evil. The “little sin” may open the door of the heart for the entrance of a whole legion of demons.

2. The wish of evil will ever be self-destructive.

3. If Jesus has cured you, show it by causing joy and gladness where you have caused so much misery-in your home. (F. Wallace.)

The demoniac of Gadara

I. The misery of the man.

II. The majesty of Christ.

III. The mischief of the devils. (J. B.)

The Gadarene demoniac

1. That there are ether intelligent and finite creatures beside men.

2. Some of these are wholly wicked, while others are wholly good.

3. Wicked spirits can tempt men to sin.

4. Yet it is conceivable that in some instances they should acquire an absolute physical control over a human being, so as to coerce him irresistibly and make him act against his own will.

5. Cases of possession were peculiarly numerous at the time of Christ’s ministry upon earth.

Lessons:

1. See the exceeding terribleness of sin, in ruining two orders of creatures and making one the means of ruin to the other.

2. Be thankful to be saved from the physical tyranny of the devil. He would make us all howling demoniacs if he could: but he is restrained by the power and interference of Jesus Christ.

3. Consider the dreadful doom of sinners who hereafter will be absolutely under the power of evil spirits. Hell is a pandemonium of devils, and a bedlam of demoniacs.

4. As still subject to the moral temptations of the evil one, look stedfastly to Jesus, who has power to bring you off more than conqueror in every conflict with the powers of darkness. (Congregational Pulpit.)

Sin and salvation

I. Some aspects of sin.

1. Its contagiousness. The man was “possessed.” Evil is always reaching beyond itself for something of which it may lay hold, and which it may drag downwards.

2. Its anti-social tendency. “Neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.” Iniquity isolates men, as ferocity does the wolf, the tiger, the eagle.

3. Its embrutalization of character.

4. Its dread of righteousness. The devils cry out when Christ draws near. Always vice fears and hates virtue.

II. Some aspects of salvation.

1. It is begun in the expulsion (not repression) of evil principles and desires.

2. God accounts as nothing whatever material loss may be incurred in its effectuation. Souls are more to Him than swine.

3. Its moral and spiritual results have a counterpart, and external evidence in improved material and social condition. “Clothed,” etc.

4. The surest proof of the reality of its accomplishment is renunciation of personal preferences in obedience to Christ’s command. “Not my will, but Thine be done.” (The Pulpit Analyst.)

The evil spirits

I. The personality of evil spirits: or, in other words, that they are distinct personal beings. For every feature of the narrative bespeaks their true personality. Their first meeting with our Lord; their direct perception that He was their great antagonist; that He was man, and yet that in some way He was the Son of the most high God: that He was of the race over whom they had of old triumphed, and yet that He was their judge; their trembling entreaty that the appointed time of their full sorrow might not be forestalled:-all of these bespeak the manifest meeting of the person of the Christ with the person of the evil one. For all parts of this narrative are equally incompatible with the supposed solution of imaginative language; and all equally agree with the simple meaning of the declaration, that these spirits were separate, lost, personal beings, under whose strange and cruel power the demoniac had been brought. But, above all, this is so clearly established by their entering into the swine, that it furnishes us with the most probable reason for that permission.

II. And as their personality, so, further, their great number is established by this history. Their name was Legion, for many devils had entered into this single victim: a clear intimation of the exhaustless multitude of these hosts of darkness.

III. Again, concerning their condition we may gather much. For their meeting with Christ, as it called forth their name, so did it compel the disclosure of their state. We see them wandering restlessly over the earth, held even now in the strong chain of an ever present despair, and looking on to the full accomplishment of their appointed punishment. So that their present condition is plainly one of active, unresting, sinful misery; their hell is already within them, though its outer bars close not utterly around them until the accomplishment of all things.

IV. And in this condition their power is manifestly great. The strength which they administered to this their victim, by which “chains had been plucked asunder by him, and fetters broken in pieces,” was but the outward exhibition of the awful might with which he was himself subdued to their will. For what is meant by their “entering into him,” save that they had the mastery over him; that his spirit was controlled by theirs, so that his outer actions were now the coming forth of an evil power within him? In this sense they had “entered into him.” But it is as plain that this power, great as it was, was limited; for they could do no more than they were suffered.

V. And but for this gracious help of the Almighty, surely man would be swept away before the flood of their bitter hatred; for we may see here their malignity as plainly as their power. These wretched men, with their foul haunt amidst the pollutions of the tomb, who wore no clothes, but were “always night and day crying out and cutting themselves with stones;” how plainly do they bear their witness to the character of Satan’s rule! What else was all this their proclaimed misery but the evident display, in those given over utterly to him, of the true working of that will of his which is now making men sensual, and brutish, and violent, and fierce, and dark in spirit! The pleasant baits of sin are cast aside as soon as they have served their turn, and an absolute malignity seeks to overwhelm his prey with unmixed misery. Surely the tender mercies of that wicked one are cruel; he hates God without measure, and therefore hates in man even the obscured image of his heavenly Father. What a fearful intimation is all this of what hell shall be, where there shall be no limitation to his power of tormenting those who heretofore have joined him in rebellion, and thereby made him master over them! Lessons: And, first, we may see here the greatness of our redeemed life. Every one of us, how narrow soever be his sphere, is, as it were the champion of the great King. There is a mighty warfare raging throughout all His wide dominions. The hosts are gathered for the battle. An expectant world is looking on. Not men only, but all the armies of heaven, are ranged on this side and on that. Our common temptations, they are these times of trial. In them we either maintain God’s truth, or go basely over to His enemies. And if there be this greatness in our redeemed life, let us see next its fearfulness. For who are we that we should have to face these mighty ones, thus armed with power, thus inevitable in presence, thus skilled in the arts of the destroyer, thus malignant, numerous, nimble, and daring from the blackness of despair and the bitterness of hatred? Surely, then, our life, which leads us into the midst of them, must be fearful. Can it be safe for such men as we are to be sleepy and careless; to be ungirded, as those who live for pleasure; unarmed, as those who loll idly, courting ease or slumber? But once more; see not only the greatness and the fearfulness of the life which, in this view, we are leading, but see also its blessedness and true security. There is, indeed, this enemy to meet; our temptations to common sins involve this mighty struggle as coming from him; but there is also great joy even in this very thought; for as we cannot doubt the presence of evil, surely it is a blessed thing to know that it is thus a temptation cast in from without; that it is not necessarily part of us. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We are Christ’s soldiers, will He suffer us to perish? let us look at His cross, that we may deem better of His love. We know not how greatly we are every day protected by His present might; we know not how He has already succoured us; how He has curbed the power of the enemy; we know not how to measure aright the common blessing of being in His Church, amongst His saints, where the power of Satan even now is manifestly bound and straitened; we cannot tell from what bodily inflictions, from what mental struggles, from what fearful falls He has actually kept us. (Bishop Wilberforce.)

Nature sitting at the feet of Jesus

I. The difficulty felt by some, and expressed by not a few, as to there being or not being any real distinction between what are called demonical possessions in the new testament and mania, or maladies of various sorts and degrees of intensity.

1. They are distinct and separate things (Matthew 4:24; Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:32).

2. The language of our Lord on the occasion of His casting out devils is such as to warrant us in concluding that it was an actual or literal demoniacal possession. The theory of Strauss and the Rationalistic school.

3. These demoniacs were not necessarily, or in every instance, the guiltiest of men, but they were in all instances the unhappiest of men. There was a groaning under the tyranny they endured.

4. There seemed to have been two wills in the person-the will of the victim, and the will of the spirit driving him wherever he would.

II. A few reasons for supposing that demoniac possessions may have ceased, and some reasons for believing it may still continue.

1. If demoniac possessions were in those days, how is it that demoniac possessions are not now? How is it that epidemics that existed once do not exist now? etc.

2. Why does God suffer it to be so? The answer to that difficulty is, that we know very little why evil was introduced, we know not why evil is continued, etc. Evil is not unripe good, as Emerson and others of his school allege.

3. Another reason why demoniac possessions may have ceased is, that Satan, beyond all dispute, at our Redeemer’s birth, and at our Redeemer’s atonement, received a blow from which he has never recovered.

4. And there remains this fact, too-whatever God does in the world, Satan always gets up something very like it, because his hope of progress is by deception.

III. The special and individual portrait sketched in the text.

1. The most awful specimen of demoniacal possession that we can well imagine.

2. It is very remarkable to notice the contrast in his character-the bureau in its agony, groaning to be delivered, and the fiendish in its depravity, imploring to be let alone.

3. It appears that when Jesus drew near to the man he was not delivered of the demons instantly, but underwent a tremendous paroxysm of suffering and distress.

4. The prayer of the demons occasion a great deal of difficulty and of scoffing (confer Luke 8:31). It seems to us a mystery that Christ should answer the prayer of the demons at all. If there is any other way of disposing of them, why let the demons take possession of the swine, and why let the swine be thus destroyed?

5. The Gadarenes also presented a petition to Christ; and what is that petition? (Mark 5:17.) Strange, startling, painful fact! And yet it is possible for us to imitate their example. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The Gadarene demoniac

I. Human efforts exerted. Picture his state. He was a pest to his family and the city. So are great sinners, who are the devil’s instruments for disturbing society. Something must be done. But what? Men can think only of fetters, etc. They did all that they had the wit to devise, or the power to accomplish. Perhaps congratulated themselves on baying done so much. Notice modern human restraints. Law, prisons, reformatories, policemen, and punishments. Besides these there are public opinion, fashion, custom. These are often used to keep the unruly in check. Suitable efforts employed among children. Parental restraints (Psalms 32:9) hence (Lamentations 3:27).

II. Human efforts frustrated. No restraints could be found that were strong enough. Apply this and the personal injuries received to the case of those, especially children and young people, who break through restraints. He cut himself with the rocks; they are injured by contact with evil companions, bad habits, etc. Liberty only good for those who have some power of self-control. Observe how futile are human efforts in restraining sin. What multitudes break through every restraint! This to be prevented, not by strengthening the bonds, but by removing the inclination. This was what Jesus did.

III. Human efforts superseded. Jesus did not rebuke those who had done their best, but He did something better. He exorcised the evil spirit. The man was at once reduced to tractability; tamed without a fetter. Power of evil spirits illustrated by the fate of the swine. Superior value of the man proved by the permitted destruction of the swine, so the man might be saved. Selfishness of the Gadarenes illustrates that of the world in general, who would rather preserve personal property than sacrifice it for the religious and permanent good of man.

Learn-

I. The malignity, power, craft, and blindness of evil spirits.

II. The wretched state, personally and relatively, of man under their influence.

III. The utter helplessness of the best-concerted human means for the restraint of evil.

IV. The sufficiency of the word of Jesus (Colossians 2:15). (C. Gray.)

Our great enemy

From this history we learn three truths of great importance.

I. That the devil is a spirit of great malice and power.

II. That both his malice and his power are altogether under the government of God.

III. That God often permits him to do great mischief, for the profit of worldly men and for the trial of the faith of good men. (Bishop Wilson.)

The demoniac of Gergesa

I. The Gergesene in bondage. Was he not a free man, one who would not be bound by others-would go his own way? Yet he was a miserable slave (Mark 5:15-18). Here was one who seemed to be free, yet was really a slave.

II. How the Gergesene was rescued. Could not escape himself-the evil spirit too strong. Friends could not rescue him. Hopeless until someone stronger than the devils should come-then deliverance (compare Luke 11:21-22). Jesus not only stronger than one evil spirit-an army of them here (Mark 5:9). Yet see His supremacy.

1. They could go nowhere against His will.

2. Besought Him.

3. Even when He defeated them.

III. The Gergesene at liberty.

1. Is it like a free man to be sitting at another’s feet like that?

2. What does he ask of Jesus? Would it be freedom to have to follow another everywhere?

3. Jesus gives him an order; is that like liberty, to obey it so implicitly? Yes, for it is his own free choice to be, like St. Paul afterwards, the “slave of Christ” (Romans 1:1). (E. Stock.)

Sin destructive

Satan’s work is a work of destruction. Nearly seven hundred years ago, Jenghis Khan swept over Central Asia, and it is said that, for centuries after, his course could he traced by the pyramids of human bones-the bones of slaughtered captives-which his armies left behind them. If the bones of Satan’s slain captives could be piled up in our sight, what a pyramid that would be! Self-mutilation has always been common among the worshippers of false gods; to this day the fakirs of India cut and gash themselves with knives. The devil sets his servants at the same unprofitable task. Alo-ed-Din, the chief of the Assassins, succeeded in persuading his men that whoever would fall in his service was sure of Paradise; and so, at a nod of their chief, the poor dupes would stab themselves to the heart, or fling themselves over precipices. Satan’s one aim is to blind his captives and lead them to self-destruction. (Sunday School Times.)

A man in ruins

Can anything be more sad than the wreck of a man? We mourn over the destruction of many noble things that have existed in the world. Men, when they hear of the old Phidian Jupiter-that sat forty feet high, carved of ivory and gold, and that was so magnificent, so transcendent, that all the ancient world counted him unhappy that died without having seen this most memorable statue that ever existed in the world-often mourn to think that its exceeding value led to its destruction, and that it perished. It was a great loss to art that such a thing should perish. Can any man look upon the Acropolis-shattered with balls, crumbled by the various influences of the elements, and utterly destroyed-and not mourn to think that such a stately temple, a temple so unparalleled in its exquisite symmetry and beauty, should be desolate and scattered? Can there be anything more melancholy than the destruction, not only of such temples as the Acropolis and the Parthenon, but of a whole city of temples and statues? More melancholy than the destruction of a statue, or a temple, or a city, or a nation, in its physical aspects, is the destruction of a man, the wreck of the understanding, the ruin of the moral feelings, the scattering all abroad of those elements of power that, united together, make man fitly the noblest creature that walks on the earth. Thousands and thousands of men make foreign pilgrimages to visit and mourn over fallen and destroyed cities of former grandeur and beauty; and yet, all round about every one of us, in every street, and in almost every neighbourhood, there are ruins more stupendous, more pitiful, and more heart-touching than that of any city. And how strange would be the wonder if, as men wandered in the Orient, there should come someone that should call from the mounds all the scattered ruins of Babylon, or build again Tadmor of the desert! How strange it would be to see a city, that at night was a waste heap, so restored that in the morning the light of the sun should flash from pinnacle, and tower, and wall, and roof! How marvellous would be that creative miracle! But more marvellous, ten thousand times, is that Divine touch by which a man, broken down and shattered, is raised up in his right mind, and made to sit, clothed, at the feet of Jesus. (H. W. Beecher.)


Verses 1-20

Mark 5:1-20

Into the country of the Gadarenes.

The country of the Gadarenes

I spent a night and part of two days in the vicinity of the Lake of Tiberias. My tent was pitched near the Hot Baths, about a mile south of the town of Tiberias, and, consequently, near the south end of the lake. In looking across the water to the other side, I had before me the country of the Gadarenes, where the swine, impelled by an evil spirit, plunged into the sea. I was struck with a mark of accuracy in the sacred writers which had never occurred to me till then. They state that “the swine ran violently down the steep place, or precipice” (the article being required by the Greek), “and were choked in the sea.” It is implied here, first, that the hills in that region approach near the water; and, secondly, that they fail off so abruptly along the shore that it would be natural for a writer familiar with that fact to refer to it as well known. Both these implications are correct. A mass of rocky hills overlook the sea on that side, so near the water that one sees their dark outline reflected from its surface, while their sides are in general so steep that a person familiar with the scenery would hardly think of speaking of a steep place or precipice, where so much of the coast forms but one continuous precipice. Our translators omit the definite article, and show, by this inadvertence, how naturally the more exact knowledge of the evangelists influenced their language. (H. B. Hackett, D. D.)

The tombs

These tombs were caverns, natural or artificial, in the sides of the rocks, containing cells in which the dead bodies were placed and closed up. The entrance to the cave itself was not closed, and thus it might be used as a habitation. Such ancient tombs still exist in the hills above Gersa, as well as at Gadara, indeed the whole region, as Mr. Tristram remarks, is so perforated with these rock chambers, that a home for the demoniac might be found, whatever locality be assigned as the scene of the miracle. (Dean Mansel.)

Eastern tombs

In the East the receptacles of the dead are always situated at some distance from the abodes of the living; and if belonging to kings or men of rank, are spacious vaults and magnificent structures, containing, besides the crypt that contains the ashes of their solitary tenants, several chambers or recesses which are open and accessible at the sides. In these the benighted traveller often finds a welcome asylum; in these the dervishes and santons, wandering mendicants that infest the towns of Persia and other eastern countries, generally establish themselves, and they are often, too, made the haunts of robbers and lawless people, who hide themselves there to avoid the consequences of their crimes. Nor are they occupied only by such casual and dangerous tenants. When passing through a desolate village near the Lake of Tiberius, Giovanni Finati saw the few inhabitants living in the tombs as their usual place of residence; and at Thebes the same traveller, when he was introduced to Mr. Beechy, the British Consul, found that gentleman had established himself, while prosecuting his researches among the ruins of that celebrated place, in the vestibule of one of the tombs of the ancient kings. Captain Light, who travelled over the scene of our Lord’s interview with the demoniac, describes the tombs as still existing in the form of caverns cut in the live rock, like those at Petra-as wild and sequestered solitudes, divided into a number of bare and open niches, well suited to be places of refuge to those unhappy lunatics for whom the benevolence of antiquity had not provided a better asylum. (R. Jamieson, D. D.)

Power of evil spirits, and power over them

I. The power of evil spirits.

1. As seen in its extensiveness. Their field is the world.

2. As seen in its effects.

II. Christ’s power over evil spirits.

1. Feared by them-“I adjure Thee by God, torment me not.”

2. Hated of them-“What have we,” etc.

3. Absolute over them-“Come out of him, thou unclean spirit,” etc.

Demoniacal possession

The four evangelists give themselves very little concern about pathology and diagnosis, although one of them was a physician. But taking the Gospels as an honest and not unintelligent record of the phenomena, we make out two points very clearly concerning this demonism.

I. It was not mere lunacy or epilepsy, for these diseases are recognized and clearly distinguished from the work of the evil spirits. There are patients in whom the work of the infesting spirit produces symptoms like epilepsy, and other patients in whom it produces symptoms of dumbness, and there are still other manifestations, but beneath these symptoms they detect indications, which the sufferer himself confirms, of something different from the mere physical diseases of like symptoms by which these eases were surrounded.

II. As this demonism was not mere disease, so, on the other hand, it was not mere wickedness-the wilful giving up of one’s self to the instigation of the devil-a mistake to which we are inclined by the unhappy mistranslation of demon into devil. It is always spoken of and dealt with as an involuntary affliction, looked upon by the Lord with pity rather than censure. Neither is it treated as if it were in any special sense a visitation for sin. Doubtless these sufferers were sinners, and doubtless their sufferings stood in some relation to their sins, but it was not this relation, that they were “sinners above all others.” The truth seems to be this: that sin, unbelief, opened the way for this awful curse, and that when the alien spirit had taken hold of body and mind and will, it had the power of plaguing with various disorders-with wild, moping, melancholic madness, or with epileptic convulsions, or blindness, or dumbness. Both the disciples and the evangelists, and even the popular apprehension of the Jews, distinguished clearly between such of these maladies as were merely physical, and such as were inflicted by malign spirits. (L. W. Bacon.)

Christ and the demoniac

From this strange but suggestive incident we may learn-

I. The immediate connection of the world of darkness with the evil heart. Today men break through moral and social restraints, and with else unaccountable recklessness destroy their every interest; suffer disgrace, lose their situations, break up their homes, and for a mess of pottage sacrifice all their hopes in life. Human passion, or even selfishness, is no explanation of such follies. They have a demon; they are possessed.

II. The great power of the inhabitants of darkness over the evil heart. To drive men from the comforts of an honourable life, and to lead them to seek happiness in vagrancy; to make them think they are all right, though daubed with dirt and pollution; to cause men who are sane in the ordinary affairs of life to frequent such places and cherish such companions as reveal to others their moral madness.

III. The utter impotency of man to deliver the possessed from the power of the inhabitants of darkness.

IV. The weakness of the powers of darkness in conflict with Christ. A legion of demons expelled by a word!

V. Conclusion.

1. Beware of tampering with evil. The “little sin” may open the door of the heart for the entrance of a whole legion of demons.

2. The wish of evil will ever be self-destructive.

3. If Jesus has cured you, show it by causing joy and gladness where you have caused so much misery-in your home. (F. Wallace.)

The demoniac of Gadara

I. The misery of the man.

II. The majesty of Christ.

III. The mischief of the devils. (J. B.)

The Gadarene demoniac

1. That there are ether intelligent and finite creatures beside men.

2. Some of these are wholly wicked, while others are wholly good.

3. Wicked spirits can tempt men to sin.

4. Yet it is conceivable that in some instances they should acquire an absolute physical control over a human being, so as to coerce him irresistibly and make him act against his own will.

5. Cases of possession were peculiarly numerous at the time of Christ’s ministry upon earth.

Lessons:

1. See the exceeding terribleness of sin, in ruining two orders of creatures and making one the means of ruin to the other.

2. Be thankful to be saved from the physical tyranny of the devil. He would make us all howling demoniacs if he could: but he is restrained by the power and interference of Jesus Christ.

3. Consider the dreadful doom of sinners who hereafter will be absolutely under the power of evil spirits. Hell is a pandemonium of devils, and a bedlam of demoniacs.

4. As still subject to the moral temptations of the evil one, look stedfastly to Jesus, who has power to bring you off more than conqueror in every conflict with the powers of darkness. (Congregational Pulpit.)

Sin and salvation

I. Some aspects of sin.

1. Its contagiousness. The man was “possessed.” Evil is always reaching beyond itself for something of which it may lay hold, and which it may drag downwards.

2. Its anti-social tendency. “Neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.” Iniquity isolates men, as ferocity does the wolf, the tiger, the eagle.

3. Its embrutalization of character.

4. Its dread of righteousness. The devils cry out when Christ draws near. Always vice fears and hates virtue.

II. Some aspects of salvation.

1. It is begun in the expulsion (not repression) of evil principles and desires.

2. God accounts as nothing whatever material loss may be incurred in its effectuation. Souls are more to Him than swine.

3. Its moral and spiritual results have a counterpart, and external evidence in improved material and social condition. “Clothed,” etc.

4. The surest proof of the reality of its accomplishment is renunciation of personal preferences in obedience to Christ’s command. “Not my will, but Thine be done.” (The Pulpit Analyst.)

The evil spirits

I. The personality of evil spirits: or, in other words, that they are distinct personal beings. For every feature of the narrative bespeaks their true personality. Their first meeting with our Lord; their direct perception that He was their great antagonist; that He was man, and yet that in some way He was the Son of the most high God: that He was of the race over whom they had of old triumphed, and yet that He was their judge; their trembling entreaty that the appointed time of their full sorrow might not be forestalled:-all of these bespeak the manifest meeting of the person of the Christ with the person of the evil one. For all parts of this narrative are equally incompatible with the supposed solution of imaginative language; and all equally agree with the simple meaning of the declaration, that these spirits were separate, lost, personal beings, under whose strange and cruel power the demoniac had been brought. But, above all, this is so clearly established by their entering into the swine, that it furnishes us with the most probable reason for that permission.

II. And as their personality, so, further, their great number is established by this history. Their name was Legion, for many devils had entered into this single victim: a clear intimation of the exhaustless multitude of these hosts of darkness.

III. Again, concerning their condition we may gather much. For their meeting with Christ, as it called forth their name, so did it compel the disclosure of their state. We see them wandering restlessly over the earth, held even now in the strong chain of an ever present despair, and looking on to the full accomplishment of their appointed punishment. So that their present condition is plainly one of active, unresting, sinful misery; their hell is already within them, though its outer bars close not utterly around them until the accomplishment of all things.

IV. And in this condition their power is manifestly great. The strength which they administered to this their victim, by which “chains had been plucked asunder by him, and fetters broken in pieces,” was but the outward exhibition of the awful might with which he was himself subdued to their will. For what is meant by their “entering into him,” save that they had the mastery over him; that his spirit was controlled by theirs, so that his outer actions were now the coming forth of an evil power within him? In this sense they had “entered into him.” But it is as plain that this power, great as it was, was limited; for they could do no more than they were suffered.

V. And but for this gracious help of the Almighty, surely man would be swept away before the flood of their bitter hatred; for we may see here their malignity as plainly as their power. These wretched men, with their foul haunt amidst the pollutions of the tomb, who wore no clothes, but were “always night and day crying out and cutting themselves with stones;” how plainly do they bear their witness to the character of Satan’s rule! What else was all this their proclaimed misery but the evident display, in those given over utterly to him, of the true working of that will of his which is now making men sensual, and brutish, and violent, and fierce, and dark in spirit! The pleasant baits of sin are cast aside as soon as they have served their turn, and an absolute malignity seeks to overwhelm his prey with unmixed misery. Surely the tender mercies of that wicked one are cruel; he hates God without measure, and therefore hates in man even the obscured image of his heavenly Father. What a fearful intimation is all this of what hell shall be, where there shall be no limitation to his power of tormenting those who heretofore have joined him in rebellion, and thereby made him master over them! Lessons: And, first, we may see here the greatness of our redeemed life. Every one of us, how narrow soever be his sphere, is, as it were the champion of the great King. There is a mighty warfare raging throughout all His wide dominions. The hosts are gathered for the battle. An expectant world is looking on. Not men only, but all the armies of heaven, are ranged on this side and on that. Our common temptations, they are these times of trial. In them we either maintain God’s truth, or go basely over to His enemies. And if there be this greatness in our redeemed life, let us see next its fearfulness. For who are we that we should have to face these mighty ones, thus armed with power, thus inevitable in presence, thus skilled in the arts of the destroyer, thus malignant, numerous, nimble, and daring from the blackness of despair and the bitterness of hatred? Surely, then, our life, which leads us into the midst of them, must be fearful. Can it be safe for such men as we are to be sleepy and careless; to be ungirded, as those who live for pleasure; unarmed, as those who loll idly, courting ease or slumber? But once more; see not only the greatness and the fearfulness of the life which, in this view, we are leading, but see also its blessedness and true security. There is, indeed, this enemy to meet; our temptations to common sins involve this mighty struggle as coming from him; but there is also great joy even in this very thought; for as we cannot doubt the presence of evil, surely it is a blessed thing to know that it is thus a temptation cast in from without; that it is not necessarily part of us. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We are Christ’s soldiers, will He suffer us to perish? let us look at His cross, that we may deem better of His love. We know not how greatly we are every day protected by His present might; we know not how He has already succoured us; how He has curbed the power of the enemy; we know not how to measure aright the common blessing of being in His Church, amongst His saints, where the power of Satan even now is manifestly bound and straitened; we cannot tell from what bodily inflictions, from what mental struggles, from what fearful falls He has actually kept us. (Bishop Wilberforce.)

Nature sitting at the feet of Jesus

I. The difficulty felt by some, and expressed by not a few, as to there being or not being any real distinction between what are called demonical possessions in the new testament and mania, or maladies of various sorts and degrees of intensity.

1. They are distinct and separate things (Matthew 4:24; Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:32).

2. The language of our Lord on the occasion of His casting out devils is such as to warrant us in concluding that it was an actual or literal demoniacal possession. The theory of Strauss and the Rationalistic school.

3. These demoniacs were not necessarily, or in every instance, the guiltiest of men, but they were in all instances the unhappiest of men. There was a groaning under the tyranny they endured.

4. There seemed to have been two wills in the person-the will of the victim, and the will of the spirit driving him wherever he would.

II. A few reasons for supposing that demoniac possessions may have ceased, and some reasons for believing it may still continue.

1. If demoniac possessions were in those days, how is it that demoniac possessions are not now? How is it that epidemics that existed once do not exist now? etc.

2. Why does God suffer it to be so? The answer to that difficulty is, that we know very little why evil was introduced, we know not why evil is continued, etc. Evil is not unripe good, as Emerson and others of his school allege.

3. Another reason why demoniac possessions may have ceased is, that Satan, beyond all dispute, at our Redeemer’s birth, and at our Redeemer’s atonement, received a blow from which he has never recovered.

4. And there remains this fact, too-whatever God does in the world, Satan always gets up something very like it, because his hope of progress is by deception.

III. The special and individual portrait sketched in the text.

1. The most awful specimen of demoniacal possession that we can well imagine.

2. It is very remarkable to notice the contrast in his character-the bureau in its agony, groaning to be delivered, and the fiendish in its depravity, imploring to be let alone.

3. It appears that when Jesus drew near to the man he was not delivered of the demons instantly, but underwent a tremendous paroxysm of suffering and distress.

4. The prayer of the demons occasion a great deal of difficulty and of scoffing (confer Luke 8:31). It seems to us a mystery that Christ should answer the prayer of the demons at all. If there is any other way of disposing of them, why let the demons take possession of the swine, and why let the swine be thus destroyed?

5. The Gadarenes also presented a petition to Christ; and what is that petition? (Mark 5:17.) Strange, startling, painful fact! And yet it is possible for us to imitate their example. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The Gadarene demoniac

I. Human efforts exerted. Picture his state. He was a pest to his family and the city. So are great sinners, who are the devil’s instruments for disturbing society. Something must be done. But what? Men can think only of fetters, etc. They did all that they had the wit to devise, or the power to accomplish. Perhaps congratulated themselves on baying done so much. Notice modern human restraints. Law, prisons, reformatories, policemen, and punishments. Besides these there are public opinion, fashion, custom. These are often used to keep the unruly in check. Suitable efforts employed among children. Parental restraints (Psalms 32:9) hence (Lamentations 3:27).

II. Human efforts frustrated. No restraints could be found that were strong enough. Apply this and the personal injuries received to the case of those, especially children and young people, who break through restraints. He cut himself with the rocks; they are injured by contact with evil companions, bad habits, etc. Liberty only good for those who have some power of self-control. Observe how futile are human efforts in restraining sin. What multitudes break through every restraint! This to be prevented, not by strengthening the bonds, but by removing the inclination. This was what Jesus did.

III. Human efforts superseded. Jesus did not rebuke those who had done their best, but He did something better. He exorcised the evil spirit. The man was at once reduced to tractability; tamed without a fetter. Power of evil spirits illustrated by the fate of the swine. Superior value of the man proved by the permitted destruction of the swine, so the man might be saved. Selfishness of the Gadarenes illustrates that of the world in general, who would rather preserve personal property than sacrifice it for the religious and permanent good of man.

Learn-

I. The malignity, power, craft, and blindness of evil spirits.

II. The wretched state, personally and relatively, of man under their influence.

III. The utter helplessness of the best-concerted human means for the restraint of evil.

IV. The sufficiency of the word of Jesus (Colossians 2:15). (C. Gray.)

Our great enemy

From this history we learn three truths of great importance.

I. That the devil is a spirit of great malice and power.

II. That both his malice and his power are altogether under the government of God.

III. That God often permits him to do great mischief, for the profit of worldly men and for the trial of the faith of good men. (Bishop Wilson.)

The demoniac of Gergesa

I. The Gergesene in bondage. Was he not a free man, one who would not be bound by others-would go his own way? Yet he was a miserable slave (Mark 5:15-18). Here was one who seemed to be free, yet was really a slave.

II. How the Gergesene was rescued. Could not escape himself-the evil spirit too strong. Friends could not rescue him. Hopeless until someone stronger than the devils should come-then deliverance (compare Luke 11:21-22). Jesus not only stronger than one evil spirit-an army of them here (Mark 5:9). Yet see His supremacy.

1. They could go nowhere against His will.

2. Besought Him.

3. Even when He defeated them.

III. The Gergesene at liberty.

1. Is it like a free man to be sitting at another’s feet like that?

2. What does he ask of Jesus? Would it be freedom to have to follow another everywhere?

3. Jesus gives him an order; is that like liberty, to obey it so implicitly? Yes, for it is his own free choice to be, like St. Paul afterwards, the “slave of Christ” (Romans 1:1). (E. Stock.)

Sin destructive

Satan’s work is a work of destruction. Nearly seven hundred years ago, Jenghis Khan swept over Central Asia, and it is said that, for centuries after, his course could he traced by the pyramids of human bones-the bones of slaughtered captives-which his armies left behind them. If the bones of Satan’s slain captives could be piled up in our sight, what a pyramid that would be! Self-mutilation has always been common among the worshippers of false gods; to this day the fakirs of India cut and gash themselves with knives. The devil sets his servants at the same unprofitable task. Alo-ed-Din, the chief of the Assassins, succeeded in persuading his men that whoever would fall in his service was sure of Paradise; and so, at a nod of their chief, the poor dupes would stab themselves to the heart, or fling themselves over precipices. Satan’s one aim is to blind his captives and lead them to self-destruction. (Sunday School Times.)

A man in ruins

Can anything be more sad than the wreck of a man? We mourn over the destruction of many noble things that have existed in the world. Men, when they hear of the old Phidian Jupiter-that sat forty feet high, carved of ivory and gold, and that was so magnificent, so transcendent, that all the ancient world counted him unhappy that died without having seen this most memorable statue that ever existed in the world-often mourn to think that its exceeding value led to its destruction, and that it perished. It was a great loss to art that such a thing should perish. Can any man look upon the Acropolis-shattered with balls, crumbled by the various influences of the elements, and utterly destroyed-and not mourn to think that such a stately temple, a temple so unparalleled in its exquisite symmetry and beauty, should be desolate and scattered? Can there be anything more melancholy than the destruction, not only of such temples as the Acropolis and the Parthenon, but of a whole city of temples and statues? More melancholy than the destruction of a statue, or a temple, or a city, or a nation, in its physical aspects, is the destruction of a man, the wreck of the understanding, the ruin of the moral feelings, the scattering all abroad of those elements of power that, united together, make man fitly the noblest creature that walks on the earth. Thousands and thousands of men make foreign pilgrimages to visit and mourn over fallen and destroyed cities of former grandeur and beauty; and yet, all round about every one of us, in every street, and in almost every neighbourhood, there are ruins more stupendous, more pitiful, and more heart-touching than that of any city. And how strange would be the wonder if, as men wandered in the Orient, there should come someone that should call from the mounds all the scattered ruins of Babylon, or build again Tadmor of the desert! How strange it would be to see a city, that at night was a waste heap, so restored that in the morning the light of the sun should flash from pinnacle, and tower, and wall, and roof! How marvellous would be that creative miracle! But more marvellous, ten thousand times, is that Divine touch by which a man, broken down and shattered, is raised up in his right mind, and made to sit, clothed, at the feet of Jesus. (H. W. Beecher.)


Verse 6

Mark 5:6

But when he saw Jesus afar off.

The sinner’s place

Jesus is afar off in the sinner’s apprehension, and the sinner is in very deed far off from God.

1. As to character. What a difference between the demoniac and Jesus.

2. As to knowledge. The demoniac knew Jesus, but knew little of His love.

3. As to hope. This man had no hope of recovery, or but a faint one, and that hope the demons tried to extinguish.

4. As to possession. The demoniac had no hold upon the Saviour; on the contrary, he cried, “What have I to do with Thee?” Immeasurable is the distance between God and a sinner; it is wide as the gulf between sin and holiness, death and life, hell and heaven. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The sinner’s wisest course

The demoniac was all in confusion, for he was under contending influences: his own spirit and the evil spirit strove together. He ran towards Jesus, and worshipped Him; and yet in the same breath he cried, “What have I to do with Thee?” Thus are sinners tossed about. But it is the sinner’s wisest course to run to Jesus; for-

1. He is the Son of the Most High God.

2. He is the great Enemy of our enemy, the devil.

3. He is abundantly able to drive out a legion of devils.

4. He can cause us to be clothed in our right mind.

5. He permits us, even now, to draw near and worship Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The law of attraction

A needle will move towards a magnet, when once a magnet has moved near to it. Our heart manifests a sweet willingness towards salvation and holiness when the great and glorious goodwill of the Lord operates upon it. It is ours to run to Jesus as it all the running were ours; but the secret truth is that the Lord runs towards us, and this is the very heart of the business. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 7

Mark 5:7

What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God:

Jesus confronting demons

I.
The devil cries out against the intrusion of Christ.

1. Christ’s nature is so contrary to that of the devil, war is inevitable when they meet.

2. There are no designs of grace for Satan; as, therefore, he has nothing to hope for from Jesus, he dreads His coming.

3. He wishes to be let alone. Thoughtlessness, stagnation, and despair suit his plans.

4. He knows his powerlessness against the Son of the Most High God, and has no wish to try a fall with Him.

5. He dreads his doom: for Jesus will not hesitate to torment him by the sight of good done and evil overcome.

II. Men under the devil’s influence cry out against the incoming of Christ by the Gospel.

1. Conscience is feared by them; they do not wish to have it disturbed, instructed, and placed in power.

2. Change is dreaded by them; for they love sin, and its gains, and pleasures, and know that Jesus wars with these things.

3. They claim a right to be left alone: this is their idea of religious liberty. They would not be questioned either by God or man.

4. They argue that the gospel cannot bless them. They are too poor, too ignorant, too busy, too sinful, too weak, too involved, perhaps too aged, to receive any good from it.

5. They view Jesus as a tormentor, who will rob them of pleasure, sting their consciences, and drive them to obnoxious duties. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Nothing to do with Jesus

It is said that Voltaire, being pressed in his last moments to acknowledge the Divinity of Christ, turned away, and said feebly, “For the love of God don’t mention that Man; let me die in peace!”

The antagonism of evil provoked by good

The coming of Jesus into a place puts all into a commotion. The gospel is a great disturber of sinful peace. Like the sun among wild beasts, owls, and bats, it creates a stir. In this case, a legion of devils began to move. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Man responsible

Universally we judge of instincts, or the qualities and dispositions which make up natural character, as we see the creature brought into relation or juxtaposition with something else, and observe, “What it will do with it.” Especially is this true of man. This is just what makes up his probation. God has placed him in this world that he may show forth his character, and work out his own future condition, as he rightly uses or abuses it. Different men use the same material, or implement, or opportunity either for good or for evil. From the same forest and quarry one man builds a hospital, and another a gambling hell. Out of the grain from the same harvest field one man leavens wholesome bread, and another distils a destroying beverage. With the same ink and type and press, one prints Huxley’s blasphemies, and another God’s Bibles. And while in all this perhaps few men are conscious that they are achieving their probation, yet verily they are. God has brought them into these conditions that the universe may see what the man “will do with them.” And according as he does evil or good, he displays his character and decides his own destiny.

I. Now this, in regard of all things, even secular and social, is the great law of life. But how much more is its solemnity increased when it has to do with matters religious and spiritual? The question, in its first connection, was addressed to Christ; and its must significant application is to the case of impenitent and ungodly men who, with a like question, turn away from the gospel. “Oh,” say some men, “I have nothing to do with it! I am not a professing Christian! I never joined any Church! What, then, is all this to me? What have I to do with the gospel of Christ?” But, alas, for their false logic! they have something to do with it. Their indifference cannot alter their relations to the gospel. Those relations grow out of character and condition. I can imagine a foolish man cherishing a settled dislike to the great law of gravitation, overlooking its beneficent results as working out, from the rounding of a dew drop to the rounding of a star-from the graceful equipoise of a lily’s leaf to the harmonies of the stupendous systems of the universe-all the grand and gracious processes and phenomena of creation-overlooking all this, and thinking that but for its restraining power he might spring up as a pure spirit into the boundless expanse of heaven, and wander at will from star to star through immensity. I can conceive of such an one as disliking that great law, and in his insane hate blaspheming the Omnipotence which devised it. But what of that? Can the man escape from it? Will God have respect to his perverted taste, and annihilate that glorious force whereon depend all the beauties and harmonies of the universe? Oh, surely not. And just so it is of religion. It is that irresistible law of God under which all immortal creatures live. In the very nature of things, retribution must follow every act and experience of probation. Its solemn elements are two fold. First, there is a loss of all the unspeakable blessings which the gospel offers. Consider again these natural analogies. Take the law of gravitation. And the foolish man says:-“I do not like that law; it is the law of falling bodies; it dashes men down precipices; it brings the destroying avalanche upon human habitations; I will let it alone!” But not so a wise man. He says, I will have something to do with it; it makes the pendulum vibrate; I will set it to keep time for me; it gives momentum to the watercourses, it shall grind for me as a mill. And so of all the natural forces of the universe: by diligently working with them we secure immense benefits. What if a child, lost in a dangerous forest in the stormy night, amid ravening beasts and howling tempests, catching through the darkness the gleam of torches and the accents of gentle voices, and beholding the face of the father who, in agonizing love, had come forth to seek and save him, instead of springing joyfully into those outstretched arms, should turn away with the despising cry, “What have I to do with thee?” What would you call it but madness? And yet immeasurably greater is the madness of the impenitent man who rejects the precious Saviour; for the sinner’s danger is more terrible, and the Saviour’s love more tender.

II. In this rejection of the Gospel you incur terrible guilt. That gospel is not merely an invitation, but as well a sovereign mandate. The gospel is a law, and no law of God is ever violated with impunity. You may not believe in God’s ordinances of health; but if you make your bed in a lazar house you will be stricken with pestilence. You may laugh to scorn God’s law of great forces; but if you launch your bark above Niagara, it will sweep you to destruction. Alas! for this folly of infidelity and atheism! It may be effectual in persuading its abettor to have nothing to do with God, but is utterly powerless in persuading God to have nothing to do with him. Retribution is an awful thought, and an awful truth. But the aspect in which our text sets forth the neglect of the gospel is that of the utter folly of rejecting a great blessing. (C. Wadsworth, D. D.)


Verse 9

Mark 5:9

My name is Legion.

The legion of sin

Truly the name of sin is Legion. It is anger, malice, intemperance, murder, impurity, unfaithfulness, dishonesty, equivocation, dissimulation, falsehood, hypocrisy, ingratitude, disobedience, impatience, discontentment, envy, covetousness; it is profanity, formality, superstition, idolatry, blasphemy, and atheism. It is a repudiation of the authority, a defiance of the power, a slight to the wisdom, a contempt of the holiness, and unthankfulness for the goodness of God. It is the cause of all the error, conflict, cruelty, suffering, weeping, and woe that exist in this world. Like a foul demon, it has poisoned and polluted, blighted and cursed everything it has touched. It has caused man, the noblest work of God, to become the destroyer of his own soul, the murderer of his brother, the enemy of his God. (Arthur Thompson.)


Verses 11-14

Mark 5:11-14

Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

The demonized swine

To clear away the difficulty presented by this miracle of judgment, we must remember-


Verses 14-20

Verse 15

Verse 15-16

Mark 5:15-16

Sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.

The joy of freedom from satanic tyranny

At the death of Queen Mary of England, several Protestants were in the prisons awaiting martyrdom. Who can tell their joy when it was announced that the tyrant was dead and they were free! But what is deliverance from a bodily persecutor in comparison with the deliverance of a soul from the bonds of Satan? Jesus Christ comes as a conqueror to destroy the works of the devil; at His word the bonds of Satan’s captives fall from them, and they are free. (Sunday School Times.)

The magnitude of a moral change

Whenever a man is changed, as this demoniac was, the greatest change that ever can happen in this world takes place-the transformation of a man from a life of vulgarity, of passion, of appetite, of selfishness, of pride, and his translation into a new life, in which purity, truth, and love are the controlling elements. As God looks upon it in its bearings and relations to the eternal existence, there is no change that ever takes place, no change created by skill, no change in aesthetic art, so great and beautiful as this. It is taking place. The wonders of creation are not in Niagara, nor in the Mammoth Cave, nor on the stormy ocean. The wonders of creation are silent. All the thunder of the storm has not in it the power of one blade of grass. All the winds that rock the oak, and make it groan, are not to be compared in power with the suction that is going on in the roots of that one single oak. The powers of nature are silent; and the transformation of men from lower and vulgar conditions of mind into higher and spiritual conditions are the marvels, as God looks upon them. They are the marvels of power in this world; and not all the creations of Phidias, of Praxiteles, of Canova, or of Ward in our modern day; not all that Titian could do, not all that Raphael could do, not all that the great masters on canvas could do, in any age since the world began, can compare with it. These are thin and superficial pictures; they are nothing but a suggestion of what it is when a man is translated from the power of sin and Satan into the kingdom of light and glory. The earth ought to shake, and every string in heaven ought to quiver, with the outblown joy. It does; for there is more joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine persons that need no repentance. (H. W. Beecher.)

Life contrasts

The august terror of the one experience, and the sweet beauty of the other, are almost that which we see in some days of summer. The clouds bring forth their thunder and their lightning, and the whole earth shakes and quivers at the awful power which the sweeping tempest exhibits. But it sweeps on; the clouds roll away; the thunder grows lower and lower, and more and more distant; the sun breaks through; every tree and shrub is apparelled in jewels; the birds begin to sing; and the bright blue overarches the whole heavens. As between the terror of the storm and the clearing up of the storm there is an analogy of beauty, certainly, with this terrible experience of the demoniac in the tombs, and his sitting at the feet of Christ sweet as a newborn child. (H. W. Beecher.)

Change wrought by conversion

A young man, an apprentice in an extensive tin factory in Massachusetts, who had been very profligate, but was converted by reading a religious tract, having applied for admission into a church, the minister called on his master to inquire whether any change had been wrought in his conduct, and whether he had any objection to his reception. When the minister had made the customary inquiries, his master, with evident emotion, though he was not a professor of religion, replied in substance as follows: Pointing to an iron chain hanging up in the room, “Do you see that chain?” said he. “That chain was forged for W-. I was obliged to chain him to the bench by the week together, to keep him at work. He was the worst boy I had in the whole establishment. No punishment seemed to have any salutary influence upon him. I could not trust him out of my sight. But now, sir, he is completely changed-he has really become like a lamb. He is one of my best apprentices. I would trust him with untold gold. I have no objection to his being received into communion. I wish all my boys were prepared to go with him.”


Verse 17

Mark 5:17

To depart out of their coasts.

The Saviour sacrificed rather than sinful gain

A great many men cannot afford to have Christ. Here is a man who is renting his buildings for the most obscene and abominable purposes in the world; his revenues depend upon lust and vice; and, if the Spirit of God comes to regenerate him, he cannot afford to have Christ with him. If he does, he must reform his whole revenue system, and lose much possession; and he beseeches Christ to depart out of his coast, he does not want Him. There are a great many men who are trafficking in intoxicating liquors in such a way that they know in their own secret consciences that they are living upon the destruction of their fellow men; and they cannot afford to give up their traffic for the sake of becoming Christians; and when the power of the Holy Ghost is upon them, they beseech Christ to depart out of their coast. They have the opportunity of reformation and rejuvenation; life, and immortality, and glory, are within their reach; but there are the swine. In order that they may sit at the feet of Christ, they must lose their herds of unclean beasts, they must lose their unjust profits and wicked pleasures; but, rather than lose these, they will sacrifice the Saviour. So it was in this case. There was no doubt as to the miracle, and its beneficence. There was a man before them in whom the power of God had been made manifest, and they began to pray Christ, through whose instrumentality this power had been made manifest, to depart out of their coast. One would suppose that they would have besought Him to remain, and go on with His works of mercy; but no, they prayed Him to depart. (H. W. Beecher.)

Regret for contempt of religion

Alas! how many will, when too late, regret their neglect of, or contempt for, religion! A few years ago, the Prime Minister of England stepped across Downing Street with a friend, who wanted some information from one of the Government officials. They entered the particular office, and on inquiring for the Head of the Department they were curtly told to “wait” by an insolent young clerk, who did not even look up from his newspaper, and presently added an order to “wait outside.” When the principal official returned, he was thunderstruck to find the Head of the Government sitting with his friend on the steps of the stone staircase! Equally surprised was the clerk, when, to his dismay, he learned by his dismissal the result of his careless insolence. In earthly things men bitterly regret “chances” lost or thrown away, and yet we treat with indifference our opportunities in the spiritual life! With slow and sorrowful steps the compassionate Saviour obeyed these requests, and departed from those souls whom He would have so gladly blessed. (W. Hardman, M. A.)

The man with an unclean spirit

In view of this narrative, which we have thus very briefly traced, I remark-

1. We are tempted to undervalue man just as much as these men were. The point of the narrative was that they were supposed to be civilized; that they believed themselves to be religious; that they beheld the miracle that Christ wrought upon this man; and that their ideas of the worth of a man were so low and so vulgar, that they were not in the slightest degree impressed with the man’s restoration. There is no point where we need the application of the grace of God more continuously than in impressing us with a sense of the Divine value of men. We believe in the value of poets; of philosophers; of orators; of men that have something pleasing to our taste, dazzling to our intellect, and stimulating to our affections; of eminent men; of men of power, that produce impressions upon us. We believe in manhood that shows itself in attractive forms. But, for man, independent of circumstances, simply as a creature of God, as an heir of immortality, and as one that has all the future in him-a future illustrious as heaven or painful as hell-for man as man, how little feeling have we! We walk the streets with contempt for this one, and with loathing for that one. We despise the poor sinners-the children of vice and crime-that we see on every side of us.

2. There are thousands of men yet that are opposed to any reformation of morals that would conflict with the physical prosperity, or the supposed physical prosperity, of the community in which they dwell. Men are numerous, in every city or section of the country, who vote for their physical welfare against their spiritual. (H. W. Beecher.)


Verse 18

Mark 5:18; Mark 5:20

Prayed Him that he might be with Him.

The unanswered prayer

I. The probable reason that led this restored demoniac to offer this prayer.

1. A vague but very dreadful fear may have taken possession of him that, perhaps, in the absence of Christ, his deliverer, these demoniac powers might again regain the mastery over him. Fear, the salutary fear, of going astray may often assist the soul; it may be, and has often been our wisdom to be afraid of the possibility of departure from Christ.

2. And there may have been, who can doubt that there was, a depth of gratitude in his heart towards Christ, that, perhaps, he thought could only be expressed by his becoming His disciple.

II. Some or the probable reasons that led to the refusal of this prayer by our Saviour. “Go home to thy friends,” etc.

1. Because, perhaps, it was better for the healed Gadarene to be a living witness of Christ’s goodness and power amongst his countrymen.

2. Because young converts are generally unfit to choose their spiritual vocation. Many, in the freshness of their love, are as impetuous and misguided as a mountain stream bursting from its hidden prison. (W. G. Barrett.)

Witnessing for Christ

In general, every man who believes himself to be a Christian, is bound to make such public acknowledgment that men shall know the source of his godly life. Every man who is conscious that his character has been brought under the power of the Spirit of God, is bound to let men know that the life which is flowing out from him now is not his own natural life, but one which proceeds from the Spirit of God. This would seem too obvious for remark, did not facts show that multitudes of men endeavour to live Christianly, but are very cautious about saying that they are Christians-and from shame-faced reasons, sometimes; from reasons of fear, sometimes; from reasons of pride, sometimes. Men who are endeavouring to live Christianly say, often, “Let my example speak, and not my lips.” Why should not a man’s lips and example both speak? Why should not a man interpret his example? Why should a man leave it to be inferred, in this world, that he is still living simply by the power of his own will? Why should he leave it for men to point to him, and say, “There is a man of a well-regulated life who holds his temper aright; but see, it is on account of the household that he has around him; it is on account of the companionship that he keeps; it is on account of the valorous purpose which he has fashioned in his own mind”-thus giving credit to these secondary causes, and not to that Divine inspiration, that power from on high, which gives to all secondary causes their efficiency? (H. W. Beecher.)

Personal testimony appreciated

Two men come together, one of whom is shrunk and crippled with a rheumatic affection, and the other of whom is walking in health and comfort; and the well man says to the other, “My friend, I know how to pity you. I spent fifteen as wretched years as any man ever spent in the world. I, too, was a miserable cripple, in the same way that you are.” And the man with rheumatism at once says, “You were?” He sees him walk; he sees how lithe and nimble he is; he sees that he can straighten out his limbs, and that his joints are not swollen; he sees that he is in the enjoyment of all his bodily power; and he is eager to know more about it. “Yes, I was as bad off as you are, and I suffered everything.” “Tell me what cured you.” There is nothing that a man wants to hear so much as the history of one who has been cured, if he too is a sufferer. (H. W. Beecher.)

Personal testimony hindered by the fear of subsequent failure

When a watchmaker sets a watch, he almost always stops it first, in order to get the second hand right; and then, at the right second, he gives it a turn, and starts it. But suppose, having stopped a watch, he should lay it down, and should not start it till he knew whether it would keep time or not, how long would he wait? There are a great many men who are set exactly right, and all that is wanted is, that they should start, and go on and keep time. But no, they are not going to tick until they know whether they are going to continue right or not. And what is needed is, that somebody, out of his own experience, should say to them, “You are under an illusion. Your reasoning is false. You are being held back by a misconception. You have enough sense of sin to act as a motive. If you have wind enough to fill a sail, you have enough to start a voyage with. You do not need to wait for a gale before you go out of the harbour. If you have enough wind to get steerage way, start!” And if a man has enough feeling to give him an impulse forward, let him move. After that he will have more and more feeling. (H. W. Beecher.)

Personal testimony permits others to share the joys of the Christian experience

I was as much struck, when I travelled in England, with the stinginess of the people there, in respect to their gardens, as with anything else. It was afterwards explained to me, as owing partly to conditions of climate, and partly to the notions of the people. I travelled two miles along a park shut in by a fence, that was probably twelve feet high, of solid brick and coped with stone. On the other side were all sorts of trees and shrubs, and though I was skirting along within a few feet of them, I could not see a single one of them. There were fine gardens in which almost all the fruits in the world were cultivated, either under glass, or against walls, or out in the open air; and a man might smell something in the air; but what it came from, he had to imagine. There were plants and shrubs drooping to the ground with gorgeous blossoms, and there might just as well as not have been an open iron fence, so that every poor beggar child might look through and see the flowers, and feel that he had an ownership in them, and congratulate himself, and say, “Are not these mine?” Oh! I like to see the little wretches of the street go and stand before a rich man’s house, and look over into his grounds, and feast their eyes on the trees, and shrubs, and plants, and piebald beds, and magnificent blossoms, and luscious fruit, and comfort themselves with the thought that they can see everything that the rich man owns; and I like to hear them tell what they would do if they were only rich. And I always feel as though, if a man has a fine garden, it is mean for him to build around it a close fence, so that nobody but himself and his friends can enjoy it. But oh! it is a great deal meaner, when the Lord has made a garden of Eden in your soul, for you to build around it a great dumb wall so close and so high that nobody can look through it or over it, and nobody can hear the birds singing in it. And yet, there are persons who carry a heart full of sweet, gardenesque experiences all the way through life, only letting here and there a very confidential friend know anything about the wealth that is in them. (H. W. Beecher.)

The gospel a living Christ in living men

Why, then, did Christ refuse to allow the man to go with Him? Be was calling disciples, and the very watchword almost was, “Follow Me.” But now, here was one that wanted to follow Him, doubtless from the best motives, and He says, “Go home.” Why? Well, for the best reason in the world, I think. The man’s nature was so transformed, the very radiancy of his joy was such a moral power, that not in one of the twelve disciples was there probably so much of the gospel as this man had in his new experience; and He sends him out thus to make known the Christ; to glow before men with trust, with gratitude, and with love. He was a glorious manifestation of the transforming power of the gospel upon the human soul, and that was the power that Christ came to institute in this world. It was because he was a gospel. The gospel never can be preached. The gospel can never be spoken. It is a thing that must be lived. It defies letters. It is a living soul in a Christ-like estate. That is the gospel. That can be manifested, but it cannot be described. No philosophy can unfold it. No symbols can demonstrate it. It is life centred on love, inflamed by the conscious presence of the Divine and the eternal. That is the real power of the gospel. (H. W. Beecher.)

The power of God working through man upon men

This condition of the human soul carries with it a mysterious power which all ages and nations have associated with the Divine presence. A man living in that high state of purity, rapture, and love, always seems sacred. He is like a man standing apart and standing above, and seems to have been one informed with the Divine presence. That is always efficacious upon the imagination of men, whether they are brutal, vulgar, or heathen. Anything that seems to represent the near presence of God stops them, binds them, electrifies them. A great soul carrying itself greatly in the sweetness and putty of love, in the power of intelligence, and with all other implements in its hand and around about it, suggests more nearly the sense of Divine presence than any other thing in this world. When the human faculties are centred upon love, and all of them are inflamed by it; when conscience, reason, knowledge, the will power, all skill, all taste, and all culture are the bodyguards of this central element of Christian love, they are really, by their own nature, what electricity is by its nature, or what light is by its nature. They are infectious. If you want to move upon the human mind, that is the one force that all men everywhere and always yield to. The glowing enthusiastic soul, even in its lowest moods, and from its lowest faculties, has great contagious power. If you raise man higher along the levels of wisdom and of social excellence, still more powerful is he; if you give him the dimensions of a hero and make him a patriot, and give him the disinterestedness of a glowing love of country and a love of mankind, still higher he rises and wider is the circle that he shines upon; but if you give him the ineffable presence of God, if God is associated in his thought and perception, as in his own consciousness with the eternities, if he has in himself all the vigour of Divine inspiration and walks so among men, there is no other power like Divine-crowned power, no sordid power, no philosophic power, no aesthetic power, no artistic power. Nothing on earth is like God in a man. (H. W. Beecher.)

Men too opaque to let the gospel through them

Time and time again I have felt as though I were a window through which the sun straggled to come. You may remember those old bull’s-eye windows, with the glass bulging in the centre so that the sun could not get through them except in twilight. I have felt that the natural man in me was so strong that not half the light of the gospel came through. Or, as you have seen, in an attic long unvisited by the broom, the only windows, jutting out from under the gable, have been taken possession of by dust and spiders, until a veil is woven over them, and the sun outside cannot get inside except as twilight! So men, cumbered with care and worldly conditions, and all manner of worldly ambitions, attempting to preach the doctrinal Christianity, are too opaque, or too nearly opaque, to let the gospel through. (H. W. Beecher.)

The testimony of a gospel life within the reach of every variety of talent

This issue comes home to all souls alike. It is the solvent of the difficulties which we feel in diversities of talent. One Christian man says, “How can I be expected to do much good? I am not eloquent, I am not an apostle, I am not Apollos, I am not a Paul.” Another man says, “I should be very glad if I were a man of affairs; I should like to live a Christian life in the conduct of affairs; but I have no ability.” Now, the gospel force belongs to every man alike. If you are low in life, you are susceptible of living like Christ. If you are very high in life, you are susceptible of living a Christ-like life. If you are wise and educated, that is the life for you. If you are ignorant, that is just as much the life for you. It does not lie in those gifts that the world prizes, and justly prizes, too. It is something deeper than that, far more interior than that; and it is clothed by the creative idea of God with an influence over men’s souls greater than any other. Wherever you are; whether you are poor, obscure, mean, even sick and bedridden, or in places of conspicuity, the highest, the lowest, and the middle, all come to a gracious unity. Not only that, but they all feel resting upon them the sweet obligations of the duty of loving Christ, of being like Christ, of loving our fellow men. When we shall become communal, whenever the coronal faculties of the human soul are in ascendency and in sympathetic unity, the world will not linger another eighteen hundred years before it will be illumined. The new heavens will come, and the new earth. (H. W. Beecher.)

The apostle to the Gadarenes

Things must have looked perplexing enough to this poor man! “Go home to thy friends!” “But, Lord, I have no friend but Thee. I have been an outcast now these many years-a dweller in unclean sepulchres, abhorred of men. What have men done for me but bind me in chains and fetters of iron? But Thy hand hath loosed my bonds of pain, and bound me with Thy love. Let me be with Thee where Thou art!” But still from that most gracious One came the inexorable “Go back-back to thy friends and thy father’s house. Go, tell them what the Lord hath done for thee.” “What? I, Lord? I, so disused to rational speech? whose lips and tongue were but now the organs of demoniac blasphemy? I, just rallying from the rending of the exorcised fiends? I, surrounded by a hostile people that have just warned away my Lord and Saviour from their coasts? And can I hope that they will hear my words, who turn a deaf and rebellious ear to Thee? Nay, Lord, I entreat Thee let me be with Thee, there sitting at Thy feet clothed and in my right mind, that men may look and point at me and glorify my Lord, my Saviour! Let them go, whose zeal to tell of Thee even Thy interdict cannot repress-there be many such, send them! But let me be near Thee, be with Thee, and gaze, and love, and be silent, and adore!” Was ever a stronger argument of prayer? And yet the little boat moves off, and Christ departs, and the grateful believer is left alone to do the work for which he seems so insufficient and unfit! How like Christ’s dealing is to His Father’s! To translate the story into the terms of our daily life it shows us-

I. That the path of duty which Christ has marked out for us may be the opposite of that which we naturally think and ardently desire. All our natural aptitudes, as we estimate them, yea, our purest and highest religious aspirations, may draw us toward a certain line of conduct, while on the other hand the manifest indications of God’s Word and providence inexorably close up that way and wave us off in another direction.

II. When religious privilege and religious duty seem to conflict, the duty is to be preferred above the privilege.

III. Duty, preferred and followed instead of privilege, becomes itself the supreme privilege. The interests of the soul are very great, but they are not supreme. The supreme interests are those of the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and whoso, forgetting the interests of his own soul, shall follow after these, shall surely find that all things beside are added unto him. (L. W. Bacon.)

Going home-a Christmas story

I. What they are to tell. Personal experience. A story of free grace. A story filled with gratitude.

II. Why they are to tell it. For the Master’s sake. To make others glad.

III. How is this story to be told?

1. Truthfully.

2. Humbly.

3. Earnestly.

4. Devoutly. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The refused request

It was a natural prayer of gratitude and sweetness. Why, when Christ giants the bad prayer of the people, does He deny the good prayer of the restored sufferer?

I. Mercy to the man himself.

1. To teach him to walk by faith, not by sight.

2. To leave his fears of a return of his affliction unsanctioned.

3. To indicate that Christ’s work was perfect, not in danger of relapse.

4. To suggest that a distant Christ, if trusted, is as strong to save as a Christ who is nigh at hand.

II. Mercy to the gergesenes. The presence of the Lord oppressed them. The presence of a disciple among them was

III. Mercy to the family of the restored man. His family had suffered much pain, and probably poverty; let them have the pleasure of seeing his health and peace, and the advantage of his care. For wife and children’s comfort he should return. How thoughtful is Christ of our best interests, even when He is crossing our wishes! How merciful in leaving an evangelist with those on whom some would have called down fire from heaven! (R. Glover.)

Christ’s disinterestedness

Do you ever find, among all the persons whom Christ miraculously cured, a single one whom He retained to be afterwards near Him as His disciple, His attendant, His votary?…Where now is your worldly friend who will behave himself towards you in this fashion? So far from it, no sooner has he done you any service, however trifling, than he immediately lays a claim upon you for your daily attendance upon him. He requires you to be henceforth always at his elbow, and to be giving him continually every possible proof of your gratitude, of your devoted and even slavish attachment to his person. (Segneri.)

The home missionary

A converted man should be a missionary to his fellow men.

I. Christian missionary work, the duty of every converted man, should be undertaken

II. Christian effort should begin at home.

III. Christian usefulness must be based on personal experience.

IV. Christian obedience will be crowned with the reward of success. (H. Phillips.)

The mission of the saved

Men saved from Satan-

1. Beg to sit at Jesus’ feet, clothed, and in their right mind.

2. Ask to be with Him always, and never to cease from personal attendance upon Him.

3. Go at His bidding, and publish abroad what great things He has done for them.

4. Henceforth have nothing to do but to live for Jesus and for Him alone. Come, ye despisers, and see yourselves as in a looking glass. The opposite of all this is true of you. Look until you see yourselves transformed. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The restored demoniac

I. An interesting prayer which notwithstanding was rejected,

1. The prayer itself-“To be with Christ.” Was not this the end of Christ’s mission, that He might collect souls to Himself? Gather them out of the world, etc. It seems evidently a wise and proper prayer, a pious prayer, the sign of a gracious state of soul.

2. The probable reasons by which this prayer was dictated. It might be the result

3. The refusal of this request. “But Christ sent him away.” However wise and proper and pious the man’s petition appears, Jesus determined and directed otherwise; his suit could not be granted. Here let us pause and learn

II. An important command which was piously obeyed. “Jesus sent him,” etc.

1. The nature of the command. He was to be a personal witness for Christ; a monument of Christ’s power and compassion. He could testify

2. The obedience which was rendered.

Application:

1. The end of our conversion is more than our own salvation.

2. The converted should not consult merely their own comfort.

3. Christian obedience is unquestioning and exact.

4. The hearts’ desires of the saints shall be granted in a future state. Be with Jesus forever, etc. (J. Burns, D. D. , LL. D.)

At the feet of Jesus

Two grand features in the close of the parable.

I. The position in which the man was found.

1. How interesting is this spectacle. It was the place of nearness to Jesus and intimate communion with Him. Perhaps he selected this place also as the site of safety, or, he may have been seeking that instruction which was requisite to guide and to direct him.

2. What took place in the case of the demoniac is only a fore-light of what will take place in the case of all creation.

II. The petition that he might be allowed to remain with him or to accompany him. Why?

1. Because he might have recollected the fact of which the words are the description (Matthew 12:43). If we have obtained anything from Christ for which we feel thankful, we shall be jealous lest we lose it.

2. To give expression to the deep love that he felt to Him.

III. The actual answer that Christ gave him. Explain the seeming contradiction between this and Luke 8:56 and others. We have in this indirect but striking evidence of the divinity of the character of Jesus. A mere, common wonder worker would have been too glad of having a living specimen of his great power to accompany him into all lands, etc. We have these great lessons taught us! That he that receives the largest blessing from Christ is bound to go and be the largest and most untiring distributor of that blessing. We receive not for ourselves, but for diffusion, etc.

2. That the way, if you are Christians, to be with Christ, and to be with Him most closely, is to go out and labour for Christ with the greatest diligence. We are never so near to Christ as when, in His spirit and in His name, we are doing His work and fulfilling His will.

3. That labouring for Christ, according to Christ’s command, is the very way to enjoy the greatest happiness that results from being with Christ. Labour for Christ and happiness from Christ are twins that are never separated.

4. That as Christ, in hearing the demoniac, had an object beyond him, so, in healing us, He has an object beyond us.

5. But there is something very instructive, too, in the place that the Saviour bade this recovered demoniac go to. Go to the sphere in which providence has placed you, and into that sphere bring the glorious riches with which grace has enriched you … Test your missionary powers at home before you try them in the school, etc. The little home, the family, is the fountain that feeds with a pure and noble population the large home, which is the country. Let us begin at home, but let us not stop there.

6. Conceive, if you can, the return of the man to his home-the picture realized in his reception. (J. Caroming, D. D.)

The power of home in regenerating society

Loyalty, and love, and happiness in Britain’s homes, will make loyalty, and happiness, and love be reflected from Britain’s altars and from Britain’s shores. There may be a mob, or there may be slaves; but let statesmen recollect there cannot be a people unless there be a home. I repeat, there may be in a country slaves, or there may be mobs, but there cannot be in a country a people, the people, unless it be a country of holy and happy homes. And he that helps to elevate, sustain, ennoble, and sanctify the homes of a country, contributes more to its glory, its beauty, its permanence, than all its legislators, its laws, its literature, its science, its poetry together. Our Lord began at the first home that was found at Bethabara beyond Jordan-the home of Andrew and Peter; and starting from it, he carried the glorious gospel of which he was the author into the home of Mary and Martha at Bethany, of Cornelius the centurion, of Lydia, of the gaoler of Philippi, of Crispus, and finally of Timothy; and these consecrated and converted homes became multiplying foci amid the world’s darkness, till the scattered and ever multiplying lights shall be gathered one day into one broad blaze, that shall illuminate and make glad the wide world. Let us begin at home, but let us not stop there. It is groups of homes that make a congregation; it is clusters of congregations that make a country. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The return of the cured demoniac

He went home, and proclaimed not only there, but in all Decapolis, what God had done for him. Conceive, if you can, the picture realized in his reception. He turns his face quietly to his home the first time, perhaps, for years-the first time, at least, that he recollects. One child of his, looking from the casement, sees the father return, and gives the alarm: every door is doubly bolted; the mother and children cling together in one group, lest the supposed still fierce demoniac, who had so often torn and assailed them before, should again tear and utterly destroy them. But a second child, looking, calls out, “My father is clothed; before he was not clothed at all.” A third child shouts to the mother, “My father is not only clothed, but he comes home so quietly, so beautifully, that he looks as when he dandled us upon his knee, kissed us, and told us sweet and interesting stories: can this be he?” A fourth exclaims, “It is my father, and he seems so gentle, and so quiet, and so beautiful-come, my mother, and see.” The mother, not believing it to be true, but wishing it were so, runs and looks with sceptical belief; and lo! it is the dead one alive, it is the lost one found, it is the naked one clothed, it is the demon-possessed one, holy, happy, peaceful; and when he comes and mingles with that glad and welcoming household, the group upon the threshold grows too beautiful before my imagination for me to attempt to delineate, and its hearts are too happy for human language to express. The father crosses the threshold, and the inmates welcome him home to their fireside. The father gathers his children around him, while his wife sits and listens, and is not weary with listening the whole day and the whole night, as he tells them how One who proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah, who is the Prophet promised to the fathers, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, spake to him, exorcised the demons, and restored him to his right mind, and made him happy. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Work for Christ the way to retain the vision of Him

A poor monk, who, in spite of his cowl, seems from the fact to have been one of God’s hidden ones, was one day, according to a mediaeval legend, meditating in his cell. A glorious vision burst upon him, it is recorded, with the brilliancy of noon-day, and revealed in its bosom the “Man of Sorrows,” the “acquainted with grief.” The monk was gazing on the spectacle charmed, delighted, adoring. The convent bell rang; and that bell was the daily signal for the monk to go to the poor that were crowding round the convent gate, and distribute bread and fragments of food among them. The monk hesitated whether he should remain to enjoy the splendid apocalypse, or should go out to do the daily drudgery that belonged to him. At last he decided on the latter; he left the vision with regret, and went out at the bidding of the bell to distribute the alms, and bread, and crumbs among the poor. He returned, of course expecting that, because of his not seeming to appreciate it, the vision would be darkened; but to his surprise, when he returned, the vision was there still, and on his expressing his amazement that his apparent want of appreciating it and being thankful for it should be overlooked, and that the vision should still continue in augmented splendour, a voice came from the lips of the Saviour it revealed, which said, “If you had stayed, I had not.” This may be a legend but it teaches a great lesson-that active duty in Christ’s name and for Christ’s sake is the way to retain the vision of His peace in all its permanence and power. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The three prayers

Here are three prayers, the prayer of the devils, of the Gadarenes, and of the demoniac who had been restored. The first prayer was answered, and the devils obtained their wish; the second was complied with, but the last was refused, though all he asked was permission to be with Christ; surely there must be something very instructive in all this, otherwise it would not have been registered.

I. “And all the devils besought Jesus, saying, send us into the swine.” Here, the devils acknowledge the power of Christ over them; they cannot injure even a brute without leave. This is orthodox so far as it goes, and even beyond the creed of many who profess themselves Christians. None of the devils in hell disbelieve the divinity of Christ. But cannot faith save us? It can, but not such faith as is purely a conviction of truth. All Christians know that their speculative surpasses their experimental and practical religion. But will devils pray? and will they be heard? Yes-“and forthwith Jesus gave them leave.” Their request was founded on malice and mischief, in order to render Christ obnoxious to the Gadarenes, through the spoiling of their goods. Permission was given in judgment. Satan killed the children of Job; but Job triumphed in his trial. The same permission was given to Satan to tempt the Gadarenes, how different the result; he destroyed their property and them with it. The gold will endure the furnace, the dross will not.

II. They saw the poor wretch dispossessed and instead of bringing all their sick to be healed besought Jesus to depart. How dreadful was this prayer! Oh, if you were of Moses you would say, “If Thy presence go not with us, suffer us not to go up hence.” David said, “Cast me not away from Thy presence.” You need the Saviour’s presence as much as the earth needs the sun; in adversity, death, judgment. Observe, you may pray thus without words, actions speak louder than words. When you would tell a man to be off, it is done without speaking; an eye, a finger, nay, but turning your back will effect it. God interprets your meaning, he translates your actions into intelligible language. Wonder not if God takes you at your word; He punishes sin with sin; sealing men’s eyes when they will not see; withdrawing grace that is neglected.

III. The poor patient prayed to be with Christ.

1. His prayer arose from fear.

2. From gratitude.

3. From love. Everyone who has obtained grace prays, “Lord, show me Thy glory.”

Learn:

1. To think correctly of answers to prayers-that God may hear in wrath, or refuse a petition in kindness. God can distinguish our welfare from our wishes.

2. There is no ostentation in the miracle. The pure benevolence of Jesus terminated with the individual. The religion of Jesus Christ calls us into the world, as well as out of it. It calls us out, as to its spirit and maxims, in, as the sphere of activity, and place of trial. The idea of living among the wretched Gadarenes must have been uncomfortable to the renewed mind of the poor man, yet he is directed to go, without murmuring or gainsaying; not, indeed, in the spirit of the Pharisee, nor of the rigid professor, who, while he confesses a man can have nothing, except it be given him from above, is occupied all the day in maligning and censuring his neighbours; but to display the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ in his conduct and conversation, to relate his recovery, to honour the Physician, and to direct others unto Him. Oh, if there were a history of all whom the Saviour has made whole, what a work would it be. (W. Jay.)

Home piety a proof of real religion

He that is not relatively godly, is not really so; a man who is bad at home is bad throughout, and this reminds me of a wise reply of Whitfield to the question “Is such a one a good man?” “How should I know that? I never lived with him.” (W. Jay.)

The recovered demoniac

I. The man’s request. We cannot wonder that his mind should shrink at the thought of the devil’s returning in the absence of our Lord. He may have heard of such cases. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man … the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Thus the soul rescued from Satan is frequently for a time unable to rejoice, but appears to “receive the spirit of bondage again to fear.” Our feelings, after any unexpected deliverance or event, are such that we find it difficult to believe its reality. Go, tell the mother who has heard of the shipwreck of her child, that her son who was dead is alive again, she is with difficulty persuaded of its truth. And when so much is at stake we should fear for those who do not sometimes fear for themselves. Can the Christian, harassed by rising corruption, beset with temptation, feel no concern?

II. Our Lord’s answer. We might have supposed, after the great salvation Jesus had wrought for him, He would not have been reluctant to grant him any favour, especially when the request was dictated by gratitude.

1. The reply showed the modesty of the Saviour.

2. Also His compassion for the man’s friends. Mercy to one member of the family should be an encouragement to all the rest.

3. And the great object which every man truly converted to God will keep perpetually in view is, the promotion of the Divine glory, and the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom, in the salvation of those around him. The wife of his bosom, the parent, the brother, or the child; reason, as well as affection, points out these as the first objects of our concern. Religion does not petrify the feelings, and make us to be so absorbed in seeking our own safety, as to be indifferent to the fate of those about us; the grace of God does not annihilate the sympathies, or snap the bonds of nature; no, it strengthens and refines those sympathies, deepens the channel in which the affections flow, and purifies and consecrates the stream. But are there not some, who, instead of entreating Jesus that they may go with Him, are saying of the world and of the flesh, We have loved these, and after them we will go? But, fellow sinners, be persuaded it is the way of transgression, it is hard. (S. Bridge, M. A.)


Verse 20

Mark 5:18; Mark 5:20

Prayed Him that he might be with Him.

The unanswered prayer

I. The probable reason that led this restored demoniac to offer this prayer.

1. A vague but very dreadful fear may have taken possession of him that, perhaps, in the absence of Christ, his deliverer, these demoniac powers might again regain the mastery over him. Fear, the salutary fear, of going astray may often assist the soul; it may be, and has often been our wisdom to be afraid of the possibility of departure from Christ.

2. And there may have been, who can doubt that there was, a depth of gratitude in his heart towards Christ, that, perhaps, he thought could only be expressed by his becoming His disciple.

II. Some or the probable reasons that led to the refusal of this prayer by our Saviour. “Go home to thy friends,” etc.

1. Because, perhaps, it was better for the healed Gadarene to be a living witness of Christ’s goodness and power amongst his countrymen.

2. Because young converts are generally unfit to choose their spiritual vocation. Many, in the freshness of their love, are as impetuous and misguided as a mountain stream bursting from its hidden prison. (W. G. Barrett.)

Witnessing for Christ

In general, every man who believes himself to be a Christian, is bound to make such public acknowledgment that men shall know the source of his godly life. Every man who is conscious that his character has been brought under the power of the Spirit of God, is bound to let men know that the life which is flowing out from him now is not his own natural life, but one which proceeds from the Spirit of God. This would seem too obvious for remark, did not facts show that multitudes of men endeavour to live Christianly, but are very cautious about saying that they are Christians-and from shame-faced reasons, sometimes; from reasons of fear, sometimes; from reasons of pride, sometimes. Men who are endeavouring to live Christianly say, often, “Let my example speak, and not my lips.” Why should not a man’s lips and example both speak? Why should not a man interpret his example? Why should a man leave it to be inferred, in this world, that he is still living simply by the power of his own will? Why should he leave it for men to point to him, and say, “There is a man of a well-regulated life who holds his temper aright; but see, it is on account of the household that he has around him; it is on account of the companionship that he keeps; it is on account of the valorous purpose which he has fashioned in his own mind”-thus giving credit to these secondary causes, and not to that Divine inspiration, that power from on high, which gives to all secondary causes their efficiency? (H. W. Beecher.)

Personal testimony appreciated

Two men come together, one of whom is shrunk and crippled with a rheumatic affection, and the other of whom is walking in health and comfort; and the well man says to the other, “My friend, I know how to pity you. I spent fifteen as wretched years as any man ever spent in the world. I, too, was a miserable cripple, in the same way that you are.” And the man with rheumatism at once says, “You were?” He sees him walk; he sees how lithe and nimble he is; he sees that he can straighten out his limbs, and that his joints are not swollen; he sees that he is in the enjoyment of all his bodily power; and he is eager to know more about it. “Yes, I was as bad off as you are, and I suffered everything.” “Tell me what cured you.” There is nothing that a man wants to hear so much as the history of one who has been cured, if he too is a sufferer. (H. W. Beecher.)

Personal testimony hindered by the fear of subsequent failure

When a watchmaker sets a watch, he almost always stops it first, in order to get the second hand right; and then, at the right second, he gives it a turn, and starts it. But suppose, having stopped a watch, he should lay it down, and should not start it till he knew whether it would keep time or not, how long would he wait? There are a great many men who are set exactly right, and all that is wanted is, that they should start, and go on and keep time. But no, they are not going to tick until they know whether they are going to continue right or not. And what is needed is, that somebody, out of his own experience, should say to them, “You are under an illusion. Your reasoning is false. You are being held back by a misconception. You have enough sense of sin to act as a motive. If you have wind enough to fill a sail, you have enough to start a voyage with. You do not need to wait for a gale before you go out of the harbour. If you have enough wind to get steerage way, start!” And if a man has enough feeling to give him an impulse forward, let him move. After that he will have more and more feeling. (H. W. Beecher.)

Personal testimony permits others to share the joys of the Christian experience

I was as much struck, when I travelled in England, with the stinginess of the people there, in respect to their gardens, as with anything else. It was afterwards explained to me, as owing partly to conditions of climate, and partly to the notions of the people. I travelled two miles along a park shut in by a fence, that was probably twelve feet high, of solid brick and coped with stone. On the other side were all sorts of trees and shrubs, and though I was skirting along within a few feet of them, I could not see a single one of them. There were fine gardens in which almost all the fruits in the world were cultivated, either under glass, or against walls, or out in the open air; and a man might smell something in the air; but what it came from, he had to imagine. There were plants and shrubs drooping to the ground with gorgeous blossoms, and there might just as well as not have been an open iron fence, so that every poor beggar child might look through and see the flowers, and feel that he had an ownership in them, and congratulate himself, and say, “Are not these mine?” Oh! I like to see the little wretches of the street go and stand before a rich man’s house, and look over into his grounds, and feast their eyes on the trees, and shrubs, and plants, and piebald beds, and magnificent blossoms, and luscious fruit, and comfort themselves with the thought that they can see everything that the rich man owns; and I like to hear them tell what they would do if they were only rich. And I always feel as though, if a man has a fine garden, it is mean for him to build around it a close fence, so that nobody but himself and his friends can enjoy it. But oh! it is a great deal meaner, when the Lord has made a garden of Eden in your soul, for you to build around it a great dumb wall so close and so high that nobody can look through it or over it, and nobody can hear the birds singing in it. And yet, there are persons who carry a heart full of sweet, gardenesque experiences all the way through life, only letting here and there a very confidential friend know anything about the wealth that is in them. (H. W. Beecher.)

The gospel a living Christ in living men

Why, then, did Christ refuse to allow the man to go with Him? Be was calling disciples, and the very watchword almost was, “Follow Me.” But now, here was one that wanted to follow Him, doubtless from the best motives, and He says, “Go home.” Why? Well, for the best reason in the world, I think. The man’s nature was so transformed, the very radiancy of his joy was such a moral power, that not in one of the twelve disciples was there probably so much of the gospel as this man had in his new experience; and He sends him out thus to make known the Christ; to glow before men with trust, with gratitude, and with love. He was a glorious manifestation of the transforming power of the gospel upon the human soul, and that was the power that Christ came to institute in this world. It was because he was a gospel. The gospel never can be preached. The gospel can never be spoken. It is a thing that must be lived. It defies letters. It is a living soul in a Christ-like estate. That is the gospel. That can be manifested, but it cannot be described. No philosophy can unfold it. No symbols can demonstrate it. It is life centred on love, inflamed by the conscious presence of the Divine and the eternal. That is the real power of the gospel. (H. W. Beecher.)

The power of God working through man upon men

This condition of the human soul carries with it a mysterious power which all ages and nations have associated with the Divine presence. A man living in that high state of purity, rapture, and love, always seems sacred. He is like a man standing apart and standing above, and seems to have been one informed with the Divine presence. That is always efficacious upon the imagination of men, whether they are brutal, vulgar, or heathen. Anything that seems to represent the near presence of God stops them, binds them, electrifies them. A great soul carrying itself greatly in the sweetness and putty of love, in the power of intelligence, and with all other implements in its hand and around about it, suggests more nearly the sense of Divine presence than any other thing in this world. When the human faculties are centred upon love, and all of them are inflamed by it; when conscience, reason, knowledge, the will power, all skill, all taste, and all culture are the bodyguards of this central element of Christian love, they are really, by their own nature, what electricity is by its nature, or what light is by its nature. They are infectious. If you want to move upon the human mind, that is the one force that all men everywhere and always yield to. The glowing enthusiastic soul, even in its lowest moods, and from its lowest faculties, has great contagious power. If you raise man higher along the levels of wisdom and of social excellence, still more powerful is he; if you give him the dimensions of a hero and make him a patriot, and give him the disinterestedness of a glowing love of country and a love of mankind, still higher he rises and wider is the circle that he shines upon; but if you give him the ineffable presence of God, if God is associated in his thought and perception, as in his own consciousness with the eternities, if he has in himself all the vigour of Divine inspiration and walks so among men, there is no other power like Divine-crowned power, no sordid power, no philosophic power, no aesthetic power, no artistic power. Nothing on earth is like God in a man. (H. W. Beecher.)

Men too opaque to let the gospel through them

Time and time again I have felt as though I were a window through which the sun straggled to come. You may remember those old bull’s-eye windows, with the glass bulging in the centre so that the sun could not get through them except in twilight. I have felt that the natural man in me was so strong that not half the light of the gospel came through. Or, as you have seen, in an attic long unvisited by the broom, the only windows, jutting out from under the gable, have been taken possession of by dust and spiders, until a veil is woven over them, and the sun outside cannot get inside except as twilight! So men, cumbered with care and worldly conditions, and all manner of worldly ambitions, attempting to preach the doctrinal Christianity, are too opaque, or too nearly opaque, to let the gospel through. (H. W. Beecher.)

The testimony of a gospel life within the reach of every variety of talent

This issue comes home to all souls alike. It is the solvent of the difficulties which we feel in diversities of talent. One Christian man says, “How can I be expected to do much good? I am not eloquent, I am not an apostle, I am not Apollos, I am not a Paul.” Another man says, “I should be very glad if I were a man of affairs; I should like to live a Christian life in the conduct of affairs; but I have no ability.” Now, the gospel force belongs to every man alike. If you are low in life, you are susceptible of living like Christ. If you are very high in life, you are susceptible of living a Christ-like life. If you are wise and educated, that is the life for you. If you are ignorant, that is just as much the life for you. It does not lie in those gifts that the world prizes, and justly prizes, too. It is something deeper than that, far more interior than that; and it is clothed by the creative idea of God with an influence over men’s souls greater than any other. Wherever you are; whether you are poor, obscure, mean, even sick and bedridden, or in places of conspicuity, the highest, the lowest, and the middle, all come to a gracious unity. Not only that, but they all feel resting upon them the sweet obligations of the duty of loving Christ, of being like Christ, of loving our fellow men. When we shall become communal, whenever the coronal faculties of the human soul are in ascendency and in sympathetic unity, the world will not linger another eighteen hundred years before it will be illumined. The new heavens will come, and the new earth. (H. W. Beecher.)

The apostle to the Gadarenes

Things must have looked perplexing enough to this poor man! “Go home to thy friends!” “But, Lord, I have no friend but Thee. I have been an outcast now these many years-a dweller in unclean sepulchres, abhorred of men. What have men done for me but bind me in chains and fetters of iron? But Thy hand hath loosed my bonds of pain, and bound me with Thy love. Let me be with Thee where Thou art!” But still from that most gracious One came the inexorable “Go back-back to thy friends and thy father’s house. Go, tell them what the Lord hath done for thee.” “What? I, Lord? I, so disused to rational speech? whose lips and tongue were but now the organs of demoniac blasphemy? I, just rallying from the rending of the exorcised fiends? I, surrounded by a hostile people that have just warned away my Lord and Saviour from their coasts? And can I hope that they will hear my words, who turn a deaf and rebellious ear to Thee? Nay, Lord, I entreat Thee let me be with Thee, there sitting at Thy feet clothed and in my right mind, that men may look and point at me and glorify my Lord, my Saviour! Let them go, whose zeal to tell of Thee even Thy interdict cannot repress-there be many such, send them! But let me be near Thee, be with Thee, and gaze, and love, and be silent, and adore!” Was ever a stronger argument of prayer? And yet the little boat moves off, and Christ departs, and the grateful believer is left alone to do the work for which he seems so insufficient and unfit! How like Christ’s dealing is to His Father’s! To translate the story into the terms of our daily life it shows us-

I. That the path of duty which Christ has marked out for us may be the opposite of that which we naturally think and ardently desire. All our natural aptitudes, as we estimate them, yea, our purest and highest religious aspirations, may draw us toward a certain line of conduct, while on the other hand the manifest indications of God’s Word and providence inexorably close up that way and wave us off in another direction.

II. When religious privilege and religious duty seem to conflict, the duty is to be preferred above the privilege.

III. Duty, preferred and followed instead of privilege, becomes itself the supreme privilege. The interests of the soul are very great, but they are not supreme. The supreme interests are those of the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and whoso, forgetting the interests of his own soul, shall follow after these, shall surely find that all things beside are added unto him. (L. W. Bacon.)

Going home-a Christmas story

I. What they are to tell. Personal experience. A story of free grace. A story filled with gratitude.

II. Why they are to tell it. For the Master’s sake. To make others glad.

III. How is this story to be told?

1. Truthfully.

2. Humbly.

3. Earnestly.

4. Devoutly. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The refused request

It was a natural prayer of gratitude and sweetness. Why, when Christ giants the bad prayer of the people, does He deny the good prayer of the restored sufferer?

I. Mercy to the man himself.

1. To teach him to walk by faith, not by sight.

2. To leave his fears of a return of his affliction unsanctioned.

3. To indicate that Christ’s work was perfect, not in danger of relapse.

4. To suggest that a distant Christ, if trusted, is as strong to save as a Christ who is nigh at hand.

II. Mercy to the gergesenes. The presence of the Lord oppressed them. The presence of a disciple among them was

III. Mercy to the family of the restored man. His family had suffered much pain, and probably poverty; let them have the pleasure of seeing his health and peace, and the advantage of his care. For wife and children’s comfort he should return. How thoughtful is Christ of our best interests, even when He is crossing our wishes! How merciful in leaving an evangelist with those on whom some would have called down fire from heaven! (R. Glover.)

Christ’s disinterestedness

Do you ever find, among all the persons whom Christ miraculously cured, a single one whom He retained to be afterwards near Him as His disciple, His attendant, His votary?…Where now is your worldly friend who will behave himself towards you in this fashion? So far from it, no sooner has he done you any service, however trifling, than he immediately lays a claim upon you for your daily attendance upon him. He requires you to be henceforth always at his elbow, and to be giving him continually every possible proof of your gratitude, of your devoted and even slavish attachment to his person. (Segneri.)

The home missionary

A converted man should be a missionary to his fellow men.

I. Christian missionary work, the duty of every converted man, should be undertaken

II. Christian effort should begin at home.

III. Christian usefulness must be based on personal experience.

IV. Christian obedience will be crowned with the reward of success. (H. Phillips.)

The mission of the saved

Men saved from Satan-

1. Beg to sit at Jesus’ feet, clothed, and in their right mind.

2. Ask to be with Him always, and never to cease from personal attendance upon Him.

3. Go at His bidding, and publish abroad what great things He has done for them.

4. Henceforth have nothing to do but to live for Jesus and for Him alone. Come, ye despisers, and see yourselves as in a looking glass. The opposite of all this is true of you. Look until you see yourselves transformed. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The restored demoniac

I. An interesting prayer which notwithstanding was rejected,

1. The prayer itself-“To be with Christ.” Was not this the end of Christ’s mission, that He might collect souls to Himself? Gather them out of the world, etc. It seems evidently a wise and proper prayer, a pious prayer, the sign of a gracious state of soul.

2. The probable reasons by which this prayer was dictated. It might be the result

3. The refusal of this request. “But Christ sent him away.” However wise and proper and pious the man’s petition appears, Jesus determined and directed otherwise; his suit could not be granted. Here let us pause and learn

II. An important command which was piously obeyed. “Jesus sent him,” etc.

1. The nature of the command. He was to be a personal witness for Christ; a monument of Christ’s power and compassion. He could testify

2. The obedience which was rendered.

Application:

1. The end of our conversion is more than our own salvation.

2. The converted should not consult merely their own comfort.

3. Christian obedience is unquestioning and exact.

4. The hearts’ desires of the saints shall be granted in a future state. Be with Jesus forever, etc. (J. Burns, D. D. , LL. D.)

At the feet of Jesus

Two grand features in the close of the parable.

I. The position in which the man was found.

1. How interesting is this spectacle. It was the place of nearness to Jesus and intimate communion with Him. Perhaps he selected this place also as the site of safety, or, he may have been seeking that instruction which was requisite to guide and to direct him.

2. What took place in the case of the demoniac is only a fore-light of what will take place in the case of all creation.

II. The petition that he might be allowed to remain with him or to accompany him. Why?

1. Because he might have recollected the fact of which the words are the description (Matthew 12:43). If we have obtained anything from Christ for which we feel thankful, we shall be jealous lest we lose it.

2. To give expression to the deep love that he felt to Him.

III. The actual answer that Christ gave him. Explain the seeming contradiction between this and Luke 8:56 and others. We have in this indirect but striking evidence of the divinity of the character of Jesus. A mere, common wonder worker would have been too glad of having a living specimen of his great power to accompany him into all lands, etc. We have these great lessons taught us! That he that receives the largest blessing from Christ is bound to go and be the largest and most untiring distributor of that blessing. We receive not for ourselves, but for diffusion, etc.

2. That the way, if you are Christians, to be with Christ, and to be with Him most closely, is to go out and labour for Christ with the greatest diligence. We are never so near to Christ as when, in His spirit and in His name, we are doing His work and fulfilling His will.

3. That labouring for Christ, according to Christ’s command, is the very way to enjoy the greatest happiness that results from being with Christ. Labour for Christ and happiness from Christ are twins that are never separated.

4. That as Christ, in hearing the demoniac, had an object beyond him, so, in healing us, He has an object beyond us.

5. But there is something very instructive, too, in the place that the Saviour bade this recovered demoniac go to. Go to the sphere in which providence has placed you, and into that sphere bring the glorious riches with which grace has enriched you … Test your missionary powers at home before you try them in the school, etc. The little home, the family, is the fountain that feeds with a pure and noble population the large home, which is the country. Let us begin at home, but let us not stop there.

6. Conceive, if you can, the return of the man to his home-the picture realized in his reception. (J. Caroming, D. D.)

The power of home in regenerating society

Loyalty, and love, and happiness in Britain’s homes, will make loyalty, and happiness, and love be reflected from Britain’s altars and from Britain’s shores. There may be a mob, or there may be slaves; but let statesmen recollect there cannot be a people unless there be a home. I repeat, there may be in a country slaves, or there may be mobs, but there cannot be in a country a people, the people, unless it be a country of holy and happy homes. And he that helps to elevate, sustain, ennoble, and sanctify the homes of a country, contributes more to its glory, its beauty, its permanence, than all its legislators, its laws, its literature, its science, its poetry together. Our Lord began at the first home that was found at Bethabara beyond Jordan-the home of Andrew and Peter; and starting from it, he carried the glorious gospel of which he was the author into the home of Mary and Martha at Bethany, of Cornelius the centurion, of Lydia, of the gaoler of Philippi, of Crispus, and finally of Timothy; and these consecrated and converted homes became multiplying foci amid the world’s darkness, till the scattered and ever multiplying lights shall be gathered one day into one broad blaze, that shall illuminate and make glad the wide world. Let us begin at home, but let us not stop there. It is groups of homes that make a congregation; it is clusters of congregations that make a country. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The return of the cured demoniac

He went home, and proclaimed not only there, but in all Decapolis, what God had done for him. Conceive, if you can, the picture realized in his reception. He turns his face quietly to his home the first time, perhaps, for years-the first time, at least, that he recollects. One child of his, looking from the casement, sees the father return, and gives the alarm: every door is doubly bolted; the mother and children cling together in one group, lest the supposed still fierce demoniac, who had so often torn and assailed them before, should again tear and utterly destroy them. But a second child, looking, calls out, “My father is clothed; before he was not clothed at all.” A third child shouts to the mother, “My father is not only clothed, but he comes home so quietly, so beautifully, that he looks as when he dandled us upon his knee, kissed us, and told us sweet and interesting stories: can this be he?” A fourth exclaims, “It is my father, and he seems so gentle, and so quiet, and so beautiful-come, my mother, and see.” The mother, not believing it to be true, but wishing it were so, runs and looks with sceptical belief; and lo! it is the dead one alive, it is the lost one found, it is the naked one clothed, it is the demon-possessed one, holy, happy, peaceful; and when he comes and mingles with that glad and welcoming household, the group upon the threshold grows too beautiful before my imagination for me to attempt to delineate, and its hearts are too happy for human language to express. The father crosses the threshold, and the inmates welcome him home to their fireside. The father gathers his children around him, while his wife sits and listens, and is not weary with listening the whole day and the whole night, as he tells them how One who proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah, who is the Prophet promised to the fathers, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, spake to him, exorcised the demons, and restored him to his right mind, and made him happy. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Work for Christ the way to retain the vision of Him

A poor monk, who, in spite of his cowl, seems from the fact to have been one of God’s hidden ones, was one day, according to a mediaeval legend, meditating in his cell. A glorious vision burst upon him, it is recorded, with the brilliancy of noon-day, and revealed in its bosom the “Man of Sorrows,” the “acquainted with grief.” The monk was gazing on the spectacle charmed, delighted, adoring. The convent bell rang; and that bell was the daily signal for the monk to go to the poor that were crowding round the convent gate, and distribute bread and fragments of food among them. The monk hesitated whether he should remain to enjoy the splendid apocalypse, or should go out to do the daily drudgery that belonged to him. At last he decided on the latter; he left the vision with regret, and went out at the bidding of the bell to distribute the alms, and bread, and crumbs among the poor. He returned, of course expecting that, because of his not seeming to appreciate it, the vision would be darkened; but to his surprise, when he returned, the vision was there still, and on his expressing his amazement that his apparent want of appreciating it and being thankful for it should be overlooked, and that the vision should still continue in augmented splendour, a voice came from the lips of the Saviour it revealed, which said, “If you had stayed, I had not.” This may be a legend but it teaches a great lesson-that active duty in Christ’s name and for Christ’s sake is the way to retain the vision of His peace in all its permanence and power. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The three prayers

Here are three prayers, the prayer of the devils, of the Gadarenes, and of the demoniac who had been restored. The first prayer was answered, and the devils obtained their wish; the second was complied with, but the last was refused, though all he asked was permission to be with Christ; surely there must be something very instructive in all this, otherwise it would not have been registered.

I. “And all the devils besought Jesus, saying, send us into the swine.” Here, the devils acknowledge the power of Christ over them; they cannot injure even a brute without leave. This is orthodox so far as it goes, and even beyond the creed of many who profess themselves Christians. None of the devils in hell disbelieve the divinity of Christ. But cannot faith save us? It can, but not such faith as is purely a conviction of truth. All Christians know that their speculative surpasses their experimental and practical religion. But will devils pray? and will they be heard? Yes-“and forthwith Jesus gave them leave.” Their request was founded on malice and mischief, in order to render Christ obnoxious to the Gadarenes, through the spoiling of their goods. Permission was given in judgment. Satan killed the children of Job; but Job triumphed in his trial. The same permission was given to Satan to tempt the Gadarenes, how different the result; he destroyed their property and them with it. The gold will endure the furnace, the dross will not.

II. They saw the poor wretch dispossessed and instead of bringing all their sick to be healed besought Jesus to depart. How dreadful was this prayer! Oh, if you were of Moses you would say, “If Thy presence go not with us, suffer us not to go up hence.” David said, “Cast me not away from Thy presence.” You need the Saviour’s presence as much as the earth needs the sun; in adversity, death, judgment. Observe, you may pray thus without words, actions speak louder than words. When you would tell a man to be off, it is done without speaking; an eye, a finger, nay, but turning your back will effect it. God interprets your meaning, he translates your actions into intelligible language. Wonder not if God takes you at your word; He punishes sin with sin; sealing men’s eyes when they will not see; withdrawing grace that is neglected.

III. The poor patient prayed to be with Christ.

1. His prayer arose from fear.

2. From gratitude.

3. From love. Everyone who has obtained grace prays, “Lord, show me Thy glory.”

Learn:

1. To think correctly of answers to prayers-that God may hear in wrath, or refuse a petition in kindness. God can distinguish our welfare from our wishes.

2. There is no ostentation in the miracle. The pure benevolence of Jesus terminated with the individual. The religion of Jesus Christ calls us into the world, as well as out of it. It calls us out, as to its spirit and maxims, in, as the sphere of activity, and place of trial. The idea of living among the wretched Gadarenes must have been uncomfortable to the renewed mind of the poor man, yet he is directed to go, without murmuring or gainsaying; not, indeed, in the spirit of the Pharisee, nor of the rigid professor, who, while he confesses a man can have nothing, except it be given him from above, is occupied all the day in maligning and censuring his neighbours; but to display the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ in his conduct and conversation, to relate his recovery, to honour the Physician, and to direct others unto Him. Oh, if there were a history of all whom the Saviour has made whole, what a work would it be. (W. Jay.)

Home piety a proof of real religion

He that is not relatively godly, is not really so; a man who is bad at home is bad throughout, and this reminds me of a wise reply of Whitfield to the question “Is such a one a good man?” “How should I know that? I never lived with him.” (W. Jay.)

The recovered demoniac

I. The man’s request. We cannot wonder that his mind should shrink at the thought of the devil’s returning in the absence of our Lord. He may have heard of such cases. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man … the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Thus the soul rescued from Satan is frequently for a time unable to rejoice, but appears to “receive the spirit of bondage again to fear.” Our feelings, after any unexpected deliverance or event, are such that we find it difficult to believe its reality. Go, tell the mother who has heard of the shipwreck of her child, that her son who was dead is alive again, she is with difficulty persuaded of its truth. And when so much is at stake we should fear for those who do not sometimes fear for themselves. Can the Christian, harassed by rising corruption, beset with temptation, feel no concern?

II. Our Lord’s answer. We might have supposed, after the great salvation Jesus had wrought for him, He would not have been reluctant to grant him any favour, especially when the request was dictated by gratitude.

1. The reply showed the modesty of the Saviour.

2. Also His compassion for the man’s friends. Mercy to one member of the family should be an encouragement to all the rest.

3. And the great object which every man truly converted to God will keep perpetually in view is, the promotion of the Divine glory, and the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom, in the salvation of those around him. The wife of his bosom, the parent, the brother, or the child; reason, as well as affection, points out these as the first objects of our concern. Religion does not petrify the feelings, and make us to be so absorbed in seeking our own safety, as to be indifferent to the fate of those about us; the grace of God does not annihilate the sympathies, or snap the bonds of nature; no, it strengthens and refines those sympathies, deepens the channel in which the affections flow, and purifies and consecrates the stream. But are there not some, who, instead of entreating Jesus that they may go with Him, are saying of the world and of the flesh, We have loved these, and after them we will go? But, fellow sinners, be persuaded it is the way of transgression, it is hard. (S. Bridge, M. A.)


Verse 21

Mark 5:21; Mark 5:23; Mark 5:35; Mark 5:43

Jairus by name.
-

A proper prayer

Better prayers, perhaps, had been offered. He would have shown more faith if he had prayed like the centurion (Luke 7:7). But, though he does not show such strong faith, yet it is a good prayer. For it is

A revived flower

And that bright flower bloomed in the vase of that happy home, more beautiful because the look of Jesus had given it new tints and the breath of Jesus had given it new fragrance. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Jairus’ daughter

Jairus was a good man. His light was small, but real. It was feeble, but from heaven.

I. He had much to try his faith. One seems to see all the father in the tenderness of his words. Hope was over,-his daughter was dead. Thus is it with the believer. Instead of the relief he hoped for, all seems as death. Thus does the Lord try the faith He gives. Thus by causing us to wait for the blessing does He endear it.

II. The effect of this trial of faith. He did not distrust the power or willingness of the compassionate Saviour. His faith takes no denial, he still continues with Jesus. Faith hopes against hope. True faith partakes of his nature who exercises it, therefore in all, it is weak at times. But it partakes also of His nature who gives it, and therefore evinces its strength in the very midst of that weakness.

III. But wherever found, it is graciously rewarded. The scorners are without; but believing Jairus and the believing mother (Mark 5:40) are admitted. They see the mighty power of God put forth on behalf of their daughter. What an encouragement here to some anxious parent to put the case of their dear child in the hands of that same Jesus. How often has domestic affliction been the means of bringing the soul to the feet of Jesus. Mark the extreme tenderness of Jesus, “Fear not, only believe.” Be not afraid convicted sinner. My blood is sufficient, My grace and love are sufficient. (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The Humane Society

I. The particular form of the Redeemer’s work.

1. Restoration from a special form of death.

2. Here was the recognition of the value of life-“She shall live.” It is not mere life on which Christianity has shed a richer value. It is by ennobling the purpose to which life is to be dedicated that it has made life more precious.

3. We consider the Saviour’s direction respecting the means of effecting a complete recovery. He “commanded that something should be given her to eat.” His reverential submission to the laws of nature.

II. The spirit of the Redeemer’s work.

1. It was love. He did good because it was good.

2. It was a spirit of retiring modesty. He did not wish it to be known.

3. It was a spirit of perseverance. Calm perseverance amidst ridicule. (F. W. Robertson.)

Not dead, but sleeping

Nature puts on a shroud at seasons, and seems to glide into the grave of winter. Autumnal blasts come sobbing through the trees, and leaf after leaf, shrivelling its fibres at the killing contact, comes drifting to the ground. The hedgerows where the May flowers and the dog rose mixed their scents are stripped and bare, and lift their thorny fingers up to heaven. The field where fat and wealthy-looking crops a while ago promised their golden sheaves, is now spread over with a coarse fringe of stubble, and seems a sort of hospital of vegetation. The garden shows no more its beauties, nor sheds forth its scent, but where the coloured petal and the painted cup of the gay flower were seen, there stands a blighted stem, or a drooping tuft of refuse herbs. The birds which carolled to the summer sky have fled away, and their note no longer greets the ear. The very daisies on the meadow are buried in the snow wreath, and the raw blast howls a sad requiem at the funeral of nature. But those trees, whose leafless branches seem to wrestle with the rough winds that toss them, are not dead. Anon, and they shall again be wreathed in verdure and bedecked with blossom. The softened breath of spring shall whisper to the snowdrop to dart forth its modest head, and shall broider the garden path again with flowers; the fragrance of the hawthorn bloom ere long shall gush from those naked hedge rows, and the returning lark shall wake the morning with a new and willing song. No, nature is not dead! There is a resurrection coming on. Spring with its touch of wizardry shall wake her from her slumbers, and sound again the keynote of the suspended music of the spheres. So also shall there arise out of the raging conflagration, in whose fevered heat the elements shall melt and shrivel like a scroll-even out of the very ashes which betoken its consumption-a new heaven and a new earth-an earth as ethereal and pure as heaven itself-and a heaven as substantial and as living as the earth. And consentaneously with the arising of these new worlds; the tombs shall open, and send forth the shrouded tenants, to enter on the inheritance which, in that new economy, shall be theirs. Can you believe that faded flowers shall revive at the blithe beckoning of the spring, that little leaves will quietly unfold at the mandate of the morning, and yet there shall be no spring to beckon the mortal back to life, and no morning to command the clay to clothe itself with the garments of a quickening spirit? Can you believe that the great temple shall arise with all its shrines rebuilded, and its altars purified after the final burning, but that there shall be neither voice nor trumpet to call forth the high priest from his slumber to worship at those shrines, and to lay a more enduring offering upon those waiting altars? Is the fuel to be ever laid, and none to kindle the burnt offering? Is the sanctuary to be prepared, and none to pay the service? Is the bridegroom to stand alone before the altar, and no bride to meet him at the nuptials? God forbid! The high priest is not dead-the bride has not perished-they are not dead, but sleep. Sound forth the trumpet, and say that all is ready, and then the corruptible will put on incorruption, and the mortal will put on immortality. Thus, when we lay our kindred in the earth, and follow to their final resting place the last remains of those who occupied a cherished chamber in our hearts-while nature finds it hard to dry the tear and quench the sigh-faith ever lifts the spirit from its sad despondency, by assuring us of a reunion beyond the grave-and robs the monster of one half his terrors-weakening his stroke and taking away his sting, by changing the mystic trance into which he throws his victims into a transient sleep, and speaking of a waking time of happiness and icy. Nature will look on death as an assassin who murders those we love; but Faith regards him as a nurse who hushes them to sleep, and sings a lullaby and not a requiem beside their bed. To faith it is a sleeping draught and not a poison which the visitor holds to the drinker’s lips; for it hails the time when the lethargy of the sepulchre shall be cast off, and the spirit shall arise like a tired slumberer refreshed by sleep, to spend an endless morning in the energy of an endless youth. (A. Mursell.)

The death of the young encourages a spirit of dependence on God in the home life of this world

It brings the unseen Hand to bear very directly and potently on the soul’s deepest and most hidden springs. Let us suppose for a moment that there was a revealed ordinance of heaven that every, human being born into this world should live to three-score years and ten, and then quietly lie down to rest, and awake in eternity. Would it enrich or impoverish the life of the human world? I venture to think that it would impoverish it unspeakably. The passage of these little ones through the veil, of infants and children, of young men and maidens, of men and women in their prime, brings God’s hand very near, and keeps its pressure on the most powerful springs of our nature, our warmest affection, and our most constant and active care. It is not the uncertainty which is the strongest element of the influence, though no doubt that keeps us vigilant and anxious, and helps to maintain the full strain of our power. It is rather the constant contact with a Higher Will, which keeps us in humble, hopeful dependence, which gives and withholds, lends and recalls, by a wisdom which we cannot fathom, but which demands our trust on the basis of a transcendent manifestation of all-suffering and all-sacrificing love. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

The death of the young imparts a consecrating influence to the home life

It brings heaven all round us when we know that at any moment the veil may be lifted, and a dear life may vanish from our sight, not, blessed be Christ, into the shades, but into the brightness which is beyond. And when the life has vanished it leaves a holy and consecrating memory in the home. Something is in the home on earth which also belongs to the home on high. Never does the home life and all its relations seem so beautiful, so profound, so sacred, as when Death has laid his touch on “a little one,” and gathered it as a starry flower for the fields of light on high. It makes the life of the home more anxious, more burdened by care and pain, but more blessed. The nearness at any moment of resistless Death makes us find a dearer meaning in the word, “the whole family in heaven and on earth”-a thought which saturates the whole New Testament, and is not dependent on one text for its revelation. We know then how precious is its meaning, and earth gains by its loss as well as heaven. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

The death of the young lends a tender, home life interest to the life of the unseen world

The home, remember, is where the children are. There are those of us who never found the deeper meaning of the Father’s love and the everlasting home till a dear child had gone on before. The death of the little ones, while it ought to make the earthly life heaven-like on the one hand, is meant to make heaven home-like on the other. The Lord dethroned and discrowned Death by bearing the human form, living, through His realm of terror. The living Lord abolished death by living on through death, and flashing the splendours of heaven through the shades. The children, as they follow Christ through the gloom, make Death seem beautiful as an angel. Thenceforth we, too, have, not our citizenship only, but our home life in the two worlds. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

Jesus stronger than death

And just remember, that when Jesus allows death to knock at your door, and to come in, it is not because death is stronger than He. It is because He has a good reason for permitting it. He is so completely the Master of death that He makes it His messenger to do His bidding; and when death comes to our dwelling and takes away one we love, let us bear in mind that death is not Jesus’ enemy but His messenger. He is like an angel; he takes away our friend in his bosom. He has no power at all over us without Jesus. (Anon.)

The healing of Jairus’ daughter

I. The ease brought before Jesus. A bodily disease as usual. No spiritual cases, though more important.

II. The persons who brought it. A ruler, etc. He had heard Christ’s teaching. He had seen His miracles. No mention made, etc., till distress.

III. The character in which he came-a parent.

IV. The manner in which he came. Reverently. Earnestly. Believingly.

V. At the request of Jairus, Christ arose and accompanied him. Christ encouraged such applications-He does so still (Expository Discourses.)

I. Christ’s restorative power transcends the ordinary expectations of mankind.

II. Christ’s restorative power is exerted on certain conditions.

1. Earnest entreaty.

2. A reverential spirit.

III. Christ’s restorative power accomplishes its object with the greatest ease.

IV. Christ’s restorative power confounds the scoffing sceptic with its result. Scoffing infidelity is destined to be confounded. There were scoffers in the days of Noah and they were confounded when the deluge came. There were scoffers in the days of Lot, and they were confounded when the showers of fire fell. There are scoffers now, and when they shall see Him “coming in His glory with all His holy angels,” these atheists, deists, and materialists, will be utterly confounded. (David Thomas, D. D.)

Death a sleep

Homer fittingly calls sleep “the brother of death”; they are so much alike. On the lips of Jesus, however, the word sleep acquires a richer and mightier import than it ever possessed before. Amply has His use of the term been justified in the last hour of tens of thousands of his devout followers. They laid themselves down to die, not as those who dread the night because of the remembrance of hours when, like Job, they were “scared with dreams” and “terrified through visions,” but like tired labourers, to whom night is indeed a season of peaceful refreshment. And how imperceptibly they sank into their last slumber! Their transition was so mild and gradual, that it was impossible for those who stood round their dying pillow to say exactly when it took place. There was no struggle, no convulsion. The angel of death spread his wide, white wings meekly over them, and then, with a smile upon their pallid countenance, serene and lovely as heaven itself, they closed their eyes on all terrestrial objects, and fell asleep in Jesus. And that sleep is as profound throughout as it was tranquil at the beginning. The happy fireside and the busy exchange-the halls of science and the houses of legislation-the oft-frequented walk and the holy temple-are nothing to them now. Suns rise and set, stars travel and glisten; but they see them not; tempests howl, thunders roll and crash; but they hear them not. Nothing can disturb those slumbers, “till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.” Then will the voice of the archangel sweep over God’s acre, and awake them all. Oh, wondrous awaking! what momentous consequences hang on thee! (Edwin Davies.)

Death a sleep

I. Sleep is rest, or gives rest to the body: so death.

1. Rest from labour and travail.

2. Rest from trouble and opposition.

3. Rest from passion and grief.

4. Rest from sin, temptation, Satan, and the law.

II. Sleep is not perpetual; we sleep and wake again; so, though the body lie in the grave, yet death is but a sleep; we shall wake again.

III. The sleep of some men differs very much from that of others: So the death of saints differs from that of the wicked.

1. Some men sleep before their work is done; so some die before their salvation is secured.

2. Some fall asleep in business and great distraction, others in peace.

3. Some dread the thought of dying, because of the dangers that lie beyond. But saints have no fear.

4. Some fall asleep in dangerous places, and in the midst of their enemies-on the brink of hell, surrounded by the spirits of perdition. But saints die in the view of Jesus; in the love and covenant of Jesus.

IV. A man that sleeps is generally easily awakened: So the body in death shall be much more easily awakened at the last day than the soul can now be aroused from its sleep of sin. (B. Keach.)

Why death of the godly is called sleep

The reason why the death of the godly is called a sleep in Scripture is this: because there is a fit resemblance between it and natural sleep; which resemblance consists chiefly in these things.

1. In bodily sleep men rest from the labours of mind and body. So the faithful, dying in the Lord, are said to rest from their labours (Revelation 14:13).

2. After natural sleep men are accustomed to awake again; so, after death, the bodies of the saints shall be awaked, i.e., raised up again to life out of their graves at the last flay. And as it is easy to awake one out of a natural sleep, so is it much more easy with God, by His almighty power, to raise the dead at the last day.

3. As after natural sleep the body and outward senses are more fresh and lively than before; so likewise after that the bodies of the saints, being dead, have for a time slept in their graves as in beds, they shall awake and rise again at the last day in a far more excellent state than they died in, being changed from corruption to incorruption, from dishonour to glory, from weakness to power, from natural to spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42).

4. As in natural sleep the body only is said properly to sleep, not the soul (the powers whereof work even in sleep in some sort, though not so perfectly as when we are waking): so in death, only the bodies of the saints do die and lie down in the graves, but their souls return to God who gave them (Ecclesiastes 12:7), and they live with God even in death and alter death.

5. As sleep is sweet to those who are wearied with labour and travail (Ecclesiastes 5:12), so also death is sweet and comfortable to the faithful, being wearied and turmoiled with sin, and with the manifold miseries of this life. (G. Petter.)

Death of children

God cultivates many flowers, seemingly only for their exquisite beauty and fragrance. For when, bathed in soft sunshine, they have burst into blossom, then the Divine hand gathers them from the earthly fields to be kept in crystal vases in the deathless mansions above. Thus little children die-some in the sweet bud, some in the fallen blossom; but never too early to make heaven fairer and sweeter with their immortal bloom. (Wadsworth.)

Goeth in where the child was: Christ in the chamber of death

I. A good child is at home in either world, not sorry to go to the other world to get joy, and not sorry to come back to this world to give it.

II. We know not where the other world is, but it is evidently within range of the Saviour’s voice. Our dear dead are therefore safe and all their conditions ordered by the Saviour’s mercy.

III. Life is indestructible by death.

IV. On a universal scale Christ will be found to be the Resurrection and the Life to all who love Him.

V. He inflicts bereavement, but sympathises with its sorrow. He relieves these mourners here, to show that He pities all mourners. (R. Glover.)

Talitha cumi

He uses what were, perhaps, the words used every morning by her mother on waking her-“Little one, get up.” (R. Glover.)

The raising of Jairus’ daughter

I. The application which Jesus received.

1. By whom it was made.

2. The favour he implied.

3. The feeling which this ruler displayed.

II. The ready compliance of our Lord with the request made to Him. But as He went we are called upon-

1. To witness a strange interruption.

2. To listen to what seemed very discouraging information-“Thy daughter is dead.”

III. The wonderful result with which this visit was attended.

1. What our Lord saw.

2. What He said.

3. What He did. (Expository Outlines.)


Verses 21-43

Verse 23

Mark 5:21; Mark 5:23; Mark 5:35; Mark 5:43

Jairus by name.
-

A proper prayer

Better prayers, perhaps, had been offered. He would have shown more faith if he had prayed like the centurion (Luke 7:7). But, though he does not show such strong faith, yet it is a good prayer. For it is

A revived flower

And that bright flower bloomed in the vase of that happy home, more beautiful because the look of Jesus had given it new tints and the breath of Jesus had given it new fragrance. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Jairus’ daughter

Jairus was a good man. His light was small, but real. It was feeble, but from heaven.

I. He had much to try his faith. One seems to see all the father in the tenderness of his words. Hope was over,-his daughter was dead. Thus is it with the believer. Instead of the relief he hoped for, all seems as death. Thus does the Lord try the faith He gives. Thus by causing us to wait for the blessing does He endear it.

II. The effect of this trial of faith. He did not distrust the power or willingness of the compassionate Saviour. His faith takes no denial, he still continues with Jesus. Faith hopes against hope. True faith partakes of his nature who exercises it, therefore in all, it is weak at times. But it partakes also of His nature who gives it, and therefore evinces its strength in the very midst of that weakness.

III. But wherever found, it is graciously rewarded. The scorners are without; but believing Jairus and the believing mother (Mark 5:40) are admitted. They see the mighty power of God put forth on behalf of their daughter. What an encouragement here to some anxious parent to put the case of their dear child in the hands of that same Jesus. How often has domestic affliction been the means of bringing the soul to the feet of Jesus. Mark the extreme tenderness of Jesus, “Fear not, only believe.” Be not afraid convicted sinner. My blood is sufficient, My grace and love are sufficient. (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The Humane Society

I. The particular form of the Redeemer’s work.

1. Restoration from a special form of death.

2. Here was the recognition of the value of life-“She shall live.” It is not mere life on which Christianity has shed a richer value. It is by ennobling the purpose to which life is to be dedicated that it has made life more precious.

3. We consider the Saviour’s direction respecting the means of effecting a complete recovery. He “commanded that something should be given her to eat.” His reverential submission to the laws of nature.

II. The spirit of the Redeemer’s work.

1. It was love. He did good because it was good.

2. It was a spirit of retiring modesty. He did not wish it to be known.

3. It was a spirit of perseverance. Calm perseverance amidst ridicule. (F. W. Robertson.)

Not dead, but sleeping

Nature puts on a shroud at seasons, and seems to glide into the grave of winter. Autumnal blasts come sobbing through the trees, and leaf after leaf, shrivelling its fibres at the killing contact, comes drifting to the ground. The hedgerows where the May flowers and the dog rose mixed their scents are stripped and bare, and lift their thorny fingers up to heaven. The field where fat and wealthy-looking crops a while ago promised their golden sheaves, is now spread over with a coarse fringe of stubble, and seems a sort of hospital of vegetation. The garden shows no more its beauties, nor sheds forth its scent, but where the coloured petal and the painted cup of the gay flower were seen, there stands a blighted stem, or a drooping tuft of refuse herbs. The birds which carolled to the summer sky have fled away, and their note no longer greets the ear. The very daisies on the meadow are buried in the snow wreath, and the raw blast howls a sad requiem at the funeral of nature. But those trees, whose leafless branches seem to wrestle with the rough winds that toss them, are not dead. Anon, and they shall again be wreathed in verdure and bedecked with blossom. The softened breath of spring shall whisper to the snowdrop to dart forth its modest head, and shall broider the garden path again with flowers; the fragrance of the hawthorn bloom ere long shall gush from those naked hedge rows, and the returning lark shall wake the morning with a new and willing song. No, nature is not dead! There is a resurrection coming on. Spring with its touch of wizardry shall wake her from her slumbers, and sound again the keynote of the suspended music of the spheres. So also shall there arise out of the raging conflagration, in whose fevered heat the elements shall melt and shrivel like a scroll-even out of the very ashes which betoken its consumption-a new heaven and a new earth-an earth as ethereal and pure as heaven itself-and a heaven as substantial and as living as the earth. And consentaneously with the arising of these new worlds; the tombs shall open, and send forth the shrouded tenants, to enter on the inheritance which, in that new economy, shall be theirs. Can you believe that faded flowers shall revive at the blithe beckoning of the spring, that little leaves will quietly unfold at the mandate of the morning, and yet there shall be no spring to beckon the mortal back to life, and no morning to command the clay to clothe itself with the garments of a quickening spirit? Can you believe that the great temple shall arise with all its shrines rebuilded, and its altars purified after the final burning, but that there shall be neither voice nor trumpet to call forth the high priest from his slumber to worship at those shrines, and to lay a more enduring offering upon those waiting altars? Is the fuel to be ever laid, and none to kindle the burnt offering? Is the sanctuary to be prepared, and none to pay the service? Is the bridegroom to stand alone before the altar, and no bride to meet him at the nuptials? God forbid! The high priest is not dead-the bride has not perished-they are not dead, but sleep. Sound forth the trumpet, and say that all is ready, and then the corruptible will put on incorruption, and the mortal will put on immortality. Thus, when we lay our kindred in the earth, and follow to their final resting place the last remains of those who occupied a cherished chamber in our hearts-while nature finds it hard to dry the tear and quench the sigh-faith ever lifts the spirit from its sad despondency, by assuring us of a reunion beyond the grave-and robs the monster of one half his terrors-weakening his stroke and taking away his sting, by changing the mystic trance into which he throws his victims into a transient sleep, and speaking of a waking time of happiness and icy. Nature will look on death as an assassin who murders those we love; but Faith regards him as a nurse who hushes them to sleep, and sings a lullaby and not a requiem beside their bed. To faith it is a sleeping draught and not a poison which the visitor holds to the drinker’s lips; for it hails the time when the lethargy of the sepulchre shall be cast off, and the spirit shall arise like a tired slumberer refreshed by sleep, to spend an endless morning in the energy of an endless youth. (A. Mursell.)

The death of the young encourages a spirit of dependence on God in the home life of this world

It brings the unseen Hand to bear very directly and potently on the soul’s deepest and most hidden springs. Let us suppose for a moment that there was a revealed ordinance of heaven that every, human being born into this world should live to three-score years and ten, and then quietly lie down to rest, and awake in eternity. Would it enrich or impoverish the life of the human world? I venture to think that it would impoverish it unspeakably. The passage of these little ones through the veil, of infants and children, of young men and maidens, of men and women in their prime, brings God’s hand very near, and keeps its pressure on the most powerful springs of our nature, our warmest affection, and our most constant and active care. It is not the uncertainty which is the strongest element of the influence, though no doubt that keeps us vigilant and anxious, and helps to maintain the full strain of our power. It is rather the constant contact with a Higher Will, which keeps us in humble, hopeful dependence, which gives and withholds, lends and recalls, by a wisdom which we cannot fathom, but which demands our trust on the basis of a transcendent manifestation of all-suffering and all-sacrificing love. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

The death of the young imparts a consecrating influence to the home life

It brings heaven all round us when we know that at any moment the veil may be lifted, and a dear life may vanish from our sight, not, blessed be Christ, into the shades, but into the brightness which is beyond. And when the life has vanished it leaves a holy and consecrating memory in the home. Something is in the home on earth which also belongs to the home on high. Never does the home life and all its relations seem so beautiful, so profound, so sacred, as when Death has laid his touch on “a little one,” and gathered it as a starry flower for the fields of light on high. It makes the life of the home more anxious, more burdened by care and pain, but more blessed. The nearness at any moment of resistless Death makes us find a dearer meaning in the word, “the whole family in heaven and on earth”-a thought which saturates the whole New Testament, and is not dependent on one text for its revelation. We know then how precious is its meaning, and earth gains by its loss as well as heaven. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

The death of the young lends a tender, home life interest to the life of the unseen world

The home, remember, is where the children are. There are those of us who never found the deeper meaning of the Father’s love and the everlasting home till a dear child had gone on before. The death of the little ones, while it ought to make the earthly life heaven-like on the one hand, is meant to make heaven home-like on the other. The Lord dethroned and discrowned Death by bearing the human form, living, through His realm of terror. The living Lord abolished death by living on through death, and flashing the splendours of heaven through the shades. The children, as they follow Christ through the gloom, make Death seem beautiful as an angel. Thenceforth we, too, have, not our citizenship only, but our home life in the two worlds. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

Jesus stronger than death

And just remember, that when Jesus allows death to knock at your door, and to come in, it is not because death is stronger than He. It is because He has a good reason for permitting it. He is so completely the Master of death that He makes it His messenger to do His bidding; and when death comes to our dwelling and takes away one we love, let us bear in mind that death is not Jesus’ enemy but His messenger. He is like an angel; he takes away our friend in his bosom. He has no power at all over us without Jesus. (Anon.)

The healing of Jairus’ daughter

I. The ease brought before Jesus. A bodily disease as usual. No spiritual cases, though more important.

II. The persons who brought it. A ruler, etc. He had heard Christ’s teaching. He had seen His miracles. No mention made, etc., till distress.

III. The character in which he came-a parent.

IV. The manner in which he came. Reverently. Earnestly. Believingly.

V. At the request of Jairus, Christ arose and accompanied him. Christ encouraged such applications-He does so still (Expository Discourses.)

I. Christ’s restorative power transcends the ordinary expectations of mankind.

II. Christ’s restorative power is exerted on certain conditions.

1. Earnest entreaty.

2. A reverential spirit.

III. Christ’s restorative power accomplishes its object with the greatest ease.

IV. Christ’s restorative power confounds the scoffing sceptic with its result. Scoffing infidelity is destined to be confounded. There were scoffers in the days of Noah and they were confounded when the deluge came. There were scoffers in the days of Lot, and they were confounded when the showers of fire fell. There are scoffers now, and when they shall see Him “coming in His glory with all His holy angels,” these atheists, deists, and materialists, will be utterly confounded. (David Thomas, D. D.)

Death a sleep

Homer fittingly calls sleep “the brother of death”; they are so much alike. On the lips of Jesus, however, the word sleep acquires a richer and mightier import than it ever possessed before. Amply has His use of the term been justified in the last hour of tens of thousands of his devout followers. They laid themselves down to die, not as those who dread the night because of the remembrance of hours when, like Job, they were “scared with dreams” and “terrified through visions,” but like tired labourers, to whom night is indeed a season of peaceful refreshment. And how imperceptibly they sank into their last slumber! Their transition was so mild and gradual, that it was impossible for those who stood round their dying pillow to say exactly when it took place. There was no struggle, no convulsion. The angel of death spread his wide, white wings meekly over them, and then, with a smile upon their pallid countenance, serene and lovely as heaven itself, they closed their eyes on all terrestrial objects, and fell asleep in Jesus. And that sleep is as profound throughout as it was tranquil at the beginning. The happy fireside and the busy exchange-the halls of science and the houses of legislation-the oft-frequented walk and the holy temple-are nothing to them now. Suns rise and set, stars travel and glisten; but they see them not; tempests howl, thunders roll and crash; but they hear them not. Nothing can disturb those slumbers, “till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.” Then will the voice of the archangel sweep over God’s acre, and awake them all. Oh, wondrous awaking! what momentous consequences hang on thee! (Edwin Davies.)

Death a sleep

I. Sleep is rest, or gives rest to the body: so death.

1. Rest from labour and travail.

2. Rest from trouble and opposition.

3. Rest from passion and grief.

4. Rest from sin, temptation, Satan, and the law.

II. Sleep is not perpetual; we sleep and wake again; so, though the body lie in the grave, yet death is but a sleep; we shall wake again.

III. The sleep of some men differs very much from that of others: So the death of saints differs from that of the wicked.

1. Some men sleep before their work is done; so some die before their salvation is secured.

2. Some fall asleep in business and great distraction, others in peace.

3. Some dread the thought of dying, because of the dangers that lie beyond. But saints have no fear.

4. Some fall asleep in dangerous places, and in the midst of their enemies-on the brink of hell, surrounded by the spirits of perdition. But saints die in the view of Jesus; in the love and covenant of Jesus.

IV. A man that sleeps is generally easily awakened: So the body in death shall be much more easily awakened at the last day than the soul can now be aroused from its sleep of sin. (B. Keach.)

Why death of the godly is called sleep

The reason why the death of the godly is called a sleep in Scripture is this: because there is a fit resemblance between it and natural sleep; which resemblance consists chiefly in these things.

1. In bodily sleep men rest from the labours of mind and body. So the faithful, dying in the Lord, are said to rest from their labours (Revelation 14:13).

2. After natural sleep men are accustomed to awake again; so, after death, the bodies of the saints shall be awaked, i.e., raised up again to life out of their graves at the last flay. And as it is easy to awake one out of a natural sleep, so is it much more easy with God, by His almighty power, to raise the dead at the last day.

3. As after natural sleep the body and outward senses are more fresh and lively than before; so likewise after that the bodies of the saints, being dead, have for a time slept in their graves as in beds, they shall awake and rise again at the last day in a far more excellent state than they died in, being changed from corruption to incorruption, from dishonour to glory, from weakness to power, from natural to spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42).

4. As in natural sleep the body only is said properly to sleep, not the soul (the powers whereof work even in sleep in some sort, though not so perfectly as when we are waking): so in death, only the bodies of the saints do die and lie down in the graves, but their souls return to God who gave them (Ecclesiastes 12:7), and they live with God even in death and alter death.

5. As sleep is sweet to those who are wearied with labour and travail (Ecclesiastes 5:12), so also death is sweet and comfortable to the faithful, being wearied and turmoiled with sin, and with the manifold miseries of this life. (G. Petter.)

Death of children

God cultivates many flowers, seemingly only for their exquisite beauty and fragrance. For when, bathed in soft sunshine, they have burst into blossom, then the Divine hand gathers them from the earthly fields to be kept in crystal vases in the deathless mansions above. Thus little children die-some in the sweet bud, some in the fallen blossom; but never too early to make heaven fairer and sweeter with their immortal bloom. (Wadsworth.)

Goeth in where the child was: Christ in the chamber of death

I. A good child is at home in either world, not sorry to go to the other world to get joy, and not sorry to come back to this world to give it.

II. We know not where the other world is, but it is evidently within range of the Saviour’s voice. Our dear dead are therefore safe and all their conditions ordered by the Saviour’s mercy.

III. Life is indestructible by death.

IV. On a universal scale Christ will be found to be the Resurrection and the Life to all who love Him.

V. He inflicts bereavement, but sympathises with its sorrow. He relieves these mourners here, to show that He pities all mourners. (R. Glover.)

Talitha cumi

He uses what were, perhaps, the words used every morning by her mother on waking her-“Little one, get up.” (R. Glover.)

The raising of Jairus’ daughter

I. The application which Jesus received.

1. By whom it was made.

2. The favour he implied.

3. The feeling which this ruler displayed.

II. The ready compliance of our Lord with the request made to Him. But as He went we are called upon-

1. To witness a strange interruption.

2. To listen to what seemed very discouraging information-“Thy daughter is dead.”

III. The wonderful result with which this visit was attended.

1. What our Lord saw.

2. What He said.

3. What He did. (Expository Outlines.)


Verse 24

Mark 5:24; Mark 5:34

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years.

The power of feeble faith

I. Very imperfect faith may be genuine faith. It was intensely ignorant trust. Again, her trust was very selfish. It was also weakened and interrupted by much distrust.

II. Christ answers the imperfect faith. Christ stoops to her childish thought and allows her to prescribe the path by which His gift shall reach her. Christ’s mercy, like water in a vase, takes the shape of the vessel that holds it. On the other hand, His grace “is given to every one of us according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” with no limitation but His own unlimited fulness. Therefore-

1. Let us labour that our faith may be enlightened, importunate, and firm.

2. There can be no faith so feeble that Christ does not respond to it.

III. Christ corrects and confirms an imperfect faith by the very act of answering it. Her ignorance, selfishness, and fear, were all removed. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The faculty baffled-the great Physician successful

I. Let me expose the physicians who delude so many by their vain pretensions. Their names are, Dr. Sadducee, Dr. Legality, Dr. Ceremonial, Dr. Ascetic, Dr. Orthodoxy, and Dr. Preparation.

II. What is the reason of their failure? Because they do not understand the disease. They often prescribe remedies which are impossible to their patients. Many of their medicines do not touch the disease at all.

III. The plight of the patient who has tried these deceivers. She lost all her time. She was no better. She rather grew worse. She spent all that she had.

IV. How a cure can be wrought. I must press to get near Him. I must touch. The least of Christ will save. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The disease of humanity incurable except by Christ

The disease of fallen humanity is wholly incurable except by the hand of Omnipotence. It is as easy for us to create a world as to create a new heart; and a man might as well hope to abolish cold and snow as hope to eradicate sin from his nature by his own power: he might as well say to this round earth, “I have emancipated thee from the curse of labour,” as say to himself, “I will set myself free from the thraldom of sin.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Determination in the face of tremendous discouragements

When sinners sweep away every other delusion, and view Jesus as the only Saviour they will persevere till they find. When Cortez went to conquer Mexico, he found that the soldiers were few and dispirited. The Mexicans were many, and the enterprize hazardous. The soldiers would have gone back to Spain, but Cortez took two or three chosen heroes with him, and went down to the seaside and broke up all the ships; and “now,” he said, “we must conquer or die. We cannot go back.” When it is death or life, heaven or hell, pardon or condemnation, the sinner will be as determined and courageous as these poor Spaniards or as this poor woman. (Anonymous.)

The touch

I. The patient. Note: what courage and spirit she displayed; Her resolute determination; Her marvellous hopefulness.

II. The difficulties of this woman’s faith. The disease: long-standing: incurable. Her frequent disappointments. Her own unworthiness. Her present poverty. Her extreme sickness.

III. The vanishing point of all her difficulties. All her thoughts have gone toward the Lord Jesus. She has forgotten herself; forgotten the rampant fury of her disease; forgotten her being behind and out of sight: and even her own touch of Him she has put into a secondary place. All that she looks for must come out of Him. If seeking sinners would but think more of Christ, all would be well.

IV. Her grand success. She was healed immediately. She knew that she was healed. She has next the assurance from Christ that she was healed. The wine that cometh out of these grapes is this: the slightest connection with Jesus will bless us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Apply this thought-

I. To spiritual existences. If I touch but a grain of sand or a bud, I find the Mighty One.

II. To the scheme of spiritual providence. Review your own life from infancy.

III. To the processes of spiritual education. It is a great thing to see God in heavens rich with systems of suns; it is a grander faith, surely, to see Him in a speck of dust.

IV. To the uses of spiritual ordinances. The hymn, the prayer, the lesson, the mere form itself may do men good. Application: The hand must touch Christ, not an apostle, or a minister, or an angel-but God the Son. You may have touched many without benefit; touch Him and you will live. (J. Parker, D. D.)

“Who hath touched me?”-“Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.”

It requires the second sentence to complete the meaning of the first. In the days of the semaphore signals a message came across to England concerning the Duke of Wellington, and half the message was read as it appeared upon the semaphore, and astonished all England with the sad intelligence. It ran thus, “Wellington defeated.” Everybody was distressed as they read it, but it so happened that they had not seen all the message. Fog had intervened, and when, by and by, the air was clearer and the telegraph flashed out a second time, it was read thus-“Wellington defeated-the French. Thus the first sentence may have caused dismay in the poor woman’s heart, but if the first appeared to kill, the second would make alive. (Anonymous.)

A diseased woman healed

The chief design of our Lord’s miracles was to confirm His pretensions. But they were more than this. Benevolent, for the greater part in their character, they served to unfold the mercifulness of His nature. They also shadowed forth His mode of serving us. Viewed in this light there is wonderful variety in them.

I. The sad condition of this woman when she came to Christ for relief. Her malady was an inveterate one. We are all sick in our souls. There is a disease in us which has seized on the noblest part of us. It is weakening, polluting, and destroying our immortal spirits.

II. The state of this woman’s mind in this sad condition. Had it been a despairing state, we could hardly have blamed her. One of the worst features in a penitent sinner’s case, is frequently a tendency to despair. No sin so great as despair. Your case may be sad, yet not hopeless. There is a Physician you bare not yet tried, or have never tried aright.

III. Her application to Him. There is deep humility evident here, and great self abasement. Sin is a loathsome and shameful thing. The soul would hide itself from every eye. There is great faith: “I shall be whole”-not relieved. What exalted views she must have had of Jesus. He is no common Saviour. But her faith was not perfect. It settled only on one part of the Lord’s character. She believed His power, but distrusted His goodness. This mixture of faith and unbelief is very common in every newly converted soul. If real faith be in us, its inferiority is overlooked.

IV. The cure this sufferer received.

1. It was immediate. This is always our Lord’s mode of acting with one class of persons who come to Him-those who come for pardon-receive it at once. Those who come to have the power of sin subdued in them, are often kept waiting for the mercy they desire. Like the child of Jairus, the disease grows worse while seeking the remedy. But the help sought is found at last.

2. The cure of this woman was one of which she and our Lord were both conscious. You think perhaps, brethren, that it is a small thing with Christ whether you come to Him or not; you conceive that He on His lofty throne has not a look or thought for you; but if you are turning to Him with a broken heart for salvation, there is not an object in the universe He thinks of more than you, there is not a moment in which His eye is off you. Great as is His joy now, it will be greater still when you touch Him and are made whole. He will say to His angels, as He said to His disciples here, “Virtue is again gone out of Me. There is another sinner healed.” And the woman, too, was aware of the cure which had been wrought in her; “She felt in her body that she was healed.” Her recovery, however, did not produce in her at first the joyous feelings we might have anticipated. There was a mixture of feeling in her. She feared and trembled after she was healed, as many a pardoned sinner trembles when he has reason to rejoice; but healed she was, and she knew it. And it is not easy to conceive how anyone can be cured of the dreadful disease of sin, and yet remain long ignorant or doubtful about his cure. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

The consciousness of cure

We cannot see His hand as it passes over the book of God, and blots out the dark record of our crimes which is written there; but pardon is not all. Sin is more than a crime against God which needs to be forgiven, it is a disease within a man’s heart to be subdued and healed. And if we go on always doubting whether this disease within us is in a way of being healed, the probability is that our souls are sick as ever. It is not easy when a man is ill and recovering, to tell the exact moment in which his disease gives way and his recovery begins; but it is soon seen by those around him that his recovery is begun, and it is soon felt by himself. Just so with the salvation of the soul. A man may doubt for a time at his first return to God, and these doubts may recur again and again at intervals in his future years; nay, they will assuredly recur whenever he allows himself to wander from his God; but the habitual frame of the established Christian’s mind is not one of doubt and uncertainty. Christ has not done so little for him, that he cannot see it. The Holy Spirit has not touched his heart so slightly, that he never feels His hand. The gospel is not so poor a medicine, that he is always doubting whether it has done him any good. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

A woman which had an issue of blood

This case is crowded with lessons.

I. Note: how many unknown sufferers are about us.

II. Christ had sent this woman’s illness and was as loving in laying it on her as in lifting it away.

III. She is another instance of the “sweet uses of adversity.” The afflicted class producing then and now more believers in Christ than any other.

IV. There are many hems of the garment through which we can touch the Divine omnipotence and mercy.

1. Christ’s humanity is the great hem of the garment, through which we can touch His Godhead.

2. A word of Scripture is often a hem of His garment, through which we draw in salvation to our soul.

3. A sacrament is a hem of Christ’s garment. All these are valueless unless our touch seeks the Divine Christ within them; but they are saving links to Christ when enlightened faith seeks Him.

V. There is all the difference in the world between pressing and crowding on Christ and touching him. Many crowd Christ, reading much, attending services, singing hymns, and making impassioned prayers, perhaps fruitlessly; while a publican in the temple, or a dying thief-with one word, fall of aim and meaning-finds his soul saved. Be not fussy in religion, but calm your spirit, and speak not until in briefest compass you can name, and lodge, and leave your request with God.

VI. Let mercies received be duly confessed. (R. Glover.)

Twelve years! Long continuance of discipline

It pleases God to lay long and tedious afflictions on some of His servants in this life.

1. To manifest His great power, strengthening them to bear such long afflictions.

2. To magnify His mercy in delivering them at length out of them.

3. That He may make thorough proof and trial of their faith, patience, and other graces of His Spirit in them.

4. To wean them from this world, and to stir up in them a longing for heaven.

5. To make them more earnest in prayer to Him for deliverance. It is therefore no evidence of God’s wrath, nor any sufficient reason to prove such an one to be out of His favour, whom He so holds for a long time under the cross. Be well content, then, to bear afflictions, though of long continuance; submitting in this matter to the will of God, who knows it to be good and profitable for some to be kept long under discipline. (G. Petter.)

A variety of sufferers, their best meeting place

It is strange, the variety of sufferers that meet each other at the feet of Jesus! (R. Glover.)

Coming to Christ

Come to Christ Jesus to be cured in soul and conscience of your sins. Come to Him, and touch Him by true faith, as this diseased woman did, and thou shalt feel Divine virtue to come from Him to heal thee of thy sins, both of the guilt and of the corruption of them. Thou shalt feel His Divine power healing thee of the guilt of thy sins, by the merit of His obedience and sufferings applied to thy conscience by faith; and the same Divine power healing thee of the corruption of sin, that is, mortifying thy sinful lusts, that they may not reign in thee as they have done, and as they do in the wicked and unbelievers. Oh, therefore, thou that feelest thy soul diseased with sin, make haste unto Christ to be cured by this Divine healing virtue that is in Him: pray Him to manifest it in thee; and withal, labour by some measure of faith to apply it to thyself, as this woman did: then shalt thou most certainly be healed in soul, as she was in body. And let not the grievousness of thy disease hinder thee from coming to Christ to be cured, but rather cause thee to make the more speed to Him by faith: for be assured, there is virtue enough in Him to heal all thy sins, though many and grievous, if thou do but see and feel them, and complain of them, and lay them open to Him, and seek earnestly to Him by the prayer of faith to be cured of them. Do this therefore, and do it speedily, without delay. As in a dangerous sickness of body, thou would’st not dare to put off sending to the physician, lest it cost thee thy life: so much less must thou dare to delay the time in seeking to Christ to be healed of thy sins, lest it cost thee the loss of eternal life, and the salvation of thy soul. Be careful, therefore, forthwith to seek to Christ to be healed of thy sins. The rather, because there is no other means or physic in the world to cure thee, besides the Divine healing virtue that is in Christ Jesus: no power or virtue that is in any herb, precious stone, or mineral, can cure thee of thy sins: not all the balm in Gilead; not any power or skill of man or angel can cure thy diseased conscience of one sin: only this Divine virtue that is in Christ can do it: and therefore seek to Him alone to be cured, and not to other vain helps and remedies. When thou feelest thy sins lie upon thy conscience, seek not (as many do) to be cured by merry company, or by following vain sports or recreations, nor by going to the bodily physician to purge melancholy (as if this alone would cure thee): all these are in this case physicians of no value; therefore trust not to them, but go directly to Jesus Christ, to be healed by that Divine virtue which is in him. (G. Petter.)

Majestic faith

Some criticise her faith unfavourably, as if she had a superstitious belief in Christ’s clothes. Superstition does not act as she did. Her faith was that Christ’s anointing, like Aaron’s, goes to the skirts of His garments. One less believing would have sunk, murmuring in despair, quoting dismal proverbs about misfortunes never coming single, and feeling that in her disease, poverty, shame, loneliness, she was specially ill-used by God. Or, if not despairing altogether, feeble faith would have faced Christ, and displayed at large all her claims for help, dwelling on the length of her sorrow, and on the fortune vainly spent in endeavouring to regain her health. But calm, trustful, feeling Christ so willing and so strong to help that there is no reluctance in His heart, she ventures all on a touch of faith. There is a heroism here worthy of Abraham. Full of this faith, she elbows her way through the crowd, and finding the blue hem of Christ’s garment within her reach, quietly-so that none observe her-she touches it; and at once a swift, gentle tide of health flushes through all her frame, and she feels she has got what she desired. (R. Glover.)

Encouragement to faith

If you have faith, though but in its infancy, be not discouraged, for-

1. A little faith is faith, as a spark of fire is fire.

2. A weak faith may lay hold on a strong Christ; a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong. She, in the gospel, who but touched Christ, fetched virtue from Him.

3. The promises are not made to strong faith, but to true. The promise does not say, He who hath a giant faith, who can believe God’s love through a frown, who can rejoice in affliction, who can work wonders, remove mountains, stop the mouth of lions, shall be saved; but, whosoever believes, be his faith never so small. A reed is but weak, especially when it is bruised; yet the promise is made to it, “A bruised reed will He not break.”

4. A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things multiply most. The vine is a weak plant, but it is fruitful. The thief on the cross, who was newly converted, was but weak in grace; but how many precious clusters grow upon that tender plant!

5. The weakest believer is a member of Christ as well as the strongest; and the weakest member of the body mystical shall not perish. Christ will cut off rotten members, but not weak members. Therefore, Christian, be not discouraged: God, who would have us receive them that are weak in the faith (Romans 14:1), will not Himself refuse them. (Watson.)

Coming to Christ

We are like this woman, inasmuch as-

I. We, too, have a need of Christ. He alone can

II. We should have a sense of this need. As long as we suppose that a slight change, a little penitence and contrition, will suffice; so long, not heartily applying to Christ for the blessings we want, we shall go empty away.

III. We have nothing to offer for the blessing we desire. Christ’s people receive all, and return nothing; for, all they can offer is already His.

IV. We come to a willing Benefactor. He is more ready to give than we to receive. It is as natural to Christ to give blessings to all who ask, as it is for the sun to diffuse its beams on all the objects beneath; if we receive not, it is because we have intercepted the rays flowing from the Sun of Righteousness.

V. In the exercise of faith we are sure of a blessing. All spiritual blessings may be ours, if only we will believe in Christ’s goodness and grace, and come to Him.

VI. The blessing may be delayed; but no prayer and no exercise of faith is ever lost. (B. W. Noel, M. A.)

Told Him all the truth: Be open with Jesus

This woman has a word for two classes. She urges the penitent to a full confession, and the true convert to an open profession.

I. To the penitent, urging a full avowal of their state and condition. Tell Jesus all the truth

II. Reasons for this.

1. The Lord knows it all already. It would be folly to deny or attempt to hide what He has seen.

2. To tell Him will be a very great service to you. It will tend to make you feel your need more. While you are in the act of opening your heart to God, He will pour in the oil and wine of His Divine grace.

III. To those who are converted, but who have not yet acknowledged their faith in the presence of others.

1. This is for God’s glory. The Christian is not to be always wishing to expose what is in him; that were to make himself a Pharisee; but if God has put in you anything lovely, beautiful, and of good report, who are you that you should, by covering it, rob Him of His praise?

2. For the good of others. In the case before us, the woman’s confession was doubtless intended to strengthen the faith of Jairus, who was sorely tried by this delay. You do not know of how much service your open confession of Christ might be to some trembling soul.

3. For the person’s own sake. I have no doubt this was the main reason. Suppose Christ had let her go home quietly, without any word from Him-when she reached home she would have said, “Ah, I stole that cure; I am so glad I have it.” But one day there would come a dark thought, “What if it should die away after a time; then I shall be as bad as ever; for I never asked him.” Conscience would say to her, “Ah, it was a theft;” and though she might excuse herself, still she would not be easy. Now Christ calls her up, and conscience cannot disturb her, for He gave her the cure before them all. She need not be afraid of the return of her disease, for Jesus has said, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Salvation

There are three great truths which are illustrated in this narrative.

I. Salvation needed. That woman needed healing; we need saving. The gospel is the remedy, and the fact of the gospel being provided is a sufficient proof of the necessity of it. A remedy suggests the evil which is to be remedied. Justification by faith is a remedy to meet a special case of necessity. The most obvious and legitimate method of being justified is to be just; let me be just, and I am justified in the eye of the law. So the angels are justified. But we have sinned. How, then, are we to be justified? The gospel tells us we are to he justified by faith; we are to believe in Jesus Christ, and on the ground of His great sacrifice on our behalf we shall be accepted as just, though we ourselves have sinned. If you see a lifeboat on the seashore, it suggests storms and deaths; so the gospel suggests the ruin which it is meant to remedy. Look abroad on the world, and you will see evidences enough of the necessity. Consult your own consciences and history, and everyone will know in himself that there was need for such a remedy-that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Christ has come into the world as “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” A universal remedy indicates a universal necessity.

II. Salvation provided. Jesus obeyed the law we had broken; He suffered the punishment we had merited; He obeyed and suffered on our behalf. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.”

III. Salvation obtained-obtained by faith. We accept Christ as our representative. (N. Hall, LL. B.)

The resource of faith

Here, then, is an exhaustless reservoir of power, the power of Omnipotence, and the means by which it may all be made available to feed our lives. The mill owner stores up in a reservoir on the heights the water that shall run his mill. Then he needs only a channel or sluice way that shall bring the water to his wheels. If it was an exhaustless reservoir, like the Atlantic Ocean for extent, he would have no fear that his mill would run dry. These miracles and this text teach the Christian that Omnipotence and Omniscience alone bound the reservoir of his spiritual graces, and that he has under his own control the width and depth of the channel called faith which brings them into his life. When Franklin grasped the principle of electricity, he could not only draw the lightning from a single cloud: all the electricity in the earth and in all the clouds was at his command, and he could send it upon his errands. When James Watt mastered the principle of the expansive power of steam, not only the little cloud of vapour that issued from his mother’s tea kettle was under his control, but all the steam that could be generated by the stored up combustibles of the world was really his. When the Christian can grasp this truth of the power of faith, the infinite spiritual resources of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are his. “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” There is the reservoir. “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” There is the channel that conveys the power into our lives and makes it available. (Sermons by Monday Club.)

The persistence of faith

Again, Jairus and the woman and the blind men teach us not only what faith is, but what it inevitably involves. It always involves a persistent effort. Even though death has stiffened his little daughter’s limbs, and silenced her tongue, and has rolled the deep, dark stream which no soul was ever known to recross between her and him, Jairus will still persist. He will not give over his efforts. “Come and lay Thy hand upon her and she shall live,” is his entreaty still. Though the invalid for twelve years has tried physician after physician and has received no help, she will try again. It could not have been easy for her to press through that curious throng of stronger ones, but she does it until she even grasps His garment’s hem, and then He turns and speaks the healing word. Our Lord at first seemed to take no notice of the blind men, but when they persistently followed Him, when He saw that the rebuke of pitiless bystanders had no effect but to increase their effort to reach Him, when they followed Him into the house, then He touched their eyes. Persistent effort is not true faith, but it always accompanies true faith. Thunder never split the heart of the oak tree, but it always accompanies the lightning’s flash, and tells to all about of the lightning’s presence. The farmer does not show his faith by lying in his bed and waiting for God to plough and harrow his field and sow his seed. He ploughs, and harrows, and sows, and shows his faith in then waiting for God to give the increase. God’s winds are always blowing; the man of faith spreads his sail before God can fill it. (Sermons by Monday Club.)

Gospel pictures

As a picture from a magic lantern is dashed upon the screen, is looked at for a moment, then vanishes, and is gone, so different persons come upon the stage in the narratives of the Evangelists, enact perfect dramas, exquisite in texture and construction, and momentous in moral bearing, and then pass away. There is no lineage, no record, no name; and yet all is so vivid and powerful. (H. W. Beecher.)

Sickness spoils life

She was sick; and what is all the world worth when one is sick? What is all that is presented to the eye, what is the income of the year, what are all the treasures of life worth under such circumstances? What is everything that can be desired worth when one is thoroughly sick? Sickness takes the flavour out of everything. It changes the whole current and course of desire and feeling. She had long been sick. She had worn out years in sickness, and those years had well nigh worn her out. “All that a man hath will he give for his life.” (H. W. Beecher.)

An ungrateful reception of healing

Well, ought she not, in that very instant, to have cried out? Ought she to have taken such bounty, and to have borne no witness to it? It is true that she did not say anything; but her silence was not altogether from ingratitude. It may have been a relative want of appreciation of the greatness of the favour. She may have said to herself, “How do I know that it is anything more than my imagination? I will say nothing about it until I am sure;”-just as a great many persons, when they begin to feel the saving power of the Divine Spirit in their souls say, “I will not speak of this; I will wait; I will see what it is.” She may have said, “How Can I speak of this? My lips refuse to open; I cannot speak.” It may have been sensibility, delicacy of feeling, shrinkingness, that kept her from speaking. How many there are who believe that they have been pardoned, and that the blood of Christ which takes away the stain of sin has healed them, but who consult their sensibility and their shrinking tastes, and say, “How can I speak of this?” And it does not look as though it were wicked. Yet, if there be anything that a person ought to acknowledge, it is obligations which touch the great core of things. He who has been healed by a faithful physician should be the friend of that physician as long as he lives. It may be that he acted professionally; it may be that he took his fee; but money never pays a physician who performs his duty faithfully. If your child has come back from death, never forget the faithful old nurse that made her bosom a cradle in which the child rocked, and gave her days and nights to the care of it. For such service as hers nothing material can be an adequate compensation. We are ungrateful in a thousand ways which we hardly suspect. We do not pay what we owe to men who enfranchise our understanding. Authors who give us a higher and nobler conception of life; poets who give wings to our fancy, so to speak, enabling us to fly higher than ordinary men, who stumble and fall down in the midst of the vulgarities of society; those who make virtue beauteous, and draw us to it,-who can repay the services of such as these? Men scarcely know what they owe to those who fortify them in virtue; to those who make it plain to them that integrity is safe under all circumstances; to those who have walked before them in the beauty of holiness; to those who have redeemed them from the conception that religion is a bondage, and led them to see that it was an efflorescent garden full of sweet delights. There is among men a great lack of the sense of their obligation toward those who have served them. (H. W. Beecher.)

Unpurposed healing

Ah! it is a good thing for men to be filled with grace to such a degree as that their unconscious moods and unpurposed influence shall be healing, as well as the things which they intend. So it was with our Master. Purposely He cast out demons. He set persons free from insanities. He quenched the fire of fevers. Dropsies were dried up by Him. Men were brought to health on every side through His instrumentality. With a word, with a gesture, with a look, with a touch, He did great works of beneficence. But so full was He of Divine savour, of spiritual power, that His very garments, as it were, were imbued with it; and when the woman stole up and touched the hem of His garment, straightway she experienced a joyful release. Oh, soul-filling surprise! She that for twelve years had not known one hour’s exemption from disease, felt the sovereign balm of perfect health flow through her veins; and she stood restored! She was well! (H. W. Beecher.)

Touches that do not touch; or contact without sympathy

There seems to be requisite, then, a relation between souls before the real and rich fruits of life can come to them in the highest forms of Christian experience. Let us look along the lines of analogy a little. Souls touch each other in various ways. Life touches life variously. People live together in bodily contact. They live in agreement only as to bodily conditions. They are related to each other simply by the necessity of food, raiment, warmth, protection. Ten thousand wedded souls are to each other simply as a blade is to knife. There is no real vitality between the two. Only in regard to provision for worldly wants and in bodily conditions are they in contact. But, then, these are the lowest, rudest forms of contact; yet there are people that are more in sympathy. There are multitudes that come into sympathy with each other only through their children. The cradle is a reconciler, often, between husband and wife. It opens up, in the rude, hard man, streams like those which Moses brought forth from the rock. For the child’s sake, the mother becomes dear to him. There is mediation; and yet how little of life is there in common between two such souls! Again, people dwell together in single lines of mutuality. Many persons live together in all intellectual qualities, but in no other respects. Many dwell together being in accord in their tastes; but in no other regards. Many live together in literature, in history, in the ordinary and easier forms of knowledge that are of the earth earthy; but they never rise into eminence, aspiration, glorification, of each other, and never see anything in each other except that which the bird sees, or which the animal sees. They do not touch each other; and yet they are in perpetual contact. Higher phenomena of life there are, however; and there is developed heroism at times. There is a coming together of soul with soul, not through the ministration of the body, nor of taste, nor of thought, nor of mutual service, alone, but by that rare inflammation of the whole soul which has no definition, and which no man can describe. It is not needed by those who have it; it is not possible to those who have it not. Every faculty in one, then, has sympathy with every faculty in the other. Either they fit each other by exact agreement, or the positive element of one is just adapted for the absence of it in the other. Thus souls come together in an indefinable way. They are conscious that their liven mingle and blend. This is the rarest and highest form of contact; and yet is the revelation of that law by which men can rise from bodily conditions into social, and from those conditions into intellectual; but the consummation lies in that invisible, indescribable element which inheres in every man and woman-inheres sometimes only as a seed ungrown, and at other times develops and is full of fragrance, and then is full of fruit. (H. W. Beecher.)

The survival of the fittest and a higher law

Jesus did not say to this woman, “Go away; you are too weak and broken to hold your own in the world; best for you to be down and wait for the end, while others take your place she can do your work.” That would have been a sorrowful word, not to her only, but to us also; for it would have set a limit, not to Christ’s power merely, but to His very compassion, and therein also to ours. That, however, is not the law which human hearts acknowledge. Our power may easily have limits, but our pity must have none; and as we can help not a little even when we cannot heal, it is bound upon our conscience never to be inhuman. The bruised reed He would not break. But this, while it is the supreme law of man’s nature, is by no means the law of nature elsewhere. Nature throws away her broken vessels with no compunction or pity whatever. Everywhere the weak and sickly among the lower animals are ruthlessly killed off, and only those remain which are able to do for themselves. The fit survive-the feeble perish. It is hardly necessary to lead any proof of this. The stricken deer turns aside to die, while the fat herd sweeps on indifferent to its fate. The park of lean wolves know of no surgery for a fainting comrade, except to fall on him and rend him in pieces. The frail bird that cannot fly with the rest of the brood is tumbled from the nest and left to its fate. Nature has, indeed, a great healing power for the strong and healthy in case of accident, so that wounds and broken bones soon come together again. But among wild animals sickness, disease, feebleness, and age meet with no compassion. In their warfare it is still Vae victis, for they cannot cumber themselves with the wounded. The halt and the blind get no chance at all. The weak and sickly are left to their fate, and the sooner it comes the better, for their kindred turn from them, and their friends will not know them. Unfit for the struggle of existence which is their supreme business, they perish without ruth or remorse. Thus everywhere on sea and land, and in the lightsome air, among all creatures that swim, or fly, or creep, or run, we find this law working, and doubtless working for the general good of the whole, yielding a benevolent harvest of health and comfort to the unthinking creatures of God. But now, when we pass from them into the province of man, we meet at once with a law which breaks in upon this, and controls it. The struggle for existence goes on there too, but it is no longer supreme and all in all. Everywhere it is modified by ideas that are confessedly of greater moment and higher authority. Sometimes it is set aside altogether, for we are not always bound to exist if we can, but we are always bound to do right. Thus the moral rises above the natural, and even flatly contradicts it. The struggle for existence is subordinated to the struggle for a higher perfection. Instead of the survival of the fittest, we have a law requiring the strung to help the weak, the healthy to improve their health for the sake of the diseased, and even those who are hopelessly stricken, and forever invalided from the battle of life, are cast on us as a peculiar care, to neglect which were to outrage the noblest instincts of humanity. The natural law, everywhere else in full swing, that the weak and sickly, the halt and blind, must be left to their fate, or even hurried out of the way, not only does not hold among us, but the very reverse of it holds. And the moral principle which thus asserts its supremacy vindicates its claim by many fruitful results. For often times the poor cripple whom natural law would have cast away, has grown up to bless the world with wise and noble counsel, and blind men, all unfit for the mere struggle of animal life, have yet done brave and good service in the higher warfare of humanity; and even the utterly broken, the helplessly disabled, who can “only stand and wait,” have yet, by their meek patience under affliction, shown us an example which made our hearts gentler, humbler, better, and was well worth all the care we bestowed on them. So it is, at any rate, that no sooner do we pass from the mere natural life of animals to the moral life of man, than we find another law breaking in upon the law of survival of the fittest-controlling, suspending, even utterly reversing it, with an authority which cannot be gainsaid, without forfeiting all that is most nobly and distinctively human. (Walter C. Smith, D. D.)

Christ’s kindness in discipline

It is not often that we are able to perceive the full purpose of any one of God’s dealings. Seldom can we see the perfect fruit of the chastisement He allots us. And no wonder: the life of man is so short; the purposes and operations of God are so vast.

I. In the conduct of our Lord notice-

1. Christ’s apparent harshness. He insisted on the woman’s coming forth to tell her shame. But see Christ’s real kindness. It was not in mere assertion of authority that He called her forth. It was to complete the blessing. He would give her His benediction before she went. Again, it was to purify and strengthen her faith. He would prepare her to confess Him elsewhere. Christ alone knew the trials to which this woman would be exposed at home.

2. So in like manner and with like purposes, will Christ deal with you, if you be of those who have come to Him with faith. The purpose of all Christ’s discipline-the discipline that we experience-is exemplified in His conduct to this woman. First, we noticed that He called her forth to receive further blessing. She came for healing only, but He would give her spiritual grace. Like her, many now come to the Saviour, barely praying for pardon, for deliverance from punishment. But Christ did not achieve redemption merely to keep men out of hell-He died to take them to heaven. Now, to prepare for heaven much grace is necessary, and men must be summoned to return to Christ again and again, that they may receive far more than the blessing for which they first came. Christ has yet richer favours to bestow; and if His people do not apply for them they must be placed in circumstances where they will feel their want and their need, and hungrily ask Him for more. Next, we saw that He called her forth to purify and strengthen her faith. There is no need for me to tell you that your faith is both imperfect and impure. Would you not desire your faith to grow stronger and larger? Then it must be used and tried, exercised and trained. Again, we noticed that Christ was probably preparing this woman to witness for Him in time to come. He requires from all men the public profession of His name. Salvation is not a sort of spiritual luxury to be enjoyed in private. And, further, men never know what lies before them as messengers of God; they are ignorant of the high and arduous service to which, may be, they have been appointed. But Christ knows it; and He prepares them and exercises them in bearing testimony for God in one difficulty and trial after another, until they are ready for the work they have to do. Thus does He grant to His applicants, not only the healing they pray for, but also the strength which they are content to lack. As in the experience of this woman, so in His treatment of us, will Christ combine apparent harshness with real kindness.

II. For the further investigation of this subject shall we turn from the Saviour to the saved, and try to trace the feelings of this woman as the black cloud of Christ’s seeming displeasure passed over her.

1. We find her full of sudden joy at feeling in her body that she was healed of that plague. Twelve years’ misery, labour, expense, and disappointment are all at an end. How universal the joy must have been. No fibre of her frame that did not thrill with gladness. And there was another cause of joy too; she bad escaped the exposure she so much dreaded. But her joy was all at once quenched in awe and fear when He asked, “Who touched Me?” and when He asked again, and when He looked round about with a gaze that showed He knew her that had done this thing. So feeling, for a moment, she comes forward and tells Him all the truth. But, instead, sounds came upon her ear tenderer and tenderer, and stronger in consolation: “Courage, daughter; thy faith hath saved thee,” etc. Ah! what feelings were hers, as she rose and departed. It would take her long to disentangle all their varied happiness. Did she not feel that the benediction of Christ amply made up for the loss of secrecy? She was really happier for the discipline through which He made her pass. Had she gone away as she hoped and planned, she would have carried with her none of this joy-the love of Christ. She would have received the cure, and that alone. And, on the other hand, she would have had doubts as to Christ’s willingness to heal her; doubts as to His forgiveness of her intrusion and underhand application; doubts, too, as to the permanence of the cure-all would have been in uncertainty. But now she knew that His will healed her, His kindness welcomed her, His grace blessed her. Moreover, had she gone away as she hoped, she would have retained her superstition with her faith. It would have cramped and enfeebled it, and she might never have believed in Jesus to the salvation of her soul. And the weakness that made her come to Christ in the crowd behind might have betrayed her into greater fear of man at home, and she might never have been able to confess His name. But now she knew Him, and believed in Him-not in the fringe of His garment; now she had confessed Him before the multitude, and would not fear to confess Him before her friends. Would she not be sure that it was loving wisdom that deprived her of the convenience which she had yearned for, and substituted blessings of which she had not dreamed? And, further, was she not glad that she had been made to undergo all this? If she could have had her choice, and it were all to do over again, think you she would have wished to go away secretly without seeing Christ’s beaming eye and hearing His “Courage, daughter, go in peace”? Surely not. She saw now that Christ’s kindness, though it seemed harsh at first, was wiser than her own selfish cowardice, and secured her greater happiness.

2. This narrative shows us also a person undergoing harsh discipline, and perceiving herself in a few moments the kindness which appointed it. Now this makes it specially interesting. It is so seldom we can see both sides of any dispensation-the peaceable, happy fruit as well as the present grievousness-that every instance in which we can do so ought to receive most careful meditation. It is not always granted to Christians to see this happy change so suddenly; and yet some time or other in the experience of every believer as swift a vision of God’s kindness in discipline is accorded. And from over us will the cloud sometimes pass as quickly as in this case. Many a discipline which we think harsh we shall find to be kind. Not only will it really be kind, but we shall know it to be so, and shall receive the joy of experiencing God’s goodness. Many an exposure or trial that we would have avoided at any cost will turn out to be the means of bringing blessings which we shall reckon cheaply bought. Conclusion: It is painful when speaking of privileges and securities, to think that they are limited to a few. But I must warn you that none but those who come to Christ for salvation may hope that He is training them for eternity. Those who do not touch Christ by faith, their sorrows are but sorrows, their disappointments bring no outweighing joy, their troubles are not trials, only calamities. Of how much are you depriving yourselves by unbelief! Now that Jesus is near, is even waiting for you, will you not trust in Him and come to Him to be healed? (J. Alden Davies.)

A cure by the way

Jesus was pressing through the throng to the house of Jairus to raise the ruler’s dead daughter; but He is so profuse in goodness that He works another miracle while upon the road. While yet this rod of Aaron bears the blossoms of an unaccomplished wonder, it yields the ripe almonds of a perfect work of mercy. It is enough for us, if we have some one purpose, straightway to go and accomplish it; it were imprudent to expend our energies by the way. Hastening to the rescue of a drowning friend, we cannot afford to exhaust our strength upon another in like danger. It is enough for a tree to yield one sort of fruit, and for a man to fulfil his own particular calling. But our Master knows no limit of power or boundary of mission. He is so prolific of grace, that like the sun which shines as it fulfils its course, His path is radiant with loving kindness. He is a fiery arrow of love, which not only reaches its ordained target, but perfumes the air through which it flies. Virtue is always going out of Jesus, as sweet odours exhale from the flowers; and it always will be emanating from Him, as light from the central orb. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Men speak of killing two birds with one stone, but my Lord heals many souls on one journey. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Tell all to Jesus

If your heart be very grieved, do, I pray you, remember that compassion is one of the most rapid ways of getting relief. While the banks hold good the lake swells; let them break, and the water is drained off. Let a vent be found for the swollen tarn up yonder on the mountains, and the mass of water which might otherwise inundate the valleys will flow in fertilizing streams. When you have a festering, gathering wound, the surgeon lets in the lancet and gives you ease. So confession brings peace. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Confessing Christ

Why should the wonders He hath wrought be hid in darkness and forgot? When I look abroad upon nature, it is true I do not see nature fussily trying to make itself tidy for a visitor, as some professors do, who, the moment they think they are going to be looked at, trim up their godliness to make it look smart. But on the other hand, Nature is never bashful. She never tries to hide her beauties from the gazer’s eye. You walk the valley; the sun is shining, and a few raindrops are falling; yonder is the rainbow; a thousand eyes gaze at it. Does it fold up all its lovely colours and retire? Oh, no! it shrinks not from the eye of man. In yonder garden all the flowers are opening their bejewelled cups, the birds are singing, and the insects humming amid the leaves. It is a place so beautiful that God Himself might walk therein at eventide, as He did in Eden. I look without alarming the bashful beauties of the garden. Do all these insects fold their wings and hide beneath the leaves? do the flowers hang down their heads? does the sun draw a veil over his modest face? does nature blush till the leaves of the trees are scarlet? Oh, no! Nature cares not for gazers, and when they come to look upon her, she doth not hasten to wrap a mantle over her fair form, or throw a curtain before her grandeur. So the Christian is not to be always wishing to expose what is in him; that were to make himself a Pharisee; yet, on the ether hand, if God has put anything that is lovely and beautiful and of good report in you, anything that may glorify the cross of Christ, and make the angels happy before the eternal throne, who are you that you should cover it? Who are you that you should rob God of His praise? What! Would you have all Nature’s beauties hid? Why, then, hide the beauties of grace? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Best to apply direct to the Master

A tenant farmer on a rich lord’s estate had been refused a renewal of his lease by the steward of the estate. Instead of giving up, the farmer went to the owner himself, laid the matter before him, and was successful in getting his renewal. Why? He had gone to the one who had the ultimate power to grant or refuse. So Jairus, so the woman with the bloody flux, when all human help failed, went to Him in Whom alone was the power to heal and make alive. All the bread in the world will not keep you from starving, if it is shut up in storehouses, and you have no key, There may be water enough in the well; but if you have no bucket to draw it with, it will do you no good. And all Christ’s treasures of healing for body and soul will be nothing to you, if you do not go to Him for your share of them. (Sunday School Times.)

The sanctity of touch

I. How great and mysterious the importance attaching to touch in the Old Testament.

1. Thus touch is pollution (Haggai 2:12-13).

2. Thus touch is consecration (Exodus 30:26; Exodus 30:29).

3. Thus touch is strength (Daniel 10:10; Daniel 10:16; Daniel 10:18).

4. Thus touch is wisdom (Jeremiah 1:9).

5. Thus touch is purity (Isaiah 6:7).

II. The great lesson of the New Testament is by touch, to show to us the absolute communicability of the Divine power and holiness; it is the story also of the vaccination of the world. The Old Testament is the story of the first man, and how one sin tainted the world. The New Testament is the story of the second Man, and how His holiness purified the tainted stream. Jesus went about touching. The holy awakening of Divine grace restores man.

III. There is no cure without contact. You cannot satisfy hunger without eating, although your table be covered with food. You cannot satisfy thirst without drinking, although fountains play before the eye. You cannot satisfy faith by reading about Christ, or by knowing Him-you must appropriate Him. Imputed righteousness is really transferred righteousness; the purity of the Saviour becomes ours. What does the whole teaching and miraculous life of our Lord convey to us but this doctrine-Transfusion. Faith is the finger by which man touches God. Meanwhile it is not faith that saves; it is faith in Jesus Christ. We are not saved by faith as an act of the mind, but by faith on the object of the mind. It is not the faith, but the Person. No cure without contact. Thus if man cannot come to God, God must come to man, or these two can never meet. This is the meaning of Christ’s incarnation. By faith we come into contact with God, and are saved; by sympathy, we come in contact with man and cure. (E. P. Hood.)

Touch is the key to all the senses

Touch is the principle of all the senses. Perhaps, also, I shall be right, if I say that it is the most subtle of all the senses. There is no sensation without touch; sight is touch; fragrance is touch; we give that name to what is the sense of resistance; but all things are known to us and are related to us by touch. Touch is the internal sensitive principle-it is the principle of communication, and of reception, and of translation. We are told that particles are constantly floating off to touch the sensitive body, to bid the door of sensation spring open; and I think you must have felt that while those avenues are touched by their proper affinities, there are other senses within which are not touched, and never awakened, but which might own and yield to the appropriate key. Touch is, to me, far from being that endorsement of materialism it has been described as being; it is the assurance of an inhabitant behind the gateway. Indeed, the more closely I look into any of the senses, the more spiritual they become. All knowledge is by contact; all sympathy is in contact; and sin and purity, and health and disease, grow in contact. How true it is that there is no cure, no healing, without contact-that is, without mutual touching. If we cannot get near to that which heals, how can it heal us? Suppose I know of the medicine which might cure me, but I am in England, and the medicine or the physician is in America, and it is the only medicine-how can I be cured? Hence, then, guard the avenues of touch. It has been well said that the skin isolates the man, and makes him world tight; but it is necessary that the world’s goods should come into his house-necessary, too, that the refuse and wear and tear should be carried forth, and that he should go out and in with the freedom of a man. The skin is our abode, not our prison; and the porous skin has its bivalve doors and windows, to admit supplies from without, and to allow the spirit to steer forth from within. Some things we must be careful to touch not. (E. P. Hood.)

Sin spreading by contact

It contains also the history of the transference of Divine holiness, but it is especially the history of the inoculation of sin; it is the history of the drop that taints and ruins the race-the fatal virus; it is not inconceivable. I remember, some time since, when in the University of Edinburgh, being told of a young man who slightly touched his two fingers with the dissecting knife, they were instantly cut off to save his life, so fatal was the touch of corruption. Such is the corrosive power of poisonous touch. We can appreciate the touch of fire, the touch of caustic, the touch of poison; but can we not appreciate the touch of sin? Can we not so far appreciate it as to know its power, its danger, and to see in it the dreadful virus tainting and damning our race? (E. P. Hood.)

Christianity a healing influence

Now it is, as I have before said, not difficult to perceive to what teaching all the doctrine concerning touch in the Old Testament and in the New, points: even to the great doctrine of a transferred or transfused purity. It is mournfully true that, for the most part, except as we are divinely breathed upon, we but add to each other’s impurity. Let the Book be removed from our midst-let all church ordinances expire from among us-let every opportunity of prayer be suspended or at an end-and all the offices of the religious life, as aided and inspired by the sacred Scriptures, and then what shall we see? Still man would exercise his powers as an artist-still would he utter himself in poetry and in song, in painting and in sculpture. Can you doubt for a moment, or wonder, what would be the nature of those performances? Anacreon, and Juvenal, and universal impurity over the marble and over the canvas. When you think of man’s genius, his native genius, you are not to think of it as you behold it here, but as it was in the day in which the apostle bore his witness in the prison at Rome, and on the hill of Greece; and you must see how the touch of holiness transformed all that impurity into the holy lights of virtue and truth. But Greece, and Rome-what power had they to impart purity to each other? Therefore is there needed another ray, another touch, another hallowing fire. (Ibid.)

“Twelve years!” The contrasts of life

In Capernaum there were two houses whose inmates are strangely linked together in the Gospel history. The one was the house of Jairus, which perhaps stood on the rising ground fast by the synagogue: the other was the house in which the nameless woman, with the issue of blood, dwelt, which probably was situated in the poorer part of the city. Let us mark the contrasts of life presented by these two houses in the “twelve years” twice mentioned by Mark.

I. Hope and fear-There was a day when a great event took place in the house of Jairus. A child was born. What congratulations of friends, etc. The same year-perhaps the same month and day-a memorable event took place in the house of a poor woman. “Issue of blood” (Mark 5:25). How it came is not told. Such contrasts are common. In one home they are lifted up with hope and joy; while in another there is the gloom and trouble.

II. Health and sickness. In the house of Jairus all goes well. The child grows. She is the joy of her parents, etc. But alas! how different have been the circumstances in the other house. Perhaps the woman thought at first that her ailment was slight and temporary. Certainly she was buoyed up with the hope that it would yield to the skill of physicians. But disappointed.

III. Comfort and penury. Jairus must have held a good position: he was wealthy. As to the woman, we cannot tell what her original condition was. At any rate, she soon felt the pressure of adversity.

IV. Society and loneliness. Jairus had wife and daughter, and many friends. If he needed sympathy, there would be always people ready to give it. Besides, he had his place and his duties, as a ruler of the synagogue, to furnish him with honourable employment and holy rest. But how different with the poor woman. She is represented as alone. No one is named as taking interest in her case.

V. But there came a time when the fortunes of these two people were strangely assimilated and when in their extremity they met and found relief at the feet of the same Saviour. Lessons:

1. Trouble comes to all.

2. Trouble should drive us to Christ.

3. Trouble should bind us more closely in sympathy and love with our brethren.

4. Trouble should endear to us the more the hope of heaven. (W. Forsyth, M. A.)

Methods of spiritual treatment

There are cases in which the physicians must still, to save life, resort to treatment which is painful. But it is now known, it is now conclusively settled among physicians, that the way to master disease is not to torture the patient into health or into his grave, but to provide that those miraculous processes of nature which include healing should as far as possible have fair play, to make art the handmaid of nature, instead of offering any violence to nature in the name of art. Now-a-days, therefore, your physician who is not an age behind his age does not give you drugs in doses which horribly aggravate your suffering-he prescribes fresh air, the delights of travel, gentle exercise, good diet, warmth, comfort, suggests that pleasant company has its own benign influence on body and mind, recommends innocent amusement, and, as regards the welfare of this mortal tabernacle, agrees with the ancient maxim that godliness with contentment is great gain. It is certain that more cures are effected by the modern system of medical treatment, while, as for the soothing of pain, no comparison is possible between them. The difference between the two systems is that by the one the attempt is made to check and to extirpate disease by violence, by the other to aid nature by gentle methods to overcome it. From doctors for the body is not the passage easy to doctors for the soul? Among them, too, the curing of disease by violence has been milch and long in vogue. In our day, it is true, we hear little and know less of the coarser and more outrageous means which were once universally approved for effecting spiritual cures. We don’t now believe that we can save souls by burning the bodies belonging to them. Looking thus to the general scope of the teaching of Christ, we have no difficulty in seeing what religion was meant by Him to be in relation to all moral and spiritual disability and disease. It was not to be a system of bleeding and blistering, of curing by counter irritation, of making six days of the week holy by making the seventh miserable, of making earth a place of torment in order to render heaven accessible, of overcoming one disease by the production of another. It was to be a kindred influence with the sunshine, and the air of shores and hills, and the kindly ties of home, and the sympathy which is born of comradeship in adversity and sorrow-it was to be an influence kindred with all these in restoring to health those that were ready to perish. Every way you choose to look at it, this is the character of the Christianity of Christ. (J. Service, D. D.)

Christ discriminates His healing virtue

Who would not think that a man might ladle up a dish of water out of the sea, without its being missed? Yet that water, though much, is finite; those drops may be numbered: that art which hath reckoned how many grains of sand would make up a world, could more easily compute how many drops of water would make up an ocean. Whereas, the mercies of God are absolutely infinite, and beyond all possibility of proportion; and yet this bashful soul cannot steal one drop of mercy from this endless, boundless, bottomless sea of Divine bounty, but it is felt and questioned. (Bp. Hall.)

Virtue had gone out of Him!

Christ an inexhaustible reservoir of grace:-As heat goeth out of the sun into the air, water, earth, earthly bodies, and yet remains in the sun; so here. A fountain is not drawn dry, but cleared; so skill is not lost by communicating it to others, but increased. (John Trapp.)

The looks of Jesus

“And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.” The record in this Gospel of the looks of Christ is very remarkable. Let us gather them together and by their help think of Him whose meek, patient eye is still upon them that fear Him.

I. The welcoming look of love and pity to those who seek Him. There are two recorded instances-that of our text and that of the young ruler.

II. The Lord’s looks of love and warning to those who found Him. There are three instances of this class- Mark 3:34; Mark 8:32; Mark 10:23-27. The stooping love which claims us for His brethren, shines in His regard none the less tenderly though He reads and warns us with His eye.

III. The Lord’s look of anger and pity on His opponents. This took place in the synagogue (Mark 3:1-5).

IV. The look of the Lord on the profaned temple (Mark 11:11). How solemn that careful, all-comprehending scrutiny of all that He found there. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)


Verse 31

Verse 34

Mark 5:24; Mark 5:34

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years.

The power of feeble faith

I. Very imperfect faith may be genuine faith. It was intensely ignorant trust. Again, her trust was very selfish. It was also weakened and interrupted by much distrust.

II. Christ answers the imperfect faith. Christ stoops to her childish thought and allows her to prescribe the path by which His gift shall reach her. Christ’s mercy, like water in a vase, takes the shape of the vessel that holds it. On the other hand, His grace “is given to every one of us according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” with no limitation but His own unlimited fulness. Therefore-

1. Let us labour that our faith may be enlightened, importunate, and firm.

2. There can be no faith so feeble that Christ does not respond to it.

III. Christ corrects and confirms an imperfect faith by the very act of answering it. Her ignorance, selfishness, and fear, were all removed. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The faculty baffled-the great Physician successful

I. Let me expose the physicians who delude so many by their vain pretensions. Their names are, Dr. Sadducee, Dr. Legality, Dr. Ceremonial, Dr. Ascetic, Dr. Orthodoxy, and Dr. Preparation.

II. What is the reason of their failure? Because they do not understand the disease. They often prescribe remedies which are impossible to their patients. Many of their medicines do not touch the disease at all.

III. The plight of the patient who has tried these deceivers. She lost all her time. She was no better. She rather grew worse. She spent all that she had.

IV. How a cure can be wrought. I must press to get near Him. I must touch. The least of Christ will save. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The disease of humanity incurable except by Christ

The disease of fallen humanity is wholly incurable except by the hand of Omnipotence. It is as easy for us to create a world as to create a new heart; and a man might as well hope to abolish cold and snow as hope to eradicate sin from his nature by his own power: he might as well say to this round earth, “I have emancipated thee from the curse of labour,” as say to himself, “I will set myself free from the thraldom of sin.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Determination in the face of tremendous discouragements

When sinners sweep away every other delusion, and view Jesus as the only Saviour they will persevere till they find. When Cortez went to conquer Mexico, he found that the soldiers were few and dispirited. The Mexicans were many, and the enterprize hazardous. The soldiers would have gone back to Spain, but Cortez took two or three chosen heroes with him, and went down to the seaside and broke up all the ships; and “now,” he said, “we must conquer or die. We cannot go back.” When it is death or life, heaven or hell, pardon or condemnation, the sinner will be as determined and courageous as these poor Spaniards or as this poor woman. (Anonymous.)

The touch

I. The patient. Note: what courage and spirit she displayed; Her resolute determination; Her marvellous hopefulness.

II. The difficulties of this woman’s faith. The disease: long-standing: incurable. Her frequent disappointments. Her own unworthiness. Her present poverty. Her extreme sickness.

III. The vanishing point of all her difficulties. All her thoughts have gone toward the Lord Jesus. She has forgotten herself; forgotten the rampant fury of her disease; forgotten her being behind and out of sight: and even her own touch of Him she has put into a secondary place. All that she looks for must come out of Him. If seeking sinners would but think more of Christ, all would be well.

IV. Her grand success. She was healed immediately. She knew that she was healed. She has next the assurance from Christ that she was healed. The wine that cometh out of these grapes is this: the slightest connection with Jesus will bless us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Apply this thought-

I. To spiritual existences. If I touch but a grain of sand or a bud, I find the Mighty One.

II. To the scheme of spiritual providence. Review your own life from infancy.

III. To the processes of spiritual education. It is a great thing to see God in heavens rich with systems of suns; it is a grander faith, surely, to see Him in a speck of dust.

IV. To the uses of spiritual ordinances. The hymn, the prayer, the lesson, the mere form itself may do men good. Application: The hand must touch Christ, not an apostle, or a minister, or an angel-but God the Son. You may have touched many without benefit; touch Him and you will live. (J. Parker, D. D.)

“Who hath touched me?”-“Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.”

It requires the second sentence to complete the meaning of the first. In the days of the semaphore signals a message came across to England concerning the Duke of Wellington, and half the message was read as it appeared upon the semaphore, and astonished all England with the sad intelligence. It ran thus, “Wellington defeated.” Everybody was distressed as they read it, but it so happened that they had not seen all the message. Fog had intervened, and when, by and by, the air was clearer and the telegraph flashed out a second time, it was read thus-“Wellington defeated-the French. Thus the first sentence may have caused dismay in the poor woman’s heart, but if the first appeared to kill, the second would make alive. (Anonymous.)

A diseased woman healed

The chief design of our Lord’s miracles was to confirm His pretensions. But they were more than this. Benevolent, for the greater part in their character, they served to unfold the mercifulness of His nature. They also shadowed forth His mode of serving us. Viewed in this light there is wonderful variety in them.

I. The sad condition of this woman when she came to Christ for relief. Her malady was an inveterate one. We are all sick in our souls. There is a disease in us which has seized on the noblest part of us. It is weakening, polluting, and destroying our immortal spirits.

II. The state of this woman’s mind in this sad condition. Had it been a despairing state, we could hardly have blamed her. One of the worst features in a penitent sinner’s case, is frequently a tendency to despair. No sin so great as despair. Your case may be sad, yet not hopeless. There is a Physician you bare not yet tried, or have never tried aright.

III. Her application to Him. There is deep humility evident here, and great self abasement. Sin is a loathsome and shameful thing. The soul would hide itself from every eye. There is great faith: “I shall be whole”-not relieved. What exalted views she must have had of Jesus. He is no common Saviour. But her faith was not perfect. It settled only on one part of the Lord’s character. She believed His power, but distrusted His goodness. This mixture of faith and unbelief is very common in every newly converted soul. If real faith be in us, its inferiority is overlooked.

IV. The cure this sufferer received.

1. It was immediate. This is always our Lord’s mode of acting with one class of persons who come to Him-those who come for pardon-receive it at once. Those who come to have the power of sin subdued in them, are often kept waiting for the mercy they desire. Like the child of Jairus, the disease grows worse while seeking the remedy. But the help sought is found at last.

2. The cure of this woman was one of which she and our Lord were both conscious. You think perhaps, brethren, that it is a small thing with Christ whether you come to Him or not; you conceive that He on His lofty throne has not a look or thought for you; but if you are turning to Him with a broken heart for salvation, there is not an object in the universe He thinks of more than you, there is not a moment in which His eye is off you. Great as is His joy now, it will be greater still when you touch Him and are made whole. He will say to His angels, as He said to His disciples here, “Virtue is again gone out of Me. There is another sinner healed.” And the woman, too, was aware of the cure which had been wrought in her; “She felt in her body that she was healed.” Her recovery, however, did not produce in her at first the joyous feelings we might have anticipated. There was a mixture of feeling in her. She feared and trembled after she was healed, as many a pardoned sinner trembles when he has reason to rejoice; but healed she was, and she knew it. And it is not easy to conceive how anyone can be cured of the dreadful disease of sin, and yet remain long ignorant or doubtful about his cure. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

The consciousness of cure

We cannot see His hand as it passes over the book of God, and blots out the dark record of our crimes which is written there; but pardon is not all. Sin is more than a crime against God which needs to be forgiven, it is a disease within a man’s heart to be subdued and healed. And if we go on always doubting whether this disease within us is in a way of being healed, the probability is that our souls are sick as ever. It is not easy when a man is ill and recovering, to tell the exact moment in which his disease gives way and his recovery begins; but it is soon seen by those around him that his recovery is begun, and it is soon felt by himself. Just so with the salvation of the soul. A man may doubt for a time at his first return to God, and these doubts may recur again and again at intervals in his future years; nay, they will assuredly recur whenever he allows himself to wander from his God; but the habitual frame of the established Christian’s mind is not one of doubt and uncertainty. Christ has not done so little for him, that he cannot see it. The Holy Spirit has not touched his heart so slightly, that he never feels His hand. The gospel is not so poor a medicine, that he is always doubting whether it has done him any good. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

A woman which had an issue of blood

This case is crowded with lessons.

I. Note: how many unknown sufferers are about us.

II. Christ had sent this woman’s illness and was as loving in laying it on her as in lifting it away.

III. She is another instance of the “sweet uses of adversity.” The afflicted class producing then and now more believers in Christ than any other.

IV. There are many hems of the garment through which we can touch the Divine omnipotence and mercy.

1. Christ’s humanity is the great hem of the garment, through which we can touch His Godhead.

2. A word of Scripture is often a hem of His garment, through which we draw in salvation to our soul.

3. A sacrament is a hem of Christ’s garment. All these are valueless unless our touch seeks the Divine Christ within them; but they are saving links to Christ when enlightened faith seeks Him.

V. There is all the difference in the world between pressing and crowding on Christ and touching him. Many crowd Christ, reading much, attending services, singing hymns, and making impassioned prayers, perhaps fruitlessly; while a publican in the temple, or a dying thief-with one word, fall of aim and meaning-finds his soul saved. Be not fussy in religion, but calm your spirit, and speak not until in briefest compass you can name, and lodge, and leave your request with God.

VI. Let mercies received be duly confessed. (R. Glover.)

Twelve years! Long continuance of discipline

It pleases God to lay long and tedious afflictions on some of His servants in this life.

1. To manifest His great power, strengthening them to bear such long afflictions.

2. To magnify His mercy in delivering them at length out of them.

3. That He may make thorough proof and trial of their faith, patience, and other graces of His Spirit in them.

4. To wean them from this world, and to stir up in them a longing for heaven.

5. To make them more earnest in prayer to Him for deliverance. It is therefore no evidence of God’s wrath, nor any sufficient reason to prove such an one to be out of His favour, whom He so holds for a long time under the cross. Be well content, then, to bear afflictions, though of long continuance; submitting in this matter to the will of God, who knows it to be good and profitable for some to be kept long under discipline. (G. Petter.)

A variety of sufferers, their best meeting place

It is strange, the variety of sufferers that meet each other at the feet of Jesus! (R. Glover.)

Coming to Christ

Come to Christ Jesus to be cured in soul and conscience of your sins. Come to Him, and touch Him by true faith, as this diseased woman did, and thou shalt feel Divine virtue to come from Him to heal thee of thy sins, both of the guilt and of the corruption of them. Thou shalt feel His Divine power healing thee of the guilt of thy sins, by the merit of His obedience and sufferings applied to thy conscience by faith; and the same Divine power healing thee of the corruption of sin, that is, mortifying thy sinful lusts, that they may not reign in thee as they have done, and as they do in the wicked and unbelievers. Oh, therefore, thou that feelest thy soul diseased with sin, make haste unto Christ to be cured by this Divine healing virtue that is in Him: pray Him to manifest it in thee; and withal, labour by some measure of faith to apply it to thyself, as this woman did: then shalt thou most certainly be healed in soul, as she was in body. And let not the grievousness of thy disease hinder thee from coming to Christ to be cured, but rather cause thee to make the more speed to Him by faith: for be assured, there is virtue enough in Him to heal all thy sins, though many and grievous, if thou do but see and feel them, and complain of them, and lay them open to Him, and seek earnestly to Him by the prayer of faith to be cured of them. Do this therefore, and do it speedily, without delay. As in a dangerous sickness of body, thou would’st not dare to put off sending to the physician, lest it cost thee thy life: so much less must thou dare to delay the time in seeking to Christ to be healed of thy sins, lest it cost thee the loss of eternal life, and the salvation of thy soul. Be careful, therefore, forthwith to seek to Christ to be healed of thy sins. The rather, because there is no other means or physic in the world to cure thee, besides the Divine healing virtue that is in Christ Jesus: no power or virtue that is in any herb, precious stone, or mineral, can cure thee of thy sins: not all the balm in Gilead; not any power or skill of man or angel can cure thy diseased conscience of one sin: only this Divine virtue that is in Christ can do it: and therefore seek to Him alone to be cured, and not to other vain helps and remedies. When thou feelest thy sins lie upon thy conscience, seek not (as many do) to be cured by merry company, or by following vain sports or recreations, nor by going to the bodily physician to purge melancholy (as if this alone would cure thee): all these are in this case physicians of no value; therefore trust not to them, but go directly to Jesus Christ, to be healed by that Divine virtue which is in him. (G. Petter.)

Majestic faith

Some criticise her faith unfavourably, as if she had a superstitious belief in Christ’s clothes. Superstition does not act as she did. Her faith was that Christ’s anointing, like Aaron’s, goes to the skirts of His garments. One less believing would have sunk, murmuring in despair, quoting dismal proverbs about misfortunes never coming single, and feeling that in her disease, poverty, shame, loneliness, she was specially ill-used by God. Or, if not despairing altogether, feeble faith would have faced Christ, and displayed at large all her claims for help, dwelling on the length of her sorrow, and on the fortune vainly spent in endeavouring to regain her health. But calm, trustful, feeling Christ so willing and so strong to help that there is no reluctance in His heart, she ventures all on a touch of faith. There is a heroism here worthy of Abraham. Full of this faith, she elbows her way through the crowd, and finding the blue hem of Christ’s garment within her reach, quietly-so that none observe her-she touches it; and at once a swift, gentle tide of health flushes through all her frame, and she feels she has got what she desired. (R. Glover.)

Encouragement to faith

If you have faith, though but in its infancy, be not discouraged, for-

1. A little faith is faith, as a spark of fire is fire.

2. A weak faith may lay hold on a strong Christ; a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong. She, in the gospel, who but touched Christ, fetched virtue from Him.

3. The promises are not made to strong faith, but to true. The promise does not say, He who hath a giant faith, who can believe God’s love through a frown, who can rejoice in affliction, who can work wonders, remove mountains, stop the mouth of lions, shall be saved; but, whosoever believes, be his faith never so small. A reed is but weak, especially when it is bruised; yet the promise is made to it, “A bruised reed will He not break.”

4. A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things multiply most. The vine is a weak plant, but it is fruitful. The thief on the cross, who was newly converted, was but weak in grace; but how many precious clusters grow upon that tender plant!

5. The weakest believer is a member of Christ as well as the strongest; and the weakest member of the body mystical shall not perish. Christ will cut off rotten members, but not weak members. Therefore, Christian, be not discouraged: God, who would have us receive them that are weak in the faith (Romans 14:1), will not Himself refuse them. (Watson.)

Coming to Christ

We are like this woman, inasmuch as-

I. We, too, have a need of Christ. He alone can

II. We should have a sense of this need. As long as we suppose that a slight change, a little penitence and contrition, will suffice; so long, not heartily applying to Christ for the blessings we want, we shall go empty away.

III. We have nothing to offer for the blessing we desire. Christ’s people receive all, and return nothing; for, all they can offer is already His.

IV. We come to a willing Benefactor. He is more ready to give than we to receive. It is as natural to Christ to give blessings to all who ask, as it is for the sun to diffuse its beams on all the objects beneath; if we receive not, it is because we have intercepted the rays flowing from the Sun of Righteousness.

V. In the exercise of faith we are sure of a blessing. All spiritual blessings may be ours, if only we will believe in Christ’s goodness and grace, and come to Him.

VI. The blessing may be delayed; but no prayer and no exercise of faith is ever lost. (B. W. Noel, M. A.)

Told Him all the truth: Be open with Jesus

This woman has a word for two classes. She urges the penitent to a full confession, and the true convert to an open profession.

I. To the penitent, urging a full avowal of their state and condition. Tell Jesus all the truth

II. Reasons for this.

1. The Lord knows it all already. It would be folly to deny or attempt to hide what He has seen.

2. To tell Him will be a very great service to you. It will tend to make you feel your need more. While you are in the act of opening your heart to God, He will pour in the oil and wine of His Divine grace.

III. To those who are converted, but who have not yet acknowledged their faith in the presence of others.

1. This is for God’s glory. The Christian is not to be always wishing to expose what is in him; that were to make himself a Pharisee; but if God has put in you anything lovely, beautiful, and of good report, who are you that you should, by covering it, rob Him of His praise?

2. For the good of others. In the case before us, the woman’s confession was doubtless intended to strengthen the faith of Jairus, who was sorely tried by this delay. You do not know of how much service your open confession of Christ might be to some trembling soul.

3. For the person’s own sake. I have no doubt this was the main reason. Suppose Christ had let her go home quietly, without any word from Him-when she reached home she would have said, “Ah, I stole that cure; I am so glad I have it.” But one day there would come a dark thought, “What if it should die away after a time; then I shall be as bad as ever; for I never asked him.” Conscience would say to her, “Ah, it was a theft;” and though she might excuse herself, still she would not be easy. Now Christ calls her up, and conscience cannot disturb her, for He gave her the cure before them all. She need not be afraid of the return of her disease, for Jesus has said, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Salvation

There are three great truths which are illustrated in this narrative.

I. Salvation needed. That woman needed healing; we need saving. The gospel is the remedy, and the fact of the gospel being provided is a sufficient proof of the necessity of it. A remedy suggests the evil which is to be remedied. Justification by faith is a remedy to meet a special case of necessity. The most obvious and legitimate method of being justified is to be just; let me be just, and I am justified in the eye of the law. So the angels are justified. But we have sinned. How, then, are we to be justified? The gospel tells us we are to he justified by faith; we are to believe in Jesus Christ, and on the ground of His great sacrifice on our behalf we shall be accepted as just, though we ourselves have sinned. If you see a lifeboat on the seashore, it suggests storms and deaths; so the gospel suggests the ruin which it is meant to remedy. Look abroad on the world, and you will see evidences enough of the necessity. Consult your own consciences and history, and everyone will know in himself that there was need for such a remedy-that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Christ has come into the world as “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” A universal remedy indicates a universal necessity.

II. Salvation provided. Jesus obeyed the law we had broken; He suffered the punishment we had merited; He obeyed and suffered on our behalf. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.”

III. Salvation obtained-obtained by faith. We accept Christ as our representative. (N. Hall, LL. B.)

The resource of faith

Here, then, is an exhaustless reservoir of power, the power of Omnipotence, and the means by which it may all be made available to feed our lives. The mill owner stores up in a reservoir on the heights the water that shall run his mill. Then he needs only a channel or sluice way that shall bring the water to his wheels. If it was an exhaustless reservoir, like the Atlantic Ocean for extent, he would have no fear that his mill would run dry. These miracles and this text teach the Christian that Omnipotence and Omniscience alone bound the reservoir of his spiritual graces, and that he has under his own control the width and depth of the channel called faith which brings them into his life. When Franklin grasped the principle of electricity, he could not only draw the lightning from a single cloud: all the electricity in the earth and in all the clouds was at his command, and he could send it upon his errands. When James Watt mastered the principle of the expansive power of steam, not only the little cloud of vapour that issued from his mother’s tea kettle was under his control, but all the steam that could be generated by the stored up combustibles of the world was really his. When the Christian can grasp this truth of the power of faith, the infinite spiritual resources of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are his. “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” There is the reservoir. “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” There is the channel that conveys the power into our lives and makes it available. (Sermons by Monday Club.)

The persistence of faith

Again, Jairus and the woman and the blind men teach us not only what faith is, but what it inevitably involves. It always involves a persistent effort. Even though death has stiffened his little daughter’s limbs, and silenced her tongue, and has rolled the deep, dark stream which no soul was ever known to recross between her and him, Jairus will still persist. He will not give over his efforts. “Come and lay Thy hand upon her and she shall live,” is his entreaty still. Though the invalid for twelve years has tried physician after physician and has received no help, she will try again. It could not have been easy for her to press through that curious throng of stronger ones, but she does it until she even grasps His garment’s hem, and then He turns and speaks the healing word. Our Lord at first seemed to take no notice of the blind men, but when they persistently followed Him, when He saw that the rebuke of pitiless bystanders had no effect but to increase their effort to reach Him, when they followed Him into the house, then He touched their eyes. Persistent effort is not true faith, but it always accompanies true faith. Thunder never split the heart of the oak tree, but it always accompanies the lightning’s flash, and tells to all about of the lightning’s presence. The farmer does not show his faith by lying in his bed and waiting for God to plough and harrow his field and sow his seed. He ploughs, and harrows, and sows, and shows his faith in then waiting for God to give the increase. God’s winds are always blowing; the man of faith spreads his sail before God can fill it. (Sermons by Monday Club.)

Gospel pictures

As a picture from a magic lantern is dashed upon the screen, is looked at for a moment, then vanishes, and is gone, so different persons come upon the stage in the narratives of the Evangelists, enact perfect dramas, exquisite in texture and construction, and momentous in moral bearing, and then pass away. There is no lineage, no record, no name; and yet all is so vivid and powerful. (H. W. Beecher.)

Sickness spoils life

She was sick; and what is all the world worth when one is sick? What is all that is presented to the eye, what is the income of the year, what are all the treasures of life worth under such circumstances? What is everything that can be desired worth when one is thoroughly sick? Sickness takes the flavour out of everything. It changes the whole current and course of desire and feeling. She had long been sick. She had worn out years in sickness, and those years had well nigh worn her out. “All that a man hath will he give for his life.” (H. W. Beecher.)

An ungrateful reception of healing

Well, ought she not, in that very instant, to have cried out? Ought she to have taken such bounty, and to have borne no witness to it? It is true that she did not say anything; but her silence was not altogether from ingratitude. It may have been a relative want of appreciation of the greatness of the favour. She may have said to herself, “How do I know that it is anything more than my imagination? I will say nothing about it until I am sure;”-just as a great many persons, when they begin to feel the saving power of the Divine Spirit in their souls say, “I will not speak of this; I will wait; I will see what it is.” She may have said, “How Can I speak of this? My lips refuse to open; I cannot speak.” It may have been sensibility, delicacy of feeling, shrinkingness, that kept her from speaking. How many there are who believe that they have been pardoned, and that the blood of Christ which takes away the stain of sin has healed them, but who consult their sensibility and their shrinking tastes, and say, “How can I speak of this?” And it does not look as though it were wicked. Yet, if there be anything that a person ought to acknowledge, it is obligations which touch the great core of things. He who has been healed by a faithful physician should be the friend of that physician as long as he lives. It may be that he acted professionally; it may be that he took his fee; but money never pays a physician who performs his duty faithfully. If your child has come back from death, never forget the faithful old nurse that made her bosom a cradle in which the child rocked, and gave her days and nights to the care of it. For such service as hers nothing material can be an adequate compensation. We are ungrateful in a thousand ways which we hardly suspect. We do not pay what we owe to men who enfranchise our understanding. Authors who give us a higher and nobler conception of life; poets who give wings to our fancy, so to speak, enabling us to fly higher than ordinary men, who stumble and fall down in the midst of the vulgarities of society; those who make virtue beauteous, and draw us to it,-who can repay the services of such as these? Men scarcely know what they owe to those who fortify them in virtue; to those who make it plain to them that integrity is safe under all circumstances; to those who have walked before them in the beauty of holiness; to those who have redeemed them from the conception that religion is a bondage, and led them to see that it was an efflorescent garden full of sweet delights. There is among men a great lack of the sense of their obligation toward those who have served them. (H. W. Beecher.)

Unpurposed healing

Ah! it is a good thing for men to be filled with grace to such a degree as that their unconscious moods and unpurposed influence shall be healing, as well as the things which they intend. So it was with our Master. Purposely He cast out demons. He set persons free from insanities. He quenched the fire of fevers. Dropsies were dried up by Him. Men were brought to health on every side through His instrumentality. With a word, with a gesture, with a look, with a touch, He did great works of beneficence. But so full was He of Divine savour, of spiritual power, that His very garments, as it were, were imbued with it; and when the woman stole up and touched the hem of His garment, straightway she experienced a joyful release. Oh, soul-filling surprise! She that for twelve years had not known one hour’s exemption from disease, felt the sovereign balm of perfect health flow through her veins; and she stood restored! She was well! (H. W. Beecher.)

Touches that do not touch; or contact without sympathy

There seems to be requisite, then, a relation between souls before the real and rich fruits of life can come to them in the highest forms of Christian experience. Let us look along the lines of analogy a little. Souls touch each other in various ways. Life touches life variously. People live together in bodily contact. They live in agreement only as to bodily conditions. They are related to each other simply by the necessity of food, raiment, warmth, protection. Ten thousand wedded souls are to each other simply as a blade is to knife. There is no real vitality between the two. Only in regard to provision for worldly wants and in bodily conditions are they in contact. But, then, these are the lowest, rudest forms of contact; yet there are people that are more in sympathy. There are multitudes that come into sympathy with each other only through their children. The cradle is a reconciler, often, between husband and wife. It opens up, in the rude, hard man, streams like those which Moses brought forth from the rock. For the child’s sake, the mother becomes dear to him. There is mediation; and yet how little of life is there in common between two such souls! Again, people dwell together in single lines of mutuality. Many persons live together in all intellectual qualities, but in no other respects. Many dwell together being in accord in their tastes; but in no other regards. Many live together in literature, in history, in the ordinary and easier forms of knowledge that are of the earth earthy; but they never rise into eminence, aspiration, glorification, of each other, and never see anything in each other except that which the bird sees, or which the animal sees. They do not touch each other; and yet they are in perpetual contact. Higher phenomena of life there are, however; and there is developed heroism at times. There is a coming together of soul with soul, not through the ministration of the body, nor of taste, nor of thought, nor of mutual service, alone, but by that rare inflammation of the whole soul which has no definition, and which no man can describe. It is not needed by those who have it; it is not possible to those who have it not. Every faculty in one, then, has sympathy with every faculty in the other. Either they fit each other by exact agreement, or the positive element of one is just adapted for the absence of it in the other. Thus souls come together in an indefinable way. They are conscious that their liven mingle and blend. This is the rarest and highest form of contact; and yet is the revelation of that law by which men can rise from bodily conditions into social, and from those conditions into intellectual; but the consummation lies in that invisible, indescribable element which inheres in every man and woman-inheres sometimes only as a seed ungrown, and at other times develops and is full of fragrance, and then is full of fruit. (H. W. Beecher.)

The survival of the fittest and a higher law

Jesus did not say to this woman, “Go away; you are too weak and broken to hold your own in the world; best for you to be down and wait for the end, while others take your place she can do your work.” That would have been a sorrowful word, not to her only, but to us also; for it would have set a limit, not to Christ’s power merely, but to His very compassion, and therein also to ours. That, however, is not the law which human hearts acknowledge. Our power may easily have limits, but our pity must have none; and as we can help not a little even when we cannot heal, it is bound upon our conscience never to be inhuman. The bruised reed He would not break. But this, while it is the supreme law of man’s nature, is by no means the law of nature elsewhere. Nature throws away her broken vessels with no compunction or pity whatever. Everywhere the weak and sickly among the lower animals are ruthlessly killed off, and only those remain which are able to do for themselves. The fit survive-the feeble perish. It is hardly necessary to lead any proof of this. The stricken deer turns aside to die, while the fat herd sweeps on indifferent to its fate. The park of lean wolves know of no surgery for a fainting comrade, except to fall on him and rend him in pieces. The frail bird that cannot fly with the rest of the brood is tumbled from the nest and left to its fate. Nature has, indeed, a great healing power for the strong and healthy in case of accident, so that wounds and broken bones soon come together again. But among wild animals sickness, disease, feebleness, and age meet with no compassion. In their warfare it is still Vae victis, for they cannot cumber themselves with the wounded. The halt and the blind get no chance at all. The weak and sickly are left to their fate, and the sooner it comes the better, for their kindred turn from them, and their friends will not know them. Unfit for the struggle of existence which is their supreme business, they perish without ruth or remorse. Thus everywhere on sea and land, and in the lightsome air, among all creatures that swim, or fly, or creep, or run, we find this law working, and doubtless working for the general good of the whole, yielding a benevolent harvest of health and comfort to the unthinking creatures of God. But now, when we pass from them into the province of man, we meet at once with a law which breaks in upon this, and controls it. The struggle for existence goes on there too, but it is no longer supreme and all in all. Everywhere it is modified by ideas that are confessedly of greater moment and higher authority. Sometimes it is set aside altogether, for we are not always bound to exist if we can, but we are always bound to do right. Thus the moral rises above the natural, and even flatly contradicts it. The struggle for existence is subordinated to the struggle for a higher perfection. Instead of the survival of the fittest, we have a law requiring the strung to help the weak, the healthy to improve their health for the sake of the diseased, and even those who are hopelessly stricken, and forever invalided from the battle of life, are cast on us as a peculiar care, to neglect which were to outrage the noblest instincts of humanity. The natural law, everywhere else in full swing, that the weak and sickly, the halt and blind, must be left to their fate, or even hurried out of the way, not only does not hold among us, but the very reverse of it holds. And the moral principle which thus asserts its supremacy vindicates its claim by many fruitful results. For often times the poor cripple whom natural law would have cast away, has grown up to bless the world with wise and noble counsel, and blind men, all unfit for the mere struggle of animal life, have yet done brave and good service in the higher warfare of humanity; and even the utterly broken, the helplessly disabled, who can “only stand and wait,” have yet, by their meek patience under affliction, shown us an example which made our hearts gentler, humbler, better, and was well worth all the care we bestowed on them. So it is, at any rate, that no sooner do we pass from the mere natural life of animals to the moral life of man, than we find another law breaking in upon the law of survival of the fittest-controlling, suspending, even utterly reversing it, with an authority which cannot be gainsaid, without forfeiting all that is most nobly and distinctively human. (Walter C. Smith, D. D.)

Christ’s kindness in discipline

It is not often that we are able to perceive the full purpose of any one of God’s dealings. Seldom can we see the perfect fruit of the chastisement He allots us. And no wonder: the life of man is so short; the purposes and operations of God are so vast.

I. In the conduct of our Lord notice-

1. Christ’s apparent harshness. He insisted on the woman’s coming forth to tell her shame. But see Christ’s real kindness. It was not in mere assertion of authority that He called her forth. It was to complete the blessing. He would give her His benediction before she went. Again, it was to purify and strengthen her faith. He would prepare her to confess Him elsewhere. Christ alone knew the trials to which this woman would be exposed at home.

2. So in like manner and with like purposes, will Christ deal with you, if you be of those who have come to Him with faith. The purpose of all Christ’s discipline-the discipline that we experience-is exemplified in His conduct to this woman. First, we noticed that He called her forth to receive further blessing. She came for healing only, but He would give her spiritual grace. Like her, many now come to the Saviour, barely praying for pardon, for deliverance from punishment. But Christ did not achieve redemption merely to keep men out of hell-He died to take them to heaven. Now, to prepare for heaven much grace is necessary, and men must be summoned to return to Christ again and again, that they may receive far more than the blessing for which they first came. Christ has yet richer favours to bestow; and if His people do not apply for them they must be placed in circumstances where they will feel their want and their need, and hungrily ask Him for more. Next, we saw that He called her forth to purify and strengthen her faith. There is no need for me to tell you that your faith is both imperfect and impure. Would you not desire your faith to grow stronger and larger? Then it must be used and tried, exercised and trained. Again, we noticed that Christ was probably preparing this woman to witness for Him in time to come. He requires from all men the public profession of His name. Salvation is not a sort of spiritual luxury to be enjoyed in private. And, further, men never know what lies before them as messengers of God; they are ignorant of the high and arduous service to which, may be, they have been appointed. But Christ knows it; and He prepares them and exercises them in bearing testimony for God in one difficulty and trial after another, until they are ready for the work they have to do. Thus does He grant to His applicants, not only the healing they pray for, but also the strength which they are content to lack. As in the experience of this woman, so in His treatment of us, will Christ combine apparent harshness with real kindness.

II. For the further investigation of this subject shall we turn from the Saviour to the saved, and try to trace the feelings of this woman as the black cloud of Christ’s seeming displeasure passed over her.

1. We find her full of sudden joy at feeling in her body that she was healed of that plague. Twelve years’ misery, labour, expense, and disappointment are all at an end. How universal the joy must have been. No fibre of her frame that did not thrill with gladness. And there was another cause of joy too; she bad escaped the exposure she so much dreaded. But her joy was all at once quenched in awe and fear when He asked, “Who touched Me?” and when He asked again, and when He looked round about with a gaze that showed He knew her that had done this thing. So feeling, for a moment, she comes forward and tells Him all the truth. But, instead, sounds came upon her ear tenderer and tenderer, and stronger in consolation: “Courage, daughter; thy faith hath saved thee,” etc. Ah! what feelings were hers, as she rose and departed. It would take her long to disentangle all their varied happiness. Did she not feel that the benediction of Christ amply made up for the loss of secrecy? She was really happier for the discipline through which He made her pass. Had she gone away as she hoped and planned, she would have carried with her none of this joy-the love of Christ. She would have received the cure, and that alone. And, on the other hand, she would have had doubts as to Christ’s willingness to heal her; doubts as to His forgiveness of her intrusion and underhand application; doubts, too, as to the permanence of the cure-all would have been in uncertainty. But now she knew that His will healed her, His kindness welcomed her, His grace blessed her. Moreover, had she gone away as she hoped, she would have retained her superstition with her faith. It would have cramped and enfeebled it, and she might never have believed in Jesus to the salvation of her soul. And the weakness that made her come to Christ in the crowd behind might have betrayed her into greater fear of man at home, and she might never have been able to confess His name. But now she knew Him, and believed in Him-not in the fringe of His garment; now she had confessed Him before the multitude, and would not fear to confess Him before her friends. Would she not be sure that it was loving wisdom that deprived her of the convenience which she had yearned for, and substituted blessings of which she had not dreamed? And, further, was she not glad that she had been made to undergo all this? If she could have had her choice, and it were all to do over again, think you she would have wished to go away secretly without seeing Christ’s beaming eye and hearing His “Courage, daughter, go in peace”? Surely not. She saw now that Christ’s kindness, though it seemed harsh at first, was wiser than her own selfish cowardice, and secured her greater happiness.

2. This narrative shows us also a person undergoing harsh discipline, and perceiving herself in a few moments the kindness which appointed it. Now this makes it specially interesting. It is so seldom we can see both sides of any dispensation-the peaceable, happy fruit as well as the present grievousness-that every instance in which we can do so ought to receive most careful meditation. It is not always granted to Christians to see this happy change so suddenly; and yet some time or other in the experience of every believer as swift a vision of God’s kindness in discipline is accorded. And from over us will the cloud sometimes pass as quickly as in this case. Many a discipline which we think harsh we shall find to be kind. Not only will it really be kind, but we shall know it to be so, and shall receive the joy of experiencing God’s goodness. Many an exposure or trial that we would have avoided at any cost will turn out to be the means of bringing blessings which we shall reckon cheaply bought. Conclusion: It is painful when speaking of privileges and securities, to think that they are limited to a few. But I must warn you that none but those who come to Christ for salvation may hope that He is training them for eternity. Those who do not touch Christ by faith, their sorrows are but sorrows, their disappointments bring no outweighing joy, their troubles are not trials, only calamities. Of how much are you depriving yourselves by unbelief! Now that Jesus is near, is even waiting for you, will you not trust in Him and come to Him to be healed? (J. Alden Davies.)

A cure by the way

Jesus was pressing through the throng to the house of Jairus to raise the ruler’s dead daughter; but He is so profuse in goodness that He works another miracle while upon the road. While yet this rod of Aaron bears the blossoms of an unaccomplished wonder, it yields the ripe almonds of a perfect work of mercy. It is enough for us, if we have some one purpose, straightway to go and accomplish it; it were imprudent to expend our energies by the way. Hastening to the rescue of a drowning friend, we cannot afford to exhaust our strength upon another in like danger. It is enough for a tree to yield one sort of fruit, and for a man to fulfil his own particular calling. But our Master knows no limit of power or boundary of mission. He is so prolific of grace, that like the sun which shines as it fulfils its course, His path is radiant with loving kindness. He is a fiery arrow of love, which not only reaches its ordained target, but perfumes the air through which it flies. Virtue is always going out of Jesus, as sweet odours exhale from the flowers; and it always will be emanating from Him, as light from the central orb. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Men speak of killing two birds with one stone, but my Lord heals many souls on one journey. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Tell all to Jesus

If your heart be very grieved, do, I pray you, remember that compassion is one of the most rapid ways of getting relief. While the banks hold good the lake swells; let them break, and the water is drained off. Let a vent be found for the swollen tarn up yonder on the mountains, and the mass of water which might otherwise inundate the valleys will flow in fertilizing streams. When you have a festering, gathering wound, the surgeon lets in the lancet and gives you ease. So confession brings peace. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Confessing Christ

Why should the wonders He hath wrought be hid in darkness and forgot? When I look abroad upon nature, it is true I do not see nature fussily trying to make itself tidy for a visitor, as some professors do, who, the moment they think they are going to be looked at, trim up their godliness to make it look smart. But on the other hand, Nature is never bashful. She never tries to hide her beauties from the gazer’s eye. You walk the valley; the sun is shining, and a few raindrops are falling; yonder is the rainbow; a thousand eyes gaze at it. Does it fold up all its lovely colours and retire? Oh, no! it shrinks not from the eye of man. In yonder garden all the flowers are opening their bejewelled cups, the birds are singing, and the insects humming amid the leaves. It is a place so beautiful that God Himself might walk therein at eventide, as He did in Eden. I look without alarming the bashful beauties of the garden. Do all these insects fold their wings and hide beneath the leaves? do the flowers hang down their heads? does the sun draw a veil over his modest face? does nature blush till the leaves of the trees are scarlet? Oh, no! Nature cares not for gazers, and when they come to look upon her, she doth not hasten to wrap a mantle over her fair form, or throw a curtain before her grandeur. So the Christian is not to be always wishing to expose what is in him; that were to make himself a Pharisee; yet, on the ether hand, if God has put anything that is lovely and beautiful and of good report in you, anything that may glorify the cross of Christ, and make the angels happy before the eternal throne, who are you that you should cover it? Who are you that you should rob God of His praise? What! Would you have all Nature’s beauties hid? Why, then, hide the beauties of grace? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Best to apply direct to the Master

A tenant farmer on a rich lord’s estate had been refused a renewal of his lease by the steward of the estate. Instead of giving up, the farmer went to the owner himself, laid the matter before him, and was successful in getting his renewal. Why? He had gone to the one who had the ultimate power to grant or refuse. So Jairus, so the woman with the bloody flux, when all human help failed, went to Him in Whom alone was the power to heal and make alive. All the bread in the world will not keep you from starving, if it is shut up in storehouses, and you have no key, There may be water enough in the well; but if you have no bucket to draw it with, it will do you no good. And all Christ’s treasures of healing for body and soul will be nothing to you, if you do not go to Him for your share of them. (Sunday School Times.)

The sanctity of touch

I. How great and mysterious the importance attaching to touch in the Old Testament.

1. Thus touch is pollution (Haggai 2:12-13).

2. Thus touch is consecration (Exodus 30:26; Exodus 30:29).

3. Thus touch is strength (Daniel 10:10; Daniel 10:16; Daniel 10:18).

4. Thus touch is wisdom (Jeremiah 1:9).

5. Thus touch is purity (Isaiah 6:7).

II. The great lesson of the New Testament is by touch, to show to us the absolute communicability of the Divine power and holiness; it is the story also of the vaccination of the world. The Old Testament is the story of the first man, and how one sin tainted the world. The New Testament is the story of the second Man, and how His holiness purified the tainted stream. Jesus went about touching. The holy awakening of Divine grace restores man.

III. There is no cure without contact. You cannot satisfy hunger without eating, although your table be covered with food. You cannot satisfy thirst without drinking, although fountains play before the eye. You cannot satisfy faith by reading about Christ, or by knowing Him-you must appropriate Him. Imputed righteousness is really transferred righteousness; the purity of the Saviour becomes ours. What does the whole teaching and miraculous life of our Lord convey to us but this doctrine-Transfusion. Faith is the finger by which man touches God. Meanwhile it is not faith that saves; it is faith in Jesus Christ. We are not saved by faith as an act of the mind, but by faith on the object of the mind. It is not the faith, but the Person. No cure without contact. Thus if man cannot come to God, God must come to man, or these two can never meet. This is the meaning of Christ’s incarnation. By faith we come into contact with God, and are saved; by sympathy, we come in contact with man and cure. (E. P. Hood.)

Touch is the key to all the senses

Touch is the principle of all the senses. Perhaps, also, I shall be right, if I say that it is the most subtle of all the senses. There is no sensation without touch; sight is touch; fragrance is touch; we give that name to what is the sense of resistance; but all things are known to us and are related to us by touch. Touch is the internal sensitive principle-it is the principle of communication, and of reception, and of translation. We are told that particles are constantly floating off to touch the sensitive body, to bid the door of sensation spring open; and I think you must have felt that while those avenues are touched by their proper affinities, there are other senses within which are not touched, and never awakened, but which might own and yield to the appropriate key. Touch is, to me, far from being that endorsement of materialism it has been described as being; it is the assurance of an inhabitant behind the gateway. Indeed, the more closely I look into any of the senses, the more spiritual they become. All knowledge is by contact; all sympathy is in contact; and sin and purity, and health and disease, grow in contact. How true it is that there is no cure, no healing, without contact-that is, without mutual touching. If we cannot get near to that which heals, how can it heal us? Suppose I know of the medicine which might cure me, but I am in England, and the medicine or the physician is in America, and it is the only medicine-how can I be cured? Hence, then, guard the avenues of touch. It has been well said that the skin isolates the man, and makes him world tight; but it is necessary that the world’s goods should come into his house-necessary, too, that the refuse and wear and tear should be carried forth, and that he should go out and in with the freedom of a man. The skin is our abode, not our prison; and the porous skin has its bivalve doors and windows, to admit supplies from without, and to allow the spirit to steer forth from within. Some things we must be careful to touch not. (E. P. Hood.)

Sin spreading by contact

It contains also the history of the transference of Divine holiness, but it is especially the history of the inoculation of sin; it is the history of the drop that taints and ruins the race-the fatal virus; it is not inconceivable. I remember, some time since, when in the University of Edinburgh, being told of a young man who slightly touched his two fingers with the dissecting knife, they were instantly cut off to save his life, so fatal was the touch of corruption. Such is the corrosive power of poisonous touch. We can appreciate the touch of fire, the touch of caustic, the touch of poison; but can we not appreciate the touch of sin? Can we not so far appreciate it as to know its power, its danger, and to see in it the dreadful virus tainting and damning our race? (E. P. Hood.)

Christianity a healing influence

Now it is, as I have before said, not difficult to perceive to what teaching all the doctrine concerning touch in the Old Testament and in the New, points: even to the great doctrine of a transferred or transfused purity. It is mournfully true that, for the most part, except as we are divinely breathed upon, we but add to each other’s impurity. Let the Book be removed from our midst-let all church ordinances expire from among us-let every opportunity of prayer be suspended or at an end-and all the offices of the religious life, as aided and inspired by the sacred Scriptures, and then what shall we see? Still man would exercise his powers as an artist-still would he utter himself in poetry and in song, in painting and in sculpture. Can you doubt for a moment, or wonder, what would be the nature of those performances? Anacreon, and Juvenal, and universal impurity over the marble and over the canvas. When you think of man’s genius, his native genius, you are not to think of it as you behold it here, but as it was in the day in which the apostle bore his witness in the prison at Rome, and on the hill of Greece; and you must see how the touch of holiness transformed all that impurity into the holy lights of virtue and truth. But Greece, and Rome-what power had they to impart purity to each other? Therefore is there needed another ray, another touch, another hallowing fire. (Ibid.)

“Twelve years!” The contrasts of life

In Capernaum there were two houses whose inmates are strangely linked together in the Gospel history. The one was the house of Jairus, which perhaps stood on the rising ground fast by the synagogue: the other was the house in which the nameless woman, with the issue of blood, dwelt, which probably was situated in the poorer part of the city. Let us mark the contrasts of life presented by these two houses in the “twelve years” twice mentioned by Mark.

I. Hope and fear-There was a day when a great event took place in the house of Jairus. A child was born. What congratulations of friends, etc. The same year-perhaps the same month and day-a memorable event took place in the house of a poor woman. “Issue of blood” (Mark 5:25). How it came is not told. Such contrasts are common. In one home they are lifted up with hope and joy; while in another there is the gloom and trouble.

II. Health and sickness. In the house of Jairus all goes well. The child grows. She is the joy of her parents, etc. But alas! how different have been the circumstances in the other house. Perhaps the woman thought at first that her ailment was slight and temporary. Certainly she was buoyed up with the hope that it would yield to the skill of physicians. But disappointed.

III. Comfort and penury. Jairus must have held a good position: he was wealthy. As to the woman, we cannot tell what her original condition was. At any rate, she soon felt the pressure of adversity.

IV. Society and loneliness. Jairus had wife and daughter, and many friends. If he needed sympathy, there would be always people ready to give it. Besides, he had his place and his duties, as a ruler of the synagogue, to furnish him with honourable employment and holy rest. But how different with the poor woman. She is represented as alone. No one is named as taking interest in her case.

V. But there came a time when the fortunes of these two people were strangely assimilated and when in their extremity they met and found relief at the feet of the same Saviour. Lessons:

1. Trouble comes to all.

2. Trouble should drive us to Christ.

3. Trouble should bind us more closely in sympathy and love with our brethren.

4. Trouble should endear to us the more the hope of heaven. (W. Forsyth, M. A.)

Methods of spiritual treatment

There are cases in which the physicians must still, to save life, resort to treatment which is painful. But it is now known, it is now conclusively settled among physicians, that the way to master disease is not to torture the patient into health or into his grave, but to provide that those miraculous processes of nature which include healing should as far as possible have fair play, to make art the handmaid of nature, instead of offering any violence to nature in the name of art. Now-a-days, therefore, your physician who is not an age behind his age does not give you drugs in doses which horribly aggravate your suffering-he prescribes fresh air, the delights of travel, gentle exercise, good diet, warmth, comfort, suggests that pleasant company has its own benign influence on body and mind, recommends innocent amusement, and, as regards the welfare of this mortal tabernacle, agrees with the ancient maxim that godliness with contentment is great gain. It is certain that more cures are effected by the modern system of medical treatment, while, as for the soothing of pain, no comparison is possible between them. The difference between the two systems is that by the one the attempt is made to check and to extirpate disease by violence, by the other to aid nature by gentle methods to overcome it. From doctors for the body is not the passage easy to doctors for the soul? Among them, too, the curing of disease by violence has been milch and long in vogue. In our day, it is true, we hear little and know less of the coarser and more outrageous means which were once universally approved for effecting spiritual cures. We don’t now believe that we can save souls by burning the bodies belonging to them. Looking thus to the general scope of the teaching of Christ, we have no difficulty in seeing what religion was meant by Him to be in relation to all moral and spiritual disability and disease. It was not to be a system of bleeding and blistering, of curing by counter irritation, of making six days of the week holy by making the seventh miserable, of making earth a place of torment in order to render heaven accessible, of overcoming one disease by the production of another. It was to be a kindred influence with the sunshine, and the air of shores and hills, and the kindly ties of home, and the sympathy which is born of comradeship in adversity and sorrow-it was to be an influence kindred with all these in restoring to health those that were ready to perish. Every way you choose to look at it, this is the character of the Christianity of Christ. (J. Service, D. D.)

Christ discriminates His healing virtue

Who would not think that a man might ladle up a dish of water out of the sea, without its being missed? Yet that water, though much, is finite; those drops may be numbered: that art which hath reckoned how many grains of sand would make up a world, could more easily compute how many drops of water would make up an ocean. Whereas, the mercies of God are absolutely infinite, and beyond all possibility of proportion; and yet this bashful soul cannot steal one drop of mercy from this endless, boundless, bottomless sea of Divine bounty, but it is felt and questioned. (Bp. Hall.)

Virtue had gone out of Him!

Christ an inexhaustible reservoir of grace:-As heat goeth out of the sun into the air, water, earth, earthly bodies, and yet remains in the sun; so here. A fountain is not drawn dry, but cleared; so skill is not lost by communicating it to others, but increased. (John Trapp.)

The looks of Jesus

“And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.” The record in this Gospel of the looks of Christ is very remarkable. Let us gather them together and by their help think of Him whose meek, patient eye is still upon them that fear Him.

I. The welcoming look of love and pity to those who seek Him. There are two recorded instances-that of our text and that of the young ruler.

II. The Lord’s looks of love and warning to those who found Him. There are three instances of this class- Mark 3:34; Mark 8:32; Mark 10:23-27. The stooping love which claims us for His brethren, shines in His regard none the less tenderly though He reads and warns us with His eye.

III. The Lord’s look of anger and pity on His opponents. This took place in the synagogue (Mark 3:1-5).

IV. The look of the Lord on the profaned temple (Mark 11:11). How solemn that careful, all-comprehending scrutiny of all that He found there. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)


Verse 35

Mark 5:21; Mark 5:23; Mark 5:35; Mark 5:43

Jairus by name.
-

A proper prayer

Better prayers, perhaps, had been offered. He would have shown more faith if he had prayed like the centurion (Luke 7:7). But, though he does not show such strong faith, yet it is a good prayer. For it is

A revived flower

And that bright flower bloomed in the vase of that happy home, more beautiful because the look of Jesus had given it new tints and the breath of Jesus had given it new fragrance. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Jairus’ daughter

Jairus was a good man. His light was small, but real. It was feeble, but from heaven.

I. He had much to try his faith. One seems to see all the father in the tenderness of his words. Hope was over,-his daughter was dead. Thus is it with the believer. Instead of the relief he hoped for, all seems as death. Thus does the Lord try the faith He gives. Thus by causing us to wait for the blessing does He endear it.

II. The effect of this trial of faith. He did not distrust the power or willingness of the compassionate Saviour. His faith takes no denial, he still continues with Jesus. Faith hopes against hope. True faith partakes of his nature who exercises it, therefore in all, it is weak at times. But it partakes also of His nature who gives it, and therefore evinces its strength in the very midst of that weakness.

III. But wherever found, it is graciously rewarded. The scorners are without; but believing Jairus and the believing mother (Mark 5:40) are admitted. They see the mighty power of God put forth on behalf of their daughter. What an encouragement here to some anxious parent to put the case of their dear child in the hands of that same Jesus. How often has domestic affliction been the means of bringing the soul to the feet of Jesus. Mark the extreme tenderness of Jesus, “Fear not, only believe.” Be not afraid convicted sinner. My blood is sufficient, My grace and love are sufficient. (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The Humane Society

I. The particular form of the Redeemer’s work.

1. Restoration from a special form of death.

2. Here was the recognition of the value of life-“She shall live.” It is not mere life on which Christianity has shed a richer value. It is by ennobling the purpose to which life is to be dedicated that it has made life more precious.

3. We consider the Saviour’s direction respecting the means of effecting a complete recovery. He “commanded that something should be given her to eat.” His reverential submission to the laws of nature.

II. The spirit of the Redeemer’s work.

1. It was love. He did good because it was good.

2. It was a spirit of retiring modesty. He did not wish it to be known.

3. It was a spirit of perseverance. Calm perseverance amidst ridicule. (F. W. Robertson.)

Not dead, but sleeping

Nature puts on a shroud at seasons, and seems to glide into the grave of winter. Autumnal blasts come sobbing through the trees, and leaf after leaf, shrivelling its fibres at the killing contact, comes drifting to the ground. The hedgerows where the May flowers and the dog rose mixed their scents are stripped and bare, and lift their thorny fingers up to heaven. The field where fat and wealthy-looking crops a while ago promised their golden sheaves, is now spread over with a coarse fringe of stubble, and seems a sort of hospital of vegetation. The garden shows no more its beauties, nor sheds forth its scent, but where the coloured petal and the painted cup of the gay flower were seen, there stands a blighted stem, or a drooping tuft of refuse herbs. The birds which carolled to the summer sky have fled away, and their note no longer greets the ear. The very daisies on the meadow are buried in the snow wreath, and the raw blast howls a sad requiem at the funeral of nature. But those trees, whose leafless branches seem to wrestle with the rough winds that toss them, are not dead. Anon, and they shall again be wreathed in verdure and bedecked with blossom. The softened breath of spring shall whisper to the snowdrop to dart forth its modest head, and shall broider the garden path again with flowers; the fragrance of the hawthorn bloom ere long shall gush from those naked hedge rows, and the returning lark shall wake the morning with a new and willing song. No, nature is not dead! There is a resurrection coming on. Spring with its touch of wizardry shall wake her from her slumbers, and sound again the keynote of the suspended music of the spheres. So also shall there arise out of the raging conflagration, in whose fevered heat the elements shall melt and shrivel like a scroll-even out of the very ashes which betoken its consumption-a new heaven and a new earth-an earth as ethereal and pure as heaven itself-and a heaven as substantial and as living as the earth. And consentaneously with the arising of these new worlds; the tombs shall open, and send forth the shrouded tenants, to enter on the inheritance which, in that new economy, shall be theirs. Can you believe that faded flowers shall revive at the blithe beckoning of the spring, that little leaves will quietly unfold at the mandate of the morning, and yet there shall be no spring to beckon the mortal back to life, and no morning to command the clay to clothe itself with the garments of a quickening spirit? Can you believe that the great temple shall arise with all its shrines rebuilded, and its altars purified after the final burning, but that there shall be neither voice nor trumpet to call forth the high priest from his slumber to worship at those shrines, and to lay a more enduring offering upon those waiting altars? Is the fuel to be ever laid, and none to kindle the burnt offering? Is the sanctuary to be prepared, and none to pay the service? Is the bridegroom to stand alone before the altar, and no bride to meet him at the nuptials? God forbid! The high priest is not dead-the bride has not perished-they are not dead, but sleep. Sound forth the trumpet, and say that all is ready, and then the corruptible will put on incorruption, and the mortal will put on immortality. Thus, when we lay our kindred in the earth, and follow to their final resting place the last remains of those who occupied a cherished chamber in our hearts-while nature finds it hard to dry the tear and quench the sigh-faith ever lifts the spirit from its sad despondency, by assuring us of a reunion beyond the grave-and robs the monster of one half his terrors-weakening his stroke and taking away his sting, by changing the mystic trance into which he throws his victims into a transient sleep, and speaking of a waking time of happiness and icy. Nature will look on death as an assassin who murders those we love; but Faith regards him as a nurse who hushes them to sleep, and sings a lullaby and not a requiem beside their bed. To faith it is a sleeping draught and not a poison which the visitor holds to the drinker’s lips; for it hails the time when the lethargy of the sepulchre shall be cast off, and the spirit shall arise like a tired slumberer refreshed by sleep, to spend an endless morning in the energy of an endless youth. (A. Mursell.)

The death of the young encourages a spirit of dependence on God in the home life of this world

It brings the unseen Hand to bear very directly and potently on the soul’s deepest and most hidden springs. Let us suppose for a moment that there was a revealed ordinance of heaven that every, human being born into this world should live to three-score years and ten, and then quietly lie down to rest, and awake in eternity. Would it enrich or impoverish the life of the human world? I venture to think that it would impoverish it unspeakably. The passage of these little ones through the veil, of infants and children, of young men and maidens, of men and women in their prime, brings God’s hand very near, and keeps its pressure on the most powerful springs of our nature, our warmest affection, and our most constant and active care. It is not the uncertainty which is the strongest element of the influence, though no doubt that keeps us vigilant and anxious, and helps to maintain the full strain of our power. It is rather the constant contact with a Higher Will, which keeps us in humble, hopeful dependence, which gives and withholds, lends and recalls, by a wisdom which we cannot fathom, but which demands our trust on the basis of a transcendent manifestation of all-suffering and all-sacrificing love. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

The death of the young imparts a consecrating influence to the home life

It brings heaven all round us when we know that at any moment the veil may be lifted, and a dear life may vanish from our sight, not, blessed be Christ, into the shades, but into the brightness which is beyond. And when the life has vanished it leaves a holy and consecrating memory in the home. Something is in the home on earth which also belongs to the home on high. Never does the home life and all its relations seem so beautiful, so profound, so sacred, as when Death has laid his touch on “a little one,” and gathered it as a starry flower for the fields of light on high. It makes the life of the home more anxious, more burdened by care and pain, but more blessed. The nearness at any moment of resistless Death makes us find a dearer meaning in the word, “the whole family in heaven and on earth”-a thought which saturates the whole New Testament, and is not dependent on one text for its revelation. We know then how precious is its meaning, and earth gains by its loss as well as heaven. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

The death of the young lends a tender, home life interest to the life of the unseen world

The home, remember, is where the children are. There are those of us who never found the deeper meaning of the Father’s love and the everlasting home till a dear child had gone on before. The death of the little ones, while it ought to make the earthly life heaven-like on the one hand, is meant to make heaven home-like on the other. The Lord dethroned and discrowned Death by bearing the human form, living, through His realm of terror. The living Lord abolished death by living on through death, and flashing the splendours of heaven through the shades. The children, as they follow Christ through the gloom, make Death seem beautiful as an angel. Thenceforth we, too, have, not our citizenship only, but our home life in the two worlds. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

Jesus stronger than death

And just remember, that when Jesus allows death to knock at your door, and to come in, it is not because death is stronger than He. It is because He has a good reason for permitting it. He is so completely the Master of death that He makes it His messenger to do His bidding; and when death comes to our dwelling and takes away one we love, let us bear in mind that death is not Jesus’ enemy but His messenger. He is like an angel; he takes away our friend in his bosom. He has no power at all over us without Jesus. (Anon.)

The healing of Jairus’ daughter

I. The ease brought before Jesus. A bodily disease as usual. No spiritual cases, though more important.

II. The persons who brought it. A ruler, etc. He had heard Christ’s teaching. He had seen His miracles. No mention made, etc., till distress.

III. The character in which he came-a parent.

IV. The manner in which he came. Reverently. Earnestly. Believingly.

V. At the request of Jairus, Christ arose and accompanied him. Christ encouraged such applications-He does so still (Expository Discourses.)

I. Christ’s restorative power transcends the ordinary expectations of mankind.

II. Christ’s restorative power is exerted on certain conditions.

1. Earnest entreaty.

2. A reverential spirit.

III. Christ’s restorative power accomplishes its object with the greatest ease.

IV. Christ’s restorative power confounds the scoffing sceptic with its result. Scoffing infidelity is destined to be confounded. There were scoffers in the days of Noah and they were confounded when the deluge came. There were scoffers in the days of Lot, and they were confounded when the showers of fire fell. There are scoffers now, and when they shall see Him “coming in His glory with all His holy angels,” these atheists, deists, and materialists, will be utterly confounded. (David Thomas, D. D.)

Death a sleep

Homer fittingly calls sleep “the brother of death”; they are so much alike. On the lips of Jesus, however, the word sleep acquires a richer and mightier import than it ever possessed before. Amply has His use of the term been justified in the last hour of tens of thousands of his devout followers. They laid themselves down to die, not as those who dread the night because of the remembrance of hours when, like Job, they were “scared with dreams” and “terrified through visions,” but like tired labourers, to whom night is indeed a season of peaceful refreshment. And how imperceptibly they sank into their last slumber! Their transition was so mild and gradual, that it was impossible for those who stood round their dying pillow to say exactly when it took place. There was no struggle, no convulsion. The angel of death spread his wide, white wings meekly over them, and then, with a smile upon their pallid countenance, serene and lovely as heaven itself, they closed their eyes on all terrestrial objects, and fell asleep in Jesus. And that sleep is as profound throughout as it was tranquil at the beginning. The happy fireside and the busy exchange-the halls of science and the houses of legislation-the oft-frequented walk and the holy temple-are nothing to them now. Suns rise and set, stars travel and glisten; but they see them not; tempests howl, thunders roll and crash; but they hear them not. Nothing can disturb those slumbers, “till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.” Then will the voice of the archangel sweep over God’s acre, and awake them all. Oh, wondrous awaking! what momentous consequences hang on thee! (Edwin Davies.)

Death a sleep

I. Sleep is rest, or gives rest to the body: so death.

1. Rest from labour and travail.

2. Rest from trouble and opposition.

3. Rest from passion and grief.

4. Rest from sin, temptation, Satan, and the law.

II. Sleep is not perpetual; we sleep and wake again; so, though the body lie in the grave, yet death is but a sleep; we shall wake again.

III. The sleep of some men differs very much from that of others: So the death of saints differs from that of the wicked.

1. Some men sleep before their work is done; so some die before their salvation is secured.

2. Some fall asleep in business and great distraction, others in peace.

3. Some dread the thought of dying, because of the dangers that lie beyond. But saints have no fear.

4. Some fall asleep in dangerous places, and in the midst of their enemies-on the brink of hell, surrounded by the spirits of perdition. But saints die in the view of Jesus; in the love and covenant of Jesus.

IV. A man that sleeps is generally easily awakened: So the body in death shall be much more easily awakened at the last day than the soul can now be aroused from its sleep of sin. (B. Keach.)

Why death of the godly is called sleep

The reason why the death of the godly is called a sleep in Scripture is this: because there is a fit resemblance between it and natural sleep; which resemblance consists chiefly in these things.

1. In bodily sleep men rest from the labours of mind and body. So the faithful, dying in the Lord, are said to rest from their labours (Revelation 14:13).

2. After natural sleep men are accustomed to awake again; so, after death, the bodies of the saints shall be awaked, i.e., raised up again to life out of their graves at the last flay. And as it is easy to awake one out of a natural sleep, so is it much more easy with God, by His almighty power, to raise the dead at the last day.

3. As after natural sleep the body and outward senses are more fresh and lively than before; so likewise after that the bodies of the saints, being dead, have for a time slept in their graves as in beds, they shall awake and rise again at the last day in a far more excellent state than they died in, being changed from corruption to incorruption, from dishonour to glory, from weakness to power, from natural to spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42).

4. As in natural sleep the body only is said properly to sleep, not the soul (the powers whereof work even in sleep in some sort, though not so perfectly as when we are waking): so in death, only the bodies of the saints do die and lie down in the graves, but their souls return to God who gave them (Ecclesiastes 12:7), and they live with God even in death and alter death.

5. As sleep is sweet to those who are wearied with labour and travail (Ecclesiastes 5:12), so also death is sweet and comfortable to the faithful, being wearied and turmoiled with sin, and with the manifold miseries of this life. (G. Petter.)

Death of children

God cultivates many flowers, seemingly only for their exquisite beauty and fragrance. For when, bathed in soft sunshine, they have burst into blossom, then the Divine hand gathers them from the earthly fields to be kept in crystal vases in the deathless mansions above. Thus little children die-some in the sweet bud, some in the fallen blossom; but never too early to make heaven fairer and sweeter with their immortal bloom. (Wadsworth.)

Goeth in where the child was: Christ in the chamber of death

I. A good child is at home in either world, not sorry to go to the other world to get joy, and not sorry to come back to this world to give it.

II. We know not where the other world is, but it is evidently within range of the Saviour’s voice. Our dear dead are therefore safe and all their conditions ordered by the Saviour’s mercy.

III. Life is indestructible by death.

IV. On a universal scale Christ will be found to be the Resurrection and the Life to all who love Him.

V. He inflicts bereavement, but sympathises with its sorrow. He relieves these mourners here, to show that He pities all mourners. (R. Glover.)

Talitha cumi

He uses what were, perhaps, the words used every morning by her mother on waking her-“Little one, get up.” (R. Glover.)

The raising of Jairus’ daughter

I. The application which Jesus received.

1. By whom it was made.

2. The favour he implied.

3. The feeling which this ruler displayed.

II. The ready compliance of our Lord with the request made to Him. But as He went we are called upon-

1. To witness a strange interruption.

2. To listen to what seemed very discouraging information-“Thy daughter is dead.”

III. The wonderful result with which this visit was attended.

1. What our Lord saw.

2. What He said.

3. What He did. (Expository Outlines.)


Verse 36

Mark 5:36

Be not afraid, only believe.

Only believe

The circumstances in which our Lord uttered these simple but memorable words … Did He say this for the sake of Jairus alone? Nay, surely not! I take these precious words of our Lord, and now especially apply them to one who is seeking forgiveness, but who feels as if he need scarcely hope, as if he could never be a child of God, etc. If you have some such feelings, it is just to you I say, “Be not afraid, only believe!”

1. There are some, many, alas! and the Bible scarcely contains a word which I should not sooner think of addressing to them than, “Be not afraid!” O that I could make them be afraid! Who are they? Persons who are not, and perhaps never were troubled with fear about their souls. God is too merciful to cast them out, or they are not wicked enough to be lest, or they are sure to be converted before they die, or they can make up for past defects by good living for the future.

2. But to thee who like Jairus art troubled in heart and seeking help from Christ, and over whose hopes dark feelings pass, as if it was all in vain, all too late-to thee I say, “Be not afraid!” While a man remains indifferent as to his soul, the great deceiver seeks to persuade him that nothing is so easy as salvation; but the moment conscience becomes awake, and the man begins in earnest to ask, What must I do to be saved? the deceiver changes his voice. Now, nothing is so difficult, so impossible, as salvation. Before, it was too soon; now, it is too late. “Be not afraid, only believe!”

3. When He said to Jairus, “Only believe,” what idea did it convey? Simply, trust to Me. You are not walking with Him side by side; you cannot look into His countenance or hear the unearthly power of His words. But He is as close to you as he was to Jairus. When He said “Only believe,” the hopeless father had no alternative but either to feel He is not trusted, or to feel He will save her after all. Had he looked down to the ground, probably he would have felt the first. If he looked full into the face of Jesus, he would feel, He cannot lie: it seems impossible, but I must trust Thee. So with you.

Be not afraid, only believe

This exhortation has two sides-the negative and the positive.

I. In its negative aspect.

II. In its positive aspect.

Only believe

I. Faith. It is faith that sends him on this errand; faith in Jesus as a healer, for at first his faith only reached thus far. But Jesus leads him on; and ends with realizing in Him the raiser of the dead. Faith often begins with little and ends in much; it begins with a trickling streamlet, and ends with a full broad river.

II. Faith giving way. Does not faith often fail thus? We can go to Him for a little thing; not for a great. Instead of feeling that the worse the case the greater the glory to His power and love, we stop short, and cease to expect anything from Him.

III. Faith strengthened. “Fear not,” etc.

IV. Faith victorious. The victory is resurrection.

V. Unbelief rebuked. Excluded from the glorious spectacle. (H. Bonar, D. D.)

Only believe

I. Concerning this fear.

1. Fearfulness is common in applicants to the Saviour, and it springs from such sources as the following:

2. There can be nothing in the circumstances of an applicant to Jesus Christ to justify fear. Jesus does not reject you for sin, weakness, sadness-nothing is difficult to Him. He will do all at the right time.

3. Fearfulness when cherished is positively displeasing to the Saviour. It is groundless, dishonouring, injurious to ourselves.

II. Concerning trust.

1. Trust in Jesus is His due.

2. It is not always easy.

3. Are you all applicants to Jesus Christ? “Be not afraid.” Trust for the knowledge which is essential to life and salvation. (S. Martin.)

The charge of Christ under affliction

1. When difficulties are numerous and complicated.

2. When temptations are powerful and malignant.

3. When sickness occurs and is continued.

4. When bereaving providences are experienced.

5. What is the character and influence of our faith under these painful circumstances? (T. Wallace.)

Faith

Much is said in the Word of God of the principle of faith. The place that it occupies in the scheme of redemption is a very important one. It is essential to salvation. Without it we must remain destitute of all its blessings. This will be evident if we apply it-

I. To the general doctrine of salvation. To every inquirer for salvation we say, “Only believe.” Not that faith is the originating cause of salvation, for that were to deny the free grace of God; nor that faith is the procuring cause of salvation, for that were to set aside the efficacy of Christ’s atonement; nor that faith is the efficient cause of salvation, for that were to set aside the agency of the Holy Spirit: but we say that faith is the instrumental cause of salvation, that without the exercise of which no individual can experience salvation. This is the doctrine of the gospel (Acts 16:31; Acts 13:39; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:20-28; Romans 5:1).

1. This method of salvation conveys most glory to God.

2. This method of salvation alone produces real obedience.

3. This method is in accordance with the other parts of redemption. Let us apply the principle before us-

II. To the case of the true penitent.

III. To Christian believers.

IV. To the trials and sufferings of the Christian life. It is applicable-

1. To seasons of temptation.

2. To seasons of afflictive providences. (W. M. Bunting.)

Believing

I. The persons to whom the text is applicable. The case of Jairus. There was an evil he wanted to remove. A danger he wanted to prevent. A blessing he wanted to procure.

1. The first qualification of souls coming to Jesus is a sense of want, some evil to be removed, etc.

2. This sense of want brings us out of ourselves-out of dependence on mere external means.

3. The expression of our wants in earnest supplication.

4. Jairus came to Christ in faith.

II. The nature of the delightful duty and privilege.

1. Fear is a painful feeling, arising from the apprehension of some evil. A man at the feet of Jesus need not indulge in tormenting fear, for there is no evil he is in danger of but he may be saved from-no blessing he needs but he may secure. “Fear not,” etc.

2. What is this believing-what is faith? Sometimes it is called looking, receiving, etc.

III. The right you have to all the encouragement in the text.

1. If you have the sense of need, and if you are at the feet of Jesus, then you have an absolute, personal, Scriptural right to appropriate the salvation of God as your own. You are just where a sinner ought to be, etc.

2. You have a right because you comply with the invitation.

3. You are at the central point of all the promises. All “yea and amen” in Him.

4. Will you still indulge in tormenting fear? “Yes,” says one, “You don’t know what reason I have to fear,” etc. Enumerate the various sources of fear, and show that no sinner need fear who is truly penitent and at the feet of Jesus. (W. Dawson.)

Only believe

Mr. Moody was one night preaching in Philadelphia; near the pulpit sat a young lady, who listened with eager attention, drinking in every word. After he had done talking he went to her. “Are you a Christian?” “No,” she replied, “I wish I was; I’ve been seeking Jesus for three years.” Mr. Moody replied, “There must be some mistake.” “Don’t you believe me?” said the distressed girl. “Well, no doubt you think you have been seeking Jesus; but, believe me, it don’t take three years for a seeking soul to meet a seeking Saviour.” “What am I to do, then?” “You have been trying to do long enough; you must just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Oh!” said the young lady, “I am so tired of that word: ‘Believe,’ ‘believe,’ ‘believe!’ I don’t know what it means.” “Then we’ll change the word, and say, ‘trust.’” “If I say, ‘I’ll trust Him,’ will He save me?” “I don’t say that, for you may say ten thousand things; but if you do trust Him, He certainly will.” “Well,” said she, “I do trust him; but I don’t feel any better!” “Ah!” said Mr. Moody, “I see; you’ve been looking for feelings for three years, instead of looking to Jesus.” If the translators of the Bible had everywhere inserted “feelings” instead of “faith,” what a run there would be upon the book. But God does not say a word about feelings from Genesis to Revelation. With men “seeing is believing” but with the believer “believing is seeing.” An orphan child was once asked by her little friend, “What do you do without a mother to tell your troubles to?” “Mother told me to go to Jesus; He was mother’s Friend, and He’s my Friend too,” was the simple reply. “But He is a long way off; He won’t stop to mind you.” Her face brightened, as she said: “I don’t know about that, but I know He says He will, and that’s enough for me.” And should not that be enough for you and me? (Anon.)


Verse 41

Verse 43

Mark 5:43

Something should be given her to eat.

Feeding upon Christ

A great thing never made Christ forget a little thing. This is real greatness. Always as you go up to the highest, you find it more and more that the little things take a larger place. The disclosures of the microscope are quite as wonderful as the discoveries of the telescope. And if any thoughtful, religious man had to tell what had given him his highest idea of God, and made the deepest impression of His love, he would probably single out some very small event of life. It warn so wonderful, and so good, that the great God should care to notice, and superintend, and answer prayer, about such a little thing, which might have appeared so very insignificant. And, correspondingly, that is the greatest faith which is occupied about minutiae. There is many a man who believes that he is saved; but yet finds it very hard to trust God for the details of common life. God always feeds the life He gives. I see it in creation. The light and air created before vegetable life; the vegetable life before animal life; animal life before human life. To an observant eye, the whole earth is a table laid out, and amply spread for the sustenance of everything which God’s hand has made. But it is not only concerning your bodily life, that you may rest secure that God will maintain the being He has made: there is the life of your intellect; and a man’s mind needs food as much as his body. And has not God secured it? Are not subjects for thought, and for the exercise of our rational faculties, in every place? God’s great lesson book around him, and beneath him, and above him, every moment, in all the beauties of earth, and sky, and air, and sea, teeming with their suggestive wonders and their great teaching facts? And now the great question is, “What is it which He gives us to eat, and which is the vitality of a soul? and how is it communicated?” In its strictest and truest sense, the answer to that question is only one-“Christ is the food of the soul.” Never think that your Bible will be “feeding” of itself. Neither its words, nor its histories, nor its doctrines, nor its promises. You must find the Christ that is in it, before it feeds you. And the more Christ you find in the word, the more that word will feed your soul. Secondly, all spiritual acts between the soul and God feed. Meditation-adoration-prayer-secret converse. For the Holy Ghost flows through means. And he carries Christ into the very currents of your being, till Christ mingles with your very life blood. And each time that happens, it renews, it restores, it strengthens, it expands some part of the inner life; and by continual applications you have “life,” and you have it more abundantly. Thirdly, that habit formed, and that communication opened to the heart, there is nothing which may not convey nutriment to a believer’s soul. Everything that is beautiful-everything that is loving-everything that is wise-everything that is true-in nature, in art, in science, in history, and in Providence-everything may be an element of nutrition. It may all turn to spiritual nerve, and power, and growth. And fourthly, to a very great extent, Christian intercourse and fellowship feed. And you must remark that our Lord did not say to the damsel, “Eat,” but to those before her, “Give you to her to eat.” We are bound to feed one another. Whatever knowledge, or grace, or peace, or comfort, God has given you, He says, “Feed, with this, one of My lambs.” But fifthly, and especially, the Holy Communion. This was ordained for this very end. It is essentially feeding. It is the feast where there is spread the richest, the sweetest, and the best! How can some of you expect your souls to live, if you neglect this great sustentation of all spiritual life? (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Mark 5:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/mark-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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