corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.20.12.03
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Matthew 8

 

 


Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. VIII.

Christ cleanseth the leper, healeth the centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law, and many others diseased; sheweth how he is to be followed: stilleth the tempest on the sea, driveth the devils out of two men possessed and suffereth them to go into the swine.

Anno Domini 31.


Verse 2

Matthew 8:2. And, behold, there came a leper It has been generally thought, that this is the leper whose cure is recorded, Mark 1:40. Luke 5:12 and consequently that the sermon in Luke is not the same with that in the preceding chapter. But the cures, says Macknight, are different: that was performed in a city, this in the fields. Having cleansed the leper here mentioned, Jesus entered into Capernaum, and cured the centurion's servant; whereas, the other leper having published the miracle, Jesus did not choose, at least in the day-time, to go into the town; but remained without in desart places to shun the crowd. It must be acknowledged, indeed, that there are some things similar in the two cures: for instance,both the lepers say to Christ, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean; but it was so natural to address their desires to the Son of God in this form, by which also they express their belief in his power, that it is rather matter of wonder we do not find it more frequently made use of. Farther, there is the same command given to the lepers to go shew themselves to the priest; but this command must have been repeated not twice, but twenty times, on supposition that Jesus cleansed lepers so often. Accordingly we find him repeating it to the ten lepers, whom he cleansed at one time in Samaria; Luke 17:14. As for the circumstance of his bidding the cured person tell no man what had happened, it occurs almost in every miracle performed by Christ during the two first years of his ministry; the reasons for which see in the note on Matthew 8:4.

The immediate cure of the leprosy was only in the power of God: the leper, therefore,bythisapplication to Christ, immediately confesses his divine authority; but more fully to enter into this subject, the reader should refer to our notes on Leviticus 13 and on 2 Kings 5:6-7.


Verse 3

Matthew 8:3. And Jesus put forth his hand, &c.— Dr. Doddridge supposes that our Saviour took this leper aside from the multitude, without which he thinks there could have been no room for the charge of secresy which Jesus gave. This circumstance certainly happened in another cure. See Mark 8:23. Christ had taught with authority, ch. Matthew 7:29 which he immediately confirms by wonderful actions. The priest, after a long trial, pronounced whether a man was cured of his leprosy or not; but Christ healed him with a word. St.Matthew could not have related the matter in more proper terms. This is that sublimity which Longinus so much admires in Moses. See his treatise on the Sublime, sect. 9.


Verse 4

Matthew 8:4. See thou tell no man Jesus commanded the leper without all delay to haste to Jerusalem, lest, if the report of his cure should arrive before him, the priests, through envy, might refuse to pronounce him cleansed; for it was the province of the priest to judge of and to determine concerning the leprosy. For a testimony unto them, means to the Jews, and particularly to the priests and Pharisees, who withstood the doctrine of Christ. The sense of the passage is, "that the sacrifice offered by the leper may be a proof of the reality of this miracle, and consequently of my divine mission." These words may also be rendered, that it may be a testimony against them: compare Mark 6:11. Luke 9:5. The plain meaning seems to be, "Go without delay, and shew yourself, cleansed as you are, to the priest, and present the sacrifices which the law requires for your purification, that we may convince them of the reality of the cure, and yet not give them any occasion of calumny." But though our Saviour here might enjoin secresy on the leper only till he had shewn himself to the priest; yet he commanded many others to tell none of the miracles he had wrought upon them. It was not in our Lord's plan to be universally received as the Messiah during his abode upon earth in the flesh. Those who had even then sufficient evidence proposed to them of our Lord's divine mission, and notwithstanding rejected it, were utterly inexcusable; but who those were, He alone in most instances could determine, who judges the heart. He was indeed to fulfil all the prophetical characters of the Messiah, that, when the time appointed for his erecting his kingdom arrived, the foundation on which it was to rest might want nothing of the strength and solidity which was necessary to support so great a fabric as the faith of the world. But all those prophetical characters of the Messiah, Jesus fulfilled, and appropriated to himself, when in his own lifetime on the earth he proved his divine mission; and by miracles communicated to a competent number of disciples every thing necessary in order to their propagating it through the world; and in the conclusion, by his sufferings and death, not only confirmed his doctrine, but made atonement for the sins of men. The wisdom of his plan was therefore worthy of its author.


Verse 5

Matthew 8:5. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum St. Luke has related this part of the evangelical history more at large than St. Matthew.The whole may be thus connected: Jesus, having finished his sermon on the mount, as soon as he came down thence, to shew that his words and doctrines pertained both to the Jews and Gentiles, performed two miracles; the one for a Jew, a leper who came to him, the other for a Gentile, a centurion or Roman commander of a hundred soldiers, who was stationed at Capernaum. A servant of this centurion, whose virtue and honesty, obedience and industry, made him very valuable [ εντιμος ] in the eyes of his master, lay at home sick of the palsy, in the most grievous stage of the disease, δεινως βασανιζομενος. The centurion, hearing of Jesus (whose fame began now to be spread abroad, and to which his miraculous cure performed at a distance on the son of a nobleman in this same city must have greatly contributed, see John 4:43-53.), but not thinking himself worthy to come unto him, engaged, as St. Luke informs us, the elders of the Jews in his cause, and sent them to intercede with this blessed Person, of whom he had conceived such high notions, on behalf of his afflicted servant. They performed their office punctually; for they came and besoughtour Lord instantly and earnestly, and strengthened their importunity by informing him, that the centurion was worthy for whom he should do this; for he loveth our nation, say they, and, as a proof of it, hath built us a synagogue. Jesus, ever ready to do good, made them no reply, but immediately went with them. The centurion, hearing that he was coming, moved by the most remarkable humility, and judging his house unworthy the presence of so divine a guest, immediately dismissed his friends, to desire the Master not to give himself so great trouble, as to come to the house of one, who judged himself so far from being worthy of this great condescention, that he thought himself not even worthy to come to Jesus: his humble request was, that he would deign to speak the word only, since he was assured that would be sufficient for the recovery of his servant. But humility never yet prevented Christ's approach; and therefore he proceeded on towards the centurion's house; coming near to which, the centurion himself, as St. Matthew here informs us, hastened out to meet him; and thus the sacred historians are easily reconciled, and the history recorded here and in St. Luke appears to be one and the same. However, as Macknight and some others suppose the histories to be different, that I may do justice to the subject, I will subjoin their arguments at the end of the 13th verse.


Verse 6

Matthew 8:6. My servant ' Ο παις μου . In Luke he is called δουλος: whence the writers hinted-at at the end of the last note would draw an argument in proof of the difference of these histories; for as παις sometimes signifies son, they would infer, that this centurion came for the cure of his son; that in Luke for the cure of his servant. This argument, however, is by no means conclusive; for it is plain, from several other passages both in sacred and prophane writers, that παις in the Greek, as well as puer in the Latin, is frequently used for servant.

Greviously tormented Greviously afflicted. The Greek word is not confined, especiallyin the Hellenistic idiom, to the signification oftormented, but often denotes simply (as has been observed by Grotius and Hammond) afflicted or distressed. Palsies are not attended with torment.


Verse 8-9

Matthew 8:8-9. Lord, I am not worthy, &c.— The centurion with great humility answers our Lord, that he means he should not take the trouble of going to his house, as he was a Gentile; but only that he would be so good as to command his servant's cure, though at a distance; for he knew his power equal to that effect; diseases and even devils of all kinds being as much subject to Christ's commands, as his soldiers were to him. He knew that he himself was only an inferior officer; for the Roman centurions were subject to the command of their respective tribunes, as our captains are to that of their colonels. "I am only an inferior officer," says he, "and yet, what I command is done even in my absence; how much more what thou commandest, who art Lord of all!" Some of the heathens formed very grand ideas of the divine power: thus Cicero says, Nihil est quad Deus efficere non posset, et quidem sine labore ullo. Ut enim hominum membra nulla contentione mente ipsa ac voluntate moveantur, sic numine Deorum omnia regi, moveri, mutarique possent. See Nat. Deor. lib. 3. "There is nothing which God cannot effect, and that without any labour; for as the members ofmen are moved without any difficulty by the mere act of their will, so can the Deity direct and govern all things." But the excellency and the peculiarity of the centurion's faith consisted in his applying this sublime idea to Jesus, who by outward appearance was only a Man. His faith seems to have taken rise, as was above hinted, from the miraculous cure performed some time before on a nobleman's son at Capernaum; for as the centurion dwelt there, he might know that at the time of the cure Jesus was not in Capernaum, but at Cana, at the distance of a day's journey from the sick, when he performed it; but this faith could have been only speculative and inefficacious, if the centurion had not already yielded to and experienced a measure of the power of divine grace.


Verse 10

Matthew 8:10. He marvelled Our Lord's conduct on this occasion by no means implies that he was ignorant before either of the centurion's faith, or of the grounds on which it was built; he knew all fully, before the man spake one word; but he was struck with admiration at the noble notion which this heathen Roman captain had conceived of his power; the passion of admiration being excited by the greatest and most beautiful of any object, as well as by its novelty: Jesus expressed his admiration of the centurion's faith in the praises which he bestowed upon it to them who followed, as he was passing along the streets of Capernaum, with a view to make it the more conspicuous; for he declared publicly, that he had not met with, among the Jews themselves, any one who possessed such just, such elevated conceptions of the power by which he acted, notwithstanding they were, as a nation, the chosen people of God, and enjoyed the benefit of a divine revelation, directing them to believe on him. See Macknight, and Beausobre and Lenfant. It is very remarkable, says Dr. Heylin, that throughout the whole Gospel Jesus is never said to wonder at any thing but faith; which wonder in Christ is to be interpreted as a high expression of esteem. See ch. Matthew 15:28. Now things difficult, rare, and extraordinary in their kind, are the proper objects of admiration: but it may be said, Is not faith the gift of God? and is God's bounty so penurious, and his gifts so rare, that he himself, who has the distribution of them, our Lord I mean, should wonder to find a mind greatly enriched by them? To this we answer, that most indubitably faith is the gift of God, and that a man might as soon create in himself a new sense, as produce a true and lively faith by his own natural abilities: and it was not the gift, but man's persevering acceptance of that gift, which was the subject of Christ's admiration. To pass over what was peculiar in the case of this centurion,—whereof we are not competent judges, as Christ alone discerned his inmost sentiments,—and to bring this matter home to ourselves, we may, upon due reflection, be convinced that divine faith in general, when it is actually received and embraced in the heart of a Christian, produces there such strange and wondrous effects, as cannot but raise our esteem and admiration: for faith is a divine light, by which conscience will presently read us our duty, and urge such mortifying consequences, mixed with the most consolatory, that it is no wonder men shut their eyes against it, when it first begins to glimmer upon their minds. But this matter cannot be more emphatically represented than in the following words of the judicious Dr Barrow: "The first step," says he, "into the Christian state, is a sight and sense of our own weakness, baseness, and misery. We must discern and feel that our mind is very blind, our reason feeble, our will impotent and prone to evil; that out life is void of merit, and polluted with guilt; that our condition is deplorably sad and wretched; that of ourselves we are insufficient to think or do any good, in order to our recovery: whence we are obliged to sore compunction of spirit for our deeds and our case; to humble confession of our sins and miseries; to earnest supplication for mercy and grace, to heal and rescue us from our sad estate. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! What shall I do to be saved? Wretched man that I am! &c. are the ejaculations of a soul teeming with faith." It isthen, if the sinner will simply and believingly lay hold on Christ, that the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him. Romans 5:5.


Verse 11-12

Matthew 8:11-12. And I say unto you From this exalted pitch of faith found in a heathen, Jesus took occasion to declare the merciful purpose which God entertained towards the Gentiles, namely, that he would accept their faith as readily as the faith of the Jews, and seat them with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in heaven; while the children of the kingdom, that is to say, the members of the visible church under the Mosaic dispensation, who come short of living faith, should be shut out for ever. Though the phrase from the east and from the west is most probably proverbial, to express from all parts of the earth (see Luke 13:29.), yet it is remarkable, that the Gospel spread much more to the east and west of Judaea, than to the north and south of it. The words ανακλιθησονται μετα 'Αβρααμ, shall sit, or lie down with Abraham, whereby our Lord expresses the future happiness of the faithful Gentiles, signify properly, "to sit down at table with Abraham," &c. This is agreeable to the phraseology of Scripture, which represented the rewards of the righteous under the idea of a sumptuous entertainment; and though the joys of heaven be all of a spiritual kind, this metaphor needs not be thought strange; since, as Le Clerc observes, we can neither speak ourselves, nor understand others speaking, of our state in the life to come, unless phrases taken from the affairs of this life be made use of. Besides, the metaphor is not peculiar to the inspired writings. The Greeks represented divine pleasure under the notion of a feast. Empedocles, speaking of the felicity of virtuous men after death, says, "They live cheerfully at tables with the other immortals, free from the pains to which other men are subjected." Our Lord, by representing the Gentiles as lying down at the feast of heaven on the same couch withAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the founders of the Jewish nation, has disgraced the pride of the Israelites, who disdained to eat with Gentiles, though many of them, in point of morality, were far better than they. There is a great emphasis in the original of the 12th verse, where the punishment of those rejected from the kingdom is described. They shall not only be cast out,—that were very bad,—but they shall be cast out into darkness;—what can be worse? Behold, they shall be cast out into το σκοτος το εξωτερον, the very outer darkness: and how is this augmented by the next words, there shall be weeping, &c. The Greek word κλαυθμος signifies also the cries and holdings which sometimes accompany weeping; and the gnashing of teeth which is added here completes the description of rage and despair, See ch. Matthew 13:42; Matthew 13:50. Acts 7:54. It has been justly observed by many commentators, that this phrase of outer darkness, which is often used after comparing the kingdom of heaven to a banquet, contains a beautiful allusion to the lustre of those illuminated rooms in which such feasts were generally celebrated, as opposed to that darkness which surrounded those who by night were turned out; but it also sometimes goes yet farther, when the persons excluded are supposed to be thrown into a dark dungeon. Compare ch. Matthew 22:13, Matthew 25:30 and Jude, Matthew 8:13 and see Doddridge, Macknight, and Calmet.


Verse 13

Matthew 8:13. Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way This most evidently proves that the centurion was come out of his house, as we have observed on Matthew 8:5. There is in these words of our Saviour a strong insinuation, thatthe centurion had conceived no higher an idea of his divine power than was just; As thou hast believed, so, &c. After these words many manuscripts read, And the centurion, returning to his house, found that his servant, &c. See Wetstein. This miracle, says Macknight, is generally supposed to have been the same with that related, Luke 7:1; Luke 7:50 yet they seem to have been different. For, 1. According to St. Matthew, it was the centurion's son ( παις ) who was sick; whereas, according to Luke, it was his servant ( δουλος ). It is true, Luke once uses the Greek word παις, which signifies a son; a circumstance which has led many to confound the two miracles: yet there is little in it, as we are directed to explain that word by the name δουλος, servant, which he uses no less than three times. On theother hand, we are under no necessity to translate the original word παις in Matthew by servant, but upon the supposition that the miracles are the same. 2. Matthew's centurion came in person, being to ask a favour for his son; whereas Luke's centurion, considering with himself that he was to petition Jesus in behalf of a slave, first prevailed with the elders of the town to present his petition: afterwards, on second thoughts, he deputed some intimate friends to hinder Jesus from coming. The maxim indeed of the civilians, that he who causes another to do any thingmay be said to do it himself, is thought by many a sufficient reconciliation of this difference. But it is not so; for though the law establishes that maxim, to render the execution of justice effectual, it cannot well be allowed in history; the perfection of which lieth in the exactness of the narration. And therefore, seeing Matthew has expresslyaffirmed that the centurion came beseeching Jesus; that Jesus said to him, I will come, &c. that the centurion answered, I am not worthy, &c. and that Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee: to interpret these things as said to a man's friends, would be extremely harsh, and contrary to all the rules of history. 3. There is not the smallest hint given in Matthew, that the centurion of whom he speaks was a proselyte. On the contrary, there is an insinuation that he was not, in the opposition that is stated between his faith and the faith of the Israelites; and in the declaration which our Lord was pleased to make on this occasion; viz. that many should come from the east and west, that is, from all countries, and sit down in the kingdom of God while the children of the kingdom, who looked on themselves as having the only natural right to it, should be excluded for ever. Whereas the centurion of whom St. Luke speaks was a lover of the Jewish nation, and had built them a synagogue, perhaps in Italy, or some other heathen country; and so was, in all probability, a proselyte of righteousness; for which cause the principal people of the town cheerfully undertook to solicit Jesus in his behalf. On the other hand, there are three similar circumstances attending these miracles, which have made the bulk of readers confound them. 1. They were both performed in the town of Capernaum, after Jesus had preached sermons which in substance are pretty much the same. To this I reply, that these sermons were different; the one in Matthew having been preached on a mountain; whereas that in Luke was delivered on a plain, Luke 17:2. Both the centurions dwelt in Capernaum. But this might easily happen; as in the space of twelve or fourteen months different companies of Roman soldiers in Herod's pay, with their officers, may have been stationed there: or there may have been two centurions in Capernaum at the same time, whose soldiers might be quartered in the town and the neighbouring villages. 3. Both centurions made the same speech to Jesus, the one in person, the other by his friends; Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come, &c. But this circumstance may be accounted for in the following manner: As the faith of the first centurion, who was a heathen, took its rise from the extraordinary cure which Jesus had performed on the nobleman's son, the address of the second might take its rise from the success of the first; which could not miss of being well known both in the town and country. Much encouraged, therefore, by that instance of Christ's goodness, the second centurion might expect something on behalf of his slave, especially as he was himself not a heathen by religion, but a proselyte to Moses, and a lover of the Jews, and had built them a synagogue: besides, he had engaged the elders of the city to present his petition. However, when the elders were gone, recollecting his brother centurion's speech, that had been so favourably received, he bethought himself of sending some friends, with the same speech improved by this farther circumstance of humility, that he did not think himself worthy so much as to come into Christ's presence. See Luke 7:6-7. This being an eminent instance of faith and humility, Jesus would not let it pass without due approbation. He honoured it with the same high encomium which he had passed on the like faith and humility in the other centurion: only, as this was not a heathen by religion, he did not, as formerly, set his faith and the reward of it in opposition to the faith of the Jews. This opposition he stated afterwards, when one asked him, Are there few to be saved? Luke 13:28. To conclude: that two centurions should have had one his son, and the other his slave, cured in Capernaum, withlikecircumstances,isno more improbable, than that the temple should have been twice purged, the multitude twice fed, and the fishes twice caught by miracle, and with the same circumstances.


Verse 14

Matthew 8:14. And when Jesus was come After this, Jesus going into Peter's house, saw there his wife's mother lying sick of a fever. This was the house into which Jesus was used to retire at Capernaum. See Mark 1:21 and Luke 4:31. Peter was of Bethsaida, which was at a little distance from Capernaum; John 1:44. This event happened after the cure wrought upon the demoniac in the synagogue, spoken of by St. Mark and St. Luke in the passages above quoted.


Verse 15

Matthew 8:15. And he touched her hand Her cure was effected in an instant, and not slowly, like the cures produced in the course of nature, or by medicine; for though the length and violence of her distemper had brought her into a weak and languid state, her full strength returned all at once, insomuch that, rising up immediately, she prepared a supper for them, and served them while at meat, διηκονει αυτοις : shewing that she was restored to perfect health. Some commentators read αυτω, to him, after many manuscripts.


Verse 16

Matthew 8:16. When the even was come St. Mark adds, At even, when the sun was set; because it was the sabbath, the people did not come with their sick to Jesus; but as soon as the holy rest was ended, that is to say, at sun-setting, they brought them in great numbers to him, fully persuaded that he would heal them.


Verse 17

Matthew 8:17. That it might be fulfilled, &c.— This prophecy of Isaiah relates properly to the sins of men, whereof diseases are the emblem and the consequence; for which reason the original Hebrew words rendered here our infirmities have been by the LXX, and by St. Peter, 1 Peter 2:24 translated our sins. Grotius has observed that the original word εβαστασεν signifies, "to carry a heavy load," Romans 15:1. Galatians 6:2 and so expresses well the indefatigable labours of Christ, spending the evening in healing, probably with many intermingled discourses, after he had employed the day in preaching.


Verses 18-20

Matthew 8:18-20. Now when Jesus saw, &c.— Now Jesus, perceiving the crowd about him, gave orders to depart, &c. Though our Saviour had retired into the wilderness after the cure of the leper, mentioned Luke 5:12 the people, excited by the fame of that miracle, came to him from every quarter; wherefore, that he might effectually avoid them, he resolved to go to the other side of the lake, and commanded his disciples to accompany him. Upon this, a scribe, who happened to be present, offered to follow him, Matthew 8:19 but Jesus, knowing that he had nothing in view but the pleasures and profits of the supposed kingdom, would not accept of his service; telling him, that he was quite mistaken if he proposed to better his worldly circumstances by attending him. The phrase Son of man is found in Daniel 7:13 where the universal dominion to which the Messiah, in quality of the Son of man, was to be raised, is described. It is the appellation which the Lord Jesus Christ commonly gives himself; and as he was called so by none but himself, it is plain that he chose the title out of humility, as having some relation to his mean and humble appearance in this world. Son of man, in the prophets Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah, does not so much denote the human nature, as the frailty and weakness of man; and in this sense undoubtedly the expression is used, Psalms 8:4; Psalms 146:3. The Lord Jesus Christ takes care indeed to lay a stress upon it, when he would make his power and authority known. See ch. Matthew 9:6, Matthew 12:8. &c. but he certainly made use of it for this end, that he might rectify the mistaken notions which they had formed of the nature of his kingdom, and to give them to understand that the way he was to enter into glory was through sufferings and the cross. See Beausobre and Lenfant. Instead of lay his head, Matthew 8:20 we may read, rest his head.

To depart unto the other side Let it be remarked, once for all, that passing or crossing this lake or sea does not always denote sailing from the east side to the west, or inversely; though the river Jordan, both above and below the lake, ran southwards. The lake was of such a form, that, without any impropriety, it might be said to he crossed in other directions, even by those who kept on the same side of the Jordan.


Verse 21-22

Matthew 8:21-22. And another—said, &c.— The answer of this disciple supposes that our Saviour had ordered him to follow him. See Luke 9:59. It is uncertain whether this disciple's father was just dead, or whether, as being very old, his son desired leave to stay with him till his death. Christ's answer seems to take it for granted that he was already dead. Let the dead bury their dead: "Let those who are themselves spiritually dead perform the rites of funeral; yea, let the dead remain unburied, rather than disobey my word, when I give thee so great a commission."


Verse 23

Matthew 8:23. And when he was entered And when he went aboard the vessel.


Verse 24

Matthew 8:24. A great tempest The original phrase Σεισμος μεγας, properly signifies a mighty agitation; probably it was something of a hurricane. Jesus, possibly fatigued with the labours of the day (which had been a very busy one), was asleep in the stern of the vessel for the refreshment of his weary body, as well as for the trial of their faith.


Verse 27

Matthew 8:27. The men marvelled, saying, &c.— This reflection, as well as the extreme fear of the disciples in the time of their danger, may seem unaccountable, considering how many and what miracles they had been witnesses to; but both may be explained in some measure by the following remark; that hitherto his miracles were generally upon diseased persons, and that he had given as yet no proofs of his dominion over the elements, the wind and the water, which, it seems, were thought less subject to human power than distempers: or if this does not account for the reflection which the disciples made on seeing the present instance of Christ's power, it may be attributed to the fear and confusion they were in, occasioned by the greatness of their jeopardy, from which they were but just delivered. See more concerning this miracle on Mark 4:37-41.


Verse 28

Matthew 8:28. And when he was come to the other side The storm being hushed, they came to land. St. Matthew says, in the country of Girgasa, or of the Gergasenes; St. Mark and Luke, in the country of Gadara; but the Evangelists do not differ here; if, as it is probable, the one gives us the general name of the country, the other the denomination of a particular spot only; though indeed there is no necessity for this supposition, as many manuscripts and versions of great authority read Gadarenes here, in agreement with St. Mark and St. Luke. Josephus says, Gadara was the metropolis of Peraea, and that it was sixty furlongs from Tiberias. Gadara therefore is rightly placed opposite to Tiberias, at the south end of the sea. Farther; speaking of the country of Gadara, he says, it bounded Galilee to the east. See Luke 8:26. Gadara, therefore, must have been situated on the east side of the lake, about eight miles from Tiberias, in such a manner, that part of its territory was contiguous to the Lower Galilee, but separated from it by the Jordan; and part of it was opposite thereto, with a lake between. The city was one of those called Decapolis, and, according to Josephus, was situated in Coelo-Syria, in the possession of the tribe of Manasseh. When Pompey subdued Judaea, he rebuilt Gadara, and joined it to the province of Syria: Augustus afterwards gave it to Herod; but, upon Herod's death, he annexed it again to Syria. By these means the town came to be inhabited partly by Syrians. Gadara being thus inhabited by a mixture of people, it is no wonder that there were swine in its territory: for, though the Jews did not eat the flesh of these animals, they might breed them fortheir heathen neighbours; or the herd might be the property of the latter.

When Jesus and his disciples landed at this place, two men possessed with devils came towards them from the tombs. Mark and Luke speak only of one demoniac; but in several instances the sacred historians mention but one person, though more were concerned in thematter related. St. Austin thinks that one of the demoniacs was more remarkable than the other, perhaps for his birth, or parts, or interest in the country; and that his cure made more noise, and for that reason was mentioned by Mark and Luke, while they omitted the cure of the other. St. Luke's account, as it stands in our translation, seems in one particular, at first sight, to clash with St. Matthew and St. Mark; for he says, Luke 8:27., there met him out of the city a certain man; but there is no inconsistency between the Evangelists; for St. Luke's words are ανηρ εκ της πολεως, which properly signifies a man of the city, one who had formerly been an inhabitant, though now he dwelt among the tombs. See the phrase in John 1:45 in the original. Accordingly St. Luke tells us, that he did not abide in any house, but in the tombs; whither Grotius supposes that the demons chose to drive the men whom they possessed, to confirm some superstitious notions of the Jews relating to the power of evil spirits over the dead. The heathens had undoubtedly such notions; but Elsner's opinion seems most probable, that the demoniacs chose the caves of this burying-ground as a kind of shelter; and he has shewn, that poor tormented creatures in extremity sometimes did the like. It should be remembered that the sepulchres of the Jews were, very wisely, always at some distance from their cities, in lonely and desert places. Hence St. Luke says of the demoniac, Luke 8:29 that he was driven of the devil into the wilderness. Doubtless those malevolent spirits love such tokens of death and destruction.

It should be observed farther, that no compassion to these unhappy men, nor endeavours for their own security, had been wanting in the people of the place: for they had frequently endeavoured to confine them; but no man could bind them, no not with chains; because, though they had been frequently so bound, the chains had been plucked asunder by them, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame them. See Mark 5:4. Being therefore at liberty, they shunned the society of men, wandering day and night amid the melancholy receptacles of the dead, formidable to all who passed by, and a great nuisance to the country. Concerning the nature of these demoniacs, see the note on the 33rd verse.

Matthew 8:29. What have we to do with thee? This is a Hebrew phrase, signifying "What right, rule, or authority dost thou claim over us?" What concern hast thou with us? See Judges 11:12. 2 Samuel 16:10. 1 Kings 17:18. 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Kings 9:19. Septuagint. There is in the next words, art thou come to torment us, &c. such a reference to the final sentence which Christ is to pass upon these rebel spirits in the judgment of the great day, to which they are reserved (Jude, Matthew 8:6.), as could not have been dictated by lunacy; and it is much to be questioned whether the persons speaking, or any of the hearers, but Christ himself, understood the sense and propriety of them. See 2 Peter 2:4.


Verses 30-32

Matthew 8:30-32. And there was a good way off—many swine, &c.— Instead of a good way off, Dr. Doddridge reads at a considerable distance,—at some distance;—and by comparing Mark 5:11 and Luke 8:32 it will be found, that this is the true meaning of the word μακραν . St. Mark says, that there were about two thousand in the herd of swine; which will not seem strange, if it be considered that the generality of the inhabitants of that country were Gentiles. The devils, no doubt, requested permission to enter into the herd of swine, with a view to prevent any good effects which the miracle might have had on the Gadarenes, and to render Christ odious to them. Their design could not be hid from Jesus: nevertheless he granted their request, making it subservient to his own gracious purposes. He permitted the devils to enter into the swine, not only to shew the reality of the possession (which was thus undeniably proved; for nothing but such a possession could have forced so large a herd down a precipice into the water), but that we might understand how great the power of evil spirits is, and how terrible the effects of their malice would be, if they were not restrained: for no sooner was the permission granted, than the keepers who were with the swine, and the disciples who were at a distance, beheld, to their great astonishment, the whole herd running furiously down the mountain, and leaping from the tops of the rocks into the sea; while the possessed furious madmen immediately became meek and composed, having recovered the intire exercise of their reason. Jesus also might permit the devils thus to fall on the herd, as a punishment to the Gadarenes for keeping swine, which were a snare to the Jews; and to make trial of their disposition, whether they would become more affected with the loss of their cattle, than with the recovery of the men, and with the doctrine of the kingdom. Whatever were the reasons, it is certain, that though he might rightfully have used all men's properties as he pleased; yet this, and the withering of the barren fig-tree, are the only instances wherein man suffered the least damage byany thing that our Lord ever did. But certainly, neither the owners of the herd, nor of the fig-tree, could justly complain of their loss, since the good of mankind, not in that period or corner only, but in every succeeding age, through all countries, has been so highly promoted at such a trifling expence to them. No miracles are more suspicious than pretended dispossessions, as there is so much room for collusionin them; but it was self-evident that the herd of swine could not be confederates in any fraud. Their death, therefore, in this instructive and convincing circumstance, was ten thousand times a greater blessing to mankind, than if they had been slain for food, as was intended. We may observe farther, that the devils, by making this request to Jesus, acknowledged that it was not in the power even of alegion of them to do any mischief to so contemptible a creature as a swine, without Christ's permission; far less could they destroy the man in whom they lodged. See Doddridge, Macknight, and Bishop Pearce's vindication of the miracles of Jesus.


Verse 33-34

Matthew 8:33-34. And they that kept them fled The miracle, issuing thus in the destruction of the swine, was immediately reported in the town and country by the affrighted keepers, who, as they fled, had fallen in, it seems, with Jesus and his company, and learned from them the cause of what had happened. The intelligence threw the Gadarenes into the utmost consternation; for when they came and saw the men who had been possessed sitting gravely in their right mind, and decently clothed (the disciples having charitably supplied them with such upper garments as they could spare), they perceived how great Christ's power was, and were exceedingly afraid, having trespassed in the matter of the swine, which was an unclean food: or, if the herd belonged to the Syrian inhabitants of the town, they might know the law, and consequently, taking the destruction of their cattle as a rebuke, they could not but dread farther punishment from this prophet of the Jews, who was come to vindicate the neglected institutions of Moses. Wherefore, this instance of his power terrifying them, they with one accord foolishly besought him, in the most earnest manner, to depart out of their country. It seems they were altogether ignorant of his goodness, notwithstanding he had given them a striking proof of it in the recovery of the demoniacs. As Jesus was intirely free from ostentation, he never forced his company on any people, nor wrought miracles of healing without being asked, lest it should have been imagined that he had chosen objects within his power. The madmen indeed, whose cure is here related, and persons in similar circumstances, were excepted, for a reason too obvious to be mentioned. In all his actions our Lord preserved a becoming dignity, tempered with great modesty. The request of the Gadarenes, therefore, being a sufficient reason for his withdrawing from such a stupid people, he entered into his vessel, and returned to the country whence he had come; leaving to them a valuable pledge of his love, and to us a noble pattern of perseverance in well-doing, even when our kindnesses are contemned, or it may be requited with injuries; for notwithstanding the men from whom the devils had been expelled, intreated him to take them along with him (See Mark 5:18.), fearing perhaps that their tormentors might return after he was gone, he ordered them to stay behind, as a standing monument both of his power and goodness; very proper to induce the Gadarenes to believe, when they found the miracle real, and that Jesus could restrain the devils, as well whenabsent as present. And this was the reason that, in the instance before us, Jesus acted contrary to his usual practice; ordering the men to go and publish the miracle among all their relations and acquaintance. See Luke 8:39. Besides, there were many heathens in Gadara and the neighbourhood, upon whom the publication of his miracles would not have the ill effect it was apt to have on the Jews: or he might give this order, because he did not intend to return soon into that part of the country.

Inferences.—The remarkable miracle just under consideration is an invincible evidence that the demoniacs mentioned in the New Testament were not, as some have supposed, only lunatics, or epileptics, but persons really possessed by unclean spirits. The personal actions of those spirits, and their entrance into the swine, abundantly prove it, were there no other proofs. But the scriptures throughout, as well as heathen writers, join in the testimony; and indeed the present miracle seems in a great measure designed to confute any such erroneous opinions, and to convince us of the reality of spiritual agency. The learned bishop of Rochester, in his excellent vindication of the miracles of Jesus, part 2: p. 28 observes, "In the instance of this miracle before us, we find that the devils spoke out of the possessed persons; they were sent out of them, and they entered into the herd of swine. Personal actions as well as speeches are ascribed to them, which can never be ascribed to mere phrensy and madness; for had there been nothing more than madness, when it ceased in the men, it would have had then no influence on the swine: whereas that which went out of the one and entered into the other, must have had a distinct being and existence of its own. This, therefore, is the true gospel-notion of demoniacs: they were not madmen only, but they were possessed by unclean spirits; and if Jesus came from God, much more if he be over all, God blessed for ever, Romans 9:5 he could not have been unacquainted with the immaterial world; and therefore no one can reasonably refuse to believe the account which he has given us of the operations of evil spirits upon human bodies. Had no authors but the sacred ones made mention of the demoniacs of those days, yet the scripture testimony would have been sufficient; but there are unquestionable authors, who agree in this point, and speak of possessed persons as no uncommon sight in their days. Josephus says, that Solomon had from God the art of casting devils out of men, and healing them; and that he composed charms for assuaging the disease, and left behind him forms of adjuration, by which the devils were so effectually cast out as never to return again. And he adds, that this way of healing was practised among his countrymen even down to his own days. Whether the Jews had so effectual a method of dispossessing men as Josephus thought, yet thus much appears plainly from his testimony, that there were persons possessed with devils in his days and long before: nay, he tells us in the same place, that he saw one dispossessed in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian and his family: and to prevent our mistaking this calamity for madness, or any other common and natural distemper, he explains what he means by being possessed with devils, when he says, giving us his ideas of those spirits, that what were called so, were the spirits of wicked men, which entered into living persons, and occasioned the death of such of them as met with no help. Plutarch and Lucian mention demoniacs, as well known in their days; and Philostratus, in his life of Apollonius, among the miraculous cures which he ascribes to him, has a particular account of a young man, who had an unclean spirit, which 'made him wander from home, and led him into the desolate parts of the country, amid deep valleys and precipices.' Where the reader may observe, that the same circumstances are said to have attended this young man, as attended the madmen in this miracle before us: and whatever was the truth of the fact reported by Philostratus, yet it shews both his opinion, that there were demoniacs at that time, and that the effects of such possession were commonly the same as the Evangelists represent them."

Why these demoniacs were so frequent at or about the time of our Saviour's coming, and perhaps more especially in and about the place of his ministry, though we may not be able to see all the reasons, yet it appears probable that, as the great end of his incarnation was to destroy the works of the devil, therefore the wise Disposer of all events might permit that apostate spirit to exert himself, and to display his tyranny in an unusual manner, that Christ's triumph over him might be more signal and manifest. Why such demoniacs were suffered at all, these reasons are offered: 1. To confirm us in our belief of the reality of the agency of good and bad spirits, which, surely, none who believe the gospel can doubt or deny; and to convince us of the divine power of Christ, whose words the evil spirits hear and obey with terrible confusion. 2. To exercise the patience and increase the reward of these, who are at any time tried by these and the like temptations of Satan, as in the case of Job 3. To convince unbelievers what blackness of darkness, what horrors and punishments, remain for those who shall be wholly given up to the power of these evil spirits. If they drive men into the tombs and deserts, cause them to howl in miserable lamentation, days and nights, to cut and mangle themselves with the rocks and stones; if here upon earth they cause men to fall down into the fire and water, to foam at the mouth, and gnash with the teeth; what will they do when they get miserable and condemned souls into their whole and intire possession! 4. A fourth reason alleged for these corporeal possessions is, that they were suffered, in order to shew us what the devil does with the soul spiritually possessed and enslaved by him and sin: for, as Satan, when he possesses the body, makes one blind, another deaf, another dumb, and another void of all sense; so, in whatever souls he reigns through sin, he deprives them of all spiritual senses, and renders them blind, and deaf, and dumb, to whatever concerns their great, their eternal welfare:—a consideration, which should incline all such to hasten to Christ, if they would escape those everlasting flames prepared for the devil and his angels. See the Inferences at the end of the next chapter: nor can I help referring my reader, desirous of improving the scripture history, to the Contemplations of the excellent bishop Hall, which will afford him at once the truest pleasure, and the greatest profit.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Struck with the power of his word, the multitude who had heard Christ preach followed him when he came down from the mount; and lo! a fresh occasion offers to raise their admiration, and confirm their faith in him as a teacher sent from God; for they who follow on to know the Lord, shall see fresh manifestations of his power, grace, and glory, every step they advance. We have,

1. A miserable leper's address to our Lord. The leprosy was esteemed by the Jews a disease immediately sent from God, incurable by human art, (2 Kings 5:7.) so defiling, as to exclude the unhappy object not only from the sanctuary, but, for the most part, from human converse and society; a lively figure of the fallen sinner, covered with guilt, full of corruption, excluded from God's presence, cut off from the communion of the Saints, incurable by any human means, himself unclean, and communicating defilement to all around him. Yet, deplorable as the case appears, blessed be God, it is not desperate; there is balm in Gilead, and a physician there. Behold, there came a leper who had himself perhaps heard our Lord preach, or drawn by the same of his wondrous works, and worshipped him; either with deepest respect as a prophet, or endued with the knowledge of his divine character, and paying him due adoration; saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. He doubted not his power and all-sufficiency, and therefore cast himself on his mercy for a cure. And herein he is the emblem of the awakened sinner, brought to a sight of his native misery. (1.) He casts himself down at the feet of Jesus in prayer, laying his guilty and polluted soul before him. (2.) He looks up to him as able to save to the uttermost; nor dares distrust that the infinite merit of his precious blood can justify the most guilty, and his grace renew the vilest heart: but often he hesitates in the view of his own unworthiness, and fears whether the Lord will have respect to one so utterly unworthy. (3.) However, as he sees no hope any where else, he presents his desperate case, assured that he must perish, unless the Lord hath respect unto him. But none ever yet perished at the feet of Jesus: for,

2. Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean: and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Such power accompanied his word and touch, as instantly effected the cure. And with like words of grace does Jesus speak to every poor sinner who applies to him. His answer is ever, I will: as ready as able to pardon and save the miserable and the desperate who come to him: be thou clean; thy guilt is cancelled, thy soul is delivered from the bondage of corruption; my blood, my grace, are sufficient for thee, and freely extend to thee: and by faith his word is realized to the soul; the scales drop off, guilt no more terrifies the conscience, nor has corruption any longer dominion over the heart.

3. Our Lord charges him not to divulge the means of his cure, but to go immediately to the priests, obtain their acknowledgement of his being healed, and offer the sacrifices prescribed. And this he did for the man's sake, lest out of envy the priests should refuse to pronounce him clean; and that his offering might be a testimony of the fact to all, when it should be more publicly known how the cure was wrought; as well as to cut off occasion from those who desired to represent our Lord as a breaker of Moses's laws, and thereby to prejudice the people against him. Note; every soul cleansed by grace will not fail to offer the grateful sacrifice not only of his lips, but of his heart, to God; and will seek to approve himself, to his Redeemer's glory, a living testimony of his power and grace.

2nd, Capernaum was the place where our Lord had fixed his abode, and whither he returned after his journey through Galilee. We have there,

1. The application made to him by a Roman centurion, the captain of a troop consisting of a hundred men. A soldier, from whom religion is least expected; but there are some faithful in all professions: a man of rank, few of whom were numbered among the followers of Jesus: a Gentile too, and for a Gentile; for Christ came a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as to be the glory of his people Israel. After sending messengers to beg the help of Jesus (Luke 7:3.), he came himself, a humble supplicant on the behalf of his sick servant, afflicted with the palsy, and grievously tormented, commending his miserable case to the compassions of Jesus. And herein he shewed (1.) His high respect for the Lord Jesus, and his dependence upon him. (2.) His great humanity towards his sick servant; not turning him out of doors because unable to work, but tenderly taking care of him, and seeking every means for his relief: a noble example; and which should also be an encouragement to servants to discharge their station with fidelity and honesty, as this will naturally endear them to their masters.

2. The answer that Christ gave to his request: I will come and heal him, though a poor servant, diseased, a Gentile also. Jesus is no respecter of persons; and his ministers herein must resemble him, ready on the first application to visit the meanest of their flock.

3. The deep humility and distinguished faith expressed by the centurion. Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; so lowly were the thoughts that he entertained of himself, so high his estimation of the dignity of the Redeemer. A gracious soul ever acknowledges himself thus less than the least of all God's mercies: nor does he think Christ's bodily presence necessary; so full was his confidence in the power of Jesus, that he is assured a single word will be sufficient to effect the cure, the most inveterate disease being intirely under the command of Jesus, and coming and going at his bidding: for if he, who was but an inferior officer, met with such ready obedience from his soldiers and servants, much more would a word from him, who had no superior, be obeyed. Learn hence, (1.) The character of a good servant; he obeys his master without answering again or hesitating. (2.) The duty of every Christian; to be obedient in all things, to do what Jesus pleases to command, and cheerfully to suffer what he ordains.

4. The high approbation of the centurion expressed by our Lord on this occasion. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled; not that he was surprised as with an unexpected thing; but he expressed himself as admiring what was so excellent and uncommon, that it might be more remarked by others; saying to his followers, Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel; none of that generation had given such proofs of faith as this Gentile. Note; The attainments of those who have enjoyed less means than others, will condemn the unprofitableness, and rise up in judgment against the slothfulness and carelessness of such as, blessed with every advantage for their souls, have abused or neglected them.

5. Hence Christ takes occasion to foretel the calling of the Gentiles, and rejection of the Jews for their unbelief. Though the Jews, partial to their nation, could not bear the thoughts that the heathen should share in the common salvation, our Lord assures them, that from all lands multitudes should be gathered unto him, and admitted to the same privileges, and have a place in the same kingdom as the most distinguished patriarchs: while, to their greater astonishment, they who boasted themselves as, exclusive of all others, the children of the kingdom, will, so far from having any part or lot in it, be cast out into outer darkness, as guests excluded from the bridal feast, and thrust out, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; the expressive signs of most poignant anguish, which will especially be the case with damned souls in the place of torment. Note; (1.) We shall see many in the kingdom of heaven, whom we least expected to find there; and many cast out, of whom we had the most confident expectations. (2.) It will profit a man nothing at the day of judgment to have been a professed member of Christ's kingdom, and a nominal child of God, if he be not possessed of the spirit of adoption, and have not approved his fidelity as a loyal subject.

6. The servant is cured. Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. With a double grace the favour is conferred; his faith is approved, while his request is granted; for instantly the cure was wrought; his servant was healed in the self-same hour. He that said, let there be light, and there was light, need but say, and it is done, in every other case. What confidence then should we repose in this Almighty Saviour, and never in our deepest afflictions distrust his power or love!

3rdly, The great physician is continually manifesting his healing power. We have,

1. Another cure wrought by him on Peter's wife's mother, who lay ill of a fever in Peter's house. He was married, we find, in opposition to the popish celibacy. His care of his aged relations bespoke his gracious spirit. Jesus, who will never fail to repay the entertainment given him in our houses, or in our hearts, by a touch rebuked the disorder, and instantly every symptom vanished, and her strength was perfectly restored; so that she was able to wait upon him and the guests, as an evidence of her cure, and a testimony of her gratitude. Note; They whom Christ heals, are bound to employ the strength and health that he gives in his blessed service.

2. At even, it being a sabbath day (See Mark 1:21.), and their days being reckoned from one sun-setting to the other, the people thronged the door with their sick, and those possessed of devils, Satan being at that time permitted to exercise uncommon dominion over men's bodies, that the power of Jesus might more eminently appear. But whatever the diseases were, or however strong the possession of these unclean spirits, one word of Jesus effectually drove them out, and healed every disease.

3. The fulfilment of the scripture herein is observed; for the prophesy, Isaiah 53:4 not only includes Christ's suffering the punishment due to our sins, 1 Peter 2:24 but also his sympathizing tenderness towards us under the diseases which are the fruits of sin, and his gracious power exerted to deliver us from them.

4thly, Great multitudes being some time after (See Mark 4:35.) collected together, more from curiosity or secular views, it is to be feared, than desirous of his divine instructions, our Lord commanded his disciples to remove to the other side of the lake, to avoid the crowd, to enjoy same needful retirement; to prove their obedience, or to spread the gospel in other places, whither those who were hearty in his cause would follow him. Hereupon we are informed of a conversation which passed with two persons who seemed desirous to join him.

1. One of them was a scribe, who seemed to express great forwardness, zeal, and resolution to follow Christ wherever he went; but his warmth soon cooled, when he understood that he must expect none of those worldly advantages with which he flattered himself from being an apostle of Jesus; since, instead of earthly grandeur and the conveniences of life, the Messiah, the son of man, was more destitute even than the birds or foxes, and had not a place of his own to repose his weary head, or refresh himself with the sleep that he now wanted after his toils. Note; Many are willing to follow Christ if they can get by him, who quickly cool in their ardour, when their worldly interest, character, or ease, must be denied for his sake. (2.) The poverty of the Lord Jesus, and his wants, should teach us in every state therewith to be content.

2. Another man who had professed himself a disciple, and might be perhaps an appointed evangelist, wanted at this time to be excused from attending his Master. His plea was plausible: his father was either aged and sick, and he desired to stay with him till he should have discharged the last offices to him; or rather he was now dead, and he wished to attend his father's corpse to the grave before he went with Jesus; but Christ will not admit the excuse; he must leave all, and come; there were enough dead in trespasses and sins, who might take care of the corpse and the funeral, whilst a more urgent and nobler employment called for his service, even to follow Jesus and preach the gospel. Note; (1.) Worldly engagements, even about necessary things in our families, are apt to prove a great hindrance to our following Christ, if we do not watch unto prayer. (2.) They who want an excuse for declining duty will easily find it. (3.) There are times when God's service may demand our attendance, and engage us to leave father, mother, house, and all; and he is not worthy of Christ who can set any thing in competition with him.

5thly, Christ having issued his orders to cross the lake, his chosen disciples immediately obeyed and launched forth; for no dangers or difficulties will deter those from following Jesus, who know the blessedness of his service. Since their master was with them, they considered themselves, no doubt, as perfectly safe; but for the trial of their faith, and the manifestation of his glory, we find them plunged into the greatest danger and distress.

1. No sooner were they got to sea, than a violent hurricane overtook them. The waves like mountains rolled, broke over them with dreadful roar; and their boat, filled almost with water, was ready instantly to founder in the deep: while Jesus, as if unconcerned and unacquainted with the danger, wearied with his labours, sweetly slept. Note; (1.) They who follow Christ will meet with many a storm. (2.) Christ often appears to disregard his people when their dangers seem most imminent. (3.) The temptations permitted to overtake the faithful are designed not to harm them, but to exercise, strengthen, and brighten their graces.

2. With deep distress the affrighted disciples ran to their Lord, and with their cries awoke him saying, Lord, save us; we perish; their case was desperate if he did not immediately interpose. Note; (1.) Awakened consciences feel their perilous condition, and see their inevitable destruction without divine grace and help. (2.) Prayer will be then fervent and importunate, when the deep sensibility of danger raises the cry. (3.) They who come to Jesus, must exercise faith in his sufficiency, to save, though utterly despairing of help in themselves. (4.) Even doubts and fears will sometimes mingle with the prayer of faith; but if they do, it is an evidence that we live far beneath our privileges.

3. Jesus with calmness and majestic dignity arises, rebukes their fears; then bids the storm be still, and suddenly the foaming billows subside, the winds are hushed, the troubled waters now are smooth, and not a breath of air dimples the polished surface. Note; (1.) In the stormy seasons of temptation, many a fear distresses sincere souls. (2.) Those may have true faith, who have comparatively but little faith. (3.) The weakness of our faith and the prevalence of our fears deserve rebuke, as they reflect dishonour upon the faithfulness, power, and grace of Jesus: Why are ye fearful? (4.) Though the storm of temptation be never so violent, the sinner that cleaves to Jesus shall not perish. (5.) Where the distress of the soul has been peculiarly deep, and the trials uncommonly severe, there usually the strongest consolations and the most delightful sensations follow, of joy and peace in believing.

4. The effect produced by the miracle was the astonishment of the mariners or disciples who were in the ship, or of both. Never was such an amazing change known before; and this naturally leads them to express their admiration of this wonderful Person, whom even winds and waves obeyed. Note; They who have experienced the power of a Saviour's grace, in circumstances where every prospect seemed covered with darkness and despair, cannot but wonder and adore.

6thly, Continued miracles of mercy mark every step of the divine Redeemer.

The country of the Gergesenes bordered on the side of the lake which they had crossed; and they were no sooner arrived, than a fresh occasion offers to display the power and grace of Jesus.

1. Two miserable objects met him, possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, the place where they took up their residence; driven thither by the wicked spirits who actuated them, to make their abode the more dreary and dismal; or to confirm the notion of spirits haunting these melancholy places; or by solitude to increase their ferocity, and render them more mischievous; for they were exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass that way for fear of them. Note; When anger, malice, and revenge dwell in the bosom, there Satan's power reigns, and men then turn worse than savages to their kind.

2. The devils address the Lord, as trembling at his presence, and fearful of being dispossessed. What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? They well knew his power and Godhead, and their hopeless state: he did not come to be a Saviour unto them, but their destroyer; and all their desire is, that he would let them alone, at least in the heathen world, if he drove them from Judaea, and not come thither to torment them before the time. Torment eternal they expected; they were persuaded that he would be their terrible judge, and they ask only a momentary respite before the last and dreadful day, when their misery will be complete. Note; (1.) The devils believe and tremble. (2.) They who say to Jesus and his servants, What have we to do with thee? depart from us; and reject the counsel of God against their own souls, must perish with fiends of darkness.

3. Being unable to keep possession of the bodies of men, they desire to enter into a herd of swine which fed there; for even over these they could have no power without divine permission; and this they besought, either from their innate pleasure in mischief, or rather from a crafty design to make Christ an unwelcome guest in that country; and Jesus, from whom none of their wiles could be hid, permitted it; perhaps because these swine belonged to the Jews, who kept them for food in defiance of God's laws, or for covetousness, to make merchandise of them; and he would thus punish their owners: or he designed hereby to manifest his own divine power, to prove the reality of the miracle, and confound the Sadducean doctrine, which denied the existence of spirits good or evil: or he was moved by other reasons known to his infinite wisdom. No sooner had these fiends obtained their request, than they flew as to their prey, and all the herd of swine madly rushed down a precipice into the sea, and were choaked, to the great terror of those that kept them, who fled, and filled the city and country with the report. And so grieved were they at their loss, and affrighted with the apprehensions of greater judgments, that, instead of adoring him for the miracle that he had wrought on the two possessed persons, or welcoming him to their country, they besought him to depart, like many other worldlings, who love their swine better than their souls. We may observe, (1.) The restraint laid upon these spirits of wickedness: they cannot touch a swine without permission; and however malignant and fierce the devil is, Jesus holds his chain, and, in all his temptations of the faithful soul which cleaves to its Saviour, saith, Hitherto mayest thou go, and no farther. (2.) Where Satan rules in the children of disobedience, he fails not to drive them into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which necessarily drown both body and soul in perdition. (3.) By nothing does the god of this world hold firmer possession of men's hearts against Christ, than by suggesting the losses and crosses to which his service may expose them, and bewitching them with the love of gain in preference to the love of God.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/matthew-8.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology