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Nave's Topical Bible - Abraham; Centurion; Church; Gentiles; Heathen; Heaven; Hell; Intercession; Isaac; Jesus, the Christ; Jesus Continued; Miracles; Prayer; Righteous; Servant; Scofield Reference Index - Bible Prayers; Miracles; Thompson Chain Reference - Many Saved; Multitude; Redeemed, the; Saints;
Verse Matthew 8:11. Many shall come from the east and west — Men of every description, of all countries, and of all professions; and shall sit down, that is, to meat, for this is the proper meaning of ανακλιθησονται, intimating the recumbent posture used by the easterns at their meals. The rabbins represent the blessedness of the kingdom of God under the notion of a banquet. See several proofs of this in Schoettgenius. This was spoken to soften the unreasonable prejudices of the Jews, which they entertained against the Gentiles, and to prepare them to receive their brethren of mankind into religious fellowship with themselves, under the Christian dispensation.
With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob — In the closest communion with the most eminent followers of God. But if we desire to inherit the promises, we must be followers of them who through faith and patience enjoy them. Let us therefore imitate Abraham in his faith, Isaac in his obedience unto death, and Jacob in his hope and expectation of good things to come, amidst all the evils of this life, if we desire to reign with them.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/matthew-8.html. 1832.
BACK IN GALILEE
48. Centurion’s servant; widow’s son (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-17)
Back in Capernaum, a Roman centurion asked Jesus to heal one of his servants who was dying. However, he did not expect Jesus to come to his house. Being an army officer, he operated in a system of authority where he needed only to give a command and it was carried out. He believed that Jesus carried the authority of God, and he needed only to say the word and the servant would be healed (Matthew 8:5-9; Luke 7:1-8).
Jesus saw that this Roman had more faith than the Jews. He used the incident to warn the Jews that many of them would be left out of God’s kingdom, but Gentiles from countries far and near would, because of their faith, be included (Matthew 8:10-13; Luke 7:9-10).
In another northern town, Nain, Jesus raised a widow’s son to life. It seems that in this case he acted not because of any request, but solely because of the pity he felt for the woman. With her husband and her only son dead, she was faced with hardship and poverty for the rest of her life. Jesus therefore stopped the funeral procession and gave her son back to her (Luke 7:11-17).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/matthew-8.html. 2005.
And I say unto you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
In addition to the interest provoked by the projected entry of the Gentiles into Christ's kingdom, there is also the obvious intention of Jesus to declare that the patriarchs mentioned here are truly saved and that they make up a part of the great family of the redeemed. In view of the sins and shortcomings of those particular men, it seems that none in our own day should despair of winning the crown. This takes no light view of either their sins or ours, but is an overwhelming argument to the effect that "his grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The fact that Luke does not record these words is no problem. All of the divine accounts are supplementary, each to the others. An example of this will be noted in detail on Matthew 27:37, which see.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/matthew-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Many shall come from the east ... - Jesus takes occasion from the faith of a Roman centurion to state that this conversion would not be solitary; that many pagans - many from the east and west would be converted to the gospel, and be saved, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were. The phrase “from the east and from the west,” in the Scripture, is used to denote the “whole world,” Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 59:19. The phrase, “shall sit down,” in the original, refers to the manner of sitting at meals (see the notes at Matthew 23:6); and the enjoyments of heaven are described under the similitude of a feast or banquet - a very common manner of speaking of it, Matthew 26:29; Luke 14:15; Luke 22:30. It is used here to denote felicity, enjoyment, or honor. To sit with those distinguished men was an honor, and would be expressive of great felicity.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-8.html. 1870.
11. Many will come from the east and west In the person of the servant, Christ gave to the Gentiles a taste and a kind of first-fruits of his grace. He now shows, that the master is an example of the future calling of the Gentiles, and of the spread of faith throughout the whole world: for he says that they will come, not only from the neighboring countries, but from the farthest bounds of the world. Though this had been clearly foretold by many passages of the prophets, it appeared at first strange and incredible to the Jews, who imagined that God was confined to the family of Abraham. It was not without astonishment that they heard, that those who were at that time strangers, would be citizens and heirs of the kingdom of God: and not only so, but that the covenant of salvation would be immediately proclaimed, that the whole world might be united in one body of the Church. He declares, that the Gentiles, who shall come to the faith, will be partakers of the same salvation with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Hence we draw the certain conclusion, that the same promise, which has been held out to us in Christ, was formerly given to the fathers; for we would not have had an inheritance in common with them, if the faith, by which it is obtained, had not been the same. The word ἀνακλιθήσονται, shall recline, contains an allusion to a banquet: but as we know, that the heavenly life does not require meat and drink, this phrase has the same meaning as if he had said, they shall enjoy the same life
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/matthew-8.html. 1840-57.
Let's turn to Matthew's gospel chapter eight. The fifth chapter of Matthew begins "And seeing the multitude, he went into a mountain: and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying," ( Matthew 5:1-2 ). And so we have the great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew five, six and seven.
So in chapter eight it begins,
And when he would come down from the mountain ( Matthew 8:1 ),
And so having proclaimed the kingdom of God and those conditions of the kingdom, those that will dwell within the kingdom, having now come down from the mountain, He begins to show the activities of the kingdom of God, what it will be like during the kingdom age.
We read in Isaiah chapter thirty-five concerning the kingdom age, and it declares how that the deaf will hear, the dumb will be singing praises, the blind will behold the glory of the Lord and the lame shall leap for joy. The whole kingdom is a kingdom of a restored age. As you look around the world today you cannot see God's divine intention, when God created the world. When you look at man around you today, you do not see God's intent when he said "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness"( Genesis 1:26 ) because we look around at a fallen world and we see fallen man and we cannot understand God's original intent as we look at the world today. And that's why many people are confused concerning God.
How can a God of love allow the things to happen that are happening in our world today, you see. But in reality the world that you see is the world that is in rebellion against God's law, a rebellion against the kingdom of God, and it is a world that said "We will not have this man to rule over us". You see a world of men who thought that they knew better than God how to govern themselves. And we're looking now at the tragic byproducts of man's rejecting God's reign over their lives. But Jesus, when he came declared again the glorious aspects of the kingdom, and now He begins to demonstrate a foretaste of what it will be in the kingdom.
So when he was come down from the mountain, again the multitudes joined ( Matthew 8:1 ).
When He went to the mountain it was his disciples that came to Him and "He opened his mouth and He taught them saying". The Sermon on the Mount was not for the multitudes, it was for that infinite few; it was for the disciples. There is no broad worldly application at the present time to the Sermon on the Mount; there will be in the kingdom age. But there is definite application among His who already are citizens of His kingdom. In other words, there's an application to us because we are a part of His kingdom and we have already bowed our knee to the King.
But once again having come from the mountain those multitudes again surround Him and follow Him.
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him ( Matthew 8:2 ),
Now leprosy was a horrible, loathsome disease in those days. At that time there was absolutely no cure for leprosy. We now have medicine by which leprosy can be arrested; it cannot yet be cured but it can be arrested. They call it now Hansen's disease, in order to get away from the stigma of leprosy. But the word "leprosy" still sort of creates a revulsion, sort of, in our minds and, you know, ostracize and leprosy in almost a horror and a fear. So they no longer call it leprosy but Hansen's disease, naming it after Dr. Hansen who was first able to isolate the bacillus of leprosy.
So, um, this man was a man who had been ostracized from society. A leper had to cry out "Unclean! Unclean!" to cause people not to approach him too closely. If you were approaching a leper from say, a downwind position when you came within a hundred and fifty feet of him, he had to start crying out "unclean, unclean" so that you would not come any closer except at your own risk. If you were coming from an upwind position, then at three hundred feet he'd have to start crying to you "unclean, unclean" or other way around, but it was a man that was ostracized from society because of this disease.
He came and worshipped Jesus, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean ( Matthew 8:2 ).
Somehow recognizing the power of the King, "if You will, You can make me clean".
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, and said, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy left him ( Matthew 8:3 ).
Now here's an interesting thing; number one, there are those who complain that Jesus violated the law for it was unlawful to touch a leper. And that is true. If you touched a leper you were ceremonially unclean. You could not then come into the temple of God. It would be like having touched a dead carcass until you had, first of all, gone through the ceremonial baths and so forth. But it wasn't you know, it wasn't that horrible in a violation of the law, but the thing is when Jesus touched him he was no longer a leper. So there is a matter of argument there too.
But the interesting thing to me is "if You will" and the response of Jesus was "I will". Now there are some people today who object to our praying "Lord, if You will, thy will be done". I find no problem praying that at all. In fact, I do believe that we make a tragic mistake in assuming or presuming to always know what the will of God is. And to presume that God does will healing in every case is not really scriptural. Evidently with Paul the apostle God did not will healing concerning that thorn in the flesh. A minister of Satan was buffeting him. For three times Paul prayed concerning that and the Lord finally said, "Paul, my grace is sufficient for you"( 2 Corinthians 12:9 ).
And thus, when I come to God concerning my own physical needs I do not see it as a lack of faith. I see it only as great wisdom and tremendous faith and complete commitment of myself to God when I say "Lord, your will be done". I have a difficult time with people who would, who would argue with that or, or would put that down. I'm not at all afraid of God's will. In fact, I am afraid of something, anything other than God's will for me. I really don't want to step out of the will of God. And Paul the apostle said, My desire is that Christ should be glorified in body whether by life or by death. I don't care. My main concern is Christ be glorified.
Now, I do believe that perhaps in most or majority of the cases the Lord will answer, "I will; be thou clean" but he may not and I must be willing to accept whatever He says, having committed myself completely in his hands. If He says, "I will; be thou clean" praise the Lord. If He says, "Well, this is for God's glory that you might just really develop in your own walk and relationship with God, coming to a total trust in Him.
There are areas that I want to reveal to you and glories that I want to reveal to you, and glories that I want to bring into your life and let you be exhalted above measure because of this glory that I'm gonna bestow upon you. It's, it's really necessary that you experience this weakness of your flesh to be constantly reminded of your human nature because I'm gonna bring you into a dimension and into a realm that is just, you know, so far beyond.
I say well, praise the Lord. Thy will be done, you know. And I find no problem with that at all. But to the leper Jesus said, "I will; be thou clean". And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Now Jesus commands him to,
tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them ( Matthew 8:4 ).
Now, that is interesting to me that even in the law of Mosses there was provision for the curing of an incurable disease. And in the law of Moses it declares, "Now this is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing" ( Leviticus 14:2 ). So God made provision in the law for him to do a work that is contrary to nature; that is the healing of leprosy. And so even in the law, God made provision for the leper in the day of his cleansing for the miraculous work of God in his life.
And in the day of his cleansing he was to come and to bring this dove, two of them actually. And one was to be killed, the blood put in a basin and the other one dipped in the blood and then turned loose and it was to fly off. And the leper would go through this ceremony of cleansing, but it's a beautiful ceremony of just that, you know, whole new freedom in life that you have when God has worked his miraculous power in your life.
So the Lord said go ahead and follow the law. Go to the priest and go on through the right. Let the priest examine you, set you in this house for seven days, examine you again and then proclaim you clean and then bring the offering and all. And the Lord told him just go ahead and fulfill the law.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum ( Matthew 8:5 ),
Now Capernaum is a little later on called His city. Jesus headquartered in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. And uh, I can understand why, what a beautiful place. Oh, I love Capernaum just from an aesthetic, you know. I love water and I love blue skies and the whole thing and what, you know. It's just a pretty place. And I can understand why Jesus headquartered there in Capernaum.
He was entered in Capernaum,
and there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him ( Matthew 8:5 ),
Now a centurion was a Roman soldier. The first one that Jesus ministered to was a leper, a man who was outside of society, ostracized because of his disease. The second one he ministers to is a Gentile, one who is outside of the covenant to Israel. A Roman centurion who came unto him, begging him,
saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him. And the centurion answered and said, O Lord, I'm not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed ( Matthew 8:6-8 ).
He probably figured if he took the Lord home his wife would kill him, you know. She hadn't had a chance to get the house ready. Uh, so no Lord, don't come, just you know, say the word and my servant will be healed. But notice now his understanding of authority.
for I am a man under authority, [let's see, having under] having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he come; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it ( Matthew 8:9 ).
I understand what authority is about, Lord. I am a man under authority. I am under authority and I have soldiers under me. I understand authority; there's a chain of command in authority. I am under authority, yet I have men under me. No man can rule over man rightly who is not himself ruled. You see, if you get a man who does not have that sense of "I am under authority", be he the President of the United States, if you do not have a man who has that concept "I am under authority," then you've got a tragic situation and you'll have tyranny. But when I realize that though I have authority I am still under authority, I've got to be under that authority of God. No man can really rule who is not under authority and understands the principles of authority.
And so I am under authority but I have soldiers who are under me and understand what it's all about. I can say hey, go, and he goes; come, and he comes. Lord, I know that you have authority and all you have to do is speak the word and my servant will be healed. You don't have to come to my house. I'm not really worthy of that. You just speak the word.
And when Jesus heard that, he marvelled, and said unto them that followed, I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith, no not in Israel ( Matthew 8:10 ).
I've never met an Israelite that as much -- here's a fellow coming from the Gentile kingdom, one who is coming from the Roman Empire, he's outside of the covenant of Israel, but here he is demonstrating tremendous faith in Jesus Christ. Hey, Lord, don't have to come, just speak the word. I know what authority is about. You can just speak the word. And Jesus went on then to predict the glorious work of God's spirit among the Gentiles.
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven ( Matthew 8:11 ).
The east and the west, referring to the Gentile nations. Many will come from out of the Gentiles, sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now it's interesting that when I think about heaven, I usually think of Paul and John and more of the New Testament characters. I never really thought too much of sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I'm sure that it will be a thrill indeed, but there are so many. I thought about David, that's gonna be a great one to get together with. Elijah and Elisha, I like those characters, Gideon. But the kingdom of heaven is gonna be comprised, Jesus said, of many Gentiles also.
Whereas the children of the kingdom [that is the Jews] will be cast out into outer darkness: and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ( Matthew 8:12 ).
Because of the Jew's rejection of Jesus Christ, the glorious good news of God will be carried to the Gentile world and many will come out of that Gentile world and will become a part of God's glorious kingdom, whereas the children of the kingdom, those natural seed of Abraham, because of their rejection of their Messiah, will not enter into the kingdom.
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; as you have believed, so be it done unto you. And the servant was healed in that very hour [that time] ( Matthew 8:13 ).
Now the next miracle of Jesus was preformed upon a woman, who in that particular culture was not respected and esteemed as she is today. During those days if a woman was pregnant, when she would go into labor, everyone would gather at her home and they'd bring everything for a big party and a celebration. And when the midwife would come out and say, "It's a boy" they'd all start celebrating and have a big party and a great time, a celebration. If the midwife would come out and say, "It's a girl" they'd all pack up their stuff and go home.
The first one Jesus touches is a leper, the outcast of society. The second one is a Gentile, an outcast of the covenant. The third one is a woman who was looked down upon. You know Jesus never looked down on anyone, nor did he ever exclude anyone. The kingdom doesn't exclude.
So when Jesus was come into Peter's house, Peter's wife's mother was lying down, she had a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them ( Matthew 8:14-15 ).
That is she fixed them something to eat; ministered to him in a physical way, food and, and waited on Him.
And when the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and he healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, when he said, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our weaknesses ( Matthew 8:16-17 ).
In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, as he is prophesying concerning God's servant the Messiah he said, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" ( Isaiah 53:5 ).
Now, there are those Bible scholars today who want to make that apply only to spiritual healing, but really the finest commentary you have on the Old Testament is not always those who declare themselves to be Bible Scholars today. The finest commentary you have on the Old Testament is the inspired New Testament. And here Matthew, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that the physical healing upon all of these people that were brought to Jesus as he was there in Peter's house in the evening, and as Jesus healed them all, he was doing that, that the prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled. So, Matthew extends the prophecy of Isaiah to include physical healing as well as spiritual healing.
When we partake of communion, Jesus, when he took the bread he broke it and said, "Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of me". The question arises, When was his body broken? And we know from the gospel that it was, the body wasn't broken. That is, the bones were not broken. For though the Jews had sought Pilot that they might break the legs of the prisoners to hasten their death that their bodies would not be hanging on the cross on the Sabbath day. When they came to Jesus, he'd already dismissed his spirit, he was already dead. And they marvelled that he was already dead and they did not break his legs in order that the scriptures might be fulfilled: Psalm twenty-two "Not a bone of Him shall be broken".
So, the prophecy was "not a bone was to be broken". In fact, as a type of a sacrificial lamb he could not have broken bones. So, he thrust the spear in the side of Jesus and there came forth blood and water. But yet Jesus said, "This is my body broken for you". He must have been referring to the scourging that He was to receive when they would lay upon his back thirty-nine stripes. It was a form of inquisition whereby they elicited the confessions of the prisoner.
You remember when Paul, there on the steps of the Antonio fortress, asked the captain if he could speak to the Jews that had been trying to kill him and he said go ahead. And Paul began to say "Hey fellows, I know exactly how you feel. I felt just like you one time. Man I was really, you know, bent on destroying this new sect of Christianity. And I was actually on my way down to Damascus to imprison those that called upon the name of the Lord, when suddenly there came a light from heaven and I was uh, you know, lying there on the ground. And I heard the Lord saying, "Hey, why do you persecute me? I'm gonna call you to the Gentiles".
And when Paul said that word "Gentiles", man, the Jews got upset. They started throwing dirt in the air, they started screaming and ranting and tearing their clothes and trying to mob Paul again. And the captain says, "Get him inside". He'd been talking to the people in the Hebrew tongue. The captain couldn't understand it and he said, "What did you say to those people that got them so upset?" He said, "Examine them by scourging. Find out what he said." Paul said, "Wait a minute. Is it lawful to scourge a Roman citizen who is not condemned?" He said, "Are you a Roman citizen?" He said, "You bet I am." The guy said, "I bought my citizenship. It cost me quite a bit of money. How did you become a citizen?" He said, "I was free born".
But, that was the policy of the Roman government. The third degree you might say. They lay upon the prisoner thirty-nine stripes upon his back in order to get him to confess his sins, his crimes, his guilt. But as a lamb before her shearers is done, so he open not his mouth but there his body was broken. Now it was not just some capricious act of man it was a part of God's divine plan. And so we must ask, Why would God allow his son to endure such torture and suffering? Isaiah tells us prophetically "with his stripes you are healed". Peter quoting Isaiah said, "By his stripes you were healed"( 1 Peter 2:24 ).
Now, as Paul is writing to the Corinthian church concerning the Lord's supper and their particular abuse of the Lord's supper, He said unto them that many of them were weak and sick because they did not understand the Lord's body. In other words, he is saying, you did not understand what the broken bread really symbolizes. "You are eating and drinking of the body of Christ unworthily. For this cause many of you are weak and sick because you don't understand the Lord's body" ( 1 Corinthians 11:29 ). You don't really understand the full significance of the scourging that Jesus received where He bore our sufferings and our sickness. And so people are taking the broken bread not really fully understanding the Lord's body and thus not receiving the full benefits of the work of Jesus Christ for us.
So, Matthew broadens that suffering of Christ to include the physical healing and relates it to physical healing, whereas so many today seek to narrow it and isolate it just to spiritual healing. I'm afraid that you do not have a solid, strong scriptural basis to try to just make it apply to spiritual healing only, the healing of sin and so forth. But there is also the application for the physical needs of the body.
Now when Jesus saw the great multitudes that were about him, he gave a commandment to depart to the other side. And there was a certain scribe who came, and he said unto him, Master, I will follow you wherever you go ( Matthew 8:18-19 ).
He's getting ready to leave and go over to the other side of the lake. He said, I'll follow you wherever you go.
And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man doesn't have anywhere to lay his head ( Matthew 8:20 ).
In other words, he is saying to this fella that's coming up on an impulse, and there're a lot of people who impulsively say, "Oh, oh I wanna give my life to the Lord." The Lord says count the cost. Follow me wherever I go, just count the cost. "The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nest but I don't have anyplace to lay my head", now count the cost. He's not saying, you know, don't follow me; he's just saying before you jump on board just consider the cost. Count the cost of discipleship.
Another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first ( Matthew 8:21 )
Now we talked to you about the inconsistencies of speech last week as we were studying the subject of the Lordship of Jesus Christ when many will come saying, "Lord, Lord" remember that? How Peter said, "Not so Lord" and we said that was a perfect inconsistency of speech. Here again, an inconsistency of speech, "Lord, me first". Uh, it can't be that way. He's got to be first. "Lord, allow me first", nope, you've got the wrong idea of the kingdom.
to go and bury my father ( Matthew 8:21 ),
You say, "Oh, wait a minute. That's legitimate isn't it?"
Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead ( Matthew 8:22 ).
Put me first, you see. Now, the chances are as the fellow's father was in perfect health; this is a common term for procrastination. Hey I want to do it but I'm not ready yet, but one of these days, you know, allow me first to bury my father. Wait awhile until my dad dies, you know. And it's a term of procrastination. And they use that, even though the dad was in perfect health and probably had another twenty years, but one of these days I'm gonna get, you know, I'm gonna get on board. Just suffer me first, take a little time. The Lord is speaking against procrastination. The idea of putting Him first; "Follow me, let the dead bury their dead".
So when he had entered into the ship, and his disciples followed him. Behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with waves: but he was asleep ( Matthew 8:23-24 ).
Now this isn't the first time and the only experience of a tremendous storm that arose on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus got in this little boat. And up at that north end of the lake these common -- it is a common thing to have these storms, these squalls come up. Through the valley there, that comes from the area of Haifa, there is this, there is this, a valley that comes through there and you'll get these tremendous winds that will just come up suddenly. And I've watched the Sea of Galilee go from just a glassy calm; wow, what great water skiing, to a tremendous waves that will just -- waves can get nine, ten feet high there in the Sea of Galilee in these sudden squalls that'll arise as the wind comes whistling up the Chinnereth Valley there. And so this isn't the only occasion that this happened.
Now it would seem that Satan is perhaps behind the whole thing trying to destroy Jesus. There arose a great tempest in the sea, and so much the ship was covered with waves, but He was a sleep. And Jesus had a common practice of sleeping when he got on the boat.
And his disciples came unto him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he said unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and he rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! ( Matthew 8:25-27 )
So Jesus showed his mastery over the elements. One of the other gospels in telling us this story, tells us that Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go over to Gennesaret". Now uh, that's probably why He rebuked him for having a little faith; that they were fearful they were gonna go under. He said, "Let's go over", when Jesus said let's go over, there's no way you can go under. So when they woke him up and said Lord, don't you care if we perish? He rebuked them, said, "Where's your faith?" Did you hear me say, Let's go over to Gennesaret? "Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?"
And so when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two that were possessed with devils ( Matthew 8:28 ),
The other gospels tell us of the one who was probably more prominent than the other.
And they were coming out of the tombs, and they were exceeding fierce, so that no man dared to pass by that way ( Matthew 8:28 ).
Incidentally, just recently the archeologist have discovered that city over there on the other side of Gennesaret And it's quite exciting that as they were building a new road to go up the Golan, they began to uncover this city. And so they actually moved the road up a little ways so that they could then go into their archeological exploration of this city. So now we can point with pretty much certainty the very cliff that the swine ran down into the sea because we have now discovered a city of Gennesaret over there on the other side.
And so these men possessed with devils, plural, were living there, in there, in the tombs.
And they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? ( Matthew 8:29 )
Number one, the demons possessing these men recognized who Jesus was and acknowledged who He was; "What have we to do with you, Jesus, thou Son of God?" You remember James, you say you believe God and you think that's something big. Hey the devils believe. And notice hear they are sort of fear and trembling in the presence of Jesus they said, "Are you come here to torment us before our time?"
Now they know that their time is coming, they're aware of that. They know that he has authority and power over them; they recognized that and it's important that we also recognize "greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world"( 1 John 4:4 ). We are in the spiritual battle but we need not to be fearful of the enemy because of that greater power of God's spirit resident within us.
And so there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding ( Matthew 8:30 ).
Now that was an illegal occupation and industry in Israel. It was unlawful for them, according to the law of Moses to be raising swine, to have swine, to eat pork.
So the devils besought him, saying, If you cast us out, allow us to go away into the heard of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole heard of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and they perished in the waters ( Matthew 8:31-32 ).
There's only about one steep place that leads into the Sea of Galilee and it's a few miles away from the city of Gennesaret that has been discovered.
Now there are evil spirits that can take possession of human bodies and can control the motor functions of a human body. Jesus himself set free many people who were possessed by these evil entities, spirits. When He sent his disciples out, which we will get to, He gave them power to cast out these devils. When a person's body is invaded by one of these evil spirits, they often lose control of their own faculties and these evil spirits are able to actually speak right through that individual.
This is not something that is just superstition, and a part of a superstition of an ancient culture, but there are quite a few documented experiences of the activity of these types of spirits even today. There are, there is a book by Moody Press entitled "Demon Experiences in Many Lands" which is a compilation of the witness of missionaries from different parts of the world and experiences that they have had with these evil spirit entities.
Perhaps one of the most classic modern day experiences, that of the girl whose name was Clarissa who back in 1947, there in the Philippines had the unusual phenomenon of going into these fits where, when she would come out of them would have these bite marks all over her body. Places where it was impossible for her to bite herself; on the back of the shoulder, upon the back of her neck and all, and blood would be drawn. They put her in the Bellevue Prison there for her own protection. And the greatest psychiatrists of the Philippines were brought by the mayor of Manila to psychoanalyze and to find out what was going on. And they came up with, you know, no explanation and no help.
Finally they called for a couple of missionaries; Bob McAllister and Lester Sumrall. And Lester Sumrall has written a book entitled "Bitten by Demons" of the story of Clarissa. Actually Life Magazine got hold of the thing and did a special on it, showing pictures of her and all, of these bite marks on her. And it was quite an interesting thing to the world of psychology and all at that time. But nonetheless, through the ministry of Bob McAllister and Lester Sumrall the girl was delivered from these demons and Clarissa accepted Jesus Christ. And it's quite an interesting story; it's one that you don't want to read before you go to bed.
They recognized Jesus, they acknowledged his authority over them, they acknowledged their day is coming. It would appear that they do take some comfort in inhabiting a body that they do not like to be unembodied spirits, but they do like to take residence in a body. Now Jesus said when an evil spirit is cast out of a man it goes through wilderness places looking for a place to inhabit; a house to inhabit. And if it finds none, it'll come back to the house from which it was driven. And if it finds it all clean, swept and garnished, it'll go out and get seven others and say hey, got a neat place to live, you know, and bring them in. And thus the state of a person becomes worse than his first.
Um, it's an area that I don't relish, I don't like. I keep as far away from it as I can, but there are times when we have had to exorcise these evil spirits. And it's a very difficult and uncomfortable ministry of which I really have no real liking at all.
So they begged Jesus permission to go into these swine. And when they had entered the herd of swine, they ran down this steep place and perished in the waters.
So that those that were keeping the swine fled, and they went their way to the city, and they told everything, that was befallen to those men that were possessed by these devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus ( Matthew 8:33-34 ):
To hear Him? To receive Him? No.
When they saw him, they begged him that he would leave their coast ( Matthew 8:34 ).
Hey, you're upsetting our industry. You just wiped out our profit. Get out of here. They were more interested in their own profit than they were the sad welfare of these two men. But it's a sad thing that people would ask the Lord to depart, but such is often the case today. You upset my plans.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/matthew-8.html. 2014.
1. Jesus’ ability to heal 8:1-17
This first group of four miracle events apparently all happened on the same day (Matthew 8:16).
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-8.html. 2012.
The healing of a centurion’s servant 8:5-13 (cf. Luke 7:1-10)
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-8.html. 2012.
Again Jesus introduced a solemn truth (cf. Matthew 8:10). He then referred to the messianic banquet prophesied in Isaiah 25:6-9 (cf. Isaiah 65:13-14). There God revealed that Gentiles from all parts of the world will join the Jewish patriarchs in the kingdom. The Old Testament has much to say about the participants in the kingdom. God would gather Israel from all parts of the earth (Psalms 107:3; Isaiah 43:5-6; Isaiah 49:12), but Gentiles from all quarters of the world would also worship God in the kingdom (Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 59:19; Malachi 1:11). The Gentiles would come specifically to Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3; Isaiah 60:3-4; Micah 4:1-2; Zechariah 8:20-23). As mentioned previously, in Jesus’ day the Jews had chosen to view themselves as uniquely privileged because of the patriarchs. This led them to write the Gentiles out of the kingdom despite these prophecies.
"The Jew expected that the Gentile would be put to shame by the sight of the Jews in bliss." [Note: Plummer, p. 127.]
The "sons [or subjects] of the kingdom" (Matthew 8:12) are the Jews who saw themselves as the patriarchs’ descendants. They thought they had a right to the kingdom because of their ancestors’ righteousness (cf. Matthew 3:9-10). Jesus turned the tables by announcing that many of the sons of the kingdom would not participate in it, but many Gentiles would. Many "sons of the kingdom" would find themselves outside the banquet. The terms "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (cf. Matthew 13:42; Matthew 13:50; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:30; Luke 13:28) were common descriptions of Gehenna, hell (4 Ezra 7:93; 1 Enoch 63:10; Psalms of Solomon 14:9; Wisdom of Solomon 17:21). [Note: See Pagenkemper, pp. 183-86.] (The works just cited in parentheses were Old Testament apocraphal books that the Jews viewed as generally reliable and helpful but not inspired.) This interpretation finds confirmation in the expression "outer darkness," another image of rejection (cf. Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30). [Note: Ibid., pp. 186-88.]
"The idea of the Messianic Banquet as at once the seal and the symbol of the new era was a common feature in apocalyptic writings and an extremely popular subject of discussion, thought, and expectation." [Note: Bindley, p. 317. Cf. William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew , 1:309.]
The Greek text has the definite article "the" before "weeping" and before "gnashing." This stresses the horror of the scene. [Note: Turner, p. 173.] The terms in Rabbinic usage picture sorrow and anger respectively. [Note: Edersheim, The Life . . ., 1:550-51.]
Jesus shocked His hearers by announcing three facts about the kingdom. First, not all Jews would participate in it. Second, many Gentiles would. Third, entrance depended on faith in Jesus, not on ancestry, the faith that the centurion demonstrated.
". . . the locus of the people of God would not always be the Jewish race. If these verses do not quite authorize the Gentile mission, they open the door to it and prepare for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and Ephesians 3." [Note: Carson, "Matthew," p. 203.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-8.html. 2012.
And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west,.... On occasion of the faith of the centurion, who was a Gentile, our Lord makes a short digression, concerning the call of the Gentiles; and suggests, that what was seen in that man now, would be fulfilled in great numbers of them in a little time: that many of them from the several parts of the world, from the rising of the sun to the setting of it, from the four points of the heaven, east, west, north, and south, as in Luke 13:29 and from the four corners of the earth, should come and believe in him;
and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: signifying, that as the Gospel would be preached in a short time to all nations, many among them would believe in him, as Abraham, and the rest of the patriarchs did; and so would partake of the same blessings of grace with them; such as, adoption, justification, pardon of sin, and the like; for "they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham", Galatians 3:9 now, under the Gospel dispensation, though Gentiles; and shall enjoy with him the same eternal glory and happiness he does, in the other world. Which shows, that the faith of Old and New Testament saints, Jews and Gentiles, is the same; their blessings the same, and so their eternal happiness; they have the same God and Father, the same Mediator and Redeemer, are actuated and influenced by the same Spirit, partake of the same grace, and shall share the same glory. The allusion is to sitting, or rather lying along, which was the posture of the ancients at meals, and is here expressed, at a table, at a meal, or feast: and under the metaphor of a feast or plentiful table to set down to, are represented the blessings of the Gospel, and the joys of heaven; which are not restrained to any particular nation, or set of people; not to the Jews, to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Our Lord here, goes directly contrary to the notions and practices of the Jews, who thought it a crime to sit down at table, and eat with the Gentiles; see Acts 11:3 and yet Gentiles shall sit at table and eat with the principal men, the heads of their nation, in the kingdom of heaven, and they themselves at the same time shut out.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-8.html. 1999.
|Christ Heals the Centurion's Servant.|
5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
We have here an account of Christ's curing the centurion's servant of a palsy. This was done at Capernaum, where Christ now dwelt, Matthew 4:13; Matthew 4:13. Christ went about doing good, and came home to do good too; every place he came to was the better for him.
The persons Christ had now to do with were,
1. A centurion; he was a supplicant, a Gentile, a Roman, an officer of the army; probably commander-in-chief of that part of the Roman army which was quartered at Capernaum, and kept garrison there. (1.) Though he was a soldier (and a little piety commonly goes a great way with men of that profession), yet he was a godly man; he was eminently so. Note, God has his remnant among all sorts of people. No man's calling or place in the world will be an excuse for his unbelief and impiety; none shall say in the great day, I had been religious, if I had not been a soldier; for such there are among the ransomed of the Lord. And sometimes where grace conquers the unlikely, it is more than a conqueror; this soldier that was good, was very good. (2.) Though he was a Roman soldier, and his very dwelling among the Jews was a badge of their subjection to the Roman yoke, yet Christ, who was King of the Jews, favoured him; and therein has taught us to do good to our enemies, and not needlessly to interest ourselves in national enmities. (3.) Though he was a Gentile, yet Christ countenanced him. It is true, he went not to any of the Gentile towns (it was the land of Canaan that was Immanuel's land, Isaiah 8:8), yet he received addresses from Gentiles; now good old Simeon's word began to be fulfilled, that he should be a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel. Matthew, in annexing this cure to that of the leper, who was a Jew, intimates this; the leprous Jews Christ touched and cured, for he preached personally to them; but the paralytic Gentiles he cured at a distance; for to them he did not go in person, but sent his word and healed them; yet in them he was more magnified.
2. The centurion's servant; he was the patient. In this also it appears, that there is no respect of persons with God; for in Christ Jesus, as there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, so there is neither bond nor free. He is as ready to heal the poorest servant, as the richest master; for himself took upon him the form of a servant, to show his regard to the meanest.
Now in the story of the cure of this servant, we may observe an intercourse or interchanging of graces, very remarkable between Christ and the centurion. See here,
I. The grace of the centurion working towards Christ. Can any good thing come out of a Roman soldier? any thing tolerable, much less any thing laudable? Come and see, and you will find abundance of good coming out of this centurion that was eminent and exemplary. Observe, 1. His affectionate address to Jesus Christ, which speaks,
(1.) A pious regard to our great Master, as one able and willing to succour and relieve poor petitioners. He came to him beseeching him, not as Naaman the Syrian (a centurion too) came to Elisha, demanding a cure, taking state, and standing upon points of honour; but with cap in hand as a humble suitor. By this it seems that he saw more in Christ than appeared at first view; saw that which commanded respect, though to those who looked no further, his visage was marred more than any man's. The officers of the army, being comptrollers of the town, no doubt made a great figure, yet he lays by the thoughts of his post of honour, when he addresses himself to Christ, and comes beseeching him. Note, the greatest of men must turn beggars, when they have to do with Christ. He owns Christ's sovereignty, in calling him Lord, and referring the case to him, and to his will, and wisdom, by a modest remonstrance, without any formal and express petition. He knew he had to do with a wise and gracious Physician, to whom the opening of the malady was equivalent to the most earnest request. A humble confession of our spiritual wants and diseases shall not fail of an answer of peace. Pour out thy complaint, and mercy shall be poured out.
(2.) A charitable regard to his poor servant. We read of many that came to Christ for their children, but this is the only instance of one that came to him for a servant: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick. Note, it is the duty of masters to concern themselves for their servants, when they are in affliction. The palsy disabled the servant for his work, and made him as troublesome and tedious as any distemper could, yet he did not turn him away when he was sick (as that Amalekite did his servants, 1 Samuel 30:13), did not send him to his friends, not let him lie by neglected, but sought out the best relief he could for him; the servant could not have done more for the master, than the master did here for the servant. The centurion's servants were very dutiful to him (Matthew 8:9; Matthew 8:9), and here we see what made them so; he was very kind to them, and that made them the more cheerfully obedient to him. As we must not despise the cause of our servants, when they contend with us (Job 31:13; Job 31:15), so we must not despise their case when God contends with them; for we are made in the same mould, by the same hand, and stand upon the same level with them before God, and must not set them with the dogs of our flock. The centurion applies not to witches or wizards for his servant, but to Christ. The palsy is a disease in which the physician's skill commonly fails; it was therefore a great evidence of his faith in the power of Christ, to come to him for a cure, which was above the power of natural means to effect. Observe, How pathetically he represents his servant's case as very sad; he is sick of the palsy, a disease which commonly makes the patient senseless of pain, but this person was grievously tormented; being young, nature was strong to struggle with the stroke, which made it painful. (It was not paralysis simplex, but scorbutica). We should thus concern ourselves for the souls of our children, and servants, that are spiritually sick of the palsy, the dead-palsy, the dumb palsy; senseless of spiritual evils, inactive in that which is spiritually good, and bring them to the means of healing and health.
2. Observe his great humility and self-abasement. After Christ had intimated his readiness to come and heal his servants (Matthew 8:7; Matthew 8:7), he expressed himself with the more humbleness of mind. Note, Humble souls are made more humble, by Christ's gracious condescensions to them. Observe what was the language of his humility; Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof (Matthew 8:8; Matthew 8:8), which speaks mean thought of himself, and high thoughts of our Lord Jesus. He does not say, "My servant is not worthy that thou shouldest come into his chamber, because it is in the garret;" But I am not worthy that thou shouldest come into my house. The centurion was a great man, yet he owned his unworthiness before God. Note, Humility very well becomes persons of quality. Christ now made but a mean figure in the world, yet the centurion, looking upon him as a prophet, yea, more than a prophet, paid him this respect. Note, We should have a value and veneration for what we see of God, even in those who, in outward condition, are every way our inferiors. The centurion came to Christ with a petition, and therefore expressed himself thus humbly. Note, In all our approaches to Christ, and to God through Christ, it becomes us to abase ourselves, and to lie low in the sense of our own unworthiness, as mean creatures and as vile sinners, to do any thing for God, to receive any good from him, or to have any thing to do with him.
3. Observe his great faith. The more humility the more faith; the more diffident we are of ourselves, the stronger will be our confidence in Jesus Christ. He had an assurance of faith not only that Christ could cure his servant, but,
(1.) That he could cure him at a distance. There needed not any physical contact, as in natural operations, nor any application to the part affected; but the cure, he believed, might be wrought, without bringing the physician and patient together. We read afterwards of those, who brought the man sick of the palsy to Christ, through much difficulty, and set him before him; and Christ commended their faith for a working faith. This centurion did not bring his man sick of the palsy, and Christ commended his faith for a trusting faith: true faith is accepted of Christ, though variously appearing: Christ puts the best construction upon the different methods of religion that people take, and thereby has taught us to do so too. This centurion believed, and it is undoubtedly true, that the power of Christ knows no limits, and therefore nearness and distance are alike to him. Distance of place cannot obstruct either the knowing or working of him that fills all places. Am I a God at hand, says the Lord, and not a God afar off?Jeremiah 23:23.
(2.) That he could cure him with a word, not send him a medicine, much less a charm; but speak the word only, and I do not question but my servant shall be healed. Herein he owns him to have a divine power, an authority to command all the creatures and powers of nature, which enables him to do whatsoever he pleases in the kingdom of nature; as at first he raised that kingdom by an almighty word, when he said, Let there be light. With men, saying and doing are two things; but not so with Christ, who is therefore the Arm of the Lord, because he is the eternal Word. His saying, Be ye warmed and filled (James 2:16), and healed, warms, and fills and heals.
The centurion's faith in the power of Christ he here illustrates by the dominion he had, as a centurion, over his soldiers, as a master over his servants; he says to one, Go, and he goes, c. They were all at his beck and command, so as that he could by them execute things at a distance his word was a law to them--dictum factum; well-disciplined soldiers know that the commands of their officers are not to be disputed, but obeyed. Thus could Christ speak, and it is done; such a power had he over all bodily diseases. The centurion had this command over his soldiers, though he was himself a man under authority; not a commander-in-chief, but a subaltern officer; much more had Christ this power, who is the supreme and sovereign Lord of all. The centurion's servants were very obsequious, would go and come at every the least intimation of their master's mind. Now, [1.] Such servants we all should be to God: we must go and come at his bidding, according to the directions of his word, and the disposals of his providence; run where he sends us, return when he remands us, and do what he appoints. What saith my Lord unto his servant? When his will crosses our own, his must take place, and our own be set aside. [2.] Such servants bodily diseases are to Christ. They seize us when he sends them; they leave us when he calls them back; they have that effect upon us, upon our bodies, upon our souls, that he orders. It is a matter of comfort to all that belong to Christ, for whose good his power is exerted and engaged, that every disease has his commission, executes his command, is under his control, and is made to serve the intentions of his grace. They need not fear sickness, nor what it can do, who see it in the hand of so good a Friend.
II. Here is the grace of Christ appearing towards this centurion; for to the gracious he will show himself gracious.
1. He complies with his address at the first word. He did but tell him his servant's case, and was going on to beg a cure, when Christ prevented him, with this good word, and comfortable word, I will come and heal him (Matthew 8:7; Matthew 8:7); not I will come and see him--that had evinced him a kind Saviour; but, I will come and heal him--that shows him a mighty, an almighty Saviour; it was a great word, but no more than he could make good; for he has healing under his wings; his coming is healing. They who wrought miracles by a derived power, did not speak thus positively, as Christ did, who wrought them by his own power, as one that had authority. When a minister is sent for to a sick friend, he can but say, I will come and pray for him; but Christ says, I will come and heal him: it is well that Christ can do more for us than our ministers can. The centurion desired he would heal his servant; he says, I will come and heal him; thus expressing more favour than he did either ask or think of. Note, Christ often outdoes the expectations of poor supplicants. See an instance of Christ's humility, that he would make a visit to a poor soldier. He would not go down to see a nobleman's sick child, who insisted upon his coming down (John 4:47-49), but he proffers to go down to see a sick servant; thus does he regard the low estate of his people, and give more abundant honour to that part which lacked. Christ's humility, in being willing to come, gave an example to him, and occasioned his humility, in owning himself unworthy to have him come. Note, Christ's gracious condescensions to us, should make us the more humble and self-abasing before him.
2. He commends his faith, and takes occasion from it to speak a kind word of the poor Gentiles, Matthew 8:10-12; Matthew 8:10-12. See what great things a strong but self-denying faith can obtain from Jesus Christ, even of general and public concern.
(1.) As to the centurion himself; he not only approved him and accepted him (that honour have all true believers), but he admired him and applauded him: that honour great believers have, as Job; there is none like unto him in the earth.
[1.] Christ admired him, not for his greatness, but for his graces. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled; not as if it were to him new and surprising, he knew the centurion's faith, for he wrought it; but it was great and excellent, rare and uncommon, and Christ spoke of it as wonderful, to teach us what to admire; not worldly pomp and decorations, but the beauty of holiness, and the ornaments which are in the sight of God of great price. Note, The wonders of grace should affect us more than the wonders of nature or providence, and spiritual attainments more than any achievements in this world. Of those that are rich in faith, not of those that are rich in gold and silver, we should say that they have gotten all this glory,Genesis 30:1. But whatever there is admirable in the faith of any, it must redound to the glory of Christ, who will shortly be himself admired in all them that believe, as having done in and for them marvellous things.
[2.] He applauded him in what he said to them that followed. All believers shall be, in the other world, but some believers are, in this world, confessed and acknowledged by Christ before men, in his eminent appearances for them and with them. Verily, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Now this speaks, First, Honour to the centurion; who, though not a son of Abraham's loins, was an heir of Abraham's faith, and Christ found it so. Note, The thing that Christ seeks is faith, and wherever it is, he finds it, though but as a grain of mustard-seed. He had not found so great faith, all things considered, and in proportion to the means; as the poor widow is said to cast in more than they all,Luke 21:3. Though the centurion was a Gentile, yet he was thus commended. Note, We must be so far from grudging, that we must be forward, to give those their due praise, that are not within our denomination or pale. Secondly, It speaks shame to Israel, to whom pertained the adoption, the glory, the covenants, and all the assistances and encouragements of faith. Note, When the Son of man comes, he finds little faith, and, therefore, he finds so little fruit. Note, the attainments of some, who have had but little helps for their souls, will aggravate the sin and ruin of many, that have had great plenty of the means of grace, and have not made a good improvement of them. Christ said this to those that followed him, if by any means he might provoke them to a holy emulation, as Paul speaks, Romans 11:14. They were Abraham's seed; in jealousy for that honour, let them not suffer themselves to be outstripped by a Gentile, especially in that grace for which Abraham was eminent.
(2.) As to others. Christ takes occasion from hence to make a comparison between Jews and Gentiles, and tells them two things, which could not but be very surprising to them who had been taught that salvation was of the Jews.
[1.] That a great many of the Gentiles should be saved,Matthew 8:11; Matthew 8:11. The faith of the centurion was but a specimen of the conversion of the Gentiles, and a preface to their adoption into the church. This was a topic our Lord Jesus touched often upon; he speaks it with assurance; I say unto you, "I that know all men;" and he could not say any thing more pleasing to himself, or more displeasing to the Jews; an intimation of this kind enraged the Nazarenes against him, Luke 4:27. Christ gives us here an idea, First, of the persons that shall be saved; many from the east and the west: he had said (Matthew 7:14; Matthew 7:14), Few there be that find the way of life; and yet here many shall come. Few at one time, and in one place; yet, when they come altogether, they will be a great many. We now see but here and there one brought to grace; but we shall shortly see the Captain of our salvation bringing many sons to glory,Hebrews 2:10. He will come with ten thousands of his saints (Jude 1:14), with such a company as no man can number (Revelation 7:9); with nations of them that are saved,Revelation 21:24. They shall come from the east and from the west; places far distant from each other; and yet they shall all meet at the right hand of Christ, the Centre of their unity. Note, God has his remnant in all places; from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same,Malachi 1:11. The elect will be gathered from the four winds, Matthew 24:31; Matthew 24:31. They are sown in the earth, some scattered in every corner of the field. The Gentile world lay from east to west, and they are especially meant here; though they were strangers to the covenant of promise now, and had been long, yet who knows what hidden ones God had among them then? As in Elijah's time in Israel (1 Kings 19:14), soon after which they flocked into the church in great multitudes, Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 60:4. Note, When we come to heaven, as we shall miss a great many there, that we thought had been going thither, so we shall meet a great many there, that we did not expect. Secondly, Christ gives us an idea of the salvation itself. They shall come, shall come together, shall come together to Christ, 2 Thessalonians 2:1. 1. They shall be admitted into the kingdom of grace on earth, into the covenant of grace made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; they shall be blessed with faithful Abraham, whose blessing comes upon the Gentiles, Galatians 3:14. This makes Zaccheus a son of Abraham, Luke 19:9. 2. They shall be admitted into the kingdom of glory in heaven. They shall come cheerfully, flying as doves to their windows; they shall sit down to rest from their labours, as having done their day's work; sitting denotes continuance: while we stand, we are going; where we sit, we mean to stay; heaven is a remaining rest, it is a continuing city; they shall sit down, as upon a throne (Revelation 3:21); as at a table; that is the metaphor here; they shall sit down to be feasted; which denotes both fulness of communication, and freedom and familiarity of communion, Luke 22:30. They shall sit down with Abraham. They who in this world were ever so far distant from each other in time, place, or outward condition, shall all meet together in heaven; ancients and moderns, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor. The rich man in hell sees Abraham, but Lazarus sits down with him, leaning on his breast. Note, Holy society is a part of the felicity of heaven; and they on whom the ends of the world are come, and who are most obscure, shall share in glory with the renowned patriarchs.
[2.] That a great many of the Jews should perish, Matthew 8:12; Matthew 8:12. Observe,
First, A strange sentence passed; The children of the kingdom shall be cast out; the Jews that persist in unbelief, though they were by birth children of the kingdom, yet shall be cut off from being members of the visible church: the kingdom of God, of which they boasted that they were the children, shall be taken from them, and they shall become not a people, not obtaining mercy,Romans 11:20; Romans 9:31. In the great day it will not avail men to have been children of the kingdom, either as Jews or as Christians; for men will then be judged, not by what they were called, but by what they were. If children indeed, then heirs; but many are children in profession, in the family, but not of it, that will come short of the inheritance. Being born of professing parents denominates us children of the kingdom; but if we rest in that, and have nothing else to show for heaven but that, we shall be cast out.
Secondly, A strange punishment for the workers of iniquity described; They shall be cast into outer darkness, the darkness of those that are without, of the Gentiles that were out of the church; into that the Jews were cast, and into worse; they were blinded, and hardened, and filled with terrors, as the apostle shows, Romans 11:8-10. A people so unchurched and given up to spiritual judgments, are in utter darkness already: but it looks further, to the state of damned sinners in hell, to which the other is a dismal preface. They shall be cast out from God, and all true comfort, and cast into darkness. In hell there is fire, but no light; it is utter darkness; darkness in extremity; the highest degree of darkness, without any remainder, or mixture, or hope, of light; not the least gleam or glimpse of it; it is darkness that results from their being shut out of heaven, the land of light; they who are without, are in the regions of darkness; yet that is not the worst of it, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 1. In hell there will be great grief, floods of tears shed to no purpose; anguish of spirit preying eternally upon the vitals, in the sense of the wrath of God, is the torment of the damned. 2. Great indignation: damned sinners will gnash their teeth for spite and vexation, full of the fury of the Lord; seeing with envy the happiness of others, and reflecting with horror upon the former possibility of their own being happy, which is now past.
3. He cures his servant. He not only commends his application to him, but grants him that for which he applied, which was a real answer, Matthew 8:13; Matthew 8:13. Observe,
(1.) What Christ said to him: he said that which made the cure as great a favour to him as it was to his servant, and much greater; As thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. The servant got a cure of his disease, but the master got the confirmation and approbation of his faith. Note, Christ often gives encouraging answers to his praying people, when they are interceding for others. It is kindness to us, to be heard for others. God turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends, Job 42:10. It was a great honour which Christ put upon this centurion, when he gave him a blank, as it were; Be it done as thou believest. What could he have more? Yet what was said to him is said to us all, Believe, and ye shall receive; only believe. See here the power of Christ, and the power of faith. As Christ can do what he will, so an active believer may have what he will from Christ; the oil of grace multiplies, and stays not till the vessels of faith fail.
(2.) What was the effect of this saying: the prayer of faith was a prevailing prayer, it ever was so, and ever will be so; it appears, by the suddenness of the cure, that it was miraculous: and by its coincidence with Christ's saying, that the miracle was his; he spake, and it was done; and this was a proof of his omnipotence, that he has a long arm. It is the observation of a learned physician, that the diseases Christ cured were chiefly such as were the most difficult to be cured by any natural means, and particularly the palsy. Omnis paralysis, præsertim vetusta, aut incurabilis est, aut difficilis curatu, etiam pueris: atque soleo ego dicere, morbos omnes qui Christo curandi fuerunt propositi, difficillimos sua matura curatu esse--Every kind of palsy, especially of long continuance, is either incurable, or is found to yield with the utmost difficulty to medical skill, even in young subjects; so that I have frequently remarked, that all the diseases which were referred to Christ for cure appear to have been of the most obstinate and hopeless kind. Mercurialis De Morbis Puerorum, lib. 2. cap. 5.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/matthew-8.html. 1706.
Heaven and Hell by
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
© Copyright 2004 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ©1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio Cassette or CD:
Delivered in the open air on September 4th, 1855, to an audience of 12,000 persons.
"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8:11-12
This is a land where one is allowed to speak plain English, and where the people are willing to listen to anyone who can tell them something worth listening too. Tonight I am quite certain of an attentive audience, for I know you too well to suppose otherwise. This open field, as you are aware of, is private property; and I would just give a suggestion to those who go out in the open air to preach--that it is far better to go into a field, or a vacant country lot, than to tie up the streets in the city and interrupt commercial business.
Tonight, I will hope to encourage you to seek the road to heaven. I will also need to utter some very piercing things concerning the end of the unbeliever in the pit of hell. I will try to speak on both of these subjects, as God helps me. But, I beg you, if you love your souls, ponder right and wrong this night; see whether what I say is the truth of God. If it is not, then reject it completely, and throw it away; but if it is, you are at great risk to disregard it; for, you shall answer before God, the great Judge of heaven and earth, it will be terrible for you if you despised the words of His servant and His Scripture.
My text has two parts. The first is very pleasant to my mind, and gives me pleasure; the second is extremely terrible; but since they are both the truth, they must be preached. The first part of my text is, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." The sentence which I call the gloomy, dark, and threatening part is this: "But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I. Let us take the first part. Here is a most glorious promise. I will read it again: "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." I like that text, because it tells me what heaven is, and gives me a beautiful picture of it. It says, it is a place where I will sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. O what a sweet thought that is for the working man! He often suffers from the stress and fatigue of the job, and wonders whether there is a time and place where he will no longer have to work. Often he comes home exhausted, and throws himself on his couch, maybe too tired to sleep. He says, "Oh! is there no place where I can rest? Is there no place where I can sit, and for once let this tired body be at rest? Is there no quiet place where I can be." Yes, you son of stress and fatigue,
"There is a happy land, Far, far away--"
where stress and fatigue are unknown. Beyond the blue sky there is a city fair and bright, its walls are made of clear gold, and its light is brighter than the sun. There "the weary are at rest, and the wicked no longer bother anyone." Immortal spirits are there, who never experience fatigue and stress, for "they do not sow or reap;" they don't have to work and labor.
"There on a green and flowery mount, Their weary souls shall sit;
And with captivating joys recount The labors of their feet."
To my mind, one of the best views of heaven is, that "it is a place of rest"--especially to the working man. Those who don't have to work hard, think they will love heaven as a place of service to God. That is very true. But to the working man, to the man who works with his mind or with hands, it must ever be a sweet thought that there is a land where we shall rest. Soon, this voice will never be strained again; soon, these lungs will never have to exert themselves beyond their power; soon, this brain will not be racked for thought; but instead I will sit at the banquet table of God; yes, I will lean on the chest of Abraham, and be at ease forever.
Oh! tired sons and daughters of Adam, you will not have to drive the plow into the unthankful soil of heaven, you won't need to get up before sunrise, and work long after the sun has set; but you will be still, you will be quiet, you will be resting, for all are rich in heaven, and all are happy there, all are peaceful.
And note the good company that they are sitting with. They are to "take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Some people think that in heaven we won't know anyone. But our text declares here, that we "will take our places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." I am sure that we will be aware that they are Abraham, and Isaac, and
Jacob. I have heard of a good woman, who asked her husband, when she was dying, "My dear, do you think you will know me when you and I get to heaven?" "Will I know you?" he said, "why, I have always known you while I have been here, and do you think I will know less when I get to heaven?" I think it was a very good answer. If we have known one another here, we will know one another there.
I have dear departed friends up there, and it is always a sweet thought to me, that when I will put my foot, as I hope I may, into the doorway of heaven, there will come my sisters and brothers to hold me by the hand and say, "Yes, you loved one, you are here." Dear relatives that have been separated, you will meet again in heaven. One of you has lost a mother--she is gone above; and if you follow the way of Jesus, you shall meet her there.
I think I see yet another coming to meet you at the door of paradise; and though the ties of natural affection may be somewhat forgotten--I may be allowed to use a figure--how blessed would she be as she turned to God, and said, "Here I am, and the children that you have given to me." We will recognize our friends:--husbands, you will know your wife again. Mother, you will know those dear babes of yours--you noted their features when they were panting and gasping for breath as they lay dying. You know how you hung over their graves when the cold dirt was sprinkled over them, and it was said, "Earth to earth, dust to dust, and ashes to ashes."
But you will hear those loved voices again: you will hear those sweet voices once more; you will yet know that those whom you loved have been loved by God. Wouldn't it be a dreary heaven for us to inhabit, where we would all look the same and we would not know anyone or be known by any? I wouldn't care to go to such a heaven as that. I believe that heaven is a fellowship of the saints, and that we will know one another there. I have often thought I should love to see Isaiah; and, as soon as I get to heaven, I think, I would ask for him, because he spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. I am sure I should want to find that good George Whitefield--he who so continually preached to the people, and wore himself out with angelic zeal. O yes! we will have some choice company in heaven when we get there.
There will be no distinction of educated and uneducated, pastor and congregation, but we will walk freely among each another; we will feel that we are brethren; we will "take our places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." I have heard of a woman who was visited by a minister on her deathbed, and she said to him, "I want to ask you one question, now that I am about to die." "Well," said the minister, "what is it?" "Oh!" she said, in a very pretentious way, "I want to know if there are two places in heaven, because I couldn't bear that our cook Betsy, in the kitchen, should be in heaven along with me, she is so unrefined?" The minister turned around and said, "O! don't trouble yourself about that, madam. There is no fear of that; for, until you get rid of your selfish pride, you will never enter heaven at all."
We must all get rid of our pride. We must humble ourselves and realize that we are equals in the sight of God, and see in every man a brother, and in every woman a sister, before we can hope to be found in glory. Yes, we bless God, we thank Him that there will be no separate table for one and for another. The Jew and the Gentile will sit down together. The great and the small will feed in the same pasture, and we will "take our places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
But my text has yet a greater depth of sweetness, for it says, that "many will come and will take their places." Some narrow minded bigots think that heaven will be a very small place, where there will be very few people, and only those who went to their church. I confess, I have no wish for a very small heaven, and love to read in the Bible that there are many rooms in my Father's house. How often do I hear people say, "Ah! small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. There will be very few in heaven; for most of the people will be lost."
My friend, I differ from you. Do you think that Christ will let the devil beat Him? That he will let the devil have more in hell than there will be in heaven? No: it is impossible. For then Satan would laugh at Christ. There will be more in heaven than there are among the lost. God says, that "there will be a number that no man can count that will be saved;" but He never says, that there will be a number that no man can count that will be lost. There will be a host beyond all count who will get into heaven. What good news for you and for me! for, if there are so many to be saved, why shouldn't I be saved? Why shouldn't you? Why shouldn't the man over there in the crowd, say, "Can't I be one among the multitude being saved?" And shouldn't that poor woman there take heart, and say, "Well if there were but half-a-dozen saved, I might fear that I wouldn't be one; but, since many are to saved, why shouldn't I also be saved?"
Cheer up, dejected one! Cheer up, grieving one, child of sorrow, there is hope for you yet! I don't know of any man that is beyond God's grace. There are only a few that have sinned that unpardonable sin, and God gives up on them; but the vast majority of mankind are yet within reach of His sovereign mercy--"many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
Look again at my text, and you will see where these people come from. They are to "come from the east and the west." The Jews said that they would all come from Palestine, every one of them, every man, woman, and child; that there would not be one in heaven that was not a Jew. And the Pharisees thought that, if they were not all Pharisees, they could not be saved. But Jesus Christ said, there will be many that will come from the east and from the west. There will be a multitude from that far-off land of China, for God is doing a great work there, and we hope that the gospel will yet be victorious in that land. There will be a multitude from this western land of England, from the western land beyond the Atlantic ocean in America, and from the south in Australia, and from the north in Canada, Siberia, and Russia.
From the uttermost parts of the earth there will come many to sit down in the kingdom of God. But I don't think this text is to be understood so much geographically as spiritually. When it says that they "will come from the east and the west," I don't think it refers to nations particularly, but to different kinds of people. Now, "the east and the west" signify those who are the very farthest away from religion; yet many of them will be saved and get to heaven. There is a class of persons who will always be looked on as hopeless. Many times I have heard of a man or woman say about someone, "He can't be saved: he is too depraved. What is he good for? When asked to go to church on Sunday--he went out and got drunk on Saturday night. What would be the use of trying to reason with him? There is no hope for him. He is a hardened person. See what he has done all these years. What good would it be to speak to him?"
Now, hear this, you who think others are worse than you--you who condemn others, whereas often you are just as guilty: Jesus Christ says, "many will come from the east and the west." There will be many in heaven that were once drunkards. I believe, among that blood-bought throng, there are many who staggered in and out of bars half of their lifetime. But, by the power of divine grace, they were able to throw the drink glass to the ground. They renounced the frenzy of intoxication--ran away from it--and served God. Yes! There will be many in heaven who were drunkards on earth.
There will be many prostitutes: some of the most forsaken will be found there. You remember the story Whitefield once told, that there would be some in heaven who were "the devil's castaways;" some that the devil would hardly think good enough for him, yet whom Christ would save. Lady Huntington once gently hinted to Whitefield that such language was not quite proper. But just then, there was a ring of the doorbell, and Whitefield went downstairs. Afterwards he came up and said, "Your ladyship, what do you think a poor woman had to say to me just now? She was a sad depraved woman, and she said, 'O, Mr Whitefield, when you were preaching, you told us that Christ would take in the devil's castaways, and I am one of them,' and that was the means of her salvation."
Shall anyone ever stop us from preaching to the lowest of the low? I have been accused of getting all the vulgar of London around me. God bless the vulgar! God save the vulgar! But, suppose it is "the vulgar," who needs the gospel more than they do? Who requires to have Christ preached to them more than they do? We have lots of those who preach to ladies and gentlemen, and we want someone to preach to the vulgar in these degenerate days. Oh! here is comfort for me, for many of the vulgar are to come the east and from the west.
Oh! what would you think if you were able to see the difference between some that are in heaven and some that will be there? There might be found one who has hair that is matted, he looks horrible, his eyes are bloated, he grins almost like an idiot, he has drunk away his brain until life seems to have departed, insofar as sense and being are concerned; yet I will tell you, "that man is capable of salvation"--and in a few years I might say "look up in the sky;" you see that bright star? Do you notice that man with a crown of pure gold on his head? Do you notice him dressed in robes of sapphire and in garments of light? That is the same man who sat here a poor, destitute, almost idiotic person; yet sovereign grace and mercy have saved him!
There are none, except those, as I have said before, who have sinned the unpardonable sin, who are beyond God's mercy. Bring me the worst, and still I would preach the gospel to them; bring me the vilest, still I would preach to them, because I remember my master saying, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
There is one more word I must discuss before I will be done with this sweet portion--that is the word "will." Oh! I love God's "wills" and "shalls" There is nothing comparable to them. Let a man say "shall," what good is it? "I will," says a man, and he never performs; "I shall," he says, and he breaks his promise. But it is never that way with God's "shalls." If He says "shall," it shall be; when He says "will," it will be. Now here He has said, "many will come." The devil says, "they will not come;" but "they will come." Their sins say "you can't come;" God says "you will come." You, yourselves, say, "you won't come:" God says "you will come." Yes! there are some here who are laughing at salvation, who can scoff at Christ and mock the gospel; but I tell you some of you will yet come.
"What!" you say, "can God make me become a Christian?" I tell you yes, for herein lies the power of the gospel. It does not asks for your consent; but it gets it. It does not say, "Will you receive it" but it makes you willing in the day of God's power. Not against your will, but it makes you willing. It shows you its value, and then you fall in love with it; and immediately you run after it and make it yours. Many people have said, "we will not have anything to do with religion," yet they have been converted. I have heard of a man who once went to church only to hear the singing, and as soon as the minister began to preach, he put his fingers in his ears and refused to listen. But in time a small insect landed on his face, so that he was forced to take one finger out of his ears to brush it away. Just then the minister said, "he that has ears to hear let him hear." The man listened; and God met with him at that moment and converted his soul.
He went out a new man, a changed person. He who came in to laugh left to find a quiet place to pray; he who came in to mock went out to bend his knee in repentance; he who entered to spend an idle hour went home to spend an hour in devotion with his God. The sinner became a saint; the shameless became ashamed. Who knows but we might have some like that here tonight. The gospel does not want your consent, it gets it. It knocks the hostility against God out of your heart. You say, "I don't want to be saved;" Christ says you shall be. He makes your will turn around, and then you cry, "Lord, save me, or I will perish." "Ah," Heaven might exclaim, "I knew that I would make you say that;" and then He rejoices over you because He has changed your will and made you willing in the day of His power.
If Jesus Christ were to stand on this platform tonight, what would many people do with Him? "O!" some say, "we would make Him a King." I do not believe it. They would crucify Him again, if they had the opportunity. If He were to come tonight and say, "Here I am, I love you, will you be saved by me?" Not one of you would consent if you were left to your own will. If He should look on you with those eyes, before whose power the lion would have couched; if He spoke with that voice which poured forth a downpour of eloquence like a stream of nectar rolling down from the cliffs above, not a single person would come to be His disciple. No; it takes the power of the Spirit to make men come to Jesus Christ. He himself said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." Yes! We want that; and here we have it. They will come! They will come!
You may laugh, you may despise us; but Jesus Christ shall not die for nothing. If some of you reject Him, there are some that will not. If there are some that are not saved, others will be. Christ shall see His seed, He shall lengthen his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. Some think that Christ died for some who will be lost. I never could understand that doctrine. If Jesus, my assurance, bore my griefs and carried my sorrows, then I believe that I am as secure as the angels in heaven. God cannot ask for payment twice. If Christ paid my debt, will I have to pay it again? No.
"Free from sin I walk at large The Savior's blood my full discharge;
At His dear feet content I lay, A sinner saved, and homage pay."
They will come! They will come! And nothing in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can stop them from coming.
And now, you chief of sinners, listen for a moment, while I call you to Jesus. There is one person here tonight, who thinks of himself as the worst soul that ever lived. There is one who says to himself, "I don't deserve to be called to Christ, I am sure!" Soul! I call you! you lost, most wretched outcast, this night, by authority given me in God, I call you to come to my Savior.
Some time ago, when I went to the Country Court to see what they were doing, I heard a man's name called out, and immediately the man said, "Make way! make way! they are calling me!" And up he came. Now, I call the chief of sinners tonight, and let him say, "Make way! make way, doubts! make way, fears! make way, sins! Christ calls me! And if Christ calls me, that is enough!"
"I will to His gracious feet approach Whose scepter mercy gives.
Perhaps He may command me 'Touch!' And then the humble petitioner lives."
"I can but perish if I go; I am resolved to try,
For if I stay away, I know I must forever die."
Go and try my Savior! Go and try my Savior! If He casts you away after you have sought Him, tell it in hell that Christ wouldn't listen to your plea for salvation. But that you will never be allowed to do. It would dishonor the mercy of the covenant for God to cast away one repentant sinner; and it shall never be while it is written, "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
II. The second part of my text is heart-breaking. I could preach with great personal delight from the first part; but here is a dreary task to my soul, because there are gloomy words here. But, as I have told you, what is written in the Bible must be preached, whether it be gloomy or cheerful. There are some ministers who never mention anything about hell. I heard of a minister who once said to his congregation, "If you don't love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be sent to that place which it is not polite to mention." He should not have been allowed to preach again since he could not use plain words. Now, if I saw that house on fire over there, do you think I would stand and say, "I believe the operation of combustion is taking place over there?" No; I would call out, "Fire! fire!" and then everybody would know what I meant.
So if the Bible says, "The subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness," am I to stand here and soften God's words by changing them to milder terms? God forbid! We must speak the truth as it is written. It is a terrible truth, for it says, "the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside!" Now, who are those subjects? I will tell you. "the subjects of the kingdom" are those people who are noted for the external display of reverence for God, but who have no reverence for Him on the inside. They are people who you will see with their Bibles going off to church as religiously as possible, trying to appear devout and modest, looking as somber and serious as they can, fancying that they are quite sure they are saved, because they do Christian things on the outside, whereas their hearts are not changed. These are the persons who are "the subjects of the kingdom." They have no grace, no life, no Christ, and they will be thrown into utter darkness.
Again, these people are the children of Christian fathers and mothers. There is nothing that touches a man's heart, mark you, like talking about his mother. I have heard of a swearing sailor, whom nobody could control, not even the police. He was always making some disturbance wherever he went. Once he went into a church during the worship service and no one could keep him still; but a gentleman went up and said to him, "Sailor, you once had a mother." With that the tears ran down his cheeks. He said, "Bless you, sir, I had; and she went to the grave with much gray hair and sorrow that I caused, and look at the pretty sight I am making here tonight." He then sat down, quite sobered and subdued by the very mention of his mother. Ah, and there are some of you, "subjects of the kingdom," who can remember your mothers.
Your mother took you on her knee and taught you early how to pray; your father tutored you in the ways of godliness. And yet you are here tonight, without grace in your heart--without hope of heaven. You are going downwards towards hell as fast as your feet can carry you. There are some of you who have broken your poor mother's heart. Oh! if I could tell you what she has suffered for you when you have at night been indulging in your sin. Do you know what your guilt will be, you "subject of the kingdom," if you perish after a Christian mother's prayers and tears have fallen on you? I can conceive of no one entering hell with a worse guilt than the one who goes there with drops of his mother's tears on his head, and with his father's prayers following him at his heels.
Some of you will inevitably endure this doom; some of you, young men and women, will wake up one day and find yourselves in utter darkness, while your parents will be up there in heaven, looking down on you with scolding eyes, seeming to say, "What! after all we did for you, all we said, you come to this?" "Subjects of the kingdom!" don't think that a Christian mother can save you. Do not think, because your father was a member of such-and-such a church, that his godliness will save you.
I picture someone standing at heaven's gate, and demanding, "Let me in! Let me in!" What for? "Because my mother is in there." Your mother had nothing to do with you. If she was holy, she was holy for herself; if she was evil, she was evil for herself. "But my grandfather prayed for me!" That is of no use: did you pray for yourself? "No, I did not." Then grandfather's prayers, and grandmother's prayers, and father's and mother's prayers may be piled on the top of one another until they reach the stars, but they never can make a ladder for you to go to heaven on. You must seek God for yourself; or rather, God must seek you. You must have an active experience of godliness in your heart, or else you are lost, even though all your friends were in heaven.
There was a dreadful dream which a Christian mother once had, and she told it to her children. She dreamed the judgment day had come. The great books were opened. The people all stood before God. And Jesus Christ said, "Separate the chaff from the wheat; put the goats on the left hand, and the sheep on the right." The mother dreamed that she and her children were standing right in the middle of the great assembly of people. And an angel came, and said, "I must take the mother, she is a sheep: she must go to the right hand. The children are goats: they must go on the left." She thought as she went, her children clutched her, and said, "Mother, do we have to part? Must we be separated?" She then put her arms around them, and seemed to say, "My children, I would, if possible, take you with me." But in a moment the angel touched her; the tears on her cheeks dried, and now, overcoming natural affection, being rendered supernatural and exalted, submissive to God's will, she said, "My children, I taught you well, I trained you, and you abandoned the ways of God; and now all I have to say is, Amen to your condemnation." They then were snatched away, and she saw them in perpetual torment, while she was in heaven.
Young man, what will be your thoughts, when the last day comes, to hear Christ say, "Depart, you who are cursed?" And there will be a voice just behind Christ, saying, Amen. And, as you ask whose voice was that, you will find out that it was you mother. Or, young woman, when you are thrown into the utter darkness, what will you think when you hear a voice saying, Amen. And as you look, there sits your father, his lips still moving with the solemn curse. Ah! "subjects of the kingdom," the repentant reprobates will enter heaven, many of them; "tax collectors and sinners" will get there; repenting drunkards and blasphemers will be saved; but many of the "subjects of the kingdom" will be thrown out. Oh! to think that you who had been so well trained in Christian matters should be lost, while many of the worse will be saved.
It will be the hell of hells for you to look up and see there "poor Jack," the drunkard, lying in Abraham's bosom, while you, who had a Christian mother, are thrown into hell, simply because you would not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but instead refused His gospel, and lived and died without it! That is what makes it hurt so much, to see ourselves thrown out, when the chief of sinners finds salvation.
Now listen to me for a while--I will not detain you long--while I undertake the doleful task of telling you what is to become of these "subjects of the kingdom." Jesus Christ says they are to be "thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
First, notice, they are to be thrown outside. They are not told to go; but, when they come to heaven's gates, they are to be thrown out. As soon as hypocrites arrive at the gates of heaven, Justice will say, "There he comes! there he comes! He spurned a father's prayers, and mocked a mother's tears. He has forced his way downward against all of the advantages mercy has supplied. And now, there he comes. Gabriel, take that man." The angel, tying you hand and foot, holds you one single moment over the mouth of the abyss. He commands you look down--down--down. There is no bottom; and you hear coming up from the abyss, gloomy moans, and meaningless groans, and screams of tortured spirits. You tremble, your bones melt like wax, and your marrow shudders within you. Where now is you strength? And where is your boasting and bragging? You shriek and cry, you beg for mercy; but the angel, with one tremendous grip, quickly jerks you, and then hurls you down, with the cry, "Away, away!" And down you go to the pit of hell that is bottomless, and spiral forever downward--downward--downward--never to find a resting place for the soles of your feet. You will be thrown out.
And where are you to be thrown to? You are to be thrown "outside, into the darkness;" you are to be put in the place where there is no hope. For, by "light," in Scripture, we understand "hope;" and you are to be put "outside, into the darkness," where there is no light--no hope. Is there a man here who has no hope? I can't imagine such a person. One of you, perhaps, says, "I am in deep financial debt, and will soon have to sell all that I have; but I have hope that I may get a loan, and so escape my difficulty." Another says, "My business is ruined, but things make take a turn for the better soon--I have a hope." Another says, "I am in great distress, but I hope that God will provide for me." Another says, "I am in great debt; I am sorry about it; but I will set these strong hands to work, and do my best to get out of debt." One of you has a friend that is dying, but you have hope that, perhaps, the fever may take a turn--that he may yet live.
But, in hell, there is no hope. They don't even have the hope of dying or the hope of being annihilated. They are forever--forever--forever--lost! On every link of the chains in hell are written the word "forever." In the fires, the flames spell out the word "forever." Up above their heads, they read the words "forever." Their eyes are irritated, and their hearts are in anguish with the thought that it is "forever." Oh! if I could tell you tonight that hell would one day be burned out, and that those who were lost might be saved, there would be a jubilee in hell at the very thought of it. But it cannot be--it is "forever." They are "thrown outside, into the darkness."
But I want to finish this as quickly as I can; for who can bear to talk like this to his fellow creatures? What is it that the lost are doing? They are "weeping and gnashing their teeth." Do you gnash you teeth now? You wouldn't do it unless you were in pain and agony. Well, in hell there is always gnashing of teeth. And do you know why? There is one gnashing his teeth at his companion, and mutters, "I was led into hell by you; you led me astray, you taught me to take the first drink." And the other gnashes his teeth and says, "What if I did? You made me act worse than I would have when we went out drinking at night."
There is a child who looks at her mother, and says, "Mother, you taught me to be dishonest." And the mother gnashes her teeth back at the child, and says, "I have no pity for you, because you became more dishonest than I and even taught me new ways of evil." Fathers gnash their teeth at their sons, and sons at their fathers. And, I think, if there are any who will gnash their teeth more than others, it will be the seducers, when they see those whom they have led into immorality, and hear them saying, "Ah! we are glad you are in hell with us, you deserve it, for you led us here."
Tonight, do any of you have on your consciences the fact that you have led others to the pit of hell? O, may the sovereign grace of God forgive you. "We have gone astray like lost sheep," said David. Now a lost sheep never goes astray alone, if it is one of a flock. I read lately of a sheep that leaped over the side guard railing of a bridge, and was followed by every one of the flock. So, if one man goes astray, he leads others with him. Some of you will have to give an account for others' sins when you get to hell, as well as your own. Oh, what "weeping and gnashing of teeth" there will be in that pit!
Now shut your Bible. Who wants to say any more about it? I have warned you solemnly. I have told you of the wrath to come. The evening darkens and the sun is setting. Ah! and the evening of life darkens for some of you. I can see gray-headed men here. Are your gray hairs a crown of glory, or a fool's cap to you? Are you on the very verge of heaven, or are you staggering on the edge of your grave, and sinking down to hell?
Let me warn you, gray-headed men; your evening is coming. O, poor, staggering gray-head, will you take the last step into the pit? Let a young child step in front of you and beg you to reconsider. Think tonight of your past seventy years worth of sin. Let your past life march before your eyes. What will you do with seventy wasted years to answer for--with seventy years of criminality to bring before God? God give you grace this night to repent and to put your trust in Jesus.
And you, middle-aged men, are not safe either; the evening lowers on you too; you may die soon. A few mornings ago, I was awakened early from my bed, and asked that I would hurry and go to see a dying man. I hurried as fast as I could to see this poor dying creature; but, when I reached the house, he was dead--a corpse. As I stood in the room, I thought, "That man gave little thought that he would die so soon." There were his wife and children, and friends--they also gave little thought that he would die, for he was robust, strong, and healthy just a few days earlier. None of you have a signed guarantee on the length of the days of your lives. Go and see if you have such a contract anywhere in your house. No! you may die tomorrow. Therefore, let me warn you by the mercy of God; let me speak to you as a brother; for I love you, you know I do, and would press the matter home to your hearts. Oh, to be among the many who shall be accepted in Christ--how blessed that will be! And God has said that whoever will call on His name will be saved: He throws none out that come to Him through Christ.
And now, you young men and women, one word with you. Perhaps you think that religion is not for you. "Let us be happy," you say: "let us be cheerful and content." How long, young man, how long? "Till I am twenty-one." Are you sure that you will live till then? Let me tell you one thing. If you do live till that time, if you have no heart for God now, you will have none then. Men do not get better if left alone. They are just like a garden: if you leave it alone, and allow weeds to grow, you will not expect to find it better in six months--but worse. Men talk as if they could repent whenever they like. It is the work of God to give us repentance. Some even say, "I will turn to God someday." But if you truly had the right heart, you would say, "I must run to God, and ask Him to given me repentance now, lest I should die before I have found Jesus Christ, my Savior."
Now, one word in conclusion. I have told you of heaven and hell; what is the way, then, to escape from hell and to be found in heaven? I will not tell you my old story again tonight. I remember when I told it to you before, a good friend in the crowd said, "Tell us something fresh, old fellow." Now really, in preaching ten times a week, we cannot always say things fresh each time. You have heard John Gough, and you know he tells his tales over again. I have nothing but the old gospel. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved." There is nothing here of works. It does not say, "He who is a good man will be saved." but "Whoever believes and is baptized." Well, what is it to believe? It is to put your trust entirely on Jesus. Poor Peter once believed, and Jesus Christ said to him, "Come on, Peter, walk to me on the water." Peter went stepping along on the tops of the waves without sinking; but when he looked at the waves, he began to tremble, and down he went. Now, poor sinner, Christ says, "Come on; walk on your sins; come to me;" and if you do, He will give you power.
If you believe in Christ, you will be able to walk over your sins--to tread on them and overcome them. I can remember the time when my sins first stared me in the face. I thought myself to be the most accursed of all men. I hadn't committed any great visible sin against God; but I remembered that I had been well trained and tutored, and I thought my sins were thus greater than other people's. I cried to God to have mercy; and I feared that he would not pardon me. Month after month, I cried to God, and He did not hear me, and I did not know salvation. Sometimes I was so tired of the world that I wanted to die; but then I remembered that there was a worse world after this, and that it would be foolish to rush before my Maker unprepared. At times I wickedly thought God was a heartless tyrant, because He did not answer my prayer; and then, at other times, I thought, "I deserve his displeasure; if He sends me to hell, He will be just."
But I remember the hour when I stepped into a little church, and saw a tall, thin man step into the pulpit: I have never seen him from that day, and probably never will, till we meet in heaven. He opened the Bible and read, with a feeble voice, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other." Ah! I thought, I am one of the ends of the earth; and then turning around, and fixing His gaze on me, as if he knew me, the minister said, "Turn, Turn, Turn." Why, I thought I had a great deal to do, but I found it was only to turn. I thought I had to make my own clothes of righteousness; but I found that if I turned, Christ would give me the righteous clothes.
Turn, sinner, that is all that is needed to be saved. Turn to Him, all you ends of the earth, and be saved. That is what the Jews did, when Moses held up the bronze serpent. He said, "Look!" and they turned and looked. The serpent might be twisting around them, and they might be almost dead; but they simply turned and looked, and the moment they turned and looked the serpent dropped off, and they were healed. Turn to Jesus, sinner. "No one but Jesus can do any good to helpless sinners." There is a hymn we often sing, but which I don't think is quite right. It says, "Venture on Him, venture wholly; Let no other trust intrude." Now, it is no venture to trust in Christ, not in the least; he who trusts in Christ is quite secure.
I remember that, when dear John Hyatt was dying, Matthew Wilks said to him in his usual tone, "Well, John, could you trust your soul in the hands of Jesus Christ now?" "Yes," said he, "a million! a million souls!" I am sure that every Christian that has ever trusted in Christ can say Amen to that. Trust in Him; He will never deceive you. My blessed Master will never throw you away.
I can't speak much longer, and I have only to thank you for your kindness. I never saw so large a number of people be so still and quiet. I do really think, after all the hard things that have been said, that the English people knows who loves them, and that they will stand by the Man who stands by them. I thank every one of you; and above all, I beg you, if there be reason or sense in what I have said, think of yourselves for what you really are, and may the Blessed Spirit reveal to you your state! May He show you that you are dead, that you are lost, and ruined. May He make you feel what a dreadful thing it would be to sink into hell! May He point you to heaven! May He take hold of you as the angel did long ago, and put his hand on you and say, "Flee for your lives! Flee for your lives! Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" And may we all meet in heaven at last; and there we shall be happy forever. Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 8:11". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/matthew-8.html. 2011.
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25