William Kelly Major Works Commentary
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.Matthew Chapter 8
I can well understand a man who received and revered the Bible as the word of the living God, finding himself at fault when he closely examines the Gospels, which recount the Lord's ministry. A casual reader might find no difficulty; but at first, nothing would be more probable than that he who carefully compared the different accounts might be perplexed - I will not say stumbled, because he has too much confidence in the word of God. In comparing the Gospels, he finds that they differ very considerably in the way in which the same facts are recorded in different Gospels. He finds one arrangement in Matthew, another in Mark, and a third in Luke; and yet all these he is sure are right. But he cannot make out how, if the Spirit of God really inspired the different Evangelists to give a perfect history of Christ, there should at the same time be these apparent discrepancies. He is obliged to cast himself upon God, and to enquire whether there be not some principle which can account for these changes of position, and for the different mode in which the same circumstances are displayed. The moment that he thus approaches these Gospels, light will dawn upon his soul. He begins to see that the Holy Ghost was not merely giving the testimony of so many witnesses, but that while they thoroughly agree at bottom, the Holy Ghost had assigned a special office to each of them, so that their writings present the Lord in various and distinct attitudes. It remains to enquire what are these several points of view, and how they may both give occasion to and explain the variety of statement that is undoubtedly to be found therein.
I have already shown that in the Gospel of Matthew the Holy Ghost has been depicting Jesus in His relationship to Israel, and that this accounts for the genealogy given us in chapter 1, which quite differs from what we have in the Gospel of Luke. It is specially His genealogy as Messiah, which is, of course, important and interesting to Israel, who looked for a ruler of the seed of David. At the same time the Holy Ghost took particular care to correct the narrow worldly thoughts of the Jews, and shows that while He was, according to the flesh, of the seed of Israel, He was also the Lord God; and if Emmanuel and Jehovah, His special work as a. divine person was to save His people from their sins. He may go out far beyond that people and bless Gentiles no less than Jews; but saving from sins was clearly an expectation of Christ that ought to have been gathered from the Prophets. The Jews expected that when Messiah came, He would be the exalted Head over them as a nation; that they consequently would become the head, and the Gentiles the tail. All this they had rightly inferred from the prophetic word; but there was a great deal more that they had not discerned. Messiah is bent upon their spiritual as well as their natural blessing; and all present hopes must fade away before the question of sin; yea, their sins. Jesus accepts His rejection from them, and effects on the cross for them that very redemption which they thought so little about.
How thoroughly, too, it falls in with the Gospel of Matthew that we should have a long discourse like that of the sermon on the mount without interruption; the whole being given us as a continuous word from our Lord. All interruptions, if there were any, are carefully excluded, so as to bring Him out on the mount in pointed antithesis to Moses, by whom God was bringing in an earthly kingdom; but now it is because He manifests the heavenly King, contrary to everything the Jews were expecting.
The Holy Ghost proceeds in this Gospel to give us the facts of our Lord's life still in connection with this great thought. The Gospel of Matthew is the presentation to Israel of Jesus as their divine Messiah, their rejection of Him in that character, and what God would do in consequence. We shall see whether the facts that are given us even in this chapter do not bear upon this special aspect of our Lord. From the Gospel of Mark it would be impossible to collect it in the same way. In Matthew the mere order of history is here neglected, and facts are brought together that took place months apart. It is not at all the object of the Holy Ghost by Matthew, or even Luke, to give the facts in the order in which they happened, which Mark does. Those that examine the Gospel of Mark with care will find notes of time, expressions such as "immediately," etc., where things are left vague in the other Gospels. The phrases of rapid transition, or of instant sequence, of course bind together the different occurrences thus brought into juxtaposition. In Matthew this is entirely disregarded; and of all the chapters in this Gospel, there is not one, perhaps, that so entirely sets aside the mere succession of dates as the very one before us. But if this be so, to what are we to attribute it? Why, we may reverently ask, does the Holy Ghost in Matthew disregard the order in which things followed one another? Was it that Matthew did not know the time in which they occurred? Had it been only a man writing a history for his own pleasure, could he not have ascertained with tolerable certainty when it was that each fact occurred? And when he first had published his statement, would anything have been easier than for the other Evangelists to follow, and give their accounts in accordance with his?
But the contrary is the case. Mark takes up a different line of things, and Luke another, while John has a character to himself. On the very face of it we are driven to one of two suppositions. Either the Evangelists were as careless men as ever wrote accounts of their Master, giving different accounts as if to perplex the reader, or it was the Holy Ghost who presented the facts in various ways, so as to illustrate the glory of Christ far more than what mere repetition would have accomplished. The latter is surely the truth. Any other supposition is as irrational as irreverent. For, even supposing that the apostles had written different accounts and had made mistakes, they could very easily have corrected each other's mistakes; but the reason why no such correction appears was not human error or defect, but divine perfection. It was the Holy Ghost who was pleased to shape these Gospels in the particular form most calculated to bring out the person, mission, or various relations of Christ. The Gospel of Mark proves that the healing of the leper took place at a different time from what you might have gathered from this chapter - in fact, long before the sermon on the mount. In chapter 1 we have the Lord described as preaching in their synagogues through all Galilee, and casting out devils: "And there came a leper to Him, beseeching . . . If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean" (Mark 1:40-45). Now, we cannot doubt this is the same story as in Matthew 8. But if we read the next chapter of Mark, what is the first thing mentioned after this? "Again He entered into Capernaum after some days, and it was noised that He was in the house . . . and they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four." Clearly here we have a fact, the cure of the paralytic man, which Matthew does not give us till Matthew 9, after a storm which Mark describes in Mark 4, and after the case of the demoniac, which only appears in Mark 5; so that it is perfectly plain that one of the two Evangelists must have departed from the order of history; and as Mark, by his strict notes of time, evidences that he does not, Matthew must be concluded to have so done. In Mark 3 we have our Lord going up the mountain, and calling the disciples to Him; and there is the place accordingly in this Gospel, where the sermon on the mount would, if inserted at all, come in. Thus, it was considerably after what took place in Matthew 8:2-4 that the sermon on the mount was uttered: but Mark does not give us that sermon, because his great object was the gospel ministry and characteristic works of Christ; and therefore the doctrinal expositions of our Lord are left out. Where brief words of our Lord accompany what He did, they are given; but nothing more.
It may make what I have been saying still plainer, if in Mark 1 we observe further the actual order. Simon and Andrew are called, in verse 16; James and John, verse 19; and straightway, having gone to Capernaum, He entered on the sabbath day into the synagogue, and taught. There we have the man with the unclean spirit: the fact took place a little after the final call of Andrew and Simon, of James and John, The unclean spirit was cast out; "and immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell Him of her," etc. Hence we have positive certainty, from God's own word, that the healing of Peter's wife's mother took place a short time after the call of Peter and Andrew, and considerably before the healing of the leper. Carrying this back to our chapter in Matthew, we see the importance of it; for here the healing of Peter's mother-in-law only appears in the middle of the chapter. The cleansing of the leper is given first, then the healing of the centurion's servant, and after that, of Peter's wife's mother; whereas, from Mark, we know for a certainty that Peter's wife's mother was healed long before the leper.
Looking at Mark again, we find that, on the evening of the same sabbath, after He had healed Peter's wife's mother, "they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils. . . . And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed, "which is clearly the same scene alluded to in Matthew 8, and would come in after verse 17. The fact of His going to the desert and praying is not mentioned here; but it took place at the same time. Then, in Mark, we have His going into Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils; and after that, He heals the leper. What I draw from this is that, as Mark tells us the very day on which these things happened, we must take him for a witness of their order as to time. When I go back to Matthew, do I find any intimation of the time in which all these events took place? Not a word. It is simply said, "When He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him" (ver. 1), and then we have the healing of the leper. There is nothing to prove that the leper came at that particular time. All that is said is, "And behold, there came a leper," etc. - an Old Testament form of expression. Whether the healing of the leper took place before He came down, or after, we are not told here. From Mark we infer that the sermon on the mount was given long after, and that the healing of Peter's wife's mother took place before the healing of the leper.
Why, let us ask, would it not have suited this Gospel of Matthew to put the healing of Peter's wife's mother first, then the leper, and lastly the centurion? - for you will find that in the order of time, this was really the succession. The centurion came up after the sermon was over, and Christ was in Capernaum; the leper had been healed a considerable time before, and Simon's mother-in-law earlier yet.
But what is the great truth taught by these facts as they are arranged in the Gospel of Matthew? The Lord is met by a leper. You know what a loathsome thing leprosy was. Notoriously, it was not only most offensive, but hopeless, as far as man was concerned. It is true that in Leviticus we have ceremonies for the cleansing of a leper, but who could give a ceremony for the cure of a leper? Who take away that disease after it had once infected a man? Luke, the beloved physician, gives us the notice that he was "full of leprosy;" the other Evangelists do not state anything but the simple fact that he was a leper. This was enough. Because, to the Jews, the question was whether there was any leprosy at all: if such it was, they could have nothing to say to him till he was cured and cleansed. The Spirit of God uses leprosy as a type of sin, in all the loathsomeness that it produces. Palsy brings out the thought of powerlessness. Both are true of the sinner. He is without strength, and he is unclean in the presence of God. Jesus heals the leper. This at once illustrates the power of Jehovah-Jesus upon earth, and more than that; for it was not merely a question of His power, but of His grace, His love, His willingness to put forth all His might on behalf of His people. For the whole people of Israel were like that leper. The prophet Isaiah had said so long before; and they were not better now. The Lord repeats the sentence of Isaiah: "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy," etc., and this leper was a type of the moral condition of Israel in the presence of the Messiah. But, whether few or many, let them only present themselves in all their vileness before the Messiah, and how would the Messiah deal with them? The Messiah is there. He has got the power, but the leper is not sure of His will. "Lord," He says, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." We may remember the distress of the king of Israel in the days of Elisha, when the king of Syria sent Naaman to him that he might be recovered of his leprosy: how, when he had read the letter, "he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy?" Only God could do it: every Jew knew this; and this is what the Holy Ghost is desirous of showing. We have had the testimony that Jesus was a man, and yet Jehovah - able to save His people from their sins. But here comes out His presentation to Israel in particular cases, where the Holy Ghost, instead of giving a mere general and historical outline, as in chapter 4, singles out special instances, for the purpose of illustrating the Lord's relation to Israel, and the manifested effects of it. The leper is the first case, where we have, as it were, the microscope applied by the Spirit of God, that we may see clearly how the Lord carried Himself toward Israel; what ought to have been the place of Israel; and what was their real conduct. At once, when the leper acknowledges His power and confesses His person, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean;" when it was merely the question of His will and of His affections, immediately there comes the answer of divine love as well as power: "I will, be thou clean; and immediately his leprosy was cleansed." He put forth His hand and touched him. It was not only God, but God manifest in the flesh - One who entered fully into the poor leper's anxiety, yet proved Himself paramount to the law. His touch - it was that of Jehovah. God's touch! The law could only put the leper at a distance; but if God gives a law, He is superior in grace to the law that He gives. The heart of this leper trembled, afraid lest the blessed Lord should be unwilling to bless him; but He puts forth His hand, He touches him: none else would. The Lord's touch, instead of contracting defilement to Himself, banishes defilement from the leper. Immediately he is cleansed. Jesus then says to him, "See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them." There was no desire that He should publish what Jesus was: God might tell His works. He says, "See thou tell no man; but go, show thyself to the priest," etc. Nothing could be more blessed. It was not yet the time for the law to be set aside. Jesus waits. The cross must come in before the law could be set aside in any way. We are delivered from the law by the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the great doctrine of the epistle to the Romans - that we are dead to the law, of course in His death, that we might "be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Up to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, there is the most careful guarding of the law. After resurrection, saints passed into another relationship with Him who was risen from the dead. Here we find there was a sedulous maintenance of the claims of God's law; and it always was so until the cross. Therefore He says, "Go, show thyself to the priest." Also, had the man gone telling it to every one instead of to the priest, the great enemy might have found means to misrepresent the work, to deny the miracle, to try and make out that he was not the man who had been a leper. Alas! was it the wish of man's heart to show that Jesus had not wrought such a miracle? But Jesus says, "Go, show thyself to the priest. "Why? Because the priest himself would be the authentic witness that Jesus was Jehovah. The priest that knew the man was a leper before, that had pronounced him unclean, that had put him outside, would now see that the man was cured. Who had done it? None but God could heal the leper. Jesus, then, was God; Jesus was Jehovah; the God of Israel was in the land. The priest's mouth would be obliged to confess the glory of Christ's person. "Offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them." When had there been the offering of that gift? They had no power to heal the leper, and thus could not offer the gift. So that Jesus had bowed to the obligations of the law, and yet had done what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh. But here was One who was God - God having sent His own Son "in the likeness of sinful flesh." God Himself, and God's own Son withal, He was here working this mighty work that proved His dignity, and He made the priest himself to be the witness of it.
But now we are to hear a different tale; Jesus enters into Capernaum. When, we are not told. It had no connection with the story of the leper; but the Holy Ghost puts them together, because it brings in the Gentiles. We have had the Jew set forth in the history of the leper and the gift Moses commanded for a testimony to Israel. But now there is a centurion that comes and tells about his servant; and this brings in a new kind of confession of the Lord altogether. Here there is no touching - no connection with Christ after the flesh. Hence it is rather the way in which the Gentile knows Christ. The Jew looked for. a Christ that would put forth His hand - a Saviour personally present among them - bringing in this divine power and healing them: as the Scripture had said, "I am the Lord God that healeth thee." And here He was come; but they did not know Him so. And the next witness, that we have brought together in Matthew, but nowhere else, is the centurion; because God would show that the natural children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were going to be cut off. They would not worship Him as the poor leper did. The testimony to the priest would be disregarded. They become more and more opposed to His claims. God says, as it were, If you Jews will not have my Son, I will send a testimony to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles will hear. Upon the rejection of Jesus by the Jew, upon Israel's refusal of Him who had proved Himself to be Jehovah-God in forgiving all their iniquities and healing all their diseases, what then follows? The door of faith is opened to the Gentiles.
Thus, we have the story of the centurion, which is taken out of its place and put here purposely. And even in the details of the history there are very noticeable differences. You have not the embassy of the Jews in connection with the centurion. This is left out in Matthew, but inserted in Luke. Thus, while Matthew's Gospel gives everything that might be calculated to meet the conscience of Israel, it abstains from giving that which they might have prided themselves on. It was wholesome for the Gentiles that they should hear of the embassy of this good man. He was like the Gentile laying his hand upon the skirt of him that was a Jew, taking his place behind Israel. But his faith goes beyond this; for we find that he comes and beseeches the Lord, and brings out his own personal faith in the most blessed manner. When Jesus says to him, "I will come and heal him," at once his heart is manifest. He answers, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof." For just as he, the centurion, could say to one, "Go, and he goeth; to another, Come, and he cometh; and to his servant, Do this, and he doeth it," how much more could the Lord "speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed?" Jesus had indeed authority over all diseases; but was it merely a question of His putting His hand upon the leper? Not at all. He had only to utter the word, and it was done. The centurion assumes the grand truth that Jesus was God (not merely Messiah), and therefore full of ability to heal. In short, he looks at Him in a still higher way, not as one whose presence must be connected with the putting forth of power, but as one who had only to speak the word, and it was done. This brings in the character of the word of God, and the absence of Jesus from those who now profit by His grace.
Such is our position. Jesus is away and unseen. We hear His word, lay hold of it, and are saved. This is the beautiful way in which we are here given the different bearing of the Lord on the Jew and on the Gentile; but we learn, moreover, that the blessing would be refused by Israel, and the Gentiles would become the objects of mercy, as it is said here, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 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" (vers. 10, 11), that is, many Gentiles shall come. Neither is this all: "But the children of the kingdom" - the natural children that were the seed, but not the true children according to Abraham's faith, these should be "cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Rejecting their Messiah, the Jews as a nation were going to be rejected. There would only be a line of believing ones; but the mass of Israel should be rejected until the fulness of the Gentiles have come in.
Thus we have here a wonderful view of our Lord in accordance with the general strain of the Gospel of Matthew. We have Jesus proving Himself to be Jehovah-Jesus, ready to heal wherever there was faith - but where was it? The leper might represent the godly remnant; 'but as to the mass of Israel, we have their doom pronounced here, and in the very same incident which proves that the grace of God which Israel refused would make a larger channel for itself among the Gentiles, who would partake of the mercies which the Jews rejected. This is just what is here put together in these two stories. Jesus gives proof to Israel that He was a divine Messiah. If they scorned it, the Gentiles would hear. But then there is another thing of great importance, and which shows why the healing of Peter's wife's mother is kept in this Gospel till after these events, although Mark gives it before. Mark furnishes the history of the ministry of Christ as it happened. Why does not Matthew the same? Divine wisdom is stamped upon this, as upon everything in the word of God. I believe it is reserved by Matthew for this place because Israel might have the idea that, when the mercy of God flowed out to the Gentiles, His heart might be turned away from them. The maid was not dead, but sleeping: this is the state of Israel now, And as surely as the Lord did raise her up, so surely will He in a future day awaken the sleeping daughter of Zion. We have got better blessing and higher glory now. But it is necessary for the truth of God's word that Israel should be blessed too; for if God could break His word to Israel, could we trust it for ourselves? Now God positively promised the eventual final glory of Israel on the earth. The only thing needed is that we should not confound these things; that we should not be ignorant either of the Scripture or of the power of God.
In this case we have an incident brought before us which proves that (though the Lord knew the unbelief of Israel and predicted it; and though He knew also that the Gentiles were now to come in by faith) His heart could not but linger over Israel. Therefore, as I think, the Holy Ghost, to illustrate this, brings in here the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. This third incident, then, the healing of Peter's wife's mother, I think we may infer was for Peter's sake, whatever may have been the other reasons. It is a natural relationship, and you will find that the great scene for this is Israel. Peter was the apostle of the circumcision; so that I have not a question that one of the reasons why this event is brought in here is to show that the unbelief of Israel would not finally alienate the Lord's heart. There He was, still healing all their diseases, as was witnessed even to the crowd around the door, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." The Lord, when He wrought a miracle, entered in spirit into the circumstances of him whom He was relieving. If the miracle brought out His divine power, there was also the divine sympathy that entered into the depth of the need that He relieved.
After this, we have the Lord preparing to go to the other side. But this gives occasion for certain persons to be brought out in their true character and ways, and for the Lord to manifest His own. Now when did this happen? This brings out a most peculiar feature of the Gospel of Matthew, and shows how entirely the Holy Ghost was above the mere routine of dates. Look at the Gospel of Luke, and you will find that the conversation with these men, which is recorded here, took place after the transfiguration. In Luke 9 we are told that after the transfiguration had taken place, the Lord stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem; and then, in verse 57, it is said, "It came to pass, that as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head. And He said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father" (Luke 9:57-62). Now, am I too bold in thinking that this was the same incident that we have recorded in Matthew? It is not probable that our Lord should have the same things repeated at different times; nor could we fairly conceive of two distinct persons copying one another so exactly. But mark its importance, if this be so. It took place a very long time after, and yet it is put in here by Matthew. Why? Because it illustrates this - that while the Lord had all this love in His heart toward Israel, spite of their unbelief, there was no heart in Israel toward Him. What was His condition now? He had not even where to lay His head. What a thing for the Messiah of Israel to be obliged to say, when a man offered to follow Him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."
This is the first time where He uses the expression "Son of Man." It is no longer "Son of David." "Son of Man" is the title of Christ as rejected or glorified. There is no question which of the two it was here. Even His own people will not have Him. And He is going away to the other side - He must leave them. He has done, it now, as we know. But this man proposes to follow Him. The Lord knew all that was in his heart - a mere carnal Jew, who thought by following Jesus to get a good place with the Messiah. The Lord tells him He had no place to give him. There was not even a nest for the Messiah. What was there for the flesh, offering to follow Christ, to find? The Lord unveils his heart, shows its own deception in seeking something for itself, while Himself had not even a spot which the meanest and most mischievous creature He had made might possess. Had not the foxes their holes, and the birds of the air their nests? But the Son of Man had not even where to lay His head. How could the flesh pretend to follow our Lord? To a disciple who said, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father," the Lord could say, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead" (vers. 21, 22). Mark the difference. Where the call of Christ is, there may be great reluctance, trial felt, and struggling on the part of nature; still the word is, "Follow Me." When you get a thoroughly carnal man in the presence of the gospel, there is not this backwardness - none of this trial. He thinks it is all beautiful, but it does not lay hold of his soul; and very soon circumstances occur to draw his heart away to other things, and at last the man sinks down again to his own level. But where the Lord does say, "Follow Me," how often the soul, before or at the time, says, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Natural relationship had a very serious claim. His father was lying dead: he must go and bury him. People might say, A man must make the burying of his father so urgent that everything must give way to it. Not at all, says the Lord, Christ's claim ought to be stronger still. If the call of Christ is heard, even as the father lies dead, waiting for burial, we must forego even this. The world may say, There is a man that talks about Christ, and yet does not love his father. But we must be prepared for this: and if we are not, it is because we do not yet understand the supreme value of our Christ. You will find that natural ties and duties in this world are always apt to come in as a hindrance between Christ and the soul. The claims of nature are continually pressed upon one. But no matter whether it be father or mother, or brother or sister, or son or daughter, where the call of Christ is clear, take care that you do not say, Suffer me to do such and such a thing first. The word of Jesus is, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead."
Then the Lord goes. We find Him entering into a ship and His disciples following Him. And thereon follows the history of the tempest, and of the miracle that Jesus wrought in calming the winds and the sea. Now when did this really take place? On the evening of the day when the seven parables of Matthew 13 were uttered, before the transfiguration, but long after the other events mentioned in this chapter. Mark lets us know this positively in the chapter that records the parables (Mark 4) - the very same that are given us in Matthew 13, with this addition, "With many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear it; but without a parable spake He not unto them. And when they were alone (when they had entered into the house, as it is given us in Matthew 13), He expounded all things to His disciples. And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side." Then follows the same history that we have here in Matthew 8; and after they come to the other side, there is the man with the legion of devils. There need not be a question that this is the same scene, but brought out in an entirely different connection, and only occurred a considerable time after its mention here in Matthew.
What follows from this? That the Holy Ghost in Matthew only gives us historical order where it falls in with the special object of the Gospel. All this marks the perfect wisdom of God: and none but God would have thought of such a thing. But how few think of it, or even understand it now. Does it not show the slowness of our hearts to take in the full meaning of the word of God? What is the Lord teaching in these two scenes? We see Him here alone with His disciples. The godly part of Israel are now separated with Himself and exposed to all that the enemies of God could do against them. But it only serves to enlist the power of the Lord for them. Everything is subdued at His bidding. So is it in our own experience. There is never a difficulty, trial, or painful circumstance in which we appear to be utterly overwhelmed by the power of Satan in this world, but that, if our eye is towards Christ, and we appeal to Him, we shall know His power most truly put forth on our behalf. When they realize whom they had in the same boat with them and cry, saying, "Lord save us, we perish," He rises and rebukes the wind and the sea. "And there was a great calm." So that the very shipmen marvelled, saying, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" The disciples knew it in a still deeper way, but the others were astonished.
But this is not all. It might evince what Christ is for the godly who were with Him. But there were two men, far indeed from the Messiah for they were among the tombs, possessed with devils, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way - just the picture of the most desperate power of Satan in the world. One of them, as we are told elsewhere, went by the name of Legion, because many devils were entered into him. You could not have worse than this. The power of Satan was stronger than all the fetters of men.
But the Lord is there. The devils believe and tremble. They felt His presence. But the day was not come for Satan to be dispossessed of his title over the world. As yet, it was only the proof of the power to do it: but the full exercise of that power was reserved for another day. I doubt not that our Evangelist gives the casting out of the demons as a witness of Christ's power to deliver the Jewish remnant; and therefore the Holy Ghost, here only, names the two men; as, on the other hand, the possessed herd of swine seems to represent the destruction of the unclean mass of Israel in the latter day.
The history brings out this also - that Satan has power in a twofold way, not. only in the dreadful excesses of those who are completely under his influence, but in the quiet enmity of the heart that could lead others to go to Jesus in order to beseech Him to depart out of their coasts. What a solemn thing it is to know that the secret influence of Satan over the heart, that creates the wish to get rid of Jesus, is even more fatal, personally, than when Satan makes a man to be the witness of his awful power. But so it was then, and so it is that men perish now.
That is the history of the men that wish Jesus to depart from them. The Lord grant us that happy knowledge of Himself, that entering into what He is to us now, which gives the soul calmness and rest in His love, and the certainty of His presence with those that belong to Him: "I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age." May we know what it is to have Jesus to take care of us, and produce a great calm, whatever may be the effect of the stirring up of Satan's power against us. The Lord give us to look at Jesus. If it be from our first knowledge of sin to our last trial in this world, it is all a question of whether I trust in myself or in the Lord,
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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.
And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and 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!
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
And, behold, 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?
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd 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 herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.