When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) We enter here on a series of events, following, in St. Matthew’s arrangement, on the great discourse. They are common to St. Mark and St. Luke, but are not narrated, as the following table will show, in the same order:—
(1.)The leper (Matthew 8:1-4).
(1.)Peter’s wife’s mother (Mark 1:29-31).
(1.)Peter’s wife’s mother (Luke 4:38-39).
(2.)The servant of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).
(2.)The leper (Mark 1:40-45).
(2.)The leper (Luke 5:12-15).
(3.)Peter’s wife’s mother (Matthew 8:14-15).
(3.)The stilling of the storm Mark (4:35-41).
(3.)The servant of the centurion (Luke 7:1-10).
(4.)The excuses of two disciples (Matthew 8:18-22).
(4.)The Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20).
(4.)The stilling of the storm (Luke 8:22-25).
(5.)The stilling of the storm (Matthew 8:23-27).
(5.)The Gadarene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39).
(6.)The Gadarene demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-33).
(6.)The excuses of two disciples (Luke 9:57-62).
A comparison such as this, especially if we take into account the narratives which in St. Mark and St. Luke come between those which St. Matthew makes to follow close one upon another, and the apparent notes of succession in each case, is enough to show, once for all the difficulty of harmonising the Gospel narratives with any certainty. Three conclusions may fairly be received as all but certain. (1.) The independence of each record. It is scarcely conceivable that St. Mark or St. Luke would have departed so widely from St. Matthew’s order had they had his Gospel before them. (2.) The derivation of all three from earlier records, written or oral, each embracing some few acts or discourses of our Lord. (3.) The absence of any direct evidence as to the order of these events, so that each writer was often left to his own discretion, or to some internal principle of grouping.
In dealing with such cases, therefore, while the parallel narratives in the other Gospels will be noticed, so far as they make the record here more vivid and complete, there will seldom be any attempt to discuss elaborately the order in which they stand.Matthew 8:1. When he was come down from the mountain — Where he had delivered the divine discourse contained in the preceding chapters; great multitudes followed him — To the town toward which he went, desirous, probably, of receiving further instruction from him, or of witnessing the performance of some of his miraculous acts. And, behold, there came a leper — Leprosies, in those countries, were seldom curable by natural means, any more than palsies or lunacy. It is likely, though this leper might not mix with the people: he had heard our Lord at a distance. And worshipped him — That is, kneeled, or fell down before him; saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean — Doubtless, he had seen or been informed of some of the miraculous cures which Christ had wrought. Jesus put forth his hand and touched him — Though leprosies were the most nauseous of all the distempers incident to the human body, and the most infectious, insomuch that the bare sight of a leper could not fail to raise a loathing in all who looked on him; nevertheless, Jesus, with great benignity, drew near and touched this man, and, instead of being polluted by touching him, cleansed the leper with his touch, and sent him away very joyful by reason of his cure, which rendered him agreeable to himself, and gave him access again to the society of men. Immediately his leprosy was cleansed — Immediately on Christ’s touching him, and saying, I will, be thou clean — How wonderful the power thus displayed! and how irresistible, one would suppose, must be the evidence, arising from such a fact, of the divine mission and authority of the person who performed such a cure; who restored, in a moment, to perfect soundness, the body of a man covered all over with the most loathsome disease imaginable! Observe, reader, the instruction which this miracle gives us. Our souls are by nature entirely overspread with the leprosy of sin, and where can we apply for help but to the healing power and recovering grace of this Divine Saviour? And be the malady ever so deep, spreading, or inveterate, we may surely adopt the words of this leper, and say, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And we have every reason to hope, if we so apply, that his compassion will be moved in our favour, and his power exerted for our cure.
Mt 8:1-4. Healing of a Leper. ( = Mr 1:40-45; Lu 5:12-16).
The time of this miracle seems too definitely fixed here to admit of our placing it where it stands in Mark and Luke, in whose Gospels no such precise note of time is given.
1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.Matthew 8:2-4 Christ cleanseth the leper,
great multitudes followed him: which is mentioned, partly to shew, that the people which came from several parts, still continued with him, being affected with his discourses and miracles; and partly on account of the following miracle, of healing the leper, which was not done in a corner, but before great multitudes, who were witnesses of it: though some think this miracle was wrought more privately.When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 8:1. Αὐτῷ … αὐτῷ] as in Matthew 5:40, and frequently in Matthew as well as in classical writers. See Bornemann, ad Xen. Symp. iv. 63; Winer, p. 139 f. [E. T. 275].
The healing of the leper occurs in Luke (Matthew 5:12 ff.) before the Sermon on the Mount, and in Mark (Mark 1:40 ff.) and Luke not till after the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. It is not to be regarded as the earliest of all the miracles of healing.Matthew 8:1-4. The leper (Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16). This is the first individual act of healing reported in this Gospel, chap. Matthew 4:23-24 containing only a general notice. It is a very remarkable one. No theory of moral therapeutics will avail here to eliminate the miraculous element. Leprosy is not a disease of the nerves, amenable to emotional treatment, but of the skin and the flesh, covering the body with unsightly sores. The story occurs in all three Synoptics, and, as belonging to the triple tradition, is one of the best attested. Matthew’s version is the shortest and simplest here as often, his concern being rather to report the main fact and what Christ said, than to give pictorial details. Possibly he gives it as he found it in the Apostolic Document both in form and in position, immediately after Sermon on Mount, so placed, conceivably, to illustrate Christ’s respectful attitude towards the law as stated in Matthew 5:17 (cf. Matthew 8:4 and vide Weiss, Matt. Evan., p. 227).Matthew 8:1. Ἠκολούθησαν, followed) They did not immediately leave Him.Verse 1-ch. 9:34 - MESSIAH'S WORK AS COMPLEMENTARY TO HIS TEACHING. We return in this section to matter which resembles that of Mark and Luke, and undoubtedly belongs to the Framework (vide Introduction). St. Matthew has given a lengthy summary of the teaching of the Christ, and he now supplements it by a summary of his daily work. He is not concerned with the chronological connexion of the incidents here narrated, for this is evidently to him a matter of but secondary importance. He only desires to bring out different aspects of the Lord's life. Thus he notices -
1. Christ's miracles of healing, and the secret of his ability to perform them (vers. 1-17).
2. The personal trials that Christ incurred in his work (ver. 18-Matthew 9:8).
3. The liberty of the gospel as shown by Christ's treatment of the outcast, and his answer to those who insisted on fasting (Matthew 9:9-17).
4. The completeness of his healing power (Matthew 9:18-34). Verses 1-17. - 1. Christ's miracles of healing, and the secret of his ability to perform them. Observe:
(1) The variety in the patients.
(a) One of the chosen people, who had lost all social and religious privileges;
(b) a Gentile, an outsider by birth;
(c) the near relation of a personal follower;
(2) The variety in the requests for his aid.
(a) The request by the sufferer;
(b) the request by another;
(c) apparently no request, yet the personal follower has Christ with him;
(d) the sufferers are brought to him. Verses 1-4. - Healing the leper. Parallel passages: Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16. Observe in this miracle
(1) the Lord's sympathy, running counter to popular prejudice (vide Edersheim, ' Life,' 1:495);
(2) his full acceptance of the Law (Matthew 5:17); cf. ver. 4, note. Verse 1. - Matthew only. When he was come down from the mountain (Matthew 5:1, note), great multitudes followed him, A transitional verse. It carries on the thought of the ὄχλοι in the last verse of the preceding chapter, and serves to introduce the following examples of sick folk; or, perhaps, it may be connected with the "great multitudes" (ὄχλοι πολλοί) of Matthew 4:25, coming, as the plural suggests (cf. also Matthew 12:23) from the various places there enumerated. If we must combine this verse with Luke 5:12, we must suppose our Lord to have descended the mountain, and to be passing through "one of the cities," coming (our ver. 5) afterwards to Capernaum, the "great multitudes" (cf. Luke 5:15)being drawn from the various cities through which he passed. The verse reminds us that the two sides of the Lord's life, preaching and work, were intimately connected. Men not only wondered at what they heard (Matthew 7:28, 29), they also followed him, and this led to occasions for the exercise of his practical activity. The result was that they wondered at his work (Matthew 9:33), as they wondered at his preaching.
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