Matthew 8:18
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
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(18) To depart unto the other sidei.e., the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Here, too, though less conspicuously than in the other Gospels, there is indicated the yearning for a time of rest and retirement.

Matthew 8:18-20. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes — When Jesus did the things before mentioned he was in Capernaum, Matthew 8:5, but the multitude pressing him, he gave orders to pass over the sea of Galilee, otherwise called the sea of Tiberias, that both himself and the people might have a little rest. And a certain scribe came — Namely, as they went in the way from the house, out of which he came, to the shore where he proposed to embark. See Luke 9:57. And said unto him, with all the appearance of profound respect, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest — Being determined to devote myself entirely to the service of thy kingdom. This scribe seems to have concluded, from the zeal with which the people flocked about our Lord, that he would soon declare himself to be the Messiah, and become a mighty prince; Jesus, therefore, knowing his motives to be of a worldly and ambitious nature, saith unto him, The foxes have holes, &c. As if he had said, Do not flatter yourself with the expectation of any temporal advantages from attending me, for I plainly tell you, that whereas (not to speak of domestic animals which are under the care of man) even the very foxes have holes, &c., for themselves and their young, but the Son of man, successful as his kingdom must at length be, now appears in such low circumstances, that he has not so much as a place where he may lay his head; and his followers must expect no better condition. Therefore do not follow me from any view of temporal advantage. The phrase Song of Solomon of man, is borrowed from Daniel 7:13, where the prophet describes the universal dominion to which the Messiah, in quality of the Song of Solomon of man, was to be raised. This name, therefore, when applied to our Lord, at the same time that it denotes his human nature, brings into view the glorious kingdom over which, in his human nature, he was to preside. Nevertheless, on several occasions it is used in a sense which implies deep humiliation, being the name given to the ancient prophets on account of the low estimation in which they were sometimes held by their countrymen. It is the appellation which Christ commonly gives himself, and that, as it seems, out of humility, as having a relation to his mean appearance in this world.

8:18-22 One of the scribes was too hasty in promising; he proffers himself to be a close follower of Christ. He seems to be very resolute. Many resolutions for religion are produced by sudden conviction, and taken up without due consideration; these come to nothing. When this scribe offered to follow Christ, one would think he should have been encouraged; one scribe might do more credit and service than twelve fishermen; but Christ saw his heart, and answered to its thoughts, and therein teaches all how to come to Christ. His resolve seems to have been from a worldly, covetous principle; but Christ had not a place to lay his head on, and if he follows him, he must not expect to fare better than he fared. We have reason to think this scribe went away. Another was too slow. Delay in doing is as bad on the one hand, as hastiness in resolving is on the other. He asked leave to attend his father to his grave, and then he would be at Christ's service. This seemed reasonable, yet it was not right. He had not true zeal for the work. Burying the dead, especially a dead father, is a good work, but it is not thy work at this time. If Christ requires our service, affection even for the nearest and dearest relatives, and for things otherwise our duty, must give way. An unwilling mind never wants an excuse. Jesus said to him, Follow me; and, no doubt, power went with this word to him as to others; he did follow Christ, and cleaved to him. The scribe said, I will follow thee; to this man Christ said, Follow me; comparing them together, it shows that we are brought to Christ by the force of his call to us, Ro 9:16.Unto the other side - Jesus was now in Capernaum, a city at the northwest corner of the Sea of Tiberias, or Sea of Galilee. See the notes at Matthew 4:18. The country to which he purposed to go was the region on the east of the Sea of Tiberias. Mt 8:18-22. Incidents Illustrative of Discipleship. ( = Lu 9:57-62).

The incidents here are two: in the corresponding passage of Luke they are three. Here they are introduced before the mission of the Twelve: in Luke, when our Lord was making preparation for His final journey to Jerusalem. But to conclude from this, as some good critics do (as Bengel, Ellicott, &c.) that one of these incidents at least occurred twice—which led to the mention of the others at the two different times—is too artificial. Taking them, then, as one set of occurrences, the question arises. Are they recorded by Matthew or by Luke in their proper place? Neander, Schleiermacher, and Olshausen adhere to Luke's order; while Meyer, De Wette, and Lange prefer that of Matthew. Probably the first incident is here in its right place. But as the command, in the second incident, to preach the kingdom of God, would scarcely have been given at so early a period, it is likely that it and the third incident have their true place in Luke. Taking these three incidents up here then we have,

I. The Rash or Precipitate Disciple (Mt 8:19, 20).

When Jesus did these things before mentioned, he was in Capernaum, Matthew 8:5; but the multitudes pressing him, he gave order to pass over the sea of Galilee, otherwise called the sea of Tiberias, John 6:1.

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him,.... Who got together, partly out of novelty to see his person, of whom they had heard so much; and partly to see the miracles he wrought: some came to have their bodily diseases healed; few, if any, to hear the Gospel preached by him, and for the good of their immortal souls: the most part came with some sinister, selfish, and carnal views, wherefore

he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. Different were the reasons, which at certain times moved Christ to depart from the multitude; as that he might have an opportunity of private prayer, or to preach, to others, or to show he sought not popular applause, and to avoid seditions: his reasons here seem to be with respect to himself, that being wearied as man, with the work of the day, he might have an opportunity of refreshing himself with sleep; with respect to his disciples, that he might have a trial of their faith, when in danger at sea; and with respect to the multitude, because of their carnality, and sole concern for their temporal, and worldly good. The persons he gave commandment to, must be either the multitude, or the disciples; not the former, because he studiously avoided their company, and his concern was to be rid of them; but the latter, and so the Vulgate Latin and Munster's Hebrew Gospel read, "he commanded his disciples". The place he would have them go to was, the other side of the lake of Tiberias, or Genesareth; not over the river Euphrates, as says the author of the old Nizzachon (y).

(y) Pesikta in Abkath Rochel, l. 1. par. 2. p. 205. Ed. Huls.

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the {d} other side.

(d) For Capernaum was situated upon the lake of Tiberias.

Matthew 8:18. Εἰς τὸ πέραν] from Capernaum across to the east side of the lake of Tiberias. He wished to retire. Instead of putting the statement in the pragmatic form (it is different in Mark 4:35) adopted by Matthew, Luke 8:22 merely says, καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν. According to Baur, it is only the writer of the narrative who, in the historical transitions of this passage (here and Matthew 8:28; Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:9; Matthew 9:14; Matthew 9:18), “turns the internal connection of all those events into an outward connection as well.”

Matthew 8:18-34. Excursion to the eastern shore with its incidents (Mark 4:35 to Mark 5:20; Luke 8:22-39). These narratives make a large leap forward in the history. As our evangelist is giving a collection of healing incidents, the introduction of Matthew 8:18-22, disciple interviews, and even of Matthew 8:23-27, a nature miracle, needs an explanation. The readiest is that he found these associated with the Gadara incident, his main concern, in his source or sources, the whole group in the Apostolic Document (so Weiss). We must not assume a close connection between § 18–22 and the excursion to the eastern shore. Luke gives the meeting with the scribe, etc., a different setting. Possibly neither is right. The scribe incident may belong to the excursion to the north (Matthew 15:21).

18–22. Fitness for Discipleship. Luke 9:57-62St Luke names three instances, and places the scene of the incident in Samaria.

The instances are typical of the way in which Jesus deals with different characters. To one attracted by the promises of the Gospel and full of eagerness, Jesus presents the darker side—the difficulties of the Christian life; the half-hearted discipleship of the other is confronted with the necessity of absolute self-renunciation.

Matthew 8:18. Ἀπελθεῖν, to depart) Thus Jesus sought repose, and gave to the people time to bear fruit from His teaching, and kindled their interest in Himself for the future.

Verse 18-ch. 9:8. - 2. Incidents grouped round the thought of the external trials endured by Christ in his work.

(1) No settled home (vers. 19-22).

(2) His exposure to the elements (vers. 23-27).

(3) His rejection by Gadarenes (vers. 28-34).

(4) And by scribes (Matthew 9:1-8).

Yet there was also recognition of him by

(1) a scribe (ver. 19);

(2) another of the disciples (ver. 21);

(3) the winds and the sea (ver. 26);

(3) demoniacs (probably Jews, vide infra) and demons (vers. 29, 31);

(4) a paralytic and those who brought him (Matthew 9:2);

(5) the multitudes (Matthew 9:8). Verse 18. - Parallel passages: Mark 4:35; Luke 8:22. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him. So also the Revised Version and Westcott and Hort margin; but Westcott and Hort text, "a multitude," with B. Probably the received text is derived from ver. 1. From the parallel passages it is natural to infer that this crossing was some little time subsequent to the evening of the day on which he had healed Peter's wife's mother, etc. (vers. 14-16), and that it was on the day in which he had spoken the parable of the sower. He gave commandment to depart unto the other side. It was good for the multitude that he should leave them, for they were wont to take too carnal a view of his mission (cf. John 6:15), and would now have time to consider its true nature; and it was an opportunity of blessing to all who were on that further shore. Matthew 8:18
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