Matthew Poole's Commentary
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.Matthew 8:2-4 Christ cleanseth the leper,
Matthew 8:5-13 healeth the centurion’s servant,
Matthew 8:14-15 Peter’s mother-in-law,
Matthew 8:16-17 and many other diseased,
Matthew 8:18-22 showeth how he is to be followed,
Matthew 8:23-27 stilleth the tempest on the sea,
Matthew 8:28-34 driveth the devils out of two men possessed, and seeth
them to go into the swine.
See Poole on "Matthew 8:2".
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.Ver. 1,2. We heard of Christ’s going up into the mountain, Matthew 6:1; and of great multitudes that followed him from Decapolis, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from beyond Jordan: whether the same multitude, or others, followed him upon his coming down, is not said. But behold, ( saith the evangelist),
there came a leper: both Mark and Luke have the same story, or one very like to it, Mark 1:40 Luke 5:12. Of the plague, or leprosy, we read much in the books of Moses. It was a white scab in the flesh, which gradually consumed the body, and was contagious. The leper, and he who touched him, or any thing he came near, was legally unclean: thrice we read of it inflicted as a severe punishment; upon Gehazi, for lying and taking bribes, and upon king Uzziah, for offering sacrifice. It was a disease of very difficult cure. This leper comes and worshippeth Christ. Mark saith that he kneeled down to him: whether he only kneeled down, or prostrated himself, is not much material, for either of them might be done according to the fashion of those countries, in token either of a civil respect, paid to him as a great and eminent prophet, or a piece of religious homage (if he had so early a revelation that he was the Son of God, which some doubt).
Saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. The term Lord will not conclude his recognizing Christ as the Son of God, being a term used by Sarah to Abraham, and afterwards to Elijah. The words import his desire, though they be not a form of prayer, but an acknowledgment of the power of Christ. The leper acknowledging Christ’s power, submits himself to his will, and so with the same breath declareth his faith and modesty. He indeed declareth no faith in the will of God, nor can any person exercise any such faith as to any temporal mercy, any further than as God shall judge it for our good.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.By the law of God, Leviticus 5:3, he that touched another who was unclean (as the leper was, Leviticus 13:1-14:57) was unclean; how then doth Christ (who was subject to the law) touch the leper? Some say he did not touch the unclean leper, but him that was a leper, and by his touch made clean. But it is a better answer, that by what Christ did as he was God (such were his miraculous operations) he could not contract any ritual uncleanness; and possibly under the law the priest was exempted from that uncleanness, for he came very near the leper in his office about him, expressed Leviticus 13:1-14:57. Nor do we read of any uncleanness contracted by Aaron in his performance of his office to Miriam under her leprosy, nor by the priests, 2 Chronicles 26:20, though it be said they thrust out Uzziah. Christ, by putting forth his hand, showed his kindness to this miserable creature; by healing him with a touch, he showed his Divine power.
Saying, I will; be thou clean: he answereth him in his own term, I will, and then commands the thing. How acceptable is faith to God!
And immediately his leprosy was cleansed, that is, removed; the word immediately confirms the miracle, it was not only a thing done without ordinary means, but without the ordinary time requisite for such a cure.
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.Some think that our Saviour only commanded him silence until he had showed himself unto the priest, and he, according to the law, Leviticus 13:1-59, should have pronounced him clean, lest their envy upon hearing of it should have caused them to have obscured the miracle, by delaying to pronounce him clean; but it is observable that this was not the only time when Christ commanded those upon whom he had wrought miracles to say nothing of it: see Matthew 9:30 12:16 17:9. It is therefore more probable, that this precept was not to be understood with that limitation, but that Christ did it, either that he might not be thought to seek his own glory, or rather, because Christ judged it not yet time by his miracles to be publicly made known: but he sends him to the priest, both to teach him obedience to the law, and that the truth of the miracle might by a public record be confirmed. He also commands him to
offer the gift appointed by the law, Leviticus 14:1-57, thereby both acknowledging his cure to be from God, and testifying his thankfulness.
That Moses commanded; to show that he came not to oppose Moses.
For a testimony unto them; that hereafter it may be a testimony unto them, that I am more than the Son of man, John 5:36.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,See Poole on "Matthew 8:10".
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.See Poole on "Matthew 8:10".
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.See Poole on "Matthew 8:10".
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.See Poole on "Matthew 8:10".
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.See Poole on "Matthew 8:10".
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.Ver. 5-10. Many think that this story was in order before the other. It is related by Luke 7:1-9, with some larger circumstances: there is only this difference between the two evangelists; Matthew seems to speak as if the centurion at first came in person to him; Luke saith, that he first sent the elders of the Jews to him, then some friends. But we are accounted ourselves to do that which we set others on work to do.
There came unto him a centurion; there came some elders of the Jews first, then some particular friends of one that was a Roman captain, to him, to tell him that the captain had a servant at his house that lay grievously sick of and tormented with the palsy; that which we usually call the dead palsy, in which a fit of the apoplexy usually issueth, when it doth not presently kill. Our Lord promises to come and heal him, therein showing both his kindness, and how acceptable to him the humanity of this centurion to his servant was. The centurion by his friends, as Luke tells us, sends to him, desiring him not to trouble himself to that degree, telling him.
1. That it was a favour of which he was not worthy. The best men have always the meanest thoughts of themselves.
2. That it was needless, for if he would only
speak the word, commanding out the distemper, that was enough to effect the cure. For he tells him, that he believed diseases were as much at Christ’s command as his servants were at his command. That they came at God’s command, wrought according to their commission from God, and went off when God commanded them off; so that if he, though at a distance, would command off his servant’s disease, it would be as effectual as his presence.
Whether this captain were actually proselyted to the Jewish religion or not, is uncertain: it should seem by our Saviour’s next words that he was not an Israelite; but it is most certain that he had a right notion of the power of the true God, and it looks very probable that he had a revelation of Christ, as the true Messiah and Son of God.
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled; admiration agreed not to Christ as God, but as man it did;
and said to them that followed him, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith in Israel; that is, in the generality of the Israelites, for if we speak of particular persons, both Joseph and Mary had showed a greater faith. This expression is enough to let us know, that the centurion was no native Israelite, and make it probable he was not of the Jewish church, which might be, though he was so kind to the Jewish nation as to build them a synagogue, upon which account, Luke 7:3, &c., the elders of the Jews pleaded with Christ for him. This made our Saviour go on, prophesying of a further conversion of the Gentiles.
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.See Poole on "Matthew 8:12".
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Ver. 11,12. That is, in short, many of those who are now heathens shall be saved; and many of the Jews shall be damned.
Many, not all,
shall come from the east and west, from all parts, from the remotest parts in the world. Luke saith, east, west, north, and south, Luke 13:29 Isaiah 11:12 43:5,6.
And sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God; in heaven, where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the heads of the Jewish nation, are, to whom the promises were made; or, in the church of God, for the church triumphant and militant are both but one church. They shall
sit down with them, as men sit down at a banquet, an expression oft used to signify the rest and pleasure the saints shall have in heaven, Isaiah 25:6-8 Luke 22:29,30.
But the children of the kingdom, the Jews, who boast much that they are the children of Abraham, and think themselves the only church, and the only heirs of glory, and who are indeed the only church of God as yet,
shall be cast out into outer darkness: either the darkness of errors, ignorance, and superstition, the gospel light shall not shine upon them, they shall be no more the church of God; or, the darkness of hell, where shall be nothing but pain and misery, and lamentations for the gospel, and the grace thereof, first offered to them, but unthankfully rejected by them, by which they judge themselves unworthy of the grace of God and of eternal life, Acts 13:46.
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.Luke saith, And they that were sent, returning to the
house, found the servant whole that had been sick, Luke 7:10; so as it seemeth that what Christ said unto the centurion, must be interpreted, to those whom the centurion sent in his name. Go your way, your business is done, the centurion’s faith hath obtained, it shall be done to him as he hath believed; where believing must signify, a certain persuasion of the power of Christ, with a relying on this mercy and goodness. The proximate object of faith is some word of God. How far this centurion was acquainted with the oracles of the Old Testament (though he lived amongst the Jews, and, as appears by his building a synagogue for them, Luke 7:5, had a kindness for their religion) I cannot tell. It is most probable that he had some immediate revelation of God concerning Christ, which he is here said to have believed, and to have had a full persuasion of and trusted in. All revelations of God are the object of faith, though the Scriptures, being now written, are to us that have them the tests and touchstones to try such impressions by.
As thou believest, not because thou believest. Our faith is not meritorious of the least mercies, built is an exercise of grace which gives glory to God, and receiveth the reward not of debt but of grace. The miracle appeared in that the disease was of an incurable nature, and the cure was wrought without application of means, and in such a moment of time as means, though used, could not have wrought it.
And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.See Poole on "Matthew 8:15".
And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.Ver. 14,15. This story is related, with some further circumstances, Mark 1:29-31 Luke 4:38,39. Mark tells us it was the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John; ( it seems they lived there together); that they told him of her sickness, after he had been there some time; that he
took her by the hand, and lifted her up. Luke saith it was a great fever; that they besought him for her; that
he stood over her, and rebuked the fever. Here is no contradiction, only some amplifications of the story. It is plain from this text, that Peter was a married man, and continued so though called to be an apostle, and that he had a family. Fevers are ordinary distempers, and often cured by ordinary means, but this was a great fever. The miracle here was not in the cure of an incurable disease, but in the way of the cure, by a touch of his hand, or a lifting her up; and the suddenness of the cure, it immediately left her; and her sudden recovery of strength, that she could presently arise and minister to them: that she could do it, argued her cure miraculous; that she did do it, argues her sense of Christ’s goodness, and thankfulness, and teacheth us the use we should make of all God’s gracious providences to us, to make us fitter for the service of God, and to employ ourselves in it; so taking the cup of salvation, and praising the name of the Lord, Psalm 116:13.
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:See Poole on "Matthew 8:17".
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.Ver. 16,17. Mark hath much the same Mark 1:32-34 and Luke 4:40,41. Luke adds, he laid his hands upon them, and healed them. We before, Matthew 4:24, showed who were meant by persons possessed by devils. See Poole on "Matthew 4:24". It is only observable that it is said,
he cast out the spirits by his word, by the same power by which he made the world and all things therein, Genesis 1:1-31, by his authoritative word. He
healed all that were sick, that is, all that were brought to him. Laying on of his hands, was but an external symbol or rite used in blessing, in miraculous operations, and in ordination of ministers. The great question is, how that which the prophet Isaiah said, Isaiah 53:4, was fulfilled by these miraculous operations. The words are, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; and, Isaiah 53:5, with his stripes we are healed: and the apostle Peter, referring to that text, saith, Who bare our sins in his own body on the tree, 1 Peter 2:24. The words neither seem truly quoted, nor doth the sense appear the same, the evangelist applying what the prophet seems to speak of our sins, to our bodily infirmities, and his bearing them, to his curing them; whereas Peter seemeth to apply it to his bearing our sins, that is, the punishment of our sins, in his stripes, and by his sufferings on the cross. What I observed before is here to be considered, that the evangelists, in their quotations out of the Old Testament, took themselves only concerned to keep to the sense, not exactly to the words (which is a liberty we ordinarily take in quotations). As to the sense, grief and sorrows are terms capable of an interpretation, as to whatsoever comes upon us as the fruit and demerit of our sins, so as the prophet designed to express Christ’s suffering all the punishment due to us for sin, of which nature are all the afflictions of this life, and death itself, as well as the pains of hell. The only question is, how Matthew’s saying, he healed the people’s diseases, answered the prophet’s expression, he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. This scripture was twice fulfilled in Christ: as to their bodily griefs and sorrows, that is mentioned by Matthew, though he bare them not all in his own body, yet he had compassion on men with reference to them, and showed himself afflicted in their afflictions by his putting forth his Divine power to heal them; and he bore the guilt that was the cause of these and other griefs and sorrows upon the tree, as is said by Peter; and he therefore healed them, that he might demonstrate himself to be the true Messias prophesied of by Isaiah, who was to come, who was to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows.
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.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.
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.See Poole on "Matthew 8:20".
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.Ver. 19,20. We have the same story in Luke 9:57,58; only Luke saith it was as they went in the way; and saith, a certain man thus said unto him. Matthew more particularly describeth the man from his office, or ordinary employment. Both agree in what he said to our Saviour,
Master, ( so they usually called their teachers, to whose conduct they gave up themselves),
I will follow thee, that is, I am resolved or I am ready to follow thee,
whithersoever thou goest. Thus men often take up sudden resolutions to walk with God, and to be his servants, upon sinister accounts, and before they have well considered what they are like to meet withal who own themselves the disciples of Christ. Our Saviour, knowing his heart, and that this resolution was either bottomed in his curiosity to see his miracles, or in a hope of some livelihood from him, fits him with an answer, letting him know what difficulties those that followed him must look to meet with.
The foxes have holes, &c. Alas! thou dost not know what it is to follow me; my external condition is worse than that of the birds of the air, they have fixed nests, or the beasts of the earth, the worst of them have holes, but I have no fixed habitation on earth. He both here and in many other texts calls himself
the Son of man, ( a name never, that we read of, given to him but by himself), to declare the truth of his human nature, and that he had a natural compassion for men; that he was a child born, a son given to us, Isaiah 9:6; the person prophesied of as the Messias. Daniel 7:13; the person mentioned who was to have all things put under his feet, Psalm 8:6 1 Corinthians 15:27 Hebrews 2:8.
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.See Poole on "Matthew 8:22".
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.Ver. 21,22. Luke repeating the same history, Luke 9:59,60, saith that Christ said to this man, Follow me. He replies, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father; to live at home with my father, who is an old man, till I have performed my last filial office to him in burying him. Others think that he was already dead, and that this disciple would not have begged leave for so uncertain a time. Christ saith unto him,
Follow me; not that our Lord disapproved the decent manner of burying the dead, but by this let him know, that no office of love and duty to men must be preferred before our duty to God, to whom we owe our first obedience. It appeareth by Luke 9:60, that this disciple was called to preach the gospel, a work not to be omitted or neglected for any offices to men. Of old, the high priests and the Nazarites were not to touch dead bodies, Numbers 6:6, because of their separation to the more immediate service of God. Preachers of the gospel ought to keep themselves as free as they can from what may distract them. Saith our Saviour,
Let the dead bury their dead: there are enough to bury the dead; persons that are spiritually dead, not alive to God, let them take care of those meaner offices; I have higher employment for thee than that is. Lawful and decent offices become sinful when they hinder greater duties.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.See Poole on "Matthew 8:27".
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.See Poole on "Matthew 8:27".
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.See Poole on "Matthew 8:27".
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.See Poole on "Matthew 8:27".
But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!Ver. 23-27. It is apparent that the evangelists did not set down all the motions and actions of our Saviour in order, as done by him: whether therefore this was the same motion, and over the same sea, of which mention was made before, is uncertain, nor much material for us to know. Nor yet whether the storm which here arose was in the ordinary course of providence, or raised on purpose for our Saviour to show his power in quieting it. It is enough for us to know that a great storm did arise. It is expressly said that our Saviour was asleep; hereby he showed himself to be truly man, subject to like infirmities with us, sin only excepted, Hebrews 4:15. That the disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us, we perish, argued both their faith in his power, and their frailty in not considering who was with them in the ship, one who, though his humanity was asleep, yet was He who watcheth over Israel, who never slumbereth nor sleepeth. Our Saviour saith unto them,
Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? The prevalence of fears in us upon imminent dangers will not argue no faith, but will argue a weak faith; which yet he that will not break a bruised reed, nor quench a smoking flax, will not discourage. He will therefore give them a proof of his Divinity;
he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, let them know he was their Lord, and commanded them to cease,
and there was a calm. It is he that rebuketh the waves of the sea when they roar, and stilleth the ragings of the people.
The men, either the sea men, or the passengers, or both,
marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him? Surely this is more than a man, that can command winds and seas.
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.This history is related by Mark 5:1, &c. and by Luke 8:26, &c., more largely than by Matthew. The other two evangelists report it to be done in the country of the Gadarenes; Matthew,
in the country of the Gergesenes; they were the same people, sometimes denominated from one great city in their territories, sometimes from another: whoso readeth the story in all three evangelists will easily conclude it the same, though related with different circumstances. Matthew saith there were two of these demoniacs. Mark and Luke mention but one. Luke saith, the man had devils long time, that he wore no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. Mark saith, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. Matthew saith he came out of the tombs, was exceeding fierce, so as none could pass that way. Divines agree, that the power of the evil angels was not abated by their fall, they were only depraved in their will. That the power of an angel is much more than is here mentioned is out of question. That the evil angels do not exert this power upon us is from the restraining power of God; we live in the air in which the devil hath a principality, Ephesians 2:2. Why God at that time suffered the devil more to exercise this power over the bodies of men, we probably showed before, upon Matthew 4:24. See Poole on "Matthew 4:24". The world was grown very ignorant, and wicked, and sottishly superstitious. Besides, he was now come who was to destroy the works of the devil, and was to show his Divine power in casting him out. The Jews buried their dead out of their cities; the richer of them had tombs hewed out of rocks, &c., and those very large, as may be learned from Isaiah 65:4 John 20:6. The devil chose these places, partly to affright persons through the horror of the places, and torment the possessed with the noisomeness of them; partly to cheat men, with an opinion they were the souls of the persons deceased that were there buried.
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?Mark saith, Mark 5:8, that Jesus first said to him, Come out of the man; and, Mark 5:6,7, when he saw Jesus afar off he ran and worshipped him, and cried with a loud voice, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee, that thou torment me not. Luke’s relation, Luke 8:28,29, is much the same with Mark’s. The devils possessing these poor creatures, hearing Christ, to whose power they knew they were subject, to command them out of this man, or these two men, said, What have we to do with, thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? The devils knew Christ to be the Son of God, though the Jews would not believe it; they say unto him,
What have we to do with thee? A usual phrase, made use of where men had no desire to be troubled with the company, converse, or importunity of others, Joshua 22:24 2 Samuel 16:10 2 Kings 9:18 2 Chronicles 35:21 Joel 3:4 John 2:4, when they came to them with some ungrateful motions, &c.
Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? Either they look upon their dispossession as a torment, for the devil is not at quiet but when he is doing evil; and as this is the temper of the old serpent, so we shall observe that he communicates it to his seed, Proverbs 4:16: or else the devil was afraid lest Christ should have commanded him to his chains before the day of judgment.
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.See Poole on "Matthew 8:31".
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.Ver. 30,31. Both Mark and Luke interpose here something more. Mark saith, And He asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion; for we are many. Luke saith, And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. A Roman legion consisted of twelve thousand five hundred soldiers. Not that there were precisely so many evil spirits which had a power over this poor man, but many had. A certain number is named for one uncertain. Christ knew his case well enough, but probably asked him the question for the further glorifying of his Divine power in casting them out. Luke adds, Luke 8:31, And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. I cannot think that the meaning of that is, into the sea, for surely the devil did not fear drowning: the word is abusson, into the abyss, that is, into hell, into the bottomless pit, where he could do no more mischief. Mark says, Mark 5:10, the devil besought him that he would not send them out of the country. Still, upon the same grounds, the devil hath an insatiable thirst to do mischief, and would gladly be where he may do it. In the mean time he knoweth it is in the power of Christ to send him whither he pleaseth. Now comes in Matthew 8:30,31. They saw
an herd of many swine feeding. Mark saith, Mark 5:11, nigh unto the mountains. Luke saith, on the mountain. They beseech Christ to give them leave to enter into the swine, and the text saith, he suffered them. The devil cannot so much as trouble a swine without leave from God. The next verse tells us the consequent of it.
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.Mark gives us much the same account, Mark 5:13, only adding, they were about two thousand. Luke differeth not, only what Matthew calls a sea Luke calls a lake; but the Jews called all great gatherings together of waters seas. The devil is naturally so fond of doing mischief, that he will rather play at a small game than stand out. This way of executing his malice, upon the beasts, we have often had experience of in the practice of witchcraft. And it may teach husbandmen, and those that trade in much cattle, to whom they are beholden for the preservation of their cattle, and how rightly God is styled, he that preserveth both man and beast; and what need they have to keep up daily prayer in their families, and to live so as they may not make God their enemy, who hath legions of devils, as well as many legions of less hurtful creatures, to revenge his quarrels.
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.Mark and Luke in this differ not from Matthew, only they add, that they told it in the city and country. Those that most serve the devil are afraid of him when he cometh to show himself in his true colours. These men go and publish abroad the miracle, what had happened to the man that was so famous an object of the devil’s malice, and what had happened to the swine.
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.Both Mark and Luke here add much. Mark saith, Mark 5:14-20, And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the Legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel. Luke saith, Luke 8:37-39, Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him. By
the whole city, or the whole country, we must understand a very great part of it.
Came out to meet Jesus: Mark expounds it, to see what it was that was done, and to pray him to depart out of their coasts. They saw him, and not him only, but him that had been possessed of the devils, sitting at his feet clothed, in his right mind. A great miracle wrought! They did not only see it, but they heard their servants, the swine herds, attesting it; they had all the external means of faith imaginable. How are they affected? The text saith, they were afraid. An awe of this great person seized them, and possibly they were afraid lest he should have done them some further evil. What is the effect of this fear? Surely they will fall down at his feet beg his grace and favour, and that he would continue with them, and be the author of more good amongst them. Though they had lost two thousand swine, yet they were delivered from the fear of him that was possessed with the devil; and that poor creature was delivered from as great an affliction as we can imagine. Nothing of all this. They came, and prayed, and besought him to go out of their coasts. Certainly, our Saviour’s knowledge of the nature of this people, and what was in their hearts, provoked him to give the devils such a liberty as he did to destroy their swine: we are ordinarily punished in the thing wherein we offend, we need no more than our ordinary wishes and prayers to ruin us: who shall hereafter tell us of a power in man’s will to do that which is spiritually good upon a moral persuasion? What higher moral persuasion could these Gadarenes have had, than the sight of Christ, and what he had done, afforded? yet (for aught appears) they were unanimous in this desire, that Christ should be gone. They do not do what was in their power to do, desiring him to stay. But oh how dangerous a thing it is for men to reject Christ! He immediately departeth, and we do not read that he came here any more. But he out of whom the devils were cast abideth with him, sits at his feet, desires he may go along with him; How great a difference there is betwixt seeing and hearing of Christ, and tasting how good he is! The poor demoniac would have left his country, and gone with him. But Christ suffered him not; probably he saw it would be more for the glory of God for him to stay; he therefore commands him to return to his house, and show what God had done for him, and how he had compassion on him. We cannot, more show our thankfulness to God, than by declaring his wonderful works, and what in particular he hath done for us. This poor man doth accordingly, and publisheth the name of Christ in Decapolis, which name comprehends a space of the country within which were ten cities, (as the word doth signify), whereof Gadara (saith Pliny) was one; from which city these people had their denomination of Gadarenes, that is, citizens of Gadara; or, inhabitants of the country adjacent to that city.