And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
Jesus and Man's deepest Sadness.
I. "Jesus saw their faith." Jesus did not see their faith because there was in them no other commendable quality for Him to see; there was their common attachment to their unfortunate friend. But without their faith their affection for their friend could not have linked him in his suffering and miseries with the Christ in His healing and His peace. It was because they believed in Him that they carried the man to Him. And Jesus saw their faith in Him, and because of their faith He had the opportunity afforded Him of seeing their love of the man.
II. He saw something in the man that was a greater evil than the palsy. The friends thought that his being palsied was a sufficient reason why they should carry the man. But Christ forthwith, when He had seen their faith, thought of the man's sin. He had been called Jesus, for He was to save His people from their sins. This salvation was His ulterior aim in all He said or did. The external was touched for the purpose of awakening and quickening the internal of man. The body was healed in order that the spirit might arise and go to its Father. This man's affliction seems to have been connected with his sin. Sin and pain have been the sad associates of man's mortal life. The man was in misery because of his sin, not because of his palsy. He needed cheer of spirit; his heart was broken, and Jesus saw and dealt with that. Having the greater, he could rest without the lesser. Not health, but forgiveness, was to be the basis of his joy.
III. It was when He addressed Himself to the greater thing He saw that Jesus crossed the prejudice of certain of the scribes. Christ suffered at the hands of the scribes and Pharisees because of His morals. It was godliness, according to Christ, that constituted His great offence. It is when Christ touches the conscience, and talks of purity of heart, and says something of hypocrisy that the great quarrel begins. There is no cross for any one who can teach that the kingdom of heaven cometh with observation; and as long as he can say, "Lo, here!" and "Lo, there!" he is safe enough; but He is not who refuses to give a sign from heaven, and who says, "The kingdom of heaven is within you."
J. O. Davies, Sunrise on the Soul, p. 87.
Reference: Matthew 9:1-8.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 466.
Matthew 9:2I. Sin—its relation to the body. Sin, we know, is a "spiritual wickedness;" its sphere of action, accordingly, is in high places. Mere matter, whether it lie in an amorphous clod in the valley, or move as an organized living body, cannot sin. In those high places where a finite but immortal spirit comes in contact with the Spirit infinite and eternal lies the only element that is capable of sustaining either spiritual purity or spiritual wickedness; yet though sin draws its life-breath in those heavenly places, its members press the earth, and leave their marks indented deep over all the surface. Though sin lives secretly in the soul, it works terribly in the body. In the man sick with the palsy disease was the forerunner and symptom of the body's death. So far the man and his friends plainly saw, but Jesus looked through these outer effects to the inner cause. He sees not only the paralysis in the man's body, but also the sin in the man's soul. By passing over the obvious disease, and speaking of only the unseen sin, He shows clearly what His mission is not and what it is. His mission is not to perpetuate this life, but to lead all His people through the gate of death into the life eternal. His word, accordingly, is not, "Thy body shall not die," but, "Thy sins are forgiven."
II. Sin—its removal by the Lord. (1) It is by a free pardon that sin is removed, and its eternal consequences averted. (2) The Saviour to whom this needy man was brought had power to forgive sins. (3) Christ has power to forgive on earth. The word limits the position, not of the Forgiver, but of the forgiven. (4) The Son of man hath power to forgive. (5) Christ the Saviour, in coming to a sinful, suffering man, desires not only that he should be saved hereafter, but also happy now. "Son, be of good cheer," was the Great Physician's first salutation.
W. Arnot, Roots and Fruits of the Christian Life, p. 252.
I. Sickness is the witness to us of wrong that has been done. It is the handwriting on the wall wherewith a man's hand writes the word that tells us that we have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. And in this sense it is a judgment; it makes known to us the curse of sin. But that is not all. The misery of sickness witnesses not only to the wrong done, but also to the right that has been lost. Sickness is the protest made by nature against the misdirection of her forces.
II. We know so well that the recovery of our sickness depends upon the stoppage of the secret wrong. And yet we find ourselves again and again doing the wrong that we purpose to stop. In discovering the misery of our sin we discover also our powerlessness to cease from sinning. We cannot do the things that we would; and the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away our inherent and ineradicable will to sin. There is but one hope. If only a new fire could be shot into our chilled and flagging heart; if only a fresh jet of force could infuse itself into our jaded and diminished will; if only a spring of living waters could be opened within that naked stone which we once called our heart—that, and that only, can save us, for that, and that only, can cut off the supplies of sin which continually reinforce our habitual disease.
III. And it can be done—it has been done—by that beautiful law, so natural, so rational, so intelligible, of vicarious atonement. By that law, which is already and always at the very root of our human life, it is possible for God, without disturbing or traversing one atom of that natural order which He has Himself sanctioned by creating—possible for Him to intervene, to break off the fearful entail, to shatter the chain that our sins have forged. The spirit of sacrifice is the creator of ethics, and God sanctioned and sealed the entire body of ethical verities by which human society is bonded and fed when He sent His Son, who knew no sin, to be made a curse for us, and to bear on His shoulders the iniquity of the world.
H. Scott Holland, Creed and Character, p. 205.
References: Matthew 9:2.—J. Edmunds, Sermons in a Village Church, 2nd series, p. 283; R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., pp. 262, 283; J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 2nd series, p. 38; J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays after Trinity, Part II., p. 218. Matthew 9:2-8.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 167. Matthew 9:6.—J. Vaughan, Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 14; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 224; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 145; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 420. Matthew 9:9.—R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii., p. 285; T. Gasquoine, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 164; J. B. Heard, Ibid., vol. xvi., p. 209; R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 248; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 2nd series, p. 90; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., pp. 143, 154; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 21. Matthew 9:9-10.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 190. Matthew 9:9-13.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 89; A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 20; Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. ii., p. 69.
Matthew 9:11I. The religion of the Pharisees had degenerated into a religion of hatred and contempt. There was scarcely a class which did not suffer from their fierce denunciations and supercilious disdain. The world was divided into Jew and Gentile, and on the vast mass of the Gentiles they looked as on a doomed race of no importance, as thorns to crackle in the flame, created apparently as a mere foil to the very great privileges of God's favourite, the Jew. The race of man was divided into men and women, and on women they looked with insolent disdain; carefully gathering up their robes as they entered the synagogue, lest they should so much as touch them. If this unholy scorn was the normal tone of the Pharisees towards the millions of Gentiles, of women, of Samaritans, may we not imagine the sort of feelings which they must have indulged towards the lowest members of those classes, towards those of whom they would have spoken as the "scum and froth"—"the dregs and outcasts of society"? Now of these classes, two were especially abhorrent to them—sordid renegades who were publicans, fallen women who were harlots. We can imagine the astonishment of angry reprobation which they must have thrown into the question, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?"
II. With the views and doctrines of the Pharisees contrast the life and words of Christ. While there was one class, and one class only, which Christ denounced, namely the Scribes and the Pharisees, He had for sinners only the call of tenderness; to sinners only was His especial mission; sinners were His especial care; it was the lost sheep over which the Good Shepherd yearned; it was for the wanderers that His heart seemed to burst with tenderness; it was upon the neck of the returning prodigal that the Father wept. He gathered the publicans to His discourses. He sat at their feasts. He chose a publican for His host. He nominated a publican to be His apostle.
III. So thought, so acted, the Saviour of the world. These facts are patent, fortunately, for every one to read. They are the magna charta freely granted to humanity by the great love of God. They show that the Son of God, inflexible in His estimate of sin, was infinitely compassionate in His dealings with sinners. He tried to win men from sin by perfect love; promise, not menace; appeal, not threatening; comprehension, not exclusion; the sweetness of hope, not the denunciation of wrath, that was the secret of Jesus.
F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p 33.
References: Matthew 9:10.—J. Keble, Sermons for Saints' Days, p. 352. Matthew 9:10, Matthew 9:11.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 4th series, p. 92. Matthew 9:12.—C. Kingsley, The Water of Life, p. 291; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 618; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 124. Matthew 9:13.—J. P. Gledstone, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 301; H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 77; Outline Sermons to Children, p. 117. Matthew 9:14-17.—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 69. Matthew 9:14-19.—Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. ii., p. 78.
Matthew 9:15Use of Observances.
I. It seems at first sight as if a spiritual religion would dispense with observances altogether. And there is a sense in which this is the case always, and there are occasions on which all observances are dispensed with altogether. For it is undeniable that observances must be secondary, and if they are elevated into the first rank they are out of place. So St. Paul tells the Galatians that he is afraid of them, because they observe days and months, and times and years. And the whole tenour of his teaching corresponds, and perpetually reminds us of his own saying, "Having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect in the flesh?" In his day and in his circumstances there was plainly something which made him throw his chief weight into the scale against all observances.
II. Our Lord, however, in answering the question of the Pharisees, why His disciples did not fast, gives us the precise measure of all such observances. If we had the Bridegroom always with us, we should never need them. But the Bridegroom leaves us sometimes, and then we cannot do without them. He has left us, and the Church has found just what He predicted, that much which was needless while He stayed became needful when He was gone. The Church found that she must do what our Lord implied that she would have to do, provide for the needs of human nature in the ordinary fashion, and make rules to keep alive the warmth and power of faith, just as rules are made for the purposes of any ordinary human society. We are tempted to fancy that these observances must be a hindrance, not a help; that what is wanted are power, and life, and passion, not recurring seasons, and reminders of great events, and services in due order. But it is not so. Life and power are wanted; but they are not hindered by the rules of religious life; and meanwhile those very rules often aid them in their weakness. What is true of the Church is true of each one of us. Observances have two uses for every soul. If the Lord be absent, it is by them that we seek Him. If the Lord be present, it is by them that we meet Him.
Bishop Temple, Rugby Sermons, 2nd series, p. 131.
References: Matthew 9:15.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 81. Matthew 9:16.—R. Lee, Sermons, p. 268.
Matthew 9:17There is an ever-living freshness in the words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels. In reading them we are not with mere antiquarian curiosity studying the history of events wholly unconnected with ourselves, or recalling a state of society which belongs entirely to the buried past; rather we find ourselves presented with prophecies of the ever-recurring future, and with anticipations of the principles which may be applied to the interpretation of the great moral and religious problems of modern society. Securely connected beneath the letter of the original utterances there lies ready for our apprehension the eternal spirit, which may be our unerring guide in practice. Such a vitality of utterance we may surely discern in the parabolic saying of the text.
I. What is the interpretation of these parables of the new patch on the old garment, and of the new wine put into the old bottles, or leathern skins after Eastern fashion? Is it not something of this sort? The old forms of piety amid which John and his disciples still move are not suited to the new religious life emanating from Me. The new life needs new forms.
II. Neither Christ nor His Apostles attempted to put the Gospel as a patch upon the old garment of the Mosaic law, to pour the new wine of the spiritual dispensation into the old bottle of legal rules. They offered the Gospel as a system of principles and laws and motives, not of rules and precepts and observances. They invited men to a rejoicing sense of liberty, as the appropriate temper for that reception of the doctrine of salvation by Christ; they urged men towards the attainment of that perfect love which would cast out fear; they proclaimed that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself; they made the ritual and ceremonial element in religion altogether subordinate to the moral and spiritual. Faith working by love, not ceremonial observance, was the characteristic expression of the Christian life.
III. The Christian Church did not at once rise to the grandeur of the new idea of religion. It constantly exhibited tendencies to fall back upon the old. It was afraid of letting liberty degenerate into license. Men who had become accustomed to all the venerable traditions of the old law did not straightway find pleasure in throwing them off. They represented Christianity as a mere reproduction of Judaism under other names. They made the ministry of the Word and sacraments a priesthood, whose main office was to offer material sacrifice; they violated the whole spirit of the New Testament, and the language of the early Church, by calling the Lord's day the Sabbath; they tried to limit the very name of religion to the observance of a rule of life which prescribed the most minute precepts for the conduct of every hour; a rigid asceticism was glorified as the fulfilment of counsels of perfection. "New wine must be put into new bottles" embodies a principle which the Church of Christ in all ages forgets at her peril. That principle is, that new wants create new institutions; a new spirit must express itself in other forms, adapted to the new occasion. There must be in all the arrangements of life an elasticity, a power of self-development, an expansiveness, a fertility of invention, an evoking of new energies. New conditions of society demand different methods.
Canon Ince, Oxford Review, Feb. 18th, 1885.
Matthew 9:18-19, Matthew 9:23-26The Raising of Jairus' Daughter.
I. The miracles of raising from the dead, whereof this is the first, have always been regarded as the mightiest outcomings of the power of Christ; and with justice. They are those, also, at which unbelief is readiest to stumble, standing as they do in more direct contrast than any other to all which our experience has known. The line between health and sickness is not definitely fixed; the two conditions melt one into the other, and the transition from this to that is frequent. In like manner storms alternate with calms; the fiercest tumult of the elements allays itself at last; and Christ's word which stilled the tempest did but anticipate and effect in a moment what the very conditions of nature must have effected in the end. But between being and the negation of being the opposition is not relative, but absolute; between death and life a gulf lies which no fact furnished by our experience can help us even in imagination to bridge over. It is nothing wonderful, therefore, that miracles of this class are signs more spoken against than any other among all the mighty works of the Lord.
II. Note the relation in which the three miracles of this transcendent character stand to one another; for they are not exactly the same miracle repeated three times over, but may be contemplated as in an ever-ascending scale of difficulty, each a more marvellous outcoming of the great power of Christ than the preceding. Science itself has arrived at the conjecture that the last echoes of life ring in the body much longer than is commonly supposed; that for a while it is full of the reminiscences of life. This being so, we shall at once recognize in the quickening of him who had been four days dead a still mightier wonder than in the raising of the young man who was borne out to his burial; and again, in that miracle a mightier outcoming of Christ's power than in the present, wherein life's flame, like some newly extinguished taper, was still more easily rekindled, when thus brought in contact with Him who is the fountain-flame of all life. Immeasurably more stupendous than all these will be the wonder of that hour when all the dead of old, who will have lain (some of them for many thousand years) in the dust of death, shall be summoned from, and shall leave, their graves at the same quickening voice.
R. C. Trench, Notes on the Miracles, p. 191.
References: Matthew 9:18-26.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 280; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 469. Matthew 9:20.—J. Ker, Sermons, p. 186.
Matthew 9:21I. Consider what this sufferer said within herself. (1) As displaying ignorance of the true nature of Christ. (2) As displaying not only ignorance, but error, along with truth. (3) Was her faith, then, a foolish credulity? Not at all. She knew the wonders He had wrought on others, and responded to goodness and truth. His language and demeanour expressed this, and on this convincing evidence she trusted Jesus and was healed.
II. Consider this feeling toward Christ, as finding recognition wider than the Christian Church.
III. Remember that Christ calls us, beyond slight contact, to the closest union with Himself.
Prof. Herbert, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 32.
Jesus Christ was never in a hurry. He had no occasion to be so, because He was conscious of supreme power, and of a capacity to do whatever He in His perfect wisdom deemed right. So that you perceive nowhere throughout the whole of these Gospels the least sign of eager anxiety, the slightest indication of personal uncertainty. He moves on His way, quiet, comparatively undisturbed, with the calmness of conscious strength. This thought is suggested, because the incident before us shows our Lord allowing Himself to be interrupted in a great work which He had undertaken to do, and yet being undisturbed by the interruption. Why should the Son of God be in haste? Can He not do as He wills? Does He not come forth from the bosom of Him of whom it is said, "A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night"?
I. That the touch of the diseased woman was an expression of conscious need. Necessity, trouble, incurable sorrow bring us to the Great Healer in some way or other.
II. The touch was an expression of superstition and faith. There was surely something of a vague belief that any kind of contact with Christ would bring her blessing. The incident suggests an inquiry as to what kind of faith and how much Faith is necessary to bring us into contact with Christ. That some faith is essential is clear; for had she not asked, the probability is the woman would not have received healing. But the fact of her healing shows how the least faith, the smallest effort of belief, may bring a response from Christ. We may learn that the first and chief thing for our soul's need is contact with Christ, and that attained, we shall find that from the spiritual touch of the Saviour we gain forgiveness and newness of life. From Him virtue passes into our souls, and faith deepens and strengthens into perfect confidence and rest.
W. Braden, Sermons, p. 183.
I. How many evils sin has brought into the world. The seeds of sin are lying dormant in our souls, and even when brought into God's family, and made His children by adoption and grace, we still unite in the mortifying confession, "There is no health in us."
II. Another reflection drawn from the history is, that we are too much disposed to seek human help, instead of going directly to God.
III. However deep-seated and desperate the condition of the soul's health, the Saviour can help us.
IV. Note the secrecy with which the afflicted woman sought help of Jesus. "Nor is her wish for secrecy unbelief, but simply humility—humility, accompanied with such faith in Him that she feels assured that a touch of His raiment will suffice."
J. N. Norton, Golden Truths, p. 475.
Faith's Approach to Christ.
1. Faith comes with a deep despair of all other help but Christ's.
2. Faith has a divine power to discover Christ.
3. Faith comes with an implicit trust in Christ.
4. Faith seeks, for its comfort, close contact with Christ.
5. Faith, with all its imperfections, is accepted by Christ.
6. Faith feels a change from the touch of Christ.
J. Ker, Sermons, p. 186.
References: Matthew 9:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx., No. 1809; J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 2nd series, p. 48; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 40. Matthew 9:23, Matthew 9:24.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 251; S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., p. 246. Matthew 9:23-25.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 30. Matthew 9:25.—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii., p. 8. Matthew 9:27-30.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1355; vol. xxvi., No. 560. Matthew 9:27-31.—Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. ii., p. 97; G. Macdonald, Miracles of Our Lord, p. 101. Matthew 9:28.—W. F. Hook, Sermons on the Miracles, vol. i., p. 288. Matthew 9:29.—W. Gresley, Practical Sermons, p. 61. Matthew 9:30.—Archbishop Benson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 81. Matthew 9:32, Matthew 9:35.—Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. ii., p. 106. Matthew 9:33.—W. F. Hook, Sermons on the Miracles, vol. i., p. 306.
Matthew 9:35Christ the Physician.
In Christ we are allied to the highest and the largest ideal of the most disinterested efforts for the physical and moral welfare of man that our earth has ever seen. Times, indeed, there were in His ministry when it might even have seemed that the human body had a greater claim on His attention than the human soul.
I. Now it would be a great mistake to suppose that this feature of our Saviour's ministry was accidental or inevitable. Nothing in His work was accident; all was deliberate; all had an object. Nothing in His work was inevitable, except so far as it was freely dictated by His wisdom and His mercy. To suppose that this union of prophet and physician was determined by the necessity of some rude civilization, such as that of certain tribes in Central Africa and elsewhere, or certain periods and places in mediæval Europe, when knowledge was scanty, when it was easy and needful for a single person at each social centre to master all that was known on two or three great subjects—this is to make a supposition which does not apply to Palestine at the time of our Lord's appearance. The later prophets were prophets and nothing more—neither legislators, nor statesmen, nor physicians. We may infer with reverence and certainty that Christ's first object was to show Himself as the Deliverer and Restorer of human nature as a whole—not of the reason and conscience merely, without the imagination and the affections—not of the spiritual side of men's nature, without the bodily; and therefore He was not only Teacher, but also Physician.
II. What is the present function of the human body? We see in it at once a tabernacle and an instrument; it is the tabernacle of the soul and the temple of the Holy Ghost. And thus the human body is, in our idea, itself precious and sacred; it is an object of true reverence, if only by reason of Him whom it is thus permitted to house and to serve.
III. And again, there is the destiny of the body. As we Christians gaze at it we know that there awaits it the humiliation of death and decay; we know also that it has a future beyond; the hour of death is the hour of resurrection. The reconstruction of the decayed body presents to us no greater difficulties than its original construction; and if we ask the question how it will be, we are told, upon what is for us quite sufficient authority, that our Lord Jesus Christ "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."
H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 81.
References: Matthew 9:35.—C. Kingsley, The Water of Life, p. 18 Matthew 9:35-38.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 354; R. M. McCheyne, Additional Remains, p. 157.
Matthew 9:36I. Our Lord here teaches us how to think of, or to look at, men. (1) Notice how here, as always to Jesus Christ, the outward was nothing, except as a symbol and manifestation of the inward, how the thing that He saw in a man was not the external accidents of circumstances or position; but His true, clear gaze, and His loving, wise heart, went straight to the essence of the thing, and dealt with the man, not according to what he might happen to be in the categories of earth, but to what he was in the categories of heaven. Christian men and women, do you try to do the same thing? (2) Think of the condition of humanity apart from Christ—shepherdless. Unless Jesus Christ be both Guide and Teacher, we have neither guide nor teacher—shepherdless without Him. Do you ever think of the depth of pathetic, tragic meaning that there is in that verse in one of the Psalms, "Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death"? There they sit, because there is no hope in rising and moving. They would have to grope if they arose, and so with folded hands they sit, like the Buddha, which one great section of heathenism has taken as being the true emblem and ideal of the noblest life. Absolute passivity lays hold upon them all—torpor, stagnation, no dream of advance or progress; the sheep are dejected, despairing, anarchic, shepherdless, away from the Christ. God give us grace to see the condition of humanity and our own apart from Him.
II. Christ teaches us not only how to think of men, but how that sight should touch us. "He was moved with compassion on them when He saw the multitudes"—with the eye of a God, and the heart of a man. Pity, not aversion; pity, not anger; pity, not curiosity; pity, not indifference. Compassion, and not curiosity, is an especial lesson for the day to the more thoughtful and cultured among our congregations.
III. The text teaches how Christ would have us act after such emotion be built and based on such a vision. I will name three things—(1) personal work; (2) prayer; (3) help.
A. Maclaren, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 305.
I. Christ's habitual look at men had regard to them as suffering. No other aspect of life seems to have struck Him with equal force, or to have so claimed His thought, that He did not feel its sorrow. The foundation of His work is ethical, but the tone is drawn from His sensibilities rather than from His judicial sentiments; to get rid of the sorrow is the end.
II. The question arises, Is this a true or a false, a healthy or a morbid, view of human life? The question cannot be answered by determining whether there is more happiness or suffering. Suffering is real, and a sympathizing mind will pause upon it rather than look through to the underlying joy, and especially a great pitying nature like Christ's will pause upon it and see little else. It is not a matter of more or less, but of appealing anguish. Christ was a Man of sorrows, but not His own sorrow; a Man of griefs, but griefs that were His own only as He took them from others into His own heart.
III. It is not a long step from the Christ's pity to that it evokes in those who believe in Him. There is something beyond a sense of justice and fair dealing, something beyond even goodwill and love. The highest relation of man to man is that of compassion. Hardly separable from love in words, it may be in conception; it is love at its best, love quick, love in its highest gradation; it is the brooding, the yearning feeling, the love that protects while it enfolds. Our sorrows are not our own, to be secretly wept over or soon dispelled. It should be the first question with any one who suffers, as it is nearly always the first impulse, To what service of ministering pity am I called? For the ultimate purpose of God in humanity is to bring it together. The main human instrument is that we are considering; it is the finest and most dominant force lodged in our common nature; it brings men up to the point from which they launch into the universe and live.
T. T. Munger, The Freedom of Faith, p. 131.
Matthew 9:36-38Jesus Seeing the People.
I. What Jesus saw. He saw the multitudes. The range of His vision could not be limited, nor His ministry confined, to the immediate requirement of the more palpable of life's sufferings. He saw the multitude scattered abroad, and as sheep without a shepherd. He commiserates their condition instead of condemning them, and sees that the people had been sinned against quite as much as they had sinned. The people were scattered and distressed. Sin is sure to scatter; untruth always disunites. Man was far from man as Christ saw him; he did not know himself, and because he did not know himself he could not know his fellow, and could never know much of either until he had known God as the Father of both.
II. What Christ felt. "He was moved with compassion on them." The farther we are from sin the more we can be to the sinful. When we are sinful ourselves we avenge, as we have ability, the sins committed against us by others. The day is afar off, but it is coming, when society will seek to save, and will save itself by saving, and not by condemning. Jesus was tempted like as we are, and yet was without sin; and being without sin He is able to succour them that are tempted. He could pity and help because there was no sin in Him.
III. What He said. When Jesus spake He changed His figure, ceased to be the shepherd, and became the husbandman. To Him the world was as a harvest-field, ready to be gathered. Christ calls us all to the harvest. There is work for us all on the field, for His field is the world. If you cannot do you can prepare to do by cultivating definiteness of purpose and consecration of heart. The labourers who labour must not be discouraged because the labourers are few; the Master knows how few you are and how great is the field.
J. O. Davies, Sunrise on the Soul, p. 119.
References: Matthew 9:36.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 18; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 121; Expositor, 1st series, vol. iv., p. 30; W. H. Murray, The Fruits of the Spirit, p. 290; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 24. Matthew 9:36, Matthew 9:37.—E. W. Benson, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 177. Matthew 9:36-38.—Homiletic, Magazine, vol. ix., p. 141; Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. ii., p. 116. Matthew 9:37, Matthew 9:38.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1127. Matthew 9:38.—C. Girdlestone, Twenty Parochial Sermons, 3rd series, p. 1; R. Heber, Sermons Preached in England, p. 232.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
And he arose, and departed to his house.
But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.
And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.
And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.
And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.
And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.
But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.