But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,…
In the calm and successful prosecution of his work, Jesus has excited various feelings in the minds of the different classes around him. He has wrought many miracles - all of them miracles of mercy; almost all, so far as recorded, miracles of healing. Of necessity his presence is hailed by the throngs of needy and suffering ones, and "his name is as ointment poured forth" to the multitudes who have proved his rower to heal. These cannot be restrained from publishing his fame abroad, though he has begged them to be silent, for he sees but too plainly the hindrance to his usefulness which a blaze of popularity would cause. In the course of his teaching he has made the Pharisees to blush more than once; and the popular movement which he seems likely to excite has stirred up the fears or the jealousies of the court party - "the Herodians," who join their own political antagonists in their opposition to him, and they together plot his destruction. His relatives, "friends," including the highly honored one, "his mother, and his brethren," are excited with fear that "he is beside himself," for he allows not himself time to "so much as eat bread." "Scribes from Jerusalem," learned in the Law, the trained expounders of its sacred truths, and the authoritative adjudicators in matters of dispute, pass their judgment and verdict in explanation of the astounding facts which they cannot or dare not deny. "He is possessed," they say, "by the very "prince of the devils." He is the tool, the agent of Beelzebub himself, and 'by the prince of the devils casteth he out the devils.'" This is truly a most ingenious though the most wicked of all explanations; a very blasphemy, ascribing the work of "the Holy Spirit" to "an unclean spirit," and placing Jesus in the lowest category of all - lower than the lowest. It affirms him to be the agent of the arch-demon, working his behests, the servant of the devil of devils. And if possession by an evil spirit is the consequence and punishment of evil work, as was the current opinion, he is surely the worst of the bad. All this needs adjustment. The anger of some, the timidity, the fears, the indiscreet zeal, the error, the false views, and the wickedness of others, must all be corrected. For this purpose he, "with his disciples," withdraws "to the sea," where, "because of the crowd, lest they should throng him," he orders that in future "a little boat should wait on him;" by which means he can escape the press, and either teach from the boat or sail away for rest and quiet. At eventide "he goeth up into the mountain," where he continues "all night in prayer to God;" needful in the midst of so much pressure and excitement, and most fitting in anticipation of the great work of the morrow. Then, when the morning breaks, he calls his disciples to him, from whom he chooses twelve, "that they might be with him," for his own comfort and for purposes of training for future service in his kingdom, "and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have authority to cast out devils, and to heal all manner of disease, and all manner of sickness." These "he named apostles," and "appointed," and "sent forth," and "charged them." Then, with awful withering words, he silences the scribes, first by argument, showing that on their own ground the divided kingdom "hath an end;" then by pointing to the "eternal sin" which he committeth who thus "shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit," and who "hath never forgiveness." And now, turning to his anxious relatives, he asks and answers the question, "Who is my mother and my brethren?" Breaking loose from the bonds of mere natural relationship, he declares that he holds the closest alliance with "whosoever shall do the will of God." From all which every true disciple treading in his Master's steps, and hearkening to his Master's teaching, may learn:
1. The wisdom of frequent withdrawal from the excitements of life into calm, quieting intercourse with God in prayer, to the cooling contemplation of the Divine works, and the humbling communion with his own soul.
2. The sacredness of holy companionship; and, if he is called to teach great truths, the wisdom of gathering around him a few sympathetic spirits, and sharing with them his work and honor for the general good.
3. The necessity for keeping his mind sensitively alive to the teachings of the Holy Spirit, lest, resisting, he grieve him, and quench the only light by which the path of life may be found.
4. To learn the terrible peril to which he exposes himself who "puts darkness for light."
5. And joyfully to see the high calling which is of God, the close alliance with the Lord Christ which is secured to him who keeps the commandments of God, concerning whom the Lord says, "The same is my brother, and sister, and mother." - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,