Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
HEALING OF A
This incident appears to follow next in order of time to the cure of the
For the exposition, see on
The Call of Matthew
9. And as Jesus passed forth from thence--that is, from the scene of
the paralytic's cure in Capernaum, towards the shore of the Sea of
Galilee, on which that town lay. Mark, as usual, pictures the scene more
in detail, thus
"And He went forth again by the seaside; and all the multitude resorted
unto Him, and He taught them"--or, "kept teaching them." "And as He
he saw a man, named Matthew--the writer of this precious Gospel,
who here, with singular modesty and brevity, relates the story of his
own calling. In Mark and Luke he is called Levi, which seems to
have been his family name. In their lists of the twelve apostles,
however, Mark and Luke give him the name of Matthew, which seems to
have been the name by which he was known as a disciple. While he
himself sinks his family name, he is careful not to sink his
occupation, the obnoxious associations with which he would place over
against the grace that called him from it, and made him an apostle.
Mark alone tells us
that he was "the son of Alphæus"--the same, probably, with the
father of James the Less. From this and other considerations it is
pretty certain that he must at least have heard of our Lord before this
meeting. Unnecessary doubts, even from an early period, have been
raised about the identity of Levi and Matthew. No capable jury, with
the evidence before them which we have in the Gospels, would hesitate
in giving a unanimous verdict of identity.
sitting at the receipt of custom--as a publican, which Luke
calls him. It means the place of receipt, the toll house or booth in
which the collector sat. Being in this case by the seaside, it might be
the ferry tax for the transit of persons and goods across the lake,
which he collected. (See on
and he saith unto him, Follow me--Witching words these, from the lips
of Him who never employed them without giving them resistless efficacy
in the hearts of those they were spoken to.
And he--"left all"
"arose and followed him."
10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house--The
modesty of our Evangelist signally appears here. Luke says
that "Levi made Him a great feast," or "reception," while
Matthew merely says, "He sat at meat"; and Mark and Luke say that it
was in Levi's "own house," while Matthew merely says, "He sat at meat
in the house." Whether this feast was made now, or not till
afterwards, is a point of some importance in the order of events, and
not agreed among harmonists. The probability is that it did not take
place till a considerable time afterwards. For Matthew, who ought
surely to know what took place while his Lord was speaking at his own
table, tells us that the visit of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue,
occurred at that moment
But we know from Mark and Luke that this visit of Jairus did not take
place till after our Lord's return, at a later period from the country
of the Gadarenes. (See
&c., and Lu 8:40,
&c.). We conclude, therefore, that the feast was not made in the
novelty of his discipleship, but after Matthew had had time to be
somewhat established in the faith; when returning to Capernaum, his
compassion for old friends, of his own calling and character, led him
to gather them together that they might have an opportunity of hearing
the gracious words which proceeded out of His Master's mouth, if haply
they might experience a like change.
behold, many publicans and sinners--Luke says, "a great company"
came and sat down with him and his disciples--In all such cases
the word rendered "sat" is "reclined," in allusion to the ancient mode
of lying on couches at meals.
11. And when the Pharisees--"and scribes," add Mark and Luke
saw it, they said--"murmured" or "muttered," says Luke
unto his disciples--not venturing to put their question to Jesus
Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?--(See on
12. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them--to the Pharisees
and scribes; addressing Himself to them, though they had shrunk from
They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick--that
is, "Ye deem yourselves whole; My mission, therefore, is not to you: The
physician's business is with the sick; therefore eat I with publicans
and sinners." Oh, what myriads of broken hearts, of sin-sick souls, have
been bound up by this matchless saying!
13. But go ye and learn what that meaneth--
I will have mercy, and not sacrifice--that is, the one rather than
the other. "Sacrifice," the chief part of the ceremonial law, is here
put for a religion of literal adherence to mere rules; while "mercy"
expresses such compassion for the fallen as seeks to lift them up. The
duty of keeping aloof from the polluted, in the sense of "having no
fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," is obvious enough;
but to understand this as prohibiting such intercourse with them as is
necessary to their recovery, is to abuse it. This was what these
pharisaical religionists did, and this is what our Lord here exposes.
for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance--The italicized words are of doubtful authority
here, and more than doubtful authority in
they are undisputed. We have here just the former statement stripped of
its figure. "The righteous" are the whole; "sinners," the sick. When
Christ "called" the latter, as He did Matthew, and probably some of
those publicans and sinners whom he had invited to meet Him, it was to
heal them of their spiritual maladies, or save their souls: "The
righteous," like those miserable self-satisfied Pharisees, "He sent
WOMAN WITH THE
For the exposition, see on
MEN AND A
These two miracles are recorded by Matthew alone.
Two Blind Men Healed
27. And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed
him--hearing, doubtless, as in a later case is expressed, "that
Jesus passed by"
crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us--It is
remarkable that in the only other recorded case in which the blind
applied to Jesus for their sight, and obtained it, they addressed Him,
over and over again, by this one Messianic title, so well known--"Son of
Can there be a doubt that their faith fastened on such great Messianic
promises as this, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened," &c.
and if so, this appeal to Him, as the Consolation of Israel, to do His
predicted office, would fall with great weight upon the ears of
28. And when he was come into the house--To try their faith and
patience, He seems to have made them no answer. But
the blind men came to Him--which, no doubt, was what He desired.
and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? they
said unto him, Yea, Lord--Doubtless our Lord's design was not only to
put their faith to the test by this question, but to deepen it, to raise
their expectation of a cure, and so prepare them to receive it; and the
cordial acknowledgment, so touchingly simple, which they immediately
made to Him of His power to heal them, shows how entirely that object
29. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it
unto you--not, Receive a cure proportioned to your faith, but,
Receive this cure as granted to your faith. Thus would they carry
about with them, in their restored vision, a gracious seal of the faith
which drew it from their compassionate Lord.
30. And their eyes were opened: and Jesus straitly charged them--The
expression is very strong, denoting great earnestness.
31. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all
that country--(See on
A Dumb Demoniac Healed
32. As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed
with a devil--"demonized." The dumbness was not natural, but was the
effect of the possession.
33. And when the devil--demon.
was cast out, the dumb spake--The particulars in this case are not
given; the object being simply to record the instantaneous restoration
of the natural faculties on the removal of the malignant oppression of
them, the form which the popular astonishment took, and the very
different effect of it upon another class.
and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in
Israel--referring, probably, not to this case only, but to
all those miraculous
displays of healing power which seemed to promise a new era in the
history of Israel. Probably they meant by this language to indicate, as
far as they thought it safe to do so, their inclination to regard Him as
the promised Messiah.
34. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince
of the devils--"the demons through the prince of the demons." This
seems to be the first muttering of a theory of such miracles which soon
became a fixed mode of calumniating them--a theory which would be
ridiculous if it were not melancholy as an outburst of the darkest
malignity. (See on
CIRCUIT--MISSION OF THE
As the Mission of the Twelve supposes the previous choice of them--of
which our Evangelist gives no account, and which did not take place till
a later stage of our Lord's public life--it is introduced here out of
its proper place, which is after what is recorded in
Third Galilean Circuit
--and probably the last.
35. 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--The italicized words
are of more than doubtful authority here, and were probably introduced
The language here is so identical with that used in describing the
that we may presume the work done on both occasions was much the same.
It was just a further preparation of the soil, and a fresh sowing of
the precious seed. (See on
To these fruitful journeyings of the Redeemer, "with healing in His
wings," Peter no doubt alludes, when, in his address to the household
of Cornelius, he spoke of "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the
Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all
that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with Him"
Jesus Compassionating the Multitudes, Asks Prayer for Help
He had now returned from His preaching and healing circuit, and the
result, as at the close of the first one, was the gathering of a vast
and motley multitude around Him. After a whole night spent in prayer,
He had called His more immediate disciples, and from them had solemnly
chosen the twelve; then, coming down from the mountain, on which this
was transacted, to the multitudes that waited for Him below, He had
addressed to them--as we take it--that discourse which bears so strong
a resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount that many critics take it to
be the same. (See on
Introductory Remarks). Soon after this, it should seem, the multitudes
still hanging on Him, Jesus is touched with their wretched and helpless
condition, and acts as is now to be described.
36. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on
them, because they fainted--This reading, however, has hardly any
authority at all. The true reading doubtless is, "were harassed."
and were scattered abroad--rather, "lying about," "abandoned," or
as sheep, having no shepherd--their pitiable condition as wearied
under bodily fatigue, a vast disorganized mass, being but a faint
picture of their wretchedness as the victims of pharisaic guidance;
their souls uncared for, yet drawn after and hanging upon Him. This
moved the Redeemer's compassion.
37. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is
plenteous--His eye doubtless rested immediately on the Jewish
field, but this he saw widening into the vast field of "the world"
teeming with souls having to be gathered to Him.
but the labourers--men divinely qualified and called to
gather them in--"are few."
38. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest--the great Lord and
Proprietor of all. Compare
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman."
that he will send forth labourers into his harvest--The word properly
means "thrust forth"; but this emphatic sense disappears in some places,
and Joh 10:4
--"When He putteth forth His own sheep." (See on