Mark's narrative does not take rise so early as those of Matthew and
Luke do, from the birth of our Saviour, but from John's baptism, from
which he soon passes to Christ's public ministry. Accordingly, in this
chapter, we have,
I. The office of John Baptist illustrated by the prophecy of him
and by the history of him,
II. Christ's baptism, and his being owned from heaven,
III. His temptation,
IV. His preaching,
V. His calling disciples,
VI. His praying,
VII. His working miracles.
1. His rebuking an unclean spirit,
2. His curing Peter's mother-in-law, who was ill of a fever,
3. His healing all that came to him,
4. His cleansing a leper,
|The Ministry of John the Baptist.
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger
before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way
of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins.
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they
of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of
Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of
a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after
me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and
8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize
you with the Holy Ghost.
We may observe here,
I. What the New Testament is--the divine testament, to which we
adhere above all that is human; the new testament, which
we advance above that which was old. It is the gospel of
Jesus Christ the Son of God,
1. It is gospel; it is God's word, and is faithful and
Rev. xix. 9; xxi. 5; xxii. 6.
It is a good word, and well worthy of all acceptation; it
brings us glad tidings.
2. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the anointed
Saviour, the Messiah promised and expected. The foregoing gospel
began with the generation of Jesus Christ--that was but
preliminary, this comes immediately to the business--the gospel of
Christ. It is called his, not only because he is the
Author of it, and it comes from him, but because he is
the Subject of it, and it treats wholly concerning him.
3. This Jesus is the Son of God. That truth is the foundation on
which the gospel is built, and which it is written to demonstrate; for
is Jesus be not the Son of God, our faith is vain.
II. What the reference of the New Testament is to the Old, and
its coherence with it. The gospel of Jesus Christ begins,
and so we shall find it goes on, just as it is written in the
for it saith no other things than those which the prophets and Moses
said should come
which was most proper and powerful for the conviction of the Jews, who
believed the Old-Testament prophets to be sent of God and ought to have
evidenced that they did so by welcoming the accomplishment of
their prophecies in its season; but it is of use to us all, for the
confirmation of our faith both in the Old Testament and in the New, for
the exact harmony that there is between both shows that they both have
the same divine original.
Quotations are here borrowed from two prophecies--that of Isaiah, which
was the longest, and that of Malachi, which was the
latest (and there were above three hundred years between them),
both of whom spoke to the same purport concerning the beginning of
the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John.
1. Malachi, in whom we had the Old-Testament farewell, spoke
concerning John Baptist, who was to give the New-Testament welcome.
Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
Christ himself had taken notice of this, and applied it to John
who was God's messenger, sent to prepare Christ's
2. Isaiah, the most evangelical of all the prophets, begins the
evangelical part of his prophecy with this, which points to the
beginning of the gospel of Christ
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Matthew had taken notice of this, and applied it to John,
But from these two put together here, we may observe,
(1.) That Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with
him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government.
(2.) Such is the corruption of the world, that there is something to do
to make room for him, and to remove that which gives not only
obstruction, but opposition to his progress.
(3.) When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and
when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, effectual care,
to prepare his way before him; for the designs of his grace
shall not be frustrated; nor may any expect the comforts of that
grace, but such as, by conviction of sin and humiliation for it, are
prepared for those comforts, and disposed to receive them.
(4.) When the paths that were crooked, are made
straight (the mistakes of the judgment rectified, and the
crooked ways of the affections), then way is made for Christ's
(5.) It is in a wilderness, for such this world is, that
Christ's way is prepared, and theirs that follow him, like that
which Israel passed through to Canaan.
(6.) The messengers of conviction and terror, that come to prepare
Christ's way, are God's messengers, whom he sends and will own,
and must be received as such.
(7.) They that are sent to prepare the way of the Lord, in such
a vast howling wilderness as this is, have need to cry aloud,
and not spare, and to lift up their voice like a trumpet.
III. What the beginning of the New Testament was. The gospel
began in John Baptist; for the law and the prophets were, until
John, the only divine revelation, but then the kingdom of God
began to be preached,
Peter begins from the baptism of John,
The gospel did not begin so soon as the birth of Christ,
for he took time to increase in wisdom and stature, not so late
as his entering upon his public ministry, but half a year before, when
John began to preach the same doctrine that Christ afterward preached.
His baptism was the dawning of the gospel day; for,
1. In John's way of living there was the beginning of a
gospel spirit; for it bespoke great self-denial, mortification
of the flesh, a holy contempt of the world, and nonconformity to it,
which may truly be called the beginning of the gospel of Christ
in any soul,
He was clothed with camels' hair, not with soft raiment; was
girt, not with a golden, but with a leathern girdle; and, in
contempt of dainties and delicate things, his meat was locusts and
wild honey. Note, The more we sit loose to the body, and live above
the world, the better we are prepared for Jesus Christ.
2. In John's preaching and baptizing there was the
beginning of the gospel doctrines and ordinances, and the
first fruits of them.
(1.) He preached the remission of sins, which is the great
gospel privilege; showed people their need of it, that they were
undone without it, and that it might be obtained.
(2.) He preached repentance, in order to it; he told people that
there must be a renovation of their hearts and a reformation of their
lives, that they must forsake their sins and turn to God, and upon
those terms and no other, their sins should be forgiven. Repentance
for the remission of sins, was what the apostles were commissioned
to preach to all nations,
(3.) He preached Christ, and directed his hearers to expect him
speedily to appear, and to expect great things from him. The
preaching of Christ is pure gospel, and that was John Baptist's
Like a true gospel minister, he preaches,
[1.] The great pre-eminence Christ is advanced to; so
high, so great, is Christ, that John, though one of the greatest that
was born of women, thinks himself unworthy to be employed in the
meanest office about him, even to stoop down, and untie his
shoes. Thus industrious is he to give honour to him, and to bring
others to do so too.
[2.] The great power Christ is invested with; He comes
after me in time, but he is mightier than I, mightier than
the mighty ones of the earth, for he is able to baptize with the
Holy Ghost; he can give the Spirit of God, and by him
govern the spirits of men.
[3.] The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who
have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them; They shall
be baptized with the Holy Ghost, shall be purified by his
graces, and refreshed by his comforts. And, lastly, All
those who received his doctrine, and submitted to his institution, he
baptized with water, as the manner of the Jews was to admit
proselytes, in token of their cleansing themselves by repentance
and reformation (which were the duties required), and of God's
cleansing them both by remission and by sanctification, which
were the blessings promised. Now this was afterward to be advanced into
a gospel ordinance, which John's using it was a preface to.
3. In the success of John's preaching, and the disciples he admitted by
baptism, there was the beginning of a gospel church. He baptized
in the wilderness, and declined going into the cities; but
there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of
Jerusalem, inhabitants both of city and country, families of them,
and were all baptized of him. They entered themselves his
disciples, and bound themselves to his discipline; in token of which,
they confessed their sins; he admitted them his disciples, in
token of which, he baptized them. Here were the stamina of the
gospel church, the dew of its youth from the womb of the
Many of these afterward became followers of Christ, and preachers of
his gospel, and this grain of mustard-seed became a tree.
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from
Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the
heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of
Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered
We have here a brief account of Christ's baptism and temptation, which
were largely related
I. His baptism, which was his first public appearance, after he
had long lived obscurely in Nazareth. O how much hidden
worth is there, which in this world is either lost in the dust of
contempt and cannot be known, or wrapped up in the veil of
humility and will not be known! But sooner or later it shall
be known, as Christ's was.
1. See how humbly he owned God, by coming to be
baptized of John; and thus it became him to fulfil all
righteousness. Thus he took upon him the likeness of sinful
flesh, that, though he was perfectly pure and unspotted, yet he was
washed as if he had been polluted; and thus for our
sakes he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and
be baptized with him,
2. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's
baptism. Those who justify God, and they are said
to do, who were baptized with the baptism of John, he will
(1.) He saw the heavens opened; thus he was owned to be the Lord
from heaven, and had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set
before him, and secured to him, as the recompence of his
undertaking. Matthew saith, The heavens were opened to him. Mark
saith, He saw them opened. Many have the heavens opened to
receive them, but they do not see it; Christ had not only a clear
foresight of his sufferings, but of his glory too.
(2.) He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. Note,
Then we may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit
descending and working upon us. God's good work in us is the
surest evidence of his good will towards us, and his preparations for
us. Justin Martyr says, that when Christ was baptized, a fire was
kindled in Jordan: and it is an ancient tradition, that a great
light shone round the place; for the Spirit brings both
light and heat.
(3.) He heard a voice which was intended for his encouragement to
proceed in his undertaking, and therefore it is here expressed as
directed to him, Thou art my beloved Son. God lets him know,
[1.] That he loved him never the less for that low
and mean estate to which he had now humbled himself;
"Though thus emptied and made of no reputation, yet he is my beloved
[2.] That he loved him much the more for that
glorious and kind undertaking in which he had now
engaged himself. God is well pleased in him, as referee
of all matters in controversy between him and man; and so well pleased
in him, as to be well pleased with us in him.
II. His temptation. The good Spirit that descended upon
him, led him into the wilderness,
Paul mentions it as a proof that he had his doctrine from God, and not
from man--that, as soon as he was called, he went not to
Jerusalem, but went into Arabia,
Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with
God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those
that are called to the greatest business. Mark observes this
circumstance of his being in the wilderness--that he was with
the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him,
that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts,
which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him
when he was hungry. Special protections are earnests of seasonable
supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the
men of that generation, whom he was to live among--no better than
wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In
1. The evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted
of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of this world
had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward
solicitations. Solicitude often gives advantages to the tempter,
therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted,
not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to
direct us whither to go for succour when we are tempted, even to him
that suffered, being tempted; that he might
experimentally sympathize with us when we are tempted.
2. The good spirits were busy about him; the angels
ministered to him, supplied him with what he needed, and dutifully
attended him. Note, The ministration of the good angels about us, is
matter of great comfort in reference to the malicious designs of the
evil angels against us; but much more doth it befriend us, to have the
indwelling of the spirit in our hearts, which they that have, are so
born of God, that, as far as they are so, the evil one
toucheth them not, much less shall be triumph over them.
|The Opening of Christ's Ministry.
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into
Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is
at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and
Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make
you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James
the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the
ship mending their nets.
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father
Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath
day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them
as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
I. A general account of Christ's preaching in Galilee. John gives an
account of his preaching in Judea, before this
which the other evangelists had omitted, who chiefly relate what
occurred in Galilee, because that was least known at Jerusalem.
1. When Jesus began to preach in Galilee; After that John was put in
prison. When he had finished his testimony, then Jesus
began his. Note, The silencing of Christ's ministers shall not
be the suppressing of Christ's gospel; if some be laid aside, others
shall be raised up, perhaps mightier than they, to carry on the same
2. What he preached; The gospel of the kingdom of God. Christ
came to set up the kingdom of God among men, that they might be brought
into subjection to it, and might obtain salvation in it;
and he set it up by the preaching of his gospel, and a power going
along with it.
(1.) The great truths Christ preached; The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand. This refers to the Old
Testament, in which the kingdom of the Messiah was promised, and the
time fixed for the introducing of it. They were not so well versed in
those prophecies, nor did they so well observe the signs of the times,
as to understand it themselves, and therefore Christ gives them notice
of it; "The time prefixed is now at hand; glorious discoveries
of divine light, life, and love, are now to be made; a new dispensation
far more spiritual and heavenly than that which you have hitherto been
under, is now to commence." Note, God keeps time; when the time is
fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, for the vision is
for an appointed time, which will be punctually observed, though
it tarry past our time.
(2.) The great duties inferred from thence. Christ gave them to
understand the times, that they might know what Israel ought
to do; they fondly expected the Messiah to appear in external pomp
and power, not only to free the Jewish nation from the Roman yoke, but
to make it have dominion over all its neighbours, and therefore
thought, when that kingdom of God was at hand, they must
prepare for war, and for victory and preferment, and great things in
the world; but Christ tells them, in the prospect of that kingdom
approaching, they must repent, and believe the gospel. They had
broken the moral law, and could not be saved by a covenant of
innocency, for both Jew and Gentile are concluded under
guilt. They must therefore take the benefit of a covenant of
grace, must submit to a remedial law, and this is
it--repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus
Christ. They had not made use of the prescribed preservatives, and
therefore must have recourse to the prescribed restoratives. By
repentance we must lament and forsake our sins, and by faith we must
receive the forgiveness of them. By repentance we must give glory to
our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we must give glory to our
Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Both these must go
together; we must not think either that reforming our lives will save
us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that
trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts
and lives. Christ hath joined these two together, and let no man think
to put them asunder. They will mutually assist and befriend each other.
Repentance will quicken faith, and faith will make repentance
evangelical; and the sincerity of both together must be evidenced by a
diligent conscientious obedience to all God's commandments. Thus the
preaching of the gospel began, and thus it continues; still the call
is, Repent, and believe, and live a life of repentance and a
life of faith.
II. Christ appearing as a teacher, here is next his calling of
1. Christ will have followers. If he set up a school, he will have
scholars; if he set up his standard, he will have soldiers; if he
preach, he will have hearers. He has taken an effectual course to
secure this; for all that the Father has given him, shall,
without fail, come to him.
2. The instruments Christ chose to employ in setting up his kingdom,
were the weak and foolish things of the world; not called
from the great sanhedrim, or the schools of the rabbin, but picked up
from among the tarpaulins by the sea-side, that the excellency of
the power might appear to be wholly of God, and not at all
3. Though Christ needs not the help of man, yet he is pleased to make
use of it in setting up his kingdom, that he might deal with us not in
a formidable but in a familiar way, and that in his kingdom the
nobles and governors may be of ourselves,
4. Christ puts honour upon those who, though mean in the world, are
diligent in their business, and loving to one another; so
those were, whom Christ called. He found them employed, and
employed together. Industry and unity are good and
pleasant, and there the Lord Jesus commands the blessing, even
this blessing, Follow me.
5. The business of ministers is to fish for souls, and win
them to Christ. The children of men, in their natural condition,
are lost, wander endlessly in the great ocean of this world, and are
carried down the stream of its course and way; they are unprofitable.
Like leviathan in the waters, they play therein; and often, like
the fishes of the sea, they devour one another. Ministers, in
preaching the gospel, cast the net into the waters,
Some are enclosed and brought to shore, but far the greater number
escape. Fishermen take great pains, and expose themselves to
great perils, so do ministers; and they have need of wisdom. If
many a draught brings home nothing, yet they must go on.
6. Those whom Christ called, must leave all, to follow him; and
by his grace he inclines them to do so. Not that we must needs go
out of the world immediately, but we must sit loose to the world,
and forsake every thing that is inconsistent with our duty to Christ,
and that cannot be kept without prejudice to our souls. Mark takes
notice of James and John, that they left not only their father
(which we had in Matthew), but the hired servants, whom perhaps
they loved as their own brethren, being their fellow-labourers
and pleasant comrades; not only relations, but companions, must be left
for Christ, and old acquaintance. Perhaps it is an intimation of their
care for their father; they did not leave him without assistance, they
left the hired servants with him. Grotius thinks it is mentioned
as an evidence that their calling was gainful to them, for it was worth
while to keep servants in pay, to help them in it, and their
hands would be much missed, and yet they left
III. Here is a particular account of his preaching in Capernaum, one of
the cities of Galilee; for though John Baptist chose to preach
in a wilderness, and did well, and did good, yet
it doth not therefore follow, that Jesus must do so too; the
inclinations and opportunities of ministers may very much differ, and
yet both be in the way of their duty, and both useful. Observe,
1. When Christ came into Capernaum, he straightway
applied himself to his work there, and took the first
opportunity of preaching the gospel. Those will think themselves
concerned not to lose time, who consider what a deal of work
they have to do, and what a little time to do it in.
2. Christ religiously observed the sabbath day, though not by tying
himself up to the tradition of the elders, in all the niceties of the
sabbath-rest, yet (which was far better) by applying himself to,
and abounding in, the sabbath-work, in order to which the
sabbath-rest was instituted.
3. Sabbaths are to be sanctified in religious assemblies, if we
have opportunity; it is a holy day, and must be honoured with a
holy convocation; this was the good old way,
On the sabbath-day, pois sabbasin--on the
sabbath-days; every sabbath-day, as duly as it returned, he went
into the synagogue.
4. In religious assemblies on sabbath-days, the gospel is to be
preached, and those to be taught, who are willing to learn the
truth as it is in Jesus.
5. Christ was a non-such preacher; he did not preach as the
scribes, who expounded the law of Moses by rote, as a school-boy
says his lesson, but were neither acquainted with it (Paul
himself, when a Pharisee, was ignorant of the law), nor affected
with it; it came not from the heart, and therefore came not
with authority. But Christ taught as one that had
authority, as one that knew the mind of God, and was commissioned
to declare it.
6. There is much in the doctrine of Christ, that is astonishing;
the more we hear it, the more cause we shall see to admire
|The Expulsion of Evil Spirits.
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean
spirit; and he cried out,
24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou
Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who
thou art, the Holy One of God.
25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out
26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a
loud voice, he came out of him.
27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned
among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine
is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean
spirits, and they do obey him.
28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the
region round about Galilee.
As soon as Christ began to preach, he began to work miracles for the
confirmation of his doctrine; and they were such as intimated the
design and tendency of his doctrine, which were to conquer Satan, and
cure sick souls.
In these verses, we have,
I. Christ's casting the devil out of a man that was possessed,
in the synagogue at Capernaum. This passage was not related in Matthew,
but is afterward in
There was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,
en pneumati akatharto--in an unclean spirit; for
the spirit had the man in his possession, and led him captive at his
will. So the whole world is said to lie en to
ponero--in the wicked one. And some have thought it more
proper to say, The body is in the soul, because it is
governed by it, than the soul in the body. He was in the
unclean spirit, as a man is said to be in a fever, or in a
frenzy, quite overcome by it. Observe, The devil is here called an
unclean spirit, because he has lost all the purity of his nature,
because he acts in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit of God,
and because with his suggestions he pollutes the spirits of men. This
man was in the synagogue; he did not come either to be taught or
to be healed, but, as some think, to confront Christ and oppose him,
and hinder people from believing on him. Now here we have,
1. The rage which the unclean spirit expressed at Christ; He cried
out, as one in an agony, at the presence of Christ, and afraid of
being dislodged; thus the devils believe and tremble, have a
horror of Christ, but no hope in him, nor reverence for him. We are
told what he said,
where he doth not go about to capitulate with him, or make
terms (so far was he from being in league or compact with him), but
speaks as one that knew his doom.
(1.) He calls him Jesus of Nazareth; for aught that appears, he
was the first that called him so, and he did it with design to possess
the minds of the people with low thoughts of him, because no
good thing was expected out of Nazareth; and with prejudices
against him as a Deceiver, because every body knew the Messiah must be
(2.) Yet a confession is extorted from him--that he is the holy One
of God, as was from the damsel that had the spirit of divination
concerning the apostles--that they were the servants of the most
Those who have only a notion of Christ--that he is the holy
One of God, and have no faith in him, or love to him, go no further
than the devil doth.
(3.) He in effect acknowledgeth that Christ was too hard for him, and
that he could not stand before the power of Christ; "Let us
alone; for if thou take us to task, we are undone, thou canst
destroy us." This is the misery of those wicked spirits, that
they persist in their rebellion, and yet know it will end in their
(4.) He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus Christ; for he
despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being
destroyed by him. "What have we to do with thee? If thou
wilt let us alone, we will let thee alone." See whose language they
speak, that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This, being an
unclean spirit, therefore hated and dreaded Christ, because he
knew him to be a holy One; for the carnal mind is enmity
against God, especially against his holiness.
2. The victory which Jesus Christ obtained over the unclean spirit;
for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might
destroy the works of the devil, and so he makes it to appear; nor
will he be turned back from prosecuting this war, either by his
flatteries or by his menaces. It is in vain for Satan to beg and pray,
Let us alone; his power must be broken, and the poor man must be
relieved; and therefore,
(1.) Jesus commands. As he taught, so he healed, with
authority. Jesus rebuked him; he chid him and threatened
him, imposed silence upon him; Hold thy peace;
phimotheti--be muzzled. Christ has a muzzle for
that unclean spirit when he fawns as well as when he
barks; such acknowledgments of him as this was, Christ
disdains, so far is he from accepting them. Some confess
Christ to be the holy One of God, that under the cloak of that
profession they may carry on malicious mischievous designs; but their
confession is doubly an abomination to the Lord Jesus, as it sues in
his name for a license to sin, and shall therefore be put to silence
and shame. But this is not all, he must not only hold his peace,
but he must come out of the man; this was it he dreaded--his
being restrained from doing further mischief. But,
(2.) The unclean spirit yields, for there is no remedy
He tore him, put him into a strong convulsion; that one
could have thought he had been pulled in pieces; when he would not
touch Christ, in fury at him he grievously disturbed this poor
creature. Thus, when Christ by his grace delivers poor souls out of
the hands of Satan, it is not without a grievous toss and tumult in the
soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot
destroy. He cried with a loud voice, to frighten the
spectators, and make himself seem terrible, as if he would have it
thought that though he was conquered, he was but just conquered, and
that he hopes to rally again, and recover his ground.
II. The impression which this miracle made upon the minds of the
1. It astonished them that saw it; They were all amazed. It was
evident, beyond contradiction, that the man was possessed--witness the
tearing of him, and the loud voice with which the spirit
cried; it was evident that he was forced out by the
authority of Christ; this was surprising to them, and put them upon
considering with themselves, and enquiring of one another, "What is
this new doctrine? For it must certainly be of God, which is thus
confirmed. He hath certainly an authority to command us, who
hath ability to command even the unclean spirits, and they
cannot resist him, but are forced to obey him." The Jewish
exorcists pretended by charm or invocation to drive away evil spirits;
but this was quite another thing, with authority he commands
them. Surely it is our interest to make him our Friend, who
has the control of infernal spirits.
2. It raised his reputation among all that heard it; Immediately his
fame spread abroad into the whole adjacent region of Galilee, which
was a third part of the land of Canaan. The story was presently got
into every one's mouth, and people wrote it to their friends all the
country over, together with the remark made upon it, What new
doctrine is this? So that it was universally concluded, that he was
a Teacher come from God, and under that character he shone more
bright than if he had appeared in all the external pomp and power which
the Jews expected their Messiah to appear in; and thus he
prepared his own way, now that John, who was his harbinger, was
clapped up; and the fame of this miracle spread the further, because as
yet the Pharisees, who envied his fame, and laboured to
eclipse it, had not advanced their blasphemous suggestion, that
he cast out devils by compact with the prince of the
|Christ Healing Many Patients.
29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue,
they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and
30 But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they
tell him of her.
31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and
immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all
that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.
34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and
cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak,
because they knew him.
35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he
went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men
seek for thee.
38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I
may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee,
and cast out devils.
In these verses, we have,
I. A particular account of one miracle that Christ wrought, in the cure
of Peter's wife's mother, who was ill of a fever. This passage we had
before, in Matthew. Observe,
1. When Christ had done that which spread his fame throughout
all parts, he did not then sit still, as some think that they may
lie in bed when their name is up. No, he continued to
do good, for that was it he aimed at, and not his own honour.
Nay, those who are in reputation, had need be busy and careful to keep
2. When he came out of the synagogue, where he had taught and
healed with a divine authority, yet he conversed familiarly with the
poor fishermen that attended him, and did not think it below him. Let
the same mind, the same lowly mind, be in us, that was in him.
3. He went into Peter's house, probably invited thither to such
entertainment as a poor fisherman could give him, and he accepted of
it. The apostles left all for Christ; so far as that what they had
should not hinder them from him, yet not so, but that they might use it
4. He cured his mother-in-law, who was sick. Wherever Christ comes, he
comes to do good, and will be sure to pay richly for his entertainment.
Observe, How complete the cure was; when the fever left her, it
did not, as usual, leave her weak, but the same hand that
healed her, strengthened her, so that she was able to
minister to them; the cure is in order to that, to fit for
action, that we may minister to Christ, and to those that are
his for his sake.
II. A general account of many cures he wrought--diseases healed, devils
expelled. It was on the evening of the sabbath, when the sun
did set, or was set; perhaps many scrupled bringing their
sick to him, till the sabbath was over, but their weakness therein was
no prejudice to them in applying to Christ. Though he proved it
lawful to heal on the sabbath days, yet, if any stumbled at it,
they were welcome at another time. Now observe,
1. How numerous the patients were; All the city was gathered
at the door, as beggars for a dole. That one cure in the
synagogue occasioned this crowding after him. Others speeding well with
Christ should quicken us in our enquiries after him. Now the Sun of
righteousness rises with healing under his wings; to him shall the
gathering of the people be. Observe, How Christ was flocked
after in a private house, as well as in the synagogue;
wherever he is, there let his servants, his patients, be. And in the
evening of the sabbath, when the public worship is over, we must
continue our attendance upon Jesus Christ; he healed, as Paul preached,
publicly, and from house to house.
2. How powerful the Physician was; he healed all that
were brought to him, though ever so many. Nor was it some one
particular disease, that Christ set up for the cure of, but he healed
those that were sick of divers diseases, for his word was a
panpharmacon--a salve for every sore. And that miracle
particularly which he wrought in the synagogue, he repeated in the
house at night; for he cast out many devils, and suffered
not the devils to speak, for he made them know who he was,
and that silenced them. Or, He suffered them not to say that they
knew him (so it may be read); he would not permit any more of them
to say, as they did
I know thee, who thou art.
III. His retirement to his private devotion
He prayed, prayed alone; to set us an example of secret prayer.
Though as God he was prayed to, as man he prayed. Though
he was glorifying God, and doing good, in his public work, yet he found
time to be alone with his Father; and thus it became him to fulfil
all righteousness. Now observe,
1. The time when Christ prayed.
(1.) It was in the morning, the morning after the sabbath
day. Note, When a sabbath day is over and past, we must not think
that we may intermit our devotion till the next sabbath: no, though we
go not to the synagogue, we must go to the throne of
grace, every day in the week; and the morning after the sabbath
particularly, that we may preserve the good impressions of the day.
This morning was the morning of the first day of the
week, which afterward he sanctified, and made remarkable, by
another sort of rising early.
(2.) It was early, a great while before day. When others were
asleep in their beds, he was praying, as a genuine Son of David,
who seeks God early, and directs his prayer in the
morning; nay, and at midnight will rise to give thanks. It
has been said, The morning is a friend to the Muses--Aurora Musis
amica; and it is no less so to the Graces. When our spirits
are most fresh and lively, then we should take time for devout
exercises. He that is the first and best, ought to have
the first and best.
2. The place where he prayed; He departed into a solitary
place, either out of town, or some remote garden or out-building.
Though he was in no danger of distraction, or of temptation to
vain-glory, yet he retired, to set us an example to his own rule,
When thou prayest enter into thy closet. Secret prayer must be
made secretly. Those that have the most business in public, and of the
best kind, must sometimes be alone with God; must retire into
solitude, there to converse with God, and keep up communion with
IV. His return to his public work. The disciples thought
they were up early, but found their Master was up before
them, and they enquired which way he went, followed him to
his solitary place, and there found him at prayer,
They told him that he was much wanted, that there were a great many
patients waiting for him; All men seek for thee. They were proud
that their Master was become so popular already, and would have him
appear in public, yet more in that place, because it was
their own city; and we are apt to be partial to the places we
know and are interested in. "No," saith Christ, "Capernaum must not
have the monopoly of the Messiah's preaching and miracles. Let us go
into the next towns, the villages that lie about here,
that I may preach there also, and work miracles there, for
therefore came I forth, not to be constantly resident in one place,
but to go about doing good." Even the inhabitants of the
villages in Israel shall rehearse the righteous acts of the
Observe, Christ had still an eye to the end wherefore he came
forth, and closely pursued that; nor will he be drawn by
importunity, or the persuasions of his friends, to decline from that;
he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and, to
illustrate and confirm his doctrine, he cast out devils. Note,
Christ's doctrine is Satan's destruction.
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling
down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make
41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and
touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy
departed from him, and he was cleansed.
43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go
thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing
those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to
blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly
enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they
came to him from every quarter.
We have here the story of Christ's cleansing a leper, which we
It teaches us,
1. How to apply ourselves to Christ; come as this leper did,
(1.) With great humility; this leper came beseeching him, and
kneeling down to him
whether giving divine honour to him as God, or rather a less degree of
respect as a great Prophet, it teaches us that those who would
receive grace and mercy from Christ, must ascribe honour and glory to
Christ, and approach to him with humility and reverence.
(2.) With a firm belief of his power; Thou canst make me clean.
Though Christ's outward appearance was but mean, yet he had this
faith in his power, which implies his belief that he was sent of
God. He believes it with application, not only in general, Thou
cast do every thing (as
but, Thou cast make me clean. Note, What we believe of the power
of Christ we must bring home to our particular case; Thou canst do
this for me.
(3.) With submission to the will of Christ; Lord, if thou wilt.
Not as if he had any doubt of Christ's readiness in general to help the
distressed, but, with the modesty that became a poor petitioner, he
refers his own particular case to him.
2. What to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it
shall be to us. His address is not in the form of prayer, yet Christ
answered it as a request. Note, Affectionate professions of faith in
Christ, and resignations to him, are the most prevailing petitions for
mercy from him, and shall speed accordingly.
(1.) Christ was moved with compassion. This is added here, in
Mark, to show that Christ's power is employed by his pity for the
relief of poor souls; that his reasons are fetched from within himself,
and we have nothing in us to recommend us to his favour, but our
misery makes us the objects of his mercy. And what he
does for us he does with all possible tenderness.
(2.) He put forth his hand, and touched him. He exerted
his power, and directed it to this creature. In healing souls,
Christ toucheth them,
1 Samuel 10:26.
When the queen toucheth for the evil, she saith, I touch, God
heals; but Christ toucheth and healeth too.
(3.) He said, I will, be thou clean. Christ's power was put
forth in and by a word, to signify in what way Christ would
ordinarily work spiritual cures; He sends his word and heals,
John xv. 3; xvii. 17.
The poor leper put an if upon the will of Christ; If thou
wilt; but that doubt is soon put out of doubt; I
will. Christ most readily wills favours to those that most
readily refer themselves to his will. He was confident of
Christ's power; Thou canst make me clean; and Christ will
show how much his power is drawn out into act by the faith of his
people, and therefore speaks the word as one having authority, Be
thou clean. And power accompanied this word, and the cure was
perfect in an instant; Immediately his leprosy vanished, and
there remained no more sign of it,
3. What to do when we have received mercy from Christ. We must
with his favours receive his commands. When Christ had cured him, he
strictly charged him; the word here is very significant,
embrimesamenos--graviter interminatus--prohibiting with
threats. I am apt to think that this refers not to the directions
he gave him to conceal it
for those are mentioned by themselves; but that this was such a charge
as he gave to the impotent man whom he cured,
Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee; for the
leprosy was ordinarily the punishment of some particular
sinners, as in Miriam's, Gehazi's, and Uzziah's, case; now, when Christ
healed him, he warned him, he threatened him with the
fatal consequence of it if he should return to sin again. He
also appointed him,
(1.) To show himself to the priest, that the priest by his own
judgment of this leper might be a witness for Christ, that he was the
(2.) Till he had done that, not to say any thing of it to any
man: this is an instance of the humility of Christ and his
self-denial, that he did not seek his own honour, did not strive or
And it is an example to us, not to seek our own glory,
He must not proclaim it, because that would much increase the
crowd that followed Christ, which he thought was too great already; not
as if he were unwilling to do good to all, to as many as came;
but he would do it with as little noise as might be, would have
no offence given to the government, no disturbance of the public peace,
not any thing done that looked like ostentation, or an affecting of
popular applause. What to think of the leper's publishing it,
and blazing it abroad, I know not; the concealment of the good
characters and good works of good men better become them than
their friends; nor are we always bound by the modest commands of
humble men. The leper ought to have observed his orders; yet, no doubt,
it was with a good design that he proclaimed the cure, and it
had no other ill effect than that it increased the multitudes which
followed Christ, to that degree, that he could no more openly enter
into the city; not upon the account of persecution (there was no
danger of that yet,) but because the crowd was so great, that the
streets would not hold them, which obliged him to go into desert
places, to a mountain
to the sea-side,
This shows how expedient it was for us, that Christ should go
away, and send the Comforter, for his bodily presence could
be but in one place at a time; and those that came to him from every
quarter, could not get near him; but by his spiritual
presence he is with his people wherever they are, and comes to them to