In this chapter, we have,
I. Christ's miraculous feeding of four thousand with seven loaves and a
few small fishes,
II. His refusing to give the Pharisees a sign from heaven,
III. His cautioning his disciples to take heed of the leaven of
Pharisaism and Herodianism,
IV. His giving of sight to a blind man at Bethsaida,
V. Peter's confession of him,
VI. The notice he gave his disciples of his own approaching sufferings
and the warning he gave them to prepare for sufferings likewise,
|Christ Feeds the Four Thousand.
1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having
nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith
2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now
been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they
will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.
4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy
these men with bread here in the wilderness?
5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said,
6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he
took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to
his disciples to set before them; and they did set them
before the people.
7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and
commanded to set them also before them.
8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the
broken meat that was left seven baskets.
9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent
We had the story of a miracle very like this before, in this gospel
and of this same miracle
and here is little or no addition or alternation as to the
circumstances. Yet observe,
1. That our Lord Jesus was greatly followed; The multitude was very
notwithstanding the wicked arts of the scribes and Pharisees to blemish
him, and to blast his interest, the common people, who had more
honesty, and therefore more true wisdom, than their leaders, kept up
their high thoughts of him. We may suppose that this multitude were
generally of the meaner sort of people, with such Christ conversed, and
was familiar; for thus he humbled himself, and made himself of no
reputation, and thus encouraged the meanest to come to him for life and
2. Those that followed him, underwent a great deal of difficulty in
following him; They were with him three days, and had nothing to
eat, that was hard service. Never let the Pharisee say, that
Christ's disciples fast not. There were those, probably, that
brought some food with them from home; but by this time it was all
spent, and they had a great way home; and yet they continued
with Christ, and did not speak of leaving him till he spoke of
dismissing them. Note, True zeal makes nothing of hardships in the way
of duty. They that have a full feast for their souls may be content
with slender provision for their bodies. It was an old saying among the
Puritans, Grown bread and the gospel are good fare.
3. As Christ has a compassion for all that are in wants and
straits, so he has a special concern for those that are reduced
to straits by their zeal and diligence in attending on him. Christ
said, I have compassion on the multitude. Whom the proud
Pharisees looked upon with disdain, the humble Jesus looked upon with
pity and tenderness; and thus must we honour all men. But that
which he chiefly considers, is, They have been with me three days,
and have nothing to eat. Whatever losses we sustain, or hardships
we go through, for Christ's sake, and in love to him, he will take care
that they shall be made up to us one way or other. They that seek
the Lord, shall not long want any good thing,
Observe with what sympathy Christ saith
If I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by
the way, for hunger. Christ knows and considers our frame; and he
is for the body, if we glorify him, verily we shall be
fed. He considered that many of them came from afar, and had
a great way home. When we see multitudes attending upon the word
preached, it is comfortable to think that Christ knows whence they all
come, though we do not. I know thy works, and where thou
Christ would by no means have them go home fasting, for it is not his
manner to send those empty way from him, that in a right manner
attend on him.
4. The doubts of Christians are sometimes made to work for the
magnifying of the power of Christ. The disciples could not imagine
whence so many men should be satisfied with bread here in the
That therefore must needs be wonderful, and appear so much the
more so, which the disciples looked upon as impossible.
5. Christ's time to act for the relief of his people, is, when things
are brought to the last extremity; when they were ready to
faint, Christ provided for them. That he might not invite them
to follow him for the loaves, he did not supply them but when
they were utterly reduced, and then he sent them away.
6. The bounty of Christ is inexhaustible, and, to evidence that, Christ
repeated this miracle, to show that he is still the same for the
succour and supply of his people that attend upon him. His favours are
renewed, as our wants and necessities are. In the former miracle,
Christ used all the bread he had, which was five loaves, and fed
all the guests he had, which were five thousand, and so he did
now; though he might have said, "If five loaves would feed five
thousand, four may feed four thousand;" he took all the seven loaves,
and fed with them the four thousand; for he would teach us to take
things as they are, and accommodate ourselves to them; to use what we
have, and make the best of that which is. Here it was, as in the
dispensing of manna, He that gathered much had nothing over, and he
that gathered little had no lack.
7. In our Father's house, in our Master's house, there is bread
enough, and to spare; there is a fulness in Christ, which he
communicates to all that passes through his hands; so that from it we
receive, and grace for grace,
Those need not fear wanting, that have Christ to live upon.
8. It is good for those that follow Christ, to keep together;
these followers of Christ continued in a body, four thousand of
them together, and Christ fed them all. Christ's sheep must abide by
the flock, and go forth by their footsteps, and verily they shall be
|The Leaven of Herod and the Pharisees; Christ Reproves His Disciples.
10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples,
and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.
11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with
him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.
12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this
generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall
no sign be given unto this generation.
13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed
to the other side.
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had
they in the ship with them more than one loaf.
15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven
of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because
we have no bread.
17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye,
because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither
understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?
18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and
do ye not remember?
19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many
baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets
full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.
21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
Still Christ is upon motion; now he visits the parts of Dalmanutha,
that no corner of the land of Israel might say that they had not had
his presence with them. He came thither by ship
but, meeting with occasions of dispute there, and not with
opportunities of doing good, he entered into the ship again
and came back. In these verses, we are told,
I. How he refused to gratify the Pharisees, who challenged him to give
them a sign from heaven. They came forth on purpose to
question with him; not to propose questions to him, that they
might learn of him, but to cross question with him, that they might
1. They demanded of him a sign from heaven, as if the signs he
gave them on earth, which were more familiar to them, and were more
capable of being examined and enquired into, were not sufficient. There
was a sign from heaven at his baptism, in the descent of the
dove, and the voice
it was public enough; and if they had attended John's baptism as they
ought to have done, they might themselves have seen it. Afterward, when
he was nailed to the cross, they prescribed a new sign; Let him come
down from the cross, and we will believe him; thus obstinate
infidelity will still have something to say, though ever so
unreasonable. They demanded this sign, tempting him; not in
hopes that he would give it them, that they might be satisfied, but in
hopes that he would not, that they might imagine themselves to have a
pretence for their infidelity.
2. He denied them their demand; He sighed deeply in his spirit,
He groaned (so some), being grieved for the hardness of their
hearts, and the little influence that his preaching and miracles
had had upon them. The infidelity of those that have long enjoyed the
means of conviction, is a great grief to the Lord Jesus; it troubles
him, that sinners should thus stand in their own light, and put a bar
in their own door.
(1.) He expostulates with them upon this demand; "Why doth this
generation seek after a sign; this generation, that is so unworthy
to have the gospel brought to it, and to have any sign accompanying it;
this generation, that so greedily swallows the traditions of the
elders, without the confirmation of any sign at all; this
generation, into which, by the calculating of the times prefixed in
the Old Testament, they might easily perceive that the coming of the
Messiah must fall; this generation, that has had such plenty of
sensible and merciful signs given them in the cure of their sick? What
an absurdity is it for them to desire a sign!"
(2.) He refuses to answer their demand; Verily, I say unto you,
there shall no sign, no such sign, be given to this
generation. When God spoke to particular persons in a particular
case, out of the road of his common dispensation, they were encouraged
to ask a sign, as Gideon and Ahaz; but when he speaks in general to
all, as in the law and the gospel, sending each with their own
evidence, it is presumption to prescribe other signs than what he has
given. Shall any teach God knowledge? He denied them, and then
left them, as men not fit to be talked with; if they will not be
convinced, they shall not; leave them to their strong delusions.
II. How he warned his disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and
of Herod. Observe here,
1. What the caution was
"Take heed, beware, lest ye partake of the leaven of the
Pharisees, lest ye embrace the tradition of the elders, which they
are so wedded to, lest ye be proud, and hypocritical, and ceremonious,
like them." Matthew adds, and of the Sadducees; Mark adds,
and of Herod: whence some gather, that Herod, and his courtiers
were generally Sadducees, that is, deists, men of no religion. Others
give this sense, The Pharisees demanded a sign from heaven; and
Herod was long desirous to see some miracle wrought by Christ
such as he should prescribe, so that the leaven of both was the same;
they were unsatisfied with the signs they had, and would have others of
their own devising; "Take heed of this leaven" (saith Christ),
"be convinced by the miracles ye have seen, and covet not to see
2. How they misunderstood this caution. It seems, at their putting to
sea this time, they had forgotten to take bread, and had not
in their ship more than one loaf,
When therefore Christ bid them beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees, they understood it as an intimation to them, not to
apply themselves to any of the Pharisees for relief, when they came to
the other side, for they had lately been offended at them for eating
with unwashen hands. They reasoned among themselves, what
should be the meaning of this caution, and concluded, "It is because
we have no bread; he saith this, to reproach us for being so
careless as to go to sea, and go among strangers, with but one loaf of
bread; he doth, in effect, tell us, we must be brought to short
allowance, and must eat our bread by weight." They reasoned
it--dielogizonto, they disputed about it; one
said, "It was owing to you;" and the other said, "It was owing to you,
that we are so ill provided for this voyage." Thus distrust of God
makes Christ's disciples quarrel among themselves.
3. The reproof Christ gave them for their uneasiness in this matter, as
it argued a disbelief of his power to supply them, notwithstanding the
abundant experience they had had of it. The reproof is given with some
warmth, for he knew their hearts, and knew they needed to be thus
soundly chidden; "Perceive ye not yet, neither understand, that
which you have had so many demonstrations of? Have ye your hearts
yet hardened, so as that nothing will make any impression upon
them, or bring them to compliance with your Master's designs? Having
eyes, see ye not that which is plain before your eyes? Having
ears, hear ye not that which you have been so often told? How
strangely stupid and senseless are ye! Do ye not remember that
which was done but the other day, when I broke the five loaves among
the five thousand, and soon after, the seven loaves among the
four thousand? Do ye not remember how many baskets full ye took
up of the fragments?" Yes, they did remember, and could tell that
they took up twelve baskets full one time, and seven
another; "Why then," said he, "how is it that ye do not
understand? As if he that multiplied five loaves, and
seven, could not multiply one." They seemed to suspect that the
one was not matter enough to work upon, if he should have a mind to
entertain his hearers a third time: and if that was their thought, it
was indeed a very senseless one, as if it were not all alike to the
Lord, to save by many or few, and as easy to make one loaf to feed five
thousand as five. It was therefore proper to remind them, not only of
the sufficiency, but of the overplus, of the former meals; and justly
were they chidden for not understanding what Christ therein designed,
and what they from thence might have learned. Note,
(1.) The experiences we have had of God's goodness to us in the way of
duty, greatly aggravate our distrust of him, which is therefore
very provoking to the Lord Jesus.
(2.) Our not understanding of the true intent and meaning of
God's favours to us, is equivalent to our not remembering of them.
(3.) We are therefore overwhelmed with present cares and
distrusts, because we do not understand, and remember, what we
have known and seen of the power and goodness of our Lord Jesus. It
would be a great support to us, to consider the days of old, and
we are wanting both to God and ourselves if we do not.
(4.) When we thus forgot the works of God, and distrust him, we
should chide ourselves severely for it, as Christ doth his disciples
here; "Am I thus without understanding? How is it that my heart is thus
|A Blind Man Restored to Sight.
22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto
him, and besought him to touch him.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of
the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands
upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made
him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into
the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
This cure is related only by this evangelist, and there is something
singular in the circumstances.
I. Here is a blind man brought to Christ by his friends, with a
desire that he would touch him,
Here appears the faith of those that brought him--they doubted not but
that one touch of Christ's hand would recover him his sight; but the
man himself showed not that earnestness for, or expectation of, a cure
that other blind men did. If those that are spiritually blind, do not
pray for themselves, yet let their friends and relations pray for them,
that Christ would be pleased to touch them.
II. Here is Christ leading this blind man,
He did not bid his friends lead him, but (which bespeaks his wonderful
condescension) he himself took him by the hand, and led him, to
teach us to be as Job was, eyes to the blind,
Never had poor blind man such a Leader. He led him out of the
town. Had he herein only designed privacy, he might have led him
into a house, into an inner chamber, and have cured him there; but he
intended hereby to upbraid Bethsaida with the mighty works that
had in vain been done in her
and was telling her, in effect, she was unworthy to have any more done
within her walls. Perhaps Christ took the blind man out of the
town, that he might have a larger prospect in the open
fields, to try his sight with, than he could have in the close
III. Here is the cure of the blind man, by that blessed Oculist, who
came into the world to preach the recovering of sight to the
and to give what he preached. In this cure we may
1. That Christ used a sign; he spat on his eyes (spat
into them, so some), and put his hand upon him. He could
have cured him, as he did others, with a word speaking, but thus he was
pleased to assist his faith which was very weak, and to help him
against his unbelief. And this spittle signified the
eye-salve wherewith Christ anoints the eyes of those that are
2. That the cure was wrought gradually, which was not usual in
Christ's miracles. He asked him if he saw aught,
Let him tell what condition his sight was in, for the satisfaction of
those about him. And he looked up; so far he recovered his
sight, that he could open his eyes, and he said, I see men as
trees walking; he could not distinguish men from trees, otherwise
than he could discern them to move. He had some glimmerings of sight,
and betwixt him and the sky could perceive a man erect like a tree, but
could not discern the form thereof,
3. It was soon completed; Christ never doeth his work by the
halves, nor leaves it till he can say, It is finished. He put
his hands again upon his eyes, to disperse the remaining darkness,
and then bade him look up again, and he saw every man clearly,
Now Christ took this way,
(1.) Because he would not tie himself to a method, but would
show with what liberty he acted in all he did. He did not cure by
rote, as I may say, and in a road, but varied as
he thought fit. Providence gains the same end in different ways, that
men may attend its motions with an implicit faith.
(2.) Because it should be to the patient according to his faith;
and perhaps this man's faith was at first very weak, but afterward
gathered strength, and accordingly his cure was. Not that Christ always
went by this rule, but thus he would sometimes put a rebuke upon those
who came to him, doubting.
(3.) Thus Christ would show how, and in what method, those are healed
by his grace, who by nature are spiritually blind; at first,
their knowledge is confused, they see men as trees walking; but,
like the light of the morning, it shines more and more to the
perfect day, and then they see all things clearly,
Let us enquire then, if we see aught of those things which
faith is the substance and evidence of; and if
through grace we see any thing of them, we may hope that we
shall see yet more and more, for Jesus Christ will
perfect for ever those that are sanctified.
IV. The directions Christ gave the man he had cured, not to tell it
to any in the town of Bethsaida, nor so much as to go into the
town, where probably there were some expecting him to come back,
who had seen Christ lead him out of the town, but, having been
eyewitnesses of so many miracles, had not so much as the curiosity to
follow him: let not those be gratified with the sight of him when he
was cured, who would not show so much respect to Christ as to go a step
out of the town, to see this cure wrought. Christ doth not forbid him
to tell it to others, but he must not tell it to any in the
town. Slighting Christ's favours is forfeiting them; and Christ
will make those know the worth of their privileges by the want of them,
that would not know them otherwise. Bethsaida, in the day of her
visitation, would not know the things that belonged to her peace, and
now they are hid from her eyes. They will not see, and therefore
shall not see.
|Peter's Enlightened Testimony; Peter Rebuked.
27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of
Cæsarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying
unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias;
and others, One of the prophets.
29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter
answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer
many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief
priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise
32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and
began to rebuke him.
33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he
rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou
savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his
disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but
whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the
same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole
world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words
in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the
Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father
with the holy angels.
We have read a great deal of the doctrine Christ preached, and the
miracles he wrought, which were many, and strange, and well-attested,
of various kinds, and wrought in several places, to the astonishment of
the multitudes that were eye-witnesses of them. It is now time for us
to pause a little, and to consider what these things mean; the wondrous
works which Christ then forbade the publishing of, being recorded in
these sacred writings, are thereby published to all the world, to us,
to all ages; now what shall we think of them? Is the record of those
things designed only for an amusement, or to furnish us with matter for
discourse? No, certainly these things are written, that we may
believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God
and this discourse which Christ had with his disciples, will assist us
in making the necessary reflections upon the miracles of Christ, and a
right use of them. Three things we are here taught to infer from the
miracles Christ wrought.
I. They prove that he is the true Messiah, the Son of
God, and Saviour of the world: this the works he did witnessed
concerning him; and this his disciples, who were the eye-witnesses of
those works, here profess their belief of; which cannot but be a
satisfaction to us in making the same inference from them.
1. Christ enquired of them what the sentiments of the people were
concerning him; Who did men say that I am?
Note, Though it is a small thing for us to be judged of men, yet it may
sometimes do us good to know what people say of us, not that we may
seek our own glory, but that we may hear our faults. Christ asked them,
not that he might be informed, but that they might observe it
themselves, and inform one another.
2. The account they gave him, was such as plainly intimated the high
opinion the people had of him. Though they came short of the truth,
yet they were convinced by his miracles that he was an extraordinary
person, sent from the invisible world with a divine commission. It is
probable that they would have acknowledged him to be the Messiah, if
they had not been possessed by their teachers with a notion that the
Messiah must be a temporal Prince, appearing in external pomp and
power, which the figure Christ made, would not comport with; yet
(whatever the Pharisees said, whose copyhold was touched by the
strictness and spirituality of his doctrine) none of the people said
that he was a Deceiver, but some said that he was John Baptist,
others Elias, others one of the prophets,
All agreed that he was one risen from the dead.
3. The account they gave him of their own sentiments concerning him,
intimated their abundant satisfaction in him, and in their having left
all to follow him, which now, after some time of trial, they see no
reason to repent; But whom say ye that I am? To this they have
an answer ready, Thou art the Christ, the Messiah often
promised, and long expected,
To be a Christian indeed, is, sincerely to believe that Jesus is the
Christ, and to act accordingly; and that he is so, plainly appears by
his wondrous works. This they knew, and must shortly publish and
maintain; but for the present they must keep it secret
till the proof of it was completed, and they were completely qualified
to maintain it, by the pouring out of the Holy Ghost; and then let
all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this same
Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ,
II. These miracles of Christ take off the offence of the cross,
and assure us that Christ was, in it, not conquered, but a Conqueror.
Now that the disciples are convinced that Jesus is the Christ, they may
bear to hear of his sufferings, which Christ now begins to give
them notice of,
1. Christ taught his disciples that he must suffer many
things, Though they had got over the vulgar error of the Messiah's
being a temporal Prince, so far as to believe their Master to be the
Messiah, notwithstanding his present meanness, yet still they retained
it, so far as to expect that he would shortly appear in outward
pomp and grandeur, and restore the kingdom to Israel; and
therefore, to rectify that mistake, Christ here gives them a prospect
of the contrary, that he must be rejected of the elders, and the
chief priests, and the scribes, who, they expected, should
be brought to own and prefer him; that, instead of being crowned, he
must be killed, he must be crucified, and after three days he
must rise again to a heavenly life, and to be no more in this
world. This he spoke openly
parresia. He said it freely and plainly, and did not
wrap it up in ambiguous expressions. The disciples might easily
understand it, if they had not been very much under the power of
prejudice: or, it intimates that he spoke it cheerfully and without any
terror, and would have them to hear it so: he spoke that saying
boldly, as one that not only knew he must suffer and die,
but was resolved he would, and made it his own act and deed.
2. Peter opposed it; He took him, and began to rebuke him. Here
Peter showed more love than discretion, a zeal for Christ and his
safety, but not according to knowledge. He took
him--proslabomenos auton. He took hold of him, as it
were to stop and hinder him, took him in his arms, and embraced him (so
some understand it); he fell on his neck, as impatient to hear that his
dear Master should suffer such hard things; or he took him aside
privately, and began to rebuke him. This was not the language of
the least authority, but of the greatest affection, of that
jealousy for the welfare of those we love, which is strong as
death. Our Lord Jesus allowed his disciples to be free with him,
but Peter here took too great a liberty.
3. Christ checked him for his opposition
He turned about, as one offended, and looked on his
disciples, to see if the rest of them were of the same mind, and
concurred with Peter in this, that, if they did, they might take the
reproof to themselves, which he was now about to give to Peter; and he
said, Get thee behind me, Satan. Peter little thought to have
had such a sharp rebuke for such a kind dissuasive, but perhaps
expected as much commendation now for his love as he had lately for his
faith. Note, Christ sees that amiss in what we say and do, which we
ourselves are not aware of, and knows what manner of spirit we are of,
when we ourselves do not.
(1.) Peter spoke as one that did not rightly understand, nor had duly
considered, the purposes and counsels of God. When he saw such proofs
as he every day saw of the power of Christ, he might conclude
that he could not be compelled to suffer; the most potent
enemies could not overpower him whom diseases and deaths, whom winds
and waves and devils themselves, were forced to obey and yield to: and
when he saw so much of the wisdom of Christ every day, he might
conclude that he would not choose to suffer but for some very
great and glorious purposes; and therefore he ought not thus to have
contradicted him, but to have acquiesced. He looked upon his death only
as a martyrdom, like that of the prophets, which he thought
might be prevented, if either he would take a little care not to
provoke the chief priests, or to keep out of the way; but he knew not
that the thing was necessary for the glory of God, the destruction of
Satan, and the salvation of man, that the Captain of our salvation must
be made perfect through sufferings, and so must bring many
sons to glory. Note, The wisdom of man is perfect folly, when it
pretends to give measures to the divine counsels. The cross of Christ,
the great instance of God's power and wisdom, was to some a
stumbling-block, and to others foolishness.
(2.) Peter spoke as one that did not rightly understand, nor had duly
considered, the nature of Christ's kingdom; he took it to be
temporal and human, whereas it is spiritual and
divine. Thou savourest not the things that are of God, but
those that are of men; ou phroneis--thou mindest
not; so the word is rendered,
Peter seemed to mind more the things that relate to the lower world,
and the life that now is, than those which relate to the upper world,
and the life to come. Minding the things of men more than the
things of God, our own credit, ease, and safety, more than the
things of God, and his glory and kingdom, is a very great sin,
and the root of much sin, and very common among Christ's disciples; and
it will appear in suffering times, those times of temptation, when
those in whom the things of men have the ascendant, are in
danger of falling off. Non sapis--Thou art not wise (so it may
be read) in the things of God, but in the things of men.
It is important to consider what generation we appear wise
It seems policy to shun trouble, but if with that we shun duty, it is
(2 Corinthians 1:12),
and it will be folly in the end.
III. These miracles of Christ should engage us all to follow
him, whatever it cost us, not only as they were
confirmations of his mission, but as they were
explications of his design, and the tendency of that
grace which he came to bring; plainly intimating that by his Spirit he
would do that for our blind, deaf, lame, leprous, diseased, possessed
souls, which he did for the bodies of those many who in
those distresses applied themselves to him. Frequent notice had been
taken of the great flocking that there was to him for help in various
cases: now this is written, that we may believe that he is the great
Physician of souls, and may become his patients, and submit to his
regimen; and here he tells us upon what terms we may be
admitted; and he called all the people to him, to hear this, who
modestly stood at some distance when he was in private conversation
with his disciples. This is that which all are concerned to know, and
consider, if they expect Christ should heal their souls.
1. They must not be indulgent of the ease of the body;
"Whosoever will come after me for spiritual cures, as these
people do for bodily cures, let him deny himself, and live a
life of self-denial, mortification, and contempt of the world; let him
not pretend to be his own physician, but renounce all confidence in
himself and his own righteousness and strength, and let him take up
his cross, conforming himself to the pattern of a crucified Jesus,
and accommodating himself to the will of God in all the afflictions he
lies under; and thus let him continue to follow me;" as many of
those did, whom Christ healed. Those that will be Christ's patients
must attend on him, converse with him, receive instruction and reproof
from him, as those did that followed him, and must resolve they
will never forsake him.
2. They must not be solicitous, no, not for the life of the
body, when they cannot keep it without quitting Christ,
Are we invited by the words and works of Christ to follow him? Let us
sit down, and count the cost, whether we can prefer our advantages by
Christ before life itself, whether we can bear to think of losing our
life for Christ's sake and the gospel's. When the devil is
drawing away disciples and servants after him, he conceals the worst of
it, tells them only of the pleasure, but nothing of the peril, of his
service; Ye shall not surely die; but what there is of trouble
and danger in the service of Christ, he tells us of it before, tells us
we shall suffer, perhaps we shall die, in the cause; and
represents the discouragements not less, but greater,
than commonly they prove, that it may appear he deals fairly
with us, and is not afraid that we should know the worst; because the
advantages of his service abundantly suffice to balance
the discouragements, if we will but impartially set the one over
against the other. In short,
(1.) We must not dread the loss of our lives, provided it be
in the cause of Christ
Whosoever will save his life, by declining Christ, and refusing
to come to him, or by disowning and denying him after he has in
profession come to Christ, he shall lose it, shall lose the
comfort of his natural life, the root and fountain of his spiritual
life, and all his hopes of eternal life; such a bad bargain will he
make for himself. But whosoever shall lose his life, shall be
truly willing to lose it, shall venture it, shall lay it down when he
cannot keep it without denying Christ, he shall save it, he
shall be an unspeakable gainer; for the loss of his life shall be made
up to him in a better life. It is looked upon to be some kind of
recompence to those who lose their lives in the service of their prince
and country, to have their memories honoured and their families
provided for; but what is that to the recompence which Christ makes in
eternal life to all that die for him?
(2.) We must dread the loss of our souls, yea, though we should
gain the whole world by it
For what shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole
world, and all the wealth, honour, and pleasure, in it, by denying
Christ, and lose his own soul? "True it is," said Bishop Hooper,
the night before he suffered martyrdom, "that life is sweet, and
death is bitter, but eternal death is more bitter, and
eternal life is more sweet." As the happiness of heaven with
Christ, is enough to countervail the loss of life itself for Christ, so
the gain of all the world in sin, is not sufficient to
countervail the ruin of the soul by sin.
What that is that men do, to save their lives, and gain the
world, he tells us
and of what fatal consequence it will be to them; Whosoever
therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous
and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed.
Something like this we had,
But it is here expressed more fully. Note,
[1.] The disadvantage that the cause of Christ labours under this
world, is, that it is to be owned and professed in an adulterous and
sinful generation; such the generation of mankind is, gone a
whoring from God, in the impure embraces of the world and the flesh,
lying in wickedness; some ages, some places, are more especially
adulterous and sinful, as that was in which Christ lived; in such a
generation the cause of Christ is opposed and run down, and
those that own it, are exposed to reproach and contempt, and every
where ridiculed and spoken against.
[2.] There are many, who, though they cannot but own that the cause of
Christ is a righteous cause, are ashamed of it, because of the
reproach that attends the professing of it; they are ashamed of
their relation to Christ, and ashamed of the credit they cannot
but give to his words; they cannot bear to be frowned upon and
despised, and therefore throw off their profession, and go down the
stream of a prevailing apostasy.
[3.] There is a day coming, when the cause of Christ will appear as
bright and illustrious as now it appears mean and contemptible; when
the Son of man comes in the glory of his Father with his holy
angels, as the true Shechinah, the brightness of his Father's
glory, and the Lord of angels.
[4.] Those that are ashamed of Christ in this world where he is
despised, he will be ashamed of in that world where he is eternally
adored. They shall not share with him in his glory then, that
were not willing to share with him in his disgrace now.