Miracles at Capernaum and on the Sea.
SUMMARY.--The Leper Healed.
The Servant of the Centurion Healed.
Sitting in the Kingdom with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.
Children of the Kingdom Cast Out.
The Storm on the Sea.
The Disciples in Terror.
The Storm Quelled at His Voice.
The Gergesene Demoniacs Healed.
The Swine Perish in the Sea.
1, 2. A leper came. Compare
Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15.
Leprosy was a dreadful and hopeless disease. It begins as a skin
disease, defies medical skill, and is a kind of living death. Dr.
Schaff says: "Near the Jaffa gate of Jerusalem I saw, in 1877, these
miserable creatures with withered limbs imploring aid, and visited a
hospital of incurable lepers." There are various forms of the disease,
but white leprosy seemed most common among the Hebrews. With it the
sufferer became white from head to foot. The leper, by the law of
Moses, was regarded unclean, was separated from the people, was
regarded as death, and the disease was a type of sin. See
2 Kings 5:27; Num. 5:2.
Lord. An expression of faith, as well as the words that
3. Touched him . . . straitway his leprosy was cleansed. To
touch a leper was forbidden, and carried ceremonial defilement, but at
the touch of Jesus the source of the defilement fled, and the leper
was clean. At the touch of Jesus all impurity flees.
4. Tell no man. This was forbidden until the man was officially
declared to be healed. He could not enter society until the priest
had so declared. To blaze the story abroad as a miracle of Jesus might
prevent such a declaration on account of prejudice. Besides, the Lord
often forbade noising abroad his cures, for various reasons, chiefly
because the multitude so thronged him.
Offer the gift Moses commanded. See
Lev. 14:10, 22, 30, 31.
For a testimony. An official proof of the miracle.
5. When Jesus entered Capernaum. See note on
His return to the place he made his home after the Sermon on the Mount
and healing the leper. Compare
There came unto him a centurion. A Roman military officer,
corresponding to our captain. All Palestine was under Roman military
government at this time, with headquarters at Cæsarea, and
soldiers in every leading town. This centurion probably commanded the
company stationed at Capernaum. He was, of course, a Gentile. We learn
he came to Jesus, not in person, but by
Jewish elders, whom he supposed would have more influence with the
Lord. These elders interceded more readily because he had built them
either to secure favor, or because
he was, like Cornelius, a devout man. In the ruins of Tel Hum,
supposed to be Capernaum, are yet found the foundations of a
synagogue, one known by certain characteristics to have been built in
the Herodian period, and there can hardly be a doubt that it was the
one built by the centurion, and in which Christ often preached. See
Edersheim's Jewish Social Life, page 255.
6. Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy. Luke says
his servant "was dear unto him," and the whole account of Matthew
indicates intense solicitude. Paralysis, or palsy, was a common
disease in those days. (See
Alford says, "The
disease of the text may have been tetanus, or lockjaw, which
the ancient physicians included under paralysis."
says that "he was ready to die."
7. He saith to him. Luke tells us that he started at once, but
was interrupted by what follows.
8. The centurion answered. Through friends whom he had sent for
I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof. This
humility was partly due to his consciousness that he was a Gentile.
Rigid Jews did not hold social intercourse with Gentiles, and the
centurion may have supposed that so holy a Jewish teacher as Jesus
would hesitate to come under his roof.
Speak the word only. "Speak only a word" is the idea, and "my
servant will be healed." Not even Martha
thought that Jesus could have saved her brother Lazarus without going
to him. His faith was great.
9. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.
The meaning is: "If I, in my subordinate station, am obeyed, how much
more thou, who art over all, and whom disease serve as their master."
As he could say, "Go," to a soldier and was at once obeyed, so
Jesus could say, "Go," to the disease, and it would obey him.
10. When Jesus heard it he marvelled. There are two cases in
the Lord's history where he is said to have marvelled; here and in
In one case he marvels at the faith of a Gentile;
in the other at the unbelief of the Jews.
I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. The
greatness of his faith is shown in his lofty conception of the power
and dignity of Christ. This great faith was found, not in Israel, but
in a Gentile. In one case beside, that of the Syrophoenician woman
also a Gentile, the Lord commends the greatness of faith.
11. Many shall come from the east and west. The terms, "the
east and the west," the extreme points of the compass, are taken to
indicate the regions that are far away, the whole world. The Lord
means not only those who are geographically far away from Israel, but
those who have been far away spiritually, Gentiles as well as Jews.
Shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews
were accustomed to speak to the delights of the Messiah's kingdom as a
feast with the patriarchs. The language implies intimate domestic
intercourse and fellowship.
The kingdom of heaven refers, here, rather to the eternal
blessed state than to the church on earth.
12. But the children of the kingdom. The Jews, the natural
children of Abraham, the "Father of the faithful," heirs of the
promises made to him.
Cast out. Because they rejected the Messiah, in whom all the
Into outer darkness. The history of the Jews for 1,800 years has
been a fulfillment of this passage.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is a hint
at the wretchedness of a future state of punishment.
13. As thou hast believed. The centurion believed that Jesus
could heal his servant by speaking the word.
In that hour. At the moment these words were spoken the servant
14. Peter's wife's mother. Compare
Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41.
Peter, whom the Catholics make the first of the popes, was, therefore,
a married man. See also
1 Cor. 9:5.
Malarious fevers are still common in the vicinity of Capernaum, due
probably to the adjacent marshes.
15. Touched her hand. He could heal by a word, or by his touch.
At his touch the fever left her.
Ministered. Was well, and able to prepare a meal for the
16. They brought many. See also
Possessed with devils. See note on
Healed the sick. The sick were diseased in body; the demoniacs
were spiritually diseased.
17. Spoken by Isaiah. In the beautiful picture of the Messiah in
18. Now when Jesus saw multitudes about him. The multitudes had
gathered to listen to his teaching, or to behold his miracles. The sea
was only six miles wide, and the Savior often crossed it in order to
secure retirement. There is no deep recess in the eastern hills; no
towns along its banks corresponding to those in the plain of
19. A certain scribe said, . . . I will follow thee. Compare
Though this scribe belonged to a class which,
as a body, rejected Christ, he was disposed to be a disciple (see
but had not counted the cost. See note on
20. Jesus saith unto him. He rejects not this man's offer, nor
refuses him the liberty to follow him, only he will have him know what
he is doing and "count the cost."
The Son of man. It is the name by which the Lord ordinarily
designates himself as the Messiah--the Son of God manifested in the
flesh of Adam; the second Adam.
Not where to lay his head. He, as the "Son of man," did not
possess what the humbler animals claim, a home.
21. Suffer me first to go and bury my father. There are two
views. 1. That his father was already dead, and he wished only to
attend the funeral and properly observe the last rites. If this view
is correct, the Savior meant to teach that the duty to the Lord is
higher than any earthly duty, and when one has to yield to the other
it must be the lower one. 2. The view is also held that the disciple
asked that he might be permitted to remain at home until his father's
death and burial, and then follow Christ. That is the more probable
view. It was the case of "loving father or mother more than me."
22. Follow me. The highest of all duties, now discharged by
becoming his disciple, obeying him and making his life our example.
Let the dead bury their dead. Those spiritually dead will attend
to the last rites of them who have died naturally.
23. And when he was entered into a ship. Compare
Mark 5:1-21; Luke 8:28-40.
Boat is a better rendering. It was a small open row boat.
24. There arose a great tempest in the sea.
says, "A great storm;"
"There came down a storm of wind;" the word used by Matthew implies a
tornado. The Greek word
denotes a sudden and violent gust of wind, such as frequently bursts on
the lake. All travelers describe the storms as very sudden and violent,
caused by the cold air that rushes down from the mountains into the
heated depression of the lake.
25. Lord, save us: we perish. The Lord was awakened out of
sleep with these words. Their language is that of extreme terror.
26. O ye of little faith. According to Matthew, he
characterizes them as of "little faith; according to
he asked, How have ye have no faith?
Where is your faith? The spirit of the rebuke is the same in all
Rebuked the winds and the sea.
gives the very words of the rebuke: "Peace, be still."
27. What manner of man? The words express astonishment at this
new proof of his control, not only over demons and disease, but also
over the winds and waves, which obeyed him at a word.
28. Into the country of the Gergesenes. Compare
Mark 5:1-21; Luke 8:26-40.
Gergesa has been identified on the
east shore of Galilee; the "steep place" and "tombs" are still seen.
It was a village in the district of the Gadarenes. The Lord landed
here after the storm. The Revision has Gadarenes in Matthew,
and Gerasenes in
Mark and Luke.
The simple explanation of this difference is, that Gadarenes and
Gerasenes are different names for the inhabitants of the same large
district, so called from Gadara and Gerasa, two cities of that region;
while Gergesenes is the name of the people of a smaller district
within the other, and named from the city of Gergesa.
Mark and Luke
mention only one, the fiercer one, who spoke with the Lord.
The tombs. The tombs were caves, natural or artificial, cut in
the rock of the hill side, and, hence, suitable for a shelter.
Fierce. So violent as to be dangerous
(Mark 5:3-5; Luke 8:29).
29. They cried out. This account shows: (1) That demoniacal
possession was not simply bodily or mental disease. (2) That evil
spirits actually took possession of and controlled human beings. (3)
That these controlled the actions and organs of speech of their poor
victims. (4) We learn elsewhere that sin prepared the way for the
entrance of the demon.
Thou Son of God. The demons, like the devil, recognized him.
Torment us before our time. These words show that they expected
the final triumph of Christ.
30. A herd of many swine. According to
2,000. They were an unclean animal, kept probably by Jews in violation
of the spirit of the Mosaic law; or, if by Gentiles, kept in violation
of God's law for the land of Israel.
31. Suffer us to go into . . . the swine. Why this request we
do not know; perhaps it was malicious; perhaps to have an animal
32. Go. A permission, not a command.
Rushed . . . into the sea. Maddened, the swine rushed down the
steep declivity into the sea. If we knew all the facts we would see
more fully the righteousness of the Lord's permission. Perhaps the
loss of the swine was a punishment. Perhaps it was to show that evil
works its own destruction.
34. The whole city came out to meet Jesus. Filled with wonder
and fear by the story.
Besought him that he would depart. Partly from awe of one with
such power; partly, perhaps, from fear of loss of more property. The
Lord, bidden to depart, never returned. In this fact is a significant
tells us that the healed demoniac became a preacher of Christ in his