The Ministry at Capernaum.
SUMMARY.--A Paralytic Healed.
The Charge of Blasphemy.
Christ's Power to Forgive Sins.
Eating with Publicans.
New Cloth on an Old Garment.
The Daughter of Jairus.
The Woman with Bloody Issue Healed.
The Damsel Restored to Life.
Two Blind Men Made to See.
Preaching in the Synagogues.
1. He entered into a ship. The last chapter left the Savior in
the country of the Gadarenes on the eastern side of the lake. He now
returns to Capernaum.
Came into his own city. Capernaum, so called because, after
leaving Nazareth, he made Capernaum his Galilean home.
2. They brought to him a man sick of the palsy. Compare
Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26.
A helpless paralytic, unable even
to walk, but anxious to be brought to the great Healer.
Seeing their faith. That of the four bearers of the helpless
man, and the man himself. The sick man and his friend showed their
faith by overcoming great obstacles in order to come to Christ for
informs us that there was such a crowd that the palsied man had to be
let down through the roof.
Saith to the sick of the palsy. Palsy is a contraction
of the word paralysis. A disease which deprives the part
affected of sensation or the power of motion, or both.
Thy sins be forgiven thee. The Revision says, "Thy sins are
forgiven." The Greek is in the past tense. Possibly he had brought his
sickness upon himself by means of his sins; but was now penitent.
3. Certain of the scribes said within themselves. They had
scented heresy from afar, and came from Jerusalem to pry into the
teachings of the Prophet of Galilee, as the people called him,
Scribes. The learned class, the official expounders of the
Scriptures, the theologians, the jurists, the legislators, the
politicians, and, indeed, the soul of Israel.
This man blasphemeth. By professing to forgive sins, the
prerogative not of man, but of God. If Christ were but a man, as they
imagined, the scribes would have been right. And yet, so far, he had
not said that he forgave the sins, but merely declared them
forgiven. This was the beginning of the opposition that ended with the
cross. On the same accusation of blasphemy, now first made, the
Sanhedrim condemned him to death
4. Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? They had said
nothing aloud, but he read their hearts.
5. Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee. To say,
"Thy sins be forgiven thee," was easy, for no visible result could
test the saying. To say, "Take up thy bed and walk," was not
apparently so easy, for failure would cover with confusion. He said
the last, leaving the inference--If I can do the most difficult, then
I can do the easier.
6. But that ye may know. By doing that which is capable of
being put to the proof, I will vindicate my right and power to do that
which in its very nature is incapable of being put to the proof of the
The Son of man cannot simply mean a man, or a mere man,
since the powers in question do
not to men as such. The true sense is determined by
where the phrase is confessedly applied to the Messiah, as a partaker
of our nature.
Hath power on earth to forgive sins. "Authority" is a better
rendering than "power," and it is so given by the American Revision
Committee. He had "authority" from the Father who had sent him, and
who had committed judgment to his hands on earth. Sins are against
God, and therefore only God can forgive them; for in the nature of
things only he can forgive against whom the offense has been
committed, but Jesus was "God manifest in the flesh."
I can forgive sins committed against myself, but not those committed
against my neighbor, much less those against God. Christ's argument
here affords a fair test of all priestly claims to absolve from sin. If
the priest has power to remit the eternal punishment of sin, he should
be able, certainly, to remit the physical and temporal punishment of
sin. This Christ did; this the priest does not, and cannot do.
7. And he arose, and departed to his own house. It may be
regarded as an enacted parable of sin and redemption. The paralytic
typifies the sinner, by his original helplessness
(Isaiah 40:30; John 6:44; 15:5);
faith was demonstrated by his earnestness to come to Christ in spite of
(Psa. 25:15; 86:2, 7);
and the power of divine grace, in the ability to obey Christ's command,
received in the very attempt to comply with it
8. The multitude . . . marvelled. Why should they not? "His
name shall be called Wonderful"
9. Saw a man named Matthew. Compare
Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32.
Such is the modest introduction of himself that Matthew gives. He was
also called Levi
At the receipt of custom. He was a tax collector, a publican,
whose business it was to collect the Roman taxes.
Follow me. Like Peter, Andrew, James and John, he was called
from his business, and left at once. Like them, he was probably a
disciple of John, and before this a disciple of Jesus, but now called
Arose and followed. Thus promptly the call of Jesus ought
always to be obeyed.
10. As he sat at meat. At a meal.
In the house. The house of Matthew. Matthew made a feast
(Mark 2:15; Luke 5:29).
Many publicans and sinners came. Matthew's old associates.
says they were invited.
Publicans. Collectors of the Roman tax, usually Jews, but hated
because they collected a hateful tax, often, too, grasping and
Sinners. Persons excommunicated from the synagogue. An orthodox
Jew would not eat with them. When the term sinner is applied to
a woman, it usually means an outcast.
11. When the Pharisees saw it. They were not at feast, but were
on the watch.
Why eateth your Master? etc. The strict Jews would not eat with
Gentiles, and these classes were regarded by them on a level with the
(Acts 11:3; Gal. 2:12).
12. They that are whole need not a physician, etc. In other
words: "If these people are as sinful as you allege, they are the very
ones who need a Savior."
13. I will have mercy and not sacrifice. See
The Pharisees had never learned the
meaning of this passage, which teaches that kind hearts and helpful
deeds are more pleasing to God than outward ceremonial. Sacrifice is
right, but mercy is first in importance.
I came not to call the righteous, etc. My mission in the world
is to save sinners.
14. Disciples of John. Some who still held aloof from Christ,
and really sympathized with the Pharisees
Why do we and the Pharisees fast often? The Pharisees fasted
twice a week
and these disciples imitated them. They could not understand why he did
not require similar austerities.
15. The children of the bride-chamber mourn. The friends of the
bridegroom, for the bride was brought to his father's house. Fasting
was usually a sign of sorrow. He was himself the Bridegroom, and still
with his disciples.
When the bridegroom will be taken from them. An allusion
especially to the crushing sorrow when he was crucified and buried.
Real fasting takes place when there is real occasion for it. See
Acts 13:2; 14:23;
2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27.
16. No man putteth, etc. Two illustrations follow to show the
folly of patching up, or reforming, an old, worn out religion like
New cloth. Cloth that has been shrunk. In shrinking it would
tear the old cloth around it, and make a worse rent than before.
17. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles. New wine is
unfermented wine. The bottles were not of glass, but of skin, the kind
that is still used in Palestine, where nothing changes. Old skin
bottles would become tender with age and burst during the fermentation
of the wine.
18, 19. There came a certain ruler. One of the rulers of the
synagogue (probably of the synagogue of Capernaum). One of the elders
and presiding officers, who convened the assembly, preserved order,
invited readers and speakers. His name was Jairus
(Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41).
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all give this account. From them we learn that
the maiden was twelve years old, was dying when the ruler started, was
dead when he spoke to Jesus. Compare
20. On his way to the house of Jairus another miracle was
And, behold, a certain woman. I think the circumstances of the
narrative render the inference almost certain that this account was
meant for the consolation of those multitudes of stricken women in all
ages who seem to be afflicted with sorrows in very unequal measure,
compared with the stronger, and generally, also, the more
depraved, sex.--W. H. Thomson, M.D.
An issue of blood. A hemorrhage either from the bowels or the womb,
probably the latter.
Came behind and touched the hem of his garment. The ordinary
outer Jewish garment was a square or oblong piece of cloth, worn
something like an Indian blanket.
21, 22. Touch but his garment. The Jews paid to the fringe a
superstitious reverence. Sharing the superstition, this woman touched
it in hope of cure.
Thy faith hath made thee whole. Literally, thy faith hath
saved thee. Her faith, of course, had not been the cause of her
cure. Christ's power had been that. But her faith was the condition
on her part. Hence it might be represented as having "made her whole."
The student should observe that hers was not a passive faith, but it
led to action. A passive faith is a dead faith.
23. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house. He healed the
woman on the way.
Saw the minstrels. The Jews, like other Orientals, were wont to
employ professional mourners, minstrels who made plaintive music, or
24. Give place, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. The
reality of the death is not denied, but only the fact implicitly
assumed, that death will be followed by a resurrection, as sleep is by
Laughed him to scorn. The company of mourners was certain that
the child was dead and, understanding neither the language nor the
power of Jesus, laughed in derision.
25. When the people were put forth. Luke
says that Peter, James and John, and the father and mother of the
maiden were permitted to remain
He took her by the hand. As we learn from one of the
he said to her, Talitha cumi. This is Aramaic, the language
generally spoken by the common people in Palestine at the time of
Christ. The words mean: "Rise, my child." They were immediately obeyed.
She arose, and walked.
26. The fame went abroad.
dwells emphatically upon the astonishment felt by the parents (see
but shared doubtless by the three apostles.
27. Two blind men followed him. This account is given only by
Matthew. Blindness is still very common under the burning sun and
among the blinding sands of the East. No sight is more common than
blind beggars. The want of attention to the eye when first diseased
is one reason why this affliction is so common.
Have mercy on us, thou son of David. The title, "son of David,"
applied to Jesus by these blind men, as well as by those healed at
Jericho, implied his Messiahship, as it was understood that the Christ
was to be the son of David.
28. The blind men came to him. Not until he was come into the
house he was seeking.
ye that I am able to do this? He demands, as condition of the
blessing, that there should be an expression of faith.
29. According to your faith be it unto you. Faith is the hand which
takes what God offers, the spiritual organ of appropriation.
30, 31. Jesus strictly charged them, etc. Their changed
condition would sufficiently tell the story without their indiscreet
babbling. They failed to obey, which they should have done, whether
they understood the reason of the command or not. Note the three great
lessons about our Lord: (1) He is the Life.
He not only breaks the bonds of mortal death, but endows the soul with
spiritual life. (2) He is the infallible Physician.
Diseases of the body, sorrows of the heart, and sins of the soul that
no man can heal, disappear at his touch. (3) He is the Light of the
At his word sightless eyes see. At his word darkened souls are flooded
32, 33. A dumb man, possessed with a devil. Compare
A complication of physical and spiritual maladies. See note on
It was never so seen in Israel. Filled with wonder at the
cure, the multitude declared that no prophet had ever done such
wonders. They were right.
34. The Pharisees said. With their usual perverseness they gave
a sinister explanation.
By the prince of the devils. In other words: He gets power
from the devil, instead of God, to cast out demons.
35. Jesus went about all the cities. He began to widen the area
of his ministry.
36. When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion.
The Lord seldom looked upon a crowd of the poor, lost, human beings
without being moved with tender compassion.
Because they fainted, and were . . . as sheep having no
shepherd. A figure representing their spiritual condition. They
"fainted" under the burdens placed on them by pretended shepherds,
Pharisees and scribes. They wandered, as sheep left without care.
37. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.
First the people are represented under the figure of sheep, scattering
abroad, without a shepherd's care; next as a ripe and abandoned
harvest, ready to be lost unless reapers are sent to gather it.
38. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest. The Lord of the
harvest is Christ. When we pray the Lord for anything we must work to
fulfill our own prayers. If we pray for laborers, we must be willing
to become laborers ourselves, or to send and sustain other laborers.