|JESUS CHRIST, 4C1 |
C. THE GALILEAN MINISTRY AND VISITS TO THE FEASTS
1. The Scene:
Galilee was divided into upper Galilee and lower Galilee. It has already been remarked that upper Galilee was inhabited by a mixed population--hence called "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15). The highroads of commerce ran through it. It was "the way of the sea" (the King James Version)--a scene of constant traffic. The people were rude, ignorant, and superstitious, and were densely crowded together in towns and villages. About 160 BC there were only a few Jews in the midst of a large heathen population; but by the time of Christ the Jewish element had greatly increased. The busiest portion of this busy district was round the Sea of Galilee, at the Northeast corner of which stood Capernaum--wealthy and cosmopolitan. In Nazareth, indeed, Jesus met with a disappointing reception (Luke 4:16-30; Matthew 13:54-57; compare John 4:43-45); yet in Galilee generally He found a freer spirit and greater receptiveness than among the stricter traditionalists of Judea.
2. The Time:
It is assumed here that Jesus returned to Galilee in December, 27 AD, and that His ministry there lasted till late in 29 AD (see "Chronology" above). On the two years' scheme of the public ministry, the Passover of John 6:4 has to be taken as the second in Christ's ministry--therefore as occurring at an interval of only 3 or 4 months after the return. This seems impossible in view of the crowding of events it involves in so short a time--opening incidents, stay in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13), three circuits in "all Galilee" (Matthew 4:23-25 parallel; Luke 8:1-4; Matthew 9:35-38; Mark 6:6), lesser journeys and excursions (Sermon on Mount:
Gadara); and the dislocations it necessitates, e.g. the plucking of ears of corn (about Passover time) must be placed after the feeding of the 5,000, etc. It is simpler to adhere to the three years' scheme.
A division of the Galilean ministry may then fitly be made into two periods--one preceding, the other succeeding the Mission of the Twelve in Matthew 10 parallel. One reason for this division is that after the Mission of the Twelve the order of events is the same in the first three evangelists till the final departure from Galilee.
First Period--From the Beginning of the Ministry in Galilee till the Mission of the Twelve
I. Opening Incidents.
1. Healing of Nobleman's Son:
From sympathetic Samaria (John 4:39), Jesus had journeyed to unsympathetic Galilee, and first to Cana, where His first miracle had been wrought. The reports of His miracles in Judea had come before Him (John 4:45), and it was mainly His reputation as a miracle-worker which led a nobleman--a courtier or officer at Herod's court--to seek Him at Cana on behalf of his son, who was near to death. Jesus rebuked the sign-seeking spirit (John 4:48), but, on the fervent appeal being repeated, He bade the nobleman go his way:
his son lived. The man's prayer had been, "Come down"; but he had faith to receive the word of Jesus (John 4:50), and on his way home received tidings of his son's recovery. The nobleman, with his whole household, was won for Jesus (John 4:53). This is noted as the second of Christ's Galilean miracles (John 4:54).
2. The Visit to Nazareth:
(Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:16-30)
A very different reception awaited Him at Nazareth,"His own country," to which He next came. We can scarcely take the incident recorded in Luke 4:16-30 to be the same as that in Matthew 13:54-58, though Matthew's habit of grouping makes this not impossible. The Sabbath had come, and on His entering the synagogue, as was His wont, the repute He had won led to His being asked to read. The Scripture He selected (or which came in the order of the day) was Isaiah 61:1 (the fact that Jesus was able to read from the synagogue-roll is interesting as bearing on His knowledge of Hebrew), and from this He proceeded to amaze His hearers by declaring that this Scripture was now fulfilled in their ears (Luke 4:21). The "words of grace" he uttered are not given, but it can be understood that, following the prophet's guidance, He would hold Himself forth as the predicted "Servant of Yahweh," sent to bring salvation to the poor, the bound, the broken-hearted, and for this purpose endowed with the fullness of the Spirit. The idea of the passage in Isa is that of the year of jubilee, when debts were canceled, inheritances restored, and slaves set free, and Jesus told them He had come to inaugurate that "acceptable year of the Lord." At first He was listened to with admiration, then, as the magnitude of the claims He was making became apparent to His audience, a very different spirit took possession of them. `Who was this that spoke thus?' `Was it not Joseph's son?' (Luke 4:22). They were disappointed, too, that Jesus showed no disposition to gratify them by working before them any of the miracles of which they had heard so much (Luke 4:23). Jesus saw the gathering storm, but met it resolutely. He told His hearers He had not expected any better reception, and in reply to their reproach that He had wrought miracles elsewhere, but had wrought none among them, quoted examples of prophets who had done the same thing (Elijah, Elisha, Luke 4:24-28). This completed the exasperation of the Nazarenes, who, springing forward, dragged Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, and would have thrown Him down, had something in the aspect of Jesus not restrained them. With one of those looks we read of occasionally in the Gospels, He seems to have overawed His townsmen, and, passing in safety through their midst, left the place (Luke 4:28-30).
3. Call of the Four Disciples:
(Matthew 4:17-22; Mark 1:16-22; Luke 5:1-11)
After leaving Nazareth Jesus made His way to Capernaum (probably Tell Hum), which thereafter seems to have been His headquarters. He "dwelt" there (Matthew 4:13). It is called in Matthew 9:1, "his own city." Before teaching in Capernaum self, however, He appears to have opened His ministry by evangelizing along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16; Luke 5:1), and there, at Bethsaida (on topographical questions, see special articles), He took His first step in gathering His chosen disciples more closely around Him. Hitherto, though attached to His person and cause, the pairs of fisher brothers, Simon and Andrew, James and John--these last the "sons of Zebedee"--had not been in constant attendance upon Him. Since the return from Jerusalem, they had gone back to their ordinary avocations. The four were "partners" (Luke 5:10). They had "hired servants" (Mark 1:20); therefore were moderately well off. The time had now come when they were to leave "all," and follow Jesus entirely.
a) The Draught of Fishes:
Luke alone records the striking miracle which led to the call. Jesus had been teaching the multitude from a boat borrowed from Simon, and now at the close He bade Simon put out into the deep, and let down his nets. Peter told Jesus they had toiled all night in vain, but he would obey His word. The result was an immense draught of fishes, so that the nets were breaking, and the other company had to be called upon for help. Both boats were filled and in danger of sinking. Peter's cry in so wonderful a presence was, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
b) "Fishers of Men":
The miracle gave Jesus opportunity for the word He wished to speak. It is here that Mt and Mr take up the story. The boats had been brought to shore when, first to Simon and Andrew, afterward to James and John (engaged in "mending their nets," Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19), the call was given :
"Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once all was left--boats, nets, friends--and they followed Him. Their experience taught them to have large expectations from Christ.
4. At Capernaum:
(Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:31)
Jesus is now found in Capernaum. An early Sabbath--perhaps the first of His stated residence in the city--was marked by notable events. The Sabbath found Jesus as usual in the synagogue--now as teacher. The manner of His teaching is specially noticed:
"He taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22). The scribes gave forth nothing of their own.
a) Christ's Teaching:
(Mark 1:22,27; Luke 4:32)
They but repeated the dicta of the great authorities of the past. It was a surprise to the people to find in Jesus One whose wisdom, like waters from a clear fountain, came fresh and sparkling from His own lips. The authority also with which Jesus spoke commanded attention. He sought support in the opinion of no others, but gave forth His statements with firmness, decision, dignity and emphasis.
b) The Demoniac in the Synagogue:
(Mark 1:23-27; Luke 4:33-37)
While Jesus was teaching an extraordinary incident occurred. A man in the assembly, described as possessed by "an unclean spirit" (Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33) broke forth in cries, addressing Jesus by name ("Jesus, thou Nazarene"), speaking of Him as "the Holy One of God," and asking "What have we to do with thee? Art thou come to destroy us?" The diseased consciousness of the sufferer bore a truer testimony to Christ's dignity, holiness and power than most of those present could have given, and instinctively, but truly, construed His coming as meaning destruction to the empire of the demons. At Christ's word, after a terrible paroxysm, from which, however, the man escaped unhurt (Luke 4:35), the demon was cast out. More than ever the people were "amazed" at the word which had such power (Mark 1:27).
This is the place to say a word on this terrible form of malady--demon-possession--met with so often in the Gospels. Was it a reality? Or a hallucination? Did Jesus believe in it? It is difficult to read the Gospels, and not answer the last question in the affirmative. Was Jesus, then, mistaken? This also it is hard to believe. If there is one subject on which Jesus might be expected to have clear vision--on which we might trust His insight--it was His relation to the spiritual world with which He stood in so close rapport. Was He likely then to be mistaken when He spoke so earnestly, so profoundly, so frequently, of its hidden forces of evil? There is in itself no improbability--rather analogy suggests the highest probability--of realms of spiritual existence outside our sensible ken. That evil should enter this spiritual world, and that human life should be deeply implicated with that evil--that its forces should have a mind and will organizing and directing them--are not beliefs to be dismissed with scorn. The presence of such beliefs in the time of Christ is commonly attributed to Babylonian, Persian or other foreign influences. It may be questioned, however, whether the main cause was not something far more real--an actual and permitted "hour and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53) in the kingdom of evil, discovering itself in manifestations in the bodies and souls of men, that could be traced only to a supernatural cause (see DEMONIAC). (The present writer discusses the subject in an article in the Sunday School Times for June 4, 1910. It would be presumptuous even to say that the instance in the Gospels have no modern parallels. See a striking paper in Good, Words, edited by Dr. Norman MacLeod, for 1867, on "The English Demoniac.") It should be noted that all diseases are not, as is sometimes affirmed, traced to demonic influence. The distinction between other diseases and demonic possession is clearly maintained (compare Matthew 4:24; 10:1; 11:5, etc.). Insanity, epilepsy, blindness, dumbness, etc., were frequent accompaniments of possession, but they are not identified with it.
c) Peter's Wife's Mother:
(Matthew 8:14,15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38,39)
Jesus, on leaving the synagogue, entered the house of Peter. In Mark it is called "the house of Simon and Andrew" (1:29). Peter was married (compare 1 Corinthians 9:5), and apparently his mother-in-law and brother lived with him in Capernaum. It was an anxious time in the household, for the mother-in-law lay "sick of a fever"--"a great fever," as Luke the physician calls it. Taking her by the hand, Jesus rebuked the fever, which instantaneously left her. The miracle, indeed, was a double one, for not only was the fever stayed, but strength was at once restored. "She rose up and ministered unto them" (Luke 4:39).
d) The Eventful Evening:
(Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:32-34; Luke 4:40,41)
The day's labors were not yet done; were, indeed, scarce begun. The news of what had taken place quickly spread, and soon the extraordinary spectacle was presented of `the whole city' gathered at the door of the dwelling, bringing their sick of every kind to be healed. Demoniacs were there, crying and being rebuked, but multitudes of others as well. The Lord's compassion was unbounded. He rejected none. He labored unweariedly till every one was healed. His sympathy was individual:
"He laid his hands on every one of them" (Luke 4:40).
II. From First Galilean Circuit till the Choice of the Apostles.
1. The First Circuit:
(Mark 1:35-45; Luke 4:42-44; compare Matthew 4:23-25)
The chronological order in this section is to be sought in Mark and Luke; Matthew groups for didactic purposes. The morning after that eventful Sabbath evening in Capernaum, Jesus took steps for a systematic visitation of the towns and villages of Galilee.
The task He set before Himself was prepared for by early, prolonged, solitary prayer (Mark 1:35; many instances show that Christ's life was steeped in prayer). His disciples followed Him, and reported that the multitudes sought Him. Jesus intimated to them His intention of passing to the next towns, and forthwith commenced a tour of preaching and healing "throughout all Galilee."
a) Its Scope:
Even if the expression "all Galilee" is used with some latitude, it indicates a work of very extensive compass. It was a work likewise methodically conducted (compare Mark 6:6:
"went round about the villages," literally, "in a circle"). Galilee at this time was extraordinarily populous (compare Josephus, Wars of the Jews, III, iii, 2), and the time occupied by the circuit must have been considerable. Matthew's condensed picture (Matthew 4:23-25) shows that Christ's activity during this period was incredibly great. He stirred the province to its depths. His preaching and miracles drew enormous crowds after Him. This tide of popularity afterward turned, but much of the seed sown may have produced fruit at a later day.
b) Cure of the Leper:
(Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16)
The one incident recorded which seems to have belonged to this tour was a sufficiently typical one. While Jesus was in a certain city a man "full of leprosy" (Luke 5:12) came and threw himself down before Him, seeking to be healed. The man did not even ask Jesus to heal him, but expressed his faith, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." The man's apparent want of importunity was the very essence of his importunity. Jesus, moved by his earnestness, touched him, and the man was made whole on the spot. The leper was enjoined to keep silence--Jesus did not wish to pass for a mere miracle-worker--and bade the man show himself to the priests and offer the appointed sacrifices (note Christ's respect for the legal institutions). The leper failed to keep Christ's charge, and published his cure abroad, no doubt much to his own spiritual detriment, and also to the hindrance of Christ's work (Mark 1:45).
2. Capernaum Incidents:
His circuit ended, Jesus returned to Capernaum (Mark 2:1; literally, "after days"). Here again His fame at once drew multitudes to see and hear Him. Among them were now persons of more unfriendly spirit. Pharisees and doctors, learning of the new rabbi, had come out of "every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem" (Luke 5:17), to hear and judge of Him for themselves. The chief incidents of this visit are the two now to be noted.
a) Cure of the Paralytic:
(Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26)
In a chamber crowded till there was no standing room, even round the door, Jesus wrought the cure upon the paralytic man. The scene was a dramatic one. From Christ's words "son," literally, "child" (Mark 2:5), we infer that the paralytic was young, but his disablement seems to have been complete. It was no easy matter, with the doorways blocked, to get the man brought to Jesus, but his four bearers (Mark 2:3) were not easily daunted. They climbed the fiat roof, and, removing part of the covering above where Jesus was, let down the man into the midst. Jesus, pleased with the inventiveness and perseverance of their faith, responded to their wish. But, first, that the spiritual and temporal might be set in their right relations, and the attitude of His hearers be tested, He spoke the higher words:
"Son, thy sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). At once the temper of the scribes was revealed. Here was manifest evasion. Anyone could say, "Thy sins are forgiven." Worse, it was blasphemy, for "who can forgive sins but one, even God?" (Mark 2:7). Unconsciously they were conceding to Christ the Divine dignity He claimed. Jesus perceives at once the thoughts of the cavilers, and proceeds to expose their malice. Accepting their own test, He proves His right to say, "Thy sins are forgiven," by now saying to the palsied man, "Take up thy bed and walk" (Mark 2:9,11). At once the man arose, took his bed, and went forth whole. The multitude were "amazed" and "glorified God" (Mark 2:12).
b) Call and Feast of Matthew:
(Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32)
The call of Matthew apparently took place shortly after the cure of the paralytic man. The feast was possibly later (compare the connection with the appeal of Jairus, Matthew 9:18), but the call and the feast are best taken together, as they are in all the three narratives.
(1) The Call.
Matthew is called "Levi" by Luke, and "Levi, the son of Alpheus" by Mark. By occupation he was a "publican" (Luke 5:27), collector of custom-dues in Capernaum, an important center of traffic. There is no reason to suppose that Matthew was not a man of thorough uprightness, though naturally the class to which he belonged was held in great odium by the Jews. Passing the place of toll on His way to or from the lake-side, Jesus called Matthew to follow Him. The publican must by this time have seen and heard much of Jesus, and could not but keenly feel His grace in calling one whom men despised. Without an instant's delay, he left all, and followed Jesus. From publican, Matthew became apostle, then evangelist.
(2) The Feast.
Then, or after, in the joy of his heart, Matthew made a feast for Jesus. To this feast he invited many of his own class--"publicans and sinners" (Matthew 9:10). Scribes and Pharisees were loud in their remonstrances to the disciples at what seemed to them an outrage on all propriety. Narrow hearts cannot understand the breadth of grace. Christ's reply was conclusive:
"They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick," etc. (Mark 2:17, etc.).
(3) Fasting and Joy.
Another line of objection was encountered from disciples of the Baptist. They, like the Pharisees, "fasted oft" (Matthew 9:14), and they took exception to the unconstrained way in which Jesus and His disciples entered into social life. Jesus defends His disciples by adopting a metaphor of John's own (John 3:29), and speaking of Himself as the heavenly bridegroom (Mark 2:19). Joy was natural while the bridegroom was with them; then, with a sad forecast of the end, He alludes to days of mourning when the bridegroom should be taken away (Mark 2:20). A deeper answer follows. The spirit of His gospel is a free, spontaneous, joyful spirit, and cannot be confined within the old forms. To attempt to confine His religion within the outworn forms of Judaism would be like putting a patch of undressed cloth on an old garment, or pouring new wine into old wineskins. The garment would be rent; the wineskins would burst (Mark 2:21,22 parallel). The new spirit must make forms of its own.
3. The Unnamed Jerusalem Feast:
At this point is probably to, be introduced the visit to Jerusalem to attend "a feast," or, according to another reading, "the feast' of the Jews, recorded in Joh 5. The feast may, if the article is admitted, have been the Passover (April), though in that case one would expect it to be named; it may have been Purim (March), only this is not a feast Jesus might be thought eager to attend; it may even have been Pentecost (June). In this last case it would succeed the Sabbath controversies to be mentioned later. Fortunately, the determination of the actual feast has little bearing on the teaching of the chapter.
a) The Healing at Bethesda:
Bethesda ("house of mercy") was the name given to a pool, fed by an intermittent spring, possessing healing properties, which was situated by the sheep-gate (not "market," the King James Version), i.e. near the temple, on the East Porches were erected to accommodate the invalids who desired to make trial of the waters (the mention of the angel, John 5:4, with part of 5:3, is a later gloss, and is justly omitted in the Revised Version (British and American)). On one of these porches lay an impotent man. His infirmity was of long standing--38 years. Hope deferred was making his heart sick, for he had no friend, when the waters were troubled, to put him into the pool. Others invariably got down before him. Jesus took pity on this man. He asked him if he would be made whole; then by a word of power healed him. The cure was instantaneous (John 5:8,9). It was the Sabbath day, and as the man, at Christ's command, took up his bed to go, he was challenged as doing that which was unlawful. The healed man, however, rightly perceived that He who was able to work so great a cure had authority to say what should and should not be done on the Sabbath. Meeting the man after in the temple, Jesus bade him "sin no more"--a hint, perhaps, that his previous infirmity was a result of sinful conduct (John 5:14).
b) Son and Father:
Jesus Himself was now challenged by the authorities for breaking the Sabbath. Their strait, artificial rules would not permit even of acts of mercy on the Sabbath. This led, on the part of Jesus, to a momentous assertion of His Divine dignity. He first justified Himself by the example of His Father, who works continually in the upholding and government of the universe (John 5:17)--the Sabbath is a rest from earthly labors, for Divine, heavenly labor (Westcott)--then, when this increased the offense by its suggestion of "equality" with the Father, so that His life was threatened (John 5:18), He spoke yet more explicitly of His unique relationship to the Father, and of the Divine prerogatives it conferred upon Him. The Jews were right:
if Jesus were not a Divine Person, the claims He made would be blasphemous. Not only was He admitted to intimacy with the Divine counsel (John 5:20,21; compare Matthew 11:27), but to Him, He averred, was committed the Divine power of giving life (John 5:21,26), of judgment (John 5:22,27), of resurrection--spiritual resurrection now (John 5:24,25), resurrection at the last day (John 5:28,29). It was the Father's will that the Son should be honored even as Himself (John 5:23).
c) The Threefold Witness:
These stupendous claims are not made without adequate attestation. Jesus cites a threefold witness:
(1) the witness of the Baptist, whose testimony they had been willing for a time to receive (John 5:33,15);
(2) the witness of the Father, who by Christ's works supported His witness to Himself (John 5:36-38);
(3) the witness of the Scriptures, for these, if read with spiritual discernment, would have led to Him (John 5:39,45-47). Moses, whom they trusted, would condemn them. Their rejection of Jesus was due, not to want of light, but to the state of the heart:
"I know you, that ye have not the love of God in yourselves" (John 5:42); "How can ye believe," etc. (John 5:44).
4. Sabbath Controversies:
Shortly after His return to Galilee, if the order of events has been rightly apprehended, Jesus became involved in new disputes with the Pharisees about Sabbath-keeping. Possibly we hear in these the echoes of the charges brought against Him at the feast in Judea. Christ's conduct, and the principles involved in His replies, throw valuable light on the Sabbath institution.
a) Plucking of the Ears of Grain:
(Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
The first dispute was occasioned by the action of the disciples in plucking ears of grain and rubbing them in their hands as they passed through the grainfields on a Sabbath (the note of time "second-first," in Luke 6:1 the King James Version, is omitted in the Revised Version (British and American). In any case the ripened grain points to a time shortly after the Passover). The law permitted this liberty (Deuteronomy 23:25), but Pharisaic rigor construed it into an offense to do the act on the Sabbath (for specimens of the minute, trivial and vexatious rules by which the Pharisees converted the Sabbath into a day of wretched constraint, see Farrar's Life of Christ, Edersheim's Jesus the Messiah, and similar works). Jesus, in defending His disciples, first quotes Old Testament precedents (David and the showbread, an act done apparently on the Sabbath, 1 Samuel 21:6; the priests' service on the Sabbath--"One greater than the temple" was there, Matthew 12:6), in illustration of the truth that necessity overrides positive enactment; next, falls back on the broad principle of the design of the Sabbath as made for man--for his highest physical, mental, moral and spiritual well-being:
"The sabbath was made for man," etc. (Mark 2:27). The claims of mercy are paramount. The end is not to be sacrificed to the means. The Son of Man, therefore, asserts lordship over the Sabbath (Mark 2:28 parallel).
b) The Man with the Withered Hand:
(Matthew 12:10-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11)
The second collision took place on "another sabbath" (Luke 6:6) in the synagogue. There was present a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees themselves, on this occasion, eager to entrap Jesus, seem to have provoked the conflict by a question, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?" (Matthew 12:10). Jesus met them by an appeal to their own practice in permitting the rescue of a sheep that had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:11,12), then, bidding the man stand forth~, retorted the question on themselves, "Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? to save a life, or to kill?" (Mark 3:4)--an allusion to their murderous intents. On no reply being made, looking on them with holy indignation, Jesus ordered the man to stretch forth his hand, and it was at once perfectly restored. The effect was only to inflame to "madness" (Luke 6:11) the minds of His adversaries, and Pharisees and Herodians (the court-party of Herod) took counsel to destroy Him (Mark 3:6 parallel).
c) Withdrawal to the Sea:
(Matthew 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-9)
Jesus, leaving this scene of unprofitable conflict, quietly withdrew with His disciples to the shore, and there continued His work of teaching and healing. People from all the neighboring districts flocked to His ministry. He taught them from a little boat (Mark 3:9), and healed their sick. Mt sees in this a fulfillment of the oracle which is to be found in Isaiah 42:1-4.
5. The Choosing of the Twelve:
(Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13)
The work of Jesus was growing on His hands, and friends and enemies were rapidly taking sides. The time accordingly had come for selecting and attaching to His person a definite number of followers--not simply disciples--who might be prepared to carry on His work after His departure. This He did in the choice of twelve apostles. The choice was made in early morning, on the Mount of Beatitudes, after a night spent wholly in prayer (Luke 6:12).
a) The Apostolic Function:
"Apostle" means "one sent." On the special function of the apostle it is sufficient to say here that those thus set apart were chosen for the special end of being Christ's witnesses and accredited ambassadors to the world, able from personal knowledge to bear testimony to what Christ had been, said and done--to the facts of His life, death and resurrection (compare Acts 1:22,23; 2:22-32; 3:15; 10:39; 1 Corinthians 15:3-15, etc.); but, further, as instructed by Him, and endowed with His Spirit (compare Luke 12:12; John 14:16,17,26, etc.), of being the depositories of His truth, sharers of His authority (compare Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:15), messengers of His gospel (compare 2 Corinthians 5:18-21), and His instruments in laying broad and strong the foundations of His church (compare Ephesians 2:20; 3:5). So responsible a calling was never, before or after, given to mortal men.
b) The Lists:
Four lists of the apostles are given--in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Ac (1:13, omitting Judas). The names are given alike in all, except that "Judas, the son (or brother) of James" (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) is called by Mt Lebbaeus, "and by Mr Thaddaeus." The latter names are cognate in meaning and all denote the same person. "Bartholomew'" (son of Tolmai) is probably the Nathanael of John 1:47 (compare 21:2). The epithet "Cananaean" (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18) marks "Simon" as then or previously a member of the party of the Zealots (Luke 6:15). In all the lists Peter, through his gifts of leadership, stands first; Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, stands last. There is a tendency to arrangement in pairs:
Peter and Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; lastly, James, the son of Alpheus, Judas, son or brother of James, Simonthe Zealot and Judas Iscariot. The list contains two pairs of brothers (three, if "brother" be read with Judas), and at least one pair of friends (Philip and Nathanael).
c) The Men:
All the apostles were men from the humbler ranks, yet not illiterate, and mostly comfortably circumstanced. All were Galileans, except the betrayer, whose name "Iscariot" i.e. "man of Kerioth," marks him as a Judean. Of some of the apostles we know a good deal; of others very little; yet we are warranted in speaking of them all, Judas excepted, as men of honest minds, and sincere piety. The band held within it a number of men of strongly contrasted types of character. Allusion need only be made to the impetuous Peter, the contemplative John, the matter-of-fact Philip, the cautious Thomas, the zealous Simon, the conservative Matthew, the administrative Judas. The last-named--Iscariot--is the dark problem of the apostolate. We have express testimony that Jesus knew him from the beginning (John 6:64). Yet He chose him. The character of Judas, when Jesus received him, was doubtless undeveloped. He could not himself suspect the dark possibilities that slept in it. His association with the apostles, in itself considered, was for his good. His peculiar gift was, for the time, of service. In choosing him, Jesus must be viewed as acting for, and under the direction of, the Father (John 5:19; 17:12). See special articles on the several apostles.
III. From the Sermon on the Mount till the Parables of the Kingdom--a Second Circuit.
1. The Sermon on the Mount:
The choice of the apostles inaugurates a new period of Christ's activity. Its first most precious fruit was the delivery to the apostles and the multitudes who thronged Him as He came down from the mountain (Luke 6:17) of that great manifesto of His kingdom popularly known as the Sermon on the Mount. The hill is identified by Stanley (Sinai and Palestine,368) and others with that known as "the Horns of Hattin," where "the level place" at the top, from which Christ would come down from one of the higher horns, exactly suits the conditions of the narrative. The sick being healed, Jesus seated Himself a little higher up, His disciples near Him, and addressed the assembly (compare Matthew 7:28,29). The season of the year is shown by the mention of the "lilies" to be the summer.
His words were weighty. His aim was at the outset to set forth in terms that were unmistakable the principles, aims and dispositions of His kingdom; to expound its laws; to exhibit its righteousness, both positively, and in contrast with Pharisaic formalism and hypocrisy. Only the leading ideas can be indicated here (see BEATITUDES; SERMON ON THE MOUNT; ETHICS OF JESUS). Matthew, as is his wont, groups material part of which is found in other connections in Luke, but it is well to study the whole in the well-ordered form in which it appears in the First Gospel.
a) The Blessings:
(Matthew 5:1-6; Luke 6:20-26)
In marked contrast with the lawgiving of Sinai, Christ's first words are those of blessing. Passing at once to the dispositions of the heart, He shows on what inner conditions the blessings of the kingdom depend. His beatitudes (poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, hunger and thirst after righteousness, etc.) reverse all the world's standards of judgment on such matters. In the possession of these graces consists true godliness of character; through them the heirs of the kingdom become the salt of the earth, the light of the world. The obligation rests on them to let their light shine (compare Mark 4:21-23; Luke 8:16; 11:33).
b) True Righteousness--the Old and the New Law:
(Matthew 5:17-48; Luke 6:27-36)
Jesus defines His relation to the old law--not a Destroyer, but a Fulfiller--and proceeds to exhibit the nature of the true righteousness in contrast to Pharisaic literality and formalism. Through adherence to the latter they killed the spirit of the law. With an absolute authority--"But I say unto you"--Jesus leads everything back from the outward letter to the state of the heart. Illustrations are taken from murder, adultery, swearing, retaliation, hatred of enemies, and a spiritual expansion is given to every precept. The sinful thought or desire holds in it the essence of transgression. The world's standards are again reversed in the demands for nonresistance to injuries, love of enemies and requital of good for evil.
c) Religion and Hypocrisy--True and False Motive:
(Matthew 6:1-18; compare Luke 11:1-8)
Pursuing the contrast between the true righteousness and that of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus next draws attention to motive in religion. The Pharisees erred not simply in having regard only to the letter of the Law, but in acting in morals and religion from a false motive. He had furnished the antidote to their literalism; He now assails their ostentation and hypocrisy. Illustrations are taken from almsgiving, prayer and fasting, and in connection with prayer the Lord's Prayer is given as a model (Luke introduces this in another context, Luke 11:1-4).
d) The True Good and Cure for Care:
(Matthew 6:19-34; compare Luke 11:34-36; 12:22-34)
The true motive in religious acts is to please God; the same motive should guide us in the choice of what is to be our supreme good. Earthly treasure is not to be put above heavenly. The kingdom of God and His righteousness are to be first in our desires. The eye is to be single. The true cure for worldly anxiety is then found in trust of the heavenly Father. His children are more to God than fowls and flowers, for whom His care in Nature is so conspicuously manifest. Seeking first the kingdom they have a pledge--no higher conceivable--that all else they need will be granted along with it (this section on trust, again, Luke places differently, 12:22-34).
e) Relation to the World's Evil--the Conclusion:
(Matthew 7:1-29; Luke 6:37-49; compare 11:9-13):
Jesus finally proceeds to speak of the relation of the disciple to the evil of the world. That evil has been considered in its hostile attitude to the disciple (Matthew 5:38); the question is now as to the disciple s free relations toward it. Jesus inculcates the duties of the disciple's bearing himself wisely toward evil--with charity, with caution, with prayer, in the spirit of ever doing as one would be done by--and of being on his guard against it. The temptation is great to follow the worldly crowd, to be misled by false teachers, to put profession for practice. Against these perils the disciple is energetically warned. True religion will ever be known by its fruits. The discourse closes with the powerful similitude of the wise and foolish builders. Again, as on an earlier occasion, Christ's auditors were astonished at His teaching, and at the authority with which He spoke (Matthew 7:28,29).
2. Intervening Incidents:
A series of remarkable incidents are next to be noticed.
a) Healing of the Centurion's Servant:
(Matthew 8:1,5-13; Luke 7:1-10)
(1) The healing of the centurion's servant apparently took place on the same day as the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 7:1,2). It had been a day of manifold and exhausting labors for Jesus. A walk of perhaps 7 miles brought Him back to Capernaum, the crowds accompanying. Yet no sooner, on His return, does He hear a new appeal for help than His love replies,"I will come and heal him." The suppliant was a Roman centurion--one who had endeared himself to the Jews (Luke 7:5)--and the request was for the healing of a favorite servant, paralyzed and tortured with pain. First, a deputation sought Christ's good offices, then, when Jesus was on the way, a second message came, awakening even Christ's astonishment by the magnitude of its faith. The centurion felt he was not worthy that Jesus should come under his roof, but let Jesus speak the word only, and his servant would be healed. "I have not found so great faith," Jesus said, "no, not in Israel." The word was spoken, and, on the return of the messengers, the servant was found healed.
b) The Widow of Nain's Son Raised:
The exciting events of this day gathered so great a crowd round the house where Jesus was as left Him no leisure even to eat, and His friends, made anxious for His health, sought to restrain Him (Mark 3:20,21). It was probably to escape from this local excitement that Jesus, "soon afterwards," is found at the little town of Nain, a few miles Southeast of Nazareth. A great multitude still followed Him. Here, as He entered the city, occurred the most wonderful of the works He had yet wrought. A young man--the only son of a widowed mother--was being carried out for burial. Jesus, in compassion, stopped the mournful procession, and, in the calm certainty of His word being obeyed, bade the young man arise. On the instant life returned, and Jesus gave the son back to his mother. The amazement of the people was tenfold intensified. They felt that the old days had come back:
that God had visited His people.
It was apparently during the journey or circuit which embraced this visit to Nain, and as the result of the fame it brought to Jesus (Luke 7:17,18; note the allusion to the dead being raised in Christ's reply to John), that the embassy was sent from the Baptist in prison to ask of Jesus whether He was indeed He who should come, or would they look for another.
c) Embassy of John's Disciples--Christ and His Generation:
(Matthew 11:2-30; Luke 7:18-35)
It was a strange question on the lips of the forerunner, but is probably to be interpreted as the expression of perplexity rather than of actual doubt. There seems no question but that John's mind had been thrown into serious difficulty by the reports which had reached him of the work of Jesus. Things were not turning out as he expected. It was the peaceful, merciful character of Christ's work which stumbled John. The gloom of his prison wrought with his disappointment, and led him to send this message for the satisfaction of himself and his disciples.
(1) Christ's Answer to John.
If doubt there was, Jesus treated it tenderly. He did not answer directly, but bade the two disciples who had been sent go back and tell John the things they had seen and heard--the blind receiving their sight, the lame walking, the deaf cured, the dead raised, the Gospel preached. Little doubt the Messiah had come when works like these--the very works predicted by the prophets (Isaiah 35:5,6)--were being done. Blessed were those who did not find occasion of stumbling in Him. Jesus, however, did more. By his embassy John had put himself in a somewhat false position before the multitude. But Jesus would not have His faithful follower misjudged. His was no fickle spirit. Jesus nobly vindicated him as a prophet and more than a prophet; yea, a man than whom a greater had not lived. Yet, even as the new dispensation was higher than the old, one "but little" in the kingdom of heaven--one sharing Christ's humble, loving, self-denying disposition--was greater even than John (Matthew 11:11).
(2) A Perverse People--Christ's Grace.
The implied contrast between Himself and John led Jesus further to denounce the perverse spirit of His own generation. The Pharisees and lawyers (Luke 7:30) had rejected John; they were as little pleased with Him. Their behavior was like children objecting to one game because it was merry, and to another because it was sad. The flood of outward popularity did not deceive Jesus. The cities in which His greatest works were wrought--Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum--remained impenitent at heart. The heavier would be their judgment; worse even than that on Tyre and Sidon, or on Sodom itself. Over against their unbelief Jesus reasserts His dignity and declares His grace (Matthew 11:25-30). All authority was His; He alone knew and could reveal the Father (no claims in John are higher). Let the heavy laden come to Him, and He would give them rest (parts of these passages appear in another connection in Luke 10:12-21).
d) The First Anointing--the Woman Who Was a Sinner:
Yet another beautiful incident connected with this journey is preserved by Lk--the anointing of Jesus in Simon's house by a woman who was a sinner. In Nain or some other city visited by Him, Jesus was invited to dine with a Pharisee named Simon. His reception was a cold one (Luke 7:44-46). During the meal, a woman of the city, an outcast from respectable society--one, however, as the story implies, whose heart Jesus had reached, and who, filled with sorrow, love, shame, penitence, had turned from her life of sin, entered the chamber. There, bathing Christ's feet with her tears, wiping them with her tresses, and imprinting on them fervent kisses, she anointed them with a precious ointment she had brought with her. Simon was scandalized. Jesus could not be a right-thinking man, much less a prophet, or He would have rebuked this misbehavior from such a person. Jesus met the thought of Simon's heart by speaking to him the parable of the Two Debtors (Luke 7:41,42). Of two men who had been freely forgiven, one 500, the other 50 shillings, which would love his creditor most? Simon gave the obvious answer, and the contrast between his own reception of Jesus and the woman's passionate love was immediately pointed out. Her greater love was due to the greater forgiveness; though, had Simon only seen it, he perhaps needed forgiveness even more than she.
3. Second Galilean Circuit--Events at Capernaum:
(Luke 8:1-4,19-21; Matthew 12:22-50; Mark 3:22-35 compare Luke 11:14-36)
Her faith saved her and she was dismissed in peace. But again the question arose, "Who is this that even forgiveth sins?" Luke introduces here (Luke 8:1-4) a second Galilean circuit of Jesus, after the return from which a new series of exciting incidents took place at Capernaum.
a) Galilee Revisited:
The circuit was an extensive one--"went about through cities and villages (literally, "according to city and village"), preaching." During this journey Jesus was attended by the Twelve, and by devoted women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, wife of Herod's steward, Susanna, and others), who ministered to Him of their substance (Luke 8:2,3). At the close of this circuit Jesus returned to Capernaum.
b) Cure of Demoniac--Discourse on Blasphemy:
Jesus, no doubt, wrought numerous miracles on demoniacs (compare Luke 8:1,2; out of Mary Magdalene He is said to have cast 7 demons--perhaps a form of speech to indicate the severity of the possession). The demoniac now brought to Jesus was blind and dumb. Jesus cured him, with the double result that the people were filled with amazement:
"Can this be the son of David?" (Matthew 12:23), while the Pharisees blasphemed, alleging that Jesus cast out demons by the help of Beelzebub (Greek, Beelzeboul), the prince of the demons (see under the word). A quite similar incident is narrated in Matthew 9:32-34; and Lu gives the discourse that follows in a later connection (11:14). The accusation may well have been repeated more than once. Jesus, in reply, points out, first, the absurdity of supposing Satan to be engaged in warring against his own kingdom (Matthew 18:25 parallel; here was plainly a stronger than Satan); then utters the momentous word about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. All other blasphemies--even that against the Son of Man (Matthew 12:32)--may be forgiven, for they may proceed from ignorance and misconception; but deliberate, perverse rejection of the light, and attributing to Satan what was manifestly of God, was a sin which, when matured--and the Pharisees came perilously near committing it--admitted of no forgiveness, either in this world or the next, for the very capacity for truth in the soul was by such sin destroyed. Mr has the strong phrase, "is guilty of an eternal sin" (3:29). Pertinent words follow as to the root of good and evil in character (Matthew 12:33-37).
The Sign of Jonah.
Out of this discourse arose the usual Jewish demand for a "sign" (Matthew 12:38; compare Luke 11:29-32), which Jesus met by declaring that no sign would be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah--an allusion to His future resurrection. He reiterates His warning to the people of His generation for their rejection of greater light than had been enjoyed by the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba.
Two incidents, not dissimilar in character, interrupted this discourse--one the cry of a woman in the audience (if the time be the same, Luke 11:27,28), "Blessed is the womb that bare thee," etc., to which Jesus replied, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it"; the other, a message that His mother and brethren (doubtless anxious for His safety) desired to speak with Him.
c) Christ's Mother and Brethen:
To this, stretching out His hand toward His disciples, Jesus answered, "Behold, my mother and my brethren" (Mark 3:34), etc. Kinship in the spiritual kingdom consists in fidelity to the will of God, not in ties of earthly relationship.
4. Teaching in Parables:
(Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-15; 13:18-21)
On the same day on which the preceding discourses were delivered, Jesus, seeing the multitudes, passed to the shore, and entering a boat, inaugurated a new method in His public. teaching. This was the speaking in parables. Similitude, metaphor, always entered into the teaching of Jesus (compare Matthew 7:24-27), and parable has once been met with (Luke 7:41,42); now parable is systematically employed as a means of imparting and illustrating important truths, while yet veiling them from those whose minds were hostile and unreceptive (Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:9,10). The parable thus at once reveals and conceals. The motive of this partially veiled teaching was the growing hostility of the Pharisees. In its nature the parable (from a verb signifying "to place side by side") is a representation in some form of earthly analogy of truths relating to Divine and eternal things (see PARABLE). The parables of the kingdom brought together in Matthew 13 form an invaluable series, though not all were spoken in public (compare Matthew 13:36-52), and some may belong to a later occasion (compare Luke 13:18-21). Mr adds the parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (4:26-29). Of three of the parables (the Sower, the Tares, the Dragnet), Jesus Himself gives the interpretation.
Parables of the Kingdom.
In series the parables at once mirror the origin, mixed character and development of the kingdom in its present imperfect earthly condition, and the perfection which awaits it after the crisis at the end. In the parable of the Sower is represented the origin of the kingdom in the good seed of the word, and the varied soils on which that seed falls; in the Seed Growing Secretly, the law of orderly growth in the kingdom; in the parable of the Tares, the mixed character of the subjects of the kingdom; in those of the Mustard Seed and Leaven, the progress of the kingdom--external growth, internal tramsformative effect; in those of the Treasure and Pearl the finding and worth of the kingdom; in that of the Dragnet the consummation of the kingdom. Jesus compares His disciples, if they understand these things, to householders bringing out of their treasure "things new and old" (Matthew 13:52).
IV. From the Crossing to Gadara to the Mission of the Twelve--a Third Circuit.
1. Crossing of the Lake--Stilling of the Storm:
(Matthew 8:18-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; compare 9:57-62)
It was on the evening of the day on which He spoke the parables--though the chronology of the incident seems unknown to Lu (8:22)--that Jesus bade His disciples cross over to the other side of the lake. At this juncture He was accosted by an aspirant for discipleship. Matthew gives two cases of aspirants; Luke (but in a different connection, 9:57-62), three. Luke's connection (departure from Galilee) is perhaps preferable for the second and third; but the three may be considered together.
The three aspirants may be distinguished as,
(a) The forward disciple:
he who in an atmosphere of enthusiasm offered himself under impulse, without counting the cost. The zeal of this would-be follower Jesus cheeks with the pathetic words, "The foxes have holes," etc. (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).
(b) The procrastinating disciple. The first candidate needed repression; the second needs impulsion.
a) Aspirants for Disciplineship:
He would follow Jesus, but first let him bury his father. There had come a crisis, however, when the Lord's claim was paramount:
"Leave the dead to bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:22). There are at times higher claims than mere natural relationships, to which, in themselves, Jesus was the last to be indifferent. (c) The wavering disciple. The third disciple is again one who offers himself, but his heart was too evidently still with the things at home. Jesus, again, lays His finger on the weak spot, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back," etc. (Luke 9:62). As mentioned, the latter two cases tally better with a final departure from Galilee than with a temporary crossing of the lake.
b) The Storm Calmed:
The inland lake was exposed to violent and sudden tempests. One of these broke on the disciples' boat as they sailed across. Everyone's life seemed in jeopardy. Jesus, meanwhile, in calmest repose, was asleep on a cushion in the stern (Mark 4:38). The disciples woke Him almost rudely:
"Teacher, carest thou not that we perish?" Jesus at once arose, and, reproving their want of faith, rebuked wind and waves ("Peace, be still"). Immediately there was a great calm. It was a new revelation to the disciples of the majesty of their Master. "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
2. The Gadarene (Gerasene) Demoniac:
(Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39)
The lake being crossed, Jesus and His disciples came into the country of the Gadarenes (Matthew), or Gerasenes (Mark, Luke)--Gadara being the capital of the district (on the topography, compare Stanley, Sinai and Palestine,380-81). From the lake shore rises a mountain in which are ancient tombs. Here Jesus was met by a demoniac (Matthew mentions two demoniacs:
M. Henry's quaint comment is, "If there were two, there was one." Possibly one was the fiercer of the two, the other figuring only as his companion). The man, as described, was a raving maniac of the worst type (Mark 5:3-5), dwelling in the tombs, wearing no clothes (Luke 8:27), of supernatural strength, wounding himself, shrieking, etc. Really possessed by "an unclean spirit," his consciousness was as if he were indwelt by a "legion" of demons, and from that consciousness he addressed Jesus as the Son of God come for their tormenting. In what follows it is difficult to distinguish what belongs to the broken, incoherent consciousness of the man, and the spirit or spirits who spake through him. In the question, "What is thy name?" (Mark 5:9) Jesus evidently seeks to arouse the victim's shattered soul to some sense of its own individuality. On Jesus commanding the unclean spirit to leave the man, the request was made that the demons might be permitted to enter a herd of swine feeding near. The reason of Christ's permission, with its result in the destruction of the herd ("rushed down the steep into the sea") need not be too closely scrutinized. It may have had an aspect of judgment on the (possibly) Jewish holders of the swine; or it may have had reference to the victim of the possession, as enabling him to realize his deliverance. Whatever the difficulties of the narrative, none of the rationalistic explanations afford any sensible relief from them. The object of the miracle may be to exclude rationalistic explanations, by giving a manifest attestation of the reality of the demon influence. When the people of the city came they found the man fully restored--"clothed and in his right mind." Yet, with fatal shortsightedness, they besought Jesus to depart from their borders. The man was sent home to declare to his friends the great things the Lord had done to him.
3. Jairus' Daughter Raised--Woman with Issue of Blood:
(Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56)
Repelled by the Gerasenes, Jesus received a warm welcome on His return to Capernaum on the western shore (Mark 5:21). It was probably at this point that Matthew gave the feast formerly referred to.
It was in connection with this feast, Matthew himself informs us (9:18), that Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, made his appeal for help. His little daughter, about 12 years old (Luke 8:42), was at the point of death; indeed, while Jesus was coming, she died. The ruler's faith, though real, was not equal to the centurion's, who believed that Jesus could heal without being present.
a) Jairus' Appeal and Its Result:
Jesus came, and having expelled the professional mourners, in sacred privacy, only the father and mother, with Peter, James and John being permitted to enter the death-chamber, raised the girl to life. It is the second miracle on record of the raising from the dead.
b) The Afflicted Woman Cured:
On the way to the ruler's house occurred another wonder--a miracle within a miracle. A poor woman, whose case was a specially distressing one, alike as regards the nature of her malady, the length of its continuance, and the fruitlessness of her application to the physicians, crept up to Jesus, confident that if she could but touch the border of His garment, she would be healed. The woman was ignorant; her faith was blended with superstition; but Jesus, reading the heart, gave her the benefit she desired. It was His will, however, that, for her own good, the woman thus cured should not obtain the blessing by stealth. He therefore brought her to open confession, and cheered her by His commendatory word.
4. Incidents of Third Circuit:
(Matthew 9:27-38; 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6)
At this point begins apparently a new evangelistic tour (Matthew 9:35; Mark 6:6), extending methodically to "all the cities and villages." To it belong in the narratives the healing of two blind men (compare the case of Bartimeus, recorded later); the cure of a demoniac who was dumb--a similar case to that in Matthew 12:22; and a second rejection at Nazareth (Matthew, Mark). The incident is similar to that in Luke 4:16-30, and shows, if the events are different, that the people's hearts were unchanged. Of this circuit Matthew gives an affecting summary (9:35-38), emphasizing the Lord's compassion, and His yearning for more laborers to reap the abundant harvest.
5. The Twelve Sent Forth--Discourse of Jesus:
(Matthew 10; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6; compare Luke 10:2-24; 12:2-12, etc.)
Partly with a view to the needs of the rapidly growing work and the training of the apostles, and partly as a witness to Israel (Matthew 10:6,23), Jesus deemed it expedient to send the Twelve on an independent mission. The discourse in Mt attached to this event seems, as frequently, to be a compilation. Parts of it are given by Luke in connection with the mission of the Seventy (Luke 10:1; the directions were doubtless similar in both cases); parts on other occasions (Luke 12:2-12; 21:12-17, etc.; compare Mark 13:9-13).
The Twelve were sent out two by two. Their work was to be a copy of the Master's--to preach the gospel and to heal the sick. To this end they were endowed with authority over unclean spirits, and over all manner of sickness. They were to go forth free from all encumbrances--no money, no scrip, no changes of raiment, no staff (save that in their hand, Mark 6:8), sandals only on their feet, etc.
a) The Commission:
They were to rely for support on those to whom they preached. They were for the present to confine their ministry to Israel. The saying in Matthew 10:23, "Ye shall not have gone through the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come," apparently has reference to the judgment on the nation, not to the final coming (compare 16:28).
b) Counsels and Warnings:
The mission of the Twelve was the first step of Christianity as an aggressive force in society. Jesus speaks of it, accordingly, in the light of the whole future that was to come out of it. He warns His apostles faithfully of the dangers that awaited them; exhorts them to prudence and circumspection ("wise as serpents," etc.); holds out to them Divine promises for consolation; directs them when persecuted in one place to flee to another; points out to them from His own case that such persecutions were only to be expected. He assures them of a coming day of revelation; bids them at once fear and trust God; impresses on them the duty of courage in confession; inculcates in them supreme love to Himself. That love would be tested in the dearest relations, In itself peace, the gospel would be the innocent occasion of strife, enmity and division among men. Those who receive Christ's disciples will not fail of their reward.
When Christ had ended His discourse He proceeded with His own evangelistic work, leaving the disciples to inaugurate theirs (Matthew 11:1).