Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
DISCOURSE, ON THE
DEPARTURE OF THE
1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his
twelve disciple--rather, "the twelve disciples,"
he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities--This was
scarcely a fourth circuit--if we may judge from the less formal way in
which it was expressed--but, perhaps, a set of visits paid to certain
places, either not reached at all before, or too rapidly passed through,
in order to fill up the time till the return of the Twelve. As to their
labors, nothing is said of them by our Evangelist. But Luke
says, "They departed, and went through, the towns," or "villages,"
"preaching the Gospel, and healing everywhere." Mark
(Mr 6:12, 13),
as usual, is more explicit: "And they went out, and preached that men
should repent. And they cast out many devils (demons) and anointed with
oil many that were sick, and healed them." Though this "anointing with
oil" was not mentioned in our Lord's instructions--at least in any of
the records of them--we know it to have been practiced long after this
in the apostolic Church (see
Mr 6:12, 13)
--not medicinally, but as a sign of the healing virtue which
was communicated by their hands, and a symbol of something still more
precious. It was unction, indeed, but, as BENGEL remarks, it was something very different from what
Romanists call extreme unction. He adds, what is very probable,
that they do not appear to have carried the oil about with them, but,
as the Jews used oil as a medicine, to have employed it just as they
found it with the sick, in their own higher way.
2. Now when John had heard in the prison--For the account of
this imprisonment, see on
the works of Christ, he sent, &c.--On the whole passage, see on
SUGGESTED TO THE
JESUS BY THE
The connection of this with what goes before it and the similarity of
its tone make it evident, we think, that it was delivered on the same
occasion, and that it is but a new and more comprehensive series of
reflections in the same strain.
20. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty
works were done, because they repented not.
21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin!--not elsewhere mentioned, but it must
have lain near Capernaum.
woe unto thee, Bethsaida--"fishing-house," a fishing station--on the
western side of the Sea of Galilee, and to the north of Capernaum; the
birthplace of three of the apostles--the brothers Andrew and Peter, and
Philip. These two cities appear to be singled out to denote the whole
region in which they lay--a region favored with the Redeemer's presence,
teaching, and works above every other.
for if the mighty works--the miracles
which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon--ancient and
celebrated commercial cities, on the northeastern shores of the
Mediterranean Sea, lying north of Palestine, and the latter the
northernmost. As their wealth and prosperity engendered luxury and its
concomitant evils--irreligion and moral degeneracy--their overthrow was
repeatedly foretold in ancient prophecy, and once and again fulfilled by
victorious enemies. Yet they were rebuilt, and at this time were in a
they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes--remarkable
language, showing that they had done less violence to conscience, and
so, in God's sight, were less criminal than the region here spoken of.
22. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the day of judgment, than for you--more endurable.
23. And thou, Capernaum--(See on
which art exalted unto heaven--Not even of Chorazin and Bethsaida is
this said. For since at Capernaum Jesus had His stated abode during the
whole period of His public life which He spent in Galilee, it was
the most favored spot upon earth, the most exalted in privilege.
shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been
done in thee, had been done in Sodom--destroyed for its pollutions.
it would have remained until this day--having done no such
violence to conscience, and so incurred unspeakably less guilt.
24. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land
of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee--"It has been indeed,"
says Dr. STANLEY, "more tolerable, in one sense, in the day of its
earthly judgment, for the land of Sodom than for Capernaum; for the
name, and perhaps even the remains of Sodom are still to be found on the
shores of the Dead Sea; while that of Capernaum has, on the Lake of
Gennesareth, been utterly lost." But the judgment of which our Lord here
speaks is still future; a judgment not on material cities, but their
responsible inhabitants--a judgment final and irretrievable.
25. At that time Jesus answered and said--We are not to understand
by this, that the previous discourse had been concluded, and that this
is a record only of something said about the same period. For the
connection is most close, and the word "answered"--which, when there is
no one to answer, refers to something just before said, or rising in the
mind of the speaker in consequence of something said--confirms this.
What Jesus here "answered" evidently was the melancholy results of His
ministry, lamented over in the foregoing verses. It is as if He had
said, "Yes; but there is a brighter side to the picture; even in those
who have rejected the message of eternal life, it is the pride of their
own hearts only which has blinded them, and the glory of the truth does
but the more appear in their inability to receive it. Nor have all
rejected it even here; souls thirsting for salvation have drawn water
with joy from the wells of salvation; the weary have found rest; the
hungry have been filled with good things, while the rich have been sent
I thank thee--rather, "I assent to thee." But this is not strong
enough. The idea of "full" or "cordial" concurrence is conveyed
by the preposition. The thing expressed is adoring acquiescence, holy
satisfaction with that law of the divine procedure about to be
mentioned. And as, when He afterwards uttered the same words, He
"exulted in spirit" (see on
probably He did the same now, though not recorded.
O Father, Lord of heaven and earth--He so styles His Father here, to
signify that from Him of right emanates all such high arrangements.
because thou hast hid these things--the knowledge of these saving
from the wise and prudent--The former of these terms points to the
men who pride themselves upon their speculative or philosophical
attainments; the latter to the men of worldly shrewdness--the clever,
the sharp-witted, the men of affairs. The distinction is a natural one,
and was well understood. (See
&c.). But why had the Father hid from such the things that belonged to
their peace, and why did Jesus so emphatically set His seal to this
arrangement? Because it is not for the offending and revolted to speak
or to speculate, but to listen to Him from whom we have broken loose,
that we may learn whether there be any recovery for us at all; and if
there be, on what principles--of what nature--to what ends. To bring
our own "wisdom and prudence" to such questions is impertinent and
presumptuous; and if the truth regarding them, or the glory of it, be
"hid" from us, it is but a fitting retribution, to which all the
right-minded will set their seal along with Jesus.
hast revealed them unto babes--to babe-like men; men of unassuming
docility, men who, conscious that they know nothing, and have no right
to sit in judgment on the things that belong to their peace, determine
simply to "hear what God the Lord will speak." Such are well called
1Co 13:11; 14:20,
26. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good--the emphatic and
chosen term for expressing any object of divine complacency; whether
Christ Himself (see on
or God's gracious eternal arrangements (see on
in thy sight--This is just a sublime echo of the foregoing words; as
if Jesus, when He uttered them, had paused to reflect on it, and as if
the glory of it--not so much in the light of its own reasonableness as
of God's absolute will that so it should be--had filled His soul.
27. All things are delivered unto me of my Father--He does not say,
They are revealed--as to one who knew them not, and was an entire
stranger to them save as they were discovered to Him--but, They are
"delivered over," or "committed," to Me of My Father; meaning the whole
administration of the kingdom of grace. So in
"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand"
But though the "all things" in both these passages refer properly to
the kingdom of grace, they of course include all things necessary to
the full execution of that trust--that is, unlimited power. (So
and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man
the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will--willeth
to reveal him--What a saying is this, that "the Father and the Son
are mutually and exclusively known to each other!" A higher claim to
equality with the Father cannot be conceived. Either, then, we have here
one of the revolting assumptions ever uttered, or the proper divinity of
Christ should to Christians be beyond dispute. "But, alas for me!" may
some burdened soul, sighing for relief, here exclaim. If it be thus with
us, what can any poor creature do but lie down in passive despair,
unless he could dare to hope that he may be one of the favored class
"to whom the Son is willing to reveal the Father." But nay. This
testimony to the sovereignty of that gracious "will," on which alone
men's salvation depends, is designed but to reveal the source and
enhance the glory of it when once imparted--not to paralyze or shut the
soul up in despair. Hear, accordingly, what follows:
28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest--Incomparable, ravishing sounds these--if ever such were
heard in this weary, groaning world! What gentleness, what sweetness is
there in the very style of the invitation--"Hither to Me"; and in the
words, "All ye that toil and are burdened," the universal wretchedness
of man is depicted, on both its sides--the active and the passive forms of it.
29. Take my yoke upon you--the yoke of subjection to Jesus.
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find
rest unto your souls--As Christ's willingness to empty Himself to the
uttermost of His Father's requirements was the spring of ineffable
repose to His own Spirit, so in the same track does He invite all to
follow Him, with the assurance of the same experience.
30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light--Matchless paradox,
even among the paradoxically couched maxims in which our Lord delights!
That rest which the soul experiences when once safe under Christ's wing
makes all yokes easy, all burdens light.