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xxii. 53. The region and shadow of death.' This is a forcible and beautiful image, designed also to denote ignorance and sin. It is often used in the bible, and is very expressive. It denotes a dismal, gloomy, and dreadful shade, where death and sin reign, like the chills, damps, and horrors of the dwelling-place of the dead. See Job x, 21; xvi. 16; xxxiv, 22; Ps. xxiii. 4; Jer. ii. 6. These expressions indicate that the country of Galilee was peculiarly ignorant and blind. We know that the people were proverbially so. They were distinguished for a coarse, outlandish manner of speech, Mark xiv. 70; and a general profligacy of morals and manners. It shows the great compassion of the Saviour, that he went to preach to such poor and despised sinners. Instead of seeking the rich and the learned, he chose to minister to the needy, the ignorant, and the contemned. In doing this, Jesus set an example for all his followers. It is their duty to seek out those who are sitting in the shadow of death, and to send the gospel to them.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
17. See Matt. ïïi. 2.
18 TAnd Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.
18. • Sea of Galilee.' This was also called the sea of Tiberias, and the lake of Gennesareth, and also the sea of Chinnereth, Num. xxxiv. 11; Deut. iii. 17; Josh. xii. 3. It is about fifteen miles in length, and from six to nine in width. Many populous cities once stood on its shores, such as Tiberias, Bethsaida, Capernamn, Chorazin, Hippo, &c. The shores are described by Josephus as a perfect paradise, producing every luxury under heaven, at all seasons of the year. The waters of the lake are sweet and pleasant to
to the taste, and clear. The lake still abounds with fish, and gives employment, as it did in the time of our Saviour, to those who live on its shores. It is, however, stormy, owing to the high hills by which it is surrounded. 'Simon called Peter.' The name Peter means a rock, and is the same as Cephas. See note, Matt. xvi. 18; also John i. 42; 1 Cor. xv. 5.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I wili make you fishers of men.
19. Fishers of men.' Ministers or preachers of the gospel, whose business it shall be to win souls to Christ.
20 And thcy straightway left their nets, and followed
20. 'Straightway.' Immediately—as all should do when the Lord Jesus calls them. • Left their nets.' Their nets were the means of their living, perhaps all their property. By leaving them immediately, and following him, they gave every evidence of sincerity. They showed that they were willing to forsake all for the sake of Jesus, and to follow him wherever he should lead them. So we should cheerfully go, when our Saviour calls, wille ing to commit all into his hands. Followed him. This is an expression denoting that they became his disciples.
21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship, and their father, and followed him.
22. This showed how willing they were to follow Jesus. If necessary, we should leave father, and mother, and every friend, Luke xiv. 26. If they will go with us, and be christians, it is well; if not, yet they should not hinder us. We should be the followers of Jesus. And while, in doing it, we should treat our friends tenderly and kindly, yet we ought at all hazards to obey God, and do our duty to him.
We see here, too, what humble instruments God makes use of to convert men. He chose fishermen to convert the world. He chooses the foolish to confound the wise. And it shows that religion is true, and is the power of God, when he makes use of such instruments to change the hearts of men, and save their souls.
23 | And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people.
23. “All Galilee.' See ch. ii. 22. "Synagogues.' Places of worship, or places where the people assembled together to worship God. The sacrifices of the Jews were appointed to be held in one place, at Jerusalem. But there was nothing to forbid the other services of religion to be performed at any place.
The synagogues were built in elevated places; in any place where ten men were found who were willing to associate for the purpose; and were the regular, customary places of worship. In them the law, i. e., the Old Testament, divided into suitable portions, was read, prayers were offered, and the scriptures were expounded. The law was so divided, that the five books of Moses, and portions of the prophets, could be read through each year. The scriptures after being read were expounded. This was done either by the officers of the synagogues, or by persons invited to it by the officiating minister. Our Saviour and the apostles were in the habit of attending at those places constantly, and of speaking to the people, Luke iv. 15—22; Acts xiii. 14, 15.
The synagogues were built in imitation of the temple, with a centre building, supported by pillars, and a court surrounding it. See note Matt. xxi. 12. In the centre building, or chapel, was a piace prepåred for the reading of the law, or a prophet. The law was kept in a chest, or ark, near to the pulpit. The uppermost seats, Malt. xxiii. 6, were those nearest to the pulpit. The people sat round, facing the pulpit. When the law was read, the officiating person rose; when it was expounded, he was seated, Matt. v. 1; xii. 1. “The gospel of the kingdom. The good news respecting the kingdom which he was about to set up; or the good news respecting the coming of the Messiah, and the nature of his kingdom. 'All manner of sickness. All kinds of sickness.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria : and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy: and he healed them.
24. Syria was the general name for the country lying between the Euphrates on the east, the Mediterranean on the west, mount Taurus on the north, and Arabia on the south. "Those possessed with devils. Persons under the influence of evil spirits, who had complete possession of their faculties; and produced many symptoms of disease not unlike melancholy, and madness, and epilepsy. Christ and the apostles spoke to them, and of them, as such ; they addressed them, and managed them precisely as if they were so possessed, leaving their hearers to infer beyond a doubt that such was their real opinion. They spake, conversed, asked questions, gave answers, and expressed their knowledge of Christ, and their fear of him, Matt. viii. 28. Luke viii. 27. They are represented as going out of the persons possessed, and enter
ng the bodies of others, Matt. viii. 32. Jesus threatened them, commanded them to be silent, to depart, and not to return, Mark i. 25; v. 8; ix. 25. This could not be said of diseases. Nor is there any absurdity in the opinion that those persons were really under the influence of devils. It is no more absurd to suppose that an angel, or many angels, should have fallen and become wicked, than that so many men should. It afforded an opportunity for Christ to show his power over the enemies of himself and of man, and thus to evince himself qualified to meet every enemy of the race, and triumphantly to redeem his people. He came to destroy the power of Satan, Acts xxvi. 18. Rom. xvi. 20. “Those that were lunatic.' This name is given to the disease from the Latin name of the moon. (Luna.) It has the same origin in Greek. It was given, because it was formerly imagined that it was affected by the increase or decrease of the moon. It is mentioned only in this place, and in Matt. xvii. 15. It was probably the falling sickness, or the epilepsy, the same as the disease mentioned Mark ix. 18—20. Luke ix. 39, 10. “And those that had the palsy. Several infirmities were included under this general name of palsy, in the New Testament. 1. The apoplexy, or paralytic shock, affecting the whole body. 2. The hemiplegy, affecting only one side of the body; the most frequent form of the disease. 3. The paraplegy, affecting all the system below the neck. 4. The catalepsy. This is caused by a contraction of the muscles in the whole or a part of the body, and is very dangerous. The effects are very violent and fatal. For instance, is, when a person is struck, he happens to have his hand extended, he is unable to draw it back; if not extended, he is unable to stretch it out. It appears diminished in size, and dried up in appearance. Hence it was called the withered hand, Matt. xii. 10-13. 5. The cramp. This, in eastern countries, is a fearful malady, and by no means unfrequent. It originates from chills in the night. The limbs, when seized with it, remain unmovable, and the person afflicted with it resembles one undergoing a torture. This was probably the disease of the servant of the centurion, Matt. viii. 6. Luke vii. 2. Death follows from this disease in a few days. “And he healed them. This was done evidently by a miraculous power. A miracle is an effect produced by Divine power above, or opposed to, what are regular effects of the laws of nature. It is not a violation of the laws of nature, but is a suspension of their usual operation, for some important purpose. For instance, the regular effect of death is that the body returns to corruption. This effect is produced by the appointed laws of naiure; or, in other words, God usually produces this effect. When he suspends that regular effect, and gives life to a dead body for some important purpose, it is a miracle. Such an effect is clearly the result of Divine power. No other being but God can do it. When, therefore, Christ and the apostles exerted this power, it was clear evidence that God approved of their doctrines; that he had commissioned them ; and that they were authorized to declare vis will. He would not give this attestation to a false doctrine. Most or all of these diseases were incurable. When Christ cured them by a word, it was the clearest of all proofs that he was sent from heaven. This is one of the strong arguments for christianity.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
25. Decapolis was the name of a region of country in the bounds of the hall tribe of Manasseh, on the east of Jordar..
It was so called because it included ten cities, the meaning of the word Decapolis in Greek.
CHAPTER V. 1 AND seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.
1. “Seeing the multitudes.' The great numbers that came to attend on his ministry. It is commonly called the sermon on the mount. It is not improbable that it was repeated, in substance, on different occasions, and to different people. See note, Luke vi. 17-20. "Went up into a mountain. It was more convenient to address the multitude from an eminence, than on the same level with them. “And when he was set.' 'This was the common mode of teaching among the Jews. His dis. ciples came.' The word disciples means learners, those who are taught. Here it is put for those who attended on the ministry of Jesus, and does not imply that they were all christia.is. See John vi. 66.
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
3. Blessed are the poor in spirit.' The word 'blessed' means happy. Poor in spirit.' To be poor in spirit, is to have a humble opinion of ourselves ; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God; to be willing to be where God places us, to bear what he lays on us, to go where he bids us, and to die when he commands; to be willing to be in his hands, and to feel that we deserve no favour from him. It is opposed to pride, and vanity, and ambition. Such are happy : 1. Because there is more real enjoyment in thinking of ourselves as we are, than in being filled with pride, and vanity, and vexation. 2. Because such Jesus chooses to bless, and on them he confers his favours here. 3. Because theirs will be the kingdom of heaven hereafter.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
4. ^ Blessed are they that mourn. Those who mourn over sin are blessed. The gospel only can give true comfort to those in affliction, Isa. Ixi. 1-3. Other sources of consolation may blunt the sensibilities of the mind; may produce a sullen and reluciant submission to what we cannot help; but they do not point to the true source of comfort. In the God of mercy only; in the