The Pulpit Commentary-Book of Mark (New Testament)

He is telling him in advance of the consequences of the thing that it is in his heart to do. But we must note this, for it is of the essence of the way in which God deals with us--there is no compulsion. Without a doubt Jesus could have stopped Judas. All he had to do was tell the other eleven what Judas was planning, and Judas would never have left that room alive. Here is the whole human situation. God has given us wills that are free.

His love appeals to us. His truth warns us. But there is no compulsion. It is the awful responsibility of man that he can spurn the appeal of God's love and disregard the warning of his voice. In the end there is no one but ourselves responsible for our sins. In Greek legend two famous travellers passed the rocks where the Sirens sang. The Sirens sat on these rocks and sang with such sweetness that they lured mariners irresistibly to their doom. Ulysses sailed past these rocks. His method was to stop the sailors' ears so that they could not hear and order them to bind himself to the mast with ropes so that, however much he struggled, he would not be able to answer to that seductive sweetness.

He resisted by compulsion. The other traveller was Orpheus, the sweetest musician of all. His method was to play and sing with such surpassing sweetness as his ship passed the rocks where the Sirens were, that the attraction of the song of the Sirens was never even felt because of the attraction of the song he sang. His method was to answer the appeal of seduction with a still greater appeal. God's is the second way. He does not stop us whether we like it or not, from sin. He seeks to make us love him so much that his voice is more sweetly insistent to us than all the voices which call us away from him.

This is my body. And he said to them, "This is the blood of the new covenant which is being shed for many. Truly I tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God. We must first set out the various steps of the Passover Feast, so that in our mind's eye we can follow what Jesus and his disciples were doing.

The steps came in this order. Kiddush means sanctification or separation. This was the act which, as it were, separated this meal from all other common meals. The head of the family took the cup and prayed over it, and then all drank of it. This was carried out only by the person who was to celebrate the feast.

Three times he had to wash his hands in the prescribed way which we have already described when studying Mark 7: This was an appetizer to the meal, but the parsley stood for the hyssop with which the lintel had been smeared with blood, and the salt stood for the tears of Egypt and for the waters of the Red Sea through which Israel had been brought in safety.

Two blessings were used at the breaking of bread. The middle one was taken and broken. At this point only a little was eaten. It was to remind the Jews of the bread of affliction that they ate in Egypt and it was broken to remind them that slaves had never a whole loaf, but only broken crusts to eat. As it was broken, the head of the family said, "This is the bread of affliction which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt.

Whosoever is hungry let him come and eat. Whosoever is in need let him come and keep the Passover with us. This year as slaves, next year as free. The youngest person present had to ask what made this day different from all other days and why all this was being done. And the head of the house had thereupon to tell the whole story of the history of Israel down to the great deliverance which the Passover commemorated.

The Passover could never become a ritual. It was always a commemoration of the power and the mercy of God. All these psalms are praising psalms. They were part of the very earliest material which a Jewish boy had to commit to memory. It was called the cup of Haggadah compare Hebrew , which means the cup of explaining or proclaiming. Blessed art thou, O God, who has sanctified us with thy commandment and enjoined us to eat unleavened cakes. This was called the sop. It was the reminder of slavery and of the bricks that once they had been compelled to make. The whole lamb must be eaten.

Anything left over must be destroyed and not used for any common meal. Then the third cup was drunk, called the cup of thanksgiving. The blessing over the cup was, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine. Thus ended the Passover Feast. If the feast that Jesus and his disciples sat at was the Passover it must have been items xiii and xiv that Jesus made his own, and xvi must have been the hymn they sang before they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Now let us see what Jesus was doing, and what he was seeking to impress upon his men. More than once we have seen that the prophets of Israel resorted to symbolic, dramatic actions when they felt that words were not enough. That is what Ahijah did when he rent the robe into twelve pieces and gave ten to Jeroboam in token that ten of the tribes would make him king 1 Kings That is what Jeremiah did when he made bonds and yokes and wore them in token of the coming servitude Jeremiah That is what the prophet Hananiah did when he broke the yokes that Jeremiah wore Jeremiah That is the kind of thing that Ezekiel was continually doing Ezekiel 4: It was as if words were easily forgotten, but a dramatic action would print itself on the memory.

That is what Jesus did, and he allied this dramatic action with the ancient feast of his people so that it would be the more imprinted on the minds of his men. Just as this bread is broken my body is broken for you! Just as this cup of red wine is poured out my blood is shed for you. What did he mean when he said that the cup stood for a new covenant? The word covenant is a common word in the Jewish religion. The basis of that religion was that God had entered into a covenant with Israel. The word means something like an arrangement, a bargain, a relationship. The acceptance of the old covenant is set out in Exodus If the law was broken, the covenant was broken and the relationship between God and the nation shattered.

It was a relationship entirely dependent on law and on obedience to law. And since no man can keep the law the people were ever in default. But Jesus says, "I am introducing and ratifying a new covenant, a new kind of relationship between God and man. And it is not dependent on law, it is dependent on the blood that I will shed. The new covenant was a relationship between man and God not dependent on law but on love.

In other words Jesus says, "I am doing what I am doing to show you how much God loves you. Because of what Jesus did, they are forever within the love of God.

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That is the essence of what the sacrament says to us. We note one thing more. In the last sentence we see again the two things we have so often seen. Jesus was sure of two things. He knew he was to die, and he knew his Kingdom would come. He was certain of the Cross, but just as certain of the glory.

And the reason was that he was just as certain of the love of God as he was of the sin of man; and he knew that in the end that love would conquer that sin. It is a tremendous thing about Jesus that there was nothing for which he was not prepared. The opposition, the misunderstanding, the enmity of the orthodox religious people, the betrayal by one of his own inner circle, the pain and the agony of the Cross--he was prepared for them all. But perhaps what hurt him most was the failure of his friends.

It is when a man is up against it that he needs his friends most, and that was exactly when Jesus' friends left him all alone and let him down. There was nothing in the whole gamut of physical pain and mental torture that Jesus did not pass through. Sir Hugh Walpole wrote a great novel called Fortitude. It is the story of one called Peter, whose creed was, "It isn't life that matters, but the courage you bring to it.

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At the end, on his own mountain top, he heard a voice, "Blessed be pain and torment and every torture of the body. Blessed be all loss and the failure of friends and the sacrifice of love. Blessed be all failure and the ruin of every earthly hope. Blessed be all sorrow and torment, hardships, and endurances that demand courage. Blessed be these things--for of these things cometh the making of a man. Jesus had supremely, more than anyone who ever lived, this quality of fortitude, this ability to remain erect no matter with what blows life assaulted him, this serenity when there was nothing but heartbreak behind and torture in front.

Inevitably every now and then we find ourselves catching our breath at his sheer heroism. When Jesus foretold this tragic failure of loyalty, Peter could not believe that it would happen. They pointed at the block and the axe and told him that unless he abandoned his loyalty he would be executed then and there. His answer was, "You can take my head from my shoulders but you will never take my heart from my king. There is a lesson in the word that Jesus used for "fall away.

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The Pulpit Commentary-Book of Mark (New Testament) - Kindle edition by H.D.M. Spence, Joseph S. Exell. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device. Verse 1. - The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These words mean, not the title of the book, but the commencement of the narrative; and so they depend .

So the word skandalizein Greek came to mean to entrap, or to trip up by some trick or guile. Peter was too sure. He had forgotten the traps that life can lay for the best of men. He had forgotten that the best of men can step on a slippery place and fall. He had forgotten his own human weakness and the strength of the devil's temptations. But there is one thing to be remembered about Peter--his heart was in the right place. Better a Peter with a flaming heart of love, even if that love did for a moment fail most shamefully, than a Judas with a cold heart of hate.

Let that man condemn Peter who never broke a promise, who never was disloyal in thought or action to a pledge. Peter loved Jesus, and even if his love failed, it rose again. Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray. He said to them, "My soul is sore grieved even to death. Stay here and watch. He said, "Abba, Father, everything is possible to you. Take this cup from me--but not what I wish, but what you wish. Could you not stay awake for one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into some testing time. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep.

And they did not know how to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, "Sleep on now. The hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Let us be going! He who betrays me has come! This is a passage we almost fear to read, for it seems to intrude into the private agony of Jesus. To have stayed in the upper room would have been dangerous.

With the authorities on the watch for him, and with Judas bent on treachery, the upper room might have been raided at any time. But Jesus had another place to which to go. The fact that Judas knew to look for him in Gethsemane shows that Jesus was in the habit of going there. In Jerusalem itself there were no gardens. The city was too crowded, and there was a strange law that the city's sacred soil might not be polluted with manure for the gardens. But some of the rich people possessed private gardens out on the Mount of Olives where they took their rest.

Jesus must have had some wealthy friend who gave him the privilege of using his garden at night. When Jesus went to Gethsemane there were two things he sorely desired. He wanted human fellowship and he wanted God's fellowship. In time of trouble we want someone with us. We do not necessarily want him to do anything. We do not necessarily even want to talk to him or have him talk to us. We only want him there. Jesus was like that. It was strange that men who so short a time before had been protesting that they would die for him, could not stay awake for him one single hour.

But none can blame them, for the excitement and the tension had drained their strength and their resistance. He was thirty-three and no one wants to die with life just opening on to the best of the years. He had done so little and there was a world waiting to be saved. He knew what crucifixion was like and he shuddered away from it. He had to compel himself to go on--just as we have so often to do.

He only knew beyond a doubt that this was the will of God and that he must go on. Jesus, too, had to make the great venture of faith, he had to accept--as we so often have to do--what he could not understand. Abba Greek 5 is the Aramaic for my father. It is that one word which made all the difference. Jesus was not submitting to a God who made a cynical sport of men. Hardy finishes his novel Tess, after telling of her tragic life, with the terrible sentence, "The President of the Immortals had finished his sport with Tess.

God was not like that. Even in this terrible hour, when he was making this terrible demand, God was father. When Richard Cameron, the covenanter, was killed, his head and hands were cut off by one Murray and taken to Edinburgh. Taking his son's head and hands, which were very fair being a man of a fair complexion like himself he kissed them and said, 'I know them--I know them. They are my son's--my own dear son's. It is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but hath made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.

Time and again we will not understand, but always we will be certain that "The Father's hand will never cause his child a needless tear. That is why he could go on--and it can be so with us. We must note how the passage ends. The traitor and his gang had arrived. What was Jesus' reaction? Not to run away, although even yet, in the night, it would have been easy to escape. His reaction was to face them. To the end he would neither turn aside nor turn back. The betrayer had given them this sign.

Seize him and take him away securely. They laid hands on him and seized him. One of those standing by drew his sword and struck the High Priest's servant and cut off his ear. Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and cudgels to arrest me as you would come against a brigand? Daily I was with you teaching in the Temple precincts, and you did not seize me--but, let it be, that the scriptures may be fulfilled. Here is sheer drama and, even in Mark's economy of words, the characters stand out before us. He was aware that the people knew Jesus well enough by sight.

But he felt that in the dim light of the garden, with the darkness of the trees lit in pools of light by the flare of the torches, they needed a definite indication of who they were to arrest. And so he chose that most terrible of signs--a kiss. It was customary to greet a Rabbi with a kiss. It was a sign of respect and affection for a well-loved teacher.

But there is a dreadful thing here. When Judas says, "Whom I shall kiss, that is he," he uses the word philein Greek which is the ordinary word. But when it is said that he came forward and kissed Jesus the word is kataphilein Greek The kata- Greek is intensive and kataphilein Greek means to kiss as a lover kisses his beloved. The sign of the betrayal was not a mere formal kiss of respectful greeting.

It was a lover's kiss. That is the grimmest and most awful thing in all the gospel story. They came from the chief priests, the scribes and the elders. These were the three sections of the Sanhedrin and Mark means that they came from the Sanhedrin. Even under Roman jurisdiction the Sanhedrin had certain police rights and duties in Jerusalem and had its own police force. No doubt an assorted rabble had attached itself to them on the way.

Somehow Mark manages to convey the wrought-up excitement of those who came to make the arrest. Maybe they had come prepared for bloodshed with nerves taut and tense. It is they who emanate terror--not Jesus. It sounds like Peter, and Mark very likely omitted the name because it was not yet safe to write it down. In the scuffle no one saw who struck the blow; it was better that no one should know. But when John wrote forty years later it was then quite safe to write it down.

It may be wrong to draw a sword and hack at a man, but somehow we are glad that there was one man there who, at least on the impulse of the moment, was prepared to strike a blow for Jesus. They could not face it. They were afraid that they too would share the fate of Jesus; and so they fled. The strange thing is that in ill this disordered scene Jesus was the one oasis of serenity.

As we read the story it reads as if he, not the Sanhedrin police, was directing affairs. For him the struggle in the garden was over, and now there was the peace of the man who knows that he is following the will of God. And they tried to seize him, but he left the linen sheet and escaped naked. These are two strange and fascinating verses. At first sight they seem completely irrelevant. They seem to add nothing to the narrative and yet there must be some reason for them being there. We saw in the introduction that Matthew and Luke used Mark as the basis of their work and that they include in their gospels practically everything that is in Mark.

But they do not include these two verses. That would seem to show that this incident was interesting to Mark and not really interesting to anyone else. Why then was this incident so interesting to Mark that he felt he must include it? The most probable answer is that the young man was Mark himself, and that this is his way of saying, "I was there," without mentioning his own name at all.

When we read Acts we find that the meeting place and head-quarters of the Jerusalem church was apparently in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark Acts If that be so, it is at least probable that the upper room in which the Last Supper was eaten was in that same house. There could be no more natural place than that to be the centre of the church. If we can assume that there are two possibilities.

He was young, just a boy, and maybe no one really noticed him. But he was fascinated with Jesus and when the company went out into the dark, he slipped out after them when he ought to have been in bed, with only the linen sheet over his naked body. It may be that all the time Mark was there in the shadows listening and watching. That would explain where the Gethsemane narrative came from.

If the disciples were all asleep how did anyone know about the struggle of soul that Jesus had there? It may be that the one witness was Mark as he stood silent in the shadows, watching with a boy's reverence the greatest hero he had ever known. It may be that it was to the upper room that Judas meant to lead the Temple police so that they might secretly arrest Jesus. But when Judas came back with the police, Jesus and his disciples were gone. Naturally there was recrimination and argument.

The uproar wakened Mark. He heard Judas propose that they should try the garden of Gethsemane. Quickly Mark wrapped his bed-sheet about him and sped through the night to the garden to warn Jesus. But he arrived too late, and in the scuffle that followed was very nearly arrested himself. Whatever may be true, we may take it as fairly certain that Mark put in these two verses because they were about himself He could never forget that night.

He was too humble to put his own name in but in this way he wrote his signature, and said, to him who could read between the lines, "I, too, when I was a boy, was there. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find some evidence against Jesus, in order to put him to death, and they could not find any, for there were many who bore false witness against him, but their evidence did not agree. Some stood up and bore false witness against him.

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So the High Priest stood up in the midst and questioned Jesus. You have listened to blasphemy. How does it seem to you? And some began to spit upon him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say to him, "Prophesy! At this time the powers of the Sanhedrin were limited because the Romans were the rulers of the country. The Sanhedrin had full power over religious matters. It seems also to have had a certain amount of police court power.

But it had no power to inflict the death penalty. If what Mark describes was a meeting of the Sanhedrin it must be compared to a Grand Jury. Its function was not to condemn, but to prepare a charge on which the criminal could be tried before the Roman governor. There is no doubt that in the trial of Jesus the Sanhedrin broke all its own laws. The regulations for the procedure of the Sanhedrin are in one of the tractates of the Mishnah.

Naturally enough some of these regulations are rather ideals than actual practices but, even allowing for that, the whole procedure of this night was a series of flagrant injustices. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews and was composed of seventy-one members. Within its membership there were Sadducees--the priestly classes were all Sadducees--Pharisees and Scribes, who were experts in the law, and respected men who were elders.

It appears that any vacancies in the court were filled by co-option. The High Priest presided over the court. The court sat in a semi-circle in such a way that any member could see any other member. Facing it sat the students of the Rabbis. They were allowed to speak on behalf of the person on trial but not against him. The official meeting place of the Sanhedrin was the Hall of Hewn Stone which was within the Temple precincts, and the decisions of the Sanhedrin were not valid unless reached at a meeting held in that place.

The court could not meet at night, nor could it meet at any of the great feasts. When evidence was taken, witnesses were examined separately and their evidence to be valid must agree in every detail. Each individual member of the Sanhedrin must give his verdict separately, beginning from the youngest and going on to the eldest. If the verdict was a verdict of death, a night must elapse before it was carried out, so that the court might have a chance to change its mind and its decision towards mercy.

It can be seen that on point after point the Sanhedrin broke its own rules. It was not meeting in its own building. It was meeting at night. There is no word of individually given verdicts. A night was not allowed to elapse before the penalty of death was inflicted. In their eagerness to eliminate Jesus, the Jewish authorities did not hesitate to break their own laws.

At first the court could not get even false witnesses to agree. The false witnesses accused Jesus of having said that he would destroy the Temple. It may well be that someone had overheard him speaking as he did in Mark There is an old legend which tells how the Sanhedrin could get plenty of the kind of evidence they did not want, for man after man came forward saying, "I was a leper and he cleansed me. I was blind and he made me able to see. I was deaf and he made me able to hear.

I was lame and he made me able to walk. I was paralysed and he gave me back my strength. At last the High Priest took the matter into his own hands. When he did, he asked the very kind of question that the law completely forbade. He asked a leading question. It was forbidden to ask questions by answering which the person on trial might incriminate himself. No man could be asked to condemn himself, but that was the very question the High Priest asked. Bluntly he asked Jesus if he was the Messiah. Clearly Jesus felt that it was time that the whole wretched business was ended.

Without hesitation he answered that he was. Here was a charge of blasphemy, insult against God. The Sanhedrin had what it wanted, a charge which merited the death penalty, and they were savagely content. He knew that to make that answer was to die, and yet unhesitatingly he made it. Had he denied the charges they would have been powerless to touch him.

Even with the Cross now a certainty, he still continued to speak with complete confidence of his ultimate triumph. Surely it is the most terrible of tragedies to see him who came to offer men love denied even bare justice, and humiliated by the crude and cruel horse-play of the Sanhedrin servants and guards. When Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the maidservants of the High Priest came up, and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. The maidservant saw him and again began to say to the bystanders, "This man was one of them. Soon afterwards the bystanders said to Peter, "In truth you are one of them, for you are a Galilaean.

And Peter remembered the word, how Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crow twice you will deny me three times. Sometimes we tell this story in such a way as to do Peter far less than justice. The thing we so often fail to recognize is that up to the very last Peter's career this night had been one of fantastically reckless courage. He had begun by drawing his sword in the garden with the reckless courage of a man prepared to take on a whole mob by himself. In that scuffle he had wounded the servant of the High Priest. Common prudence would have urged that Peter should lie very low.

He often follows the narrative of St. Matthew; but he adds little details such as this, here and there, which show that he knew St. Matthew's narrative to be true, and also that he was an independent witness. This circumstance here incidentally mentioned shows that there was a difference in position in life between Zebedee's family and that of Simon and Andrew. It appears that all Jews had free right of fishing in the sea of Galilee, which abounded in fish. Zebedee, therefore, whose home seems to have been at Jerusalem, had a fishing establishment in Galilee, probably managed by his partners, Andrew and Simon, during his absence.

But he would naturally visit the establishment from time to time With his sons, and especially before the great festivals, when a larger supply of fish than usual would be required for the visitors crowding to Jerusalem at that time. And straightway he called them: And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. Mark is fond of the historical "present "tense, which often adds life and energy to his narrative.

Who go into Capernaum? Our Lord and these four disciples, the elementary Church of God, the nucleus of that spiritual influence which is to spread wider and wider unto the perfect day. It does not follow that this going into Capernaum took place on the same day. They would not have been fishing on the sabbath day. The synagogue here spoken of was the gift of the good centurion of whom we read in St. Thus the first synagogue in which our Lord preached was the gift of a generous Gentile officer.

It was an emblem of the union of Jews and Gentiles in one fold. And they were astonished at his doctrine: The verb in the Greek is a very strong and expressive one; it is a very suitable word to express the first impressions of utter amaze-sent produced by our Lord's "teaching. There was no lack of self-assertion in their teaching; but their words did not carry weight. Their teaching was based chiefly on tradition; it dwelt much on the "mint and anise and cummin" of religion, but neglected "judgment and mercy and faith. And then he practiced what he taught. Not so the scribes. Mark's narrative bears the character of brevity and conciseness, suitable to an introduction.

From this point his record is rich in detail and in graphic description. This word "straightway" adds much force to the sentence. It marks the immediate effect of our Lord's preaching. A man with an unclean spirit. There can be no reasonable doubt as to the personality of this unclean spirit see Mark 4: The man was so absolutely in the power of this evil spirit that he seemed to dwell in him; just as the world is said by St.

John 1 John 5: And he cried out. Surely the unclean spirit, using the possessed man as his instrument. In the case of a true prophet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he is permitted to use his own gifts, his reason, and even his own particular manner of speech; whereas here a false and lying spirit usurps the organs of speech, and makes them his own.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. It will be observed that this cry of the unclean spirit is spontaneous, before our Lord has addressed him. In real truth, the preaching of Jesus has already thrown the whole world of evil spirits into a state of excitement and alarm. The powers of darkness are beginning to tremble. They resent this intrusion into their domain. They feel that One greater than Satan has appeared, and they ask, What have we to do with thee?

Wherein have we injured thee, that thou shouldest seek to drive us out of our possession? We have nothing to do with thee, thou Holy One of God; but we have a right to take possession of sinners. Beds says that the evil spirits, perceiving that "our Lord had come into the world, believed that they were about at once to be judged. They knew that dispossession would be their entrance upon a condition of torment, and therefore it is that they deprecate it.

Mark is very careful to bring out the hidden knowledge possessed by evil spirits, which enabled them at once to recognize the personality of Jesus see Mark 1: It was given to them by him who has supreme power over the spiritual as well as the material world, to know as much as he saw fit that they should know; and he was pleased to make known as much as was needful. To the evil spirits he made himself known only so far as was requisite to strike with terror the beings from whose tyranny he was about to free those who were predestinated unto his kingdom and the glory of it" see St.

Augustine, 'City of God,' bk. It was necessary that our Lord should at once assert his absolute power over the evil spirits; and not only this, but also that he should show that he had nothing to do with them. Later on in his ministry it was objected to him that he cast out devils by the prince of the devils. Then, further, the time was not yet arrived when Christ was to be publicly proclaimed as the Son of God. This great truth was to be gradually unfolded, and the people were to be persuaded by many miracles.

But at present they were not prepared for this, and therefore our Lord charged his apostles that they should not make him known. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. It is so used by medical writers, as Galen. It could hardly here mean physically "laceration," for St. And the manner in which he departed showed his malignity, as though, being compelled by the supreme authority of Christ to leave the man, he would injure him as far as he was able to do so.

But the power of Christ prevented him from doing any real injury. And all this was done 1 that there might be clear evidence that the man was actually possessed by the evil spirit; 2 that the anger and malice of the evil spirit might be shown; and 3 that it might be manifest that the unclean spirit came out, not of his own accord, but constrained and vanquished by Christ.

We may observe also that the power of Christ restrained him from the use of any articulate words. While he was in possession he used the possessed man's organs of speech; but when he came out there was no articulate speech - it was nothing but a cry. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this?

The now generally approved text gives a different rendering, namely, What is this? If this is the true reading - and there is excellent authority for it - it would mean that the bystanders inferred that this new and unexampled power indicated the accompanying gift of a "new teaching," a new revelation. Nay, more, it indicated that he who wrought these miracles must be the promised Messiah, the true God; for he alone by his power could rule the evil spirits.

And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. This is, of course, said by anticipation. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Luke speak of this house as the house of Simon Peter only; but St. Mark, writing probably under St. Peter's direction, includes Andrew as a joint owner with Simon Peter. There were marshes in that district; hence the prevalence of fevers of a malignant character.

There is no mention of the wife of Peter by name in the New Testament. We may infer, from the fact that his wish's mother lived with him, that he was the head of the family. Paul 1 Corinthians 9: According to the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, and of Eusebius 3: Mark here tells us that Jesus came and took [Simon's wife's mother] by the hand, and raised her up.

Mark, is here omitted by the best authorities. But the omission is of no importance; for the fact that "the fever left her," and that she was at once strong enough to "minister to them," proves that it was not like an ordinary recovery from fever, which is wont to be slow and tedious. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

It was the sabbath day; and, therefore, the sick were not brought to our Lord until six o'clock, when the sabbath ended. This would probably be the outer door in the wall, opening into the street; so that this need not be regarded as a hyperbolic statement. It is evidently the description of an eye-witness, or of one who had it from an eye-witness.

He healed all that had need of healing, and he suffered not the devils to speak , for the reasons. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Our Lord thus prepared himself by prayer for his first departure on a missionary tour. This would be the morning of the first day of the week. A great while before day he left the scene of excitement. That was not a time for preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. The miracles attracted attention to him, but they were not the object for which he came. They were necessary as means of stirring and awakening men's minds, and of fixing their attention upon him and upon the great salvation which he came to reveal. So he left the miracles to do their subordinate work; and he himself went into a desert place, that he might pray with more quiet and less distraction.

He retired that he might escape the applause of men, which they were ready to lavish upon him after seeing so many miracles; that he might thus teach us to shun the praise of men. Let us learn from Christ to give the early morning to prayer, and to rise with the dawn of day, that we may have time for meditation, and give the firstfruits of the morning to God.

The early morning is favorable for study; but it is specially dear to God and his angels. Luke, in the parallel passage Luke 4: And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: It must have been considerable. He preached in the synagogues. This would be on successive sabbaths. According to Josephus, Galilee was a densely populated district, with upwards of two hundred villages, each containing several thousand inhabitants.

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Mark gives more full details. Matthew we learn that it took place after the sermon on the mount; and yet not at the very close of his missionary circuit, St.

The disorder was fully developed; it had spread over his whole body; he was leprous from head to foot. This leprosy was designed to be specially typical of the disease of sin. It was not infectious. It was not because it was either infectious or contagious that the leper was bidden under the Jewish Law to wars others off, in the words," Unclean! It was a very revolting disease. It was a poisoning of the springs of life.

It was a living death. It was incurable by any human art or skill. It was the awful sign of sin reaching unto death; and it was cured, as sin is cured, only by the mercy and favor of God. No wonder, then, that our Lord specially displayed his power over this terrible disease, that he might thus prove his power over the still worse malady of sin.

Matthew says Matthew 8: Luke says Luke 5: We thus see that the scriptural idea of worship is associated with some lowly posture of the body. But with this worship of the body, the leper offered also the homage of the soul. His prostration of himself before Christ was not merely a rendering of honor to an earthly being; it was a rendering of reverence to a Divine Being. For he does not say to him, "If thou wilt ask of God, he will give it thee;" but he says, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

I ask, therefore, that thou wouldst be willing to do this, and then I know that the thing is done. If thou wilt, thou east. Observe the hypothetic expression, "If thou wilt. For bodily diseases are often necessary for the health of the soul; and this God knows, though man knows it not. Therefore, in asking for earthly blessings, it behoves us to resign ourselves to the will and wisdom of God.

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. Thus he showed that he was superior to the Law, which forbade contact with a leper. He touched him, knowing that he could not be defiled with the touch.

He touched him that he might heal him, and that his Divine power of healing might be made manifest. It is well observed here by St. Jerome that our Lord aptly answers both the petitions of the leper. He makes him whole, not only in body, but in spirit. Thus Christ, in his loving-kindness, exceeds the wishes of his supplicants, that we may learn from him to do the same, and to enlarge our hearts, both towards God and towards our brethren.

And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. Mark's favourite word - the leprosy departed from him. There is no interval between the command and the work of Christ. By this act Christ showed that he came into the world as a great Physician, that he might cure all diseases, and cleanse us from all our defilements.

The word "straightway" shows that Christ healed the leper, not by any natural means, but by a Divine power which works instantly. He is alike powerful both to commend and to do. Matthew says here Matthew 8: There is here what is called a "hypallage," or inversion of the meaning, which is, of course, that "he was cleansed from his leprosy. It may be that he had incurred this rebuke by coming so near with his defilement to the holy Saviour. Christ thus showed not only his respect for the ordinances of the Jewish Law, but also how hateful sin is to the most holy God.

And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: Chrysostom says that our Lord gave him this charge, "to shun ostentation, and to teach us not to boast of our virtues, but to hide them.