Parallel passages: Mark 6:6 ( Luke 13:22 ). And Jesus went about all the cities and ( the , Revised Version) villages . The Revised Version rightly restricts the "all" to the cities ( τὰς πόλεις πάσας καὶ τὰς κώμας ). It would have been impossible to visit all the villages. A village was distinguished from a city by being
The missionary work of Christ.
I. HIS JOURNEYS THROUGH GALILEE
1 . He went everywhere. His activity was unceasing. He visited every city and village in that thickly populated district. It was a new thing in the history of the world—a Missionary of salvation sent from heaven, spending his time in ceaseless journeys, in constant wearying labour, and that not for gum, not for pleasure, but for love's sake, to win dying souls to God and heaven. It is a high example to the ministers of his holy Word and sacraments.
2 . His preaching. He taught in the synagogues; they were still open to him. The Pharisees had for some time distrusted him; they were beginning to oppose him, but their opposition was not yet formal, decided. It expressed itself in angry looks, in words spoken among themselves. He was recognized as a Teacher, a Rabbi; he was honoured by the people. He was a welcome Preacher in every village synagogue. The Lord most holy was wont to preach in the smallest villages, in the humblest synagogues. His servants should imitate him in his humility, in his zeal for the salvation of the poorest and the most ignorant. He preached the gospel of the kingdom, the good news of the kingdom which was to spread over the whole earth, which was to be established in the hearts of men, which was in God's good time to be manifested in glory. It was good news then; it is good news now. The message is heard daily; people listen carelessly, without thought; but when God the Holy Ghost brings the Word home to the heart, it comes with all the freshness of a new life, a new hope; it is good news indeed. May he bring the gracious message to our souls!
3 . His care for the sick. He healed every disease. His servants must care for the bodies as well as for the souls of his people; they must tend the sick and suffering, for so did Jesus Christ.
II. THE MULTITUDES .
1 . The Lord ' s compassion. As he moved hither and thither, he saw the great masses of the people crowded together in those populous towns, neglected and uncured for. His heart was deeply moved, as many a good man's heart is moved by the like sight now. He was the good Shepherd. He saw the flock scattered here and there, some cast down, prostrate on the earth; some wandering, bruised, their fleeces torn ( ἐσκυλμένοι ) by wolves. There was no shepherd; the shepherds of Israel ( Ezekiel 34:1-31 .)were feeding themselves, and not the flock. They did not heal that which was sick, or bind up that which was broken, or seek that which was lost. The flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth. The Pharisees despised the poor and ignorant—the "people of the earth," as they called them. The good Shepherd came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is our great Example.
2 . His exhortation to prayer. The figure is changed. Spiritual things are only inadequately expressed in human language; each parable, each illustration, brings out some new feature, a new side of the underlying truth. The people were described as God's flock; now they are his harvest. The harvest of souls is plenteous; all the world over it is growing, ripening for the great day. But the labourers are few. The harvest is the Lord's; all souls are his; it is he who sends the labourers, who casts them forth (as the word means) into the harvest-field by the energy of a Divine mission, by the call of the Holy Spirit. Only he can give that holiness, that zeal, that self-denying love for souls, without which they cannot fulfil their arduous task. Therefore he bids us pray. It is the Lord's harvest; he cares for it; yet, in the deep mystery of the relations between heaven and earth, there is need of human prayer. It must be so, or the Lord would not have enjoined it. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Nothing is beyond the reach of faithful prayer, for the Lord himself hath said, "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." A supply of faithful ministers is of the very utmost importance for the well-being of the Church. Then we must pray for the ministers of God's Holy Word. It is in the strength of the prayer of the Church that they pursue their solemn work; when they fail, when they are wanting in faith, in humility, in love, in 'self-denying labour, the fault may lie in part with those who do not pray for them according to the Lord's commandment. He sends forth the labourers; pray for his blessing on them and on their work.
1 . The Lord's ministers must try by his gracious help to visit as he visited, to preach as he preached.
2 . His sheep are very dear to him; his people must care for them.
3 . All Christians must pray for the ministers of his Holy Word and sacraments.
Christ's day-by-day duties.
The more special and public acts and events of a man's life gain place in his biography, but the commonplace, everyday associations of a man give the true impression of him. It is said that "no man is a hero to his valet;" but he ought to be. The routine life of a man should be the best revelation of the man. We may dwell on the greater scenes of our Lord's life, and learn much; but we know him imperfectly until we fairly estimate how he bore the strain of daily, commonplace duties. Four terms are used to describe our Lord's everyday life.
I. JOURNEYING . He "went about all the cities and villages." Galilee was very thickly peopled at this time. Josephus exaggerates, but he says of Galilee, "The cities here lie very thick, and the very many villages here and there are everywhere so full of people, by the richness of their soil, that the very least of them contained about fifteen thousand inhabitants." He reports two hundred and forty cities and villages in the district. This gives us an idea of our Lord's active labours. Notice that
II. TEACHING . We now know that the afternoon service at the synagogue was conducted somewhat as a Bible-class, those present asking questions and giving answers. In such scenes our Lord naturally took his place as Teacher. Scripture was the text-book. Note that our Lord sought to arouse the activity of men's minds. He wanted intelligent religion. Teachers find in him their Model.
III. PREACHING . This term represents the morning service in the synagogues, when announcements and expositions were given, but no response from the people was looked for. Preaching may be said to include three things:
Christ had a message; he opened up the Scriptures (as at Nazareth, see Luke 4:1-44 .); and he could persuade to the acceptance of the truth. But teaching and preaching make heavy demands on spiritual strength.
IV. HEALING . This is always to be regarded as auxiliary and illustrative work. Needful in those days, in order to call attention to the new Teacher, and awaken interest in him. It did for that day what newspapers and advertisements will do for great leaders and teachers nowadays.—R.T.