Of all the gospel writers Matthew is the most orderly. He never sets out his material haphazardly. If in Matthew one thing follows another in a certain sequence, there is always a reason for that sequence; and it is so here. In Matthew 5:1-48 ; Matthew 6:1-34 ; Matthew 7:1-29 Matthew has given us the Sermon on the Mount. That is to say, in these chapters he has given us his account of the words of Jesus; and now in Matthew 8:1-34 he gives us an account of the deeds of Jesus. Matthew 5:1-48 ; Matthew 6:1-34 ; Matthew 7:1-29 show us the divine wisdom in speech; Matthew 8:1-34 shows us the divine love in action.
Matthew 8:1-34 is a chapter of miracles. Let us look at these miracles as a whole, before we proceed to deal with them in detail. In the chapter there are seven miraculous happenings.
(i) There is the healing of the leper ( Matthew 8:1-4 ). Here we see Jesus touching the untouchable. The leper was banished from the society of men; to touch him, and even to approach him, was to break the Law. Here we see the man who was kept at arm's length by all men wrapped around with pity and the compassion of the love of God.
(ii) There is the healing of the centurion's servant ( Matthew 8:5-13 ). The centurion was a Gentile, and therefore the strict orthodox Jew would have said that he was merely fuel for the fires of hell; he was the servant of a foreign government and of an occupying power and therefore the nationalistic Jew would have said that he was a candidate for assassination and not for assistance; the servant was a slave and a slave was no more than a living tool. Here we see the love of God going out to help the man whom all men hated and the slave whom all men despised.
(iii) There is the healing of Peter's wife's mother ( Matthew 8:14-15 ). This miracle took place in a humble cottage in a humble home in Palestine. There was no publicity; there was no admiring audience; there was only Jesus and the family circle. Here we see the infinite love of the God of all the universe displaying all its power when there was none but the circle of the family to see.
(iv) There was the healing of all the sick who were brought to the doors at evening time ( Matthew 8:16-17 ). Here we see the sheer universality of the love of God in action. To Jesus no one was ever a nuisance; he had no hours when he was on duty and hours when he was off duty. Any man could come to him at any time and receive the willing, gracious help of the love of God.
(v) There was the reaction of the scribe ( Matthew 8:18-22 ). On the face of it this little section appears to be out of place in a chapter on miracles; but this is the miracle of personality. That any scribe should be moved to follow Jesus is nothing less than a miracle. Somehow this scribe had forgotten his devotion to the Scribal Law; somehow although Jesus contradicted all the things to which he had dedicated his life, he saw in Jesus not an enemy but a friend, not an opponent but a master.
It must have been an instinctive reaction. Negley Farson writes of his old grandfather. When Farson was a boy, he did not know his grandfather's history and all that he had done, but, he says, "All I knew was that he made other men around him look like mongrel dogs." That scribe saw in Jesus a splendour and a magnificence he had never seen in any other man. The miracle happened, and the scribe's heart ran out to Jesus Christ.
(vi) There is the miracle of the calming of the storm ( Matthew 8:23-27 ). Here we see Jesus dealing with the waves and the billows which threaten to engulf a man. As Pusey had it when his wife died, "All through that time it was as if there was a hand beneath my chin to bear me up." Here is the love of God bringing peace and serenity into tumult and confusion.
(vii) There is the healing of the Gerasene demoniac ( Matthew 8:28-34 ). In the ancient world people believed that all illness was due to the action of devils. Here we see the power of God dealing with the power of the devil; here we see God's goodness invading earth's evil, God's love going out against evil's malignancy and malevolence. Here we see the goodness and the love which save men triumphantly overcoming the evil and the hatred which ruin men.
The Living Death ( Matthew 8:1-4 )
8:1-4 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and, look you, a leper came to him, and remained kneeling before him. "Lord," he said, "you can cleanse me, if you are willing to do so." Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. "I am willing," he said, "be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him: "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and bring the gift which Moses ordered, so that they will be convinced that you are cured."
In the ancient world leprosy was the most terrible of all diseases. E. W. G. Masterman writes: "No other disease reduces a human being for so many years to so hideous a wreck."
It might bean with little nodules which go on to ulcerate. The ulcers develop a foul discharge; the eyebrows fall out; the eyes become staring; the vocal chords become ulcerated, and the voice becomes hoarse, and the breath wheezes. The hands and feet always ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. The average course of that kind of leprosy is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma and ultimately death.
Leprosy might begin with the loss of all sensation in some part of the body; the nerve trunks are affected; the muscles waste away; the tendons contract until the hands are like claws. There follows ulceration of the hands and feet. Then comes the progressive loss of fingers and toes. until in the end a whole hand or a whole foot may drop off. The duration of that kind of leprosy is anything from twenty to thirty years. It is a kind of terrible progressive death in which a man dies by inches.
The physical condition of the leper was terrible; but there was something which made it worse. Josephus tells us that lepers were treated "as if they were, in effect, dead men." Immediately leprosy was diagnosed, the leper was absolutely and completely banished from human society. "He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp" ( Leviticus 13:46 ). The leper had to go with rent clothes, dishevelled hair, with a covering upon his upper lip, and, as he went, he had to cry: "Unclean, unclean" ( Leviticus 13:45 ). In the middle ages, if a man became a leper, the priest donned his stole and took his crucifix, and brought the man into the church, and read the burial service over him. For all human purposes the man was dead.
In Palestine in the time of Jesus the leper was barred from Jerusalem and from all walled towns. In the synagogue there was provided for him a little isolated chamber, ten feet high and six feet wide, called the Mechitsah. The Law enumerated sixty-one different contacts which could defile, and the defilement involved in contact with a leper was second only to the defilement involved in contact with a dead body. If a leper so much as put his head into a house, that house became unclean even to the roof beams. Even in an open place it was illegal to greet a leper. No one might come nearer to a leper than four cubits--a cubit is eighteen inches. If the wind was blowing towards a person from a leper, the leper must stand at least one hundred cubits away. One Rabbi would not even eat an egg bought in a street where a leper had passed by. Another Rabbi actually boasted that he flung stones at lepers to keep them away. Other Rabbis hid themselves, or took to their heels, at the sight of a leper even in the distance.
There never has been any disease which so separated a man from his fellow-men as leprosy did. And this was the man whom Jesus touched. To a Jew there would be no more amazing sentence in the New Testament than the simple statement: "And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper."
Compassion Beyond The Law ( Matthew 8:1-4 Continued)
In this story we must note two things--the leper's approach and Jesus' response. In the leper's approach there were three elements.
(i) The leper came with confidence. He had no doubt that, if Jesus willed, Jesus could make him clean.
No leper would ever have come near an orthodox scribe or Rabbi; he knew too well that he would be stoned away; but this man came to Jesus. He had perfect confidence in Jesus' willingness to welcome the man anyone else would have driven away. No man need ever feel himself too unclean to come to Jesus Christ.
He had perfect confidence in Jesus' power. Leprosy was the one disease for which there was no prescribed rabbinic remedy. But this man was sure that Jesus could do what no one else could do. No man need ever feel himself incurable in body or unforgivable in soul while Jesus Christ exists.
(ii) The leper came with humility. He did not demand healing; he only said, "If you will, you can cleanse me." It was as if he said, "I know I don't matter; I know that other men will flee from me and will have nothing to do with me; I know that I have no claim on you; but perhaps in your divine condescension you will give your power even to such as I am:" It is the humble heart which is conscious of nothing but its need that finds its way to Christ.
(iii) The leper came with reverence. The King James Version says that he worshipped Jesus. The Greek verb is proskunein ( Greek #4352 ), and that word is never used of anything but worship of the gods; it always describes a man's feeling and action in presence of the divine. That leper could never have told anyone what he thought Jesus was; but he knew that in the presence of Jesus he was in the presence of God. We do not need to put this into theological or philosophical terms; it is enough to be convinced that when we are confronted with Jesus Christ, we are confronted with the love and the power of Almighty God.
So to this approach of the leper there came the reaction of Jesus. First and foremost, that reaction was compassion. The Law said Jesus must avoid contact with that man and threatened him with terrible uncleanness if he allowed the leper to come within six feet of him; but Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. The medical knowledge of the day would have said that Jesus was running a desperate risk of a ghastly infection; but Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.
For Jesus there was only one obligation in life--and that was to help. There was only one law--and that law was love. The obligation of love took precedence over all other rules and laws and regulations; it made him defy all physical risks. To a good doctor a man sick of a loathsome disease is not a disgusting spectacle; he is a human being who needs his skill. To a doctor a child sick of an infectious disease is not a menace; he is a child who needs to be helped. Jesus was like that; God is like that; we must be like that. The true Christian will break any convention and will take any risk to help a fellow-man in need.
True Prudence ( Matthew 8:1-4 Continued)
But there remain two things in this incident which show that, while Jesus would defy the Law and risk any infection to help, he was not senselessly reckless, nor did he forget the demands of true prudence.
(i) He ordered the man to keep silence, and not to publish abroad what he had done for him. This injunction to silence is common on Jesus' lips ( Matthew 9:30 ; Matthew 12:16 ; Matthew 17:9 ; Mark 1:34 ; Mark 5:43 ; Mark 7:36 ; Mark 8:26 ). Why should Jesus command this silence?
Palestine was an occupied country, and the Jews were a proud race. They never forgot that they were God's chosen people. They dreamed of the day when their divine deliverer would come. But for the most part they dreamed of that day in terms of military conquest and political power. For that reason Palestine was the most inflammable country in the world. It lived amidst revolutions. Leader after leader arose, had his moment of glory and was then eliminated by the might of Rome. Now, if this leper had gone out and published abroad what Jesus had done for him, there would nave been a rush to install a man with powers such as Jesus possessed as a political leader and a military commander.
Jesus had to educate men's minds, he had to change their ideas; he had somehow to enable them to see that his power was love and not force of arms. He had to work almost in secrecy until men knew him for what he was, the lover and not the destroyer of the lives of men. Jesus enjoined silence upon those he helped lest men should use him to make their own dreams come true instead of waiting on the dream of God. They had to be silent until they had learned the right things to say about him.
(ii) Jesus sent the leper to the priests to make the correct offering and to receive a certificate that he was clean. The Jews were so terrified of the infection of leprosy that there was a prescribed ritual in the very unlikely event of a cure.
The ritual is described in Leviticus 14:1-57 . The leper was examined by a priest. Two birds were taken, and one was killed over running water. In addition there were taken cedar, scarlet and hyssop. These things were taken, together with the living bird, and dipped in the blood of the dead bird, and then the living bird was allowed to go free. The man washed himself and his clothes, and shaved himself. Seven days were allowed to pass, and then he was re-examined. He must then shave his hair, his head and his eye-brows. Certain sacrifices were then made consisting of two mate lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb; three-tenths of a deal of fine flour mingled with oil; and one log of oil. The restored leper was touched on the tip of the right ear, the right thumb, and the right great toe with blood and oil. He was finally examined for the last time, and, if the cure was real, he was allowed to go with a certificate that he was cleansed.
Jesus told this man to go through that process. There is guidance here. Jesus was telling that man not to neglect the treatment that was available for him in those days. We do not receive miracles by neglecting the medical and scientific treatment open to us. Men must do all men can do before God's power may cooperate with our efforts. A miracle does not come by a lazy waiting upon God to do it all; it comes from the co-operation of the faith-filled effort of man with the illimitable grace of God.
A Good Man's Plea ( Matthew 8:5-13 )
8:5-13 When Jesus had come into Capernaum, a centurion came to him. "Lord," he appealed to him, "my servant lies at home, paralysed, suffering terribly" He said to him: "Am I to come and cure him?" "Lord," answered the centurion, "I am not worthy that you should enter my house; but, only speak a word, and my servant will be cured. For even I am a man under authority, and I have soldiers under me. I say to one soldier, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Do this!' and he does it." Jesus was amazed when he heard this, and said to those who were following him, "This is the truth I tell you--not even in Israel have I found so great a faith. I tell you that many will come from the cast and west and will sit down at table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the sons of the Kingdom will be cast into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there." And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; let it be done for you as you have believed." And his servant was healed at that hour.
Even in the brief appearance that he makes on the stage of the New Testament story this centurion is one of the most attractive characters in the gospels. The centurions were the backbone of the Roman army. In a Roman legion there were 6,000 men; the legion was divided into sixty centuries, each containing 100 men, and in command of each century there was a centurion. These centurions were the long-service, regular soldiers of the Roman army. They were responsible for the discipline of the regiment, and they were the cement which held the army together. In peace and in war alike the morale of the Roman army depended on them. In his description of the Roman army Polybius describes what a centurion should be: "They must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over-anxious to rush into the fight, but when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts." The centurions were the finest men in the Roman army.
It is interesting to note that every centurion mentioned in the New Testament is mentioned with honour. There was the centurion who recognized Jesus on the Cross as the Son of God; there was Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to the Christian Church; there was the centurion who suddenly discovered that Paul was a Roman citizen, and who rescued him from the fury of the rioting mob; there was the centurion who was informed that the Jews had planned to murder Paul between Jerusalem and Caesarea, and who took steps to foil their plans; there was the centurion whom Felix ordered to look after Paul; there was the centurion accompanying Paul on his last journey to Rome, who treated him with every courtesy, and accepted him as leader when the storm struck the ship ( Matthew 27:54 ; Acts 10:22 ; Acts 23:17 ; Acts 23:23 ; Acts 24:23 ; Acts 27:43 ).
But there was something very special about this centurion at Capernaum, and that was his attitude to his servant. This servant would be a slave, but the centurion was grieved that his servant was ill and was determined to do everything in his power to save him.
That was the reverse of the normal attitude of master to slave. In the Roman Empire slaves did not matter. It was of no importance to anyone if they suffered, and whether they lived or died. Aristotle, talking about the friendships which are possible in life, writes: "There can be no friendship nor justice towards inanimate things; indeed, not even towards a horse or an ox, nor yet towards a slave as a slave. For master and slave have nothing in common; a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave."
A slave was no better than a thing. A slave had no legal rights whatsoever; his master was free to treat him, or maltreat him, as he liked. Gaius, the Roman legal expert. lays it down in his Institutes: "We may note that it is universally accepted that the master possesses the power of life and death over the slave." Varro, the Roman writer on agriculture, has a grim passage in which he divides the instruments of agriculture into three classes--the articulate, the inarticulate and the mute, "the articulate comprising the slaves, the inarticulate comprising the cattle, and the mute comprising the vehicles." The only difference between a slave and a beast or a cart was that the slave could speak.
Cato, another Roman writer on agriculture, has a passage which shows how unusual the attitude of this centurion was. He is giving advice to a man taking over a farm: "Look over the livestock, and hold a sale. Sell your oil, if the price is satisfactory, and sell the surplus of your wine and grain. Sell worn-out oxen, blemished cattle, blemishes sheep, wool, hides, an old wagon, old tools, an old slave, a sickly slave, and whatever else is superfluous." Cato's blunt advice is to throw out the slave who is sick. Peter Chrysologus sums the matter up: "Whatever a master does to a slave. undeservedly, in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness, after careful thought, Knowingly, unknowingly, is judgment, justice and law."
It is quite clear that this centurion was an extraordinary man. for he loved his slave. It may well be that it was his totally unusual and unexpected gentleness and love which so moved Jesus when the centurion first came to him. Love always covers a multitude of sins; the man who cares for men is always near to Jesus Christ.
The Passport Of Faith ( Matthew 8:5-13 Continued)
Not only was this centurion quite extraordinary in his attitude to his servant; he was also a man of a most extraordinary faith. He wished for Jesus' power to help and to heal his servant, but there was one problem. He was a Gentile and Jesus was a Jew, and, according to the Jewish law, a Jew could not enter the house of a Gentile for all Gentile dwelling-places were unclean. The Mishnah lays it down: "The dwelling-places of Gentiles are unclean." It is to that Jesus refers when he puts the question: "Am I to come and heal him?"
It was not that this law of uncleanness meant anything to Jesus; it was not that he would have refused to enter any man's dwelling; it was simply that he was testing the other's faith. It was then that the centurion's faith reached its peak. As a soldier he well knew what it was to give a command and to have that command instantly and unquestionably carried out; so he said to Jesus, "You don't need to come to my house; I am not fit for you to enter my house; all you have to do is to speak the word of command, and that command will be obeyed." There spoke the voice of faith, and Jesus laid it down that faith is the only passport to the blessedness of God.
Here Jesus uses a famous and vivid Jewish picture. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came there would be a great banquet at which all Jews would sit down to feast. Behemoth, the greatest of the land beasts, and leviathan, the greatest of the denizens of the sea, would provide the fare for the banqueters. "Thou has reserved them to be devoured by whom Thou wilt and when" (4Ezra 6:52). "And behemoth shall be revealed from his place, and leviathan shall ascend from the sea, those two great monsters which I created on the fifth day of creation, and shall have kept until that time; and then shall they be food for all that are left" (2 Baruch 29:4).
The Jews looked forward with all their hearts to this Messianic banquet; but it never for a moment crossed their minds that any Gentile would ever sit down at it. By that time the Gentiles would have been destroyed. "The nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall the utterly laid waste" ( Isaiah 60:12 ). Yet here is Jesus saying that many shall come from the east and from the west, and sit down at table at that banquet.
Still worse, he says that many of the sons of the kingdom will be shut out. A son is an heir; therefore the son of the kingdom is the man who is to inherit the kingdom, for the son is always heir; but the Jews are to lose their inheritance. Always in Jewish thought "the inheritance of sinners is darkness" ( Wisdom of Solomon 15:11 ). The rabbis had a saying, "The sinners in Gehenna ( Greek #1067 ) will be covered with darkness." To the Jew the extraordinary and the shattering thing about all this was that the Gentile, whom he expected to be absolutely shut out, was to be a guest at the Messianic banquet, and the Jew, whom he expected to be welcomed with open arms, is to be shut out in the outer darkness. The tables were to be turned, and all expectations were to be reversed.
The Jew had to learn that the passport to God's presence is not membership of any nation; it is faith. The Jew believed that he belonged to the chosen people and that because he was a Jew he was therefore dear to God. He belonged to God's herrenvolk, and that was enough automatically to gain him salvation. Jesus taught that the only aristocracy in the Kingdom of God is the aristocracy of faith. Jesus Christ is not the possession of any one race of men; Jesus Christ is the possession of every man in every race in whose heart there is faith.
The Power Which Annihilates Distance ( Matthew 8:5-13 Continued)
So Jesus spoke the word and the servant of the centurion was healed. Not so very long ago this would have been a miracle at which the minds of most people would have staggered. It is not so very difficult to think of Jesus heating when he and the sufferer were in actual contact; but to think of Jesus healing at a distance, healing with a word a man he had never seen and never touched, seemed a thing almost, if not completely, beyond belief. But the strange thing is that science itself has come to see that there are forces which are working in a way which is still mysterious, but which is undeniable.
Again and again men have been confronted by a power which does not travel by the ordinary contacts and the ordinary routes and the ordinary channels.
One of the classic instances of this comes from the life of Emanuel Swedenborg. In 1759 Swedenborg was in Gotenborg. He described a fire occurring in Stockholm 300 miles away. He gave an account of the fire to the city authorities. He told them when it began, where it began, the name of the owner of the house, and when it was put out, and subsequent research proved him correct in every detail. Knowledge had come to him by a route which was not any of the routes known to men.
W. B. Yeats, the famous Irish poet, had experiences like this. He had certain symbols for certain things, and he experimented, not so much scientifically, but in everyday life, in the transmission of these symbols to other people by what might be called the sheer power of thought. He had an uncle in Sligo, who was by no means a mystical or devotional or spiritual man. He used to visit him each summer. "There are some high sandhills and low cliffs, and I adopted the practice of walking by the seashore while he walked on the cliffs of sandhills; 1, without speaking, would imagine the symbol, and he would notice what passed before his mind's eye, and in a short time he would practically never fail of the appropriate vision." Yeats tells of an incident at a London dinner party, where all the guests were intimate friends: "I had written upon a piece of paper: 'In five minutes York Powell will talk of a burning house,' thrust the paper under my neighbours plate, and imagined my fire symbol, and waited in silence. Powell shifted the conversation from topic to topic, and within the five minutes was describing a fire he had seen as a young man."
Men have always quoted things like that, but within our own generation Dr. J. B. Rhine began definite scientific experiments in what he called Extra-Sensory Perception, a phenomenon which has become so much discussed that it is commonly called by its initial letters, ESP. Dr. Rhine has carried out, in Duke University in America, thousands of experiments which go to show that men can become aware of things by other means than the ordinary senses. A pack of twenty-five cards marked with certain symbols is used. A person is asked to name the cards as they are dealt, without seeing them. One of the students who participated in these experiments was called Hubert Pearce. On the first five thousand trials--a trial is a run through the whole pack of cards--he averaged ten correct out of twenty-five, when the laws of chance would say that four correct could be expected. On one occasion, in conditions of special concentration, he named the whole twenty-five cards correctly. The mathematical odds against this feat being pure chance are 298,023,223,876,953,125 to 1.
An experimenter called Brugman carried out another experiment. He selected two subjects. He put the sender of the messages in an upstairs room and the receiver below. Between the rooms there was an opening covered by two layers of glass with an air space between, so that the sending of any message based on sound was quite impossible. Through the glass panel the sender looked at the hands of the receiver. In front of the receiver was a table with forty-eight squares. The receiver was blindfolded. Between him and the squared table was a thick curtain. He held a pointer which passed through the curtain on to the table. The experiment was that the sender had to will the receiver to move the pointer to a certain square. According to the laws of chance the receiver should have been right in four out of one hundred and eighty results. In point of fact he was right in sixty. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the mind of the sender was influencing the mind of the receiver.
It is a definitely proven fact that a certain Dr. Janet in eighteen out of twenty-five cases was able to hypnotise subjects at a distance, and he was partially successful in four other cases.
There is no doubt that mind can act on mind across the distances in a way which we are beginning to see, although yet we are far from understanding. If human minds can get to this length, how much more the mind of Jesus? The strange thing about this miracle is that modern thought, instead of making it harder, has made it easier to believe it.
A Miracle In A Cottage ( Matthew 8:14-15 )
8:14-15 And when Jesus had come into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed. ill with a fever. So lie touched her hand and the fever left her. And she rose, and busied herself serving them.
When we compare Mark's narrative of events with that of Matthew, we see that this incident happened in Capernaum, on the Sabbath day, after Jesus had worshipped in the synagogue. When Jesus was in Capernaum, his headquarters were in the house of Peter, for Jesus never had any home of his own. Peter was married, and legend has it that in the after days Peter's wife was his helper in the work of the gospel. Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis 7: 6) tells us that Peter and his wife were martyred together. Peter, so the story runs, had the grim ordeal of seeing, his wife suffer before he suffered himself. "On seeing his wife led to death, Peter rejoiced on account of her call and her conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, 'Remember thou the Lord.'"
On this occasion Peter's wife's mother was ill with a fever. There were three kinds of fever which were common in Palestine. There was a fever which was called Malta fever, and which was marked by weakness, anaemia and wasting away, and which lasted for months, and often ended in a decline which finished in death. There was what was called intermittent fever, which may well have been very like typhoid fever. And above all there was malaria. In the regions where the Jordan River entered and left the Sea of Galilee there was marshy ground; there the malarial mosquitoes bred and flourished, and both Capernaum and Tiberias were areas where malaria was very prevalent. It was often accompanied by jaundice and ague, and was a most wretched and miserable experience for the sufferer from it. It was most likely malaria from which Peter's wife's mother was suffering.
This miracle tells us much about Jesus, and not a little about the woman whom he cured.
(i) Jesus had come from the synagogue; there he had dealt with and had cured the demon-possessed man ( Mark 1:21-28 ). As Matthew has it, he had healed the centurion's servant on the way home. Miracles did not cost Jesus nothing; virtue went out of him with every healing; and beyond a doubt he would be tired. It would be for rest that he came into Peter's house, and yet no sooner was he in it than there came still another demand on him for help and heating.
Here was no publicity; here there was no crowd to look and to admire and to be astonished. Here there was only a simple cottage and a poor woman tossing with a common fever. And yet in those circumstances Jesus put forth all his power.
Jesus was never too tired to help; the demands of human need never came to him as an intolerable nuisance. Jesus was not one of these people who are at their best in public and at their worst in private. No situation was too humble for him to help. He did not need an admiring audience to be at his best. In a crowd or in a cottage his love and his power were at the disposal of anyone who needed him.
(ii) But this miracle also tells us something about the woman whom Jesus healed. No sooner had he healed her than she busied herself in attending to his needs and to the needs of the other guests. She clearly regarded herself as "saved to serve." He had healed her; and her one desire was to use her new-found health to be of use and of service to him and to others.
How do we use the gifts of Christ? Once Oscar Wilde wrote what he himself called "the best short story in the world." W. B. Yeats quotes it in his autobiography in all of what he calls "its terrible beauty." Yeats quotes it in its original simplicity before it had been decorated and spoiled by the literary devices of its final form;
"Christ came from a white plain to a purple city, and, as he
passed through the first street, he heard voices overhead, and
saw a young man lying drunk upon a window-sill. 'Why do you
waste your soul in drunkenness?' he said. The man said, 'Lord,
I was a leper, and you healed me, what else can I do?' A little
farther through the town he saw a young man following a harlot,
and said, 'Why do you dissolve your soul in debauchery?' And the
young man answered, 'Lord, I was blind and you healed me,
what else can I do?' At last, in the middle of the city, he saw
an old man crouching, weeping on the ground, and, when he
asked why he wept, the old man answered, 'Lord, I was dead,
and you raised me into life, what else can I do but weep?'"
That is a terrible parable of how men use the gifts of Christ and the mercy of God. Peter's wife's mother used the gift of her health restored to serve Jesus and to serve others. That is the way in which we should use every gift of God.
Miracles In A Crowd ( Matthew 8:16-17 )
8:16-17 And, when it was late in the day, they brought to him many who were in the power of evil spirits, and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all those who were ill. This happened that the saying spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "He took our weaknesses and carried our sins."
As we have already seen, Mark's account of this series of incidents makes it clear that they happened on the Sabbath day ( Mark 1:21-34 ). That explains why this scene happened late in the day, at the evening time. According to the Sabbath Law, which forbade all work on the Sabbath day, it was illegal to heal on the Sabbath. Steps could be taken to prevent a person from getting any worse, but no steps might be taken to make him any better. The general law was that on the Sabbath medical attention might only be given to those whose lives were actually in danger. Further, it was illegal to carry a burden on the Sabbath day, and a burden was anything which weighed more than two dried figs. It was, therefore, illegal to carry a sick person from place to place on a stretcher or in one's arms or on one's shoulders, for to do so would have been to carry a burden. Officially the Sabbath ended when two stars could be seen in the sky, for there were no clocks to tell the time in those days. That is why the crowd in Capernaum waited until the evening time to come to Jesus for the healing which they knew he could give.
But we must think of what Jesus had been doing on that Sabbath day. He had been in the synagogue and had healed the demon-possessed man. He had sent healing to the centurion's servant. He had healed Peter's wife's mother. No doubt he had preached and taught all day; and no doubt he had encountered those who were bitter in their opposition to him. Now it was evening. God gave to men the day for work, and the evening for rest. The evening is the time of quiet when work is laid aside. But it was not so for Jesus. At the time when he might have expected rest, he was surrounded by the insistent demands of human need--and selflessly and uncomplainingly and with a divine generosity he met them all. So long as there was a soul in need there was no rest for Jesus Christ.
That scene called to Matthew's mind the saying of Isaiah ( Isaiah 53:4 ) where it is said of the servant of the Lord that he bore our weaknesses and carried our sins.
The follower of Christ cannot seek for rest while there are others to be helped and healed; and the strange thing is that he will find his own weariness refreshed and his own weakness strengthened in the service of others. Somehow he will find that as the demands come, strength also comes; and somehow he will find that he is able to go on for the sake of others when he feels that he cannot take another step for himself.
The Summons To Count The Cost ( Matthew 8:18-22 )
8:18-22 When Jesus saw the great crowds surrounding him, he gave orders to go away, across to the other side. A scribe came to him. "Teacher," he said, "I will follow you wherever you may be going." Jesus said to him: "The foxes have lairs, and the birds of the sky have places where they may lodge, but the Son of Man has nowhere where he may lay his head." Another of his disciples said: "Lord, let me first go away and bury my father." Jesus said to him: "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead."
At first sight this section seems out of place in this chapter. The chapter is a chapter of miracles, and at first sight these verses do not seem to fit into a chapter which tells of a series of miraculous events. Why then does Matthew put it here?
It has been suggested that Matthew inserted this passage here because his thoughts were running on Jesus as the Suffering Servant. He has just quoted Isaiah 53:4 : "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases" ( Matthew 8:17 ), and very naturally, it is said, that picture led on in Matthew's thoughts to the picture of the one who had nowhere to lay his head. As Plummer has it, "Jesus' life began in a borrowed stable and ended in a borrowed tomb." So it is suggested that Matthew inserted this passage here because both it and the immediately preceding verses show Jesus as the Suffering Servant of God.
It may be so, but it is even more likely that Matthew inserted this passage in this chapter of miracles because he saw a miracle in it. It was a scribe who wished to follow Jesus. He gave Jesus the highest title of honour that he knew. "Teacher" he called him; the Greek is didaskalos ( Greek #1320 ), which is the normal translation of the Hebrew word Rabbi ( Hebrew #7227 ). To him Jesus was the greatest teacher to whom he had ever listened and whom he had ever seen.
It was indeed a miracle that any scribe should give to Jesus that title, and should wish to follow him. Jesus stood for the destruction and the end of all that narrow legalism on which scribal religion was built; and it was indeed a miracle that a scribe should come to see anything lovely or anything desirable in Jesus. This is the miracle of the impact of the personality of Jesus Christ on men.
The impact of one personality on another can indeed produce the most wonderful effects. Very often a man has been launched on a career of scholarship by the impact of the personality of a great teacher upon him; many a man has been moved to the Christian way and to a life of Christian service by the impact of a great Christian personality on his life. Preaching itself has been described and defined as "truth through personality."
W. H. Elliott in his autobiography, Undiscovered Ends, tells a thing about Edith Evans, the great actress: "When her husband died, she came to us, full of grief. . . . In our drawing room at Chester Square she poured out her feelings about it for an hour or so, and they were feelings that came from springs that were very deep. Her personality filled the room. The room was not big enough! ... For days that room of ours was 'electric,' as I expressed it then. The strong vibrations had not gone."
This story is the story of the impact of the personality of Jesus on the life of a Jewish scribe. It remains true that to this day what is needed most of all is not so much to talk to men about Jesus as to confront them with Jesus, and to allow the personality of Jesus to do the rest.
But there is more than that. No sooner had the scribe undergone this reaction than Jesus told him that the foxes have their lairs and the birds of the sky have a place in the trees to rest, but the Son of Man has no place on earth to lay his head. It is as if Jesus said to this man: "Before you follow me--think what you are doing. Before you follow me--count the cost."
Jesus did not want followers who, were swept away by a moment of emotion, which quickly blazed and just as quickly died. He did not want men who were carried away by a tide of mere feeling, which quickly flowed and just as quickly ebbed. He wanted men who knew what they were doing. He talked about taking up a cross ( Matthew 10:38 ). He talked about setting himself above the dearest relationships in life ( Luke 14:26 ); he talked about giving away everything to the poor ( Matthew 19:21 ). He was always saying to men: "Yes, I know that your heart is running out to me, but--do you love me enough for that?"
In any sphere of life men must be confronted with the facts. If a young man expresses a desire for scholarship, we must say to him: "Good, but are you prepared to scorn delights and live laborious days? "When an explorer is building up his team, he will be inundated with people offering their services, but he must weed out the romantics and the realists by saying, "Good, but are you prepared for the snow and the ice, for the swamps and the heat, for the exhaustion and the weariness of it all? "When a young person wishes to become an athlete, the trainer must say, "Good, but are you prepared for the self-denial and self-discipline that alone will win you the eminence of which you dream? "This is not to discourage enthusiasm, but it is to say that enthusiasm which has not faced the facts will soon be dead ashes instead of a flame.
No man could ever say that he followed Jesus on false pretences. Jesus was uncompromisingly honest. We do Jesus a grave disservice, if ever we lead people to believe that the Christian way is an easy way. There is no thrill like the way of Christ, and there is no glory like the end of that way; but Jesus never said it was an easy way. The way to glory always involved a cross.
The Tragedy Of The Unseized Moment ( Matthew 8:18-22 Continued)
But there was another man who wished to follow Jesus. He said he would follow Jesus, if he was first allowed to go and bury his father. Jesus' answer was: "Follow me and leave the dead to bury their own dead." At first sight that seems a hard saying. To the Jew it was a sacred duty to ensure decent burial for a dead parent. When Jacob died, Joseph asked permission from Pharaoh to go and bury his father: "My father made me swear, saying, 'I am about to die; in my tomb which I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.' Now therefore let me go up, I pray you, and bury my father; then I will return" ( Genesis 50:5 ). Because of the apparently stern and unsympathetic character of this saying different explanations have been given of it.
It has been suggested that in the translation into Greek of the Aramaic which Jesus used there has been a mistake; and Chat Jesus is saying that the man can well leave the burying of his father to the official buriers. There is a strange verse in Ezekiel 39:15 : "And when these pass through the land and any one sees a man's bone, then he shall set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog." That seems to imply a kind of official called a burier; and it has been suggested that Jesus is saying that the man can leave the burial to these officials. That does not seem a very likely explanation.
It has been suggested that this is indeed a hard saying, and that Jesus is saying bluntly that the society in which this man is living is dead in sin, and he must get out of it as quickly as possible, even if it means leaving his father still unburied, that nothing, not even the most sacred duty, must delay his embarkation on the Christian way.
But the true explanation undoubtedly lies in the way in which the Jews used this phrase -- 'I must bury my father'! -- and in the way in which it is still used in the east.
Wendt quotes an incident related by a Syrian missionary, M. Waidmeier. This missionary was friendly with an intelligent and rich young Turk. He advised him to make a tour of Europe at the close of his education, so that his education would be completed and his mind broadened. The Turk answered, "I must first of all bury my father." The missionary expressed his sympathy and sorrow that the young man's father had died. But the young Turk explained that his father was still very much alive, and that what he meant was that he must fulfil all his duties to his parents and to his relatives, before he could leave them to go on the suggested tour, that, in fact, he could not leave home until after his father's death, which might not happen for many years.
That is undoubtedly what the man in this gospel incident meant. He meant, "I will follow you some day, when my father is dead, and when I am free to go." He was in fact putting off his following of Jesus for many years to come.
Jesus was wise: Jesus knew the human heart; and Jesus knew well that, if the man did not follow him on the moment, he never would. Again and again there come to us moments of impulse when we are moved to the higher things; and again and again we let them pass without acting upon them.
The tragedy of life is so often the tragedy of the unseized moment. We are moved to some fine action, we are moved to the abandoning of some weakness or habit, we are moved to say something to someone, some word of sympathy, or warning, or encouragement; but the moment passes, and the thing is never done, the evil thing is never conquered, the word is never spoken. In the best of us there is a certain lethargy and inertia; there is a certain habit of procrastination; there is a certain fear and indecision; and often the moment of fine impulse is never turned into action and into fact.
Jesus was saying to this man: "You are feeling at the moment that you must get out of that dead society in which you move; you say you will get out when the years have passed and your father has died; get out now -- or you will never get out at all."
In his autobiography H. G. Wells told of a crucial moment in his life. He was apprenticed to a draper, and there seemed to be little or no future for him. There came to him one day what he called "an inward and prophetic voice: 'Get out of this trade before it is too late; at any cost get out of it.'" He did not wait; he got out; and that is why he became H. G. Wells.
May God give to us that strength of decision which will save us from the tragedy of the unseized moment.
The Peace Of The Presence ( Matthew 8:23-27 )
8:23-27 When he embarked on the boat, his disciples followed him. And, look you, a great upheaval arose on the sea, so that the boat was hidden by the waves; and he was sleeping. They came and wakened him. "Lord," they said, "save us; we are perishing." He said to them, "Why are you such cowards, you whose faith is little?" Then, when he had been roused from sleep, he rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. The men were amazed. "What kind of man is this," they said, "for the winds and the sea obey him?"
In one sense this was a very ordinary scene on the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is small; it is only thirteen miles from north to south and eight miles from east to west at its widest. The Jordan valley makes a deep cleft in the surface of the earth, and the Sea of Galilee is part of that cleft. It is 680 feet below sea level. That gives it a climate which is warm and gracious, but it also creates dangers. On the west side there are hills with valleys and gullies; and, when a cold wind comes from the west, these valleys and gullies act like gigantic funnels. The wind, as it were, becomes compressed in them, and rushes down upon the lake with savage violence and with startling suddenness, so that the calm of one moment can become the raging storm of the next. The storms on the Sea of Galilee combine suddenness and violence in a unique way.
W. M. Thomson in The Land and the Book describes his experience on the shores of the Sea of Galilee:
On the occasion referred to, we subsequently pitched our tents
at the shore, and remained for three days and nights exposed to
this tremendous wind. We had to double-pin all the tent-ropes,
and frequently were obliged to hang with our whole weight
upon them to keep the quivering tabernacle from being carried
up bodily into the air. . . . The whole lake, as we had it, was
lashed into fury; the waves repeatedly rolled up to our tent
door, tumbling over the ropes with such violence as to carry away
the tent-pins. And, moreover, these winds are not only violent,
but they come down suddenly, and often when the sky is perfectly
clear. I once went to swim near the hot baths, and, before
I was aware, a wind came rushing over the cliffs with such force
that it was with great difficulty that I could regain the shore."
Dr. W. M. Christie, who spent many years in Galilee, says that during these storms the winds seem to blow from all the directions at the same time, for they rush down the narrow gorges in the hills and strike the water at an angle. He tells of one occasion:
A company of visitors were standing on the shore at Tiberias,
and, noting the glassy surface of the water and the smallness
of the lake, they expressed doubts as to the possibility of such
storms as those described in the gospels. Almost immediately
the wind sprang up. In twenty minutes the sea was white with
foam-crested waves. Great billows broke over the towers at the
corners of the city walls, and the visitors were compelled to
seek shelter from the blinding spray, though now two hundred
yards from the lakeside."
In less than half an hour the placid sunshine had become a raging storm.
That is what happened to Jesus and his disciples. The words in the Greek are very vivid. The storm is called a seismos ( Greek #4578 ), which is the word for an earthquake. The waves were so high that the boat was hidden (kaluplesthai, Greek #2572 ) in the trough as the crest of the waves towered over them. Jesus was asleep. (If we read the narrative in Mark 4:1 ; Mark 4:35 , we see that before they had set out he had been using the boat as a pulpit to address the people and no doubt he was exhausted.) In their moment of terror the disciples awoke him, and the storm became a calm.
Calm Amidst The Storm ( Matthew 8:23-27 Continued)
In this story there is something very much more than the calming of a storm at sea. Suppose that Jesus did in actual physical fact still a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee somewhere round about A.D. 28, that would in truth be a very wonderful thing; but it would have very little to do with us. It would be the story of an isolated wonder, which had no relevance for us in the twentieth century. If that is all the story means, we may well ask: "Why does he not do it now? Why does he allow those who love him nowadays to be drowned in the raging of the sea without intervening to save them?" If we take the story simply as the stilling of a weather storm, it actually produces problems which for some of us break the heart.
But the meaning of this story is far greater than that--the meaning of this story is not that Jesus stopped a storm in Galilee; the meaning is that wherever Jesus is the storms of life become a calm. It means that in the presence of Jesus the most terrible of tempests turns to peace.
When the cold, bleak wind of sorrow blows, there is calm and comfort in the presence of Jesus Christ. When the hot blast of passion blows, there is peace and security in the presence of Jesus Christ. When the storms of doubt seek to uproot the very foundations of the faith, there is a steady safety in the presence of Jesus Christ. In every storm that shakes the human heart there is peace with Jesus Christ.
Margaret Avery tells a wonderful story. In a little village school in the hill country a teacher had been telling the children of the stilling of the storm at sea. Shortly afterwards there came a terrible blizzard. When school closed for the day, the teacher had almost to drag the children bodily through the tempest. They were in very real danger. In the midst of it all she heard a little boy say as if to himself: "We could be doing with that chap Jesus here now." The child had got it right; that teacher must have been a wonderful teacher. The lesson of this story is that when the storms of life shake our souls Jesus Christ is there. and in his presence the raging of the storm turns to the peace that no storm can ever take away.
The Demon-haunted Universe ( Matthew 8:28-34 )
8:28-34 And, when he had come to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, as they emerged from the tombs. They were very fierce, so that no one was able to pass by that road. And, look you, they shouted: "What have we to do with you, you Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the proper time? "A good distance away from them a herd of many pigs was grazing. The devils urged Jesus: "If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs." He said to them: "Begone." They came out and went into the herd of pigs. And, look you, the whole herd rushed down the cliff into the sea, and died in the waters. Those who were herding them fled, and went away into the town and related the whole story, and told of the things which had happened to the demon-possessed men. And, look you, the whole town came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they urged him to depart from their districts.
Before we begin to study this passage in detail, we may try to clear up one difficulty which meets the student of the gospels. There was clearly some uncertainty in the mind of the gospel writers as to where this incident actually happened. That uncertainty is reflected in the differences between the three gospels. In the King James Version Matthew says that this happened in the country of the Gergesenes ( Matthew 8:28 ); Mark and Luke say that it happened in the country of the Gadarenes ( Mark 5:1 ; Luke 8:26 ). There are even very considerable differences between the different manuscripts of each gospel. In the Revised Standard Version, which follows the best manuscripts, and which makes use of the most up-to-date scholarship, Matthew places the incident in the country of the Gadarenes; Mark and Luke in the country of the Gerasenes.
The difficulty is that no one has ever really succeeded in identifying this place beyond doubt. Gerasa can hardly be right, for the only Gerasa of which we have any information was thirty-six miles inland, south-east of the lake, in Gilead; and it is certain that Jesus did not voyage thirty-six miles inland. Gadara is almost certainly right, because Gadara was a town six miles inland from the shores of the lake, and it would be very natural for the town burying-place and the town grazing-place to be some distance outside the town. Gergesa is very likely due to the conjecture of Origen, the great third century Alexandrian scholar. He knew that Gerasa was impossible; he doubted that Gadara was possible; and he actually knew of a village called Gergesa which was on the eastern shores of the lake, and so he conjectured that Gergesa must be the place. The differences are simply due to the fact that those who copied the manuscripts did not know Palestine well enough to be sure where this incident actually happened.
This miracle confronts us with the idea of demon-possession which is so common in the gospels. The ancient world believed unquestioningly and intensely in evil spirits. The air was so full of these spirits that it was not even possible to insert into it the point of a needle without coming against one. Some said that there were seven and a half million of them; there were ten thousand of them on a man's right hand and ten thousand on his left; and all were waiting to work men harm. They lived in unclean places such as tombs, and places where no cleansing water was to be found. They lived in the deserts where their howling could be heard. (We still speak of a howling desert.) They were specially dangerous to the lonely traveller, to the woman in childbirth, to the newly married bride and bridegroom, to children who were out after dark, and to voyagers by night. They were specially dangerous in the midday heat, and between sunset and sunrise. The male demons were called shedim ( Hebrew #7700 ), and the female liliyn after lilith ( Hebrew #3917 ). The female demons had long hair, and were specially dangerous to children; that was why children had their guardian angels (compare Matthew 18:10 ).
As to the origin of the demons different views were held. Some held that they had been there since the beginning of the world. Some held that they were the spirits of wicked, malignant people, who had died, and who even after their death still carried on their evil work. Most commonly of all they were connected with the strange old story in Genesis 6:1-8 . That story tells how the sinning angels came to earth and seduced mortal women. The demons were held to be the descendants of the children produced by that evil union.
To these demons all illness was ascribed. They were held to be responsible, not only for diseases like epilepsy and mental illness, but also for physical illness. The Egyptians held that the body had thirty-six different parts, and that every one could be occupied by a demon. One of their favourite ways of gaining an entry into a man's body was to lurk beside him while he ate, and so to settle on his food.
It may seem fantastic to us; but the ancient peoples believed implicitly in demons. If a man gained the idea that he was possessed by a demon, he would easily go on to produce all the symptoms of demon-possession. He could genuinely convince himself that there was a demon inside him. To this day anyone can think himself into having a pain or into the idea that he is ill; that could happen even more easily in days when there was much of what we would call superstition, and when men's knowledge was much more primitive than it is now. Even if there are no such things as demons, a man could be cured only by the assumption that for him at least the demons were the realest of all things.
The Defeat Of The Demons ( Matthew 8:28-34 Continued)
When Jesus came to the other side of the lake, he was confronted by two demon-possessed men, who dwelt in the tombs, for the tombs were the natural place for the demons to inhabit. These men were so fierce that they were a danger to passers-by, and the prudent traveller would give them a very wide berth indeed.
W. M. Thomson in The Land and the Book tells us that he himself, in the nineteenth century, saw men who were exactly like these two demon-possessed men in the tombs at Gadara:
There are some very similar cases at the present day--furious
and dangerous maniacs, who wander about the mountains and
sleep in eaves and tombs. In their worst paroxysms they are quite
unmanageable, and prodigiously strong.... And it is one of the
most common traits of this madness that the victims refuse to
wear clothes. I have often seen them absolutely naked in the
crowded streets of Beirut and Sidon. There are also cases in
which they run wildly about the country and frighten the
Apart from anything else, Jesus showed a most unusual courage in stopping to speak to these two men at all.
If we really want the details of this story we have to go to Mark. Mark's narrative ( Mark 5:1-19 ) is much longer, and what Matthew gives us is only a summary. This is a miracle story which has caused much discussion, and the discussion has centered round the destruction of the herd of pigs. Many have found it strange and have considered it heartless that Jesus should destroy a herd of animals like this. But it is almost certain that Jesus did not in fact deliberately destroy the pigs.
We must try to visualize what happened. The men were shouting and shrieking ( Mark 5:7 ; Luke 8:28 ). We must remember that they were completely convinced that they were occupied by demons. Now it was normal and orthodox belief, shared by everyone, that when the Messiah and the time of judgment came, the demons would be destroyed. That is what the men meant when they asked Jesus why he had come to torture them before the proper time. They were so convinced that they were possessed by demons that nothing could have rid them of that conviction other than visible demonstration that the demons had gone out of them.
Something had to be done which to them would be unanswerable proof. Almost certainly what happened was that their shouting and shrieking alarmed the herd of pigs; and in their terror the pigs took to flight and plunged into the lake. Water was fatal to demons. Thereupon Jesus seized the chance which had come to him. "Look," he said. "Look at these swine; they are gone into the depths of the lake and your demons are gone with them for ever." Jesus knew that in no other way could he ever convince these two men that they were in fact cured. If that be so, Jesus did not deliberately destroy the herd of swine. He used their stampede to help two poor sufferers believe in their cure.
Even if Jesus did deliberately work the destruction of this herd of pigs, it could surely never be held against him. There is such a thing as being over-fastidious. T. R. Glover spoke of people who think they are being religious when in fact they are being fastidious.
We could never compare the value of a herd of swine with the value of a man's immortal soul. It is unlikely that we refuse to eat bacon for breakfast or pork for dinner. Our sympathy with pigs does not extend far enough to prevent our eating them; are we then to complain if Jesus restored sanity to two men's minds at the cost of a herd of pigs? This is not to say that we encourage or even condone cruelty to animals. It is simply to say that we must preserve a sense of proportion in life.
The supreme tragedy of this story lies in its conclusion. Those who were herding the pigs ran back to the town and told what had happened; and the result was that the people of the town besought Jesus to leave their territory at once.
Here is human selfishness at its worst. It did not matter to these people that two men had been given back their reason; all that mattered to them was that their pigs had perished. It is so often the case that people in effect say, "I don't care what happens to anyone else, if my profits and my comfort and my ease are preserved." We may be amazed at the callousness of these people of Gadara, but we must have a care that we too do not resent any helping of others which reduces our own privileges.
-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)