Luke 8 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Luke 8
Pulpit Commentary
And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
Verses 1-3. - St. Luke's brief notice of the women who formed part of the company of Jesus. Verse 1. - And it came to pass afterward. St. Luke here notices an alteration in the Master's way of life. From this time forward Jesus ceased to make Capernaum "his city," his usual residence; he now journeys with his little band of followers from place to place. From this time there was also a distinct change in the tone of his teaching. The Greek word rendered "afterward" is the same as that translated "in order" in Luke 1:3. Showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. The public work of Jesus may be well arranged under three heads: his work as Master, as Evangelist, and as Prophet. The first had especial relation to his own immediate followers, women as well as men. In the second, as the Preacher of the grace, mercy, and the love of God, he peculiarly addressed himself to the general population; - this was the special side of the Lord's work which St. Luke loved to dwell on; this is what he alludes to here. In the third, as Prophet, the Master spoke generally to an evil generation, and especially to the political and religious leaders of the Jewish society of his day.
And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
Verse 2. - And certain women. It has before been noticed that St. Luke, in several places, especially notices the love and devotion of women to the Master. The present position of women is owing to the teaching of the Lord and his disciples. Fellow-heirs with men of the kingdom of heaven, it was obvious that they could no longer occupy on earth their old inferior and subordinate position. The sex, as a sex, has made a noble return to the Master. Much of the untold misery and suffering which tormented the old world has been at least alleviated in great measure by the labours of the women of Christianity. Several of these kindly grateful souls here alluded to evidently belonged to the wealthy class; some even occupied a high position in the society of that time. It was by their gifts, no doubt, that Jesus and his company were enabled to live during the thirty or more months of the public ministry. He had given up, as had also his companions, his earthly occupation, and we know that he deliberately refrained from ever using his miraculous power to supply his daily wants. The presence and loving interest of these and such like kindly generous friends answers the question - How did the Master and his disciples, poor men among poor men, live during the years of public teaching? Mary called Magdalene. The name Mary (Miriam) was a very favourite name among the Hebrew women; we meet with several in the gospel story. This one was called "Magdalene," or "of Magdala," to distinguish her from others bearing the same name. Magdala was a little town near Tiberias. There is nothing definite to connect her with the "sinner" of ch. 7. The early tradition which identified these two women was probably derived from Tal-mudic sources. There are many wild stories in these writings connected with one called Mary of Magdala, a grievous sinner. The "seven devils" probably allude to some aggravated form of demoniacal possession. Two sets of ecclesiastical legends busy themselves with the after-life of Mary of Magdala. The one represents her as coming with Lazarus and Martha to Marseilles; the other, as accompanying the Virgin and John to Ephesus.
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Verse 3. - Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward. She must have been a person of wealth and high rank at the court of Herod Antipas. There were evidently not a few believers in that wicked and dissolute centre. Some years later we read of Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod, as a notable Christian (Acts 13:1). Even Herod himself, we know, at first heard John the Baptist gladly. and, after the terrible judicial murder, we find that unhappy prince fancying that his victim had risen from the dead. It has been suggested that this Chuza was the nobleman of Capernaum whose dying son was healed by Jesus (John 4:46). If this be the case, there would be a special reason for the loving devotion of this Joanna to the Master. She reappears among the faithful women in the history of the Resurrection (ch. 24:10). Susanna. The name signifies "lily." The Jews were fond of giving the names of flowers and trees to their girls; thus Rhoda, a rose (Acts 12:13), Tamar, a palm (2 Samuel 13:2), among many instances. Of this Susanna nothing further is known.
And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
Verses 4-15. - The parable of the sower, and the Lord's interpretation of it. Verse 4. - And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable. A great change, it is clear, took place in our Lord's way of working at this period. We have already (in the note on ver. 1) remarked that from henceforth he dwelt no longer in one centre, his own city Capernaum, but moved about from place to place. A new way of teaching was now adopted - that of the "parable." It was from this time onward that, when he taught, he seems generally to have spoken in those famous parables, or stories, in which so much of his recorded teaching is shrined. Hitherto in his preaching he had occasionally made use of similes or comparisons, as in Luke 5:6 and Luke 6:29, 48; but he only began the formal use of the parable at this period, and the parable of the sower seems to have been the earliest spoken. Perhaps because it was the first, perhaps on account of the far-reaching nature of its contents, the story of "the sower" evidently impressed itself with singular force upon the minds of the disciples. It evidently formed a favourite "memory" among the first heralds of the new faith. It is the only one, with the exception of the vine-dressers, one of the latest spoken, which has been preserved by the three - Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is identical in structure and in teaching in all the three, which shows that they were relating the same story. It differs, however, in detail; we thus gather that the three did not copy from one primitive document, but that these "memories" were derived either from their own recollections or at least from different sources. Now, what induced the Master thus deliberately to change the manner of his teaching? In other words, why, from this time forward, does he veil so much of his deep Divine thought in parables? Let us consider the attitude of the crowds who till now had been listening to him. What may be termed the Galilaean revival had well-nigh come to an end. The enthusiasm he had evoked by his burning words, his true wisdom, his novel exposition of what belonged to human life and duty, was, when he left Capernaum and began his preaching in every little village (ver. 1), at its height. But the great Heart-reader knew well that the hour of reaction was at hand. Then the pressure of the crowds which thronged him was so great that, to speak this first parable, he had to get into a boat and address the multitude standing on the shore (Matthew 13:2); but the moment was at hand which St. John (John 6:66) refers to in his sad words, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." It was in view of that moment that Jesus commenced his parable-teaching with "the sower." As regards the great mass of the people who had crowded to hear his words and look on his miracles, the Lord knew that his work had practically failed. At the first he spoke to the people plainly. The sermon on the mount, for instance, contains little, if anything, of the parable form; but they understood him not, forming altogether false views of the kingdom he described to them. He now changes his method of teaching, veiling his thoughts in parables, in order that his own, to whom privately he gave the key to the right understanding of the parables, should see more clearly, and that those who deliberately misunderstood him - the hostile Pharisee and Sadducee, for instance - should be simply mystified and perplexed as to the Teacher's meaning; while the merely thoughtless might possibly be fascinated and attracted by this new manner of teaching, which evidently veiled some hidden meaning. These last would probably be induced to inquire further as to the meaning of these strange parable-stories. Professor Bruce, who has very ably discussed the reasons which induced Christ at this period of his ministry to speak in parables, says there is a mood which leads a man to present his thoughts in this form. "It is the mood of one whose heart is chilled, and whose spirit is saddened by a sense of loneliness, and who, retiring within himself by a process of reflection, frames for his thoughts forms which half conceal, half reveal them - reveal them more perfectly to those who understand, hide them from those who do not (and will not) - forms beautiful, but also melancholy, as the hues of forest in late autumn. It' this view be correct, we should expect the teaching in parables would not form a feature of the initial stage of Christ's ministry. And such accordingly was the fact." As regarded the men of his own generation, did he use the parable way of teaching almost as a fan to separate the wheat from the chaff? "That he had to speak in parables was one of the burdens of the Son of man, to be placed side by side with the fact that he had not where to lay his head" (Professor Bruce, 'Parabolic Teaching of Christ,' book 1. ch. 1.). And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city. The impression of the witness who told the story to Luke and Paul evidently was that at this period of the Lord's ministry vast crowds flocked to listen or to see.. St. Matthew expresses the same conviction in a different but in an equally forcible manner. Only the Lord knew how hollow all this seeming popularity was, and how soon the crowds would melt away. He spake by a parable. Roughly to distinguish between the parable and the fable: The fable would tell its moral truth, but its imagery might be purely fanciful; for instance, animals, or even trees, might be represented as reasoning and speaking. The parable, on the contrary, never violated probability, but told its solemn lesson, often certainly in a dramatic form, but its imagery was never fanciful or impossible.
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
Verse 5. - A sower went out to sow his seed. The Master's words, in after-days, must often have come home to the disciples. They would feel that in each of them, if they were faithful to their work, the "sower" of the parable was reproduced; they would remember what they had heard from his lips; how he had warned them of the reception which their words would surely meet with; how by far the greater proportion of the seed they would sow, would perish. But though the disciples and all true Christian men in a greater or less degree reproduce the sower of the parable, still the great Sower, it must be remembered, is the Holy Spirit. Every true teacher or sower of the Word does but repeat what they have learned from him. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside. Dean Stanley, on the scenery of the parable, thus writes: "Is there anything on the spot to suggest the images thus conveyed? So I asked as I rode along the tract under the hillside, by which the Plain of Gennesaret is approached. So I asked at the moment, seeing nothing but the steep sides of the hill, alternately of rock and grass. And when I thought of the parable of the sower, I answered that here at least was nothing on which the Divine teaching could fasten; it must have been the distant corn-fields of Samaria or Esdraelon on which his mind was dwelling. The thought had hardly occurred to me when a slight recess in the hillside, close upon the plain, disclosed at once, in detail, and with a conjunction which I remember nowhere else in Palestine, every feature of the great parable. There was the undulating corn-field descending to the water's edge; there was the trodden pathway running through the midst of it, with no fence or hedge to prevent the seed from falling here and there on either side of it, or upon it; itself hard with the constant tramp of horse and mule and human foot" ('Sinai and Palestine,' ch. 13.).
And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
Verse 6. - And some fell upon a rock. The picture here is not of a soil full of stones, but of a rocky portion of the corn-land where the rock is only covered with a thin layer of earth.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
Verse 7. - And some fell among thorns. "Every one who has been in Palestine must have been struck with the number of thorny shrubs and plants that abound there. The traveller finds them in his path, go where he may. Many of them are small, but some grow as high as a man's head. The rabbinical writers say that there are no less than twenty-two words in the Hebrew Bible denoting thorny and prickly plants" (Professor Hacker).
And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Verse 8. - And bare fruit an hundredfold. This is by no means an unheard-of increase even in the West, where vegetation is less luxuriant. Herodotus, quoted by Trench ('Parables'), mentions that two hundredfold was a common return in the Plain of Babylon, and sometimes three hundredfold; and Niebuhr mentions a species of maize that returns four hundredfold. On the marvellous fruit-bearing which would take place in the days of the Lord's future kingdom on earth, Irenaeus gives a quotation from Papias, who gave it on the authority of those who had heard St. John speak of the teaching of the Lord to that effect. Professor Westcott ('Introduction to the Study of the Gospels,' Appendix C, 21) thinks that the tradition was based on the real discourses of the Lord. It is, of course, allegorical, for is it not a memory cf. a conversation between Jesus and his disciples arising out of this parable of the sower? "The Lord taught of those days (of his future kingdom on earth) and said, The days will come in which vines shall spring up, each having, ten thousand stocks, and on each stock ten thousand branches, and on each branch ten thousand shoots, and on each shoot ten thousand bunches, and on each bunch ten thousand grapes, and each grape when pressed shalt give five and twenty measures of wine. And when any saint shall have seized one bunch, another shall cry, I am a better bunch; take me; through me bless the Lord. Likewise also (he said) that a grain of wheat shall produce ten thousand ears of corn, and each grain ten pounds of fine pure flour; and so all other fruits, and seeds, and each herb according to its proper nature.. . And he (Papias) added, saying, Now, these things are credible to them that believe. And when Judas the traitor believed not, and asked - How, then, shall such productions proceed from the Lord? the Lord said, They shall see who come to those times" (Papias; see Irenaeus, 5:33. 3).
And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
Verse 9. - And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be! This is the only parable St. Luke gives as spoken by our Lord in this place. St. Matthew - who gives the additional detail that on account of the pressure of the crowd on the lake-shore it was spoken from a boat moored close to the bank - relates seven parables here in sequence. It is probable that the Master spoke some of these at least on this occasion, but St. Luke, possibly on account of its extreme solemnity, possibly because he wished to mark this parable as the first of this new kind of teaching, relates it and its interpretation only, saying nothing further respecting that day's parable-teaching. It is most probable that all these reported discourses, parables, expositions, or sermons, are simply a resume of the original words. The disciples evidently by their question - which St. Mark tells us was put to Jesus when they were alone with him - were surprised and puzzled, first at the strange change which that eventful day inaugurated in the method of their Master's teaching, and secondly, at the peculiar character of this his first great parable-lesson. It was, indeed, a sombre and depressing announcement whatever way it was looked at - sombre as a picture of the results of his own past ministry, depressing if regarded as a prophecy of their future success as teachers.
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Verse 10. - And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. In St. Matthew we have the Lord's reply given at greater length; the same prophecy of Isaiah which here forms the basis of St. Luke's account of Jesus' reply is given in full. St. Mark weaves the Isaiah-words into the Master's answer. The thought, however, in each of the three accounts is exactly the same. The parable mode of teaching was adopted by Jesus who, as Heart-reader, was aware now by sad experience and still sadder foreknowledge, that his glorious news rather repelled than attracted the ordinary hearer. They did not want to be disturbed from their earthly hopes and loves and fears. They preferred not to be healed as God would heal them. The Master then spoke his parables with the intention of veiling his Divine story from the careless and indifferent. These, he knew, would for the most part be repelled by such teaching, while it would specially attract the earnest inquirer. "The veil which it (the parable) throws over the truth becomes transparent to the attentive mind, while it remains impenetrable to the careless" (Godet). It was therefore his deliberate wish that such hearers might neither see nor understand. Dr. Morrison ('Commentary on St. Mark') well and clearly puts the Lord's thought here: "It is the sinner's deeply rooted wish that he should not see and understand, and the sad explanation of this wish is given by St. Mark - the sinner is afraid lest he should be prevailed to turn. Lest at any time they should be converted (Mark 4:12)."
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Verses 11-15. - The Lord's interpretation of the parable of the sower. Verse 11. - The seed is the Word of God. It was his own sad experience the Master was relating. The picture was of things, too, which had already happened in the case of many of his own true servants, the prophets. It mirrored, too, the many future failures and the few future successes of the listening disciples; it warned them not to be deluded by appearances, not to be discouraged by apparent failure. The Word, of course, in the first instance is his own teaching; it comprehends, however, any preaching or teaching, whether of prophet of the past or minister of the future, winch tries faithfully to copy his own.
Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
Verse 12. - Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. The wayside hearers represent the great outer circle of men and women who more or less respect religion. It must be carefully borne in mind that in none of the four classes pictured in the parable are despisers of God, declared enemies of religion, portrayed. To these the gospel, with its warnings and its promises, rarely if ever speaks. These of "the wayside" are they whose hearts resemble a footpath, beaten hard and fiat by the constant passing to and fro of wishes of the flesh, of thoughts concerning earthly things, mere sordid hopes and fears. Into these hearts the Word can never really penetrate. Momentary influence now and again seems to have been gained, but the many watchful agents of the evil one, with swift wings, like birds of the air, swoop down and snatch away the scattered seed which for a moment seemed as though it would take root. Judas Iscariot the Jew, and Pontius Pilate the Roman, might be instanced as types of this class. These - before their awful fate - both appeared to have been moved. The one for long months followed the Lord and was trusted by him; the other pitied, and for a moment in his - Pilate's case - pity seemed passing into love and admiration, and tried to find a way of escape for the innocent Prisoner. But the one betrayed, and the other delivered to death, the sinless Son of God!
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Verse 13. - They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. These represent natures at once impressionable and excitable; impulsive men and women who, charmed with the beauty, perhaps (to them) the novelty, of the gospel message, receive the Word, take up the Master's yoke with joy, but without thought. These hastily make a religious profession, but they forget altogether to count what the real cost of such a profession amounts to. Upon these superficial but kindly natures come trouble, perplexity, discouragement, perhaps persecution; then quickly the once-loved religion withers away like corn growing on rocky places beneath the burning summer sun. John Mark, the would-be missionary companion of Paul and Barnabas, was one of this impulsive but little-enduring class; and Demas, once the friend of Paul, but who loved too well the present world. Another instance would be the man who offered to follow Jesus "whithersoever thou goest," as he phrased it, till he found, by the Lord's grave answer, that the Master he offered to follow had neither home nor resting-place; then he seems quickly to have turned back.
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Verse 14. - And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. There is something very sad in this, the thorn-choked class of believers. Each of them represents the vie manquee; the beautiful flower just spoiled as it was bursting into full bloom. These hear the Word, and, hearing it, grasp its deep solemn meaning, and for a part of each day honestly try to live the life which that Divine Word pressed home to them. But with these there is another life; side by side with the golden grain has grown up a crop of thorns, which, unless destroyed in time, will choke and utterly mar, as, alas, it often does, the true corn. Such men and women, the double-minded ones of St. James, try to serve two masters - God and the world. Dr. Morrison has a good note on the parallel passage in St. Mark, where, after suggesting that the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of this life in our time are such things as houses, land, works of art and virtu, posts of honour, gaiety of garments, grandeur of entertainments, and in general the myriad appliances of luxury, he goes on to say, "These come more or less in upon all men, but some men lay themselves peculiarly open to their influence, and allow them to twine and twist themselves like the serpents of Laocoon around every energy and susceptibility of their being." The rich young ruler whom Jesus loved is a fair instance of this not uncommon character, which perhaps is more often met with among the more cultured of society than among the poor and the artisan class. There must have been much that was really beautiful and true in that young man, or Jesus never had singled him out as one whom he especially loved, and yet in his case the thorns of riches and luxury had so twined themselves among the real corn that, as far as we know, it never brought fruit to perfection. Ananias and Sapphira may, too, be instanced. They had given up much for the Name's sake, associated themselves with a hated and persecuted sect, sacrificed a large portion of their property to help the poor of the flock, and yet these apparently devoted ones were living a double life; the thorns had so grown up and twined about the corn that in their field nothing ever ripened.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Verse 15. - But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. In this portraiture of the fourth class of our Lord's great life-picture of hearers of and inquirers concerning religion, the Greek words rendered in the Authorized Version "honest" and "good" ("in an honest and good heart ") were words well known and in familiar use among the widely spread Greek-speaking peoples for whom especially St. Luke's Gospel was compiled. Professor Bruce ('Parabolic Teaching of Christ,' ch. 1.) remarks that "the man who united the two qualities expressed by the term 'honest' (better rendered 'noble') and 'good,' represented the beau-ideal of manhood. He was one whose aim was noble, and who was generously devoted to his aim. The expression rendered 'honest' (better translated 'noble,' καλός) has reference to aims or chief ends, and describes one whose mind is raised above moral vulgarity, and is bent, not on money-making and such low pursuits, but on the attainment of wisdom, holiness, and righteousness. The epithet rendered 'good' (ἀγαθός) denotes generous self-abandonment in the prosecution of lofty ends; large-heartedness, magnanimous, overflowing devotion." Mary of Bethany, with her devoted love and her generous friendship; the centurion Cornelius, with his fervent piety and his noble generosity towards a despised and hated race; Barnabas, with his splendid liberality, his utter absence of care for self, his bright, loving trust in human nature, his true charity, "bearing all things, hoping all things;" - are good examples, drawn from different sexes and from varied races, and out of diverse paths of life, of these true inquirers, who not only hear the Word, but keep it.
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.
Verses 16-18. - A solemn conclusion of the Lord's to his exposition of his first great parable. Verse 16. - No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. The meaning of the Lord's saying here is - the disciples must not look on this parable-method of teaching, which from henceforth he purposed frequently to adopt, as mysterious, or as containing anything beyond ordinary human comprehension. The explanation of "the sower," which he had just given them, showed them how really simple and adapted to everyday life his teaching was. "No man," said the Lord, "when he hath lighted the candle of the true knowledge, really wishes to hide it - he rather displays it that men may see the light; and that is what I have been doing for you in my careful explanation of my story."
For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
Verse 17. - For nothing is secret, that shall net be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. "All will gradually become clear to them. Whilst the night thickens over Israel on account of its unbelief, the disciples will advance into even fuller light, until there is nothing left in the plan of God which is obscure or hidden. The heart of Jesus is lifted up at this prospect. This accounts for the poetical rhythm which always appears at such moments" (Godet). This is very good, but Godet scarcely goes far enough. The Master's words surely promise that, as the ages advance, more and ever more light on the subject of God's dealings with men will be vouchsafed to the humble, patient searcher after the Divine wisdom. This apophthegm seems to have been a very favourite one of our Lord; he evidently used it on several occasions (see, for instance, Matthew 10:26, where the same words are reported to have been spoken in a different connection).
Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
Verse 18. - Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have. A grave warning to his disciples primarily, and then to all who take upon themselves any work, even the humblest, connected with teaching Divine truth. The real strident, patient, humble, and restlessly industrious, he shall be endowed with ever-increasing powers; while the make-believe, lazy, and self-sufficient one shall be punished by the gradual waning of the little light which once shone in his soul.
Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.
Verses 19-21. - Interference of Christ's mother and his brethren. Verse 19. - Then came to him his mother and his brethren. St. Mark, in his third chapter, gives us the reasons which led to this scene. It had been bruited abroad that a species of frenzy had seized upon that strange Man who had been brought up in their midst, and who had lately aroused such enthusiasm in all the crowded lake-district of Galilee. It is difficult to estimate aright the feelings of his own family towards him; admiration and love seem to have struggled in their hearts with prejudice and jealousy - not in the case of Mary, but in the case of the so-called brothers. They seem ever to have been close to him during his public ministry, not among his "own," but still near him, watching him, and listening to him with a half-wondering, half-grudging admiration. But John tells us (John 7:5) that they did not believe in him. It needed the Resurrection to convert them. The crowd round the Master at this juncture was so great that they - his kinsmen - could not press through it to speak to him. They conveyed to him, however, a message. The Heart-reader knew well what were the motives which induced them to come to him just then; the brothers were so distrustful that they had suffered themselves to be carried away by the Pharisees' evil surmises, that Jesus was possessed by a devil. The mother, influenced by her earthly fears for her Son, was induced to accompany the brothers, no doubt hoping to induce him to withdraw himself from the scene of excitement, at all events for a season.
And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
Verse 21. - And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the Word of God, and do it. The Master used the opportunity to send home into the hearts of the many listeners the stern, grave lesson that there was something more solemn even than family ties, and that these, holy and binding though they were, must not be allowed to stand in the way of plain, unmistakable duty.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
Verses 22-25. - The lake-storm is stilled.
But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
Verse 23. - But as they sailed he fell asleep; and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. In the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this and the three following incidents are closely united - the lake-storm; the devils sent into the herd of swine; the raising of the little daughter of Jairus; the healing of the woman afflicted with the issue of blood. Although this cycle of acts is always united by the three, yet they do not occupy the same position chronologically in the three Gospels. The explanation of this probably is that in the primitive apostolic teaching it was usual to relate these four incidents of the Master's work together. In St. Matthew, between the recital of the healing of the demoniac and the raising of the daughter of Jairus, are intercalated the healing of the paralytic, and the call of Matthew, and the feast which followed. These incidents, in a more extended primitive discourse, were no doubt joined to the other four recitals. Had they used a common document, the three would surely have placed them in the same connection with other events. They most likely were worked, with many other signs, somewhere in this period of public work, and were chosen by the first preachers of "the Name" as specially illustrative acts, showing the Lord's power over the elements, over the unseen spirits of evil, over death, over wearying chronic sickness. On the sudden storm, travellers remark how, without warning, winds from the snowy summits of the neighbouring Hermon rush down the mountain gorges into the warm tropical air of the lake-basin, and in a short space of time the calm Galilee sea is lashed into storm and foam. The graphic description of Mark is, as usual, the most vivid, and gives us, in a few master-touches, the aspect of the scene. The weary Master sleeping in the stern of the fishing-boat; the pillow beneath his head; the disciples, terrified by the sudden uproar of the waves surging round their frail bark, as the wild winds rushed down on the lake, hastily awaking their tired Master. The danger must have been very real to have alarmed these Gennesaret fishermen; the storm must have been something more than the usual lake-tempests. The very words the Lord used when he lifted up his head and saw the danger, St. Mark preserves for us. With his "Hush!" he silenced the wild roar of the winds and waters; with his "Be still!" he quieted the heaving waves. Some commentators, reasoning from the Master's personal address to the elements - the winds and the waters - suppose that, in the midst of the storm, was some evil presence, who, taking advantage of our Lord's helpless condition - asleep in that frail fisher's boat - raised up the wild storm, hoping, perhaps, to cut short his life. The idea of spirits thus blending with the elements is one by no means unknown to Scripture. "Who maketh his angels winds [rather than the usual, better-known translation, 'spirits'], his ministers a flaming fire" (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:7;. Job 1:12).
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.
Verses 26-39. - The evil spirit in the Gergesene demoniac is dismissed into the herd of swine. Verse 26. - And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes. There is a perplexing difference in the reading of the older manuscripts here, but it is simply a question of the precise name of the locality where the great miracle was worked. In the three narratives of Matthew, Mark, and Luke the older manuscripts vary between "Gergesenes," "Gerasenes," and" Gadarenes." Gatiara was a city of some importance, about three hours' journey distant from the southern end of the Lake of Gennesaret. Its ruins are well known, and are distinguished by the remains of two amphitheatres. Gerasa was also a place of mark, and was situate about fifty miles from the lake. These cities might in the days of our Lord have either given its name to a great district stretching to the borders of the lake. Gergesa was a small and very obscure town nearly opposite Capernaum. There are some ruins now on this spot still known by the very slight corruption of Kerzha. There is scarcely any doubt that the scene of the miracle on the poor demoniac, and of the subsequent possession of the swine, must be looked for on this spot. But it was an obscure, little-known spot, and in very early days the preachers who told the story of the great miracle may have often spoken of the country as the district of the well-known Gerasa or Gadara, rather than of the unknown village of Gergesa. Hence probably the variations in the name in the older manuscripts here.
And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
Verse 27. - There met him out of the city a certain man; better rendered, there met him a man of the city. He had been a dweller in Gergesa in old days before the terrible possession began. St. Matthew, in his account, tells us of two demoniacs. SS, Mark and Luke, however, both only mention one, the other for some reason or other had passed out of their thoughts - possibly the malady was much less severe, and the strange dialogue and its results had not taken place in his case. Which had devils long time; better, daemons (daimonia). One of the current Jewish traditions was that these evil spirits were not fallen angels, but the spirits of wicked men who were dead (see Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 7:06. 3). The plural form "devils" - bitterly referred to later by the sufferer, when he was asked his name - seems in his case to speak of a very aggravated form of the awful malady. And ware no clothes, neither abode in any house. These were no uncommon features of the soul-malady - the horror at any bodily restraint, either connected with clothes or dwellings; a similar shrinking is not unusual even in the comparatively modified modern phases of madness. But in the tombs. Until the teaching and spirit of Jesus had suggested, even among men who had no faith in his Name, some thought and consideration for the helpless sufferers of humanity, neither hospital, nor home, nor asylum existed where these unhappy ones could find a refuge. In these gloomy tombs hollowed out of the rock on the mountain-side - polluted spots for the living, according to the Jewish ritual - these maniacs found the utter solitude they craved for.
When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.
Verse 28. - When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice aid, What have I to do with thee, Jesus? "The sight of Jesus appears to have produced an extraordinary impression upon him. The holy, calm, gentle majesty, the tender compassion, and the conscious sovereignty which were expressed in the aspect of our Lord, awakened in him, by force of contrast, the humbling consciousness of his own state of moral disorder" (Godet). Thou Son of God most high. There seems some probability that this expression was frequently used in cases of exorcism of evil spirits; for again in Acts 16:17 the poor slave-girl, who we read had a Pythoness-spirit, which brought in no small gain to her masters, speaks of Paul and his friends, just before the apostle in his Master's Name cast the spirit out, as servants of the most high God. I beseech thee, torment me not. In this form of possession one remarkable and very terrible feature seems to have been the divided consciousness; the sufferer identifies himself with the demons, and now one speaks, now the other. St. Matthew adds a dread detail to this petition to the Lord, "before the time:" the evil spirits thus recognizing a period when certain torment would be their hapless destiny. The expression "torment" meets us in the parable of Lazarus; the dwelling-place of the rich man after death is a place of torment. In Matthew 18:34 the ministers of judgment are the tormentors. One very solemn reason why this special case of exorcism on the part of our Lord is related with so much detail and repeated by the three evangelists, SS. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, seems to be the glimpse which the dialogue between the evil spirits and the Master opens to us of the dread realities hidden in the future for those who sin deliberately against the will of God. The existence of the place or state of torment is affirmed very pointedly by our Lord and his disciples; but having done this they dwell but little on it. There is a striking and solemn quotation in Dr. Morrison's 'Commentary on St. Mark' on this clear but guarded reference to the final sufferings of those who will not be submissive to the moral will of God, "Further curiosity as to the when, the where, and the how, does not become beings whose main business and greatest wisdom is to fly from, not to pry too close into, these terrible secrets of the dark kingdom."
(For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
Verse 30. - And Jesus asked him; saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him The Master vouchsafed no reply to the demons' prayer, but puts a quiet suggestive question to their unhappy victim. The Lord's words, as Dean Plumptre suggests, would serve "to recall to the man's mind that he had once a human name, with all its memories of human fellowship. It was a stage, even in spite of the paroxysm that followed, in the process of recovery, in so far as it helped to disentangle him from the confusion between himself and the demons which caused his misery. But, at first, the question seems only to increase the evil. 'My name is Legion, for we are many.' The irresistible might, the full array of the Roman legion, with its six thousand soldiers, seemed to the demoniac the one adequate symbol of the wild, uncontrollable impulses of passion and of dread that were sweeping through his soul."
And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
Verse 31. - And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. This time the voice and the request apparently proceed from the terrible presence which had made the soul of the unhappy man their temporary habitation. The direful confusion in the state of the poor demoniac is shown by this request. By whom was it made? The bystanders could discern no difference between the possessed and the spirits dwelling in the afflicted human being. So St. Mark, in his relation, puts these words into the demoniac's mouth, "And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country;" apparently here partly conscious of his own personal being, and partly identifying himself with the demoniac forces which were afflicting him. The request is a strange one, and suggests much anxious thought. What is the abyss these rebel-spirits dreaded with so great a dread? It would seem as though, to use Godet's thought, that for beings alienated from God, the power of acting on the world is a temporary solace to their unrest, and that to be deprived of this power is for them just what a return to prison is for the captive. St. Mark's expression here is a curious one. He represents the spirits requesting Jesus "not to send them away out of the country." The two accounts put together tell us that these spirits were aware, if they were driven out of the country - whatever that expression signified, this earth possibly - they must go out into the deep, the abyss, what is called "the bottomless pit" in Revelation 9:1, 2, 11. Any doom seemed to these lost ones preferable to that. The whole train of thought suggested by the incident and the words of the Lord is very terrible. We see at least one reason why the first preachers of the Word have selected this exorcism. It indeed lifts a bit of the curtain which hangs between us and the night of endless woe!
And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.
Verse 32. - And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. For what end was this request? Was it simply the way they chose to enter the abyss by? We know that the lives of the creatures, after the permission was given, lasted but a few minutes at most. Was it a desire to do more mischief during their brief sojourn on earth? Theophylact (eighth century) suggests that the purpose of the evil spirits, in their request, was to injure Jesus in that part of the country by arousing fears among the covetous inhabitants lest they too might lose, in a similar way, their herds. But to the writer of this note it seems best to confess that no satisfactory answer can ever be given here. We know so little of these dread spirits of evil. The reason of the Lord's permission is more obvious. Some such visible proof as the sight of the evil and unclean forces that had mastered him so long, transferred to the bodies of other creatures and working their wild will upon them, was probably a necessary element in his perfect cure. It is likely also that Jesus wished to show his indignation at the flagrant disregard of the Mosaic Law, at the open disobedience to the Divine injunctions respecting swine, which was shown by the presence of so vast a herd of these animals pronounced unclean by the Mosaic Law under which these people were professedly living (St. Mark gives the number as two thousand). In this district the large majority of the inhabitants were Jews. The keeping or the rearing of swine was strictly forbidden by the Jewish canon law. Other Oriental peoples also held these animals as unclean. Herodotus (it. 47) tells us that in Egypt there was a special class of swineherds, who alone among the inhabitants of the country were forbidden to enter a temple. This degraded caste were only allowed to marry among themselves. The eating of swine's flesh is referred to by Isaiah (Isaiah 65:3, 4)as among the acts of the people which continually provoked the Lord to anger.
Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
Verse 33. - And the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. Some exception has been taken at our Lord's action here in connection with the swine, but it has been well said "that the antedating of the death of a herd of unclean animals was as nothing compared with the deliverance of a human soul." But it seems better to see, in the permitted destruction of the herd, the Lord's grave rebuke to the open disregarders of the holy ritual law of Israel, for the sake of selfish lucre.
When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.
Verse 34. - When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. The men who kept the swine had witnessed the whole transaction; and as the Master uttered the word "Go," they saw a change in a moment pass through the vast herd. A wild panic seemed to seize the creatures, something: had filled them with a great fear, - they would hurry from the unseen but felt presence; the cool blue waters of the lake, clearly seen from the upland down where they were feeding, seemed to premise the best refuge; they rushed from the plateau down a steep incline, which travellers since think they have identified, and the deep waters or' (Gennesaret put a quick end to the creatures' torments.
Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
Verses 35, 36. - Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and. found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. The swineherds told their story, quickly the news spread; a great concourse from all the country-side soon gathered round the scene of the catastrophe. It was quiet then; the waters of the lake had closed over the tormented creatures, The demoniac, so long the terror of the neighbourhood, now sane, clothed, too, like one of them, was sitting peacefully full of deep, aweful gratitude at the Master's feet; the disciples were standing round; Jesus was no doubt teaching them the deep im - port of the scene they had lately witnessed.
They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.
Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
Verse 37. - Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. The recital had no effect upon. the headmen of the neighbouring towns and villages. They were probably for the most part owners of similar herds of swine, perhaps sharers in nameless sins, all specially hateful to the Rabbi Jesus, whom they no doubt knew well by repute. But he was, they saw, something more than a poor wandering moral Teacher; he possessed strange and awful powers: had they not had terribler experience of them? Which of them in that law-breaking, dissolute neighbourhood might not he the next victim whose unclean possessions were to be swept away? So they would have none of him: let him, as quickly as possible depart from their coasts. They felt they could not keep both the Saviour and their swine, and of the two they preferred their swine! And returned back again. The chance, as far as the Gadarene district was concerned, was gone for ever. Jesus probably returned thither no more. Within forty years this district was the scene of one of the terrible calamities of the great Roman war. The sack of Gadara, and the desolation and ruin which was the hapless lot of this once wealthy but evil-living district, is one of the many melancholy chapters of the hopeless Jewish revolt, (see Josephus, *Bell. Jud.,' 3:07. 1; 4:7. 4). A modern traveller, Dr. Thomson, remarks, singularly enough, that the old district of Gadara at the present day is infested with wild, fierce hogs: "Everywhere," he writes, "the land is ploughed up by wild hogs in search of roots on which they live" ('The Land and the Book,' 2. ch. 25).
Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
Verse 38. - Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying. The restored man longed to remain with his Deliverer, but this was not permitted - the great Teacher bade him stay behind in his own country. Perhaps, thought the Redeemer, "some of these hardhearted Gadarenes will be won by his testimony - one of themselves, too, and so notorious a sufferer." His work, the Master told him, was there among his own people; so he stayed, and the next verse (39) tells us how he worked as a diligent evangelist. It is noteworthy how the Master referred the great act of deliverance to God. But to the restored, Jesus was at once his Deliverer and his God. The text of his preaching was "how great things Jesus had done unto him."
Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.
Verses 40-56. - The healing of the woman with the issue of blood, and the raising of the daughter of Jairus. Verse 40. - When Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him. Allusion has already been made, in the notes which preceded the parable of the sower, to the enthusiasm for Jesus in the Galilee lake-cities and their neighbourhood. This, as the Master well knew, was only a temporary religious revival, but still while it lasted it gathered great crowds in every place where he visited. He had not been long in the Gadarene district, but his return was eagerly looked for in Galilee. This verse describes his reception on his return by the people, and introduces the recital of two famous miracles which he worked in this period of his ministry after his brief visit to the other shore of the lake. St. Matthew, before speaking of the request of Jairus that the Master would visit his dying child, relates the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum, and the calling of Matthew the apostle. It is scarcely possible now to arrange the events related, in their proper chronological order. The Gospel histories pretty faithfully represent the teaching of the first days, in which it was evidently the practice of apostles and apostolic men to group their accounts of particular incidents in the Lord's life with a view to teaching certain lessons connected with doctrine or with daily living, often disregarding the order in which these incidents really happened. Hence so many of the differences in detail in our Gospels.
And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:
Verse 41. - And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. The public request, made too with intense earnestness, of one holding such a position, is a clear proof that the Galilee enthusiasm for Jesus was by no means confined to the poorer part of the population, or even to the more careless and thoughtless; such a man as Jairus is a fair representative of the well-to-do, perhaps wealthy, orthodox Jew; strict and rigid in his ritual observances, and held in high honour by his fellow Jewish citizens. The name is only a form of the Hebrew Jair (Judges 10:3).
For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.
Verse 42. - One only daughter. This is not the only place where the same touching detail is recorded by this evangelist. Compare the story of the widow's son at Nain (Luke 7:12), and the healing of the lunatic boy (Luke 9:38). St. Luke's Gospel owes these and many similar touches of deep true sympathy to the great loving heart of the real author of the third Gospel, Paul.
And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,
Verses 43, 44. - And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment. It may be assumed that the disease from which she suffered made her, according to the Levitical Law, ceremonially unclean: this had separated her in a great measure for a very long period from all contact with the outer world. This would well account for her shrinking from any public appeal to the great Physician. The border of the Lord's garment which the woman touched was one of the four tassels which formed part of the Jewish tallith, or mantle; one of these was always arranged so as to hang down over the shoulder at the back; it was this one which the sufferer's fingers grasped. There was a certain sacredness about these tassels, as being part of the memorial dress enjoined by the Levitical Law, which, no doubt, induced the woman to touch this particular portion of the Saviour's dress. And immediately her issue of blood stanched. This is not the only instance of this kind of strange faith mingled with superstition being signally rewarded. The case of the miraculous efficacy of the handkerchiefs and aprons which had had contact with Paul's body (Acts 19:12) is an interesting example. A still more startling one exists in the healing influence of the shadow of Peter falling on the sick as he passed along the street (Acts 5:15). The lesson evidently intended to be left on the Church of Christ by this and similar incidents is a very instructive one. Faith in Christ is a broad inclusive term: it is accepted and blest by the Master, as we see from the gospel story, in all its many degrees of development, from the elementary shape which it assumed in the case of this poor loving superstitious soul, to the splendid proportions which it reached in the lives of a Stephen and a Paul. Faith in him, from its rudest form to its grandest development, the Master knew would ever purify and elevate the character. It would, as it grew, be the best teacher and the truest monitor of the noble, generous life he loved. Therefore he watched for it, encouraged it, helped it; and his Church, if it would imitate its Master, would do well to follow his wise and loving example by fostering in every form, however crude, faith m Jesus Christ; for this incident in the Divine and perfect life which we have just dwelt on, teaches us with striking clearness that he can and will bless the dimmest, most imperfect faith, the faith of the little child, and of the poorest untaught one.
Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
Verse 45. - Who touched me? The Master's words here and the statement of ver. 46, "For I perceive that virtue is gone out of me," tell us something of the earnestness and faith of the suppliant. Many, as Peter said, in that crowd were touching Jesus as they pressed round him to look on his face or to listen to his words, but of them all none save this poor sufferer "touched" him in the true deep sense of touching, with the fixed idea that contact with his blessed Person would benefit or heal them.
And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Verse 48. - Daughter, be of good comfort. This is the only place in the Gospels where our Lord is reported to have used this loving word to any woman. Eusebius preserves a curious legend in connection with this act of healing. In his time (fourth century) the house of this happy one who met Jesus in her sad life-journey, was shown at Paneas, a town in the north of Palestine. At the entrance of the house, on a stone pedestal, stood two brazen statues - one represented a woman kneeling; the other, a man with his cloak over his shoulder and his hand stretched out toward the kneeling woman. Eusebius relates how he had seen the house and statues and heard the legend ('Hist. Eccl.,' 7:18). In the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, a very early writing, though not one possessing much critical value, the name of the woman is stated to be Veronica. It was she, goes on the story to re]ate, who, on the Via Dolorosa, when the Lord, on his way to Calvary, stumbled and fell, gave the handkerchief to wipe the blessed face.
While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
Verse 49. - While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. This interruption, which must have occupied some time, was, no doubt, a sore trial to the ruler's faith. His little daughter was, he knew well, dying; and though he trusted that the famous Rabbi had power to arrest the progress of disease, he never seems for a moment to have contemplated his wrestling with death; indeed, the bare thought of recalling the spirit to the deserted clay tenement evidently never occurred to any of that sad household, while the hired mourners (vers. 52, 53, and Mark 5:38), too accustomed to the sight of death in all its forms to dream of any man, however great a physician, recalling the dead to life, transgressing all courtesy, positively laughed him to scorn. It seems to us strange now that this supreme miracle should have seemed so much harder a thing to accomplish than the healing of blindness or deafness, or the creation of wine and bread and fish, or the instantaneous quieting of the elements, the waves, and the wind. While sufferers and their friends and the Lord's disciples, in countless instances, asked him to put forth his power in cases of disease and sickness, neither friend nor disciple ever asked him to raise the dead to life. To the last, in spite of what they had seen, none, till after the Resurrection, could persuade themselves that he was, indeed, the Lord of death as well as of life.
But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
Verse 50. - But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. No shadow of hesitation crossed the Redeemer's mind; with unruffled calmness he whispered his words of cheer to the grief-stricken father, and bade him fear nothing, for that all would yet be well with the child. Then follows the well-known, often-read story told in such few words, yet are they so vivid, so dramatic, that we seem to be looking on the scene. The grief-stricken household, the hired mourners, the still death-room, the white motionless form of the dead girl - the ruler's only child - lying on her little bed, the group of the six with tear-dimmed eyes standing round; the loving Master bending over the little dead, his smile as for a moment he took back the all-power he had laid aside a little season for our sakes; the far-off look in his eyes as for a moment his vision ranged over his old home of peace and grandeur; and then the two words spoken in the familiar Aramaic (Hebrew), which Mark, or rather Mark's master, Peter, remembered so well, "Talitha, kumi!" and the dead child rose up again, the spirit had returned to its frail tenement.
And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
Verse 53. - They laughed him to scorn. These were, no doubt, the hired mourners. Familiar as they were with death, they ridiculed the idea of one whom they knew had passed away, awaking again as from a sleep. These public mourners were customary figures in all Jewish homes, even in the poorest where a death had occurred. They are still usual throughout the Levant. The expression, "laughed him to scorn," is found in Shakespeare -

"Our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn."

(Macbeth,' act 5. sc. 5.) The Aramaic words, Talitha, kumi! "Maid, arise!" were just homely words, spoken in the language which the little girl was in the habit of hearing and using. The Master's tender care for the child was shown not merely in the choice of the language and the words, but in his loving thought after her resurrection, for we read how -
And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
Verse 55. - He commanded to give her meat. She had been grievously ill, sick, we know, even to death; and now that the old strength and health had come back again, the Master felt she would at once, after her long abstinence, need food. Even the child's mother was not so motherly as Jesus.
And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
Verse 56. - He charged them that they should tell no man what was done. The enthusiasm in Galilee just then needed no extra spur. The crowds which followed him were increasing. The excitement, the Master felt, was unreal and evanescent; he wished rather to calm it than to increase it.

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