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Song of Solomon
Mark 5 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
And they came to the other side of the sea
. The other side of the sea would be the south-east side of the sea.
Into the country of the Gadarenes
, or rather,
, which is now generally admitted to be the true reading, from Gerasa, Gersa, or Kersa. There was another Gerasa, situated at some distance from the sea, on the borders of Arabia Petraea. The ruins of the Gerasa, here referred to, have been recently discovered by Dr. Thomson, ('The Land and the Book'). Immediately over this spot is a lofty mountain, in which are ancient tombs; and from this mountain there is an almost perpendicular declivity, literally (
) corresponding accurately to what is required by the description in the narrative of the miracle. Dr. Farrar ('Life of Christ') says that in the days of Eusebius and Jerome, tradition pointed to a "
place" near "
as the scene of the miracle. The foot of this steep is washed by the waters of the lake, which are at once very deep.
And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
There met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit
. St. Matthew says that there were two. St. Luke, like St. Mark, mentions only one, and him "possessed with devils," The one mentioned by St. Mark was no doubt the more prominent and fierce of the two. This does not mean merely a person with a disordered intellect. No doubt, in this case, as in that of insanity, physical causes may have helped to lay the victim open to such an incursion; and this may account for cases of possession being enumerated with various sicknesses, though distinguished from them. But our Lord evidently deals with these persons, not as persons suffering from insanity, but as the subjects of an alien spiritual power, external to themselves. He addresses the unclean spirit through the man that was possessed, and says," Come forth thou unclean spirit" (Ver. 8).
There met him out of the tombs.
The Jews did not have their burial-places in their cities, lest they should be defiled; therefore they buried their dead without the gates in the fields or mountains. Their sepulchres were frequently hewn out of the rock in the sides of the limestone hills, and they were lofty and capacious; so that the living could enter them, as into a vault. So this demoniac dwelt in the tombs, because the unclean spirit drove him thither, where the associations of the place would accord with his malady and aggravate its symptoms. St. Matthew, speaking of the two, says that they were "exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass that way." The demoniac particularly mentioned by St. Mark is described as having been possessed of that extraordinary muscular strength which maniacs so often put forth; so that all efforts to bind and restrain him had proved ineffectual. No man could any more bind him, no, not with a chain (
). Chains and fetters had often been tried, but in vain. Frequently too, in the paroxysms of his malady, he would turn his violence against himself, crying out, and cutting himself with stones
dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
And when he saw Jesus from afar
. These words, "from afar," explain the fact of our Lord being immediately met by the man as soon as he left the boat. Vers. 3-5 inclusive must be regarded as parenthetical. They describe the ordinary condition of the demoniac, and his sad wild life from day to day. From the high ground which he frequented he had seen the boat, in which Jesus was, nearing the shore. He had seen the other boats. Perhaps he had seen the sudden rise of the storm and its equally sudden suppression; and he, like others who witnessed it, was affected by it. So he hastened to the shore;
he ran and worshipped him
. He felt the power of his presence, and so he was constrained through fear to do him reverence, for "the devils also believe and shudder (
And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus,
Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
He cried with a loud voice
; that is, the evil spirit cried out, using the organs of the man whom he possessed.
What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God?
From hence it appears that, although at the great temptation of our Lord in the wilderness, Satan had but an imperfect knowledge of him: yet now, after the evidence of these great miracles, and more especially of his power over the evil spirits, there was a general belief amongst the hosts of evil that he was indeed the Son of God, the Messiah. I adjure thee by God, torment me not. The torment which he dreaded was that which he might suffer after expulsion. So St. Luke says that they entreated him that he would not command them to depart into the abyss. Great as this mystery of evil is, we may believe that the evil spirits, although while they roam about upon this earth they are in misery, still it is some alleviation that they are not yet shut up in the prison-house of hell, but are suffered to wander about and their depraved pleasure in tempting men; so that, if possible, they may at last drag them down with them into the abyss. For they are full of hatred of God and envy of man; and they find a miserable satisfaction in endeavoring to keep men out of those heavenly mansions from which, through pride, they are themselves now for ever excluded.
For he said unto him, Come out of the man,
Verses 8, 9.
For he said unto him, Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the man
for he was saying
). The unclean spirit endeavored to arrest, before it was spoken, that word of power which he knew he must obey. So in what follows,
He was asking him
What is thy name?
Why does our Lord ask this question? Clearly to elicit from him an answer that would reveal the multitude of the evil spirits, and so make his own power over them to be fully known.
And he saith unto him, My name is Legion; for we are many
. The Roman legion consisted of six thousand soldiers. But the word is here used indefinitely for a large number. St. Luke so explains it where he says (
), "And he said, Legion: for many devils were entered into him." This revelation is doubtless designed to teach us how great is the number as well as the malignity of the evil spirits. If one human being can be possessed by so many, how vast must be the host of those who are permitted to have access to the souls of men, and if possible lead them to destruction! Satan here imitates him who is "The Lord of hosts." He too marshals his hosts, that he may fight against God and his people. But "for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
And he asked him, What
thy name? And he answered, saying, My name
Legion: for we are many.
And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country
. It would appear as though this evil spirit felt (speaking in the name of the other evil spirits) that if they were driven out from their present dwelling-places, their condition would be changed for the worse; and that until the time should come when they were to be cast into the abyss, their best relief was to possess some materialism, to occupy flesh and blood, and that flesh and blood tenanted by a spiritual being, through whom they might torment others. They could find no rest, no relief, but in this. "The unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places, seeking rest, and findeth it not" (
). Even the swine were better than nothing; but that dwelling did not serve the evil spirits long.
Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
Now there was there nigh unto the mountains
on the mountain side
πρὸς τὰ ὅρη
a great herd of swine feeding
. St. Matthew says (
), "There was a good way off from them:" our Lord's interview with the demoniac was on the seashore. "The herd of swine," two thousand in number (as St. Mark tells us, with his usual attention to details), were at a distance, feeding on the slopes of the mountain; The Jews were not allowed to eat swine's flesh. But Jews were not the only inhabitants of that district. It had been colonized, at least in part, by the Romans immediately after the conquest of Syria, some sixty years before Christ. It was in this district that ten cities are said to have been rebuilt by the Romans, whence the territory acquired the name of "the Decapolis." And though the Jews were forbidden their Law to eat this kind of food, yet they were not forbidden to breed swine for other uses, such as provisioning the Roman army.
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And he gave them leave
. They could not enter even into the swine without Christ's permission; how much less into "the sheep of his pasture"!
And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
The unclean spirits came out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently
down a steep place
κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ
) - literally,
down the steep
into the sea,... and were choked in the sea
. By this Christ shows of how little worth are earthly possessions when set in the balance with the souls of men. The recovery of this demoniac was worth far more than the value of the two thousand swine.
And they that fed the swine fled, and told
in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
And they that fed them fled, and told it in the city, and in the country
. St. Matthew mentions only the city. St. Mark's narrative is more full. No doubt many of these swineherds lived in the country districts; and so the fame of the miracle was spread far and wide. The swineherds would take care that the owners should understand that it was through no fault or carelessness on their part that the swine had perished; but that the destruction was caused by a power over which they had no control.
the owners -
came to see what it was that had come to pass
. Their first care was to see the extent of their loss; and this was soon revealed to them. They must have seen the carcases of the swine floating hither and thither in the now calm and tranquil sea; and when they had thus satisfied themselves as to the facts, "they came to Jesus." St. Mark here uses the historic present, "they come to Jesus," that they might behold him of whom these great things were told, as well as the man out of whom the evil spirits had gone when they entered into the swine. They were, of course, concerned to know the magnitude of their loss, and the mode in which it had happened, that they might see whether there were any means by which it might be made up to them.
And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
And they come to Jesus, and behold him that was possessed with devils sitting, clothed and in his right mind, even him that had the legion; and they were afraid
. St, Luke adds that they found him sitting at the feet of Jesus. It is likely enough that the man, as soon as he found himself dispossessed, had east himself at the feet of Jesus, and was worshipping him; but that, when hidden by Christ to sit, he chose to place himself at his feet. "He was clothed, and in his right mind." What a contrast to the previous description! "And they were afraid." They dreaded Christ's power. They saw that he was almighty; but they did not seek to know his love, and so to attain to that love which "casteth out fear."
And they that saw
told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and
concerning the swine.
Verses 16, 17.
How it befell him that was pessessed with devils, and concerning the swine
. The loss of the swine. They could not get over that. They thought far more of the worldly loss than of the spiritual gain;
and they began to beseech him to depart from their borders
. St. Luke (
) says that "they were taken (
) [literally, were
] with great fear." This was the dominant feeling. They did not entreat him to depart out of humility, as though they felt themselves unworthy of his presence; but out of servile, slavish fear, lest his continued presence among them might bring upon them still greater losses. They saw that Jesus, a Jew according to the flesh, was holy, powerful, Divine. But they knew that they were Gentiles, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Wherefore they feared lest he should punish them more grievously, both on account of their being Gentiles and on account of their past sins. It was not, therefore, so much on account of hatred, as out of a timorous fear, that they besought Jesus that he would depart out of their borders.
And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
And as he was entering into the boat, he that had been possessed with devils besought him that he might he with him
. It was natural that he should desire this. It would be grateful and soothing to him to be near to Christ, from whom he had received so great a benefit and yet hoped for more.
And he suffered him not, but saith unto him; Go to thy house unto thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.
Our Lord here takes a different course from what lie so often took. He saw, no doubt, that this restored demoniac was fitted for missionary work; and there was no reason to apprehend any inconvenience to himself in consequence from a people who wished to get rid of him.
And he went his way, and began to publish in Decapolis
- in Decapolis,
through the whole district of the ten cities -
how great things Jesus had done for him
. This would bring him into contact alike with Gentiles and with Jews; and so this dispossessed demoniac became a missionary to both Jew and Gentile. Here he planted the standard of the cross.
Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all
And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.
- Jesus now crosses over the sea again, and apparently in the same boat, to the other side, the opposite shore, near to Capernaum. St. Matthew (
) distinctly tells us that he had left Nazareth, and was now dwelling at Capernaum, thus fulfilling the ancient prophecy with regard to Zebulun and Nephthalim. The circumstances under which he quitted Nazareth are given by St. Luke (
). St. Matthew (
) calls Capernaum his own city. Thus as Christ ennobled Bethlehem by his birth, Nazareth by his education, and Jerusalem By his death, so he honored Capernaum by making it his ordinary residence, and the focus, so to speak, of his preaching and miracles. When Jesus returned,
a great multitude was gathered unto him; and he was by the sea
. St. Luke says that the people welcomed him, for they were waiting for him. Again he placed himself by the sea, probably for the conveniences of addressing a multitude, and of relieving himself of the pressure, as before, by taking refuge in a boat.
And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
Verses 22, 23.
One of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name
. He appears to have been one of the "college of elders," who administered the affairs of the synagogue. The name Jairus, or "Ya eiros," is probably the Greek form of the Hebrew
, "he will illuminate."
He fell at his feet, and besought him greatly
; it is literally (
πίπτει καὶ παρεκάλει
he falleth at his feet
and beseecheth him.
We picture him to ourselves, making his way through the crowd, and as he approached Jesus, kneeling down, and then bending his head towards him, until his forehead touched the ground.
My little daughter is at the point of death
. St. Matthew says, "is even now dead;" St. Luke says, "she Jay a dying." The broken sentences of the father are very true to nature. All the expressions point to the same conclusion, that she was in
In each narrative the ruler is represented as asking that Christ would hasten to his house. He had not reached the higher faith of the Gentile centurion, "Speak the word only."
And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death:
I pray thee
, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
And he went
καὶ ἀπῆλθε μετ αὐτοῦ
) - literally,
and he went away with him
- and a great multitude followed him
, they thronged him (
pressed close upon him
im. This is mentioned purposely by St. Mark, on account of what follows. St. Matthew says (
), "And Jesus arose, and so did his disciples." Observe here the promptitude of Christ to assist the afflicted. St. Chrysostom suggests that our Lord purposely interposed some delay, by healing, as he went, the woman with the issue of blood, in order that the actual death of the daughter of Jairus might take place; and that so there might be full demonstration of his resurrection power.
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
Verses 25, 26.
A woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years
. All the synoptic Gospels mention the length of time during which she had been suffering. Eusebius records a tradition that she was a Gentile, a native of Caesarea Philippi. This disease was a chronic hoemorrhage, for which she had found no relief from the physicians. Lightfoot, in his 'Horae Hebraicae,' gives a list of the remedies applied in such cases, which seem quite sufficient to account for St. Mark's statement that
she was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse
. St. Luke, h
mself a physician, says that she "had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed of any."
And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
Verses 27, 28.
This woman, having heard of Jesus
- literally (
τὰ περί τοῦ Ἰησοῦ
the things concerning Jesus -
came in the crowd behind, and touched his garment
. St. Matthew and St Luke say "the border (
) of his garment." St. Matthew tells us that "she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole." From this it appears that, though she had faith, it was an imperfect faith. She seems to have imagined that a certain magical influence was within Christ and around him. And the touching of the border of his garment (the blue fringe which the Jews were required to wear, to remind them that they were God's people) was supposed by her to convey a special virtue. Yet her faith, though imperfect, was true in its essence, and therefore was not disappointed.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in
body that she was healed of that plague.
- St. Mark's favourite word -
the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt
) - literally,
in her body that she was healed of her plague
ὅτι ἴαται ἀπὸ τῆς μάστιγος
that she hath been healed of her scourge
, The cure was instantaneous.
And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
- The words in the Greek are
ἐπιγνοὺς ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὴν ἐξ αὑτοῦ δύναμιν ἐξελθοῦσαν
Jesus, perceiving in himself that the power emanating from him had gone forth, turned him about in the crowd, and said, Who touched my garments?
Christ sees the invisible grace in its hidden operations; man only sees its effects, and not always these.
And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
- St. Luke (
) adds here, "When all denied, Peter said, and they that were with him, Master, the multitudes press thee and crush
But Jesus said, Some one did touch me; for I perceived that power had gone forth from me." This incident shows the mysterious connection between the spiritual and the physical. The miraculous virtue or power which went forth from the Saviour was spiritual in its source and in the conditions on which it was imparted, but it was physical in its operation; and that which brought the two together was faith. Multitudes thronged the Saviour, but only one of the crowd
And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
He looked round about
) - another favourite word of St. Mark.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
The woman fearing and trembling
, etc. Every word in this verse is expressive. It was her own act. She seemed to herself as though without permission she had stolen a blessing from Christ; and so she could hardly venture to hope that the faith which had prompted her would be accepted. Hence her fear and terror, and her free and full confession. We thus see the
of Christ in his dealings with us. Perhaps the woman had intended to escape, satisfied with a temporal benefit, which would hardly have been a blessing at all, if she had been suffered to carry it away without acknowledgment. But this her loving Saviour would not permit her to do. It was the crisis of her spiritual life. It was necessary that all around should know of the gift which she had endeavored to snatch in secret. Our Lord might have demanded from her this public confession of her faith beforehand. But, in his mercy, he made the way easy to her. The lesson, however, must not be forgotten, that it is not enough to believe with the heart. The lips must do their part, and "with the mouth confession must be made unto salvation."
And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
- Our Lord here reassures this trembling woman, who feared, it may be, lest, because she had abstracted the blessing secretly, he might punish her with a return of her malady. On the contrary, he confirms the benefit, and bids her be whole of her plague. The Greek expression here is stronger than that which is given as the rendering of what she had used when we read that she said within herself, "I shall be saved (
)." Here our Lord says,
Go in peace, and be whole
). It is as though he said, "It is not the mere fringe of my garment, which you have touched with great faith, and with some hope of obtaining a cure - it is not this that has cured you. You owe your healing to my omnipotence and your faith. Your faith (itself my gift) has delivered you from your issue of blood; and this deliverance I now confirm and ratify. 'Go in peace.'" The original Greek here (
ὕπαγε εἰς εἰρήνην
) implies more than this. It means "Go for peace." Pass into the realm, the element of peace, in which henceforth thy life shall move. It is here obvious to remark that this malady represents to us the ever-flowing bitter fountain of sin, for which no styptic treatment can be found in human philosophy. The remedy is only to be found in Christ. To touch Christ's garment is to believe in his incarnation, whereby he has touched us, and so has enabled us by faith to touch him, and to receive his blessing of peace.
While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's
which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
- Our Lord had lingered on the way to the house of Jairus, perhaps, as has already been suggested, that the crisis might first come, and that so there might be full evidence of his resurrection power. The ruler must have been agonized with the thought that, while our Lord lingered, the life of his dying child was fast ebbing away. And now comes the fatal message to him. Thy daughter is dead (
); the aorist expresses that her death was now a past event.
Why troublest thou the Master any further?
τί ἔτι σκύλλεις τὸν διδάσκαλον
). The Greek word here is very strong. It is to vex or weary; literally,
The messengers from the ruler's house had evidently abandoned all hope, and so probably would Jairus, but for the cheering words of our Lord, "Fear not, only believe."
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
- The words of the narrative, as they stand in the Authorized Version, are:
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler
of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
But there is good authority for the reading
which requires the rendering,
This word (
) occurs in one other place in the Gospels, namely, in
, "And if he refuse to hear them (
ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν
)." Here the word can only have th
meaning of "not heeding," or " refusing to hear." This seems to be a strong reason for giving the word a somewhat similar meaning in this passage. And therefore, on the whole, "not heeding" seems to be the best rendering. Indeed, it seems to cover both meanings. Our Lord would overhear, and yet not heed, the word spoken.
And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
- Here we have the first occasion of the selection of three of the apostles to be witnesses of things not permitted to be seen by the rest. The other two occasions are those of the transfiguration, and of the agony in the garden. We now follow our Lord and these three favored disciples, Peter and James and John, to the house of death. They are about to witness the first earnest of the resurrection.
And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
- St. Matthew here says (
) that when Jesus came into the ruler's house, he" saw the minstrels (
the flute-players, "and the people making a noise." This was the custom both with Jews and with Gentiles, to quicken the sorrow of the mourners by funeral dirges. The record of these attendant circumstances is important as evidence of the fact of death having actually taken place.
And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
- Some have regarded the words of our Lord,
the child is not dead, but sleepeth,
as really meaning that she was only in a swoon. But although she was actually dead in the ordinary sense of that word, namely, that her spirit h
And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
They laughed him to scorn
. He suffered this, in order that the actual death might be the more manifest, and that so they might the more wonder at her resurrection, and thus pass from wonder and amazement to a true faith in him who thus showed himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. He now put them all forth; and then, with his three apostles, Peter, James, and John, and the father and the mother of the child, he went in where the child was. The common crowd were not worthy to see that in which they would not believe. They were unworthy to witness the great reality of the resurrection; for they had been deriding him who wields this power. It is remarked by Archbishop Trench that in the same manner Elisha (
2 Kings 4:33
) cleared the room before he raised the son of the Shunammite.
And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
- The house was now set free from the perfunctory and noisy crowd; and he goes up to the dead child, and takes her by the hand and says,
The evangelist gives the words in the very language used by our Lord - the
, remembered no doubt and recorded by St. Peter; just as he gives "Ephphatha" in another miracle.
And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was
of the age
of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
Verses 42, 43.
- Here, as in other miracles, the restoration was immediate and complete:
straightway the damsel rose up, and walked
. Well might the father and the mother of the maiden and the three chosen apostles be
amazed with a great amazement
ἐξέστησαν ἐκστάσει μεγάλῃ
). And then, for the purpose of strengthening that life which he rescued from the jaws of the grave, our Lord
commanded that something should be given her to eat
. It has often been observed that in the examples of his resurrection power given by Christ there is a gradation:
The daughter of Jairus just dead.
The widow's son from his bier.
Lazarus from his grave.
The more stupendous miracle is I pledge, when "all that are in their graves yet to come, of which our Lord's own resurrection is at once the example and the pledge, when "All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth."
And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.
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