Matthew 9:12 MEANING

Matthew 9:12
(12) They that be whole.--Literally, They that are strong. St. Luke gives, with a more professional precision, "They that are in health." That, speaking from the thoughts and standpoint of those addressed (which in another than our Lord we might term grave irony), which enters so largely into our Lord's teaching, appears here in its most transparent form. Those of whom He speaks were, we know, suffering from the worst form of spiritual disease, but in their own estimation they were without spot or taint, and as such. therefore, He speaks to them. On their own showing, they ought not to object to His carrying on that work where there was most need of it. The proverb cited by Him in Luke 4:23 shows that it was not the first time that He had referred to His own work as that of the Great Physician.

Verse 12. - But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole. Οἱ ἰσχύοντες (so also Mark) may include an arriere-pensee of moral self-assertion which St. Luke entirely loses by his alteration to οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες: cf. 1 Corinthians 4:10. Need not; have no need of (Revised Version). These are the emphatic words in the sentence. Christ takes the Pharisees at their own estimate of themselves, and, without entering into the question of whether this was right or wrong, shows them that on their own showing he would be useless to them. A physician, but they that are sick. "Sed ubi dolores sunt, air, illic festinat medicns," Ephr. Syr., in his exposition of Tatian's 'Diatess.' (Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 443).

9:10-13 Some time after his call, Matthew sought to bring his old associates to hear Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Those who are effectually brought to Christ, cannot but desire that others also may be brought to him. Those who suppose their souls to be without disease will not welcome the spiritual Physician. This was the case with the Pharisees; they despised Christ, because they thought themselves whole; but the poor publicans and sinners felt that they wanted instruction and amendment. It is easy, and too common, to put the worst constructions upon the best words and actions. It may justly be suspected that those have not the grace of God themselves, who are not pleased with others' obtaining it. Christ's conversing with sinners is here called mercy; for to promote the conversion of souls is the greatest act of mercy. The gospel call is a call to repentance; a call to us to change our minds, and to change our ways. If the children of men had not been sinners, there had been no need for Christ to come among them. Let us examine whether we have found out our sickness, and have learned to follow the directions of our great Physician.But when Jesus heard that,.... The charge the Pharisees brought against him, and the insinuations they had made of him to his disciples; which he either overheard himself, or his disciples related to him,

he said unto them; the Pharisees, with an audible voice, not only to confute and convince them, but chiefly to establish his disciples, they were endeavouring to draw away from him:

they that be whole need not a physician; by which he would signify that he was a "physician": and so he is in a spiritual sense, and that a very skilful one: he knows the nature of all the diseases of the soul, without being told them by the patient; what are the true causes of them; what is proper to apply; when is the best time, and what the best manner: he is an universal one, with regard both to diseases and to persons, that apply to him; he heals all sorts of persons, and all sorts of diseases; such as are blind from their birth, are as deaf as the deaf adder, the halt, and the lame, such as have broken hearts, yea the plague in their hearts, and have stony ones, and all the relapses of his people; which he does by his stripes and wounds, by the application of his blood, by his word and Gospel, through sinners looking to him, and touching him: he is an infallible one, none ever went from him without a cure; none ever perished under his hands; the disease he heals never returns more to prevail, so as to bring on death and destruction; and he does all freely, without money, and without price. So Philo the Jew calls the Logos, or word, , "an healer of diseases" (x), and God our legislator, , "the best physician of the diseases of the soul" (y). Now Christ argues from this his character, in vindication of himself; as that he was with these persons, not as a companion of their's, but as a physician to them; and as it is not unlawful, but highly proper and commendable, that a physician should be with the sick; so it was very lawful, fit, and proper, yea praiseworthy in him, to be among these publicans and sinners, for their spiritual good. He suggests indeed, that "they that be whole", in perfect health and strength, as the Pharisees thought themselves to be, even free from all the maladies and diseases of sin, were strong, robust, and able to do anything, and everything of themselves; these truly stood in no "need of" him, as a physician, in their own apprehension; they saw no need of him; in principle they had no need of him, and in practice did not make use of him; and therefore it was to no purpose to attend them, but converse with others, who had need of him:

but they that are sick; who are not only diseased and disordered in all the powers and faculties of their souls, as all Adam's posterity are, whether sensible of it or not; but who know themselves to be so, these see their need of Christ as a physician, apply to him as such, and to them he is exceeding precious, a physician of value; and such were these "publicans" and sinners. These words seem to be a proverbial expression, and there is something like it in the (z) Talmud, , "he that is afflicted with any pain goes", or "let him go to the physician's house"; that is, he that is attended with any sickness, or disease, does, or he ought to, consult a physician.

(x) Allegor. l. 2. p. 93. (y) Quod Deus sit immutab. p. 303. (z) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 46. 2.

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