1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
1 CHAPTER XV.
NOTES ON CHAP. XV.
Verse 1. The scribes and Pharisees-of Jerusalem] Our Lord was
now in Galilee, Mt 14:34.
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
2 Verse 2. Elders] Rulers and magistrates among the Jews.
For they wash not their hands] What frivolous nonsense! These
Pharisees had nothing which their malice could fasten on in the
conduct or doctrine of our blessed Lord and his disciples, and
therefore they must dispute about washing of hands! All sorts of
Pharisees are troublesome people in religious society; and the
reason is, they take more pleasure in blaming others than in
The tradition of the elders] The word παραδοσις, tradition,
has occupied a most distinguished place, both in the Jewish and
Christian Church. Man is ever fond of mending the work of his
Maker; and hence he has been led to put his finishing hand even to
Divine revelation! This supplementary matter has been called
παραδοσις, from παραδιδομαι, to deliver from hand to hand-to
transmit; and hence the Latin term, tradition, from trado, to
deliver, especially from one to another;-to hand down. Among the
Jews TRADITION signifies what is also called the oral law, which
they distinguish from the written law: this last contains the
Mosaic precepts, as found in the Pentateuch: the former, the
traditions of the elders, i.e. traditions, or doctrines, that had
been successively handed down from Moses through every generation,
but not committed to writing. The Jews feign that, when GOD gave
Moses the written law, he gave him also the oral law, which is the
interpretation of the former. This law, Moses at first delivered
to Aaron then to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar; and, after these to
the seventy-two elders, who were six of the most eminent men
chosen out of each of the twelve tribes. These seventy-two, with
Moses and Aaron, delivered it again to all the heads of the
people, and afterwards to the congregation at large. They say
also that, before Moses died, he delivered this oral law, or
system of traditions, to JOSHUA, and Joshua to the ELDERS which
succeeded him-THEY to the Prophets, and the PROPHETS to each
other, till it came to JEREMIAH, who delivered it to BARUCH his
scribe, who repeated it to EZRA, who delivered it to the men of
the great synagogue, the last of whom was SIMON the Just. By
Simon the Just it was delivered to ANTIGONUS of Socho; by him
to JOSE the son of Jochanan; by him to JOSE, the son of Joezer; by
him to NATHAN the Arbelite, and Joshua the son of Perachiah; and
by them to JUDAH the son of Tabbai, and Simeon, the son of Shatah;
and by them to SHEMAIAH and ABTALION; and by them to HILLEL; and
by Hillel to SIMEON his son, the same who took Christ in his arms
when brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord: by SIMEON
it was delivered to GAMALIEL his son, the preceptor of St. Paul,
who delivered it to SIMEON his son, and he to Rab. JUDAH HAKKODESH
his son, who compiled and digested it into the book which is
called the MISHNA; to explain which the two Talmuds, called the
Jerusalem and Babylyonish Talmuds, were compiled, which are also
called the Gemera or complement, because by these the oral law or
Mishnah is fully explained. The Jerusalem Talmud was completed
about A. D. 300; and the Babylonish Talmud about the beginning of
the sixth century. This Talmud was printed at Amsterdam in 12
vols. folio. These contain the whole of the traditions of the
elders, and have so explained, or rather frittered away, the words
of God, that our Lord might well say, Ye have made the word of God
of no effect by your traditions. In what estimation these are
held by the Jews, the following examples will prove: "The words of
the scribes are lovely beyond the words of the law: for the words
of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the scribes are
all weighty." Hierus. Berac. fol. 3.
"He that shall say, There are no phylacteries, though he thus
transgress the words of the law, he is not guilty; but he that
shall say, There are five Totaphot, thus adding to the words of
the scribes, he is guilty."
"A prophet and an elder, to what are they likened! To a
king sending two of his servants into a province; of one he writes
thus: Unless he show you my seal, believe him not; for thus it is
written of the prophet: He shall show thee a sign; but of the
elders thus: According to the law which they shall teach thee, for
I will confirm their words."-See Prideaux. Con. vol. ii. p. 465,
and Lightfoot's Hor. Talmud.
They wash not their hands] On washing of hands, before and
after meat, the Jews laid great stress: they considered eating
with unwashed hands to be no ordinary crime; and therefore, to
induce men to do it, they feigned that an evil spirit, called
Shibta , who sits on the hands by night, has a right to sit
on the food of him who eats without washing his hands, and make it
hurtful to him! They consider the person who undervalues this
rite to be no better than a heathen, and consequently
excommunicate him. See many examples of this doctrine in
Schoettgen and Lightfoot.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
3 Verse 3. Why do ye-transgress the commandment] Ye accuse my
disciples of transgressing the traditions of the elders-I accuse
you of transgressing the commands of God, and that too in favour
of your own tradition; thus preferring the inventions of men to
the positive precepts of God. Pretenders to zeal often prefer
superstitious usages to the Divine law, and human inventions to
the positive duties of Christianity.
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
4 Verse 4. Honour thy father and mother] This word was taken in
great latitude of meaning among the Jews: it not only meant
respect and submission, but also to take care of a person, to
nourish and support him, to enrich. See Nu 22:17; Jud 13:17;
1Ti 5:17. And that this was the sense of the law, as it
respected parents, see De 27:16, and See Clarke on Ex 20:12.
5But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
5 Verse 5. It is a gift] korban, Mr 7:11,
an offering of approach; something consecrated to the service of
God in the temple, by which a man had the privilege of approaching
his Maker. This conduct was similar to the custom of certain
persons who bequeath the inheritance of their children to Churches
or religious uses; either through terror of conscience, thus
striving to purchase the kingdom of glory; or through the
persuasion of interested hireling priests. It was in this way
that, in the days of popish influence, the principal lands in the
nation had fallen into the hands of the Church. In those
charters, multitudes of which have passed through my hands, a
common form was, pro salute meae, et pro salute antecessorum
meorum, et pro salute successorum meorum, et pro solute uxoris
meae, &c., &c., do, et concedo Deo et Ecclesiae, &c. "For my
salvation, and for the salvation of my predecessors, and for the
salvation of my successors, and for the salvation of my wife, &c.,
&c., I give and bequeath to God and his Church, &c."
Though a world of literature was destroyed, and fine buildings
ruined, by the suppression of the monasteries in England, yet this
step, with the Stat. 23 Hen. VIII. c. 10, together with the Stat.
9 Geo. II. c. 36, ware the means of checking an evil that had
arrived at a pitch of unparalleled magnitude; an evil that was
supplanting the atonement made by the blood of the covenant, and
putting death-bed grants of land, &c., in the place of Jesus
Christ, and throwing the whole secular power of the kingdom into
the hands of the pope and the priests. No wonder then that they
cried out, when the monasteries were suppressed! It is sacrilege
to dedicate that to God which is taken away from the necessities
of our parents and children; and the good that this pretends to
will doubtless be found in the catalogue of that unnatural man's
crimes, in the judgment of the great day, who has thus deprived
his own family of its due. To assist our poor relatives, is our
first duty; and this is a work infinitely preferable to all pious
legacies and endowments.
6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
7 Verse 7. Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you] In every
place where the proper names of the Old Testament occur, in the
New, the same mode of orthography should be followed: I therefore
write Isaiah with the Hebrew, not Esaias, with the Greek. This
prophecy is found Isa 29:13. Our blessed Lord unmasks these
hypocrites; and we may observe that, when a hypocrite is found
out, he should be exposed to all; this may lead to his salvation:
if he be permitted to retain his falsely acquired character, how
can he escape perdition!
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
8 Verse 8. Their heart is far from me.] The true worship of God
consists in the union of the heart to him-where this exists not, a
particle of the spirit of devotion cannot be found.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth] This clause,
which is taken from Isa 29:13, is omitted by several excellent
MSS., and by several versions and fathers. Erasmus, Mill,
Drusius, and Bengel, approve of the omission, and Griesbach has
left it out of the text; but as I find it in the prophet, the
place from which it is quoted, I dare not omit it, howsoever
respectable the above authorities may appear.
9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
9 Verse 9. In vain they do worship me, &c.] By the traditions of
the elders, not only the word of God was perverted, but his
worship also was greatly corrupted. But the Jews were not the
only people who have acted thus: whole Christian Churches, as well
as sects and parties, have acted in the same way. Men must not
mould the worship of God according to their fancy-it is not what
they think will do-is proper, innocent, &c., but what God himself
has prescribed, that he will acknowledge as his worship. However
sincere a man may be in a worship of his own invention, or of
man's commandment, yet it profits him nothing. Christ himself
says it is in vain. To condemn such, may appear to some
illiberal; but whatever may be said in behalf of sincere heathens,
and others who have not had the advantages of Divine Revelation,
there is no excuse for the man who has the BIBLE before him.
10 ¶ And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
10 Verse 10. Hear and understand] A most important command.
Hear-make it a point of conscience to attend to the ministry of
the word. Understand-be not satisfied with attending places of
public worship merely; see that the teaching be of God, and that
you lay it to heart.
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
11 Verse 11. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth] This
is an answer to the carping question of the Pharisees, mentioned
Why do thy disciples eat with unwashed hands? To which our Lord
here replies, That what goes into the mouth defiles not the man;
i.e. that if, in eating with unwashed hands, any particles of
dust, &c., cleaving to the hands, might happen to be taken into
the mouth with the food, this did not defile, did not constitute a
man a sinner; for it is on this alone the question hinges: thy
disciples eat with unwashed hands; therefore they are sinners; for
they transgress the tradition of the elders, i.e. the oral law,
which they considered equal in authority to the written law; and,
indeed, often preferred the former to the latter, so as to make it
of none effect, totally to destroy its nature and design, as we
have often seen in the preceding notes.
That which cometh out of the mouth] That is, what springs from
a corrupt unregenerate heart-a perverse will and impure passions-
these defile, i.e. make him a sinner.
12Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
12 Verse 12. The Pharisees were offended] None so liable to take
offence as formalists and hypocrites, when you attempt to take
away the false props from the one, and question the sincerity of
the other. Besides, a Pharisee must never be suspected of
ignorance, for they are the men, and wisdom must die with them!
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
13 Verse 13. Every plant] Every plantation. So I render φυτεια,
and so it is translated in the Itala version which accompanies the
Greek text in the Codex Bezae, omnis plantatio, and so the word is
rendered by Suidas. This gives a different turn to the text. The
Pharisees, as a religious body, were now a plantation of trees,
which God did not plant, water, nor own: therefore, they should be
rooted up, not left to wither and die, but the fellers, and those
who root up, (the Roman armies,) should come against and destroy
them, and the Christian Church was to be planted in their place.
Since the general dispersion of the Jews, this sect, I believe,
has ceased to exist as a separate body, among the descendants of
Jacob. The first of the apostolical constitutions begins thus:
Catholic Church is the plantation of God, and his chosen vineyard.
14Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
14 Verse 14. Let them alone] αφετεαυτους, give them up, or
leave them. These words have been sadly misunderstood. Some
have quoted them to prove that blind and deceitful teachers should
not be pointed out to the people, nor the people warned against
them; and that men should abide in the communion of a corrupt
Church, because that Church had once been the Church of God, and
in it they had been brought up; and to prove this they bring
Scripture, for, in our present translation, the words are
rendered, let them alone: but the whole connection of the place
evidently proves that our blessed Lord meant, give them up, have
no kind of religious connection with them, and the strong reason
for which he immediately adds, because they are blind leaders.
This passage does not at all mean that blind leaders should not be
pointed out to the people, that they may avoid being deceived by
them; for this our Lord does frequently, and warns his disciples,
and the people in general, against all such false teachers as the
scribes and Pharisees were; and though he bids men do that they
heard those say, while they sat in the chair of Moses, yet he
certainly meant no more than that they should be observant of the
moral law when read to them out of the sacred book: yet neither
does he tell them to do all these false teachers said; for he
testifies in Mt 15:6, that they had put such false glosses on the
law, that, if followed, would endanger the salvation of their
souls. The Codex Bezae, for αφετεαυτους, has αφετετουςτυφλους,
give up these blind men. Amen! A literal attention to these
words of our Lord produced the Reformation.
Probably the words may be understood as a sort of proverbial
expression for-Don't mind them: pay no regard to them.-"They are
altogether unworthy of notice."
And if the blind lead the blind] This was so self-evident a
case that an apter parallel could nut be found-if the blind lead
the blind, both must fall into the ditch. Alas, for the blind
teachers, who not only destroy their own souls, but those also of
their flocks! Like priest, like people. If the minister be
ignorant, he cannot teach what he does not know; and the people
cannot become wise unto salvation under such a ministry-he is
ignorant and wicked, and they are profligate. They who even wish
such God speed; are partakers of their evil deeds. But shall not
the poor deceived people escape? No: both shall fall into the pit
of perdition together; for they should have searched the
Scriptures, and not trusted to the ignorant sayings of corrupt
men, no matter of what sect or party. He who has the Bible in his
hand, or within his reach, and can read it, has no excuse.
15Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
15 Verse 15. Declare unto us this parable.] Is it not strange to
hear the disciples asking for the explanation of such a parable as
this! The true knowledge of the spirit of the Gospel is a thing
more uncommon than we imagine, among the generality of Christians,
and even of the learned.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
16 Verse 16. Are ye also yet without understanding?] The word
ακμη, which we translate yet, should be here rendered still: Are
ye still void of understanding? and the word is used in this sense
by several Greek writers. The authorities which have induced me
to prefer this translation may be seen in Kypke.
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
17 Verse 17. Cast out into the draught] ειςαφεδωνα,
[Anglo-Saxon]. And beeth into the forthgoing a sent-what is not
fit for nourishment is evacuated; is thrown into the sink. This I
believe to be the meaning of this difficult and variously
translated word, αφεδρων. Diodati translates it properly, nella
latrina, into the privy. And the Persian translator has given a
good paraphrase, and appears to have collected the general meaning
[Persian] her teche der dehen ander ayeed, az nusheeb beeroon
rood, we ber zemeen aftad: "Whatsoever enters into the mouth goes
downward, and falls upon the ground." Michaelis, and his
annotator, Dr. Marsh, have been much perplexed with this
perplexing passage. See Michaelis's Introduction, vol. i. note
35. p. 458.
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
19 Verse 19. Out of the heart] In the heart of an unregenerate
man, the principles and seeds of all sin are found. And iniquity
is always conceived in the heart before it be spoken or acted. Is
there any hope that a man can abstain from outward sin till his
heart, that abominable fountain of corruption, be thoroughly
cleansed? I trow not.
Evil thoughts] διαλογισμοιπονηροι, wicked dialogues-for in all
evil surmisings the heart holds a conversation, or dialogue, with
itself. For φονοι, murders, two MSS. have φθονοι, envyings,
and three others have both. Envy and murder are nearly allied:
the former has often led to the latter.
Blasphemies] I have already observed, Mt 9:3, that the verb
βλασφημεω, when applied to men, signifies to speak INJURIOUSLY
of their persons, characters, &c., and, when applied to God, it
means to speak IMPIOUSLY of his nature, works, &c.
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
20 Verse 20. These-defile a man] Our Lord's argument is very
plain. What goes into the mouth descends into the stomach and
other intestines;-part is retained for the nourishment of the
body, and part is ejected, as being improper to afford
nourishment. Nothing of this kind defiles the soul, because it
does not enter into it; but the evil principles that are in it,
producing evil thoughts, murders, &c., these defile the soul,
because they have their seat and operation in it.
21 ¶ Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
21 Verse 21. Departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.] ειςτα
μερη, towards the coasts or confines. It is not clear that our
Lord ever left the land of the Hebrews; he was, as the apostle
observes, Ro 15:8,
the minister of the circumcision according to the truth of God.
Tyre and Sidon are usually joined together, principally because
they are but a few miles distant from each other.
22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
22 Verse 22. A woman of Canaan] Matthew gives her this name
because of the people from whom she sprung-the descendants of
Canaan, Jud 1:31, 32;
but Mark calls her a Syrophenician, because of the country where
she dwelt. The Canaanites and Phoenicians have been often
confounded. This is frequently the case in the Septuagint.
Compare Ge 46:10, with Ex 6:15, where the same person is called
a Phoenician in the one place, and a Canaanite in the other. See
also the same version in Ex 16:35; Jos 5:12.
The state of this woman is a proper emblem of the state of a
sinner, deeply conscious of the misery of his soul.
Have mercy an me, &c.] How proper is this prayer for a
penitent! There are many excellencies contained in it; 1. It is
short; 2. humble; 3. full of faith; 4. fervent; 5. modest; 6.
respectful; 7. rational; 8. relying only on the mercy of God; 9.
persevering. Can one who sees himself a slave of the devil, beg
with too much earnestness to be delivered from his thraldom?
Son of David] An essential character of the true Messiah.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
23 Verse 23. He answered her not a word.] Seemed to take time to
consider her request, and to give her the opportunity of
exercising her faith, and manifesting her fervour.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
24 Verse 24. I am not sent but unto the lost sheep] By the Divine
appointment, I am come to preach the Gospel to the Jews only.
There are certain preachers who should learn a lesson of important
instruction from this part of our Lord's conduct. As soon as they
hear of a lost sheep being found by other ministers, they give all
diligence to get that one into their fold: but display little
earnestness in seeking in the wilderness for those that are lost.
This conduct, perhaps, proceeds from a consciousness of their
inability to perform the work of an evangelist; and leads them to
sit down in the labours of others, rather than submit to the
reproach of presiding over empty chapels. Such persons should
either dig or beg immediately, as they are a reproach to the
pastoral office; for, not being sent of God, they cannot profit
The wilderness of this world is sufficiently wide and
uncultivated. Sinners abound every where; and there is ample room
for all truly religious people, who have zeal for God, and love
for their perishing follow creatures, to put forth all their
strength, employ all their time, and exercise all their talents,
in proclaiming the Gospel of God; not only to the lost sheep of
the house of Israel, but to a lost WORLD. Nor can such exertions
be unsuccessful. There the pure truth of God is preached, many
will be converted. Where that truth is preached, though with a
mixture of error, some will be converted, for God will bless his
own truth. But where nothing but false doctrine is preached, no
soul is converted: for God will never sanction error by a miracle
of his mercy.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
25 Verse 25. Lord, help me.] Let me also share in the deliverance
afforded to Israel.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
26 Verse 26. The children's bread] The salvation provided for the
Jews, who were termed the children of the kingdom. And cast it to
the κυναριοις, little dogs-to the curs; such the Gentiles were
reputed by the Jewish people, and our Lord uses that form of
speech which was common among his countrymen. What terrible
repulses! and yet she still perseveres!
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
27 Verse 27. Truth, Lord] ναικυριε, Yes, Lord. This appears to
be not so much an assent, as a bold reply to our Lord's reason for
apparently rejecting her suit.
The little dogs share with the children, for they eat the crumbs
which fall from their masters' table. I do not desire what is
provided for these highly favoured children, only what they leave:
a single exertion of thy almighty power, in the healing of my
afflicted daughter, is all that I wish for; and this the highly
favoured Jews can well spare, without lessening the provision made
for themselves. Is not this the sense of this noble woman's
28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
28 Verse 28. O woman, great is thy faith] The hinderances thrown
in this woman's way only tended to increase her faith. Her faith
resembles a river, which becomes enlarged by the dykes opposed to
it, till at last it sweeps them entirely away with it,
Her daughter was made whole] Persevering faith and prayer are
next to omnipotent. No person can thus pray and believe, without
receiving all his soul requires. This is one of the finest
lessons in the book of God for a penitent, or for a discouraged
believer. Look to Jesus! As sure as God is in heaven, so surely
will he hear and answer thee to the eternal salvation of thy soul!
Be not discouraged at a little delay: when thou art properly
prepared to receive the blessing, then thou shalt have it. Look
up; thy salvation is at hand. Jesus admires this faith, to the
end that we may admire and imitate it, and may reap the same
fruits and advantages from it.
29And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
29 Verse 29. Went up into a mountain] τοορος, THE mountain.
"Meaning," says Wakefield, "some particular mountain which he was
accustomed to frequent; for, whenever it is spoken of at a time
when Jesus is in Galilee, it is always discriminated by the
article. Compare Mt 4:18, with Mt 5:1; and Mt 13:54, with
Mt 14:23; and Mt 28:16.
I suppose it was mount Tabor."
30And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:
30 Verse 30. Those that were-maimed] κυλλους. Wetstein has fully
proved that those who had lost a hand, foot, &c., were termed
κυλλοι by the Greeks. Kypke has shown, from Hippocrates, that
the word was also used to signify those who had distorted or
dislocated legs, knees, hands, &c. Mr. Wakefield is fully of
opinion that it means here those who had lost a limb, and brings
an incontestable proof from Mt 18:8; Mr 9:43. "If thy hand
cause thee to offend, CUT IT OFF; it is better for thee to enter
into life (κυλλος) WITHOUT A LIMB, than, having thy TWO hands, to
go away into hell." What an astonishing manifestation of omnific
and creative energy must the reproduction of a hand, foot, &c., be
at the word or touch of Jesus! As this was a mere act of creative
power, like that of multiplying the bread, those who allow that
the above is the meaning of the word will hardly attempt to doubt
the proper Divinity of Christ. Creation, in any sense of the
word, i.e. causing something to exist that had no existence
before, can belong only to God, because it is an effect of an
unlimited power; to say that such power could be delegated to a
person is to say that the person to whom it is delegated becomes,
for the time being, the omnipotent God; and that God, who has thus
clothed a creature with his omnipotence, ceases to be omnipotent
himself; for there cannot be two omnipotents, nor can the Supreme
Being delegate his omnipotence to another, and have it at the same
time. I confess, then, that this is to me an unanswerable
argument for the Divinity of our blessed Lord. Others may doubt;
I can't help believing.
31Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
31 Verse 31. The multitude wondered] And well they might, when
they had such proofs of the miraculous power and love of God
before their eyes. Blessed be God! the same miracles are
continued in their spiritual reference. All the disorders of the
soul are still cured by the power of Jesus.
32 ¶ Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
33And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
33 Verse 33. Whence should we have so much bread in the
wilderness, &c.] Human foresight, even in the followers of
Christ, is very short. In a thousand instances, if we supply not
its deficiency by faith, we shall be always embarrassed, and often
miserable. This world is a desert, where nothing can be found to
satisfy the soul of man, but the salvation which Christ has
34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
35And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
37 Verse 37. They did all eat, and were filled] εχορτασθησαν-they
were satisfied. The husks of worldly pleasures may fill the man,
but cannot satisfy the soul. A man may eat, and not be satisfied:
it is the interest therefore of every follower of Christ to follow
him till he be fed, and to feed on him till he be satisfied.
38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
38 Verse 38. Four thousand] Let the poor learn from these
miracles to trust in God for support. Whatever his ordinary
providence denies, his miraculous power will supply.
39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
39 Verse 39. He sent away the multitude] But not before he had
instructed their souls, and fed and healed their bodies.
The coasts of Magdala.] In the parallel place, Mr 8:10, this
place is called Dalmanutha. Either Magdala was formed by a
transposition of letters from Dalman, to which the Syriac
termination atha had been added, or the one of these names refers
to the country, and the other to a town in that neighbourhood.
Jesus went into the country, and proceeded till he came to the
chief town or village in that district. Whitby says, "Magdala was
a city and territory beyond Jordan, on the banks of Gadara. It
readied to the bridge above Jordan, which joined it to the other
side of Galilee, and contained within its precincts Dalmanutha."
The MSS. and VV. read the name variously-Magada, Madega, Magdala;
and the Syriac has Magdu. In Mark, Dalmanutha is read by many
MSS. Melagada, Madegada, Magada, Magidan, and Magedam. Magdala,
variously pronounced, seems to have been the place or country;
Dalmanutha, the chief town or capital.
In this chapter a number of interesting and instructive
particulars are contained.
1. We see the extreme superstition, envy, and incurable ill
nature of the Jews. While totally lost to a proper sense of the
spirituality of God's law, they are ceremonious in the extreme.
They will not eat without washing their hands, because this would
be a transgression of one of the traditions of their elders; but
they can harbour the worst temper and passions, and thus break the
law of God! The word of man weighs more with them than the
testimony of Jehovah; and yet they pretend the highest respect for
their God and sacred things, and will let their parents perish for
lack of the necessaries of life, that they may have goods to vow
to the service of the sanctuary! Pride and envy blind the hearts
of men, and cause them often to act not only the most wicked, but
the most ridiculous, parts. He who takes the book of God for the
rule of his faith and practice can never go astray: but to the
mazes and perplexities produced by the traditions of elders, human
creeds, and confessions of faith, there is no end. These evils
existed in the Christian as well as in the Jewish Church; but the
Reformation, thank God! has liberated us from this endless system
of uncertainty and absurdity, and the Sun of righteousness shines
now unclouded! The plantation, which God did not plant, in the
course of his judgments, he has now swept nearly away from the
face of the earth! Babylon is fallen!
2. We wonder at the dulness of the disciples, when we find that
they did not fully understand our Lord's meaning, in the very
obvious parable about the blind leading the blind. But should we
not be equally struck with their prying, inquisitive temper? They
did not understand, but they could not rest till they did. They
knew that their Lord could say nothing that had not the most
important meaning in it: this meaning, in the preceding parable,
they had not apprehended, and therefore they wished to have it
farther explained by himself. Do we imitate their docility and
eagerness to comprehend the truth of God? Christ presses every
occurrence into a means of instruction. The dulness of the
disciples in the present case, has been the means of affording us
the fullest instruction on a point of the utmost importance-the
state of a sinful heart, and how the thoughts and passions
conceived in it defile and pollute it; and how necessary it is to
have the fountain purified, that it may cease to send forth those
streams of death.
3. The case of the Canaanitish woman is, in itself, a thousand
sermons. Her faith-her prayers-her perseverance-her success-the
honour she received from her Lord, &c., &c. How instructively-how
powerfully do these speak and plead! What a profusion of light
does this single case throw upon the manner in which Christ
sometimes exercises the faith and patience of his followers! They
that seek shall find, is the great lesson inculcated in this short
history: God is ever the same. Reader, follow on after God-cry,
pray, plead-all in Him is for thee!-Thou canst not perish, if thou
continuest to believe and pray. The Lord will help THEE.