Mat_8:16. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits, with his word, and healed all that were sick:
It was the evening after the Sabbath. They did not venture even to bring out their sick till the day of rest was ended; and the Saviour, saying nothing about their lingering superstition, began to work mightily among them. “He cast out the spirits with his word.” What a power there is in the word of Jesus! There is nothing like it for the casting out of devils All our philosophies will not do what it does, the enemy will say, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? “He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.”
Mat_8:17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
It does not look like a fulfillment, except upon the wondrous principle of the power of substitution. Jesus takes the sickness, and therefore he removes it from us. He heals our infirmities because he took them upon Himself. Is it so, do you think, that every miracle of healing that Christ wrought took something out of him? We remember that, when the woman with the issue of blood was cured by touching his garment, Jesus said, “I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” Was it so that he suffered while he was thus relieving the suffering? It was the joy of his heart to bless mankind; but every blessing that he gave was very costly to him. I think that truth lies embedded in the Evangelist’s declaration.
Mat_8:18. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
This again looks like a non sequitur. You and I would have said, “If there are great multitudes about us, let us speak to them while we are here.” But then, again, you see, we may not always judge by the apparent usefulness of the present moment, we have to consider the rest of our career. Our Saviour knew that the governors of the country were very jealous, and that if people came together in large numbers, they might suspect insurrections and revolutions, and they would be there with their troops, and many innocent folk might be slain, and, speaking after the manner of men, his work of usefulness might be quickly brought to an end. Therefore, when he saw the great multitudes, he judged it wise to go elsewhere. Besides, he was no lover of popularity; he looked upon it as a shadow which necessarily followed him, rather than as a thing to be sought after. This he showed in the intense humility of his spirit, and in that love of solitude which was so natural to one who walked in continual fellowship with God. Sometimes we shall really do more by apparently for the moment doing less.
Mat_8:19-20. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.
We hear no more of this man. Our Saviour’s faithfulness probably dismissed him.
Mat_8:21. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Now this man was a disciple, mark you, and, according to Luke, the Lord had said to him, “Follow me,” yet he urged this plea, “Suffer me first to go and bury my father.”
Mat_8:22. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Nothing, not even the duties of filial love, must be allowed to come in conflict with the command of Christ, “Follow me.” I take it that this is not so much a word to the common disciple as to a disciple called out to a special ministry: “Your ministry is to be your first, your main, your only occupation: ‘follow me: and let the dead bury their dead.’ Let the politicians attend to the politics; let the reformers see to the reforms; but, as for you, keep to your own work, and follow me.” When God’s ministers come to this point, that they have to win souls, and that this is their only business, then souls will be won. There are plenty of dead people to bury the dead, there are plenty of moral people to see after the ordinary affairs of morality. As for us, let us follow Christ, and keep to our one business.
Mat_8:23. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
He went first, and they followed afterwards. If the ship be the type of the Church, then Christ is the first on board, he is the Captain, and the disciples make up the crew: “His disciples followed him.”
Mat_8:24. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
What! a tempest where Christ is? Yes, it is generally so. If all seems very calm, thou mayest question whether Christ is there, but when he goes into the ship, and his disciples follow him, it is not remarkable that the devil comes after him. “The ship was covered with the waves.” That sea of Galilee lies very deep indeed, and it is surrounded by lofty crags and yawning chasms that act like funnels to the wind, so that to this day it is very dangerous for those who are on it in a boat. “The ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.” Here is the weakness of humanity; and here is also the strength of faith. Jesus went to sleep because that boat was in his Father’s hands, and he would take care of it. “He was asleep.” Sometimes, the best thing that we can do is to go to bed. You are worrying and troubling yourself, and you can do nothing; go to sleep, brother. It is the climax of faith to be able to shake off all care, and to feel, “If the Lord careth for me, why should I not sleep? “Remember what Alexander the Great said of his friend Parmenio: “Alexander may sleep, for Parmenio watches, “and surely we, who have a far greater friend than Parmenio, can say at any time, “We may sleep, for God watches.” “He was asleep.” To sleep was the best thing that Jesus could do to recruit his bodily energies and to prepare himself for the time when his efforts would be needed for the deliverance of his disciples from danger.
Mat_8:25-26And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them: Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?
The disciples might have answered, “Lord, how canst thou ask us why we are fearful? The ship is covered with waves, the sea threatens to swallow it and all of us up.” Still, they might have thought, “If Christ be on board the ship, will he allow it to sink? Can he be drowned? We carry Christ and all his fortunes, is not our vessel thus insured beyond all risk? He may well say to us, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’”
Mat_8:26. Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
“A great calm.” No ordinary stillness of the sea; but it was a great calm, as the tempest had been great which had preceded it. What! and all on a sudden too? Storms sob themselves to sleep through lengthened intervals of fretfulness, but when Jesus gives the word of command, the storm is gone at once. “There was a great calm.”
Mat_8:27. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?
They did not know their Lord yet; nor do we. Perhaps we have to go to sea to learn more of him, I mean that troubles and trials of a greater sort than we have known before may yet have to come to be our schoolmasters to teach us what Jesus is. “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” You landsmen are thankful for your quiet, but you do not see so much of Jesus as others of his disciples do, you must go to sea to be able to cry, “What manner of man is this?”
Mat_8:28-29. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
They know that there is a time when he will judge them, and when their torment will begin. Say what you please, sin in men or devils will be followed with torment, with sorrow indescribable, unutterable; and these devils knew it, and they were obliged to confess the truth. They were afraid lest Jesus had come to inflict upon them the penalty of their evil deeds before that last great day.
Mat_8:30. And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
The owners of these animals had no business to have any swine there; swine were forbidden in that holy country, and they should not have been kept there.
Mat_8:31. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
What a wonderful creature a man is, as compared with an animal! A legion of devils could be packed away into these two men, but they needed a whole herd of swine to contain them all. How much greater is a man than a beast; that is to say, how much more capable of spiritual influence for evil as well as for good!
Mat_8:32. And he said unto then, Go.
Jesus never wastes words upon devils; he is always short and sharp with them: “Go.”
Mat_8:32. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
The proverb has it, “They run fast whom the devil drives,” they run to destruction, even as these swine perished in the waters.
Mat_8:33-34. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus:
You feel that they are going to worship him, or at least to ask him to come, and teach them the way of salvation; nothing of the sort.
Mat_8:34. And when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. And there are many still who try all they can to get Christ to go away from them. Woe be to them if he grants their desire!
Mat_9:1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
I think I see the departing sail, — love, hope, and peace melting away upon the distant horizon, and the Gergesenes left to perish. O God, do not so with any of us! Say not, “Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone.”