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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-22

CHAPTER 28

JESUS HOMELESS

Matthew 8:1-22, & Luke 9:57-62. “And it came to pass, they journeying on the way, a certain one said to Him, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou mayest go, Lord; and Jesus said to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where He may lay His head.” With the exception of the great Mediterranean plain, the plain of the Jordan, and many beautiful plains in the highlands, of which Esdraelon, between Mt. Gilead and the mountains of Gilboa, containing twelve thousand acres, is the largest, all Palestine consists of rich mountains, abounding in caves, dens, and holes. Hence it is a great place for wild animals, and especially the fox — i.e., the jackal — a larger species than the American. I saw a number of them in my travels. Hence the familiarity of the illustration. When our Lord was rejected at Nazareth, His native city, He migrated to Capernaum, on the northern coast of the Galilean Sea, and, as it is believed, made Peter’s house His home, as He says here, having none of his own. This was quite a bluff to the enthusiastic disciple, calculated to do him good by testing his faith. “And he said to another, Follow Me. And he said, Lord, permit me first, having gone away, to bury my father.” This is an Oriental expression, not altogether unheard of in this country; not signifying that the father was already dead, but was probably old, and this man felt it his duty to stay with him till he died. “And Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead; but having come away, preach the kingdom of God.” The Bible abounds in enigmatical statements in order to quicken our intellects and inspire investigation, much to our profit. The simple meaning of this statement is, “Let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead, and you come along and preach.” The sinners are always ready to bury the dead, and do it as well as we can, while they are utterly incompetent to the great and infinitely important work of preaching the gospel. “And another said, I will follow Thee, Lord; but first let me go and bid my home-folks adieu. And Jesus said to him, No one, putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The plows in that country have but one handle. Consequently it is utterly impossible to run one of them in the right place and look back. We should all profit by this response. We have no time to waste in the useless ceremonies of paying a valedictory visit to the homefolks. One hundred thousand people die every day, as we fear most of them unprepared. O what a havoc is hell making on this poor lost world! So we have no time to wait, tinkering round home, bidding kindred and friends farewell. Write them a postal card that you are gone to Africa, and embark on the first ship.


Verses 5-13

HEALING OF THE CENTURION’S SERVANT

Matthew 8:5-13, and Luke 7:1-10. We see here a clear confirmation that the Mount of Beatitudes, on which the sermon was preached, is not Mt. Hattin, west of Tiberias, as many believe, but that great mountain hanging over the city of Capernaum from the north; as He is at Capernaum immediately after descending from the mountain, whereas Mt. Hattin is twenty miles distant by land and ten by sea. “But when He finished all His words in the ears of the people, He came into Capernaum. The servant of a certain centurion, who was valuable to him, being sick, was about to die. And hearing concerning Jesus, he sent to Him the elders of the Jews to ask him that, having come, He may heal his servant. And they, coming to Jesus, continued to entreat Him, earnestly saying, That he is worthy to whom He will do this; for he loveth our race, and he hath built for us a synagogue.” We are quoting Luke. Matthew says that the centurion himself came to Jesus. You see here, Luke says that he sent the elders of the Jews. In this there is no discrepancy, as we must remember that old Roman law, adopted by the English and the Americans, Qui facit per alium, facit per se, “What a man does by another, he does by himself.” This principle is recognized in all Biblical interpretation, and here harmonizes Matthew and Luke. From the fact that both incidents transpired in Capernaum, some have confounded this miracle with that of healing the nobleman's son (John 4). They are entirely different. In the latter case, Jesus was at Cana, and actually healed him while a day's journey distant. In the case of the centurion, Jesus is in the city. The nobleman was a Jew, a member of the Herodian family; the centurion a Gentile, an officer in the Roman army. The nobleman is an example of weak faith, increasing and triumphing in the end; while the centurion exhibits very strong faith throughout. When I was in Capernaum they pointed me out the ruin of the synagogue which this centurion built for the Jews. “And Jesus was going along with them. And He being far from the house, the centurion sent his friends to Him, saying, Lord, be not troubled, for I am not worthy that You may come beneath my roof; therefore I did not consider myself worthy to come unto You. But speak in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing these things was astonished at him, and turning, said to the multitude following Him, I say unto you, That I have not found so great faith in Israel. And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the sick servant well.” The faith of the centurion, as you see, received the Savior's highest commendation, assuring them that He had not found so great faith in Israel, this heathen Roman officer eclipsing the brightest examples in all the Hebrew nation. His faith is beautifully illustrated in the reasons which he gives for not troubling Jesus to come to his house, though He was then on His way, “I am a man under authority,” etc. What is the meaning of the centurion? “Just as I command Roman soldiers, and they are forced by the rigors of military law to obey me or lose their heads, so You command diseases to evacuate the body and devils to come out of the soul, and they are bound by the laws of the universe to obey You. Therefore there is no need of Your coming to my house, as You have nothing to do but command the disease to leave my servant, and it is bound to get away; it can not help itself.” Matthew 8:2 : “But I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens, but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Thus our Lord indulges in these mournful reflections upon the awful doom of the unbelieving Jews, the children of the kingdom, who had waited four thousand years for the coming King, and then, unfortunately, rejecting Him, will make their bed in hell. “Children of the kingdom” does not mean that they are already members of it, but simply that they are subjects for admission into it, this being a peculiar Oriental expression. The wonderful faith of this Gentile seems to remind our Savior of the coming millions from the whole heathen world, destined so speedily, responsive to the gospel call, to hasten into the kingdom, thus filling the vacancy created by the fall of the Jews. “And Jesus said to the centurion, Go, and as you have believed, so be it unto you. And his servant was healed in that hour.” This declaration of the Master is a glorious climax, setting forth the great gospel law of pardon and sanctification, thus recognizing our faith as the measuring line of our experiences, commensurate with what we get from God. While repentance must put you on believing ground, and loyal obedience demonstrate your faith to the world, yet faith is the only receptive and appropriative grace in the Divine economy. Prayer shovels in the coal, but faith generates the steam.


Verse 10

CHAPTER 26

THE SOWER

Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-25; & Luke 8:4-18. Mark: “And again He began to teach by the sea; and a great multitude were gathered unto Him, so that, entering into a ship, He sat in the sea. The whole multitude was at the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables. And He said unto them in His teaching, Hear ye! Behold, a sower went out to sow, and it came to pass while he was sowing, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it; and others fell among the rocks, where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth; the sun having risen, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away. And other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked it out, and it brought forth no fruit; and others fell in good ground, and springing up brought forth fruit, and produced, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold. And He said unto them, Let the one having ears to hear, hear.”

Matthew 8:10 : “And His disciples coming said to Him, Wherefore do You speak to them in parables? And He responding, said to them, Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” How clearly do we see this law of spiritual thrift universally demonstrated in the kingdom of God! The great preachers are not those favored with brilliant precocity in the outset. Adam Clarke, who became the greatest linguist and theologian of his day, is said to have been proverbial for his juvenile stupidity. The brightest saints did not all receive a Pauline conversion nor a Pentecostal sanctification; but utilizing the germ of grace and spark of fire, they have moved on from the tinkling rill to the swelling river, from the potato-hill to the towering mountain. If you do not cultivate the grace given and utilize it for God, it will be taken from you, and given to others who will magnify the Donor. “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing, they see not; hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand;” i.e., they see with their physical eyes and hear with their mortal ears, while their spiritual senses are locked tight in the death of sin. “The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled unto them, saying, By hearing, ye shall hear, and may not understand; seeing, ye shall see, and may not perceive.” You observe here the contingent tense of these verbs revelatory of grace, which is freely administered by the Holy Spirit to all who will receive it, as He is ever present to open the blind eyes and unstop the deaf ears, soften the stony heart, and quicken the dead spirit into life, thus giving blessed spiritual availability to all who will reciprocate His merciful intervention.

“For the heart of this people has waxed gross, and they hear heavily with their ears, and they have closed their eyes, lest they may see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and turn, and I shall heal them.” (Isaiah 6:9.)

Where E.V. here says “be converted,” the reading is simply “may turn unto Me,” denoting their own spontaneous action, receptive of Divine mercy and spiritual overtures. “Happy are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men desired to see those things which you see, and saw them not; and to hear those things which you hear, and heard them not.” All the prophets, from the days of Abel through the lapse of four thousand years, had hoped and longed to see Jesus come on the earth, but died without the sight. So the saints of the Christian ages have lived and died, longing to see Jesus return in His glory. Shall our faith waver because He tarrieth? God forbid! Mark 4:14 : “The sower soweth the word. Those who are by the wayside, when the word is sown, and when they may hear it, immediately Satan comes, and takes away the word which was sown in their hearts.

And likewise those who were sown upon the rocks are they who, when they may hear the word, immediately with joy receive it. And they have no root in themselves, but are temporary; then tribulation or persecution arising on account of the word, immediately they are offended. And the others, who were sown among the thorns, are they who, hearing the word, and the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches and desires concerning remaining things come in, choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those which were sown in good ground are they who hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold.” Here, in this notable, beautiful, and exceedingly lucid Parable of the Sower, we have four different sowings — the wayside, the stony ground, the thorny ground, and the good ground. You observe the final failure on the part of all the sowings except the good ground. The wayside sowing was all caught away by the fowls of the air, which emblematize demons. Consequently there were no results whatever in their case. O, what a large proportion of popular audiences belongs to this class! The precious truth on which they are dependent for salvation is snatched up by their guardian demons and carried away, the Word going in at one ear and out at the other, leaving them utterly empty and blank; so they get nothing, thus living and dying under the blaze of gospel day, but in practical heathenism, only hastening to a more dreadful damnation than if they had lived and died in Central Africa. The second sowing is among the rocks, where soil is scarce, and the underlying strata near the surface. It is a well-known fact in agriculture that this sort of land warms early under the vernal sun, germinating quickly, giving farmers the first grass in spring and the first vegetables; yet it is the first to wilt under the scorching summer sun, and to feel the heavy tread of an autumnal drought. What is needed to make this land all right? Blow up the rocks, break them to pieces, using the workable for edifices, fences, and roads, burning the fragments into lime to enrich the ground, thus transforming these almost worthless stony hills into fertile fields and blooming gardens. The stony ground here is the superficial convert, who, as Jesus says, “immediately receives the Word with joy;” i.e., is converted easily and quickly, characteristic of the great, sweeping revivals, in which hundreds and thousands are counted, and after a year we scarcely find a corporal’s guard. The trouble is, they are not “rooted and grounded in love.” (Ephesians 3:18.) Hence, when tribulation or persecution rises, they are offended; i.e., they fall away. If the work could move on steadfastly, not giving them time to backslide, till the dynamite of the Holy Ghost blows out and breaks up all the stony strata in the deep interior of the heart, thus sanctifying them wholly and transforming them into “good ground,” they would stand all right. The third sowing is in the thorny ground, which is much better and more hopeful than the stony ground. Thorns indicate rich soil, yet they are awfully obnoxious to the crop, and exceedingly difficult to get rid of, surviving every other indigenous bramble, and even making their appearance after the land has been cultivated a hundred years. We need the long, sharp mattock of entire sanctification to dig them out by the roots, then burn them into ashes, and sow it on the fields to enrich the soil, thus developing it into good ground. Jesus tells us that these thorns are the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and desires appertaining to other things; i.e., things other than the kingdom of God. The thorny ground here gets a much better and deeper work of grace than the stony ground, and is apt to get the victory over the seductive temptations to carnal pleasure and worldly amusement incident to the youth, and go on into the sterner responsibilities of middle life, to find accumulating riches, multiplication of worldly business, social and official aggrandizement, preponderant over the citadel of grace in his heart, ultimately getting the door open wide enough for Satan, with a cohort of carnal and worldly imps, to come in, quench the fire of spiritual devotion, and freeze him into a beautiful iceberg, reflecting the splendor of the polar sun, which shines six months without setting, concentrating the admiration of the whole Church, so they elect him a member of the General Conference, promoting him to honors and emoluments, making him a ruling elder; and, finally, preaching him a glorious funeral sermon, while he is with Dives in hell. The digging necessary to take out all the thorn roots is quite a painful ordeal, while the consuming fire of the Holy Ghost, in His sanctifying Pentecost, by the mere mention, brings stampede into a popular Church, filled up with these thorny-ground backsliders. The fourth sowing is on the good ground. Of course you already know what this good ground is. It is the heart which the Holy Ghost has made good, as none are good by nature. In the Divine estimation, pursuant to the great plan of salvation, the ground is not good till all the rocks and thorns are sanctified out. You see ample provisions are made in the economy of gospel grace to make all the ground good; i.e., sanctify every heart. How can you make the hard, dry, wayside land good? Throw the fence of God’s gracious providence around it, and keep stock from treading on it. The vernal showers will soften it, the freezes loosen it up, till it becomes alluvial. Cast fertilization on it, take out all of the rocks, and grub up all of the thorns; let the plow go down deep, and the harrow do thorough work, and before you are aware, you have good ground. You see in the progress of this parable that, out of the four sowings, only one proves a success. The wayside does not so much as receive the seed till it is devoured by the demons. The stony ground germinates quickly, but utterly withers speedily, terminating in total failure; while the thorny ground not only germinates, but grows up and produces fruit; but Luke says it does not bring it to perfection; i.e., it either rots on the stalk, or after it is gathered, as unripe fruit will not keep. Hence you see that the only hope for the first three sowings is to turn all of the land into good ground — i.e., get all hearts sanctified wholly — then every sowing will be a success. You here see the wonderful growth in grace peculiar to sanctified people; as in case of the good ground some produce thirty-fold — i.e., at the end of life had thirty times as much religion as when they were converted; others, sixty; and others, a hundred — i.e., winding up with a hundred times the quantum of regenerating grace. O what an incentive to everybody to come into the good ground — i.e., to get sanctified wholly!

“And He said to them, Whether does the light come, that it may be placed under a bushel or under a bed? is it not that it may be placed on a candlestick? for there is nothing hidden which may not be revealed; nor was there anything secret, but that it may come into the light. If any one has ears to hear, let him hear. And He said to them, See what you hear. With what measure you measure, it shall be measured unto you, and shall be added to those who hear. For whosoever may have, shall be given unto him; whosoever has not, it shall be taken from him whatsoever he hath.”

Thus our Lord winds up this beautiful, lucid, and instructive Parable of the Sower with a few pertinent practical remarks. If you would not put your light under a bushel, you must become good ground, and appreciate the wonderful possibilities of accumulation here specified, one gaining thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred fold. His trite maxim about hearing, He also subjoins. To the unspiritual it sounds insignificant, as the multitude were then hearing His voice; yet it is only the spiritually quickened ear that can hear the voice of God that wakes the dead, physical ears only hearing the voice of the man who can not save. We receive the Man Christ, while the God Christ saves us. He also here very pertinently repeats His wonderful law of spiritual thrift. That if we faithfully utilize the gifts and graces He gives us, He will increase them indefinitely; while if we are lazy and unappreciative, He will take them away altogether, giving us a place with the “unprofitable servant.”


Verses 14-17

HEALING OF PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW

Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:2-34; & Luke 14:3-35 Mark: “And immediately coming out of the synagogue? came into the house of Simon and Andrew and James and John. The mother-in-law of Simon was lying down scorched with a fever; and immediately they speak to Him concerning her; and coming to her and taking her by the hand, He raised her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she continued to minister unto them. And it being evening, when the sun went down, they continued to carry to Him all the sick and the demonized; and the whole city was gathered at the door. And He healed many sick with various diseases, and continued to cast out many demons; and did not suffer the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” Matthew gives a wonderful prophecy of Isaiah 53:4 :

“He took our infirmities, and carried our diseases.”

That prophecy, corroborated by our Savior, is really wonderful on Divine healing, certainly setting forth our blessed privilege in the atonement to have our bodies healed. We need physical health in order to do the work the Lord has given us, to bless mankind and glorify God in this life; our faith being the measuring-line of blessings for body as well as soul. This case of Peter's mother-in-law, in his house in Capernaum, was really notable.

Luke says, “She was afflicted with a great fever.” The healing was so decisive that she got up at once, and proceeded to do her housework. I have seen that very case duplicated repeatedly. Last August, at Scottsville (Texas) Camp-meeting, we prayed for a lady in her tent who was burnt with a terrible fever, at the same time anointing her with oil. The fever left her immediately she got up and went to meeting within fifteen minutes. I saw her in the meetings constantly till the adjournment of the camp, with no sign of fever, and testifying to her healing. We see here that when the sun went down, they continued to bring the sick; as this was midsummer, and the sea of Galilee is seven hundred feet below the Mediterranean and surrounded by highlands, it gets exceedingly hot on the coast. Hence the importance of waiting until sunset, and perhaps in order to command necessary help, as men have more leisure at night than during the day. We see here that Jesus cast out the demons and healed the sick, thus ministering both to soul and body, converting, saving, and sanctifying the soul and healing the body. He is the same, “Yesterday, today, and forever.” O what a Savior we have! His mercies are boundless and free. It is our glorious privilege, not only to have all the demons cast out of our souls, but to have our bodily ailments healed. We should go to the ends of the earth, as our Lord commissioned us, casting out demons and healing the sick. We see here that, while all of those demons wanted to confess the Christhood of Jesus, His Divine Sonship, He prohibited them. How did they know Him? All these demons were once angels, as God never created a devil. During the bygone ages, before they forfeited their probation and were cast out of heaven, they all beheld the bright glory of the Son of God. Hence they recognized Him; but I am not astonished that He was unwilling for these fallen spirits to become the heralds of His Divinity. He preferred to let His mighty works vindicate His claims to the Messiahship.


Verses 28-34

THE DEMONIZED GADERENE

Matthew 8:28-34; Matthew 9:1; Mark 5:1-21; and Mark 5:26-40. We visited this country of the Gadarenes, which comes down to the northeast coast of this sea; Gergesa, their capital, situated on a beautiful, rich plain, enjoying a handsome view of this beautiful water, as well as the majestic mountains and fertile valleys of the surrounding countries. Matthew says they came to Gergesa, Mark and Luke say they came to the country of Gadara. This is in perfect harmony, as Gergesa was the city and Gadara the country. You must remember that when our Savior bade the temple adieu, the day before He was arrested, He said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Within forty years from the utterance the Roman armies signally verified it. Hence the desolation has been on that country ever since. However, Gadara was a Gentile country; but it was the subject of a terrible Divine retribution, as we will see in this narrative, for rejecting the ministry of Jesus. “And they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes, and a man with an unclean spirit, from the tombs, met Him immediately having come out of the ship, who had his habitation among the tombs; and no one was able to bind him with chains, because frequently he had been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been slipped off by him and the fetters torn to pieces, and no one was able to subdue him.” Matthew says there were two demoniacs, exceedingly fierce, so no one could pass that way. Mark and Luke speak of but one. Luke says that he wore no clothing. It is a notable fact that raging maniacs have an aversion to wearing clothing, and if possible will tear it off. Mark: “And he was all the time, night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains; was crying, and cutting himself with stones. Seeing Jesus a great way off, he ran and fell down before Him, and crying, with a great voice, said, What is there to me and to Thee, O Jesus, the Son of the Most High God? I adjure Thee, in the name of God, that you torment me not; for He said to him, Unclean spirit, come out from the man.” Luke says: “For a long time he had possessed him, and he was kept bound with fetters and chains; and smashing his fetters, he was driven by the demon into the wilderness. And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? and he said, Legion, because many demons had entered into him. And he continued to exhort Him that He may not command them to depart into the abyss;” i.e., the bottomless pit.

God never created the devil, a sinner, nor a snake. The snake originated from the transformation of the Nahash, an intelligent biped, one of the intermediate links between man and the lower animals, and unfortunately used by Satan in the abduction of humanity. Satan is a fallen archangel:

“How thou art fallen, O Lucifer, the morning star!” (Isaiah 14:12.)

The term “devil” is the ordinary cognomen of Satan, demon being the regular epithet applied to those innumerable evil spirits, swarming up out of the bottomless pit and thronging the atmosphere, their highest aspiration being a habitation in some human spirit, as in the case of this Gadarene, into whom a whole legion — i.e., ten thousand — had crowded together. Nothing is so terrible to these demons as the gloomy dungeons of the bottomless pit. Consequently they importuned Jesus not to send them thither. Originally the intelligences inhabiting the innumerable worlds, constituting the celestial empire, were presumptively all on probation. In the fatal revolt of Lucifer, an immense host, perhaps one-third (Revelation 12), followed the apostate archangel. As this apostasy, in all probability, infected many celestial worlds, we find innumerable hosts of fallen demons roaming round this world, hunting a habitation in some human heart. (Ephesians 6) We have no right to conclude that this Gadarene is the only legionaire in all the earth. It is pertinent to remember how all the demons, with whom Jesus comes in contact, recognize Him. We have no record at what epoch in bygone eternity the angels were created; evidently long before Divinity spoke this world into existence. As Jesus is co-eternal with God Himself, identical with the uncreated Jehovah, the recognition of these demons is doubtless a vivid reminiscence of the bright celestial ages which glided away before the dark period of rebellion and ruin supervened. It is here specified that the legionaire tore his clothing from his person, smashing all the fetters and escaping from all the chains with which they could bind him. The muscular power of these Oriental red men is vastly superior to that of Europeans and Americans. In all probability, he was a natural giant, as were most of the aborigines in that country in the days of Joshua; for you must remember he was not a Hebrew, but a Gentile. It is generally believed that physical strength is located in the muscles. This is a mistake. The muscles are the mere instruments used by the nerves, which are the custodians of physical power. A crowbar is a most potent instrument in the hands of a stalwart man; but left alone, utterly impotent.

I thought the muscles were the custodians of physical strength till, in 1884, a stroke of partial paralysis demonstrated the utter impotency of the muscles without nervous stimuli. From a human standpoint, the exegesis of Samson’s paradoxical strength was the induement of the Holy Ghost, who operated through his nerves, thus imparting miraculous physical dynamics. Now remember, this Gadarene had ten thousand demons, ready in a moment to electrify his nerves, thus imparting an incredible muscular power. I have seen epileptics whom it took a half-dozen strong men to manage. You have all witnessed the extraordinary feats of strength and activity performed by maniacs, lunatics, and epileptics. This man was doubtless a combination of them all, so many demons, ready at any moment to turn loose the very galvanic batteries of the pandemonium on their poor victim, thus making them instrumental in the most paradoxical feats of agility and power. Why did he dwell among the tombs? Satan is king of death and hell. He sways his leaden scepter over every graveyard, holding fast every human body in the dark sepulcher, as their souls in the regions of woe. Hence these demons found congeniality among the tombs.

Mark 5:11. “And there was at the mountain a great herd of swine, feeding. And all the demons entreated him saying, Send us into the swine, that we may go into them. And Jesus immediately permitted them. And the unclean spirits, having come out, went into the swine, and the herd rushed down a steep place into the sea, and there were about two thousand, and they perished in the sea.” These heathen Gentiles set great store on the hog, a notoriously unclean animal, which God’s people were forbidden to raise, heavy interdictions being laid on the eating of the same. When I visited that country last November, our dragoman showed us the mountain traditionally recognized as the pasture of the swine, and the cliff down which the whole herd stampeded into the sea; thus transmitting to us a most monitory lesson against demoniacal possession, which is so common in all ages, the present day being no exception to the rule. Here we see these hogs unhesitatingly choosing suicide rather than demoniacal possession. This verdict of the swine should put millions to the blush this day, who go over the earth, full of demons, and claiming a place among the bon tons of society. “And those herding them fled, and proclaimed in the city and in the country; and they came out to see what is that which has been done. And they come to Jesus, and see the demonized man sitting down, clothed, and in his right mind, him who was called Legion; and they were afraid. And those seeing, explained to them how it occurred to the demonized man, and concerning the swine. And they began to entreat Him to depart from their coasts.” Luke 8:36 : “And those seeing, explained to them how the demonized man was saved; and the whole multitude of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes entreated Him to depart from them, because they were possessed with great fear.” Here we have the united testimony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke to the unanimous and importunate verdict of all the Gadarenes, requesting Jesus to leave their country. That this awful and hopeless demoniac had been wonderfully saved, all admitted. But there was another phase to the matter — they had lost their swine. Now a pertinent question looks them all in the face. Will they have Jesus or bacon? If they keep Jesus, they can have all of the sick healed, all the devils cast out, all the people saved, soul and body, and turn their country into a little heaven, so they can live on angels’ food instead of “hog and hominy.” The popular verdict comes quickly, and without a dissenting voice: they all decide to let Jesus go, and save their bacon to eat and sell for the money.

DOOM OF GADARA

“And embarking into the ship, He returned;” i.e., went back to Capernaum, the center of His evangelistic work in the North, thus throwing a dark shadow over all of that country of the Gadarenes, which has wrapped it in gloom and withered it with desolation these eighteen hundred years. When I visited that country, with its beautiful, fertile plains, bordering on the sea; majestic, rich mountains, with innumerable valleys and coves — all, at the time of our Savior’s visit, flourishing as the gardens of the Lord, cultivated by a thriving and enterprising people, whose temporal needs a gracious Providence had most abundantly supplied. So they needed nothing but the Savior, whom, in loving, Fatherly affection, He so kindly sent them. O what a grand introductory He made among them in saving the worst man they had! How all hell rallied to hold their grip tight on Gadara! Jesus comes to all people, even uninvited, thus pitying their blindness and ignorance, and giving all a chance for salvation. But when He turns the light on them, if, instead of rejoicing in it, they prefer darkness, and, like these besotted Gadarenes, even have the impudence to ask Him to leave, He always goes, leaving them to their choice, with the devil and hell, world without end. Jesus saves none against their will; neither does He stay where He is not wanted. When I stood upon the old walls of Gergesa, the capital of Gadara, to which Jesus went, and looked around upon the ruins of the city, without an inhabitant except the wandering Arabs, then on the spot, grazing their herds and flocks, and saw their country, which has lain desolate eighteen hundred years, I saw in panorama, as I look out over the sea, Jesus embarking on the ship, which sails away, appearing smaller and smaller, till she passes out of sight, thus leaving poor Gadara doomed and ruined. How signally has this been verified in the dismal fate of that country! The Gadarenes have literally faded from the face of the earth, not one to be found; their capital desolate, their cities and villages depopulated and destroyed; their country in the hands of the nomadic Bedonins, the wild sons of Ishmael, in reference to whom God said, “His hand shall be against every man’s hand, and every man’s hand against him.” They are born robbers. If you would visit the land of Gadara this day, you would need an armed escort to save you from robbery and murder. What a warning to the people who request Jesus to depart from them!

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/matthew-8.html.

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