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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Matthew 8

 

 

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Verse 1

We have here the LORD JESUS confirming his word by miracles. Jesus cleanseth a Leper, healeth the Centurion's servant, the mother-in-law of Peter, with many others; stilleth the waves of the sea, casteth out devils from two poor creatures; and permitteth them to enter into the swine.


Verses 1-4

Though this act of cleansing the Leper is by Matthew recorded as the first of CHRIST'S miracles, yet we have no authority so to conclude, for John records the first miracle to have been at the marriage feast. John 2:14. And Mark and Luke do not place it in the same order. Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12. And some have thought that this man was Simon the Leper. Matthew 26:6. But the chief points to be regarded in the history of this man's cleansing will be more to our purpose to attend to. The leprosy was a disease so peculiar, that it was always considered as a mark of divine displeasure on those who were visited by it. Hence Miriam, the sister of Aaron was smitten by it. Numbers 12:10, etc. Gehazi the servant of Elisha. 2 Kings 5:27. Uzziah the king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 26:19, etc. And as the disease was considered as coming from the Lord in judgment, so it was deemed unlawful by the Jews in any to attempt to heal it. This was the Lord's sole prerogative. 2 Kings 5:7. Add to these, the unhappy persons afflicted by it were shut out, and precluded all civil and religious communion.

Now what the leprosy is to the body, such is sin to the soul. None but God can pardon the sinner, and nothing but the blood of Christ can cleanse the sinner. So that the whole of our nature, by reason of sin, is leprosy before God. The representation of this cleansing was set forth under the Law. Le 14. But it is the Gospel of CHRIST, which gives us the only possible cure in the person, work, and righteousness of God our Savior. Ezekiel 36:25, etc. 1 John 1:7.

This poor creature, which came to JESUS, is the representative of every poor sinner, when convinced of the leprosy of sin, from the teaching of GOD the HOLY GHOST. Such an one is convinced of CHRIST'S ability, because God the Son hath taught him who CHRIST and what CHRIST is able to perform. But it appears, that this man's faith was but slender; for though he had no doubt of CHRIST'S ability, yet he had doubts whether the SON of GOD would exercise it towards him. Lord, (said he) if thou wilt thou canst make me clean! I beg the Reader to remark this weakness of faith. Perhaps my Reader knows somewhat of the same in his own experience. And if so, may the Lord put a cry into his heart, that he may say with the Apostles, Lord! increase our faith! But when he hath done this, let him look unto JESUS, in his tenderness to this poor man, and observe, that the weakness of his faith, did not restrain CHRIST'S mercy and power. For we are told, JESUS put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will, be thou clean: and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. I beg the Reader to observe with me, not only the gracious act of CHRIST'S healing him, but touching him also in doing it. Touching a leper! Yes! Jesus, though made in the likeness of sinful flesh, contracted none of our pollutions when taking our flesh. His unspotted purity could not be defiled by an union with our nature. The sun shines, and imparts all its warmings, healings, life-giving properties, but yet contracts no defilement from the dung-hill objects to which it communicates those blessings. And JESUS sheds his blissful, sin-withering, soul-cleansing influence, without being tainted with the maladies of defiled churches, and defiled souls, into which he shines, and on which he ariseth, as the Sun of righteousness, with healing in his wings. Malachi 4:2.

The precept which the Lord gave him, to tell no man of his cure, seems to have been intended, not with a view to conceal the knowledge of the mercy he had received from the world; but only that he should first make it known to the priest, as had been enjoined by the law. Our first acknowledgments for all mercies, and especially for Spiritual mercies, in the salvation of our souls by the LORD JESUS CHRIST, are due to the LORD. Jesus, our Almighty High Priest, the Author and Giver of our blessings, is first to be eyed and acknowledged in our blessings. But when this is done, it is a suited frame of mind to call upon the whole world to the contemplation of the divine goodness towards us. 0 come hither and hearken, all ye that fear GOD, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul. Psalms 66:16.


Verses 5-13

We have here another of CHRIST'S. miracles. Capernaum was a city of Galilee, not far from Nazareth. A centurion was an officer among the Romans. This man had a servant sick, of the palsy.

Luke, in his account of this case, said that the servant was dear unto his master. Luke 7:2 etc. Be that as it may, it appears that the centurion, though a Gentile, had such views of CHRIST, as none but the LORD could have given him. Reader! what a precious thought it is to us poor Gentiles; that in CHRIST JESUS there is neither Jew nor Greek; bond nor free; for we are all one. And if we be Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:28-29. If I detain the Reader a moment longer in the contemplation of this miracle of JESUS, it shall be to observe two or three of the striking features in this man's faith. Such was his apprehension of CHRIST'S power, that he said it was unnecessary for JESUS to come to see the patient; for his word only would heal. What could Manifest his belief of the GODHEAD of CHRIST more than this? And his sense of his own unworthiness, became another testimony what views he had of JESUS. There is a great beauty, as well as strong reasoning, the centurion made use of, respecting the exertion of CHRIST'S power. As the soldiers under his command must go or come at his pleasure; so the whole army of diseases, he knew, were under the control of CHRIST. Think, Reader! what faith there must have been in this Gentile? Do not overlook Matthew 8:11 in this passage! But if such was the faith of the centurion, what grace doth the whole manifest of the person of JESUS, the great Author, and Giver of faith, from whom every portion of it the centurion had received? Oh! thou dear LORD, do thou increase our faith!


Verses 14-17

What a beautiful representation is here made, in a short compass, of the lovely, and all-loving JESUS! With a word only the Lord healed! Think of. his sovereignty: think of his grace. And let not the Reader overlook what is said of his taking our infirmities, and bearing our sicknesses. Mark, I pray you, it is said, that Himself did it. JESUS CHRIST personally did this. It is the Person of CHRIST, as God-man, in this instance, we are everlastingly to keep in view. Not the person of the FATHER, neither the person of the HOLY GHOST, for neither of those glorious persons took our nature: but the person of JESUS, God-Man-Mediator. And I very earnestly desire the Reader to pause a moment over the wonderful relation. Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. In himself, there was no possibility of his becoming sick; for sickness is the sole effect of sin; and as there was no taint of sin in his holy nature, there could be no sickness, which is the sole consequence of sin: yet, as by imputation he bore our sins; so by sympathy he bore our sicknesses. Yea, in this sense, he knew and felt more what sin, and the sorrows of sin and sickness are than the sinners themselves for whom he bore them. For as JESUS sustained the persons of his redeemed; so he sustained their sorrows. He that felt the whole weight and burden of their sins, and the divine wrath as their surety, must have known more, and felt more, both of the bitterness of sin itself and all the dire effects of it than the whole body of sinners themselves. And if, as it is said, the righteous soul of Lot was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, day by day, (2 Peter 2:7) what must have been the feelings of the Lord JESUS, during his whole life upon earth in beholding the sins of his redeemed and which he himself bore and for which he gave himself a ransom. Reader! do not dismiss this view of the passage before that you have first considered what a most blessed opening it gives us of the person of our Lord. And let me add, that of all the arguments under the grace of the HOLY GHOST, to restrain from the commission of sin in the Lord's people, this is the highest and the best. Oh! what a sad return for such unequalled love! A child of GOD might well say with Joseph, when tempted, how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against GOD. Genesis 39:9; Romans 8:13.


Verses 18-22

As this is the first place in the Gospel we meet with the phrase Son of MAN, in reference to the person of CHRIST and especially as it is a phrase the LORD JESUS was pleased frequently to make use of, and delighted in; I beg the Reader not to pass it by hastily. I do not presume to speak decidedly upon it, but yet I would humbly ask, Did not the SON of GOD take pleasure in shewing thereby his wonderful condescension, and his wonderful love to our nature? Think, Reader! what an endearment of character it is in JESUS. You and I might well exceed Solomon's surprise. He thought it a matter, as well he might, of infinite surprise, that the LORD should condescend to dwell by his gracious presence in the temple. But had Solomon lived to see, as you and I have done, GOD tabernacling in substance of our flesh, what would he then have said! Precious JESUS, dwell in me, and reign and rule in me, and be my GOD, and cause me to be thy servant! Amidst this great multitude, and amidst the forwardness of one, and the backwardness of another, how few truly followed CHRIST? The dead in trespasses and sins, do indeed bury their dead; for to be carnally minded is death. And all that are Christless and unregenerate, are dead while they live. 1 Timothy 5:6.


Verses 23-27

What a beautiful representation is here given of the two-fold nature of CHRIST. Behold the man, in his human nature, sleeping! Behold the GODHEAD, in his divine nature, rebuking the winds and sea. Let the infidel look at this, and ask himself, who but the Creator could thus command the mighty waters? Let not the child of God overlook the sweet consolation the passage brings with it, to hush all the winds and storms of life. JESUS may, to your view, be inattentive, as though he heard not, when the ship of life in which you are embarked is filling with waves, and when in the distress of your soul you are crying out, LORD, save, or I perish. But, remember, God incarnate is with you in the vessel, and he will bear the whole up until the time of deliverance. Then will he do by you, as he did in this instance with his disciples, arise, and rebuke both winds and seas and there shall be a great calm. Storms of fear, and storms of temptation, must all subside at the command of JESUS.


Verses 28-34

We meet with the relation of this miracle, and somewhat more particularly enlarged, in Mr 5. I refer the Reader therefore to that part of my Commentary for my observations upon it. I only detain the Reader for the moment, to observe, that the place, though mentioned differently, is one and the same. Matthew here calls it the country of the Gergesenes. Mark and Luke call it the country of the Gadarenes. But as it was on the lake of Tiberias, right over against Galilee, it is but one and the. same. It was called in the days of Joshua, and indeed long before, the country of the Girgashites. Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10. The Syriac version gave it the name of Gadarenes: Gergesce and Gadara, was the same city.

REFLECTIONS.

READER! let you and I look on, and behold the wonders of our wonder-working GOD. See the leprous man cleansed; the paralytic healed; the raging fever subdued; yea, the winds, sea, and devils, in a moment brought under the word of our JESUS. But let us not stop here. He that cleansed the poor leper in his body, can and will cleanse all the leprosy of soul in his people. He that gave strength to the palsy of nature, can and will make the crippled in soul to leap as an hart; and all the feverish lusts of his redeemed, JESUS will subdue. Oh! thou gracious God of our salvation! no storms of hell, nor storms of indwelling corruption, nor storms of the world, shall drown thy people! JESUS, though for a while may appear to our impatient minds as inattentive, but he hath said, For the sighing of the poor, and the oppression of the needy, now will I arise, saith God! And oh! with what tenderness and fellow-feeling, the LORD JESUS enters into all the concerns of his redeemed. Truly Lord, it may be said of thee, thou dost thyself take our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses! Oh! vouchsafe thy continual presence with us! and never, never LORD, do thou depart out of our coasts!

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/matthew-8.html. 1828.

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