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When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
And straightway JESUS Constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The law of Moses ordained, that every man of the house of Israel should present himself before the LORD three times in a year, at the three great festivals; and we are here told, that "the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh:" from whence we may judge, that the disciples returned to their Master, with a view of attending him to Jerusalem, to keep this solemn, festival.
The Apostles, as they were sent out in the name of CHRIST, were accountable to him, both for what they did and preached.
They punctually executed the commission our LORD gave them, and had the happiness of receiving his approbation, as we may judge from the tender solici tude he expressed, that they should enjoy some repose after the fatigues they had lately undergone, and avoid the continual interruption given by the multitude; but though they by this means gained a little respite, the people, observing the course they steered (which they might very well do, as this desert was divided from the place they set out from by a creek or bay of the sea) resolved to go thither on foot, so great was their impatience to attend our LORD. With what amiable kind. ness did CHRIST receive them! and with what tender pity did he consider their unhappy condition, neglected by their spiritual guides, and obliged to wander from place to
place in search of instruction! Instead of dismissing them with anger for breaking in on his retirement, our LORD immediately began to instruct and heal them.
The request which the disciples made to our SAVIOUR, was very natural, as they could not foresee his gracious design; and though it was completely formed in his own mind, he did not immediately declare his intentions, as he meant to shew what a slender supply of provisions they had, that the miracle might appear the more wonderful. From Philip's answer, and the proposal of one of the disciples to buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, we may conjecture that the common purse kept to supply our LORD and his Apostles with the necessaries of life, contained no more than that little sum, amounting to about six pounds five shillings. How must they be astonished, when he desired them to. divide their small stock of provisions among such a great company, who, by his particular directions, were placed in regular rows on the grass, that their number might the more easily be ascertained.
When our divine LORD had taken the loaves and fishes into his hands, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and returned thanks to the FATHER; by which he expressed the gratitude of his soul for the honour conferred on his human nature, and intimated to the multitude, that the power he was about to exert was divine, and such as no mere man could possess. He then blessed the loaves and fishes, which multiplied under his hands; thus proving that the DIVINE WORD, which created all things, was actually in him.
It is true, that miracles of the same nature had been wrought in the time of Elijah and Elisha; but an attentive reader may observe a great difference between these Prophets and our SAVIOUR. So far from pretend
ing to have a divine power inherent in them, they constantly referred the honour of these mighty works to the LORD*. Our SAVIOUR was the LORD Himself, incarnate, or dwelling in the flesh; but, in respect to his buman nature, inferior to the FATHER; and therefore while he acted as GOD, he felt gratitude as Man, knowing that, without the union of the DEITY, he could not have performed such wonderful works.
The loaves were of the coarsest kind of bread, and the fishes very small ones; from whence we may infer, that our LORD and his Apostles contented themselves with the plainest food. This teaches us a lesson of tem, perance and moderation. :
Our SAVIOUR Commanded that the fragments which remained should be gathered together, that nothing might be lost. From hence we are instructed, not to waste the provisions which are given us by Providence for our sustenance and refreshment; but to remember, that though we are satisfied, there are still many who want; for whom we should reserve the superfluities, and not throw on the grass, to be devoured by the beasts and fowls, that food which was given for since the appetites of those creatures may be satisfied with victuals improper for the human kind to eat.
When our LORD found that the people were determined to take him by force, and make him a king, he retired; for he regarded not worldly honours, which, however desirable they may appear to sensual minds, have no charms for those who look for a heavenly kingdom, much less could they engage the attention of the MESSIAH, the HOLY ONE, who was to reign over this kingdom.
The people who said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world, alluded to the following prediction of Moses *.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me * and unto him shall ye hearken.
According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy GOD in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my GOD, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their bre thren like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speák unto them all that I shall command him.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
From this passage we learn, that in compliance with the request of the people of Israel, that they might no more behold such an awful display of the divine Ma jesty as they had beheld on Mount Sinai, God gra. ciously promised that he would, instead of speaking unto them in thunder, and appearing in fire, raise up a prophet like unto Moses, to be, as we may understand, a Laregiver and a Mediator, and that he put his own Words in the mouth of that Prophet, who should be one of the Jewish nation.
Our SAVIOUR was the only person since Moses who appeared as a lawgiver to the people of Israel; and there was great resemblance between their characters in many particulars, which none of the intervening Prophets hađ
See Deut. Chap. xviii.
possessed. It was likewise evident, that the LORD had put his words into our SAVIOUR's mouth; "for no man could speak as he spake, except GoD were with him.” Many of the Jews were stack with the resemblance, and convinced, that he must be that Prophet that should come into the world, on which account they desired to make him their king.
Whoever believes that Jesus was the Prophet, in whose mouth the LORD put his oron words, cannot, consistently with that belief, refuse to hearken to him; and whatsoever he hath taught, it is their indispensable duty to believe. Now, though Moses spake of the MESSIAH merely as a Prophet, our LORD proved him self to be more, and repeatedly declared, that he spake the very words of GoD, in consequence of an intimatè union with the DEITY. Let us, therefore, pay atten tion to all which he has revealed; remembering that, if we do not, God will call us to account *.
JESUS WALKETH ON THE SEA.
From Matthew, Chap. xiv.
AND when JESUS had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
And in the fourth watch of the night, when they had rowed about five-and twenty or thirty furlongs, they
* See a comparison between our SAVIOUR and Moses, in Bishop Newton's Dissertations on the Prophecies