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on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
'House of God.' That was the tabernacle, the temple not being then built. Profane the sabbath.' On the sabbath days they were engaged, as well as on other days, in killing beasts for sacrifice, Num. xxviii. 9, 10. Two lambs were killed on the sabbath, in addition to the daily sacrifice. The priests must slay them; skin them, prepare them for sacrifice, and burn them. They did that which, for other persons to do, would have been profaning the sabbath. Yet they were blameless. They did what was necessary and commanded.
6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
Here he refers to himself, and to his own dignity and power. I have power over the laws: I can grant to my disciples a dispensation from the Jewish laws. An act which I command or permit them to do, is therefore right. This proves that he was Divine.
7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
Christ says that he was Lord of the sabbath. He had a right to direct the manner of its observance-an undoubted proof that he was Divine.
9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: 10 And behold there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
The account contained in these verses is recorded also in Mark iii. 1-5, and Luke vi. 6-10. 'A man which had his hand withered. This was probably one form of the palsy. See note, Matt. iv. 24.
Mark and Luke have mentioned some circumstances omitted by Matthew. They say that Jesus told him to stand forth in the midst. He then addressed the people. He asked them if it was lawful to do good on the sabbath day. This was admitted by all their teachers, and it could not be denied. They were therefore silent. He then appealed to them, and drew an argument from their own conduct. If a man would save the life of a sheep, was it not proper to save the life of a man? By a reference to their own conduct, he silenced them.
11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be
among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
A man better than a sheep.'. Of more consequence, or value. If you would show an act of kindness to a brute beast on the sabbath, how much more important is it to evince similar kindness to one made in the image of God: one for whom the Saviour came to die, and who may be raised up to everlasting life. 'It is lawful to do well.' This was universally allowed by the Jews in the abstract; and Jesus showed them that the principle on which they acted in other things applied with more force to the case before him, and that the act which he was about to perform was, by their own confession, lawful.
13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
'Stretch forth thine hand.' This was a remarkable commandment. The man might have said that he had no strength; that it was a thing which he could not do. Yet, being commanded, it was his duty to obey. He did so, and was healed. So the sinner. It is his duty to obey whatever God commands. He will give strength to those who attempt to do his will. It is not right to plead, when God commands us to do a thing, that we have no strength. God will give us strength, if there is a disposition to obey. It was restored whole.' Christ had before claimed Divine authority and power, ver. 6, 9. He now showed that he possessed it. By his own power he healed him; thus evincing by a miracle that his claim of being Lord of the sabbath was well founded.
These two cases determine what may be done on the sabbath. The one was a case of necessity; the other of mercy. The example of the Saviour, and his explanations, show that these are a part of the proper duties of that holy day. Beyond an honest and conscientious discharge of these two duties, men may not devote the sabbath to any secular purpose. If they do, they do it at their peril.
14 Then the pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
This account is found also in Mark iii. 6-12. The pharisees -held a council,' &c. Mark adds, that the Herodians also took a part in this plot. They were probably a political party attached firmly to Herod. The attempt against him now was the effect of envy. They were enraged also that he had foiled them in the
argument; they were losing their influence; and they, therefore, resolved to take him out of the way.
15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
'Jesus-withdrew himself,' &c. He knew the design against his life. He knew that his hour was not yet come; and he therefore sought security. By remaining, his presence would only have provoked them further, and endangered his own life.
Mark adds, that he withdrew to the sea; that is, to the sea of Galilee, or Tiberias. Pressed by the crowd, Mark iii. 9, he went on board a small vessel, or boat, called by Mark a ship. This he did for the convenience of being separated from them, and more easily addressing them. We are to suppose the lake still and calm; the multitudes, many of whom were sick and diseased, standing on the shore, and pressing to the water's edge; and Jesus thus healing their diseases, and preaching to them the good news of salvation.
16 And charged them that they should not make him known:
He was, at this time, desirous of concealment. He wished to avoid their plots, and to save his life.
17 That it might be fulfi ed which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.
Matthew here quotes a passage from Isa. xlii. 1-4, to show the reason why he thus retired from his enemies and sought concealment. The Jews expected that the Messiah would be a conqueror, and vindicate himself from all his enemies. When they saw him retiring before them, and seeking a place of concealment, it was contrary to all their previous notions of the Messiah. Matthew, by this quotation, shows that their conceptions of him had been wrong, and that he was predicted under a totally different characInstead of shouting for battle, lifting up his voice in the streets, oppressing the feeble as a conqueror he would be peaceful, retiring, strengthening the feeble, and cherishing the faintest desires of holiness.
'My servant.' That is, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, called a servant from his taking the form of a servant, or his being born in a humble condition, Phil. ii. 7, and from his obeying or serving God. See Heb. x. 9. 'Shall show judgment to the Gentiles.
The word 'judgment means, in the Hebrew, law, commands, &c. Ps. xix. 9; cxix. 29, 30. It means the whole system of truth; the law of God in general; the purpose, plan, or judgment of God, about human duty and conduct.
19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
'He shall not strive,' &c. He shall not shout, as a warrior. He shall be meek, and peaceful. Streets were places of concourse, public places. The meaning is, that he should not seek publicity, and noise, and popularity.
20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
'A bruised reed,' &c. It is an expressive emblem of the soul, broken and contrite on account of sin, weeping and mourning for transgression. He will not break it. That is, he will not be haughty, unforgiving, and cruel. He will heal it, pardon it, and give it strength. 'Smoking flax.' This refers to the wick of a lamp when the oil is exhausted-the dying, flickering flame and smoke that hang over it. It is expressive of the languishing graces of the people of God. He will not treat them harshly or unkindly, but will cherish the feeble flame, minister the oil of grace, and kindle it into a blaze. Till he send forth judgment unto victory.' Judgment' here means truth, the truth of God, the gospel. It shall be victorious. It shall not be vanquished. Though not such a conqueror as the Jews expected, yet he shall conquer. Though mild and retiring, yet his scheme shall be victorious.
21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
And in his name,' &c. The Hebrew in Isaian is, ' And the isles shall wait for his law.' The idea is, however, the same. The isles denote the Gentiles, or a part of the Gentiles-those out of Judea. The meaning is, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and that they should receive it.
22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and
'One possessed with a devil. See note, Matt. iv. 24. The same account, substantially, is found Mark iii. 22-27, and Luke xi. 14-26.
23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
That is, is not this the promised descendant of David, the
Messiah? They were acquainted with the prophecy in Isaiah xxxv. 5, and they inferred that this must be the promised Messiah. This inference was drawn by the common people, and not by the proud and haughty pharisees. It is not uncommon that the plain common sense of the candid, but unlearned, sees the true beauty and meaning of the bible, while men, filled with pride and science, foolishly so called, are blinded.
24 But when the pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
Here was a manifest miracle, an exertion of power unquestionably superior to what men could do. The common people were fast coming into the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, and the authority and power of the pharisees were declining. Unless, therefore, some way should be devised of accounting for these facts, their influence would be at an end. But it was necessary that they should acknowledge that there was superhuman power. The people were fully persuaded of this; and no man could deny it. They therefore ascribed it to the prince of the devils-to Beelzebub. In this they had two objects: 1. To concede to the people that here was a miracle, or a work above mere human power. 2. To throw all possible contempt on Jesus. Beelzebub was an opprobrious name, given to the worst and vilest even of the devils. See Matt. x. 25.
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
'And Jesus knew their thoughts,' &c. To know the thoughts of the heart belongs only to God, Ps. cxxxix. 2. Jer. xvii. 10. 'Every kingdom,' &c. Jesus made their argument recoil on their own heads. A kingdom, or a family, can prosper only by living in harmony. If divided-if one part undoes what the other does it must fall. So with the kingdom of Satan. You believe that Satan has possessed those whom I have cured, and that he has helped me to cure them. If so, then he has helped me to undo what he had done-that is, to oppose and discomfit himself. At this rate, how can there be any stability to his kingdom? It must fall; and Satan must have less than human prudence.
27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.