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23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
'Profess unto them.' Say unto them; plainly declare. 'I never knew you.' That is, I never approved, loved, or regarded you as my friends. See Ps. i. 6. 2 Tim. ii. 19. 1 Cor. viii. 3. This proves that, with all their pretensions, they had never been true followers of Christ.
Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell and great was the fall of it.
Jesus Christ closes the sermon on the mount by a beautiful comparison, illustrating the benefit of attending to his words. It was not sufficient to hear them; they must be obeyed. He compares the man who should hear, and obey him, to a man who should build his house on a rock. Palestine was to a considerable extent a land of hills and mountains. Like other countries of that description, it was subject to sudden and violent rains. The Jordan, the principal stream, was annually swollen to a great extent, and became rapid and furious in its course. The streams which ran among the hills, whose channels might have been dry during some months of the year, became suddenly swollen with the rain, and would pour down impetuously into the plains below. Every thing in the way of these torrents would be swept off. Even a house erected within the reach of these sudden inundations, and especially if founded on sand, or any unsolid basis, would not stand before them. The rising, bursting stream would shake it to its foundation; the rapid torrent would dually wash away its base; it would totter and fall, and be swept away. Rocks in that land were common, and it was easy to secure for their houses a solid foundation. No comparison could, to a Jew, have been more strikingly adapted to teach that tempests, and storms of affliction and persecution, beat around the soul. Suddenly, when we think we are in safety, the heavens may be overcast; the storm may lower; and calamity beat upon us. In a moment, health, friends, comforts, may be gone. How desirable then to be possessed of something that the tempest can
not reach! Such is an interest in Christ, attention to his words, reliance on his promises, confidence in his protection, and a hope of heaven through his blood. Earthly calamities do not reach these: and, possessed of religion, all the storms and tempests of life may beat harmlessly around us.
28 And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
'His doctrine.' His teaching. As one having authority, and not as the scribes.' The scribes were the learned men and teachers of the Jewish nation, and were principally pharisees. They consumed much of their time in useless disputes and vain jangling. Jesus was open, plain, grave, useful; delivering truth as became the oracles of God; not trifling; teaching as having power, as it is in the original, and not in the vain and foolish manner of the Jewish doctors. He came with authority such as no man could have, and it is therefore not surprising that his explanations astonished them.
1 WHEN he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
No disease with which the human family has been afflicted, has been more dreadful than that which is often mentioned in the bible as the leprosy. It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin, and commonly resembles the spot made by the puncture of a pin, or the pustules of a ringworm. The spots generally make their appearance very suddenly; commonly exhibit themselves, at first, on the face, about the nose and eyes, and increase in size for a number of years, till they become as large as a pea or a bean; and though few at first, gradually spread till they cover the whole body.
But though the appearance of the disease is at first in the skin, yet it is deeply seated in the bones, and marrow, and joints of the body. We have reason to suppose that it is concealed in the system for a number of years, till at last it gives fearful indications on the skin of its having gained a deeply rooted and permanent existence. A leprous person may live twenty, or thirty, or even fifty years, if he received the disease at his birth, but they will be years of indescribable misery. The bones and marrow are pervaded with the disease. The malady advances from one stage to another with slow and certain ruin. The joints, and hands, and
feet, lose their power; and the body collapses, or falls together, in a form hideous and awful.
This disease is contagious and hereditary. It is easily communicated from one to another, and is transmitted to the third and fourth generation.
Moses gave particular directions by which the real leprosy was to be distinguished from other diseases. See Lev. xiii. The leprous person was separated from the congregation. The inspection of the disease was committed to the priest; and a declaration on his part that the person was healed, was sufficient evidence to restore him to the congregation. It was required also that the leprous person should bring an offering to the priest. See Lev. xiv. In compliance with the laws of the land, Jesus directed the man whom he had healed to make the customary offering, and to obtain the testimony of the priest that he was healed. Worshipped him.' Bowed down before him, to show him respect. See note Matt. ii. 2. If thou wilt.' This was an exhibition of great faith, and also an acknowledgment of his dependence on the will of Jesus, in order to be healed. So every sinner must come. He must feel that Jesus can save him. He must also feel that he has no claim on Christ; that his salvation depends on his sovereign will; and must cast himself at his feet with the feeling of the leper. Happily, no one ever came to Jesus with this feeling, who was not received, and pardoned.
'Make me clean.' Heal me. The leprosy was regarded as an unclean and disgusting disease. To be healed, therefore, was expressed by being cleansed from it.
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
It was an offence to the Jews to touch a leprous person. The act of putting forth his hand, and touching him, therefore, expressed the intention of Jesus to cure him, and was a pledge that he was, in fact, already cured.
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto
'See thou tell no man.' This command is to be understood as extending only to the time until he had made the proper representation to the priest. It was his duty to hasten to him immediately; not to delay by talking about it, but as the first thing, to obey the laws of God, and make proper acknowledgments to him by an offering. The place where this cure was wrought was in Galilee, a distance of forty or fifty miles from Jerusalem; and
it was his duty to make haste to the residence of the priest, and obtain his sanction to the reality of the cure. A testimony unto them. Not to the priest, but to the people. Show thyself to the priest, and get his testimony to the reality of the cure, as a proof to the people that the healing is genuine. It was necessary that he should have that testimony, before he could be received into the congregation, or allowed to mingle with the people. Hav ing this, he would be, of course, restored to the privileges of social and religious life, and the proof of the miracle, to the people, would be put beyond a doubt.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
'Capernaum.' See note, ch. iv. 13. A centurion was a commander of a hundred men, in the Roman armies. Judea was a Roman province, and garrisons were kept there to preserve the people in subjection.
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, 'grievously tormented.
'Sick of the palsy.' See note, ch. iv. 24.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
8. I am not worthy,' &c. This was an expression of great humility. It indicated a lowly spirit; a conviction of the great dignity and power of the Saviour, and a belief that he was so unlike him, and so far removed in character, that he was not fit that the Son of God should come into his dwelling. So humbly every truly penitent sinner feels; a feeling which is appropriate when he comes to Christ.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me and I say to this man,.Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
He had full confidence in the ability of Jesus to heal his servant, and requested him simply to give the command as quite sufficient. This request he presented in a manner appropriate to a soldier. I am a man, says he, under authority. That is, I am subject to the command of others, and know how to obey. I have also under me soldiers who are accustomed to obedience. I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes. I am prepared, therefore, to believe that your commands will be
obeyed. As these obey me, so do diseases, storms, and seas obey thee.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
The word 'faith,' here means confidence, or belief that Christ had power to heal his servant. Jesus marvelled.' Or wondered at his faith; or deemed it remarkable. 'Not in Israel.' Israel was a name given to Jacob, Gen. xxxii. 28, 29, because, as a prince, he had power with God; because he persevered in wrestling with the Angel that met him, and obtained the blessing. It was given to the whole nation till the time of Jeroboam, when only the ten tribes that revolted received the name, probably because they were a majority of the nation. After the captivity of Babylon, it was given to all the Jews indiscriminately. See Matt. x. 6. Mark xv. 32.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
The phrase 'from the east and from the west,' in the scripture, is used to denote the whole world, Isa. xlv. 6; lix. 19. The phrase 'shall sit down' in the original, refers to the manner of sitting at meals, see note, Matt. xxiii. 6; and the enjoyments of heaven are described under the similitude of a feast or banquet: a very common manner of speaking of them, Matt. xxvi. 29. Luke xiv. 15; xxii. 30. It is used here to denote felicity and honour. To sit with those distinguished men was an honour, and would be expressive of great felicity.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"The children of the kingdom. In other words, the Jews. They supposed themselves peculiarly the favourites of Heaven. They thought they were by birth subjects of God's kingdom. They thought the Messiah would enlarge their nation, and spread the triumphs of their kingdom. They called themselves, therefore, the children or the members of the kingdom of God, to the exclu sion of the Gentiles. Our Saviour used their language, and said, that many of the pagans would be saved, and many Jews lost. 'Shall be cast out into outer darkness,' &c. This is an image of future punishment. Feasts were given at night. The rooms were brilliantly illuminated; and the splendour within made the darkness without, the outer darkness,' gloomy indeed. See Matt. xxii. 18. The wicked who are lost will be shut out from the