And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.…
After Jesus had come to his distressed disciples walking on the sea, and calmed for them the fury of the storm, with their Master now in their company, they had a pleasant run to the land of Gennesaret. Behold now another scene of wonder. "When the men of that place knew him," etc. Here we have a fine example of philanthropy, in which there is -
I. A TRUE SYMPATHY WITH HUMANITY. The evidences of this are:
1. A knowledge of what it is. This is expressed in the single word "sick." And this implies:
(2) Disability, viz. in every part of our nature.
2. An estimate of what it ought to be. This also may be expressed in the single word "healthy." And this implies:
(1) That the elements of our nature work together harmoniously.
(a) As to the organs of the body;
(b) as to the faculties of the intellect;
(c) as to the will and the affections of the heart.
(2) That consequently there is strength and competence in all our powers.
(3) Moreover that there is happiness.
(a) The sense of immunity from pain;
(b) the sense of vigour.
(4) And there is life. This is more than existence. Physically, it is existence under the best conditions. So, morally, it is union with God.
3. A yearning for its regenerations. This is the crucial point. There are theorists who have noble conceptions of what men ought to be, who do not endeavour to exemplify their ideal, nor to induce others to do so. Such a theorist may be a devil.
II. AN ACTIVE PUBLIC SPIRIT. This is evinced in:
1. The quick discernment of the presence of the Healer.
(1) The men of Gennesaret recognized Jesus as soon as he landed on their shore. He had been amongst them before. Gennesaret, the ancient Chinnereth (see Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 19:35), the district in Lower Galilee in which Capernaum was situate (cf. Mark 6:53; John 6:22-25). Probably they had been amongst those who witnessed the miracle of the loaves on the preceding day.
(2) They were more noble than their neighbours, the Gergesenes, who "besought Jesus that he would depart out of their coasts," for they welcomed him among them. Note: If Christ were better known he would be better trusted, and not rejected as he is too often.
(3) The discernment of the day of opportunity is an important step towards its improvement (cf. Luke 19:24; John 1:10). It is better to know that there is a prophet amongst us than that there has been one (see Ezekiel 2:5).
2. The prompt gathering into that presence of the sick.
(1) The men of Gennesaret lost no time, but sent instantly messengers through all parts of the surrounding country to advise the sick that the Healer had arrived. Note: Those who know Christ should preach him.
(2) If these men of Gennesaret had tasted of the loaves, and that this zeal was an effect of the miracle upon them, this lesson is suggested, viz. that the inward reception of the truth will create a desire for the removal of outward evil. When the word comes into the heart it will renovate the life.
(3) The zeal of the men of Gennesaret was transfused into their messengers. Mark gives a graphic description of their activity (see Mark 6:53-56).
3. The earnest supplication of the Divine blessing.
(1) The religious is the truest philanthropy.
(a) Religion benefits the body. Its precepts conduce to health. Their violation is the chief cause of disease.
(b) Religion benefits the soul. The soul is the grander part. The philanthropy which terminates in the body is imperfect.
(2) It is prayerful. "They," the men of Gennesaret, "besought Jesus that they," the sick, "might only touch the border of his garment." Note:
(a) The prayer was importunate. "Besought him."
(b) It was mixed with faith. "That they might only touch." The virtue was not in the garment, but in the touch, which, as an act of faith, was to be rewarded.
(c) It was mixed with gratitude. Eastern people show respect to their princes by kissing their sleeve or skirt.
(3) They were evidently influenced by the example of their countrywoman. For she was of Capernaum who introduced this idea of touching the hem of the garment (see Matthew 9:20-22). The precious ointment which was upon the head of Jesus ran down to the skirts of his garment (Psalm 133:2).
(4) "As many as touched were made whole." If ministers could cure bodily diseases they would have many clients; for, unhappily, men are commonly more concerned about the body than about the soul. The cure of disease, morally considered, is the removal of evils and errors, by which the faculties recover their true tone and balance, and the mind becomes enriched with truth and goodness. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.