Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.Personality (For Christmas)
It was noised that He was in the house. This Christmas morning we may say, It was noised that He was in the world. Never forget that there was a great noise made about this birth. One angel began it, and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, singing and shouting and praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest! and all heaven throbbed and quivered under that triumphant anthem. Jesus Christ, then, did not come noiselessly into the world; so far as He Himself was concerned, there was little or no noise, but the moment it was hinted that He was in the world-house, the earth, a visible manifestation of the invisible Deity, there was noise enough, musical noise, a great multitudinous acclaim. There are some times when people cannot be silent; indeed, there are some times when silence would be a species of blasphemy.
I. It was noised that He was in the world to bring you good tidings of great joy; for unto you is born this day in the house of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And all heaven was not orchestra enough to announce the infinite blessing. Have we ever been caught in that passion? or are we only those coldblooded folks who have to be carried in the ship as ballast?
II. It was noised, not only that He was in the world, but presently that He was the foremost Mar. in the world. In a sense the only Man, because without Him there could be no life. People began to say concerning Jesus, 'Never man spake like this Man'. He became the pronoun that stood for the only noun there is, the Deity.
III. It was noised that He was in the house and the world; that He was not only in the house-world or world-house, but that He stood alone in it and gradually drew away from all other men that He might ascend the throne which He created. But in a sweet domestic sense it is often noised that He is in the family circle, in the little house, in our house where the cradle is, and where the little school-books are scattered about, and where the aged folks are that are now wondering what there is just across the river.
IV. Is it noised that Jesus Christ is in our house? What do they say? They say, knowing our family life, that Jesus is in that house because of its order, its temper, its resignation, its whole method and economy of existence; they say that only the presence of Jesus Christ in that house could have made such a death. There never was a death-bed scene like it except under the same circumstances, the same deep consciousness of the same majestic and tender Personality.
V. One day it will be noised that He is on the throne. Tempest shall tell it to tempest, and ocean to ocean, and world to world, and planet to planet; and there shall go forth a great, grand, solemn cry, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ And they shall cry in every tongue, Hallelujah! and Bethlehem shall culminate in heaven.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple, Pulpit, vol. II. p. 272.
References.—II. 1-12.—W. M. Taylor, The Miracles of Our Saviour, p. 122. Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 166. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 61. John Laidlaw, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 178. II. 3.—W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches, p. 83. F. Hastings, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiv. 1903, p. 132. II. 3-5.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. lii. No. 3016.
The healing of the man sick of the palsy is an instance of vicarious faith. By 'vicarious' we mean something done for and instead of another. The vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ means that Christ suffered in our stead, and died for our sins. This palsied man received both the forgiveness of his sins and the healing of his body, through the faith of the men who brought him. Seeing their faith, He saith, not to them, but 'unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven'.
I. Instances of Vicarious Faith.
1. There came to Jesus in Capernaum 'a centurion beseeching Him and saying, Lord, my servant lieth in the house sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And He saith unto him, I will come and heal him'.
2. On another occasion there came from Capernaum to Cana of Galilee a nobleman whose child was sick, and he besought Jesus 'that He would come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death'.
3. There is another instance where a father's faith prevailed for an only child. In the incident at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus threw back the healing of the demoniac boy upon the faith of the father.
4. Still more striking is the faith of the Greek woman in the district of Tyre and Sidon.
II. The Operations of Vicarious Faith.—Vicarious faith begins by making the needs of another its own. Fellowship of woe precedes vicariousness in faith. The affliction of the child is the continual grief of the parent. The sinless One carried away the world's sin by taking it unto Himself. He was made sin for us.
III. Vicarious Faith in the Work of Salvation.— When Jesus saw the faith of the men who brought their palsied friend, He did not begin by commanding the sick man to take up his bed and walk, but by announcing the forgiveness of his sins. 'Seeing their faith, He saith to the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven.' However startling it may seem, this man received the forgiveness of his sins through the faith of others. It is true no man can be saved by proxy, but it is also true we are saved vicariously. There is a human as well as a Divine element in the process of soul-birth, and every man's salvation begins in the faith of another.
Vicarious faith never despairs. It seeks desperate cases, and delights to bring the palsied and devil-possessed to the feet of Christ.
IV. Vicarious Faith is the Foundation of all Prevailing Intercession.—How often the Apostle Paul entreats the prayers of his spiritual children!
The power of such prayer may be gathered from the promise of Christ to His people. 'Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.'
Faith reaches the perfection of its power in vicarious exercise. It seems in its concern for others to attain a Divine quality and to command Divine power.
Doubtless some will say, surely there are limitations to this faith. If by limitations is meant conditions, then there are limitations. That for which faith is exercised must be in the will of God, and must be assured to the soul by the Spirit of God.
—S. Chadwick, Humanity and God, p. 290.
References.—II. 5.—R. J. Campbell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv. 1908, p. 36. II. 5-7—H. Rix, Sermons, Addresses, and Essays, p. 90. II. 10.—C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 286. F. C. Spurr, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. 1894, p. 117. J. B. Slack, A Book of Lay Sermons, p. 19. A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part ii. p. 235. II. 10, 11.—C. A. Briggs, The Incarnation of the Lord, p. 3. II. 12.—J. McNeill, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiii. 1903, p. 182. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi. No. 1269. II. 13-22.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 70.
The Quests At Christ's Own Table
I. This is to my mind the most unique passage in the New Testament. It is the only instance I know in which Jesus plays the part of host or entertainer. Everywhere else He is a guest; here, for the first and last time, we meet Him in His own house, at His own table. It was not a communion table. The disciples were there; but publicans and sinners were there also. Around that table there must have been a great diversity of theological opinion. The disciples and the publicans had no dogmas in common; yet they both sat at Christ's board.
II. What enabled them to sit together? We can understand how men can 'sit together in heavenly places'—in the sense of a common faith. But what bound in one these souls so different? It was their love for the Son of Man. It was their love for the earthly Christ—the brother-Christ, the Christ of the street and of the lane. The publicans and sinners were not yet dreaming of salvation. They were seeking no supernatural help. It was the natural in Christ which they loved—the voice, the gait, the manner, the countenance. They loved Him for less than He was worth. The private friends of a poet may be unable to appreciate any poetry; yet the man may be very dear to them, and he will accept their outside fondness. So did Jesus accept a love for that which was His least possession. It was a love for something inferior, but it was not an inferior love.
III. Do not measure the strength of love by its cause. Many of these publicans would have gone to the stake as readily as the disciples—though they would have gone for another motive. The love in the disciple was fire on the mount, the love in the publican was fire on the plain; but a fire on the plain may be as hot as a fire on the mount. Jesus saw the difference, but He accepted both.
—G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p. 218.
There is no question that Jesus looked upon His mission as to all men, and yet He says distinctly that it is only a mission for sinners, the obvious inference being that all have sinned.
Although, however, the sinfulness of human nature is one in different ages, and individuals, it manifests itself in different forms, and in the teaching of Jesus we have very full notice of the forms in which it displayed itself in His time.
I. There were the sins of the publicans and sinners. These were sins of the senses, what St Paul calls the sins of the flesh, as distinguished from what he calls the sins of the mind, open sins that cannot hide themselves. Such sins are most fully described in the parable of the prodigal son; in fact, the prodigal is simply an image of the sins of the flesh, their course, and their consequences.
II. There were the sins of the Pharisees. These are what Paul would have called sins of the mind, as distinguished from sins of the flesh, but they are not less deadly. There is another character besides the prodigal in the parable of the prodigal son. It is the prodigal's brother, and shall we not say with truth that he was as far away from his father as even the prodigal was, if not farther? In fact, Jesus Himself said distinctly to the Pharisees, 'The publicans and sinners enter into the kingdom of heaven before you,' meaning that it was easier to make them Christians than to make the Pharisees followers of Christ The distinctive sin of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. 'Pharisee' and 'hypocrite' are interchangeable terms.
III. The sins of the Sadducees. What was the sin of the Sadducees? It is depicted in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. People sometimes ask what Dives did that he should be consigned to the flames of Gehenna. All that is said about him is that he was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. Wherein consisted his sin? It was negative, and Jesus was very severe on negative sins. It was just that he did nothing. He made no use of his means and talents. He did nothing for his fellow-men. He did nothing for God. He was wrapped up in Himself.
IV. The sentiments of Jesus on the subject we have before us are most impressively given in the three parables in the fifteenth chapter of St Luke, and if you want to know the mind of Christ on man's failure, I would say brood deeply upon these three parables—the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. As the lost coin has fallen away from its usefulness, so man is not doing the lifework for which his Maker intended him; and as the lost son was wasting his substance in riotous living, so every sinner can be accused of misusing and misspending the talents which God has given him. And yet, just as the lost coin, though hidden among dust and dirt, was not itself a lump of dirt, but a piece of precious metal; and as the prodigal, though far from his home and his father and his obedience, was still a son, so the soul of man, in spite of its sin, is infinitely precious, and its destiny is Divine and eternal.
—J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. 1900, p. 76.
References.—II. 17.—D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 95. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1345. II. 18.—C. H. Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. 1894, p. 149.
Samuel Rutherford once wrote this sensible advice to Marion M'Naught, after the latter's dangerous illness. 'Remember you are in the body, and it is the lodging-house; and you may not, without offending the Lord, suffer the old walls of that house to fall down through want of necessary food. Your body is the dwelling-place of the spirit; and therefore, for the love you carry to the sweet Guest, give a due regard to His house of clay. When He looseth the wall, why not? Welcome, Lord Jesus! But it is a fearful sin in us, by hurting the body by fasting, to loose one stone or the least piece of timber in it, for the house is not our own. The bridegroom is with you yet; so fast as that also you may feast and rejoice in Him.
References.—II. 19.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 75. II. 19, 20.—N. Bushnell, Christ and His Salvation, p. 176. II. 20.—F. B. Woodward, Sermons (1st Series), p. 69. A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part ii. p. 235. II. 21, 22.—D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 106. II. 22.—J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p. 47. II. 23-28.—W. H. Murray, The Fruits of the Spirit, p. 430. II. 23-28; III. 1-5.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 87. II. 24.—Marcus Dods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. 1898, p. 43.
I. You may notice these words in two ways.
1. 'The Sabbath was made for man.' That is, for the benefit of man; just as the golden sun that scatters his light over the world was made for man, so in the same sense was the Sabbath made for man.
2. The Sabbath was made for the whole human race. It does not say that the Sabbath was made only for the Jew; it was made for man. It is like the sun, a universal blessing.
II. In what follows I desire shortly to prove to you the proposition that the Sabbath was made for man.
1. For his body. Those who keep horses know quite well that, if they are to be wrought up to their strength, you must give them rest one day in seven. So it is with man; if he has to work up to his strength, he requires one day of rest in seven. Does not this prove that He that made our bodies has also appointed the Sabbath for the whole human race; for had He pleased He could have made our bodies of iron. The greater part of men work up to their strength, therefore they require one day of rest in seven. It is the same with the mind, it requires one day of rest in seven. The same thing is true of the soul. If there be a God, and if there be a Church of redeemed men, then it is agreeable to reason that they should worship Him with the whole mind and strength and will. Then, if it be agreeable to reason that you are to worship Him with your whole heart, it requires a time for it, and that a set time, and it requires that it be regular.
2. The Sabbath was made for man according to the example of God. We are told in the second of Genesis of God making the Sabbath. Now it seems to me quite plain that, if God rested on the first Sabbath, it was made for His creatures; it could not be for Himself. 'Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Creator, fainteth not, neither is weary?' It is a very common thing for Sabbath-breakers to say that it is a Jewish ordinance. But the first Sabbath dawned on a sinless world two thousand years before ever the mention of a Jew was heard of.
3. I would show you that the Sabbath was made for man from the command that God gave concerning it When God brought Israel out of Egypt to the rocky mount of Sinai He there gave them a clear revelation of His holy law; and it is said, that 'It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made'. And in the very bosom of it was written, 'Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy'. When Christ came into the world, He said, 'I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it'.
4. That all God's children love the Sabbath Day. God said to Israel, 'My Sabbaths you shall reverence'. And the Prophet Ezekiel says: 'He gave them a Sabbath to be a sign between them and Him'; it marked them out as God's peculiar people.
5. It is those that are God's enemies who hate the Sabbath Day.
—R. Murray McCheyne, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. II. p. 63.
References.—II. 27.—T. H. Ball, Persuasions, p. 133. C. J. Ridgeway, Plain Sermons on Sunday Observance, p. 64. H. D. M. Spence, Voices and Silences, p. 259. W. F. Cobb, Church Times, vol. xl. 1898, p. 273. II. 27, 28.—M. H. James, Plain Sermons on Sunday Observance, p. 52. R. Allen, The Words of Christ, p. 231. F. Pickett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv. 1908, p. 148. III. 1-5.—Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 257. S. A. Tipple, The Admiring Guest, p. 44. III. 1-6.—W. M. Taylor, The Miracles of Our Saviour, p. 148. J. Laidlaw, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 189. III. 3, 5.—H. E. Brierley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv. 1908, p. 243.
The chosen Apostles themselves misunderstand and misinterpret their Master. Peter, after being told that his confession is the rock on which the Church should be built, is spoken of as a tempter and an offence to his Master, as one who savours not of the things which are of God, but of those which are of men. John is twice rebuked, once for his revengeful spirit, once for his short-sighted ambition. Judas's treachery is predicted. All the twelve are warned that they will fail at the hour of Christ's trial, and that warning, like the more individual prediction addressed to Peter, is certainly most unlikely to have been conceived after the event. In a word, from beginning to end of the Gospels, we have evidence which no one could have managed to forge, that Christ deliberately chose materials of which it would have been impossible for any one to build a great organization, unless he could otherwise provide, and continue to provide, the power by which that organization was to stand.
—R. H. Hutton, Theological Essays, p. 150.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.