And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.…
The choice of Capernaum as suitable centre justified by results. Rapid spread of our Lord's fame. Eager crowds gathering from far and near. Picture scene: Here, father carrying drooping child; there, little girl with blind father; camel bearing woman bowed with infirmity; sick of all kinds brought by friends; crowd ever increasing; silence broken only by occasional yell of a possessed one or moans of sufferers. Crowds waiting before daylight, but Jesus not there - gone to a desert place to pray. His approach suddenly announced by one on the edge of the crowd; wonder and awe as he passes to the house, stretching out hands of effectual blessing. Two results of this crowding of multitudes:
1. Jesus obliged to seek a more retired place.
2. Incident of text. Four friends, believing that he whom they have carried far will be able to walk back if they can lay him before Jesus. Overcome obstacles, removing a few large, uncemented tiles of roof - a liberty pleasing to our Lord as a tribute to him and proof of their faith. Common experience to ask one thing and receive another. Perhaps this man had an inward conviction that spiritual gifts were the greater. Scribes cavil at "Thy sins be," etc.; begin to suspect evasion; therefore Jesus does work that can be tested by their senses. Two points unusual: Our Lord accepted test tacitly proposed, and the miracle convinced the witnesses. Miracles evidences of revelation because themselves parts of it, not mere signs. God could not reveal himself except by miracle. Historical fact that nature has never done so. Revelation not so much accompanied by as consisting of miracles. Such a revelation authenticates itself, proves itself such because giving higher and worthier idea of God.
I. CALLING OF MATTHEW. His office odious to Jews, both as representing foreign government and from oppressive system of farming taxes. Evil effects of such system seen now in Egypt and elsewhere. No loss to government by Matthew thus suddenly throwing up office, he having already paid the sum. Possible, but rare, for good man to be in such a calling. Our Lord does not defend his calling of Matthew on that ground. He chose his followers among the unsophisticated, or those who had not yet found their good. Probably some previous acquaintance with Matthew. Matthew perhaps gradually dissatisfied with himself. Among such the Lord is found. His unanswerable reply to Pharisees, "They that be whole," etc. To those sick in body, in heart, in spirit, he offers himself; to the heavy-laden, disappointed, broken, sinful, one unfailing Friend, bent on bringing them into his own peace and holiness and joy. Are there none here who will at length listen to his call, "Follow me" ? Follow by keeping him always in view, thinking of him, doing his will.
II. MATTHEW'S FEAST. In the joy of his heart inclined to be lavish. From being despised, hated, suddenly chosen as friend and companion by greatest and worthiest. Cherished money-bags contemptible in presence of Christ and his love. Pharisees not in sympathy. It might be a fast-day; much might be involved. It was thin end of wedge - a party forming, not fettered by mechanical rules, but allowing the spirit naturally to express itself. Suitable, therefore, that this, our Lord's first recorded teaching to a mixed multitude, should deal with this new thing. He lays down the principle that underlies all outward observance, viz. that the state of mind gives it appropriateness and virtue. Further explained in two parables. In every generation can be seen this Pharisaic spirit - deep-seated hatred and fear of change. Men who have never gone deep enough to distinguish between essential and accidental, saying, "If there is new life, let it be kept in the old forms." To do so were to destroy both. These parables fit a most important principle. Had Matthew fasted at this time, his new love and energy would have been wasted instead of utilized, and fasting (the old bottle) become for ever distasteful to him. As it was, he would fast again when he felt it suitable. New ways sometimes preferred by new converts. If love to Christ and sound moral conduct go with the changes, no need to fear them. But our Lord bad also a word of apology for conservatism of Pharisees: "No man, having drunk old wine," etc. Natural to prefer the old. So with many of the best of men. For few attain to the complete magnanimity and truth of the Lord. "Oh that patrons of old ways understood Christ's wisdom, and that patrons of new ways sympathized with his charity!... When will young men and old men, liberals and conservatives, broad Christians and narrow, learn to bear with one another; yea, to recognize each in the other the necessary complement of his own one-sidedness?" (Bruce). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.