And they departed there, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.…
I. SECRECY. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Every man has a work to do, and a time allowed him to do it in. Every man, moreover, is immortal till that work is done, and God's will with him accomplished. In like manner there was a time allotted for our Lord's mission on earth. There was a time fixed for his ministry of mercy to man. When the fullness of the time was come, he made his descent into our world; when the work he came to do was done, and when the proper period again arrived, he took his departure from our world. The appointed interval of his sojourn on earth no enemy could shorten by one day, no power could abridge it by a single hour; nothing could interfere with it, so long as "his hour was not yet come." Yet, notwithstanding this, our Lord never neglected the use of such means as were proper for the prolongation of his stay on earth till his great work should be performed, and the destined period completed. Accordingly, we find him at one time returning to Galilee, and "walking no more in Jewry, because Jews sought to kill him." Afterward, when Herod's attention had been directed to him, and his abode even in Galilee had thus become somewhat insecure, we find him withdrawing to the more remote and less populous districts of that province. We are, moreover, informed that subsequently he had gone yet further from contact with his enemies, passing beyond Galilee into the Phoenician territory. This he did in order, it would seem, to escape observation, for while there he "entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid." This course our Lord pursued for various reasons. While each particular occasion on which he courted privacy had its own specific reason, we can state in general the motives that seem to have influenced him in this direction. As already intimated, he avoided such publicity as would bring him into hostile conflict with his enemies, so as to precipitate the crisis, and hasten his death, before the proper and purposed period. Again he sought seclusion, now for required rest, oftener for more time and better opportunity of instructing his apostles for their future work and important mission. But while our Lord thus sought seclusion to prevent any interference either with the space of his ministry or with the plan of instructing his apostles, there was another eventuality which he carefully avoided, namely, any attempt on the part of the people to make him a king; as, after the miracle of feeding the five thousand, we read that, "when Jesus perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." This was no very improbable contingency. In a moment of excitement, under the influence of enthusiasm, yielding to the impulse of popular feeling, they might attempt to place him at the head of a rebellion, if not a revolution, against existing authorities, and try to restore to Israel the temporal kingdom which Israel so ardently, though mistakenly, sought. This would have been a result greatly to be deprecated. It would have left a stigma on the Savior's name, and caused a suspicion about his design, both of which would have been most detrimental to the interests of that spiritual kingdom - the kingdom "not of this world," which he came to set up. Accordingly, we find that when he had restored the deaf mute, he charged them that "they should tell no man." Again, when he cured the blind man at Bethsaida, he sent him away to his house, saying, "Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town " - any townsmen he might chance to meet on his way home. Also, after the Transfiguration, "he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead." And now that they passed along (παρεπορεύοντο) through Galilee, "he would not that any man should know it." Even an apparent exception is easily accounted for: nor is there any real discrepancy between the injunction he laid on them after the restoration of the deaf mute (ch. 7.). He to "tell no man," and the direction he gave the demoniac (ch. 5.). He to "go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." No doubt it was the same district of Decapolis where both commands were given: but on the latter occasion our Lord was about to leave the district in question, so that there was no risk of his ministry being obstructed by the matter being blazoned abroad; on the former occasion he was going to tarry for a time in the same region, and hence he resorts to the precaution necessary under circumstances which were thus quite different.
II. HE FORETELLS HIS DEATH. There were three great epochs in our Lord's ministry. The first was that of miracles, by which he attested the divinity of his mission; the second was that of parables, by which he developed the nature of his kingdom; and the third was that of suffering, by which he made satisfaction for the sins of his people. The miracles began with that at Cana; the parables, properly so called, began somewhere about the commencement of the last year of the Savior's work and ministry. Though his parabolic teaching began at this period to assume a more formal shape, he had all along employed on certain occasions parabolic utterances of a briefer sort. Thus, for example, in the sermon on the mount the agreement with one's adversary there recommended is of the nature of parable; the similitude of the wise and foolish builders, with which that sermon closes, is still more distinctly parabolic; while subsequently, and before the beginning of his regular method of strictly parabolic instruction, we find such proverbial or brief parabolic representations as that of the new patch and the old garment, and that of the new wine and the old bottles, Besides that of the creditor and the two debtors. Still, from the period indicated, his teaching by parables became more frequent and methodical The reasons of our Lord's adopting this method are such as the following: -
1. The harmony existing between the kingdom of nature and that of grace, and the similarity in their laws of development.
2. The adaptation to our nature of the historical element, real or ideal, contained in them.
3. The amount of truth communicable in this way to the dull apprehension of the disciples.
4. Their helpfulness to memory by linking the spiritual truth to some familiar natural object, the frequent occurrence of the latter always suggesting the former; and:
5. A judicial Veiling of the truth because of past dulness and indifference. The constant theme of his teaching henceforth consists of his sufferings and death, as is implied in the imperfect tense (ἐδίδασκε. He "he kept teaching") here used.
III. PREVIOUS INTIMITATIONS ON THE SUBJECT. The previous intimations had been obscure. There had been the intimation of the Baptist when he pointed the Savior out as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He and in the repetition of part of the same at ver. 36. He had himself given several figurative intimations of it, as when he spake of his death by violence, and his resurrection in three days under the similitude of the demolition and rebuilding of a temple. "Destroy," he said, "this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." This had occurred at the celebration of the first Passover after the commencement of his public ministry. Again, in his discourse with Nicodemus, he represented his crucifixion as an uplifting, and its beneficial effects by a comparison with Moses' lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, when the bitten Israelite looked and lived. Another intimation of his death, and the first allusion to that event recorded in this Gospel (St. Mark's). He is the removal of the bridegroom, of which he said, "The days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them" (Mark 2:20; Matthew 9:15). Also, after the feeding of the five thousand, in the synagogue of Capernaum he made a reference to it in the words, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." But the first clear and distinct declaration is that of the preceding chapter (ch. 8.) He when "he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
IV. SIMILAR DECLARATIONS IN THE PRESENT AND SUBSEQUENT CHAPTERS. The first public, or at least the first direct and unreserved announcement of his sufferings, death, and resurrection, was made, as recorded in the preceding chapter, after the disciples had been convinced of, and Peter had confessed, his Messiahship, saying, "Thou art the Christ." On that occasion we learn from the fuller report of St. Matthew that our Lord warmly commended Peter's confession, but soon after, as both St. Matthew and St. Mark inform us, found cause to condemn his indiscreet and unwelcome rebuke. The commendation is contained in the words, "I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." The latter clause of the promise just cited has, as is well known, excited no little controversy, and called forth a variety of interpretations.
1. Augustine will have it that the rock on which the Church is built, according to the Savior's promise, is Christ himself.
2. Chrysostom maintains that the confession of faith in Christ, that Peter had just given utterance to, is the rock on which the Church is based. We admit the show of reason and the plausibility with which both opinions have been expressed and enforced; still we cannot concur in either. Chrysostom's explanation is chargeable with overlooking the context. So to some extent, though less so, is that of Augustine; but the latter rests, besides, on a very doubtful distinction between two words which are frequently used in classical writers as interchangeable. According to this interpreter its import would be, "Thou art Peter (πέτρος) a small stone; but I am Christ, a strong Rock (πέτρα). He and on this Rock, that is, myself, I will build my Church." In the Aramaic there is one word (Kipho) for Peter and for rock, just as in French there is one word for both - Pierre, Peter, a man's name, and pierre, a stone or rock. But in Greek there are the two words already mentioned, viz. πέτρος and πέτρα. He so that in this play upon the word there is a slight variation in the Greek, without, however, real difference of meaning. Even admitting the distinction between the two words, which has been questioned, if not entirely disproved, the explanation is evidently forced. We require to look more closely at the context as furnished by the eighteenth verse itself, and by the sixteenth. As recorded in the latter, Peter's answer was, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Our Lord, after expressing approval of Peter's reply, and assuring him that the truth contained in it was the outcome, not of human discovery, but of Divine revelation, takes occasion to state another and no less important truth, and that in a form accommodated to the statement of Peter, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [πέτρος. He a rock], and upon this rock (πέτρα) I will build my Church;" that is to say, - You have made a good and true confession in acknowledging my Messiahship and divinity; I also, in my turn, will confess what I have in store for you in connection with my Church.
3. Your name is significant - it means a rock; and according to your name will be the nature of your work. With the foundation of the Church you will have much to do. On your preaching of the faith which you have just professed its foundation shall be laid. Similarly, elsewhere we read that the Church is "built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner-stone;" whereas apostles and prophets are only the foundation in so far as they themselves, knit together with and cemented to Christ, lay the foundation by their exhibition of Christ and declaration of the truth concerning Christ. It is as though our Lord had said to Peter, Among Jews and Gentiles your work is appointed you. Among the Jews on the day of Pentecost your proclamation of the selfsame faith, which you have just confessed, will lay the foundation of the Christian Church; while to Cornelius the same gospel preached by you will inaugurate a similar blessed result among the Gentiles, introducing the first-fruits of the Gentile world into the Church. Still more, to the united Church of the believing Jew and converted Gentile I shall promise and provide security from all the devices of the most wily, and all the assaults of the most Satanic, foes.
V. WHY IS THIS COMMENDATION OMITTED BY ST. MARK? It has often been remarked that many things redounding solely to the honor of St. Peter are omitted by St. Mark; while at the same time his infirmities are fully and faithfully recorded by the same evangelist, extenuating circumstances being less noticed by this evangelist than by the other synoptists. An example of this is furnished in the case before us. The blessing pronounced on him because of this noble and brave confession of the Christ, the Divine origin of his knowledge and faith, the promise just considered, and the further promise of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, are all omitted by St. Mark. But the rebuke to which he soon after subjected himself is carefully recorded. Many instances of both kinds occur. This is one of those incidental circumstances that go far to confirm the voice of history in regard to the relation in which St. Peter stood to St. Mark and his Gospel, namely, that the latter penned his Gospel, as disciple and by the dictation, to soma extent, of the former. If so, and we think it extremely probable, we have proof herein of the veracity of the one and the humility of the other.
VI. REPETITION OF THE PREDICTION. Reverting to the subject of the Savior's sufferings, so plainly announced in the eighth chapter, we have a repetition of a similar announcement in this ninth chapter, and another, again, in nearly the same terms in the tenth chapter. These repeated as well as direct and unreserved declarations on this subject - a subject so distasteful and saddening to his disciples - show their unwillingness to associate the idea of death with the Messiah, their tenacity in clinging to a temporal king and worldly kingdom, their slowness and lothness to apprehend or accept the notion of a spiritual, unworldly kingdom. The idea of a suffering Messiah has, therefore, to be dinned into their ears and impressed on their hearts by frequent and earnest reiterations. Nor has this subject lost aught of its importance or interest even for ourselves and at the present day; while the faithful inculcation of it is as much a duty and a necessity now as when our Lord in person urged it so solemnly and so often on the mind and heart of his sorrowing disciples. Though the cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks, it is still the power of God, and the wisdom of God, to the salvation of every believer. The way to the crown is still by, and only by, the cross; humiliation precedes glorification. The preacher of the gospel cannot dwell too frequently or too earnestly on a theme that bulked so largely in the sight of the Savior himself. The doctrine of Christ's suffering for us to put away our sins - suffering, "the just for the unjust, to bring us to God" - cannot be too much insisted on; neither can we be too often instructed in the duty of giving ourselves fully, freely, and for ever to him "who loved us and gave himself for us." If, moreover, Christ was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," in all its shame and with all its pain, it surely behoves us, in daily, holy obedience, to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow him. - J.J.G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.