And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.…
At the request of the Gadarenes Jesus crossed over. He does not obtrude his blessings on the unwilling. We do not read that he ever after visited them. Coming to his own city, Capernaum, where residence gave him citizenship (Matthew 4:13; Matthew 8:14; Mark 2:1), "they brought to him," etc. (vers. 2-8).
I. JESUS SEES THE FAITH OF THE CONTRITE HEART.
1. He saw the faith of those who carried the paralytic.
(1) This was obvious in the simple fact of their seeking his healing power. Faith is seen in works (James 2:17-22).
(2) It was obvious, moreover, in their earnestness. For, obstructed by the crowd, they broke up the roof and let down the bed whereon the sick of the palsy lay (see Mark 2:4; Luke 5:19).
(3) They brought him because he could not come of himself; and Jesus honoured their faith. So does he honour the faith of those who bring their children to him in baptism or in prayer.
(4) The faith which secured healing, however, was not of necessity that which brought forgiveness (see e.g. Luke 17:12, etc.).
2. In the paralytic Jesus discerned a deeper faith.
(1) Disease is the general effect of general corruption, not always the particular effect of particular sin (cf Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 28:21).
(2) Oftentimes it is this also. Disease is often the natural consequence of sin. And God has often visited individuals with disease as a temporal judgment upon sin (cf. Numbers 11:33; Numbers 12:10; 1 Kings 13:4; 2 Kings 5:27; Luke 1:20; Acts 13:11; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Timothy 1:20).
(3) Hence the Jews commonly connected suffering with sin (cf. John 5:14; John 9:2, 34). This man evidently took his sin to heart, and his affliction may have deepened this oppressive sense. No man is fit for forgiveness who does not with the heart believe himself to be a sinner. Heart-faith in sin is repentance. Spiritual disease is invariably the result of spiritual evil. Diseased action is the result of corrupt motive.
(4) This man, moreover, discerned in Jesus not only the Healer, viz. of the body, but also the Healer, viz. of the soul. No man is fit for forgiveness who does not with the heart accept Jesus as the Christ (see Romans 10:9, 10).
(5) All this heart-faith Jesus saw when he proceeded to say, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven." The pardoning voice of Jesus in the believing heart brings "good cheer" evermore.
II. JESUS SEARCHES THE THOUGHTS OF THE EVIL HEART.
1. He read the evil thoughts of the scribes.
(1) He saw that they "said within themselves, This man blasphemeth." Blasphemy consists in:
(a) Attributing unworthy things to God.
(b) Denying worthy things of God.
(c) Attributing to others or arrogating the attributes of God.
(2) If Jesus were not Divine it would be blasphemy in him to affect to forgive sins. The offended only can forgive the sins of the offender (cf. 2 Samuel 12:13; 1 Kings 8:89; Isaiah 63:25; Jeremiah 17:10; Mark 2:7).
(3) The sin in the thoughts of the scribes was that they did not apprehend the Divinity of Christ. His miracles, together with the prophecies concerning Messiah, should have convinced them of this.
2. He proved to them his Divinity.
(1) By discovering their secret thoughts. In those passages which challenge to God alone the prerogative to forgive sins, the reason urged is that God alone can search the heart (2 Chronicles 6:30; see places referred to above).
(2) This knowledge is a mark of Messiah (cf. John 2:15; John 16:19, 30; Revelation 2:23). Therefore the rabbins by this test confuted the claims of Barchochebas. "Bar Cozeba," says the Talmud, "reigned two years and a half. He said to the rabbins, 'I am the Messiah.' They replied, 'It is written of Messiah that he is of quick understanding, and judges (Isaiah 11:3); let us see whether this man can tell whether one is wicked or not, without any external proof.' And when they saw that he could not judge in this manner, they slew him."
(3) He proved his Divinity by reasoning upon his miracle-working. "For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise?" If you concede the power of healing with a word, you must concede the Divinity of the Worker, and therefore should concede also that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.
(4) He confirmed his reasoning by miracle. "But that ye may know that the Son of man," etc. Here was a Divine work to confirm a Divine claim. An impostor might say, "Thy sins are forgiven," for the result is not so obvious; but were he to say, "Arise!" he must have power, else he will be instantly rejected.
III. THE PRESENCE OF THE HEART-SEARCHER IS FEAR-INSPIRING.
1. The fear of the forgiven is reverential.
(1) The sense of sins forgiven brings Christ very near. It brings him near in his Godhead. For who can read the heart but God (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11)!
(2) It intensifies sincerity. In the near presence of the essential truth there is ever)-discouragement to falsehood. Divine good can only dwell in Divine truth.
(3) Gratitude is kindled in the presence of love. The forgiveness of sins does not consist in pronouncing them pardoned, but in removing the sinful inclination from the heart, and replacing it with the passion for goodness. As between sin and suffering there is an intimate connection, so is there an important relation between the pardon of sin and the healing of diseases (cf. Psalm 41:3, 4; Psalm 103:3; Jeremiah 33:24; Jeremiah 38:17; Matthew 8:16, 17).
2. The fear of the sinner is awful.
(1) The awe is salutary to the thoughtful. "When the multitudes saw it, they were afraid, and glorified God, which had given such power to men." "Power on earth to forgive sins," viz. "because he is the Son of man" (cf. John 5:22, 27). The union of the Divine and human in the Person of the Lord is the source of his saving power. "Power on earth." Here sin is committed. Here sin is forgiven. Christ, who has all power in heaven, has therefore all power also on earth.
(2) To the gainsayer the awe is confounding. The scribes were silenced. The day of judgment in the presence of the Heart-searcher came into their very soul. How senseless is the sinner who thinks he sins securely when unseen by men! - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.