Matthew 8:2

if thou wilt. This may be the first instance in which our Lord put forth his power to cleanse a leper, and, if so, the hesitation and anxiety of the man is very naturally explained. His approach is that of a man who had his doubts and fears, but had also his confidences and hopes; and he very properly let his faith decide his action rather than his fears. We may look on him as a man doubting, but showing us how to deal with our doubts; and proving to us how easily our doubts may be dispelled, if we deal wisely with them; and we deal wisely when we do not keep them to ourselves, but turn them into prayers, and speak them out to God.

I. THE SPIRIT OF DOUBT. This can only be regarded as an evil thing. The spirit of trustfulness, receptiveness, is becoming to the child of God. A fashion of doubting, and a pride in doubting, as if it were something very clever, are in every way most mischievous, ruinous to our moral nature, because destructive of that which is the great glory of the creature, the capacity for trust. And yet it must also be seen and recognized that doubt is really the working of a necessary quality of mental manhood. He is not really a man who is unable to doubt. To see two sides of a thing, and have to choose between them, involves a period of doubting. The man who cannot doubt cannot have an intelligent faith. The basis of all moral decision is doubt that can weigh considerations. So it is a great thing to say, "We can doubt, yet we do believe." This leper may have heard of the great things Jesus had done, but the question came - Could he cleanse a leper? There was no settling that doubt; so he turned it into a prayer, and took it to Christ.

II. OUR ACTUAL DOUBTS. It may be well to notice what subjects those doubts chiefly concern. And we must deal, not with intellectual doubts, but with religious doubts - those which bear relation to our spiritual condition, our cleansing from sin. Letting the case of the leper be suggestive, we may notice that:

1. Our doubts may concern our need of Christ as a Saviour. It may be that we admit he is the Saviour, but we doubt our need of him as our Saviour.

2. Our doubts may concern the ability of Christ to save. We may incline to accept his good will, and to doubt his power. We may be disposed to say, "If thou canst. Doubt often makes men think there is something special in their case that puts them beyond the reach of Christ.

3. Our doubts may concern the good will of Christ. Everybody else shunned the leper; how well the man might fear that Christ would shun him too! But he took all his doubts to Christ. - R.T.

Master, I will follow Thee.
I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST'S TREATMENT OF THE IMPETUOUS SCRIBE. He declares his determination to follow Christ, lead where He may. Christ checks rather than encourages the man. We may regard the determination of the scribe as — the resolution of an unreflecting emotionalist, and an ambitious worldling. Our Lord's words have important applications in our own day.

II. THE SUGGESTIVENESS OF CHRIST'S TREATMENT OF THE SHRINKING AND HESITATING DISCIPLE. Christ might have seen in this request a sensitive shrinking from the sacrifice and sufferings involved in following Him. The man had heard the words in verse 20, or Christ might have foreseen that to grant it, would be attended with fatal results to his yet unripened discipleship. Immediate decision was the essential conditions of his salvation.

(J. Taylor.)


1. The hasty follower who is the first who presents himself, and he is sifted by Christ.

2. The tardy follower is hastened by Jesus. He is called not to bury the dead, but to preach the life-giving word.

3. The last of the three followers is halting with a divided heart, and is reproved. It is not the claims of family, but the clinging of His own unloosened attachment that divides and detains Him.


(A. M. Stuart.)

I. High-sounding words are not always a proof of deeply rooted faith.

II. Christ should be followed for what He is in Himself, as well as for what He has to bestow.

III. The omniscience of Christ enables Him to detect the most hidden motives of men.

IV. The poverty of Christ may well excite our wonder and gratitude.

(H. G. Parrish, B. A.)

Every man has a "Master"; business, home, etc., command and we obey. Every person has a master passion, also every man is a master. Has the power of will; is a servant by consent. The resultant of these two facts, is necessitated relationship to something.

I. Christ is a valuable companion because He embodies a lofty and PERFECT MORAL IDEAL, the expression of the grandest conception of truth this world has ever known. He gives the idea and the grace to imitate it.

II. Christ is a PLEASANT companion. Imparts joy and sense of security — hope.

III. Christ is a SAFE guide. But if a man is to follow Christ there are some conditions which he must observe.

1. There must be a fixed purpose. "I will " must be will and not impulse only.

2. You will require courage.

3. You will have to take on the habits of the Lord Jesus. You cannot follow Him and be selfish and narrow.

(J. R. Day, D. D.)

It is not that you desire wrong things; it is not that you desire to avoid right things; but you say," Suffer me first to do the inferior, and then I shall be ready for the superior. Suffer me first to take care of myself. Suffer me first to take care of my household. Suffer me first to take care of my business. Suffer me first to take care of my party. Suffer me first to look after this enterprise, and then — "No! this constant habit of humbling the higher, and making it subordinate to the lower; this constant preference of the inferior to the superior, works demoralization. A man does not need to throw away his Bible, nor defy his God, nor sell his soul voluntarily. He only needs to say, "Suffer me first to do this lesser thing." The moment that is done, there will be another " Suffer me first" in its place. And so we shall put the inferior duties in the place of higher duties, and go through life, and fail at last.


A man fascinated with the idea of raising fruit, goes to the country and sets out his orchards with bright anticipations as to the result. But no sooner have his trees got well started than all nature becomes his tormentor. The frost blasts the blossoms. The worms gnaw the roots. The insects sting both blossom and roots. And when he has toiled year after year, and brought his trees into such a state that he thinks that he is going to have a profusion of delicious fruit, the black wart seizes his plum-trees, and the gum-canker attacks his cherry-trees, and the winterblight kills his pear-trees, and his apple-trees will not bear anyhow; and at last disgusted with raising fruit, he comes back to the city, and says, "I prefer, after all, that other people should be my pomologists. I have had enough of gardening."


Oh! what pictures there would be, if I could only take the trouble to learn to paint the things that I dream about! Such frescoes I Such magnificent renderings of magnificent scenes! Such portraitures! The trouble is, that while my imagination is fruitful enough, it is a shiftless and careless fruitfulness, and it never comes down lower than that, and dies in the nest where it was born. I think of things, and turn them over, and turn them over, and make pictures, and forget them, and make pictures, and forget them; but I am not an artist. An artist is a man whose wishes get down through his shoulders to his fingers; and he makes what he wishes he was going to make. He does. He turns into account that which would otherwise die as smoke or cloud. Men of reverie are like clouds that never rain. Men of function shower down resolutions in the form of drops, and results spring up from them.



1. The candid reception of His revelation.

2. It involves a surrender of ourselves to Christ as our Saviour and Governor.

3. It imparts an ardent solicitude for the prevalence of his religion.


1. Some are prevented from an immediate compliance with their convictions, by the notion that their happiness is to be found in the world, which they would be required to abandon.

2. Some by the remonstrances of worldly relatives and friends.

3. Some by some particular worldly object of pursuit, upon which, for the moment, they are intent, and which promises soon to leave them at liberty.

(J. Leifchild.)

I. THE MEN OF THE WORLD ARE BUT DEAD MEN. The sentence of death passed upon all men still abides: it is not repealed. As dead as men in their graves. You rotting above the ground, and they under (Romans 8:10). As there is in the sinner a seeming life, so is there in the righteous a seeming death. They may seek a new life.

1. They may become alive in their apprehensions of God.

2. They are alive in their devotions to God.

3. These awakened sinners are alive in their obedience to God.

II. As THE MEN OF THE WORLD ARE, SO ALSO ARE THE THINGS ABOUT WHICH THEY ARE CONVERSANT. They are dead things, they have no real life in them. They perish in the using. (W. Gilpin, M.A.)



1. As the Son of Man He was the federal representative of our race, in certain important respects. — He showed:

(1)That man has forfeited all right to shelter upon earth.

(2)That we should seek shelter elsewhere, and not look for our portion on earth.

2. In the work of our redemption it was needful for Jesus to stoop thus low.

(1)It was part of the penalty lie bore.

(2)He went down to the lowest of men.

(3)It was to illustrate the unearthliness of His religion.

III. Some additional reflections:

1. Christian, adore the humiliation and condescension of your loving Lord.

2. Be willing if need be to suffer shame and poverty with Him.

3. If more happily circumstanced be amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude at your superior lot.

4. Yet set not your affections on earthly possessions.

5. Nor despise poorer brethren.

6. If offering to follow Christ, count the cost.

7. In another sphere, how this saying is reversed.

(T. G. Horton.)

A little boy, between four and five years old, was one day reading to his mother in the New Testament; and when he came to these words, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head," his eyes filled with tears, his tender breast heaved, and at last he sobbed aloud. His mother inquired what was the matter; but for some time he could not answer her. At length, as well as his sobs would let him, he said, "I am sure, mamma, if I had been there, I would give Him my pillow."

I. CHRIST'S REMARK ON THE PROVISION MADE FOR THE HABITATION OF THE INFERIOR CREATURES. Men have reason, are able to contrive habitations for themselves; Providence hath furnished them with trees, stones, etc., for this end. Suitable provision also made for the inferior creatures. Tame animals are accommodated by the care of man; wild beasts directed by instinct to proper places (Job 39:27; Psalm 104:17).


1. How wise and faithful was Christ in this representation; how much instruction doth it convey to His followers. A test of sincerity.

2. The condecension of Christ in submitting to these hardships is truly admirable.

3. How reasonable is it that the disciples of Christ should be humble when they have, and contented when they have not, the comfortable accommodations of life!

4. With how much pleasure should we think of the exaltation and glory of Christ in heaven.

(J. Orton.)

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