Matthew 8:4

See thou tell no man. There may have been some precise reason for this injunction in this particular case; but it is only one instance among many of our Lord's desire to work quietly, and keep free from the pressure of mere crowds, and the rush of popular excitement. To understand our Lord's objection to crowds, we must realize how excitable Eastern people are, and how entirely it is animal excitement, with very little intellectual or moral character. It therefore was an altogether hopeless seed-bed into which to cast seeds of truth. Dean Stanley describes the crowding of the people, in the Lebanon district, when the news spread abroad that there was a doctor in the company. "The stairs and corridors of the castle of the Maronite chief, Sheikh Joseph, were lined with a crowd of eager applicants." Travellers notice that, because so excited, Eastern crowds are rough and unmannerly, every one pressing to secure his own interest at once. We can see some reasons why Jesus avoided excitements.

I. HE DID NOT WISH TO MAKE MIRACLES HIS CHIEF WORK. But this they would soon have become if he had not put a check on them. Very soon he might have had every moment of his life filled up with doctoring work, and the Saviour of souls might have become a mere Eastern hakim. We cannot too constantly set before ourselves the truth that our Lord's miracles were not his life-work, but the illustration of his lifework. Illustration must always be kept in due place and proportion.

II. HE DID WISH TO DO HIS WORK IN MEN'S THOUGHTS. It cannot be too clearly seen that our Lord's mission was largely intellectual, and that the emotional had to be kept within strict limitation, because the emotional is sure to push out the intellectual. Christians brought in at revival-times seldom or ever show any interest in intelligent religion. The teaching of the day had put ritual, religious routine, in the place of personal thinking. It is not sufficiently considered that one first and most valuable result of Christ's teaching was this - it made men think for themselves. Now, crowds do not think. Intelligence is not characteristic of the crowds that now follow after revivalists.

III. HE DID WISH TO DO HIS WORK IN MEN'S CHARACTERS. And so he proposed to work as leaven works. He dealt with individuals. The adhesion of a number was of little interest to him. He admitted to the kingdom one by one, after a direct and personal dealing with each one. So the individual was of primary importance to Christ. To him character was power, and it would prove powerful, influential, a redemptive force. - R.T.

Besought Him that He would depart.
The Gadarenes, in return for Christ's works of love, majesty, and mercy, besought Him to depart. They eared more for the swine which the devils had destroyed than for the poor man Christ had restored.

(A. Jones.)

Still the same in our own day! Let us mark

I. THE COMING. It was a universal movement, and a most interesting one. A whole city flocking out to meet Jesus! How seldom had such a thing been seen, or is seen now.

II. THE SEEING. They did not remain afar off, but came nigh — they saw for themselves, and that aggravated their guilt.

III. THE REFUSING. An awful request in many ways. Was there ever a request so sad, so fatal? Why was this? There was something in Jesus that drew them; but there was more that they disliked. They would like Him as the physician of the body, but not of the soul. His company seemed dangerous and terrible. So they besought Him to depart. Their " depart from us" is the foreboding of His "depart from Me" (Matthew 25:41).

1. How near salvation they were.

2. How they wronged the Saviour.

3. How they wronged themselves.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

That the rejection of Christ sometimes arises from imperfect knowledge of Hint; and that deeper knowledge wilt frequently lead to deeper love. I try to place myself in the position of these people.

1. I observe that almost the whole knowledge which they had of our Lord was confined to the miracle of the destruction of the swine. Can we wonder that they wished to get rid of a visitor at once so powerful and destructive? True, they had another chapter of evidences, the healed men to bear witness to the healing and restoring character of Him who had destroyed the swine. There was a problem of loss and gain; some palliation of their error.

2. If these Gergesenes, instead of the last seven verses, had had the whole of this chapter before them, would they have asked Him to leave their coasts? I doubt it.

3. If they had heard His teaching contained in the Sermon on the Mount, would they have acted so? Think of the goodness and gentleness pervading it.

4. The magnitude of the responsibility of rejecting Christ — intellectually and speculatively, or rejecting Him virtually by despising and forgetting His precepts — depends upon the knowledge which we have of Him, and in spite of which we reject Him. Those who have, as it were, a casual visit from Christ may not be much better or worse for it; it is otherwise with those who have the whole picture of His life before them.

(Bishop of Carlisle.)

T. E. Headline on, M. A.
Why the Saviour is not welcome.

1. Because the need of Him is not felt.

2. They look upon Christ as questionable Benefactor. He will take notice of everything unlawful and unholy. We like the aids of religion in domestic government, but not its restrictions.

3. The time will come when the Son of man will be admitted. Who may abide the day of His coming? He will not be shut out then.

(T. E. Headline on, M. A.)

To me it is specially appalling that a man should perish through wilfully rejecting the Divine salvation. A drowning man throwing away the life-belt, a poisoned man pouring the antidote upon the floor, a wounded man tearing open his wounds, any one of these is a sad sight; but what shall we say of a soul putting from it the Redeemer and choosing its own destruction?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If you do but hear when the king is on his road to your town, you raise your bells to ring him in, and stay not till lie be entered the gates. The birds they rise betimes in the morning, and are saluting the rising sun with their sweet notes in the air. Thus should we strike up our harps in praising God at the appearance of a mercy.


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