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Barnabas, (Acts xiii. 51.) 3. To unite the wisdom or prudence of the serpent, with the innocence or harmlessness of the dove, and not to expose themselves rashly or unnecessarily to dangers, nor to court persecution, like enthusiasts. 4. When they should be brought to trial before synagogues, rulers, and kings, not to be anxious about their defence, for that they should be inspired with eloquence and wisdom from above, which their adversaries should not be able to gainsay or resist, as our LORD afterwards repeated, Luke xxi. 15. 5. Think not, said he, that I came to sow peace upon earth, at my first coming. I came not to sow peace, but a sword, or "rather division," Luke xii. 51. Intimating that the profession of Christianity would naturally excite divisions in families, and provoke the unbelieving part to ill-treat and persecute the believing, and excite the general hatred, both of Jews and Heathens, against Christians. 6. But he encouraged them still undauntedly to preach the Gospel, regardless of immediate consequences, from the prospect of a future reward in heaven. For that whosoever should confess him before men, he would also confess as a disciple before his Father in heaven, and the holy angels at the day of judgment, but whosoever should deny him before men, he would deny as a disciple before his Father in heaven; that whosoever should seek to save his life, by denying CHRIST, should lose it hereafter, both soul and body, in hell; but whosoever should lose his life here, for confessing CHRIST, should find it hereafter restored to him in the mansions of bliss, Matt. x. 5—42, Mark vi. 7—11, Luke ix. 1-5.
By a usual historical anticipation, Matthew connects the mission of the twelve Apostles with their former appointment, as if it followed immediately after, just as he connects the death of John the Baptist with his imprisonment by Herod, Matt. xiv. 3-11, although there was a twelvemonth's interval, if not more, between them in the latter case. In this case, there was probably an interval of half a year, or more, from their appointment, shortly after our Lord's second return to Galilee, in order to qualify them for their important office; and accordingly, both Mark and Luke, judiciously, though tacitly, correct this ambiguity in Matthew, by separating the two events, and interposing several of the preceding occurrences between them.
CHRIST'S SECOND VISIT TO NAZARETH.
While his Apostles were employed on their mission, JESUS seems to have visited his own town of Nazareth a second time, his regard for his townsmen overcoming their ill-treatment of him before. But though they were astonished at the wisdom of his instructions, and his miraculous powers, they were still offended at him as before, on account of his occupation, and his family: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? &c. And he marvelled at their unbelief, and therefore did not many miracles there, except healing a few sick*, Matt. xiii. 53-58, Mark vi. 1-6.
Matthew places this visit after the discourse on the parables; Mark immediately before the mission of the Apostles. We are warranted, therefore, in following the latter, and supposing it to have been about the time of the mission, toward the close of the second year.
RETURN OF THE APOSTLES.
This took place not long before the third passover, and about the time of John the Baptist's death, Matt. xi. 1, Mark vi. 30, Luke ix. 10, when John's disciples came and told JESUS the fate of their master, Matt. xiv. 12, and probably attached themselves to him in future. After this, he retired by ship to a solitary place, across the lake, in the desert of Bethsaida, not from any apprehension of danger from Herod, as Matt. xiv. 13, might seem to intimate, but in order to get some rest from the multitudes of visitants coming and going, so that they had not even leisure to eat, Mark vi. 31, Luke ix. 10, John vi. 1.
THE FIVE THOUSAND FED.
This grand and important miracle, recorded by all the Evangelists, took place shortly before the Passover, as we learn from John, inserting this valuable, natural as well as chronological character, incidentally, that "there was much grass in the place;" a circumstance that could not have happened at an earlier or a later season than the beginning of Spring, in that
"It is reasonable to believe that our Saviour never performed a miracle, but where he foresaw it might have a good effect in a religious light, either on the person on whom it was performed, or on the spectators, thus making one act of mercy lead to another." -Gilpin, note, Matt. xiii. 58.
warm climate. It serves also as a middle point of agreement to harmonize the four Gospels before and after it; while it furnishes internal evidence the most satisfactory, that each succeeding Evangelist consulted his predecessors, in order to remove ambiguities, and to supply circumstances omitted by them. The last account, by John, is the most circumstantial. It is indeed the only miracle that he relates, in common with the rest.
Though JESUS had retired from the multitude by sea, his motions could not be concealed: they followed him by land * from the cities, and he graciously received them, and healed their sick, being moved with tender compassion toward them, (εondaɣxviodη eπ' autoɩç) Matt. xiv. 14, Mark vi. 34, and began to teach them many things concerning the kingdom of GOD, Mark vi. 34, Luke ix. 11.
And “when the [former] evening was come," Matt. xiv. 15, about the ninth hour, or third after noon †, the twelve Apostles came to him, and recommended, that as the place was desert, and the hour late, and the multitude without provisions, he would dismiss them, that they might depart to the surrounding villages and farms, (aypovs) to buy provisions, or find food. But he answered, they have no need to depart, give ye them to eat. And this he said to try them, for he himself knew what he intended to do, when he first saw the great multitude coming to him. And they said, We cannot, except we go to buy provisions for all this people. Philip said, Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be sufficient for them, that each may take a little. Then he said unto them, How many loaves of bread have ye? Andrew answered, There is a lad here, who hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes, but what are they among so many? And he said, "Bring them hither to me;" then "Make the men sit down on the green grass, by companies," of fifty each ‡. And they sate down in ranks, of a
This is a more correct rendering of πεŋ, than “on foot." A person might travel εŋ, and yet either on horseback, or in a carriage. Ει δ' εθέλεις πεζος, παρα τοι δίφρος, "If you choose to go by land, a chariot is ready for you." Hom. Odyss. iii. 325. And Eschines contrasts an expedition (vavτiên) “by sea," with (πεŋ) "by land." Contr. Ctesiph. § 43.
To correct the ambiguity of Matthew, who expresses the former and latter evening by the same phrase, ovias yevoμevns, Mark substitutes, "when the hour was far advanced,” vi. 35; and Luke, “when the day began to decline." See Vol. I. p. 15.
If each company of fifty sate ten in front by five in depth, there would be a hundred such companies; ten companies in front by ten in depth; and consequently, a hundred men in the whole front line, and fifty men in the whole depth.
hundred in front, by fifty in depth; five thousand in all, besides women and children. Then Jesus took the loaves, and looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude, and likewise of the fishes, as much as they desired; and they all ate, and were satisfied. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather the remaining fragments, that nothing be lost; so they gathered them, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments that remained of the loaves and fishes.
Then those men when they had seen the miracle which JESUS did, said, “Truly this is that prophet who was to come into the world," like Moses, struck with the resemblance of this to the manna in the desert, Matt. xiv. 15—21, Mark vi. 35—44, Luke ix. 12-17, John vi. 5—14.
JESUS WALKS ON THE SEA.
The former miracle was finished before the [latter] evening was come, at sun-set. And then JESUS knowing the intentions of the multitude, that they meant to seize and make him king, or proclaim him MESSIAH, probably next day, he sent away his disciples by sea, to make Bethsaida, on their way towards Capernaum, on the further side of the lake, intending to meet them by land at Bethsaida, and embark with them, after he had dismissed the multitude, who were satisfied, since he stayed behind. And having given directions to his disciples, he retired alone to a mountain to pray, Matt. xiv. 22, 23, Mark vi. 45—47, John vi. 14-16.
And when the dusk (or twilight) had already come, and JESUS had not gone toward them, the wind became contrary; the ship, after they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, was tossed by the waves. And Jesus saw them. And at the fourth watch of the night, or at day-break, he set out to them, walking upon the sea, and came up to them, but seemed disposed to pass by them. And the disciples all saw him walking on the sea, and they were affrighted, saying that it was an apparition, and they cried out for fear. And immediately he spake to them, and said, " Take courage, it is I, be not afraid."
Then Peter answered, and said to him, "LORD, if it be thou, bid me come to thee upon the waters." And he said, "Come." And Peter having descended from the ship, walked upon the waters to go unto JESUS. But seeing the wind strong, he was
afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “LORD, save me!" And JESUS immediately stretched out his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, "O thou of little faith, why didst thou_waver* ?" And when they had entered into the ship, the wind ceased; and they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered; for “they considered not," or had not been sufficiently affected by the miracle of" the loaves," which demonstrated a higher, even a creating power, "because their heart was hardened," or slow of understanding. But now they were fully convinced, and came and worshipped him, saying, " Truly thou art THE SON OF GOD!" And immediately the ship came across the lake to the land of Gennesareth, on the western side, whither they were bound, in the neighbourhood of Capernaum.
Here the people of the country, well knowing him, brought unto him all their sick and diseased persons, and these besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment, and as many as touched were thoroughly cured, Matt. xiv. 24-36, Mark vi. 48-56, John vi. 17-21.
HIS CONVERSATION WITH THE PEOPLE WHOM He fed.
The next morning after his departure, the multitude, disappointed not to find JESUS, took boat, and followed him to Capernaum, and found him by the sea-side, and expressed their surprise how he got there. Instead of gratifying their curiosity, JESUS told them that they followed him for the sake of the loaves and fishes, the worldly advantages which they expected from him; and exhorted them to labour not for temporal, perishable food, but for that which was spiritual and eternal, which the SON OF MAN would give them, John vi. 22—27.
This they supposed to be the manna which Moses had given them, and required as a sign that he would give them the same. But our Lord undeceived them, intimating, that HIS FATHER, not Moses, gave them manna; and that even manna was greatly inferior to his spiritual food, as affording only a temporary support, whereas his would nourish them for ever, ver. 28—33.
The verb dioralw, to “waver," or "hesitate," intimates a slighter degree of doubt, not amounting to positive disbelief. Like some of the five hundred to whom OUR LORD appeared in Galilee, after his resurrection, who "hesitated" whether they did not see a spirit only, Matt. xxviii. 17.