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great a concourse of people about him, and tumults should arise; or an occasion might be given to malevolent persons to accuse him of seditious designs. It was from the same motive probably, that of avoiding too great a crowd, which followed him after the miracles which he had before wrought that he retired to a mountain to teach; for they would not be so likely to follow him thither.
5. And as Jesus entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6. And saying, Lord, Sir, my seryant lieth at home sick, rather, “ in bed,” of the palsy, grievously tormented, or, « afflicted;" for a disorder of this nature is not accompanied with violent pain.
Centurion was the Latin name for the captain of a hundred men: the Romans had soldiers in the principal cities of Judæa, as they had also in the principal cities of their empire in other countries, for keeping the inhabitants in subjection. At Jerusalem there was a greater number, under a tribune and centurions; at Cæsarea, Capernaum and other places there were fewer, under centurions. Luke tells us that this centurion's servant was ready to die: it is probable therefore that it was not the palsy of a particular part, but of the whole body, which is reckoned incurable, . and would increase the earnestness of the request, as well as the value of the benefit conferred.
7. And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him.
8. The centurion answered and said, Sir, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word, " a word,” only, and my servant shall be healed, “ will be well."
The centurion knew that he had spent a great part of his life in the worship of false Gods, and in the other defilements of sin: he observed too that the Jews, although he had taken care that a synagogue should be erected for their use, avoided an intimate converse with him. Influenced by this consideration, he thought very humbly of himself. What led him to entertain so high an opinion of the power of Jesus was a report of those things which are mentioned at the end of the fifth chapter of Matthew, as well as the case of the leper just cured, who had not kept the injunction of silence which had been given him: yet accounts of this nature would not have gained credit with the centurion, unless he had previously entertained just notions of the power of God.
In the evangelist Luke this story is related differently from what we have here in Matthew: according to him, the centurion first sent elders of the Jews to Christ, to entreat him to heal his servant, and afterwards, when Jesus was upon his way to his house, sent some of his friends to deliver to him a message in the words of this verse. There is no inconsistency, however, between the two accounts; for it is an acknow
ther, he does himself. All that we have to observe upon this circumstance is, that this is one of those narratives which is related generally by Matthew, but more circumstantially by Luke.
9. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, or, “even 1, who am a man under authority, have soldiers under myself;" and I say to this man, go, and he goeth; and to another, come, and he cometh ; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it.
That is, I, who am much inferior to thee, being subject to the authority of others, cannot do what I
hundred soldiers, whom I command to do what I will; and they obey, according to the custom of military discipline, without objection. How much more easily mayest thou, whose power is subject to no controui, command diseases to obey thy voice, and they shall do it?
10. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, "wondered," and said to them that followed; Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in
Faith here signifies a firm persuasion of mind concerning the divine power in Christ. This persuasion was stronger in this Roman, than in any of the Jews who had hitherto been healed, because he believed that the divine power would be efficacious, without any touch; which others did not expect. Even the Shunamite did not believe that laying the prophet's staff on her child would bring him to life.
11. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, i. e. from every quarter of the world, and shall sit down, ao be at table," with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Spiritual ideas are often represented in Scripture by images of sensible objects. Thus the divine powers are represented by the members of the human body.---In like manner the joys of heaven are described under the representation of an entertainment or feast, celebrated in the night by the light of torches or lamps, as was the custom with the Jews. The meaning of the words then is this; as, this stranger, being convinced of the divine power in me, beyond the Jews, has procured health to an afflicted body; so, very many of the Gentile nations, having the like persuasion, shall obtain eternal salvation by believing in me.---Christ does not here speak clearly concerning the call. ing of the Gentiles, which was afterwards revealed; and his audience would understand him as referring to proselytes to the Jewish religion, who were to be circumcised. 'There is a particular emphasis in the words, “sit down at table,” as if Christ had said: All Jews esteem theinselves so holy, that they will not take bread with a stranger; but many strangers shall hereafter eat bread with their ancestors, of whose names the Jews used to boast, while they themselves are excluded.
12. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. · In the Hebrew phraseology, sons of death signifies those who were condemned to death, and suns of the bride-chamber were those who were admitted into the bride-chamber: in like manner children or sons, of the kingdom are those for whom, from the privileges of the covenant under which they lived, the kingdom was destined, that is, the Jews. As the joys of heaven are represented under the image of a feast, which was celebrated at night, the outer darkness represents the condition of those who are excluded from it; and lest we should imagine that this was no greater evil than the want of enjoyment, it is added, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” which are symptoins of the greatest, agony, arising from the most excruciating pain. These last words are taken from Psalm cxii. 10.“ the wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked shall perish.”
13. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self same hour; rather, “from that very moment."
As thou hast believed that I am able to perform the cure, at a distance, by a word's speaking, let it be so effected.
14. And, when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, sick of a fever, or, “ lying in bed of a fever."
This was not so much Peter's own house, as that to which he and his brother Andrew used to resort, when they were at Capernaum; being the house of Peter's mother-in-law: for the two brothers had a house at Bethsaida, before they followed Jesus.
15. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and ministered unto them.
Her rising from bed, where she before lay ill of a feyer, and waiting upon the company, were the most satisfactory proofs that she was cured, and that her cure was miraculous: for it would be impossible, by any natural means, to restore her to health so soon and so completely.
16. And, when the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils, rather, “ demons;" and he cast out the spirits with his word, " with a word," and healed all that were sick,“ diseased,"