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An exposition of the four Gospels (Volume 2) online

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Jesus Christ !



Chap. vii. ver. 1 — 13.


1. Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of
tlie scrihes, which came from Jerusalem.

2. And when they saw some of his disciples eat hread with de-
filed, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.

3. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash theii*
hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

4. And when they come from the market, except they wash,
they eat not. And niany other things there he, which they have
received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, of hrasen ves-
sels, and of tahles.

D. Then the Pharisees and scrihes asked him. Why walk not thy
disciples according to the tradition of the elders, hut eat bread with
unwashen hands ?

6. He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophe-
sied of you hyi)ocrites, as it is written.

That is, in his prophecy he has exactly described all such
hypocrites as you are. We read the Scriptures as becomes
us, when we take to ourselves what belongs to us, though
originally it may have been spoken of others.

6. This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is
fir from me.

Observe what hypocrisy is ; it is an outward show of
religion when the heart is not turned to God. Consider,
therefore, in all thy worshipping of God, where thy heart
is. Thou art a niiserable man, if he sees it separated from
thy lips !

7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines
the commandments of men.

8. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the
tradition of men, as the washing of jHtls and cups : and many other
such like thin;is ve do.

60 ST. MARK. [chap. VII,

The mere inventions of men in religion, though they
come under the specious pretext of traditions, are at best
but frivolous ; and when they are substituted in the place
of better things, or interfere with plain commands, they are
of all deceits the most dangerous. Look carefully whether
you lay aside the commandment of God, and wherein. If
you do in any one instance, the world itself cannot furnish
you with an excuse; nothing will stand you in any stead.

9. And he said unto tliem, Full well ye reject the command-
ment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

He charges them with a very serious fault, in setting up
a false pretence for rejecting the commandment of God.
Christ indeed here comes home to them, and shows them
what sad work they made of a plain commandment.

10. For Moses said, Honour thy father and ihy mother: and.
Whoso curseth father and mother, let hiui die the death :

Here perhaps some of you would congratulate yourselves,
and say that you never spoke evil of your father or mother ;
meaning the cursing them in words. But observe, that in
God's account, who sees the heart, not honouring them in
thought, word and deed ; and especially not succouring
them in their need, is cursing them ; and death is our
desert ! O ! what shall we do with these hearts of ours,
when he enters into judgment with us in this, and in other

Observe, therefore, that Christ here opens the fifth com-
mandment in its full extent, and goes to the root of sin in
the heart. We are deplorably short-sighted in both these
respects ; and from hence it comes to pass that we continue
ignorant of our state. We are content to observe only the
outside, or bare letter of the commandment, and do not look
for sin in ourselves, where God does.

11. But ye say. If a man shall say to his father or mother. It is
Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be pro-
litcd by nie ; he shall be free.

As if a man should say, I have already given it to God ;

VER. 1_1."3.J ST. IMAKK. Gl

or, I am under a vow not to frive it to thee, and therefore
can no more do it than if I had devoted it to God ; so
making the breach of a command a plain matter of con-
science, and yiekling it over with a show of sanctity. "What
pretence shall we find either for hoarding or spending in
an extravagant manner, that which the wants of father or
mother demand.

12. And ye sufler liim no more to do ought for his father or his

How could they curse them more effectually ?

13. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradi-
tion, which ye have delivered : and many such like things do ve.

Not only they, but we, in some respect or other. Do not
think yourself unconcerned in what you read, and put all
off to others.

Ver. 1 — 13. In this passage we learn how apt men are
to deal deceitfully with God and their souls ; and to pride
themselves in doing some trifling things of their own inven-
tion, instead of having a conscientious, sincere regard to
his holy commands. Thus the Pharisees thought it a high
point of religion to wash their hands before meat, without
considering what a foul inside they had ; and to devote some
part of their substance to God, though in so doing they
left father and mother to starve. You may not offend just
in the same particulars, but the same kind of deceit lies
lurking at the hearts of all men ; and you may in other
respects mock God, and cheat yourselves with the shadows
of ])iety, instead of the substance. So if a man should
say, I have been baptized ; I go to churcli ; I say my
prayers ; I give alms ; and these are things which are more
than many can say : yet all this may be, and men never
know the work of a true repentance, nor come to that faith
which purifies the heart. Men may be just such Pharisees
and such sclf-deccivcrs as these of which we have been

02 ST. MARK. [chap. VII.


Chap. vii. ver. 14* — 28.


14. And when he had called all the people unto him.

You may think that when you are assembled on the
Sunday by the minister of Christ, that Christ hath, as it
were, called you, and that you are assembled to listen to
his instructions.

14. He said unto them. Hearken uiito nie every oae of you,
and understand :

And we have need of the exhortation ; for though what
Jesus says in the following verses is very awakening, and it
nearly concerns our souls, we are naturally blind to it,
and dull of understanding.

15. There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him,
can defile him : but the things which come out of him, those are
they that defile the man.

A little soil in eating, brings no religious defilement.
The things which come out of a man are those which defile
him, and what they are Christ will tell us to our great

16. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Let him hearken to that which it concerns every man
so greatly to understand. But it is to be supposed that
Christ had a further meaning : he wished to intimate that
few would hear and understand.

17. And when he was entered into the house from the people,
his disciples asked him concerning the ]iarable.

18. And he saith unto them. Are ye so without understanding
also ?

We should be ready to think that what Christ had said

VER. 14—23.] ST. MARK. 63

was plain enough. 13ut notliing is understood until it is
received into the heart. Do you understand, or do you
not ? Not only hearing and thinking with yourselves, this
is plain ; but considering, believing, digesting, and laying
it to heart. Observe also the mildness of Christ's reproof,
and condescension to their slowness ; but observe too that
they showed a desire to learn.

18. Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from willioiit en-
tereth into the man, it cannot defile him ;

19. Because it enteretli not into his heart, but into the bell}^
and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats ?

It is to the heart ! the heart, that God looks ! God looks
nowhere else, hardly any man looks there enough ; and
most men never.

20. And he said. That which cometh out of the man, that dc-
fileth the man.

21. For from within, out of the heart of men, ])roceed evil
thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22. Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an
evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness :

23. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Do you think Christ only means that these things, wher-
ever they arc, canie first out of the heart ? This is true ;
but then he means a great deal more, namely, that they are in
the hearts and souls of all men, thougli they do not know it :
this is their nature, till it lias been brought before God
in repentance, and in some measure purged by his holy
Spirit. Unless you first learn this lesson from Christ, you
will learn nothing else from him. What a foul sink of
pollution, and all manner of wickedness, is the heart of
man ! And what need have we all of forgiveness and
cleansing !

Ver. 14 — 23. We have seen that that which makes us
polluted in God's sight is within ; and we are naturally full
of it, far beyond what we can conceive or imagine.

04 ST. MARK. [chap. Vlf.

("hap. vii. ver. 2i — 37.


Ver. 24 — 30. In this woman we have a lively represen-
tation of the workings of a penitent soul in distress : it
comes hungering and thirsting to Christ, knows its wants,
pleads hard for relief, trusts in him for it, and will take no

24. And from hence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre
and Sidon, and entered into a house, and would have no man know
it : but he could not be hid.

25. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean
spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet :

26. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation ; and
she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her

How will the coming of this woman to Christ, upon the
hearing concerning him, condemn us, if, after all our read-
ing and hearing of him in the scripture, we do not come to
him in faith !

Think also what need you have to fall down at his feet ;
all depends upon this discovery. And after that which you
have read in this chapter of the heart of man, do not sup-
pose that you have no devil to cast out. He has surest
hold of us when he lies quietly within us.

27. But Jesus said unto her. Let the children first be filled : for
it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the

By children, Christ means the Jews. The remark which
the Saviour made was a hard saying from the mouth of one
possessed of so much goodness. But what did she do?
She did not turn away from him in scorn and anger, as we
do, when the truth is told us.

VER, 24—37.] sr. mark. 65

28. And she answered and said unto hira. Yes, Lord: yel ilie
dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.

She owned that she had no riglit to the children's bread ;
as all who are truly humbled think themselves unworthy
of the least of God's mercies. But mark how she caught
at the words of Christ, and turned them to her own ad-
vantage. When she was compared to a dog, she argued
that as a dog she might eat of the crumbs which fell from
her master's table, without loss to the master, or offence to
the children. So a distressed sinner keeps his hold on
Christ, and will not be beat off.

29. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way, the
devil is gone out of thy daughter.

Christ always gives the same answer to the same faith.
But when did he hear any such saying from you ? When
did this one cry for help, " Lord have mercy upon me,"
ever come from you ? But till you do so cry, in true re-
pentance, from a feeling of your disorder, see, in verses
the 21st and 22nd, what you are, and will continue to be.

30. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil
gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

31. And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon,
he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of

32. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an
impediment in his speech ; and they beseech him to put his hand
\\\)0\\ him.

Did they beseech Christ to put his hand upon the man
for bodily healing ; and shall not we beseech him earnestly
for the life of our souls to put his hands upon us ? In other
words, shall we not entreat him to bless us, and to put his
Spirit within us.?

The passage gives great encouragement to those Chris-
tians who intercede with God for others. Hence we learn
that the effectual fervent ])rayer of a righteous man availetli
much. — Edit.


66 ST. MARK. [chap. VII.

33. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his
fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue ;

The observations of the Evangelist, that Christ took the
man aside, and touched his tongue, are not insignificant.
And the expressions might have a happy effect upon us, if,
upon hearing them, we would turn short upon ourselves,
and begin from this day to say, when did he take me aside?
when did I ever go aside with him in my heart, to have it
searched, converted, and healed by him? If this is not
done, all other things, all reading, hearing, praying, and
doing, without this, is miserable self-deceit, and dead for-
mality. If ever Christ does good to the soul, he must
have it to himself, with a confession of its want of him, and
earnest desire of his help. Not all persons, who pi-etend
to be religious, choose to be in private with him, naked and
open to his piercing eye, and in full sincerity of heart de-
sirous of being subjects of his refining work,

34. And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and sailh unto him,
Ephphatha, that is. Be opened.

Think why Christ looked up to heaven, and why he
sighed. He looked up there, to guide your eye thither for
help : he sighed for the diseases and miseries of mankind,
and for sin, the accursed cause of them. He sighed when
he did a cure, for the unhappy necessity of it : he sighed,
that so many would go without healing, because of their
hardness and impenitence. Can you learn nothing from
this ? Can you see no danger in sin ? Can you behold the
sad effects of sin, in the tender concern and strong emotion
of Jesus, and not feel concern for your own ? O send a
deep sigh after him ! It will find a way to his compas-
sionate heart. He wants to hear it from you, and to hear
you asking for his Spirit to groan with you.

O Lord, thou art present in all thy power to speak the
words " Be opened !" Say unto the blind eyes, to the deaf
ears, and to the heart which is shut against thee, *' Be
opened ;" that we may hear the sweet sound of gospel
mercy, yea tliat we may hear and do all that thou com-

VER. 24 37.] ST. MARK. 67

mandest. And when the ear is thus opened, every tongue
will be loosed to speak thy praise.

35. jt^iul straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his
tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

Not only showing the completeness of the cure by his
articulating perfectly : but he manifested the spirit of
gratitude with which he was inspired. — (Edit.) It is
wonderful to observe, how plainly, clearly, and aff'ectingly
many persons, who have a work of grace upon their hearts
can speak of the things of God ; though they are other-
wise low in learning, or knowledge, and not at all superior
to others in natural parts and capacity. On the other
hand, if those who have the advantages of education, and
the tongue of the learned, do not speak more plainly of
Christ, it is because they do not know him.

36. And he charged them that they should tell no man : hut the
more he ciiarged them, so much tlie more a great deal they pub-
lished it :

The reasons of his charmng; them have been mentioned.
It was, however, hard for them not to speak after what
they had seen. We are sure C'hrist does not lay any such
injunction upon its, nor expect that we should hold our
tongues, when we know him.

37. And were beyond measure astonislied, saying. He hath
done all things well : he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the
dumb to speak.

Christ hath indeed done all things well, to the great as-
tonishment of men and angels. Though he was God, he
became man, and took our nature upon him, that he might
redeem it from the curse it was under. In the days of his
flesh he went about doing good, and healing all that were
oppressed of the devil. Ho hath given us holy instructions
and left his perfect example to be a guide to us, in our
walking with God. He bore the heavy load of our sins
upon the cross, and died an accursed death, to ransom us
from the pit of hell. He is interceding for us in heaven,

F 2

68 ST. MARK. [chap. VIII.

and he is always ready to begin, carry on, and complete
the work of our salvation, by the grace and power of his
Spirit. But what can it profit you, to hear and know all
this, if the Saviour does nothing for you ? And what is
the reason that he does not, but because you do not come
to him, you are not in earnest with him ; you do not desire
him ; you do not desire him to' do great things for you ?
It is truly our own fault, if we do not all say this of Jesus
Christ, from our own experience.


Chap. viii. ver. 1 — 9-


1. In those clays the multitude being very great, and having
nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto liim, and saith unto

We may here observe that we have no spiritual food ex-
cept what Christ gives us in his word, and by his Spirit.
And there is no nourishment in anything but what he
gives, and blesses to us; and we must receive and feed
upon it for the nourishment of our souls. If our wills are
not for it, it is as vain to expect to feed our souls with it,
as to set bread upon a stone to feed it. We have God''s
Word, yea, Christ offered to us to feed upon. Where
is our hunger for this food ?

2. I have compassion on the multitude,

His compassionate heart is still the same, and it is to-
wards you ; see it opened for your benefit in these words,
Have pity on yourselves.

•2. Because they have now been with me three days, and have
nothing to eat :

VEll. 1—9.] ST. MARK. 69

Three days are to be understood according to the Jewish
mode of computation. Nothing to eat, may have reference to
the circumstance that they had not any fixed meals, but
were sustained by that which they casually took. — Edit.

In regard to spiritual food, no man ever was with Jesus
three days, or three hours, in truth and sincerity, witliout
a blessing. But alas ! with regard to many of us, how
many days and years have we been without eating ? This
has happened, not because we had no spiritual food to
eat, but because we would not receive what was given us.

3. And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they
will faint by the way : for divers of tliem came from far.

Christ pitied them, for he saw they would faint. When
we fast from Christ's meat, we starve our souls, and leave
them to perish.

4. And bis disciples answered him, From whence can a man
satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness ?

How lately had they seen his power in the very same
case .'' and still they return to their doubting and question-
ing. You may wonder at this ; but see if there is not the
same root of unbelief in yourselves. A poor soul, struck
with its own sinfulness, is too apt to say, Can Christ do
this ? Has he comfort for me ? A hardened soul feels no
want, and slights Christ's power.

5. And be asked tbem. How many loaves have ye ? And they
said, Seven.

Christ does not say a word to upbraid them with their
slowness and unbelief. How long does he bear with us J
But remember that his patience will have an end.

6. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground :
and be took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave
to bis disciples to set before tlicm ; and they did set tlieni before
the people.

Christ could have fed them without these loaves, but
would not. So he is pleased to bless the reading of the


Scriptures, hearing sermons, prayer, and other means of
i^race to our souls ; but he has no blessing for our souls
without the use of these means. Let us also learn from
the example of Christ to beg a blessing from God upon
our food, and not to expect it otherwise.

Christ employed the ministry of his disciples, and be
still uses others in the distribution of his blessings, though
all comes originally from him; and the little we have, he
first gives, and then increases.

7. Ami they had a kw small fishes: and be blessed, and com-
manded to set them also before them.

8. So they did eat, and were filled : and ihey took up of the
broken meat that was left seven baskets.

9. And they that bad eaten were about four thousand : and he
sent them away.

The loaves and the fishes were a provision for Christ,
and his attendants. He gives all away ; and in so doing
most effectually taught the disciples, what a supply they
bad at all times in him. We need not keep what the
wants of others call for ; we may trust Jesus for the sup-
plies we need.

Ver, 1 — 9. — Christ never forsakes those that follow him,
and will not leave them to perish with hunger. But one chief
end of this, and all his other miracles, of feeding and cur-
ing the bodies of men, was that we might believe in him
as the Saviour of the world, and come to him for the life
of our soids. Do you follow him, hunger and thirst after
him, and then he will supply you out of his fulness, and be
your support in all straits and difficulties. His power is
still the same ; his love for the souls of men is greater than
ever it was for their bodies ; his aim in all be did was chiefly
at them ; and if we do not neglect them ourselves, by
keeping them from him, he who fed the multitude, has
food in abundance for our souls, and will nourish us
unto everlasting life. This is the spiritual opening of
Scripture, and the right understanding of it, and the way
to get life from it. Clirist is always at hand to help.

VER. 10—21.] ST. MARK. 71

Think whether you liave a heart to ask of him, what he
waits to give you : peace with God, and inward streno-th
to do his will.


Chap. viii. vcr. 10 — 21.


10. And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples,
and came into the parts of Dahnanutha.

Christ carried a blessing with him wherever he went ;
and he imparted it to all who were disposed to receive it.
It may be profitable to you to pause upon the words " he
came." He is now here, and always coming in his word,
his grace, and his Spirit. Are you ready for him ? Do
your hearts say, come? There is great danger in putting
him off time after time.

11. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with

We have all too much of this pharisaical spirit of ques-
tioning with Jesus, when all our own safety lies in a full
submission to his authority, and we have no wisdom but
what we learn of him. Tliere is no disputing what Nico-
demus said: his miracles prove him to be, "a teacher
come from God," and whoever believes this has his way
plain before him.

11. Seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.

Perhaps such a sign as Moses, Joshua, and Elija.h
wrought; that is, something more than enough. We have

72 ST. MARK. [chap. VIII.

sufficient proof of Christ's power and will to heal us ;
but if we have no desire and will to be saved by him,
more would do us no good, and only increase our condem-

12. And he sighed deeply in his spirit.

He was greatly concerned at their hardness and unbelief.
Let this sigh pierce deeply into our souls ! Will not the
knowledge that Christ sighs for them, draw one sigh, or
groan from us ?

12. And saith. Why doth this generation seek after a sign ?
verily I say unto you. There shall no sign be given unto this ge-

They required a miracle so striking and convincing that
they should not be able to withstand the force of it. The
same prejudice, pride of self, and stubbornness in unbelief,
which resisted the evidence they already had, would have
held out against all other.

13. And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed
to the other side.

Fear, lest he should leave you ! And take notice that if
you would keep him with you, you must be humble and

Those who do not desire to be convinced, cavil, and
pretend to want more light, but no additional light, how-
ever abundant, would open their eyes. Christ, who knew
their hearts, and what it was fit for him to do, leaves
all such to themselves.

14. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither bad

Online LibraryThomas AdamAn exposition of the four Gospels (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 39)