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8. Parables and Miracles

And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

4And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

16 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. 18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

19Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. 20And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

22Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

26And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. 27And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 29(For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) 30And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. 31And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. 32And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. 33Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. 34When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 36They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.

37Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. 38Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him. 40And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.

41And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: 42For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.

43And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. 47And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him and how she was healed immediately. 48And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

49While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 51And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. 52And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 56And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.

What I have here introduced from Luke belongs, perhaps, to another time; but I saw no necessity for separating what he has placed in immediate connection. First, he says that the twelve apostles preached the kingdom of God along with Christ; from which we infer that, though the ordinary office of teaching had not yet been committed to them, they constantly attended as heralds to procure an audience for their Master; and, therefore, though they held an inferior rank, they are said to have been Christ’s assistants. Next, he adds, that among those who accompanied Christ were certain women, who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases, such as Mary Magdalene, who had been tormented by seven devils To be associated with such persons might be thought dishonorable; for what could be more unworthy of the Son of God than to lead about with him women who were marked with infamy? But this enables us more clearly to perceive that the crimes with which we were loaded before we believed, are so far from diminishing the glory of Christ, that they tend rather to raise it to a higher pitch. And, certainly, it is not said, that the Church which he elected was found by him to be without spot and blemish, but that he cleansed it with his blood, and made it pure and fair.

The wretched and disgraceful condition of those women, now that they had been delivered from it, redounded greatly to the glory of Christ, by holding out public manifestations of his power and grace. At the same time, Luke applauds their gratitude in following their Deliverer, and disregarding the ridicule of the world. 174174     “D’autant qu’elles ont suyvi leur Liberateur, nonobstant l’ignominie du monde qu’il leur faloit endurer en ce faisant;” — “because they followed their Deliverer, notwithstanding the ignominy of the world which they must endure by so doing.” Beyond all question, they were pointed at with the finger on every side, and the presence of Christ served for a platform to exhibit them; but they do not refuse to have their own shame made generally known, provided that the grace of Christ be not concealed. On the contrary, they willingly endure to be humbled, in order to become a mirror, by which he may be illustriously displayed.

In Mary, the boundless goodness of Christ was displayed in an astonishing manner. A woman, who had been possessed by seven devils, and might be said to have been the meanest slave of Satan, was not merely honored to be his disciple, but admitted to enjoy his society. Luke adds the surname Magdalene, to distinguish her from the sister of Martha, and other persons of the name of Mary, who are mentioned in other passages, (John 11:1; 19:25.)

Luke 8:3. Joanna, the wife of Chuza It is uncertain whether or not Luke intended his statement to be applied to those women in the same manner as to Mary To me it appears probable that she is placed first in order, as a person in whom Christ had given a signal display of his power; and that the wife of Chuza, and Susanna, matrons of respectability and of spotless reputation, are mentioned afterwards, because they had only been cured of ordinary diseases. Those matrons being wealthy and of high rank, it reflects higher commendation on their pious zeal, that they supply Christ’s expenses out of their own property, and, not satisfied with so doing, leave the care of their household affairs, and choose to follow him, attended by reproach and many other inconveniences, through various and uncertain habitations, instead of living quietly and at ease in their own houses. It is even possible, that Chuza, Herod’s steward, being too like his master, was strongly opposed to what his wife did in this matter, but that the pious woman overcame this opposition by the ardor and constancy of her zeal.

Luke 8:19. And his mother and his brethren came to him. There is an apparent discrepancy here between Luke and the other two Evangelists; for, according to their arrangement of the narrative, they represent Christ’s mother and cousins as having come, while he was discoursing about the unclean spirit, while he refers to a different occasion, and mentions only the woman’s exclamation, which we have just now explained. But we know that the Evangelists were not very exact as to the order of dates, or even in detailing minutely every thing that Christ did or said, so that the difficulty is soon removed. Luke does not state at what precise time Christ’s mother came to him; but what the other two Evangelists relate before the parable of the sower he introduces after it. The account which he gives of the exclamation of the woman from among the multitude bears some resemblance to this narrative; for inconsiderate zeal may have led her to exalt to the highest pitch what she imagined that Christ had unduly lowered.

All the three Evangelists agree in stating, that while Christ was discoursing in the midst of a crowd of people, his mother and brethren came to him The reason must have been either that they were anxious about him, or that they were desirous of instruction; for it is not without some good reason that they endeavor to approach him, and it is not probable that those who accompanied the holy mother were unbelievers. Ambrose and Chrysostom accuse Mary of ambition, but without any probability. What necessity is there for such a conjecture, when the testimony of the Spirit everywhere bestows commendation on her distinguished piety and modesty? The warmth of natural affection may have carried them beyond the bounds of propriety: this I do not deny, but I have no doubt that they were led by pious zeal to seek his society. Matthew relates that the message respecting their arrival was brought by one individual: Mark and Luke say that he was informed by many persons. But there is no inconsistency here; for the message which his mother sent to call him would be communicated, as usually happens, from one hand to another, till at length it reached him.

Luke 8:26. There met him a certain man out of the city It is uncertain whether Luke means that he was a citizen of Gadara, or that he came out of it to meet Christ. For, when he was ordered to go home and proclaim among his friends the grace of God, Mark says, that he did this in Decapolis, which was a neighboring country stretching towards Galilee; and hence it is conjectured that he was not a native of Gadara. Again, Matthew and Mark expressly state that he did not go out of the city, but from the tombs, and Luke himself, throughout the whole passage, gives us to understand that the man lived in solitary places. These words, therefore, there met him a certain man out of the city, I understand to mean, that, before Christ came near the city, the demoniac met him in that direction.

As to the opinion that the man dwelt among the graves, either because devils are delighted with the stench of dead bodies, or gratified by the smell of oblations, or because they watch over souls which are desirous to approach their bodies; it is an idle, and, indeed, a foolish conjecture. On the contrary, this wretched man was kept among the graves by an unclean spirit, that he might have an opportunity of terrifying him continually with the mournful spectacle of death, as if he were cut off from the society of men, and already dwelt among the dead. We learn from this also that the devil does not only torment men in the present life, but pursues them even to death, and that in death his dominion over them is chiefly exercised.

Luke 8:38. And the men requested The Gadarenes cannot endure to have Christ among them but he who has been delivered from the devil is desirous to leave his own country and follow him. Hence we learn how wide is the difference between the knowledge of the goodness, and the knowledge of the power, of God. Power strikes men with terror, makes them fly from the presence of God, and drives them to a distance from him: but goodness draws them gently, and makes them feel that nothing is more desirable than to be united to God. Why Christ refuses to have this man as one of his followers we cannot determine with certainty, if it was not that he expected the man to make himself more extensively useful by communicating to his Gentile countrymen the remarkable and extraordinary act of kindness which he had received; and this he actually did, as we are assured by Mark and Luke.

39. Relate those things which God hath done for thee. He bids him relate not his own work, but the work of God His design in doing so is, that he may be acknowledged to be the true minister and prophet of God, and may thus acquire authority in teaching. In this gradual manner it was proper to instruct an ignorant people who were not yet acquainted with his divinity. Though Christ is the ladder by which we ascend to God the Father, yet, as he was not yet fully manifested, he begins with the Father, till a fitter opportunity occurred.

We must now add the symbolical meaning.557557     Nunc addenda est anagoge. — “Maintenant il rested adjouster la deduction ou derivation;” — “it now remains to add the inference or remoter instruction.” — The word anagoge, or rather ἀναγωγὴ was technically employed by divines of the allegorizing school to denote the mystical meaning, which was the last and most recondite, as the literal was the first and most obvious, of the various meanings which they supposed to be contained in every verse of the Bible. Never did those men encounter a more zealous or more formidable opponent than Calvin. But, while he manfully sets his face against all that is mystical, when it can plead no higher authority than the ravings of a wild imagination, he is equally careful that those instructions which are indicated, though not directly conveyed, by the sacred writers, shall receive due consideration. He lays down as a general principle, which he endeavors to support by the word of God, that the cures of bodily diseases, performed by our Lord and his apostles, were intended to be symbolical of the removal of spiritual diseases by the power and grace of the Great Physician. Seldom does he close his illustration of one of those miracles without adverting to the loftier and more important occasions on which the arm of the Deliverer will put forth its strength. It is to this symbolical meaning that Calvin, under the word ἀναγωγὴ, borrowing the language, but disavowing the principles, of an ancient school, now proceeds to draw the attention of his reader. The grounds of his opinion it were foreign to our purpose to examine, but we have judged it necessary to append this note, in order to bring out clearly what the Author means. — Ed. In the person of one man Christ has exhibited to us “proof of his grace” which is extended to all mankind. Though we are not tortured by the devil, yet he holds us as his slaves,558558     “Toutesfois nous luy sommes serfs et esclaves;” — “yet we are his serfs and slaves.” till the Son of God delivers us from his tyranny.559559     “De la tyrannic malheureuse d'iceluy;” — “from his unhappy tyranny.” Naked, torn, and disfigured, we wander about,560560     “Nous ne raisons que trainer ca et la estans nuds, deschirez, et dis- figurez;” — “we do but drag along here and there, being naked, torn, and disfigured.” till he restores us to soundness of mind. It remains that, in magnifying his grace, we testify our gratitude.

Luke 8:45. Who is it that touched me, Mark expresses it still more clearly, when he says that Christ looked around to see who she was. It does appear to be absurd that Christ should pour out his grace without knowing on whom he was bestowing a favor. There is not less difficulty in what he shortly afterwards says, that he perceived that power had gone out from him: as if, while it flowed from him, it was not a free gift bestowed at those times, and on those persons, whom he was pleased to select. Beyond all question, he knowingly and willingly cured the woman; and there is as little doubt that he drew her to himself by his Spirit, that she might obtain a cure: but he puts the question to her, that she may freely and publicly make it known. If Christ had been the only witness of his miracle, his statements might not perhaps have been believed: but now, when the woman, struck with dread, relates what happened to her, greater weight is due to her confession.

Luke 8:52. And all were weeping. The Evangelists mention the lamentation, that the resurrection may be more fully believed. Matthew expressly states that musicians were present, which was not usually the case till the death had been ascertained, and while the preparations for the funeral were going forward. The flute, he tells us, was heard in plaintive airs. Now, though their intention was to bestow this sort of honor on their dead, and as it were to adorn their grave, we see how strongly inclined the world is not only to indulge but to promote its faults. It was their duty to employ every method for allaying grief; but as if they had not sinned enough in disorderly lamentation, they are eager to heighten it by fresh excitements. The Gentiles even thought that this was a way of soothing departed spirits; and hence we see how many corruptions were at that time spread throughout Judea.529529     “Dont nous pouvons recueillir comment le pays de Judee estoit lots reinply de beaucoup de corruptions, et diverses sortes d'abus;” — “whence we may infer how much the country of Judea was then filled with many corruptions, and various sorts of abuses.”


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