Theophylact: After confounding the Jews, who had blamed His disciples, for pulling the ears of corn on the sabbath day, by the example of David, the Lord now further bringing them to the truth, works a miracle on the sabbath; shewing that, if it is a pious deed to work miracles on the sabbath for the health of men, it is not wrong to do on the sabbath thing necessary for the body.
He says therefore, “And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath-day; that they might accuse Him.”
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys, Hom. in Matt., 40: He placed him in the midst, that they might be frightened at the sight, and on seeing Him compassionate him, and lay aside their malice.
Bede: And anticipating the calumny of the Jews, which they had prepared for Him, He accused them of violating the precepts of the law, by a wrong interpretation. Wherefore there follows: “And He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”
And this He asks, because they thought that on the sabbath they were to rest even from good works, whilst the law commands to abstain from bad, saying, “Ye shall do no servile work therein;” [Lev 23:7] that is, sin: for “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” [John 8:34]
What He first says, “to do good on the sabbath-day or to do evil,” is the same as what He afterwards adds, “to save a life or to lose it;” that is, to cure a man or not. Not that God, Who is in the highest degree good, can be the author of perdition to us, but that His not saving is in the language of Scripture to destroy.
but if it be asked, wherefore the Lord, being about to cure the body, asked about the saving of the soul, let him understand either that in the common way of Scripture the soul is put for the man; as it is said, “All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob;” [Ex 1:5] or because He did those miracles for the saving of a soul, or because the healing itself of the hand signified the saving of the soul.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 35: But some one may wonder how Matthew could have said, that they themselves asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day; when Mark rather relates that they were asked by our Lord, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”
Therefore we must understand that they first asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day, then that understanding their thoughts, and that they were seeking an opportunity to accuse Him, He placed in the middle him whom He was about to cure, and put those questions, which Mark and Luke relate. We must then suppose, that when they were silent, He propounded the parable of the sheep, and concluded, that it was lawful to do good on the sabbath-day. It goes on: “But they were silent.”
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For they knew that He would certainly cure him. It goes on: “And looking round about upon them with anger.”
His looking round upon them in anger, and being saddened at the blindness of their hearts, is fitting for His humanity, which He deigned to take upon Himself for us. He connects the working of the miracle with a word, which proves that the man is cured by His voice alone.
It follow therefore, “And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Answering by all these things for His disciples, and at the same time shewing that His life is above the law.
Bede: But mystically, the man with a withered hand shews the human race, dried up as to its fruitfulness in good works, but now cured by the mercy of the Lord; the hand of man, which in our first parent had been dried up when he plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree, through the grace of the Redeemer, Who stretched His guiltless hands on the tree of the cross, has been restored to health by the juices of good works.
Well too was it in the synagogue that the hand was withered; for where the gift of knowledge is greater, there also the danger of inexcusable guilt is greater.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else it means the avaricious, who, being able to give had rather receive, and love robbery rather than making gifts. And they are commanded to stretch forth their hands, that is, “let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hand the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]
Theophylact: Or, he had his right hand withered, who does not the works which belong to the right side; for from the time that our hand is employed in forbidden deeds, from that time it is withered to the working of good. But it will be restored whenever it stands firm in virtue; wherefore Christ saith, “Arise,” that is, from sin, “and stand in the midst;” that thus it may stretch itself forth neither too little nor too much.
Mark and Luke say only that they watched what our Lord would do; but Matthew states more clearly that they also attacked him by words. It is probable, that some others had been previously cured on Sabbath-days; and hence they take occasion to ask if he believes it to be lawful for him to do again what he had formerly done. They ought to have considered whether it was a work of God, or of man, to restore a withered hand by a mere touch, or by a single word. When God appointed the Sabbath, he did not lay down a law for himself, or impose upon himself any restraint from performing operations on the Sabbath, when he saw it to be proper, in the same manner as on other days. It was excessive folly, therefore, to call this in question, and thus to prescribe rules for God himself, and to restrain the freedom of his operations.
Jesus seeing their malice, avoids their captious question by proposing one to them, as we read in St. Mark. Is it lawful to do good or ill on the sabbath? As if he had said, whether is it better to assist your neighbor on the sabbath, or to abandon him in his distress, when you are able to afford him relief? Unable to give an answer, that would not be a justification of his actions, they remain silent; but he still presses the subject, by retorting their own actions upon themselves. They afforded relief to brute animals that stood in need of it on the sabbath. It was therefore cruelty, or mere malice, to cavil at his relieving the sick man on the sabbath. (Jansenius)
To do good – or – evil? to save life, or to kill? – It was a maxim with the Jews, as it should be with all men, that he who neglected to preserve life when it was in his power, was to be reputed a murderer. Every principle of sound justice requires that he should be considered in this light. But, if this be the case, how many murderers are there against whom there is no law but the law of God!
To kill – but instead of αποκτειναι, several MSS. and versions have απολεσαι to destroy. Wetstein and Griesbach quote Theophylact for this reading; but it is not in my copy. Paris edit. 1635.
Or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? – It seems to have been a maxim with the Jews that not to do good when we have an opportunity is to do evil; not to save life is to kill or to be guilty of murder. If a man has an opportunity of saving a man’s life when he is in danger, and does not do it, he is evidently guilty of his death. On this principle our Saviour puts this question to the Jews – whether it was better for him, having the power to heal this man, to do it, or to suffer him to remain in this suffering condition; and he illustrates it by an example, showing that in a manner of much less importance – that respecting their cattle – they would do on the Sabbath just as “he” would if he should heal this man. The same remark may apply to all opportunities of doing good. “The ability to do good imposes an obligation to do it” (Cotton Mather) He that has the means of feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, and instructing the ignorant, and sending the gospel to the destitute, and that does it not, is guilty, for he is practically doing evil; he is suffering evils to exist which he might remove. So the wicked will be condemned in the day of judgment because “they did it not,” Mat_25:45. If this is true, what an obligation rests upon the rich to do good!
And when he had looked around upon them with indignation To convince us that this was a just and holy anger, Mark explains the reason of it to be, that he was grieved on account of the blindness of their hearts.First, then, Christ is grieved, because men who have been instructed in the Law of God are so grossly blind; but as it was malice that blinded them, his grief is accompanied by indignation. This is the true moderation of zeal, to be distressed about the destruction of wicked men, and, at the same time, to be filled with wrath at their ungodliness. Again, as this passage assures us, that Christ was not free from human passions, we infer from it, that the passions themselves are not sinful, provided there be no excess. In consequence of the corruption of our nature, we do not preserve moderation; and our anger, even when it rests on proper grounds, is never free from sin. With Christ the case was different; for not only did his nature retain its original purity, but he was a perfect pattern of righteousness. We ought therefore to implore from heaven the Spirit of God to correct our excesses.
With anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts – These words are not found in any of the other evangelists. For πωρωσει hardness, or rather callousness, the Codex Bezae, and four of the Itala, read νεκρωσει, deadness; the Vulgate and some of the Itala, caecitate, blindness. Join all these together, and they will scarcely express the fullness of this people’s wretchedness. By a long resistance to the grace and Spirit of God, their hearts had become callous; they were past feeling. By a long opposition to the light of God, they became dark in their understanding, were blinded by the deceitfulness of sin, and thus were past seeing. By a long continuance in the practice of every evil work, they were cut off from all union with God, the fountain of spiritual life; and, becoming dead in trespasses and sins, they were incapable of any resurrection but through a miraculous power of God.
With anger. What was the anger which our Lord felt? That which proceeded from excessive grief, which was occasioned by their obstinate stupidity and blindness: therefore it was no uneasy passion, but an excess of generous grief.
Whole as the other – This is omitted by the best MSS. and versions. Grotius, Mill, and Bengel approve of the omission, and Griesbach leaves it out of the text.
Mar 3:5 Looking round upon them with anger, being grieved – Angry at the sin, grieved at the sinner; the true standard of Christian anger. But who can separate anger at sin from anger at the sinner? None but a true believer in Christ.
With anger – With a severe and stern countenance; with indignation at their hypocrisy and hardness of heart. This was not, however, a spiteful or revengeful passion; it was caused by excessive “grief” at their state: “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” It was not hatred of the “men” whose hearts were so hard; it was hatred of the sin which they exhibited, joined with the extreme grief that neither his teaching nor the law of God, nor any means which could be used, overcame their confirmed wickedness. Such anger is not unlawful, Eph_4:26. However, in this instance, our Lord has taught us that anger is never lawful except when it is tempered with grief or compassion for those who have offended.
Hardness of their hearts – The heart, figuratively the seat of feeling or affection, is said to be tender when it is easily affected by the sufferings of others – by our own sin and danger – by the love and commands of God; when we are easily made to feel on the great subjects pertaining to our interest, Eze_11:19-20. It is hard when nothing moves it; when a man is alike insensible to the sufferings of others, to the dangers of his own condition, and to the commands, the love, and the threatenings of God. It is most tender in youth, or when we have committed fewest crimes. It is made hard by indulgence in sin, by long resisting the offers of salvation, or by opposing any great and affecting appeals which God may make to us by his Spirit or providence, by affliction, or by a revival of religion. Hence, it is that the most favorable period for securing an interest in Christ, or for becoming a Christian, is in youth the first, the tenderest, and the best days of life. Nay, in the days of childhood, in the Sabbath-school, God may be found, and the soul prepared to die.
Being grieved (συλλυπούμενος)
Why the compound verb, with the preposition σύν, together with? Herodotus (vi., 39) uses the word of condoling with another’s misfortune. Plato (“Republic,” 4:62) says, “When any one of the citizens experiences good or evil, the whole state will either rejoice or sorrow with him (ξυλλυπήσεται). The σύν, therefore implies Christ’s condolence with the moral misfortune of these hardhearted ones. Compare the force of con, in condolence. Latin, con, with, dolere, to grieve.
From πωρος, a kind of marble, and thence used of a callus on fractured bones. Πώρωσις is originally the process by which the extremities of fractured bones are united by a callus. Hence of callousness, or hardness in general. The word occurs in two other passages in the New Testament, Rom_11:25; Eph_4:18, where the A. V. wrongly renders blindness, following the Vulgate caecitas. It is somewhat strange that it does not adopt that rendering here (Vulgate, caecitate) which is given by both Wyc. and Tynd. The Rev. in all the passages rightly gives hardening, which is better than hardness, because it hints at the process going on. Mark only records Christ’s feeling on this occasion.
When he had looked round on them with anger (periblepsamenos autous met’ orges). Mark has a good deal to say about the looks of Jesus with this word (Mar_3:5, Mar_3:34; Mar_5:37; Mar_9:8; Mar_10:23; Mar_11:11) as here. So Luke only once, Luk_6:10. The eyes of Jesus swept the room all round and each rabbinical hypocrite felt the cut of that condemnatory glance. This indignant anger was not inconsistent with the love and pity of Jesus. Murder was in their hearts and Jesus knew it. Anger against wrong as wrong is a sign of moral health (Gould).
Being grieved at the hardness of their hearts (sunlupoumenos epi tei porosei tes kardias auton). Mark alone gives this point. The anger was tempered by grief (Swete). Jesus is the Man of Sorrows and this present participle brings out the continuous state of grief whereas the momentary angry look is expressed by the aorist participle above. Their own heart or attitude was in a state of moral ossification (porosis) like hardened hands or feet. Poros was used of a kind of marble and then of the callus on fractured bones. “They were hardened by previous conceptions against this new truth” (Gould). See also on Mat_12:9-14.
Chrys., see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 31: This woman, who was celebrated and known to all, did not dare to approach the Saviour openly, nor to [p. 98] come to Him, because, according to the law, she was unclean; for this reason she touched Him behind, and not in front, for that she durst not do, but only ventured to touch the hem of His garment. It was not however the hem of the garment, but her frame of mind that made her whole. There follows, “For she said, “If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be whole.”
Theophylact: Most faithful indeed is this woman, who hoped for healing from His garments. For which reason she obtains health. Wherefore it goes on, “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed.”Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now the virtues of Christ are by His own will imparted to those men, who touch Him by faith.
Wherefore there follows, “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched My clothes?” The virtues indeed of the Saviour do not go out of Him locally or corporally, nor in any respect pass away from Him. For being incorporeal, they go forth to others and are given to others; they are not however separated from Him, from whom they are said to go forth, in the same way as sciences are given by the teacher to his pupils.
Therefore it says, “Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue which had gone out of Him,” to shew that with His knowledge, and not without His being aware of it, the woman was healed. But He asked, “Who touched me?” although He knew her who touched Him, that He might bring to light the woman, by her coming forward, and proclaim her faith, and lest the virtue of His miraculous work should be consigned to oblivion.
It goes on, “And His disciples said unto Him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched Me?” But the Lord asked, “Who touched Me,” that is in thought and faith, for the crowds who throng Me cannot be said to touch Me, for they do not come near to Me in thought and in faith. There follows, “And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.”
Theophylact: For the Lord wished to declare the woman, first to give His approbation to her faith, secondly to urge the chief of the synagogue to a confident hope that He could thus cure his child, and also to free the woman from fear. For the woman feared because she had stolen health. Wherefore there follows, “But the woman fearing and trembling, &c.”
Bede, in Marc., 2, 22: Observe that the object of His question was that the woman should confess the truth of her long want of faith, of her sudden belief and healing, and so herself be confirmed in faith, and afford an example to others.
“But He said to her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” He said not, Thy faith is about to make thee whole, but has made thee whole, that is, in that thou hast believed, thou hast already been made whole.
Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 31: He calls her “daughter” because she was saved by her faith; for faith in Christ makes us His children.
Theophylact: But He saith to her, “Go in peace,” that is, in rest, which means, go and have rest, for up to this time thou hast been in pains and torture.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else He says, “Go in peace,” sending her away into that which is the final good, for God dwells in peace, that thou mayest know, that she was not only healed in body, but also from the causes of bodily pain, that is, from her sins.
Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, Jairus comes after the healing of the woman, because when the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, then shall Israel be saved. [Romans 11] Jairus means either illuminating, or illuminated, that is, the Jewish people, having cast off the shadow of the letter, enlightened by the Spirit, and enlightening others, falling at the feet of the Word, that is, humbling itself before the Incarnation of Christ, prays for her daughter, for when a man lives himself, he makes others live also. Thus Abraham, and Moses, and Samuel, intercede for the people who are dead, and Jesus comes upon their prayers.
And, lo, a woman who had been afflicted with a bloody flux.For twelve successive years the bloody flux had lasted, and the woman was so far from being negligent in seeking remedies, that she had spent all her substance on physicians All this is expressly stated by the Evangelists, that the miracle may shine with brighter glory. When an incurable disease was removed so suddenly, and by the mere touch of a garment, it is perfectly obvious that it was not accomplished by human power. The thought of the woman that, if she only touched Christ’s garment, she would immediately be cured, arose from an extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit, and ought not to be regarded as a general rule. We know how eagerly superstition is wont to sport in foolish and thoughtless attempts to copy the saints; but they are apes, and not imitators, who take up some remarkable example without the command of God, and are led rather by their own senses than by the direction of the Spirit.
It is even possible that there was a mixture of sin and error in the woman’s faith, which Christ graciously bears and forgives. Certainly, when she afterwards thinks that she has done wrong, and fears and trembles, there is no apology for that kind of doubt: for it is opposed to faith. Why did she not rather go straight to Christ? If her reverence for him prevented, from what other source than from his mercy did she expect aid? How comes it, then, that she is afraid of offending him, if she was convinced of his favorable regard?
Yet Christ bestows high commendation on her faith. This agrees with what I have lately noticed, that God deals kindly and gently with his people, — accepts their faith, though imperfect and weak, — and does not lay to their charge the faults and imperfections with which it is connected. It was by the guidance of faith, therefore, that the woman approached to Christ. When she stopped at the garment, instead of presenting herself in prayers that she might be cured, inconsiderate zeal may have drawn her a little aside from the right path; particularly as she soon afterwards shows that she had made the attempt with some degree of doubt and uncertainty. Were we even to grant that this was suggested to her by the Spirit, it still remains a fixed rule, that our faith must not be driven hither and thither by particular examples, but ought to rest wholly on the word of God, according to the saying of Paul, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,(Rom_10:17.) This is a highly necessary warning, that we may not dignify with the name of faith any opinion which has been rashly embraced.
And behold a woman. This woman, according to Eusebius, came from Cæsarea Philippi, who, in honour of her miraculous cure, afterwards erected a brazen monument, descriptive of this event, before the door of her house in Cæsarea Philippi. (Eusebius)
It is not probable that this woman who had the issue of blood was Martha, the sister of Mary Magdalene, as S. Ambrose thinks (lib. de Salom. c. v.). For Martha lived at Bethany, near Jerusalem, not at Cæsarea. The Gospel of Nicodemus says that her name was Veronica, the same who gave Christ a handkerchief to wipe the sweat when He was going to be crucified, and on which He left an impression of His face.
Mar 5:25 And a certain woman which had an issue of blood twelve years. See Gill on Mat_9:20. This woman was in the crowd that thronged Jesus, as he passed through the streets of Capernaum. Eusebius relates (o), that it was reported, that this woman was of Caesarea Philippi, where her house was to be seen; where were extant some wonderful monuments of the benefits conferred upon her by Christ; as that at the door of her house was an effigy of a woman in brass, set upon an high stone on her bended knees, and arms stretched out like a supplicant; and opposite to her, another effigy of a man, of the same metal, standing, and decently clothed in a tunic, and his hand stretched out to the woman; at whose feet, upon the pillar, a strange form of a plant arose, reaching up to the border of the brazen tunic, which is a remedy against all diseases; and he says it remained to his times, and was then to be seen: and Theophylact (p) says, in the times of Julian the apostate it was broke to pieces. But this woman rather seems to be an inhabitant of Capernaum, in the streets of which the after cure was wrought; and therefore what credit is to be given to the above accounts I leave to be judged of. It may be more useful to observe, that this profluvious woman is an emblem of a sinner in a state of nature: as her disease was in itself an uncleanness, and rendered her unclean by the law, whereby she was unfit for the company and society of others; so the disease of sin, with which all are infected, is a pollution itself, and of a defiling nature; all the members of the body, and all the powers and faculties of the soul are polluted with it, and the whole man is filthy in the sight of God, and is pronounced unclean by the law of God; and such persons are very unfit for the society of saints on earth, and much less to be with those in heaven, nor even to be with moralized persons; for evil communications corrupt good manners: openly profane and impure sinners are infectious, and to be avoided. Likewise, as this woman’s disease was of long standing, she had it twelve years, and it was become inveterate and stubborn, and not easy to be removed; so such is the disease of sin, and indeed it is much worse; it is what is brought into the world with men, and is as old as themselves; is natural to them, and cannot be removed by any ordinary and natural methods, but requires supernatural power and grace; and it is in such a like case and condition, that the Spirit of God finds his people, when he quickens, sanctifies, and cleanses them: “and when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live”, Eze_16:6.
(o) Eccl. Hist. l. 7. c. 18. (p) In Matt. ix. 20.
Mar 5:26 And had suffered many things of many physicians,…. She took many a nauseous medicine, and had gone through courses of physic with different physicians; for there were many among the Jews that pretended to the cure of fluxes; and various are the prescriptions the Jewish doctors give for such a disorder, as may be seen in their Talmud (q); and many of which Dr. Lightfoot (r) has transcribed: and among the rest, they direct to the use of gum of Alexandria, alum, saffron, Persian onions, cummin, and “faenum graecum”, put into wine and drank.
And had spent all that she had; had wasted her substance, and brought herself to poverty, by pursuing the directions given her; so that she was not in circumstances now to employ a physician;
and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse: the several medicines she had taken had done her no good, had not, in the least, restrained and checked the disorder, but it was rather increased thereby. This is often the case of persons who are, in some measure, sensible of the disease of sin, but are ignorant of the proper methods to be taken for the cure of it. They apply to their own works of righteousness, moral and civil, to the duties of religion, private and public, to a legal repentance, external humiliation and tears, and an outward reformation of life, hoping hereby, in process of time, to be rid of their disorder, and be in good health; whereas these are physicians of no value, and of no real service in their case: they are so far from being the better, that they are rather worse and worse, there being so much impurity, imperfection, and sin, in all these things, and which is increased by a dependence on them; that their iniquities grow upon them, and the score of their transgressions is become greater, and their distemper the more inveterate, and less easy to be cured; yea, not only they spend their money for that which does not bring them a cure, and exhaust all the stock of nature’s power to no purpose, but they also suffer much hereby. For such a course of action, such conduct and methods as these bring them into a spirit of bondage; for when they fail in their duties, do not come up to the rules prescribed them, what terror of mind possesses them! what horror and wrath does the law work in their consciences! what a fearful looking for is there of fiery indignation, to consume them! It cannot be expressed what some have suffered by following such prescriptions.
(q) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 110. 1, 2. (r) Hor. Heb. in loc.
Had suffered many things of many physicians, – and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse – No person will wonder at this account, when he considers the therapeutics of the Jewish physicians in reference to hemorrhages, especially of the kind with which this woman was afflicted.
Rabbi Jochanan says: “Take of gum Alexandria, of alum, and of crocus hortensis, the weight of a zuzee each; let them be bruised together, and given in wine to the woman that hath an issue of blood. But if this fail, “Take of Persian onions nine logs, boil them in wine, and give it to her to drink: and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this fail, “Set her in a place where two ways meet, and let her hold a cup of wine in her hand; and let somebody come behind and affright her, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this do no good, “Take a handful of cummin and a handful of crocus, and a handful of faenu-greek; let these be boiled, and given her to drink, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this also fail, “Dig seven trenches, and burn in them some cuttings of vines not yet circumcised (vines not four years old); and let her take in her hand a cup of wine, and let her be led from this trench and set down over that, and let her be removed from that, and set down over another: and in each removal say unto her, Arise from thy flux.” Dr. Lightfoot gives these as a sample, out of many others, extracted from Bab. Shabb. fol. 110.
And from some of these nostrums it is evident the woman could not be bettered, and from some others it is as evident that she must be made worse; and from all together it is indubitably certain that she must have suffered many things; – and from the persons employed, the expense of the medicaments, and the number of years she was afflicted, as she was not a person of great opulence, it is most perfectly credible that she spent all that she had. She was therefore a fit patient for the Great Physician.
The case of this woman was a very afflicting one:
1. Because of the nature of her malady; it was such as could not be made public, without exposing her to shame and contempt.
2. It was an inveterate disorder; it had lasted twelve years.
3. It was continual; she appears to have had no interval of health.
4. Her disorder was aggravated by the medicines she used – she suffered much, etc.
5. Her malady was ruinous both to her health and circumstances – she spent all that she had.
6. She was now brought to the last point of wretchedness, want, and despair; she was growing worse, and had neither money nor goods to make another experiment to procure her health.
7. She was brought so low by her disorder as to be incapable of earning any thing to support her wretched life a little longer.
It has been said, and the saying is a good one, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” Never could the power and goodness of God be shown in a more difficult and distressful case. And now Jesus comes, and she is healed.
Mar 5:27 When she had heard of Jesus,…. Of the many miracles he had wrought, and cures he had performed, in cases as difficult and desperate as hers, or more so; and that he was now passing along the streets,
came in the press behind; though she was so weak, and much enfeebled, as she must needs be, by such, and so long a disorder; yet she ventures into the crowd, which were pushing and pressing after Christ; and got up to him, behind him, being ashamed to tell her case, and desire a cure:
and touched his garment; the hem or border of it, with her hand, very softly, and in a private manner, so as not to be observed by any. Christ is the sinner’s last shift; he tries every one first before he comes to him; he spends all his money, strength, and time, with others, to no purpose; and finding them all to be useless and unserviceable, he applies to him, who is the only physician that can give relief in this case: like this woman, having heard of his ability to save to the uttermost those that come to him; and being encouraged by the many cures of the worst of sinners, of such who were in the most desperate condition, presses in the throng, through a great many temptations, difficulties, and discouragements thrown in the way by Satan, and its own evil heart of unbelief, and which arise from a sense of vileness and unworthiness; and in a modest and bashful manner, fearing it should be thought presumption in him, and yet persuaded it is the only way for a cure, and that it is to be had in this way, lays hold on the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and the garment s of his salvation; or, in other words, thus reasons with himself: though I am such a vile, sinful, unrighteous, and impotent creature, yet surely in the Lord there is righteousness and strength, if I can but by faith lay hold thereon; though it be but in a weak way, only by a touch, and in a trembling manner; I shall be justified from all things, I could not be justified by all the works of righteousness I have been doing, and that evidentially and comfortably; and therefore I will venture and draw nigh unto him, and though he slay me I will trust in him; I will throw off my own filthy rags of righteousness; I will make mention of, and lay hold on his righteousness, and that only; he shall be my salvation. And such an one finds, as this woman afterwards did, a perfect cure, cleansing from all sin, a free and full forgiveness of it, and complete justification from it.
Jamieson, Fuasset, and Brown
When she had heard of Jesus, came — This was the right experiment at last. What had she “heard of Jesus?” No doubt it was His marvelous cures she had heard of; and the hearing of these, in connection with her bitter experience of the vanity of applying to any other, had been blessed to the kindling in her soul of a firm confidence that He who had so willingly wrought such cures on others was able and would not refuse to heal her also.
in the press behind — shrinking, yet seeking.
touched his garment — According to the ceremonial law, the touch of anyone having the disease which this woman had would have defiled the person touched. Some think that the recollection of this may account for her stealthily approaching Him in the crowd behind, and touching but the hem of His garment. But there was an instinct in the faith which brought her to Jesus, which taught her, that if that touch could set her free from the defiling disease itself, it was impossible to communicate defilement to Him, and that this wondrous Healer must be above such laws.
Mar 5:29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up,…. It was usual with the Jews to call the womb, in which the child is formed, מקור, “a fountain” (s); and because, from hence, issued the blood in a menstruous and profluvious person, they called it, as here, מקור דמיה, “the fountain of her blood” (t); and sometimes use the same phrase of the drying up of it, as in this place: they say (u), when a woman is searched and found to be pure, she is forbidden her house, עד שיתנגב מעיינה, “until her fountain be dried up”; so that as no blood issued from it, there was none in it, and which was now this woman’s case, as she found;
and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague: she not only found by that quick alteration there was in her animal spirits, which were now free and vigorous; but she perceived, in that part of her body, from whence the issue sprung, that she was perfectly well, and that the disorder was entirely gone, which had been for so many years a sore affliction to her, and a severe correction and chastisement of her, as the word used implies. It properly signifies a “scourge”, as every affliction is, a scourge for sin; and very likely this woman’s disease was on the same account: sometimes afflictions are God’s scourges in a way of wrath, and sometimes in a fatherly way, in love: “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth”, Heb_12:6, and who, as he wounds, he heals, and which is sensibly perceived by his people. The word “plague” carries in it something more dreadful, and fitly enough expresses the nature of sin, which is a pestilential disease; the corruption of nature, indwelling sin is called the “plague of the heart”, 1Ki_8:38. It is a loathsome disease, and without the grace of God, a mortal one; the body of sin, is a body of death; and all sin is of the same nature and kind; the end of it is destruction and death: the healing of it is the forgiveness of sin, which is through the blood of Christ, and the application of it to the soul; which, when made, is sensibly felt, for it immediately produces spiritual joy, peace, and comfort: this makes the bones, which were broken, to rejoice; this bids every son and daughter of the Lord God Almighty to be of good cheer; it causes the inhabitants of Zion to hold their peace, and no more say they are sick, because their sins are forgiven them. And a man may as easily perceive when his spiritual maladies are healed in this way, as when he is cured of any bodily disorder.
(s) Maimon. Issure Bia, c. 4. sect. 20, 22. & 5. 3. & 6. 1. Misn. Nidda, c. 2. sect. 5. (t) T. Hieros. Nidda, fol. 50. 2. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 111. (u) T. Hieros. Nidda, fol. 48. 4.
She felt in her body (egno toi somati). She knew, the verb means. She said to herself,
I am healed (iamai). Iatai retains the perfect passive in the indirect discourse. It was a vivid moment of joy for her. The plague (mastigos) or scourge was a whip used in flagellations as on Paul to find out his guilt (Act_22:24, cf. Heb_11:26). It is an old word that was used for afflictions regarded as a scourge from God. Our word plague is from plege (Latin plaga), from plegnumi, to strike a blow. Common in ancient Greek in this sense. See note on Mar_5:29, Mar_5:34; Luk_7:21 for the same use of mastiges and also 2 Maccabees 9:11.
Perceiving in himself (epignous en heautoi). She thought, perhaps, that the touch of Christ’s garment would cure her without his knowing it, a foolish fancy, no doubt, but one due to her excessive timidity. Jesus felt in his own consciousness. The Greek idiom more exactly means: “Jesus perceiving in himself the power from him go out” (ten ex autou dunamin exelthousan). The aorist participle here is punctiliar simply and timeless and can be illustrated by Luk_10:18 : “I was beholding Satan fall” (etheoroun ton Satanan pesonta), where pesonta does not mean fallen (peptokota) as in Rev_9:1 nor falling (piptonta) but simply the constative aorist fall (Robertson, Grammar, p. 684). So here Jesus means to say: “I felt in myself the power from me go.” Scholars argue whether in this instance Jesus healed the woman by conscious will or by unconscious response to her appeal. Some even argue that the actual healing took place after Jesus became aware of the woman’s reaching for help by touching his garment. What we do know is that Jesus was conscious of the going out of power from himself. Luk_8:46 uses egnon (personal knowledge), but Mark has epignous (personal and additional, clear knowledge). One may remark that no real good can be done without the outgoing of power. That is true of mother, preacher, teacher, doctor.
Who touched my garments? (Tis mou hepsato ton himation). More exactly,
Who touched me on my clothes; The Greek verb uses two genitives, of the person and the thing. It was a dramatic moment for Jesus and for the timid woman. Later it was a common practice for the crowds to touch the hem of Christ’s garments and be healed (Mar_6:56). But here Jesus chose to single out this case for examination. There was no magic in the garments of Jesus. Perhaps there was superstition in the woman’s mind, but Jesus honoured her darkened faith as in the case of Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchief.
Mar 5:33 But the woman fearing and trembling,…. Lest she should be reproved, and suffer the penalties of the law, for appearing in public during the time of her uncleanness, Lev_15:25, or that Christ was displeased with her, for her taking an improper method to obtain her cure; or lest he should recall it, or was angry with her for concealing it, and attempting to go away undiscovered, and without so much as thanking him for it. After conversion, after souls have laid hold on Christ for righteousness and life; after they have had the pardon of their sins, and are cured of their diseases, they are not without their fears and tremblings, though there is no just reason for them: they fear where no fear is; that is, where there is no true cause of fear; which was this woman’s ease: they are sometimes afraid they have no interest in Christ, and in his love; that they are hypocrites; that the truth of grace is not in them; that they shall never hold out to the end; that they shall perish, and come short of eternal glory, notwithstanding they know, as this woman did, what has been done in them, and done for them.
Knowing what was done in her, and by her; being conscious to herself that she was the person that had touched him, and that upon it the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she was thoroughly healed of her disease:
Came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. Christ did not point her out, though he knew her; or call her by her name, though he could have done it, and have ordered her to come to him, and account for her conduct: he had said enough to work upon her, and engage her to come; who came of herself, and with the greatest reverence to his person, and sense of her own unworthiness, threw herself at his feet, and gave him a relation of the whole matter, with the utmost truth and, exactness; what had been her case, what was her faith, and what she had done, and what a cure she had received; and which she acknowledged with the greatest thankfulness. In some copies it is added, “before all”; before Christ and his disciples, and the throng of people that were along with him: she that came behind Christ, and privately took hold of the hem of his garment, her faith secretly going out unto him; now appears openly before him, not being able to hide herself any longer. Nor is she ashamed to tell what she had done, and had been done in her: truth is to be spoken, even all the truth; no one has reason to be ashamed of that, and especially of the truth of grace, truth in the inward parts; this is what God requires, and gives, and delights in. The secret experiences of grace in our souls we should not be ashamed to relate to others; this makes for the glory of divine grace, and the good of others. In some copies it is read, “and told him all her cause before all”: her whole affair, how it had been with her, and now was, and what was the cause of her taking such a method she did.
Mar 5:34 And he said unto her, daughter,…. Instead of reproving her, or showing any anger, or resentment at her, as she feared, he speaks to her in a very soft, kind, and tender manner, and called her “daughter”, which was not only an expression of affection and civility, this being an affable, courteous way of speaking used by the Jews; but might signify her spiritual relation through him, being a child of God by adopting grace. She was a daughter of Abraham by natural descent, as was the woman bound by Satan eighteen years, Luk_13:16 and so she was likewise in a spiritual sense, being one that walked in the steps of his faith, believing in hope against hope; and she was also a daughter of the Lord God Almighty, as her faith showed her to be, Gal_3:26, and to this our Lord may chiefly refer; she was one of those that were predestinated to the adoption of children, and were given to Christ as such; and who are evidentially the children of God by faith in him: and to have a testimony of adoption from the Spirit of God, and from the mouth of Christ himself, as this woman had; how great a blessing is it!
thy faith hath made thee whole: through faith in Christ she received the cure from him; for it was not her act of faith that either merited, or procured it, but his power, and he himself the object of her faith that effected it: though he is pleased to take no further notice of the virtue that went out from him; but commends her faith, for her further and future encouragement in the exercise of it, and for the encouragement of others to believe in him. In the Greek text it is, “thy faith hath saved thee”; both from her bodily disease, and from her sins: not that there is such an intrinsic virtue in faith as to deliver from either; for certain it is, that it was not virtue that went out of her faith, but virtue which went out from Christ, that cured her of her issue; though faith was the means of drawing it out; or it was that, through which, virtue from Christ exerted itself, and produced such an effect: and it is as certain, that not faith, but Christ, is the author and cause of spiritual salvation: faith looks to Christ for salvation, and receives every blessing of it from him, as righteousness, peace, pardon, adoption, and eternal life; so that believers are saved by grace, through faith; through the exercise of that grace they have the joy, and comfort Of salvation now; and through it they are kept, by the power of God, unto the full possession of it hereafter.
Go in peace; to thine house; all health and happiness attend thee; let no uneasy thought, about what has passed, dwell on thy mind; be joyful and thankful for the mercy received, and never fear, or dread, a return of the disorder. Peace is the effect of faith in Christ, of pardon through his blood, and salvation in him; true, spiritual, solid peace is enjoyed in a way of believing; it is the fruit of a view of interest in justification by faith in Christ’s righteousness; and nothing more effectually produces and secures it than a sense of, all spiritual diseases being healed, or an application of pardoning grace and mercy, through the blood of Christ; which itself speaks better things than that of Abel, even pardon, and so peace: such who are blessed in this manner, and walk under a view and sense of these things, go in peace all their days, and at last enter into peace, even into the joy of their Lord.
And be whole of thy plague: she was so already; but this was a confirmation of it, and what might assure her, that she should remain so, and no more be afflicted with that chastisement. Sin pardoned, though sought for, shall not be found; nor condemnation come upon the pardoned sinner; he is whole and sound, and shall be no more sick, and much less die the second death.
Be whole of thy plague – Rather, continue whole, not, be whole, for she was already healed: but this contains a promise, necessary to her encouragement, that her disorder should afflict her no more.
Go in peace (Hupage eis eirenen). She found sympathy, healing, and pardon for her sins, apparently. Peace here may have more the idea of the Hebrew shalōm, health of body and soul. So Jesus adds: “Be whole of thy plague” (isthi hugies apo tes mastigos sou). Continue whole and well.
While he yet spake (Eti autou lalountos). Genitive absolute. Another vivid touch in Mark and Luk_8:49. The phrase is in Gen_29:9. Nowhere does Mark preserve better the lifelike traits of an eyewitness like Peter than in these incidents in chapter 5. The arrival of the messengers from Jairus was opportune for the woman just healed of the issue of blood (en husei haimatos) for it diverted attention from her. Now the ruler’s daughter has died (apethane).
Why troublest thou the master any further? (Timothyeti skulleis ton didaskalon). It was all over, so they felt. Jesus had raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain (Luk_7:11-17), but people in general did not expect him to raise the dead. The word skullo, from skulon (skin, pelt, spoils), means to skin, to flay, in Aeschylus. Then it comes to mean to vex, annoy, distress as in Mat_9:36, which see. The middle is common in the papyri for bother, worry, as in Luk_7:6. There was no further use in troubling the Teacher about the girl.
Fear not, only believe.The message about her death had induced despair: for he had asked nothing from Christ but relief to the diseased young woman. Christ therefore bids him take care lest, by fear or distrust, he shut out that grace, to which death will be no hindrance. By this expression, only believe, he means that he will not want power, provided Jairus will allow him; and, at the same time, exhorts him to enlarge his heart with confidence, because there is no room to fear that his faith will be more extensive than the boundless power of God. And truly this is the case with us all: for God would be much more liberal in his communications to us, if we were not so close; but our own scanty desires hinder him from pouring out his gifts upon us in greater abundance. In general, we are taught by this passage, that we cannot go beyond bounds in believing: because our faith, however large, will never embrace the hundredth part of the divine goodness.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe — Jesus, knowing how the heart of the agonized father would sink at the tidings, and the reflections at the delay which would be apt to rise in his mind, hastens to reassure him, and in His accustomed style: “Be not afraid, only believe” – words of unchanging preciousness and power! How vividly do such incidents bring out Christ’s knowledge of the human heart and tender sympathy! (Heb_4:15).
Not heeding (parakousas). This is the sense in Mat_18:17 and uniformly so in the lxx. But here the other sense of hearing aside, overhearing what was not spoken directly to him, probably exists also. “Jesus might overhear what was said and disregard its import” (Bruce). Certainly he ignored the conclusion of the messengers. The present participle laloumenon suits best the idea of overhearing. Both Mark and Luk_8:50 have “Fear not, only believe” (me phobou, monon pisteue). This to the ruler of the synagogue (toi archisunagogoi) who had remained and to whom the messenger had spoken.
37. And did not permit any one to follow him.He forbade that they should be allowed to enter, either because they were unworthy to be his witnesses of the miracle, or because he did not choose that the miracle should be overpowered by a noisy crowd around him. It was better that the young woman, whose dead body they had beheld, should suddenly go out before the eyes of men, alive and full of rigor. Mark and Luke tell us that not more than three of the disciples were admitted, and both mention also the parents. Mark alone states that those who had accompanied Jairus when he came to supplicate Christ were admitted. Matthew, who is more concise, takes no notice of this circumstance.
Save Peter, and James, and John (ei me Petron kai lakobon kai Ioanen). Probably the house was too small for the other disciples to come in with the family. The first instance of this inner circle of three seen again on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. The one article in the Greek treats the group as a unit.
Wailing greatly (alalazontas polla). An onomatopoetic word from Pindar down. The soldiers on entering battle cried Alala. Used of clanging cymbals (1Co_13:1). Like ololuzo in Jam_5:1. It is used here of the monotonous wail of the hired mourners.
The girl sleepeth. Sleep is everywhere in Scripture employed to denote death; and there is no doubt but this comparison, taken from temporal rest, points out a future resurrection. But here Christ expressly makes a distinction between sleep and death, so as to excite an expectation of life. His meaning is, “You will presently see her raised up whom you suppose to be dead.” That he was ridiculed by thoughtless and ignorant people, who were wholly engrossed with profane lamentation, and who did not comprehend his design, ought not to awaken surprise. And yet this very circumstance was an additional confirmation of the miracle, that those persons entertained no doubt whatever as to her death.
Make a tumult (thorubeisthe). Middle voice. Jesus had dismissed one crowd (Mar_5:37), but finds the house occupied by the hired mourners making bedlam (thorubos) as if that showed grief with their ostentatious noise. Mat_9:23 spoke of flute-players (auletas) and the hubbub of the excited throng (thoruboumenon. Cf. Mar_14:2; Act_20:1, Act_21:34).
Mark, Matthew, and Luke all quote Jesus as saying that “the child is not dead, but sleepeth.” Jesus undoubtedly meant that she was not dead to stay dead, though some hold that the child was not really dead. It is a beautiful word (she is sleeping, katheudei) that Jesus uses of death.
The father and the mother – Prudence required that they should be present, and be witnesses of the miracle.
And them that were with him – That is, Peter, James, and John, Mar_5:37. It is remarkable that our Lord gave a particular preference to these three disciples, beyond all the rest, on three very important occasions:
1. They were present at the transfiguration.
2. At the raising of Jairus’s daughter.
3. At his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.
Where the damsel was lying – Ανακειμενον, lying. This word is very doubtful. BDL, one other, Coptic, and later Arabic, with five of the Itala, omit it. Other MSS. express the same idea in five different words: Griesbach leaves it out of the text. See his Testament.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
And they laughed him to scorn — rather, simply, “laughed at Him” – “knowing that she was dead” (Luk_8:53); an important testimony this to the reality of her death.
But when he had put them all out — The word is strong – “turned them all out”; meaning all those who were making this noise, and any others that may have been there from sympathy, that only those might be present who were most nearly concerned, and those whom He had Himself brought as witnesses of the great act about to be done.
he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him — Peter, and James, and John.
and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
And they laughed him to scorn (kai kategelon). “They jeered at him” (Weymouth). Note imperfect tense. They kept it up. And note also kat (perfective use). Exactly the same words in Mat_9:24 and Luk_8:53. The loud laughter was ill suited to the solemn occasion. But Jesus on his part (autos de) took charge of the situation.
Taketh the father of the child and her mother and them that were with him (paralambanei ton patera tou paidiou kai ten metera kai tous met’ autou). Having put out (ekbalon) the rest by a stern assertion of authority as if he were master of the house, Jesus takes along with him these five and enters the chamber of death “where the child was” (hopou en to paidion). He had to use pressure to make the hired mourners leave. The presence of some people will ruin the atmosphere for spiritual work.
41. And he took hold of her hand, and said to her Luk_8:54. And he took hold of her hand, and cried Though naturally this cry was of no avail for recalling the senses of the deceased young woman, yet Christ intended to give a magnificent display of the power of his voice, that he might more fully accustom men to listen to his doctrine. It is easy to learn from this the great efficacy of the voice of Christ, which reaches even to the dead, and exerts a quickening influence on death itself. Accordingly, Luke says that her spirit returned, or, in other words, that immediately on being called, it obeyed the command of Christ.
Mar 5:41 And he took the damsel by the hand,…. See Gill on Mat_9:25.
And said unto her; in the Syriac language, which was then commonly spoken by the Jews, and well understood: hence the Syriac version expresses the following words without an interpretation,
Talitha Cumi. The Ethiopic version reads it, “Tabitha Cumi”; and so do some Greek copies, and Latin versions, taking it to be the same word as in Act_9:36 whereas that signifies “Dorcas, a roe”; but this word is of another signification, as here explained,
which is, being interpreted, damsel (I say unto thee) arise. The phrase, “I say unto thee”, is no part of the interpretation of the above Syriac words; but is added, by the evangelist, as being what was expressed by Christ at the same time, signifying his authority and power over death; only “damsel arise”, is the interpretation of them, טלי, “Tali”, signifies a “boy”, and טליתא, “Talitha”, a “girl”; and so they are often used in the Targums (w), and in the Talmud: the one is used for a boy of seventeen years of age (x), and the other for a girl of sixteen or seventeen years of age (y); so that this child might well be called by this name, since she was but twelve years of age; and קומי, “Cumi”, is the imperative קום, “to arise”.
Targum Hieres in Deut. xxii. 21. & Targum Sheni in Esther ii. 9. (x) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 142. 2. Gloss. in ib. (y) lb. fol. 91. 2.
Talitha cumi. These precious Aramaic words, spoken by Jesus to the child, Peter heard and remembered so that Mark gives them to us. Mark interprets the simple words into Greek for those who did not know Aramaic (to korasion, egeire), that is, Damsel, arise. Mark uses the diminutive korasion, a little girl, from kore, girl. Braid Scots has it: “Lassie, wauken.” Luk_8:5-9 has it He pais, egeire, Maiden, arise. All three Gospels mention the fact that Jesus took her by the hand, a touch of life (kratesas tes cheiros), giving confidence and help.
Rose up, and walked (aneste kai periepatei). Aorist tense (single act) followed by the imperfect (the walking went on).
For she was twelve years old (en gar eton dodeka). The age mentioned by Mark alone and here as explanation that she was old enough to walk.
Amazed (exestesan). We have had this word before in Mat_12:23 and Mar_2:12, which see. Here the word is repeated in the substantive in the associative instrumental case (ekstasei megalei), with a great ecstasy, especially on the part of the parents (Luk_8:56), and no wonder.
43. And he charged them Though Christ did not admit all indiscriminately to behold this resurrection, yet the miracle might not have remained long concealed. And it would indeed have been improper to suppress that power of God, by which the whole world ought to be prepared for life. Why then does he enjoin silence on the young woman’s parents? Perhaps it was not so much about the fact itself, as about the manner of it, that he wished them to be silent, and that only for a time; for we see that there were other instances in which he sought out a proper occasion. Those who think that they were forbidden to speak for the purpose of whetting their desire, resort to a solution which is unnatural. I do acknowledge that Christ did not perform this miracle without the intention of making it known, but perhaps at a more fitting time, or after the dismission of a crowd among whom there was no prudence or moderation. He therefore intended to allow some delay, that they might in quietness and composure revolve the work of God.
Mar 5:43 He charged them that no man should know it – That he might avoid every appearance of vain glory, might prevent too great a concourse of people, and might not farther enrage the scribes and Pharisees against him; the time for his death, and for the full manifestation of his glory, being not yet come. He commanded something should be given her to eat – So that when either natural or spiritual life is restored, even by immediate miracle, all proper means are to be used in order to preserve it.
Something should be given her to eat – “He had raised her by extraordinary power, but he willed that she should be sustained by ordinary means.” He also in this gave full evidence that she was really restored to life and health. The changes were great, sudden, and certain. There could be no illusion. So, when the Saviour had risen, he gave evidence of his own resurrection by eating with his disciples, Joh_21:1-13.
Chrys.: But the disciples, out of regard for the dignity of Christ, forbade those who brought them. And this is what is added: “And His disciples rebuked those who brought them.” But our Saviour, in order to teach His disciples to be modest in their ideas, and to tread under foot worldly pride, takes the children to Him, and assigns to them the kingdom of God. Wherefore it goes on: “And He said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not.”
Origin, in Matt., XV, 7: If any of those who profess to hold the office of teaching in the Church should see a person bringing to them some of the foolish of this world, and low born, and weak, who for this reason are called children and infants, let him not forbid the man who offers such an one to the Saviour, as though he were acting without judgment. After this He exhorts those of His disciples who are already grown to full stature to condescend to be useful to children, that they may become to children as children, that they may gain children [1Co_9:22]; for He Himself, when He was in the form of God, humbled Himself, and became a child. One which He adds: “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Chrys.: For indeed the mind of a child is pure from all passions, for which reason, we ought by free choice to do those works, which children hate by nature.
Theophylact: Wherefore He says not, “for of” these, but “of such is the kingdom of God,” that is, of persons who have both in their intention and their work the harmlessness and simplicity which children have by nature. For a child does not hate, does nothing of evil intent, nor though beaten does he quit his mother; and though she clothe him in vile garments, prefers them to kingly apparel; in like manner he, who lives according to the good ways of his mother the Church, honours nothing before her, nay, not pleasure, which is the queen of many; wherefore also the Lord subjoins, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
Bede: That is, if ye have not innocence and purity of mind like that of children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Or else, we are ordered to receive the kingdom of God, that is, the doctrine of the Gospel, as a little child, because as a child, when he is taught, does not contradict his teachers, nor put together reasonings and words against them, but receives with faith what they teach, and obeys them with awe, so we also are to receive the word of the Lord with simple obedience, and without any gainsaying. It goes on: “And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.”
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant, e Cat. in Marc.: Fitly does He take them up into His arms to bless them, as it were, lifting into His own bosom, and reconciling Himself to His creation, which in the beginning fell from Him, and was separated from Him. Again, He puts His hands upon the children, to teach us the working of his divine power; and indeed, He puts His hands upon them, as others are wont to do, though His operation is not as that of others, for though He was God, He kept to human ways of acting, as being very man.
Bede: Having embraced the children, He also blessed them, implying that the lowly in spirit are worthy of His blessing, grace and love.
Mar 10:13 And they brought young children to him,…. The parents, or friends, or nurses of the children in those parts, having heard of the fame of Jesus; and having entertained an high opinion of him, as a great prophet, and a holy, good man, brought their children in their arms, or hands,
that he should touch them; as he did when he healed diseased persons, as these might be, though not expressed:
and his disciples rebuked those that brought them; See Gill on Mat_19:13.
Should touch them – That is, should lay his hands on them, and pray for them, and bless them. Compare Mat_19:13. It was common to lay the hands on the head of a person for whom a blessing was asked. See the case of Jacob, Gen_48:14.
They brought (prosepheron). Imperfect active tense, implying repetition. So also Luk_18:15, though Mat_19:13 has the constative aorist passive (prosenechthesan). “This incident follows with singular fitness after the Lord’s assertion of the sanctity of married life” (Swete). These children (paidia, Mark and Matthew; brephe in Luke) were of various ages. They were brought to Jesus for his blessing and prayers (Matthew). The mothers had reverence for Jesus and wanted him to touch (hapsetai) them. There was, of course, no question of baptism or salvation involved, but a most natural thing to do.
Mar 10:14 But when Jesus saw it,…. Observed that his disciples reproved those that brought their children to, him,
he was much displeased; with his disciples, who took too much upon them; for they ought first, to have known their master’s will; whether it was his pleasure to grant the favour desired for these children, and not to have forbid them of themselves:
and said unto them; the disciples, as the Persic version reads:
suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God; or “of them who” are, איך הלין, “as these”, as the Syriac version, renders the words; or, as the Arabic, who “are like to these”; and the Persic, who are “like to these little children”; in innocence and humility; See Gill on Mat_19:14.
Saw it – Saw the conduct of his disciples.
Was much displeased – Because, first, it was a pleasure to Him to receive and bless little children; and, secondly, they were doing what they were not commanded to do – interfering in a case where it was evidently improper.
He was moved with indignation (eganaktesen). In Mark alone. The word is ingressive aorist, became indignant, and is a strong word of deep emotion (from agan and achthomai, to feel pain). Already in Mat_21:15; Mat_26:8. Old and common word.
Suffer the little children to come unto me (aphete ta paidia erchesthai pros me). Mark has the infinitive erchesthai (come) not in Matthew, but in Luke. Surely it ought to be a joy to parents to bring their children to Jesus, certainly to allow them to come, but to hinder their coming is a crime. There are parents who will have to give answer to God for keeping their children away from Jesus.
Mar 10:15 Verily I say, unto you,…. A form of speech used when our Lord was about to asseverate a thing, and assert something of moment and importance, and which he would have attended to.
Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God; the Gospel, and the mysteries of it:
as a little child; laying aside all pride and prejudice, attending thereunto with humility and meekness:
he shall not enter therein; he shall attain to no true spiritual knowledge of the Gospel; nor should he be admitted into a Gospel church state, and to the ordinances of it.
Whosoever shall not receive – Whosoever shall not manifest the spirit of a little child.
The kingdom, of God – The gospel. The new dispensation by the Messiah, “or the reign of God through a Mediator.” See the notes at Mat_3:2.
As a little child – With the temper and spirit of a child – teachable, mild, humble, and free from prejudice and obstinacy.
Shall not enter therein – Shall not be a Christian; shall not be a “real” member of the family of Christ on earth. though he may be a “professor,” and shall never enter heaven.
As a little child (hos paidion). How does a little child receive the kingdom of God? The little child learns to obey its parents simply and uncomplainingly. There are some new psychologists who argue against teaching obedience to children. The results have not been inspiring. Jesus here presents the little child with trusting and simple and loving obedience as the model for adults in coming into the kingdom. Jesus does not here say that children are in the kingdom of God because they are children.
Mar 10:16 And he took them up in his arms,…. “Upon his arms”, the Syriac version says; “he put them into his bosom”, according to the Ethiopic; and the Persic renders it, “he took them into his bosom”: all which expresses great tenderness towards them, and affection for them:
put his hands upon them, and blessed them. The Ethiopic version transposes these clauses, and puts blessing first, contrary to the natural order of the words, and things; for he first put his hands on the children, according to the custom of the Jews, and then prayed over them, and wished all happiness and prosperity to them; See Gill on Mat_19:15.
He took them in his arms (enagkalisamenos). A distinct rebuke to the protest of the over-particular disciples. This word already in Mar_9:36. In Luk_2:28 we have the full idiom, to receive into the arms (eis tas agkalas dechesthai). So with tender fondling Jesus repeatedly blessed (kateulogei, imperfect), laying his hands upon each of them (titheis, present participle). It was a great moment for each mother and child.