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An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter, the Evangelist records the first miraculous draught of fishes—the call of Simon Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, most likely, to the Apostleship (see Matthew 4:18, Commentary on) (1–11). The cure of a leper (12–16). The cure of the paralytic at Capharnaum (17–26). The call of St. Matthew to the Apostleship. The murmurs of the Scribes and Pharisees on the occasion of the feast given by St. Matthew to our Lord (27–32). Our Lord’s teaching on the subject of fasting (33–39).

1–11. The call of the Apostles, and the miraculous draught of fishes, recorded here, took place before the miracles, recorded verses 33, 39, 41, &c. of the preceding chapter. The Evangelists proposed to themselves to describe the leading events of our Redeemer’s life, without exactly observing in their narrative, the order in which they occurred. This is particularly true of St. Luke, who gives a more detailed account of our Lord’s actions, without attending to the order in which they took place; while St. Matthew is more exact in observing the order of events; but not so circumstantial in detailing the events themselves. Hence, in this passage, St. Luke describes the call of the principal Apostles and the miraculous draught after the cure of the demoniac, and Peter’s mother-in-law, although occurring before them.

“And it came to pass,” &c. Whether the occurrences recorded (v. 1–11), are the same as those described in Matthew (4:18–22), is disputed. It seems, however, notwithstanding some difference in details, that they are the same. St. Luke here narrates certain circumstances connected with the vocation of the four Apostles, which are only passed over by St. Matthew; but, not denied by him; and everything described by St. Luke is perfectly consistent with the narrative of St. Matthew (see Matthew 4:18–22, Commentary on).

12–14. (See Matthew 8:12–14.)

15. The more our Lord desired to labour, unknown and unobserved, the more the fame of His wonderful deeds was noised abroad, which attracted vast multitudes to Him to be cured of their infirmities and bodily ailments.

16. To avoid all incentives to vain glory, and leave us an example in this respect, our Lord, after performing miracles which redounded to His glory, used to retire to a desert place, and there communicate in prayer with His Heavenly Father, to whom He referred all the glory of His actions.

17. “On a certain day, while He sat”—the posture usually observed by teachers—the Pharisees and doctors of the law (in v. 21, called “Scribes”), who were attracted from every town of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem by the fame of His miracles and teaching, sat by Him for the purpose of hearing Him and narrowly watching all His words and actions; “and the power of the Lord” permanently resided in Him to heal the Jews, who laboured under corporal infirmities. Kenrick (hic) observes that this latter clause regarding our Lord’s healing power would naturally follow, or be immediately connected with v. 15. In the Greek for “sat teaching,” it is was teaching.

18–26. (See Matthew 9:2–8, Commentary on.)

27–38. (See Matthew 9:9–17, Commentary on.)

39. This is an additional reason, recorded by St. Luke alone, adduced by our Lord to justify His mode of acting towards His disciples. It is very hard at once to overcome the force of habit, just as men accustomed to old wine cannot be induced to wish for the new wine, or choose it all at once, although stronger and more substantial. “He saith, The old is better,” more palatable, and more agreeable for use. It is not “presently,” or all at once, but gradually, he gives it up. So, our Redeemer does not at once enjoin on His followers to embrace the austerities of the New Law, to which they were hitherto unaccustomed. Making every allowance for the force of habit, He only requires it of them gradually. He compares the New Law and its austerities to new wine, which is stronger, and produces an effect sooner than the old. By saying, they cannot be brought to it “presently,” or all at once, He implies that this would be done by degrees, as happened later on. “When the bridegroom is taken away … then they shall fast in those days” (v. 35).

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