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was neither fitful nor occasional, as in the spring, where a fixed period and a higher operation were required for the communication of its virtues, at one word, on the wonder-working spot itself, he made the man whole. And as a higher power imparted efficacy to Bethesda, here in contrast he acted by virtue of omnipotence, not of communicated might; as God, and with the authority of God, he pronounced the cure, which cure, as Creation followed the primitive fiat, instantly followed his command. Surely so stupendous a miracle requires no recommendation of words.
The next miracle that called forth the power of Jesus was in the Synagogue, and was performed on the Sabbath-day, in the presence of his greatest enemies. Those were the Scribes and Pharisees, whom St. Luke (v.6.sqq.) relates to have been watching him for the purpose of accusing him as a breaker of the Sabbath. Jesus, who knew their thoughts, abstained not from the miracle, but resolved to refute them on their own principles. We must conjecture the man to have been partially paralytic, and to have been affected with some degree of paralysis beyond his hand, from the words “rise up and stand forth in the midst,” which seem to imply, that without miraculous agency this act would have been attended with some difficulty. Then was it that
Jesus replied to their insidious question, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days ? Here he placed them in a dilemma; for since it was a standard principle among the Jews, that the man who neglected to preserve life was a murderer, and that he who neglected to do good offended against the law, which provided for the rescue of a sheep that should fall into a pit on the Sabbath-day, He enforced their own principle, that inasmuch as a man was better than a sheep, so the duty of doing good to men is one of proportionably more cogent obligation. After having thus confuted them, He desired the man to stretch forth his hand, and performed the miracle ; but impatient under such an argumentum ad hominem, though silent on account of their inability to disprove his words, they began to plan his destruction. A short time before, Christ had asserted his Divinity; here He demonstrated it: and we may observe, that as the disease was real, and known to the multitudes, there could not have been any collusion ; that as Christ healed the hand with a word, not with a touch, the sanctity of the Sabbath, about which they were so disputatious, was actually not infringed. Their most rigid interpretation of the law, therefore, could not have afforded to them a ground of accusation; and they could not deny the miracle. So circumstantially detailed an occurrence, and one which so skilfully evaded the snares of the Scribes and Pharisees, carries with it positive marks of truth ; and the more so, as the Evangelists have merely related facts, leaving the interpretation of their force to the student; whereas, had they narrated “a cunningly devised fable,” they would have prominently alluded to these points, and added many embellishments. We have therefore internal and external evidence of the truth of this miracle.
In consequence of the plans of the Pharisees, Christ withdrew Himself, but was followed by multitudes from Galilee, from Judæa, from Jerusalem, from Idumæa, and from the region beyond Jordan, and was visited by some from Tyre and Sidon. St. Mark states that he withdrew Himself to the sea; but St. Luke?, that this multitude was with Him on the plain, as He descended from a mountain. This apparent discrepancy, which we do not remember any Harmonist to have explained, is remarkably curious; for as St. Mark ?, like St. Luke, mentions the attendance of the multitude after his descent from the mountain with his disciples, and records their attendance before his ascent, we plainly perceive, that either they accompanied Him to the mountain, and awaited the close of his
Chap. iii. 7.
Chap. vi. 17.
Chap. v. 20.
retirement upon it, or that others from the same region in company with the multitude, on whom He had excited his miraculous power at the sea-coast, followed Him to the mountain, and on his descent to the plain, experienced equally his sanative mercies. The twenty-second verse of this chapter of St. Mark strongly favours the latter idea. Here we find a variety of miracles recorded in general terms; also the acknowledgment that He was the Son of God, and a direct application of the prophecy of Isaiah to Him, which had always been referred to the Messiah.
The Centurion's servant, according to the order here adopted, was the next object of our Saviour's compassion. The circumstance of this Centurion having caused a synagogue to be erected for the Jews', induces us to suppose him to have been an inquirer after the truth, and to have been prepared by the tone of his mind for the reception of Christianity; and the more minute parts of the history seem to advance this supposition to a certainty. Now though the erection of this synagogue will, in some way, account for the readiness with which the elders of the Jews undertook the mission of the Centurion; their earnest request, and faith in Christ's capability also lead us to think, that they may have been among those, who secretly believed on HIM. But the Centurion was resolved to confer every honour usual in Eastern countries on our Saviour, by the deputation of various messengers at intervals; thus he first sent the elders of the Jews, then his more intimate friends, enhancing the whole with the confession that he was unworthy that Christ should come beneath his roof, affirming his belief that the miraculous cure would instantly follow his word and command, and exemplifying that firm belief by an illustration taken from his profession. To this Jesus bore his attestation, when He said that He had not found so great faith, no, not in Israel, to whom the promises had been made, from whom therefore it might have been expected. Is it not evident, that Christ must have been accredited by the Centurion in all his claims? The miracle by which the servant was healed in the selfsame hour, as the words “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,” proceeded from the mouth of Jesus, must be reckoned among those, by which He directly and immediately gave evidences of his Divine Power.
1 Luke vii. 5.