Page images

him how it happened, that, while they observed frequent occasions of fasting and solemn prayer, he and his disciples observed none. Jesus answered them, that he regarded fasting as an expression of sadness and mourning; that it would be an unbecoming thing in his disciples, who had no reason to mourn so long as he, their Master, was with them; it would be time enough for them to fast when he should be withdrawn from them. Besides, it would be as incongruous to annex such a mere form to a religious system like his, as it would be to put new wine into old leathern bottles, or to piece an old garment with new cloth. Antiquated forms in a new religion would be only injurious. The bottle must be adapted to the wine, and the form to the system, or they cannot endure.

While thus engaged, one of the rulers of the synagogue, named Jairus, came to him, and falling down at his feet, entreated him to come and save his dying daughter. The confidence which was felt in his power is very strongly evinced by the manner in which this respectable man addressed him;—" Come, and lay thy hand on her, and she shall live." Jesus immediately arose, and proceeded toward the house, followed by a multitude of the people.

As he passed through the streets, another example occurred of the extraordinary confidence

of the people in his divine power. A poor woman, who for twelve years had been grievously diseased, and had tried every remedy in vain, said to herself, "If I can but touch his garment, I shall be whole.' She did so, and was healed; and Jesus commended her faith in presence of the multitude.

On arriving at the house of Jairus, he was met by all the demonstrations of mourning which customarily attended a Jewish death. He found a crowd of people lamenting, and the hired minstrels bewailing, and altogether what Mark calls a "tumult." He immediately put them all out, and suffered none others to enter with him the dwelling of affliction and death, but Peter, James, and John, who on this, as on certain other occasions, were selected as the witnesses of his more private hours. With them, and the parents of the deceased child, he proceeded to the room where she lay, spoke the word, and she returned to life.

This is the second miracle of raising the dead, recorded by the Evangelists. It is remarkable that out of the multitudes thus restored, only three instances are specified in the history; and it is pleasing to find in each of them a circumstance of peculiarly tender interest, which may help to explain the reason of their selection. By the first,

Matthew ix. 18

Mark v. 22.

Luke viii. 41.

an only son was restored to the arms of a widowed mother; by the second, an only daughter was given back to her disconsolate parents; and by the third, a brother, an only brother there is reason to believe, was restored to his fond and confiding sisters. It is delightful thus to see our affectionate Lord carry his divine power into the circles of private and domestic life, and in a manner consecrate the pure relationship of home. A prophet might have displayed his power in a thousand ways even more striking than these; but what sympathy and kind-heartedness, must have belonged to him, who chose occasions on which he could most signally bless the children while he glorified the Father!

On the same day, Jesus gave sight to two blind men, who came to him in the street as he returned from the house of Jairus, and restored speech to a dumb man who was thought to be possessed of a demon. The Pharisees, meantime, still hung around his path. They would probably have interfered at the raising of the young girl, if they had been admitted to the house. They now cavilled again, and suggested for the first time an explanation of the miracles they witnessed, of which they afterwards made great use. "He casteth out demons," they said, "through the prince of the demons."

It is apparent that the events of this day are

recorded with unusual minuteness. There is no good reason, however, for supposing it any other than a fair example of the manner in which the days of Jesus were usually spent. It is possible, that the great dinner given by Matthew on resigning his office as publican, may have caused the several events connected with it to leave a more distinct impression, and to be therefore more particularly recorded. But what an idea does it give of the activity and benevolence of our Lord's ministry, to remember that such a day, thus crowded with acts of kindness and wisdom, was not remarkable above other days for the works it contained.



In the last chapter we had occasion to notice the circumstance, that many Pharisees and doctors of the law had visited Capernaum for the purpose of conversing with and watching Jesus. The instances there given of the vexatious spying and cavilling, by which they endeavored to perplex and thwart him, are but specimens of what was frequently occurring. It may help us to understand the opposition with which our Saviour had to contend, and exalt our idea of the magnanimity and meekness with which he endured it, to collect under one view the various incidents of this nature which are recorded by the Evangelists. To many of them, no definite mark is affixed, by which we may ascertain when or where they occurred. They are principally related by Luke, whose Gospel, through a large part of it, is a collection of discourses and incidents, thrown together without any pretence of chronological arrangement.* The present is a fitting place for noticing several of these portions of history.


Chapters xi-xviii. The "order" spoken of in Ch. i. 3. is not the order of time.

« PreviousContinue »