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Having dismissed the leper, Jesus left the multitude, and retired to a desert place and prayed. His object probably was, both to avoid the throngs of people and give them an opportunity to disperse, and to gain for himself strength and enjoyment from the exercises of devotion. His example teaches us true wisdom,--to retire at times from the excitement of the world, and seek light and truth in communion with our hearts and with God.
JESUS RETURNS TO CAPERNAUM- PERFORMS VARIOUS
MIRACLES - CALLS MATTHEW.
How long our Lord had now been absent from Capernaum we cannot tell, nor to what distance he had extended his travels. The account given by the Evangelists is very general, and such as does not render it necessary to suppose the time very long, nor the circuit very great. Capernaum was still his head quarters; and, having escaped from the crowds, who, as Mark intimates, had prevented his entering the city, he returned thither to his home.
As soon as his arrival was known, a Roman centurion, that is, captain of a company of a hundred soldiers, sent to him a message through the Jewish elders of the city, entreating him to visit and heal a favorite servant of his who was ill of the palsy. The elders seconded the message by giving a high character of this Roman officer, who had gained the good will of the citizens by his acts of kindness, and especially by his munificence in building them a synagogue. Jesus accompanied them; but it shows the mod
Matt. viii. 6.
Mark i. 45.
Luke vii. 1.
esty and faith of the centurion, that he sent other messengers to meet our Lord and save him the trouble of coming to his house; for I know, said he, that this great prophet, wherever he may be, can as easily command diseases to go and come, as I can command my soldiers. Jesus was struck by this union of humility and faith; and turning to the people who followed, expressed his approbation by declaring, “ I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” The messengers, on their return to the house, found the servant well.
The next day he went to the city of Nain, accompanied, as Luke says, by his disciples and much people. The distance could not have been far from twenty miles; and as he seems to have returned very shortly to Capernaum, it is not improbable that he made this excursion for the very purpose of working the miracle which he did there. He may have had a particular friendship for the family of the young man who died, as he had for that of Lazarus. However this may have been, he reached Nain just as a funeral procession came out of the gate. It was the funeral of a young man, the only son of a widow, and attended by a great company of people. It was a scene to call forth our Lord's sympathy,
Luke vii. 11.
and he at once approached the weeping mother with a word of consolation. Weep not,'
said he; and laying his hand on the bier to arrest the bearers, while the attending multitude stood wondering at the strange interruption, he raised his voice in a few words of authority and power,“Young man, I say unto thee, arise! In the sight of all the people, the dead arose, and was restored to the arms of his mother. This was done in the presence of hundreds at the city gate, who expressed their admiration by loudly glorifying God, and saying, “ A great prophet hath risen up among us, and God hath visited his people.” St. Luke remarks, that this event did much to extend his celebrity throughout Judea. It is the first miracle of the kind recorded. Like the other two instances which afterward occurred, it was accompanied by circumstances of peculiar interest, and such as render it a touching proof of the benevolence of our Saviour's disposition.
After returning to Capernaum, he proposed one evening, in order to escape the multitudes which had collected, to sail over to the other side of the lake. The breadth of this lake is about six miles, and the length nearly eighteen. Much of the scenery about it is beautiful and striking. It is surrounded for the most part by high hills,
Matt. viii. 23.
Mark iv. 35.
Luke viii. 22.
and in fact lies in a sort of basin formed by two ranges of mountains, which enclose it, except at the northern and southern extremities, where the river Jordan enters and departs. It is, by this means, protected in general from the winds, and rendered for the most part a placid and tranquil sheet of water. Yet it is subject to occasional blasts coming suddenly from the hills, which blow with the fury of a hurricane, and endanger all that is floating on its waves. Such a tempest arose on the night that our Saviour went upon the water. As Luke expresses it, there came down a storm of wind from the mountains, and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. The affrighted disciples rushed to their master, who was quietly asleep, crying, “ Lord, save us; we are perishing!” “Why are you fearful?” said he; " where is your
faith? He arose, and rebuked the wind and the waters, and there was a calm. Much as they had known of his supernatural power, this new exhibition of it occasioned new amazement in the minds of his followers. It filled them with fresh awe, and they expressed their astonishment one to another.
6. What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the seas obey him!
They landed on the opposite shore, in the
Mark v. 1.
Luke vii. 26.
Matthew viii. 28.