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I. Consider the circumstances of the miracle
The Pharisees, observing our Lord's intention to heal a man who had a withered hand, questioned his right to do so on the sabbath day.
[Wishing to accuse him of inconsistency, or a contempt of the law, they asked him whether it were lawful to heal on the sabbath?a_Our Lord shewed them that it wasb-He then asked them, Whether, while they condemned him for doing so benevolent an action on the sabbath, they were more justified in indulging murderous purposes against him on the sabbath?"_They, unable to answer except to their own confusion, “ held their peace”-Though convinced of their unreasonableness and impiety they would not confess it-] Our Lord beheld their obstinacy with indignation and grief
[Meek as our Lord was, he was susceptible of angerYet that anger was not like the passion that too often agitates us—It was perfectly just and righteous Sin was the object against which it was directed—And, while he was angry with the sin, he mourned over the sinner-Hereafter indeed his anger will be unmixed with any pity-But now it is, as ours also should ever be, tempered with compassion towards the offending person ]
Not intimidated by their malice he proceeded to heal the withered hand
[He bade the man stand forth in the midst of all-Surely such a pitiable object should have engaged all to interest themselves with Christ on his behalf-He then ordered him to stretch forth his hand. The man, notwithstanding he knew his inability to do it of himself, attempted to obey-And in the attempt received an instantaneous and perfect cure ] . Having thus more than ever exasperated his enemies, Jesus retired from their rage
(One would have thought that all should have adored the author of such a benefit-But, instead of this, the Pharisees were “filled with madness"d-Alas! what wickedness is there in the human heart!—They joined immediately with the Herodians in a conspiracy against his life. But our Lord's hour was not yet come-He withdrew therefore from their power
And thus defeated, for the present at least, their efforts against him-]
a Matt. xii. 10. b Tb. ver. 11, 12. c Ver. 4. This seems the true import of his question.
d Luke vi. 11. e The Herodians and Pharisees differed so widely both in their political and religious sentiments, that they hated each other ex. ceedingly. But what enemies will not unite against Jesus? Luke xxiii. 12.
Having thus touched upon the principal incidents in the miracle, we shall proceed to II. Deduce some practical observations from it
1. We should never be diverted from the path of duty by the fear of man
[Our Lord never desisted from his work through fear of giving offence-Nor should any of his followers ever regard the threats of their persecutors—They may safely commit themselves to God If they fear him, they have no reason to fear any otherf-Duty is theirs; events are his-And if he permit their enemies to prevail, he will compensate all their sufferings with present consolations and everlasting rewards
Let all then suffer hardship as good soldiers And be willing to follow Christ to imprisonment or death-]
2. We should never decline our duty from an apprehension of our inability to perform it
[If the man had refused to put forth his hand, it is probable he would have been left without the cure-But he saw that it was his duty to attempt whatever Christ commanded
And in endeavouring to comply he received strength sufficient–Thus when called to repent and believe, we must not be satisfied with saying, I am not able-Ministers cannot convert souls, yet they must preach the wordh-And others must expect to obtain grace, not in idle complainings, but in diligent exertions-Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light---]
3. If persecuted for doing the will of God, we may avoid the storm which we cannot avert
[Jesus himself frequently hid himself when they sought to kill him-He directed his disciples to flee from their persecutorsk-And his apostles, however willing to die, avoided, when they could, the fury of their enemies -Thus we also may shun the violence of persecution-Though we must be willing to die for him, we must not court death-Life is a precious gift to be improved for him. Let us preserve it therefore, while we can do so with a good conscience-And cheerfully lay it down when called to sacrifice it for his sakeCONCLUSION
[Some may ask, Who is sufficient for these things? We answer, No man is, of himself-But let those, whose powers are withered, apply to Christ-In endeavouring to do his will, we shall be enabled to do it-We shall do all things through him who strengtheneth us°-]
f Matt. x. 28. Isai, li. 7, 8, 12, 13. 8 1 Pet. iv. 13, 14. h Ezek. xxxvii. 3, 4. i Eph. v. 14. k Matt. x. 23. | Acts ix. 25. m 2 Cor. ii. 16. n 2 Cor. iii. 5. o Phil. iv. 13.
CCLXXXIX. THE CENTURION'S SERVANT HEALED.
Luke vii. 6,7. Then Jesus went with them; and when he was
not far from the house, the Centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof; wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
NOTHING makes a wider breach among men than a difference in political and religious opinion
But mutual good offices would greatly counteract this evil
Though we can never hope to soften the rancour of all, we may by persevering kindness conciliate the esteem of many
We have before us a remarkable instance of the efficacy of such conduct
The Centurion was an heathen, an officer of an hostile nation, stationed in Judea to keep the Jews in subjection
But instead of oppressing the Jews he had shewed theni much favour
He, in his turn, needed their good offices on behalf of his servant
And they gladly became his advocates and intercessors
They even prevailed on Jesus to work a miracle on his behalf
To elucidate this miracle we shall consider I. The Centurion's character
Soldiers, for the most part, are unfavourably circumstanced with respect to religion
But here was one, though an heathen, whose character may well put to shame the greater part of the Christian world-We may observe 1. His love to his fellow-creatures
[His servant was grievously afflicted with the palsy nigh unto deatha_
In this disorder, persons can do nothing for others, or even for themselves
And in such a state, even dear friends and relatives are ready to think the care of one an heavy burthen
a Compare Matt. viii. 6. with Luke vii. 2.
Yet this Centurion administered to his servant with the tenderest affection
And interested all he could in the promotion of his welfareb
What could the servant himself have done more for the kindest master?]
2. His piety towards God
- [He had not embraced either the doctrines or discipline of the Jewish church
But he had learned to acknowledge the only true God
And he was glad to promote the worship of God, even though he himself did not acquiesce in the peculiar mode in which he was worshipped
He even built a synagogue for the Jews at his own expensec
What an admirable pattern of liberality and candour
How different from those who will not do any thing without the pale of their own church!
Surely he never afterwards regretted that he had so applied his wealth ] 3. His low thoughts of himself
[He did not arrogate any thing to himself on account of his rank and authority
Nor did he value himself on his benevolence to man and zeal for God
While others judged him worthy that a miracle should be wrought for him, he accounted himself unworthy of the smallest favour
This was the reason of his forbearing to wait on our Lord in person
How lovely does such an one appear in the eyes of God and man!-] 4. His exalted thoughts of Christ
[He judged our Lord to be too holy to admit of converse with an heathen
He believed also that Jesus could effect whatsoever he pleased, by a word, and at a distance, without the intervention of any meanse
Nor did he doubt but that universal nature was subject to his will far more than the most obedient soldier could be to the commands of his officerf
• He applied to some of the Jewish elders to use their interest with Jesus on his behalf.
c Ver. 5. d On our Lord's near approach to the house, the same humility that had kept the Centurion from going to him, compelled him, as it were, to go, lest he should seem guilty of disrespect. Compare Matt. viii. 13, with the text.
e Ver. 7.
f Ver. 8.
Thus did he ascribe to Jesus a power proper to God alones
Well might our Lord's address to the discreet Scribe have been applied to him-]
Such a character as this could never meet with a repulse from Jesus II. The kindness vouchsafed to him by our Lord
Instantly at the request of the elders Jesus set off to the Centurion's house
He who, though repeatedly importuned, declined to visit a Nobleman's son, went, at the very first summons, to attend upon a Centurion's servant
And no sooner met the Centurion, than he richly recompensed his assiduity 1. He expressed his admiration of the Centurion's faith
[We never hear of Jesus admiring the things of this world
He rather checked in his disciples such ill-judged venerationk
But when he beheld the Centurion's faith, “he marvelled at it”
Not that such exercise of grace was really unexpected by him
Jesus both knew what was in the Centurion's heart, and had planted there the very grace which he exercisedm
But Jesus, as our exemplar, would teach us what to admire
And shew us that the smallest portion of true faith cannot be estimated too highlyn_
Our Lord declared in his very presence, that this faith had not been equalled by any even of the Israelites themselveso
Such approbation from his mouth could not fail of comforting the afflicted Centurion-]
2. He wrought the desired miracle in confirmation of his faith
[By a simple act of his will he restored the servant to perfect health * And told the Centurion that it should “be to him according to his faith”
Thus he removed the distress of the family in an instant
Thus too he confirmed the faith which had shone forth so nobly