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The Pharisees assemble to contend with CHRIST. JESUS reproves them. He heals a poor child, and cures one that was deaf and dumb.
THEN came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. (2) And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. (3) For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. (4) And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. (5) Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? (6) He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (7) Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (8) For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. (9) And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (10) For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: (11) But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. (12) And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; (13) Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
It will be highly profitable to the Reader, to observe the awful character of those Scribes and Pharisees, and to attend to what the LORD hath said of them. In the midst of their hatred and malice to Jesus, who appears equal to them for professions of holiness? Washing of hands and cups, and pots, were harmless things in themselves, if they had been led therefrom to see the necessity of washing the heart. But, in the midst of this outside godliness, JESUS, who knew their inside corruption, represents it as most awful. The LORD hath indeed traced it to its source, and shewn, that they were of that seed which could not but sin. John 8:44 ; Matthew 23:15 . It would have been well for the peace, yet not for the exercise of the LORD's people, if the Pharisee and Scribe generation had ceased with them. But though the Church hath been disturbed in all ages with such, yet it is to the profit of the LORD's household. For when at any time the LORD JESUS, and his great salvation, are by this Pharisaical generation, slightly regarded, (as in the present day) it tends the more, under grace, to endear CHRIST to the heart.
(14) And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: (15) There is nothing from without a man that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. (16) If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. (17) And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. (18) And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; (19) Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? (20) And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. (21) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, (22) Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: (23) All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
I admire this discourse, of the LORD JESUS to the people. And I cannot but admire it the more, because from the distinguishing manner , in which it is said he called them, and introduced what he said to them, in charging them to hear that there were many of them his people, in contradistinction to the Pharisees around. And I cannot from hence help requesting the Reader to remark with me, how uniformly this distinction hath been preserved in the Church of CHRIST, in reading or preaching the word, from that time to the present hour. When we see (as that we cannot but see) in every congregation, some receiving the word with holy joy of the HOLY GHOST, as Paul testified the Church of the Thessalonians did: whilst others, like those Pharisees, seeking only to find fault; what can he more decisive in testimony to the same. And though many, like those Pharisees, are, as far as outward appearances go, apparently decent and moral in their lives and conversation with men; and others, in the religion of nature, seem to act up to the principles of external godliness, as high, as natural strength can reach; yea, some of them make a profession of the Gospel, and are ready to compliment CHRIST to make up their deficiency; yet, in all these there is not an atom of regenerating grace; it is the old tang of the old nature, neither are they any of them savingly acquainted with the person, work, grace, and glory, of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. If the Reader wishes to have a true scriptural account of the real saving work of GOD the HOLY GHOST upon the heart, I refer him to the picture drawn by inspiration in the first Chapter of Paul's first Epistle to the Thessalonians. In verse the 4th, the Apostle states the knowledge of election. In the 5th, he shews how it was proved and made known. In verse the 6th, he shews the sure effects of it in themselves. And in the four verses which follow, he skews the evidences which were proved thereby to others.
(24) And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. (25) For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: (26) The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. (27) But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. (28) And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. (29) And he said unto her, For this saying, go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. (30) And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
This miracle is largely dwelt upon, Matthew 15:21 .
(31) And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. (32) And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. (33) And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; (34) And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. (35) And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. (36) And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; (37) And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
Some copies read this passage, concerning our LORD's progress, that JESUS went through Sidon; but as Sidon was further off from Galilee than Tyre, it is more than probable JESUS went not through it. However, this deaf and dumb man which they brought to JESUS, was not of either place. The miracle the LORD manifested in healing him, excited great astonishment among the people; but the spiritual sense of it seems to have been wholly overlooked by them. Nothing becomes more striking, in proof of a spiritual deafness and dumbness , than a poor unawakened sinner. He is like the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears at the voice of the charmer; charm he never so wisely; for all the melody of mercy in the Gospel of CHRIST, nor all the harsh sounds of condemnation in the law of God, can affect mind. And as he hears of nothing, either to allure, or to alarm, so no cry for salvation ever passeth his lips. I pray the Reader to notice, however, the solicitude of his friends in bringing him to Jesus. Gracious souls, who know the LORD, do well to bring to JESUS those who know him not. He that hath unstopped your ears, and opened your lips, can do the same by others. And while we qualify prayers for the most graceless, by our LORD's standard, we cannot err. Neither, said Jesus, (while acting as the Great High Priest in interceding for his Apostles,) pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. John 17:20 . Precious prayed including the thousands then unborn of the Redeemer's family. Jesus' followers have here a very plain direction how to qualify their prayers, when visiting a mercy seat for the unawakened.
I beg the Reader, not to overlook the circumstance, in the miracle, of the LORD's taking the poor man aside from the multitude. Yes! When JESUS works an act of sovereign grace upon his people, for the most part he calls them aside from the world, yea, from themselves, from what they were before; and manifests himself in secret, and gives them to eat of the hidden manna. Revelation 2:17 . Neither do I think the actions of our adorable LORD were without signification. JESUS may be said to put his fingers into the ears of his redeemed, when he opens them to hear the joyful sound. He truly toucheth our tongues with the spittle of his mouth, when he looseneth our lips to speak his praise. And his looking up to heaven, in confirmation of what he saith, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. John 5:17 . is a sweet testimony of the Oneness in the FATHER and the SON, in all the parts of his divine mission. The sigh of CHRIST, and the Ephphatha or Ethphatha he pronounced with it, are beautiful proofs of his GOD-Man, Person, and Character. His power to open, and his sigh in testimony of his fellow feeling, were here beautifully blended. Reader! do not overlook it! Oh! what everlasting effects of sovereign grace must follow, when JESUS visits the souls of his redeemed with his great salvation!
READER! let us pause over the awful view of the deceitfulness of the human heart, as read to us in those Scribes and Pharisees! While full of uncleanness, and all manner of hypocrisy, see how they prided themselves on outside appearances!
But while such striking facts may serve to teach us, as they ought to teach us, the deepest humility, let a sense of it lead us to all-precious Jesus! Oh! how ought the consciousness of it to endear CHRIST to the heart. Gracious, and compassionate Redeemer! dispossess every evil, every unclean affection, from our souls. LORD! to thee belongs the curing, both of the spiritually deaf, and dumb. Oh! do thou pronounce the soul-renewing word, Ephphatha! and every faculty will obey thee. Thy people now will be astonished at the riches of thy grace, as they of old were at thy power, Thou hast indeed done all things well in time, and to all eternity. My poor deaf and dumb soul thou hast made to hear and speak; yea, thou hast raised it to a new life, when dead in trespasses and sins!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany