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133. Thy Word Suffices Me
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. Matthew 8:7

Say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. —Luke 7:7

THE centurion who cared for the religious welfare of the people, and built them a synagogue, had also a heart of compassion for the sick.

It is well when public generosity is sustained by domestic kindness.

This servant was his boy, and perhaps his slave; but he was dear to him. A good master makes a good servant.

It is well when all ranks are united in sympathy: captain and page are here united in affection.

The master showed his affection by seeking help. Heart and hand should go together. Let us not love in word only.

It is well that the followers of Jesus should be ready to help all sick folk; and that healing should be still associated with prayer to Jesus.

Mark the growing manifest faith of the centurion, and the growing manifestation of Jesus.

  • Centurion sends elders with request to "come and heal. " Jesus will come and heal.

  • Centurion comes himself asking for "a word. " Jesus gives the word, and the deed is done.

We see in this passage a miracle in the physical world, and are thereby taught what our Lord Jesus can do in the spiritual world.

Let us imitate the centurion in seeking to Jesus about others.

We learn from the narrative:

I. THE PERFECT READINESS OF CHRIST.

1. He did not debate with the elders of the Jews, and show the weakness of their plea: "He was worthy" (Luke 7:4-5).
2. He cheerfully granted their request, although it was needless for him to come. "Then Jesus went with them" (Luke 7:6).
3. He did not raise a question about the change which the centurion proposed, although he was already on the road (Luke 7:6).
4. He did not suspect the good man's motive, as some might have done. He read his heart, and saw his true humility.
5. He did not demur to the comparison of himself to a petty officer. Our Lord is never captious; but takes our meaning.
6. He promptly accepted the prayer and the faith of the centurion, save the boon, and gave it as desired.

Our Lord's love to sinners, his forgetfulness of self, his willingness to please us, and his eagerness to fulfill his own mission, should encourage us in prayer to him for ourselves and others.

II. THE CONSCIOUS ABILITY Of CHRIST.

l. He is not puzzled with the case. It was singular for the servant to be at once paralyzed and tormented; but whatever the disease may be, the Lord says, "I will come and heal him. "
2. He is not put in doubt by the extreme danger of the servant. No, he will come to him, though he hears that he is stricken down. and is utterly prostrate.
3. He speaks of healing as a matter of course.
His coming will ensure the cure: "come and heal."
4. He treats the method of procedure as of no consequence.

  • He will come or he will not come, but will "say in a word"; yet the result will be the same.
5. He wonders more at the centurion's faith than at the cure. Omnipotent grace moves with majestic ease. We are worried and fretted, but the Lord is not. Let us thus be encouraged to hope.

III. THE ABIDING METHOD OF CHRIST.

He is accustomed to heal by his Word through faith; Signs and wonders are temporary, and answer a purpose for an occasion; but both faith and the Word of the Lord are matters for all time.

Our Lord did not in the case before us put in a personal appearance, but spoke, and it was done; and this he does in our own day.

1. This is coming back to the original form of working in creation.

  • It is apparently a greater miracle than working by visible presence; at any rate, the means are less seen.

2. This method suits true humility. We do not demand signs and wonders; the Word is enough for us (Luke 7:7).
3. This pleases great faith; for the Word is faith's chosen manifestation of God. It rejoices more in the Word than in all things visible (Ps. 119:162).
4. This is perfectly reasonable. Should not a word of command from God be enough? Mark the centurion's reasoning (Matt. 8:9).
5. This is sure to succeed. Who can resist the divine fiat? In our own case, all we need is a word from the, Lord.
6. This must be confidently relied on for others. Let us use the Word, and pray the Lord to make it his own word.

Henceforth, let us go forward in his name, relying upon his Word!

Insertions

Had the centurion's roof been heaven itself, it could not have been worthy to be come under of him whose word was almighty, and who was the Almighty Word of his Father. Such is Christ confessed to be by him that says, "only say the word." None but a divine power is unlimited: neither has faith any other bounds than God himself. There needs no footing to remove mountains, or devils, but a word. Do but say the word, O Savior, my sin shall be remitted, my soul shall be healed, my body shall be raised from dust, and both soul and body shall be glorified. —Bishop Hall

"I have been informed," says Hervey, "that when the Elector of Hanover was declared by the Parliament of Great Britain successor to the vacant throne, several persons of distinction waited upon his Highness, to make timely application for valuable preferments. Several requests of this nature were granted, and confirmed by a kind of promissory note. One gentleman solicited the Mastership of the Rolls. Being indulged in his desire, he was offered the same confirmation which had been vouchsafed to other successful petitioners; upon which he seemed to be overcome by grateful confusion and surprise, and begged that he might not put the royal donor to such unnecessary trouble, protesting that he looked upon His Highness's word as the best ratification of his suit. With this compliment the Elector was not a little pleased. 'This gentleman,' he said, 'treats me like a king; and, whoever is disappointed, he shall certainly be gratified.'"

Our Lord can cure either by coming or by speaking. Let us not dictate to him the way in which he shall bless us. If we were permitted a choice, we ought not to select that method which makes most show, but that in which there is least to be seen and heard, yet most to be admired. Comparatively, signs and wonders show less of him than his bare Word, which he has magnified above all his name. Marvels dazzle, but the Word enlightens. That faith which sees least, sees most, and that which has no eyes at all for the visible has a thousand eyes for the invisible. Lord, come in thy glory, and bless me, if such be thy will; but if thou wilt stay where thou art, and bless me only through thy will and Word, I will be as well content, and even more so if this method the more honors thee! —C. H. S.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon


134. A Man Named Matthew
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, follow me. And he arose, and followed him. Matthew 9:9

MATTHEW is here writing about himself. Note his modesty in the expression "a man, named Matthew," and in his omission of the fact that the feast mentioned in verse 10 was held in his own house. The story is placed immediately after a miracle, as if to hint that Matthew's conversion was a miracle.

There are points of similarity between the miracle and the conversion.

Matthew was spiritually palsied by his sins, and his money-making; hence he needed the divine command, "Arise, and walk."

There may be points of likeness also between Matthew's personal story and our own. These may be profitably considered.

I. HIS CALL SEEMED ACCIDENTAL AND UNLIKELY.

  • Jesus had often been at Capernaum, which he had selected to be "his own city"; and yet Matthew remained unsaved. Was it likely that he would now be called? Had not his day of grace closed?

  • Jesus was about other business; for we read, "as Jesus passed forth from thence." Would he now be likely to call Matthew?

  • Jesus left many other persons uncalled; was it not highly probable that the tax-gatherer would be passed by?

  • Yet Jesus called to himself this "man, named Matthew," while many another man had no such special call.

  • "He saw a man, named Matthew," for he foresaw him.

  • He knew him, for he foreknew him.
In all which there is a parallel between Matthew and ourselves.

II. HIS CALL WAS ALTOGETHER UNTHOUGHT OF AND UNSOUGHT.

1. He was in a degrading business. None but the lowest of the Jews would care to gather taxes for the Roman conqueror. His discipleship would bring no honor to the Lord Jesus.
2. He was in an ensnaring business. The publicans usually made a personal profit by extorting more than was due. He was not paying away, but sitting "at the receipt of custom; and this is a pleasing exercise. " Money is bird-lime to the soul.
3. He would not have dared to follow Jesus even if he had wished to do so. He felt himself to be too unworthy.
4. He would have been repulsed by the other disciples had he proposed to come without the Lord's open invitation.
5. He made no sign in the direction of Jesus. No prayer was offered by him, nor wish expressed towards better things.

The call was of pure grace, as it is written, "I am found of them that sought me not."

III. HIS CALL WAS GIVEN BY THE LORD, WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF HIM.

Jesus "saw a man, named Matthew," and called him.

1. He saw all the evil that had been in him, and was yet there.
2. He saw his adaptation for holy service, as a recorder and penman.
3. He saw all that he meant to make of him.
4. He saw in him his chosen, his redeemed, his convert, his disciple, his apostle, his biographer.

The Lord calls as he pleases, but he sees what he is doing. Sovereignty is not blind; but acts with boundless wisdom.

IV. HIS CALL WAS GRACIOUSLY CONDESCENDING.

  • The Lord called "a man, named Matthew,"—that was his best.

  • He was a publican—that may not have been his worst.

  • He allowed such a sinner to be his personal attendant; yea, called him to that honor, saying; "Follow me"

  • He allowed him to do this immediately, without putting him into quarantine. He was to follow the Lord there and then.
V. HIS CALL WAS SUBLIMELY SIMPLE.

1. Few were the words: "Follow me."

  • It is very tersely recorded," He saw. . , he saith. . , he arose."
2. Clear was the direction: "Follow me."
3. Personal was the address: "He saith unto him."
4. Royal was the command: "He saith."

VI. HIS CALL WAS IMMEDIATELY EFFECTUAL.

1. Matthew followed at once. "He arose and followed him."
2. He followed spiritually as well as literally. He became a sincere, devout, earnest, intelligent disciple.
3. He followed wholly: bringing his voice and his pen with him.
4. He followed growingly, more and more.
5. He followed ever after, never deserting his Leader.

What a call was this! None could have given it but the Lord.

VII. HIS CALL WAS A DOOR OF HOPE FOR OTHERS.

1. His salvation encouraged other publicans to come to Jesus.
2. His open house gave opportunity to his friends to hear Jesus.
3. His personal ministry brought others to the Savior.
4. His written gospel has convinced many, and will always do so.

Are you up to your neck in business? Are you "sitting at the receipt of custom?" Yet may a call come to you at once. It does come.

Hear it attentively, rise earnestly, and respond immediately.

Good Words

God often calls men in strange places. Not in the house of prayer, not under the preaching of the Word; but when all these things have been absent, and all surrounding circumstances have seemed most adverse to the work of grace, that grace has put forth its power. The tavern, the theater, the ballroom, the gaming-house, the race-course, and other similar haunts of worldliness and sin, have sometimes been the scenes of God's converting grace. As an old writer says: "Our calling is uncertain in respect of place, for God calls some from their ships, and some from their shops; some from under the hedges, and others from the market; so that, if a man can but make out unto his own soul that he is certainly called, the time when and the place where matter little."

How I now loved those words that spake of a Christian's calling! As when the Lord said to one, "Follow me"; and to another, "Come after me." Oh! thought I, that he would say so to me: how gladly would I run after him! I could seldom read of any that Christ did call, but I presently wished, "Would I had been in their clothes! Would I had been born Peter, or John!" I often thought, "Would I had heard him when he called them, how would I have cried, 'O Lord, call me also!"' But I feared he would not call me. —John Bunyan

We read in classic story how the lyre of Orpheus enchanted with its music, not only the wild beasts, but the very trees and rocks upon Olympus, so that they moved from their places to follow him; so Christ, our heavenly Orpheus, with the music of his gracious speech, draws after him those less susceptible to benign influences than beasts and trees and stones, even poor, hardened, senseless, sinful souls. Let him but strike his golden harp, and whisper in thy heart, "Come, follow me," and thou, like another Matthew, shalt be won.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon


135. A Portrait of Jesus
He was moved with compassion on them. Matthew 9:36

THE expression is very strong (eorn tayxvtoOrn). All that was within him was stirred by the sight which he beheld. He was full of emotion, and showed it in his whole person.

His yearning compassions gathered around (nept) the people.

  • Exhibit the picture of Jesus under strong emotion.
  • This is a portrait of him as he appeared on many occasions.
  • Indeed, the words before us might sum up his entire life.
Let us behold his compassion as manifested in—

I. THE GREAT TRANSACTIONS OF HIS LIFE.

1. The Eternal Covenant, in its conception, arranging, provisions, etc., is full of compassion to men.
2. The Incarnation of our Lord shows matchless compassion.
3. His living in the flesh among men declares it.
4. His bearing the death penalty is the highest fruit of it.
5. His intercession for sinners proves its continuance.

This is a wide subject. In every act of his grace the Lord of love manifests tender pity to men.

II. THE SPECIAL INSTANCES RECORDED BY THE EVANGELISTS.

l. In Matthew 15:32, we see a fainting crowd, hungry, etc.

  • A crowd is a sad sight: a crowd, when faint, is far more so.

  • Such crowds are perishing in our cities today.
2. In Matthew 14:14, the sick are most prominent in the throng.

  • Jesus lived in a vast hospital, himself suffering, as well as healing, the diseases of men.

  • None can tell how deep is his pity for suffering humanity.
3. In the case mentioned in the text, he saw an ignorant, neglected, perishing crowd.

  • The sorrows, dangers, and sins of spiritual ignorance are great.

  • The Lord Jesus is the Shepherd of the unshepherded.
4. In Matthew 20:34, we see the blind. Jesus pities spiritual blindness.

  • Dwell upon the interesting details of the two blind men.
5. In Mark 1:41, we see the leper. Christ pities sin-polluted men.

  • Jesus compassionated the man who said "If thou wilt, thou canst.
6. In Mark 5:19, we have the demoniac. Jesus pities tempted souls.

  • The man out of whom he cast a legion of devils was to be dreaded, but the Lord gave him nothing but compassion.

  • He pities rather than blames those sore vexed by the devil.
7. In Luke 7:13, we meet with the widow of Nain. The bereaved, the widow and fatherless are specially near to the heart of Jesus.

These instances should encourage similar cases to hope in our Lord.

III. THE FORESIGHTS OF COMPASSION.

Knowing our ignorance, needs, sorrows the Lord Jesus has provided beforehand for our wants:

1. The Bible for our guidance and comfort.
2. The minister to speak as man to man, tenderly, experimentally.
3. The Holy Spirit to comfort us, and help our infirmity, in prayer, etc.
4. The mercy-seat as our constant resort.
5. The promises to be our perpetual food.
6. The ordinances to help our memories, and make truth vivid to us. The whole system reveals a most compassionate Savior.

IV. OUR PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS PROVE THIS COMPASSION. Let us remember how tenderly he dealt with us.

1. He tempered our convictions with intervals of hope.
2. He ended them ere they drove us to despair.
3. He has moderated our afflictions, and sustained us under them.
4. He has taught us, as we have been able to bear it. "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
5. He has put us to graduated tasks.
6. He has returned to us in love after our backslidings. Let us trust in this divine mercifulness for ourselves. Let us commend it to those around us.

Let us imitate it in dealing compassionately with our fellows.

Touches for the Portrait

The literal translation is "All his bowels were agitated, and trembled with sympathy and compassion." The ancients believed the bowels to be the seat of sympathy, or mercy. The Greek word used here to denote compassion is the most expressive that human language is capable of employing, insomuch that our version utterly fails to convey the vastness and fullness of the meaning of the original. —Dr. Cumming

Compare the impression produced upon Xerxes by the sight of his enormous army. "His heart swelled within him at the sight of such a vast assemblage of human beings; but his feelings of pride and pleasure soon gave way to sadness, and he burst into tears at the reflection that in a hundred years not one of them would be alive."

How a tender-hearted mother would plead with a judge for her child ready to be condemned! Oh, how would her bowels work; how would her tears trickle down; what weeping rhetoric would she use to the judge for mercy! Thus, the Lord Jesus is full of sympathy and tenderness (Heb. 2:17), that he might be a merciful High Priest Though he hath left his passion, yet not his compassion. An ordinary lawyer is not affected with the cause he pleads, nor doth he care which way it goes; profit makes him plead, not affection. But Christ intercedes feelingly; and that which makes him intercede with affection is, it is his own cause which he pleads in the cause of his people. —Thomas Watson

"Five hundred millions of souls," exclaimed a missionary (many years ago), "are represented as being unenlightened! I cannot, if I would, give up the idea of being a missionary, while I reflect upon this vast number of my fellow-sinners, who are perishing for lack of knowledge. 'Five hundred millions' intrudes itself upon my mind wherever I go, and however I am employed. When I go to bed, it is the last thing that recurs to my memory; if I awake in the night, it is to meditate on it alone; and in the morning it is generally the first thing that occupies my thoughts."

We may suppose that there was nothing in the external appearance of these multitudes which, to the common eye, would indicate their sad condition. We may suppose that they were "well-fed and well-clad," and that their hearts, under the influence of numbers, as is generally the case, were buoyant with pleasurable excitement; that good humor sunned their countenances, and enlivened their talk, and that–both to themselves, and to the ordinary spectator–they were a happy folk. But he, who seeth not as man seeth, looked down through the superficial stream of pleasurable excitement which now flowed and sparkled, and saw—What? Intellect enslaved, reason blinded, moral faculties benumbed, souls faint and lost, "scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd." —David Thomas

Charles Hadden Spurgeon

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