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On the present occasion He first took him aside from the multitude' wbom He would heal; compare Mark viii. 23: • He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town. But with what intent does He isolate him thus ? The Greek Fathers generally reply, for the avoiding of all show and ostentation. But this cannot be, since of all the miracles which He did, we have only two in which any such withdrawal is recorded. Shall we say that there was show and ostentation in all the others? It is not much better to answer, with Calvin, that He might pray with greater freedom. He, whose life was altogether prayer, needed not solitude for this. His purpose was, rather, that the man apart from the tumult and interruptions of the crowd, in solitude and silence, might be more receptive of deep and lasting impressions; even as the same Lord does now oftentimes lead a soul apart, sets it in the solitude of a sick chamber, or in loneliness of spirit, or takes away from it earthly companions and friends, when He would speak with it, and heal it. He takes it aside, as He took this deaf and dumb out of the multitude, that in the hush of the world's din it may listen to Him; as on a greater scale He took his elect people aside into the wilderness, when He would first open their spiritual ear, and deliver unto them bis law.
Having this done, Christ ‘put his finger into his ears, and He spit and touched his tongue.' These are symbolic actions, which it is easy to see why He should have employed in the case of one afflicted as this man was ;-almost all other avenues of communication, save these of sight and feeling, were of necessity closed. Christ by these signs would awaken his faith, and stir up in him the lively expectation of a blessing. The fingers are put into the ears as to bore them, to pierce through the obstacles which hindered sounds from reaching
mortuos exsuscitat, ostendens se omnino esse Deum; aliquando tactu, salivâ, luto, sanat ægrotos, accommodans quodammodo potentiam suam ad modum agendi causarum naturalium, et ad sensum et consuetudinem bominum.
· Ut precandi ardorem liberius effundat.
the seat of hearing. This was the fountain-evil; he did not speak plainly, because he did not hear; this defect, therefore, is first removed. Then, as often through excessive dryness the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth, the Lord gives here, in what next He does, the sign of the removal of this evil, of the unloosing of the tongue. And, at the same time, the healing virtue He shows to reside in his own body; He looks not for it from any other quarter; but with the moisture of his own mouth upon his finger touched the tongue wbich He would release from the bands which held it fast (cf. John ix. 6).
It is not for its medicinal virtue that use is made of this, but as the apt symbol of a power residing in, and going forth from, his body.?
St. Mark, abounding as he does in graphic touches, reproducing before our eyes each scene which he narrates, tells us of the Lord, how this doing, "and looking up to heaven, He sighed. He has further preserved for us the very word which He spake, in the very language in which He spake it; He saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. The · looking up to heaven' was a claiming of the divine help; or rather, since the fulness of divine power abode permanently in Him, and not by fitful visitation as in others, an acknowledgment of his oneness with the Father, and that He did no other things save those which He saw the Father do (cf. Matt. xiv. 19; John xi. 41, 42). Some explain the words ' He sighed,' or ' He groaned, which are the words in the Rhemish Version, as the deep voice of prayer in which He was at the moment engaged; but rather we suppose that this poor helpless creature now brought before Him, this living
1 Grotius: Sæpe Christus externo aliquo signo inadspectabilem efficaciam velut spectandam exhibebat. Ita digitis in aures immissis, irrigatâque linguâ, testatum fecit se eum esse cujus · vi clausi meatus quasi perterebrarentur, et lingua palato adhærescens motum recuperaret.
2 Grotius: Nec alio hoc referendum mihi videtur quam quo superiora, ut hoc quoque indicio ostenderetur ab ipso Jesu prodiisse hanc salutiferam virtutem, cum nihil admotum esset affecto corpori, præter ipsa quæ ipsius Jesu erant propria.
proof of the wreck wbich sin had brought about, of the malice of the devil in deforming the fair features of God's original creation, then wrung that groan from his heart. He that always felt, was yet now in his human soul touched with a liveliest sense of the miseries of the race of man.' Thus on another still greater occasion, 'He groaned in the spirit and was troubled’ (John xi. 33), with a trouble which had in like manner its source in the thought of the desolation which sin and death had effected. As there the mourning hearts which were before Him were but a sampler of the mourners of all times and all places, so was this poor man of all the variously afflicted and greatly suffering children of Adam.? In the preservation of the actual Aramaic • Ephphatha,' which Christ spoke, as in the “Talitha cumi’ of Mark v. 14, we recognize the narrative of an eye and ear-witness. It is quite in this Evangelist's manner to give the actual Aramaic words which Christ used, but adding in each case their interpretation (iii. 17; v. 41; vii. 11 ; xiv. 36; xv. 34; cf. x. 46; xv. 22). He derived no doubt his account from St. Peter, on whose memory the words of power, which opened the ears, and loosed the tongue, and raised the dead, bad indelibly impressed themselves.3
1 Chrysostom (in Cramer, Catena): Trjv roữ ávopunov súour éleñv tís ποίαν ταπείνωσιν ήγαγεν ταύτην ό τε μισόκαλος διάβολος, και η των πρωτοπλάστων απροσεξία. .
? In the exquisite poen in The Christian Year which these words have suggested, this sigh is somewhat differently understood :
• The deaf may hear the Saviour's voice,
Not even in healing, cloudless shine.' 3 Grotius : Hæc autem vox Ephphatha simul cum salivâ et tactu aurium ac linguæ ex hoc Christi facto ad Baptismi ritus postea translata sunt, ut significaretur non minus interna mentis impedimenta tolli per Spiritum Christi, quam in isto homine sublata fuerant sensuum impedimenta. Nam
The injunction, · He charged them that they should tell no man,' implies that the friends of this afflicted man had accompanied or followed Jesus out of the crowd, and having been witnesses of the cure, were now included with him in the same command that they should not divulge what had been done. On the reasons which induced the Lord so often to give this charge of silence something has been said already. On this, as on other occasions (see Matt. ix. 31; Mark i. 44, 45), the charge is nothing regarded by those on whom it is laid ; the more He charged them, 80 much the more a great deal they published it. The exclamation in which men's surprise and admiration finds utterance, · He hath done all things well, reminds us of the words of the first creation (Gen. i. 31'), upon which we are thus not unsuitably thrown back, for Christ's work is in the highest sense a new creation.' The concluding notice, “ They glorified the God of Israel,' implies that many of those present were heathens, as we should naturally expect in that half-hellenized region of Decapolis, where this miracle was wrought, and that these, beholding the mighty works which were done, confessed that the God who had chosen Israel for his own possession was above all gods. et cor dicitur diavoiyxollai, Act. xvi. 14. Imo et cordi aures tribuuntur. The rite to which Grotius refers survives only in the Church of Rome. The touching by the priest of the nostrils and ears of one about to be baptized, with moisture from his mouth, had its origin here; as is indicated by the Epheta, which he used at the same time. Ambrose addresses the catechumens thus (De Init. 1): Aperite igitur aures, et bonum odorem vitæ æternæ inhalatum vobis munere sacramentorum carpite, quod vobis significavimus, cum apertionis celebrantes mysterium diceremus Epheta, quod est, Adaperire ; ut venturus unusquisque ad gratiam, quid interrogaretur cognosceret, quid responderet, meminisse deberet. Cf. the work, De Sacram. i. 1, attributed to him.
1 Here καλώς πάντα πεποίηκε : there πάντα όσα εποίησε, καλά λίαν.
25. THE MIRACULOUS FEEDING OF FOUR THOUSAND.
MATT. XV. 32–39; MARK viii. 1-9.
LMOST everything which might have been said upon
this miracle, the preceding one of the same nature has anticipated already; to which therefore the reader is referred. Whether this was wrought nearly in the same locality, namely, in the desert country belonging to Bethsaida,' and not rather on the western, as the former on the eastern, side of the lake, has been sometimes debated. On the whole it is most probable that it was wrought nearly on the same spot; for thither the narrative of St. Mark appears to have brought the Lord. Leaving the coasts of Tyre and Sidon after the healing of the daughter of the Syrophænician woman, He is
said to have again reached the sea of Galilee, and this through • the midst of the coasts of Decapolis (vii. 31). But all the
cities of the Decapolis save one lay beyond Jordan, and on the eastern side of the lake; this notice therefore places Him on the same side also. Not less does the fact that immediately after the miracle He took ship and came to the region of Magdala (Matt. xv. 39), since Magdala was certainly on the western side, and his taking ship was more probably to cross the lake than to coast along its shores.2
· Not Bethsaida, 'the city of Andrew and Peter,' but the Bethsaida already mentioned, p. 267.
2 St. Mark, who for Magdala substitutes Dalmanutha, does not help us here, as there are no further traces of this place. That it was on the western side of the lake we conclude from the fact that Christ's leaving it and crossing the lake is described as a departing rig tò a ipar, an expression in the New Testament applied almost exclusively to the country