And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came to the sea of Galilee, through the middle of the coasts of Decapolis.…
"He sighed" when about to unstop deaf ears. Sighed when on the verge of opening the door by which the music of nature and the welcome sounds of the human voice would enter the hitherto silent regions within. Sighed when He was prepared to give power to the mute organ of speech. Why, we should rather have expected that He would have smiled, and, "looking up to heaven," rejoiced. We do not sigh when engaged in a mission of mercy. Far from it. When we take loaves to the famishing, or money to the wretched bankrupt, we feel a throb of sacred delight. As we mark the pallid invalid get stronger and better, or as we visit asylums for the deaf and dumb in order to witness the compensations offered by us for the defects of nature, we are filled with grateful happiness. Why did the Master sigh?
I. THE ANSWER BRINGS BEFORE US THE MOST IMPRESSIVE AND TRAGIC FEATURE IN THE SAVIOUR'S EXPERIENCE. His whole life was a sigh. So utterly was this the case that we find Him mournful even when about to perform a miracle of great mercy! Just as there are dark spots on the bright sun, so even when suffused with celestial glory on the Mount of Transfiguration the awful cross made its appearance, for "they spake of His decease." Hardly had the cheerful hosannahs of the multitude died away when He "beheld the city and wept over it." To quote from Jeremy Taylor, "This Jesus was like a rainbow; half made of the glories of light, and half of the moisture of a cloud." We speak often of Christ's sacrifice in a one-sided style. Too often we mean by His sufferings the death He endured. We think of Calvary. The accursed tree rises before our imaginations. All these were dreadful indeed, albeit they were not the sum but the consummation of His trials. They were the closing pages of a volume filled with like details. He looked "up to heaven," and what saw He there? Crowns prepared for men who would not seek them; thrones made ready for such as cared not to occupy them.
II. WHAT OUGHT WE TO LEARN FROM THE SAVIOUR'S SIGH?
1. A lesson of consolation. Intense trouble seeks solitude. In great affliction men often wish to be alone. Even in inferior creatures something of this kind appears. The wounded deer retreats from the herd into the dark recesses of the forest. The whale, smitten by the harpoon, dives into the lowest depths of the sea. Human beings frequently prefer isolation when in trial. Peter "went out," when he saw the truth of his Master's prediction, and "wept bitterly." Of Mary, bereaved so heavily, the friends near her said, "She went forth unto the grave to weep there." Was there anything akin to this in our Lord? There was. Even in minor matters of such an order He was made "in all points like unto His brethren." Where did He sigh? In company? In a crowd? No. We are distinctly informed He "took him aside from the multitude." No one heard Him sigh, not even the afflicted man, for he was unable to do so. The sigh was between the Son and the Father. "Looking to heaven," not to earth, "He sighed." Let us be comforted in sorrow. These incidents clearly show how qualified the Great High Priest is to sympathize with His disciples. He was once as we are.
2. Is there not a lesson of stimulus? Jesus did more than sigh. He said, "Ephphatha," and thus restored sound and speech to the sufferer before Him. We must act as well as feel. Sighing will never reform the world, regenerate humanity. We must work. Our effort should be to bring men to Him who can still heal and restore.
3. There is also a lesson of caution. Possibly there were special reasons for sorrow on the part of Christ in reference to the man whom He healed. Perhaps the Redeemer foresaw that the bodily restoration would not lead to spiritual restoration, etc. Do we never sin with the ear? with the tongue? Alas, none is innocent herein. The golden rule has not yet brought our words into subjection to it. "Keep the door of my lips." The grand thing is to have our hearts right, then all will be well.
(T. R. Stevenson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.