Matthew 9:14
At that time John's disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast so often, but Your disciples do not fast?"
At CapernaumMarcus Dods Matthew 9:1-17
Consistency in DiversityJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 9:14-17
Human Disfigurings of the Church's Order and DisciplineP.C. Barker Matthew 9:14-17

Three classes of persons made up what might be called the religious community of Palestine, viz. the Pharisees, the disciples of John, and the disciples of our Lord. The ground of the question here was why one of these should neglect what the others preached as a religious duty. The answer here teaches -


1. Fasting might be proper to the disciple of John.

(1) "John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Fasting, which is a sign of grief, is fitting to one who mourns for his sins. SO John himself "came neither eating nor drinking" (Matthew 11:18). His habit as a Nazarite was in keeping with his doctrine and dispensation.

(2) Rejoicing in an unpardoned penitent would be incongruous. But unpardoned, however penitent, he must be who remains a disciple of John as distinguished from the disciples of Jesus. The new piece on the old garment would look badly.

(3) John, as Grotius notes, was now in prison. This circumstance would give additional consistency to the fasting of his disciples. But the case was different with the disciples of Jesus, who had their Master with them.

2. Fasting might be proper to the Pharisee.

(1) The ostentatious fast would be consistent in the hypocritical Pharisee who disfigured his face that he might secure applause of men (see Matthew 6:16).

(2) But some of the Pharisees were probably sincere men. To such there would be a fitness in their fasting. For the spirit of the Pharisee was the spirit of the Law, i.e. the "spirit of bondage to fear." Who could consistently rejoice within the roar of the thunders and clang of the great trumpet of Sinai?

(3) Neither the ritual of Leviticus nor the traditions of the elders can deliver the Pharisee from the yoke of terror.

3. But fasting might be improper to the disciple of Jesus.

(1) Christ is the Bridegroom of his Church (cf. Psalm 45. and Song of Sol.; also 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23, etc.; Revelation 19:17).

(2) Individual disciples are the "sons of the bride-chamber," the chosen friends of the Bridegroom.

(3) It would be unfitting in them to mourn while the Bridegroom was with them - during the festivities of the marriage. These festivities usually lasted seven days (see Judges 14:17). The Spirit of Jesus is the spirit of love. With love is joy and peace.

(4) Jesus was not with the Pharisees or these disciples of John as the Bridegroom with the sons of the bride-chamber. For they were the sons of the bondwoman (Galatians 4:25, 31).

(5) These disciples are herein significantly rebuked for their fasting in the presence of Jesus by the use of a simile which John used when he came into the presence of Jesus (see John 3:29). The sorrows of penitence in the presence of Jesus should be turned into the joys of salvation. These disciples of John had degenerated from the spirit of their master. Note and avoid tendencies to formality as tendencies to degeneration.


1. Obviously so, because circumstances are ever varying.

(1) Minor circumstances are infinitely various. Yet may these be generally ranged under two classes (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:14; James 5:13). In the text they are distinguished as mourning and rejoicing, fasting and feasting.

(2) No man, therefore, should make himself the standard of religion for his fellows. Herein the disciples of John and the Pharisees erred. The new wine of the gospel could not be restrained in the old wine-skins of the Law. It must have the elastic wine-skins of new forms suitable to its expansive genius.

2. Christians have their seasons of mourning.

(1) Of the Bridegroom himself the only record of his fasting is that which took place when he was in the wilderness.

(2) In that experience Jesus personated the condition of his Church during his absence from her in heaven. She was destined to mourn in the wilderness, suffering from Satan fierce assaults of persecution and temptation. First from the Jews; then from the Romans; then from the apostasy; perhaps finally from the rising spirit of infidelity.

(3) Individual Christians also have their seasons of temptation (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:27). In such seasons they have their voluntary fasts (cf. Acts 10:30; Acts 13:2, 3; Acts 14:23; 1 Corinthians 7:5).

3. When the Bridegroom returns mourning will end.

(1) Then will come the festivities of the Church's wedding (see Matthew 25:10; Revelation 19:7). The joys of the millennium will run into those of the new heavens and earth.

(2) Individual saints have their interludes of joy as well as of sorrow. Darkness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

(3) After the night of trial which ends in the sleep of death, comes the joy of the bright morning of the resurrection.


1. It is unnatural to seek it in uniformity.

(1) Uniformity is too often mistaken for unity. Things may be turned out of the same mould in infinite number, but neither is the conformity nor the number unity.

(2) There is in nature a unity which certainly consists not in uniformity. For no two blades of grass are exactly alike.

(3) The unity of nature rather lies in its diversity, for it is in the diversity of things that they become mutually useful. So it is in morals.

(4) Acts of uniformity can never give unity.

2. The unity of truth is in the spirit of love.

(1) The unity of nature is a spirit of harmony.

(2) So truth must be maintained amongst Christians in loving concession. The old piece must be sought for the old garment. Fresh skins must be sought for new wine.

(3) The duties of religion should not be made a subject of strife and contention amongst religious persons. The spirit must not be sacrificed to the letter.

(4) Note: "The quarrel with Christ was brought to the disciples (ver. 11); the quarrel with the disciples was brought to Christ (ver. 14). This is the way of sowing discord and killing love, to set people against ministers, ministers against people, and one friend against another" (Henry). - J.A.M.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice.
God prefers it.

I. Because it indicates more clearly man's relation to Himself. Cannot judge of man's character by outward ordinances, but when he straggles against sin.

II. Because it is more serviceable to our neighbours, Religious exercises may do us good, a pure life useful to others as well.

III. Because it brings the greatest happiness to us.

(Seeds and Saplings.)

I. THAT NATURAL RELIGION IS LIFE FOUNDATION OF ALL INSTITUTED AND REVEALED RELIGION. Our Lord owns that which the Pharisees objected, but purified it —

1. By telling them that it was allowed to a physician no converse with the sick in order to their cure.

2. By endeavouring to convince them of the true nature of religion, and of the order of the several duties thereby required.Natural and moral duties more obligatory than ritual and positive; showing mercy is a prime instance of these moral duties - sacrifice is an instance of positive and ritual observances.

1. That the Jewish Scriptures everywhere speaks of these as the main duties the Jewish religion.

2. That no instituted service of God, no positive part of religion, was ever acceptable to Him, when these were neglected Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 7:1, 5).

3. The great design of the Christian religion is to restore and reinforce the practice of the natural law (Titus 2:11, 12; James 1:27).


1. That all revealed religion calls men to the practice of natural duties.

2. The most perfect revelation that ever God made, furnishes helps for the performance of moral duties.

3. The positive rites of revealed religion are shown to be subordinate to them.

(J. Tillotson, D. D.)

It is a characteristic of all false religions to make more of the outward sacrifices we could offer to God than of the infinite mercy He is willing to show to us.


1. In connection with what has been revealed to us concerning His mission and life and work. This harmonizes with all the prophetic intimations given of His character. The tenderness of His character has accompanied Him to heaven, a permanent condition of His nature.


1. How should we be comforted by it under our early convictions of sin, and doubts of the Divine forgiveness.

2. It should be comforting under the weakness of our failing hearts, when it is hard to grasp the promise, and faith is uncertain.

3. As it bears upon our slow progress in the Divine life, and fluctuations of religious feeling.

4. In adversity and temptation the Christian has a strong refuge in Christ's tenderness.

5. In death he feels the Saviour's tenderness.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

A domestic illustration of this principle occurs to me. Suppose that when a father is engaged in earnest prayer for the salvation of the world, there rings through the house the cry of one of his children in pain, perhaps in danger, will he be doing ]fight to spring to his feet and go to the little one's help? Certainly he will. Let it be remembered that God is a Father, and there will be no two thoughts about that. And, as for the prayer for the world's salvation, God can and will open His ear when you go again to speak to Him, and the salvation of mankind will be none the farther off, but somewhat nearer, because you succoured your little one. I will put it from the child's point of view. What do you think would be his conception of God if he knew that God would not allow his father to come and help him when he was in trouble? I will put it, so to say, from God's point of view. What would He think of those who supposed Him to be indifferent to a child's cry?

(J. P. Gledstone.)

I came not to call the righteous.
1. He calls sinners by making appeals to the conscience.

2. By preaching an all-sufficient atonement for sin.

3. By means of an offer of reconciliation.

4. By raising in their minds hopes of future glory.

(R. Burgess, B. D.)

A young man was recommended to Diogenes for a pupil; and his friends, thinking to give Diogenes a good impression concerning his intending disciple, were very lavish in his praises. "Is it so?" said the old philosopher; "if the youth is so well accomplished to my hands, and his good qualities are already so many, he has no need of my tuition." As little are self-righteous people fit for Christ.


Suppose a man of learning, in company with two persons: the one really ignorant, but highly conceited of his knowledge, and consequently unteachable; the other ignorant too, but sensible of it, and therefore desirous of instruction. Suppose he should turn from the self-conceited creature, and carry on conversation with the other, who was likely to profit by it: and suppose the former should resent it, and say, "If he were indeed a scholar, as he pretends to be, he would not be fond of the society of such an ignorant dunce, but would rather choose me for a companion." How properly might a teacher reply, "Oh, you are a wise man, and have no need of instruction — but this poor ignorant creature is sensible of his want of instruction, and therefore, it is most fit I should converse with him." Such a reply has a peculiar pungency and mortifying force in it, and such Jesus used in the case before us.

(President Davies.)

Suppose some of you, who have come here to-day vigorous and healthy, should suddenly discover the spots of a plague broken out all over you, how it would strike you with surprise and horror! Such is the surprise and horror of the awakened sinner, thus he is alarmed and amazed.

(President Davies.)

David, Jesus, John, Matthew
Asking, Disciples, Fast, Frequently, John, John's, Oft, Often, Pharisees, Saying, Wherefore
1. Jesus heals a paralytic
9. calls Matthew from the receipt of custom;
10. eats with tax collectors and sinners;
14. defends his disciples for not fasting;
20. cures the sick woman;
23. raises Jairus' daughter from death;
27. gives sight to two blind men;
32. heals a mute man possessed of a demon;
36. and has compassion on the multitude.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 9:14

     7551   Pharisees, beliefs

Matthew 9:9-14

     5576   tax collectors

Matthew 9:14-15

     2039   Christ, joy of
     5312   feasting
     5660   bridegroom
     5702   husband
     5773   abstinence, discipline
     8432   fasting, practice

Matthew 9:14-17

     4548   wineskin
     5588   traditions
     5794   asceticism

June 26. "When He Saw the Multitudes He was Moved" (Matt. Ix. 36).
"When He saw the multitudes He was moved" (Matt. ix. 36). He is able to be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." The word "touched" expresses a great deal. It means that our troubles are His troubles, and that in all our afflictions He is afflicted. It is not a sympathy of sentiment, but a sympathy of suffering. There is much help in this for the tired heart. It is the foundation of His Priesthood, and God meant that it should be to us a source of unceasing consolation. Let us realize, more
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Christ's Encouragements
'Son, be of good cheer.'--MATT. ix. 2. This word of encouragement, which exhorts to both cheerfulness and courage, is often upon Christ's lips. It is only once employed in the Gospels by any other than He. If we throw together the various instances in which He thus speaks, we may get a somewhat striking view of the hindrances to such a temper of bold, buoyant cheerfulness which the world presents, and of the means for securing it which Christ provides. But before I consider these individually, let
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A Christlike Judgment of Men
'But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.' --MATT. ix. 36. In the course of our Lord's wandering life of teaching and healing, there had naturally gathered around Him a large number of persons who followed Him from place to place, and we have here cast into a symbol the impression produced upon Him by their outward condition. That is to say, He sees them lying there weary, and footsore, and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Soul-Healing First: Body-Healing Second
'That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then saith He to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.'--MATT. ix. 6. The great example of our Lord's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is followed, in this and the preceding chapter, by a similar collection of His works of healing. These are divided into three groups, each consisting of three members. This miracle is the last of the second triad, of which the other two members are the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Touch of Faith and the Touch of Christ
'While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did His disciples. 20. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: 21. For she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. 22. But Jesus turned Him about,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Call of 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. 10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12. But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Compassion of Jesus
THIS is said of Christ Jesus several times in the New Testament. The original word is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is, it was a word coined by the evangelists themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels--a yearning of the innermost nature with pity. As the dictionaries tell us-- Ex
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 60: 1914

Eleventh Day for More Labourers
WHAT TO PRAY.--For more Labourers "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He send forth labourers into His harvest."--MATT. ix. 38. What a remarkable call of the Lord Jesus for help from His disciples in getting the need supplied. What an honour put upon prayer. What a proof that God wants prayer and will hear it. Pray for labourers, for all students in theological seminaries, training homes, Bible institutes, that they may not go, unless He fits them and sends them forth; that our churches may
Andrew Murray—The Ministry of Intercession

Dread of Ridicule.
24th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. ix. 24. "And they laughed Him to scorn." INTRODUCTION.--"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. iii. 12.) This is what S. Paul says. This is what everyone of you must make up your mind to, if you intend to live godly lives, and, moreover, to live in Christ. Do you know what that meant to the early Christians? It meant that if they were going to be firm in their faith, live up to their profession, and eschew evil, they should
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

Evil Thoughts.
19th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. ix. 4. "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" INTRODUCTION.--Thoughts are only thoughts! who is to beheld accountable for them? They are clouds blown about by fancy, taking various shapes. God is not so hard as to judge us for our thoughts; He will try us by what we have done, not by what we have dreamed. No garden is without weeds; there are tares in every cornfield. Who speak thus? Is it those who are conscientious and scrupulous to drive away evil thoughts?
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

Civilized Barbarism (Preached for the Bishop of London's Fund, at St. John's Church, Notting Hill, June 1866. )
ST. MATTHEW ix. 12. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I have been honoured by an invitation to preach on behalf of the Bishop of London's Fund for providing for the spiritual wants of this metropolis. By the bishop, and a large number of landowners, employers of labour, and others who were aware of the increasing heathendom of the richest and happiest city of the world, it was agreed that, if possible, a million sterling should be raised during the next ten years,
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

The Physician's Calling (Preached at Whitehall for St. George's Hospital. )
ST. MATTHEW ix. 35. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. The Gospels speak of disease and death in a very simple and human tone. They regard them in theory, as all are forced to regard them in fact, as sore and sad evils. The Gospels never speak of disease or death as necessities; never as the will of God. It is Satan, not God, who binds the woman with
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

Of the Words Themselves in General.
We come now to the words themselves, wherein Christ asserts that he is, 1, "the way;" 2, "the truth;" 3, "the life;" and, 4, "that no man cometh to the Father but by him." In them we learn these two things in general. First, The misery of wretched man by nature. This cannot be in a few words expressed. These words will point out those particulars thereof, which we will but mention. 1. That he is born an enemy to, and living at a distance from God, by virtue of the curse of the broken covenant of
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

IF NOT GOD--NOT GOOD BY I. M. HALDEMAN, D.D. "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God" (Matthew 9:17). THE world has accepted Jesus Christ as a good man. The evidences of his goodness are manifold. He was full of compassion. He never looked upon the people as a crowd. He never thought of them as a mass. He saw them always as individuals. His heart went out to them. All his impulses were to pity them, sympathize with, and help them. He went among them. He entered into
I. M. Haldeman—Christ, Christianity and the Bible

Concerted Prayer
"A tourist, in climbing an Alpine summit, finds himself tied by a strong rope to his trusty guide, and to three of his fellow-tourists. As they skirt a perilous precipice he cannot pray, Lord, hold up my goings in a safe path, that my footsteps slip not, but as to my guide and companions, they must look out for themselves.' The only proper prayer in such a case is, Lord, hold up our goings in a safe path; for if one slips all of us may perish.'"--H. Clay Trumbull The pious Quesnel says that "God
Edward M. Bounds—The Essentials of Prayer

Combination Illustrated.
To illustrate our method of combination, let us take Section 36, which is a fitting together of the following passages, namely: 9 And as Jesus passed by from thence, he saw a man, called Matthew, sitting at the place of toll: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.--Matt. ix. 9. 13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the place of toll,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Call of Matthew.
(at or Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IX. 9; ^B Mark II. 13, 14; ^C Luke V. 27, 28. ^c 27 And after these thingsa [after the healing of the paralytic] he went forth, ^a again by the seaside [i. e., he left Capernaum, and sought the shore of the sea, which formed a convenient auditorium for him, and which was hence a favorite scene for his teaching]; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he ^a Jesus passed by from thence, he saw ^c and beheld ^a a man, ^c a publican, named
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Matthew's Feast. Discourse on Fasting.
(Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IX. 10-17; ^B Mark II. 15-22; ^C Luke V. 29-39. ^c 29 And Levi [another name for the apostle Matthew] made him a great feast in his house: ^b 15 And it came to pass, that he was sitting { ^a as he sat} at meat in the { ^b his} ^a house, ^c and there was a great multitude of publicans [Matthew had invited his old friends] and of others ^b and ^a behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. ^b for there were many, ^c that were sitting at meat
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jairus' Daughter and the Invalid Woman.
(Capernaum, Same Day as Last.) ^A Matt. IX. 18-26; ^B Mark V. 22-43; ^C Luke VIII. 41-56. ^c 41 And ^a 18 While he spake these things unto them [while he talked about fasting at Matthew's table], behold, there came, { ^b cometh} ^c a man named Jairus, { ^b Jairus by name;} ^c and he was a ruler { ^b one of the rulers} of the synagogue [He was one of the board of elders which governed the synagogue at Capernaum. These elders were not necessarily old men--Matt. xix. 16-22; Luke xviii. 18-23], and seeing
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Heals a Paralytic at Capernaum.
^A Matt. IX. 2-8; ^B Mark II. 1-12; ^C Luke V. 17-26. ^c 17 And it came to pass on one of those days, ^b when he entered again into Capernaum after some days, ^c that he was teaching; ^b it was noised that he was in the house. [Luke uses the general expression "those days," referring to the early portion of our Lord's ministry in Galilee. Mark says, "some days," which implies the lapse of a considerable interval. The healing of the leper created such excitement that for some time, several weeks,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Lix. Healing Blind Men and a Dumb Demoniac.
(Probably Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IX. 27-34. ^a 27 And as Jesus passed by from thence [If construed strictly, this phrase means, as he departed from Jairus' house. But the phrase is indefinite], two blind men followed him, crying out, and saying, Have mercy on us, thou son of David. [This, among the Jews, was a common and thoroughly recognized name for the expected Messiah.] 28 And when he was come into the house [possibly Peter's. But the place is not important. The house is mentioned to show that
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Third Circuit of Galilee. The Twelve Instructed and Sent Forth.
^A Matt. IX. 35-38; X. 1, 5-42; XI. 1; ^B Mark VI. 6-13; ^C Luke IX. 1-6. ^b 6 And he ^a Jesus ^b went about ^a all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner sickness and all manner of sickness. [In the first circuit of Galilee some of the twelve accompanied Jesus as disciples (see [3]Section XXXIII.); in the second the twelve were with him as apostles; in the third they, too, are sent forth as evangelists to supplement
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Return to Capernaum - Concerning the Forgiveness of Sins - the Healing of the Paralysed
It is a remarkable instance of the reserve of the Gospel-narratives, that of the second journey of Jesus in Galilee no other special event is recorded than the healing of the leper. And it seems also to indicate, that this one miracle had been so selected for a special purpose. But if, as we have suggested, after the Unknown Feast,' the activity of Jesus assumed a new and what, for want of a better name, may be called an anti-Judaic character, we can perceive the reason of it. The healing of leprosy
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Healing of the Woman - Christ's Personal Appearance - the Raising of Jairus' Daughter
THERE seems remarkable correspondence between the two miracles which Jesus had wrought on leaving Capernaum and those which He did on His return. In one sense they are complementary to each other. The stilling of the storm and the healing of the demonised were manifestations of the absolute power inherent in Christ; the recovery of the woman and the raising of Jairus' daughter, evidence of the absolute efficacy of faith. The unlikeliness of dominion over the storm, and of command over a legion of
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

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