We left Christ newly baptized, and owned by a voice from heaven and the
descent of the Holy Ghost upon him. Now, in this chapter, we have,
I. A further preparation of him for his public ministry by his being
tempted in the wilderness, of which we had the same account before in
Matthew as we have here,
II. His entrance upon his public work in Galilee
1. At Nazareth, the city where he had been bred up
which we had no account of before in Matthew.
2. At Capernaum, where, having preached to admiration
he cast the devil out of a man that was possessed
cured Peter's mother-in-law of a fever
and many others that were sick and possessed
and then went and did the same in other cities of Galilee,
The Temptation in the Wilderness.
1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan,
and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he
did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God,
command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
5 And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed
unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee,
and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to
whomsoever I will I give it.
7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me,
Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,
and him only shalt thou serve.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of
the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast
thyself down from hence:
10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over
thee, to keep thee:
11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any
time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt
not tempt the Lord thy God.
13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed
from him for a season.
The last words of the foregoing chapter, that Jesus was the Son of
Adam, bespeak him to be the seed of the woman; being so, we
have here, according to the promise, breaking the serpent's
head, baffling and foiling the devil in all his temptations, who by
one temptation had baffled and foiled our first parents. Thus, in the
beginning of the war, he made reprisals upon him, and conquered the
In this story of Christ's temptation, observe,
I. How he was prepared and fitted for it. He that
designed him the trial furnished him accordingly; for though we know
not what exercises may be before us, nor what encounters we may be
reserved for, Christ did, and was provided accordingly; and God doth
for us, and we hope will provide accordingly.
1. He was full of the Holy Ghost, who had descended on him
like a dove. He had now greater measures of the gifts, graces, and
comforts, of the Holy Ghost than ever before. Note, Those are well
armed against the strongest temptations that are full of the Holy
2. He was newly returned from Jordan, where he was baptized, and
owned by a voice from heaven to be the beloved Son of God; and thus he
was prepared for this combat. Note, When we have had the most
comfortable communion with God, and the clearest discoveries of his
favour to us, we may expect that Satan will set upon us (the richest
ship is the pirate's prize), and that God will suffer him to do so,
that the power of his grace may be manifested and magnified.
3. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, by the good
Spirit, who led him as a champion into the field, to fight the enemy
that he was sure to conquer. His being led into the wilderness,
(1.) Gave some advantage to the tempter; for there he had him
alone, no friend with him, by whose prayers and advice he might be
assisted in the hour of temptation. Woe to him that is alone! He
might give Satan advantage, who knew his own strength; we may
not, who know our own weakness.
(2.) He gained some advantage to himself, during his forty days'
fasting in the wilderness. We may suppose that he was wholly taken up
in proper meditation, and in consideration of his own undertaking, and
the work he had before him; that he spent all his time in immediate,
intimate, converse with his Father, as Moses in the mount, without any
diversion, distraction, or interruption. Of all the days of Christ's
life in the flesh, these seem to come nearest to the angelic perfection
and the heavenly life, and this prepared him for Satan's assaults, and
hereby he was fortified against them.
4. He continued fasting
In those days he did eat nothing. This fast was altogether
miraculous, like those of Moses and Elijah, and shows him to be, like
them, a prophet sent of God. It is probable that it was in the
wilderness of Horeb, the same wilderness in which Moses and Elijah
fasted. As by retiring into the wilderness he showed himself
perfectly indifferent to the world, so by his fasting he
showed himself perfectly indifferent to the body; and Satan
cannot easily take hold of those who are thus loosened from, and dead
to, the world and the flesh. The more we keep under
the body, and bring it into subjection, the less advantage Satan
has against us.
II. How he was assaulted by one temptation after another, and how he
defeated the design of the tempter in every assault, and became more
than a conqueror. During the forty days, he was tempted of
not by an inward suggestion, for the prince of this world had nothing
in Christ by which to inject any such, but by outward solicitations,
perhaps in the likeness of a serpent, as he tempted our first parents.
But at the end of the forty days he came nearer to him, and did as it
were close with him, when he perceived that he was hungry,
Probably, our Lord Jesus then began to look about among the trees, to
see if he could find any thing that was eatable, whence the devil took
occasion to make the following proposal to him.
1. He tempted him to distrust his Father's care of him, and to
set up for himself, and shift for provision for himself in such
a way as his Father had not appointed for him
If thou be the Son of God, as the voice from heaven declared,
command this stone to be made bread.
(1.) "I counsel thee to do it; for God, if he be thy Father, has
forgotten thee, and it will be long enough ere he sends either ravens
or angels to feed thee." If we begin to think of being our own carvers,
and of living by our own forecast, without depending upon divine
providence, of getting wealth by our might and the power of our
hands, we must look upon it as a temptation of Satan's, and reject
it accordingly; it is Satan's counsel to think of an independence upon
(2.) "I challenge thee to do it, if thou canst; if thou dost not
do it, I will say thou art not the Son of God; for John Baptist
said lately, God is able of stones to raise up children to
Abraham, which is the greater; thou therefore hast not the power of
the Son of God, if thou dost not of stones make bread for
thyself, when thou needest it, which is the less." Thus was God himself
tempted in the wilderness: Can he furnish a table? Can he give
[1.] Christ yielded not to the temptation; he would not turn
that stone into bread; no, though he was hungry;
First, Because he would not do what Satan bade him do, for that
would have looked as if there had been indeed a compact between him and
the prince of the devils. Note, We must not do any thing that looks
like giving place to the devil. Miracles were wrought for the
confirming of faith, and the devil had no faith to be confirmed, and
therefore he would not do it for him. He did his signs in the
presence of his disciples
and particularly the beginning of his miracles, turning water
into wine, which he did, that his disciples might believe on him
but here in the wilderness he had no disciples with him.
Secondly, He wrought miracles for the ratification of his
doctrine, and therefore till he began to preach he would not
begin to work miracles. Thirdly, He would not work miracles
for himself and his own supply, lest he should seem impatient of
hunger, whereas he came not to please himself, but to
suffer grief, and that grief among others; and because he would
show that he pleased not himself, he would rather turn water
into wine, for the credit and convenience of his friends, than
stones into bread, for his own necessary supply.
Fourthly, He would reserve the proof of his being the Son of God
for hereafter, and would rather be upbraided by Satan with being weak,
and not able to do it, than be persuaded by Satan to do that which it
was fit for him to do; thus he was upbraided by his enemies as if he
could not save himself, and come down from the cross,
when he could have come down, but would not, because it was not fit
that he should. Fifthly, He would not do any thing that looked
like distrust of his Father, or acting separately from him, or
any thing disagreeable to his present state. Being in all things
made like unto his brethren, he would, like the other children
of God, live in a dependence upon the divine Providence and promise,
and trust him either to send him a supply into the wilderness or to
lead him to a city of habitation where there was a supply, as he
used to do
and in the mean time would support him, though he was hungry, as
he had done these forty days past.
[2.] He returned a scripture-answer to it
It is written. This is the first word recorded as spoken by
Christ after his instalment in his prophetical office; and it is a
quotation out of the Old Testament, to show that he came to assert and
maintain the authority of the scripture as uncontrollable, even by
Satan himself. And though he had the Spirit without measure, and had a
doctrine of his own to preach and a religion to found, yet it agreed
with Moses and the prophets, whose writings he therefore lays down as a
rule to himself, and recommends to us as a reply to Satan and his
temptations. The word of God is our sword, and faith in that
word is our shield; we should therefore be mighty in the
scriptures, and go in that might, go forth, and go on, in
our spiritual warfare, know what is written, for it is for
our learning, for our use. The text of scripture he makes
use of is quoted from
"Man shall not live by bread alone. I need not turn the stone
into bread, for God can send manna for my nourishment, as he did
for Israel; man can live by every word of God, by whatever God
will appoint that he shall live by." How had Christ lived, lived
comfortably, these last forty days? Not by bread, but by the
word of God, by meditation upon that word, and communion with
it, and with God in and by it; and in like manner he could live
yet, though now he began to be hungry. God has many ways of
providing for his people, without the ordinary means of subsistence;
and therefore he is not at any time to be distrusted, but at all times
to be depended upon, in the way of duty. If meat be wanting, God can
take away the appetite, or give such degrees of patience as will enable
a man even to laugh at destruction and famine
or make pulse and water more nourishing than all the portion
of the king's meat
and enable his people to rejoice in the Lord, when the
fig-tree doth not blossom,
She was an active believer who said that she had made many a meal's
meat of the promises when she wanted bread.
2. He tempted him to accept from him the kingdom, which, as the
Son of God, he expected to receive from his Father, and
to do him homage for,
This evangelist puts this temptation second, which Matthew had put
last, and which, it should seem, was really the last; but Luke was full
of it, as the blackest and most violent, and therefore hastened to it.
In the devil's tempting of our first parents, he presented to them the
forbidden fruit, first as good for food, and then as pleasant
to the eyes; and they were overpowered by both these charms. Satan
here first tempted Christ to turn the stones into bread, which would be
good for food, and then showed him the kingdoms of the world and the
glory of them, which were pleasant to the eyes; but in both
these he overpowered Satan, and perhaps with an eye to that, Luke
changes the order. Now observe,
(1.) How Satan managed this temptation, to prevail with Christ
to become a tributary to him, and to receive his kingdom by delegation
[1.] He gave him a prospect of all the kingdoms of the world in a
moment of time, an airy representation of them, such as he thought
most likely to strike the fancy, and seem a real prospect. To
succeed the better, he took him up for this purpose into a
high mountain; and, because we next after the temptation find
Christ on the other side Jordan, some think it probable that it was to
the top of Pisgah that the devil took him, whence Moses has a sight of
Canaan. That it was but a phantasm that the devil here presented our
Saviour with, as the prince of the power of the air, is confirmed by
that circumstance which Luke here takes notice of, that it was done
in a moment of time; whereas, if a man take a prospect of but
one country, he must do it successively, must turn himself round, and
take a view first of one part and then of another. Thus the devil
thought to impose upon our Saviour with a fallacy--a deceptio
visus; and, by making him believe that he could show him all the
kingdoms of the world, would draw him into an opinion that he could
give him all those kingdoms.
[2.] He boldly alleged that these kingdoms were all delivered to
him that he had power to dispose of them and all their
glory, and to give them to whomsoever he would,
Some think that herein he pretended to be an angel of light, and that,
as one of the angels that was set over the kingdoms, he had out-bought,
or out-fought, all the rest, and so was entrusted with the
disposal of them all, and, in God's name, would give them to him,
knowing they were designed for him; but clogged with this condition,
that he should fall down and worship him, which a good angel
would have been so far from demanding that he would not have admitted
it, no, not upon showing much greater things than these, as appears,
But I rather take it that he claimed this power as Satan, and as
delivered to him not by the Lord, but by the kings and
people of these kingdoms, who gave their power and honour to the devil,
Hence he is called the god of this world, and the prince of
this world. It was promised to the Son of God that he should have
the heathen for his inheritance,
"Why," saith the devil, "the heathen are mine, are my subjects
and votaries; but, however, they shall be thine, I will give them
thee, upon condition that thou worship me for them, and
say that they are the rewards which I have given thee, as others
have done before thee
and consent to have and hold them by, from, and under, me."
[3.] He demanded of him homage and adoration: If thou wilt worship
me, all shall be thine,
First, He would have him worship him himself. Perhaps he does
not mean so as never to worship God, but let him worship him in
conjunction with God; for the devil knows, if he can but once come in a
partner, he shall soon be sole proprietor. Secondly, He would
indent with him, that when, according to the promise made to him, he
had got possession of the kingdoms of this world, he should make no
alteration of religions in them, but permit and suffer the nations, as
they had done hitherto, to sacrifice to devils
(1 Corinthians 10:20);
that he should still keep up demon-worship in the world, and
then let him take all the power and glory of the kingdoms if he
pleased. Let who will take the wealth and grandeur of this earth, Satan
has all he would have if he can but have men's hearts, and affections,
and adorations, can but work in the children of disobedience;
for then he effectually devours them.
(2.) How our Lord Jesus triumphed over this temptation. He gave
it a peremptory repulse, rejected it with abhorrence
"Get thee behind me, Satan, I cannot bear the mention of it.
What! worship the enemy of God whom I came to serve? and of man whom
I came to save? No, I will never do it." Such a temptation as this was
not to be reasoned with, but immediately refused; it was
presently knocked on the head with one word, It is written, Thou
shalt worship the Lord thy God; and not only so, but him
only, him and no other. And therefore Christ will not
worship Satan, nor, when he has the kingdoms of the world
delivered to him by his Father, as he expects shortly to have, will
he suffer any remains of the worship of the devil to continue in them.
No, it shall be perfectly rooted out and abolished, wherever his gospel
comes. He will make no composition with him. Polytheism and
idolatry must go down, as Christ's kingdom gets up. Men must be
turned from the power of Satan unto God, from the worship of
devils to the worship of the only living and true God. This is the
great divine law that Christ will re-establish among men, and by his
holy religion reduce men to the obedience of, That God only is to be
served and worshipped; and therefore whoever set up any creature as
the object of religious worship, though it were a saint or an angel, or
the virgin Mary herself, they directly thwart Christ's design, and
relapse into heathenism.
3. He tempted him to be his own murderer, in a presumptuous confidence
of his Father's protection, such as he had no warrant for.
(1.) What he designed in this temptation: If thou be the Son of God,
cast thyself down,
[1.] He would have him seek for a new proof of his being the Son of
God, as if that which his Father had given him by the voice from
heaven, and the descent of the Spirit upon him, were not sufficient,
which would have been a dishonour to God, as if he had not chosen the
most proper way of giving him the assurance of it; and it would have
argued a distrust of the Spirit's dwelling in him, which was the great
and most convincing proof to himself of his being the Son of
[2.] He would have him seek a new method of proclaiming and publishing
this to the world. The devil, in effect, suggests that it was in an
obscure corner that he was attested to be the Son of God, among
a company of ordinary people, who attended John's baptism, that his
honours were proclaimed; but if he would now declare from the
pinnacle of the temple, among all the great people who attend the
temple-service, that he was the Son of God, and then, for proof of it,
throw himself down unhurt, he would presently be received by every body
as a messenger sent from heaven. Thus Satan would have him seek honours
of his devising (in contempt of those which God had put on him), and
manifest himself in the temple at Jerusalem; whereas God designed he
should be more manifest among John's penitents, to whom his doctrine
would be more welcome than to the priests.
[3.] It is probable he had some hopes that, though he could not throw
him down, to do him the least mischief, yet, if he would but throw
himself down, the fall might be his death, and then he should have got
him finely out of the way.
(2.) How he backed and enforced this temptation. He suggested, It is
Christ had quoted scripture against him; and he thought he would be
quits with him, and would show that he could quote scripture as well as
he. It has been usual with heretics and seducers to pervert scripture,
and to press the sacred writings into the service of the worst of
wickednesses. He shall give his angels charge over thee, if thou
be his Son, and in their hands they shall bear thee up. And now
that he was upon the pinnacle of the temple he might especially expect
this ministration of angels; for, if he was the Son of God, the
temple was the proper place for him to be in
and, if any place under the sun had a guard of angels constantly, it
must needs be that,
It is true, God has promised the protection of angels, to encourage us
to trust him, not to tempt him; as far as the promise of God's presence
with us, so far the promise of the angels' ministration goes, but no
further: "They shall keep thee when thou goest on the ground, where thy
way lies, but not if thou wilt presume to fly in the air."
(3.) How he was baffled and defeated in the temptation,
where it is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, by
desiring a sign for the proof of divine revelation, when he has already
given that which is sufficient; for so Israel did, when they tempted
God in the wilderness, saying, He gave us water out of the rock;
but can he give flesh also? This Christ would be guilty of if he
should say, "He did indeed prove me to be the Son of God, by sending
the Spirit upon me, which is the greater; but can he also give
his angels a charge concerning me, which is the less?"
III. What was the result and issue of this combat,
Our victorious Redeemer kept his ground, and came off a conqueror, not
for himself only, but for us also.
1. The devil emptied his quiver: He ended all the temptation.
Christ gave him opportunity to say and do all he could against him; he
let him try all his force, and yet defeated him. Did Christ suffer,
being tempted, till all the temptation was ended? And must not we
expect also to pass all our trials, to go through the hour of
temptation assigned us?
2. He then quitted the field: He departed from him. He saw it
was to no purpose to attack him; he had nothing in him for his
fiery darts to fasten upon; he had no blind side, no weak or unguarded
part in his wall, and therefore Satan gave up the cause. Note, If we
resist the devil, he will flee from us.
3. Yet he continued his malice against him, and departed with a
resolution to attack him again; he departed but for a season,
achri kairou--till a season, or till the season
when he was again to be let loose upon him, not as a tempter, to
draw him to sin, and so to strike at his head, which was
what he now aimed at and was wholly defeated in; but as a
persecutor, to bring him to suffer by Judas and the other
wicked instruments whom he employed, and so to bruise his heel,
which it was told him
he should have to do, and would do, though it would be the breaking of
his own head. He departed now till that season came which
Christ calls the power of darkness
and when the prince of this world would again come,
Christ in the Synagogue of Nazareth; Christ Driven from Nazareth.
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee:
and there went out a fame of him through all the region round
15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and,
as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day,
and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet
Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where
it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath
anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to
heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the
minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the
synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture
fulfilled in your ears.
22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words
which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this
23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this
proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done
in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted
in his own country.
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the
days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six
months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a
city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the
prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things,
were filled with wrath,
29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him
unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they
might cast him down headlong.
30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
After Christ had vanquished the evil spirit, he made it appear how much
he was under the influence of the good Spirit; and, having defended
himself against the devil's assaults, he now begins to act
offensively, and to make those attacks upon him, by his
preaching and miracles, which he could not resist or repel.
I. What is here said in general of his preaching, and the entertainment
it met with in Galilee, a remote part of the country, distant
from Jerusalem; it was a part of Christ's humiliation that he began his
1. Thither he came in the power of the Spirit. The same Spirit
that qualified him for the exercise of his prophetical office strongly
inclined him to it. He was not to wait for a call from men, for he had
light and life in himself.
2. There he taught in their synagogues, their places of public
worship, where they met, not, as in the temple, for ceremonial
services, but for the moral acts of devotion, to read, expound, and
apply, the word, to pray and praise, and for church-discipline; these
came to be more frequent since the captivity, when the ceremonial
worship was near expiring.
3. This he did so as that he gained a great reputation. A fame of
him went through all that region
and it was a good fame; for
he was glorified of all. Every body admired him, and cried him
up; they never heard such preaching in all their lives. Now, at first,
he met with no contempt or contradiction; all glorified him, and
there were none as yet that vilified him.
II. Of his preaching at Nazareth, the city where he was brought up; and
the entertainment it met with there. And here we are told how he
preached there, and how he was persecuted.
1. How he preached there. In that observe,
(1.) The opportunity he had for it: He came to Nazareth when he
had gained a reputation in other places, in hopes that thereby
something at least of the contempt and prejudice with which his
countrymen would look upon him might be worn off. There he took
occasion to preach,
[1.] In the synagogue, the proper place, where it had been
his custom to attend when he was a private person,
We ought to attend on the public worship of God, as we have
opportunity. But, now that he was entered upon his public ministry,
there he preached. Where the multitudes of fish were, there this wise
Fisherman would cast his net.
[2.] On the sabbath day, the proper time which the pious Jews spent,
not in a mere ceremonial rest from worldly labour, but in the duties of
God's worship, as of old they frequented the schools of the prophets on
the new moons and the sabbaths. Note, It is good to keep
sabbaths in solemn assemblies.
(2.) The call he had to it.
[1.] He stood up to read. They had in their synagogues seven
readers every sabbath, the first a priest, the second a Levite, and the
other five Israelites of that synagogue. We often find Christ
preaching in other synagogues, but never reading, except
in this synagogue at Nazareth, of which he had been many years a
member. Now he offered his service as he had perhaps often done; he
read one of the lessons out of the prophets,
Note, The reading of the scripture is very proper work to be done in
religious assemblies; and Christ himself did not think it any
disparagement to him to be employed in it.
[2.] The book of the prophet Esaias was delivered to him,
either by the ruler of the synagogue or by the minister mentioned
so that he was no intruder, but duly authorized pro hac vice--on
this occasion. The second lesson for that day being in the
prophecy of Esaias, they gave him that volume to read in.
(3.) The text he preached upon. He stood up to read, to teach us
reverence in reading and hearing the word of God. When
Ezra opened the book of the law, all the people stood up
so did Christ here, when he read in the book of the prophets. Now the
book being delivered to him,
[1.] He opened it. The books of the Old Testament were in a
manner shut up till Christ opened them,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to take the book, and open the
seals; for he can open, not the book only, but the understanding.
[2.] He found the place which was appointed to be read that
day in course, which he needed not to be directed to; he soon found
it, and read it, and took it for his text. Now his text was taken out
which is here quoted at large,
There was a providence in it that that portion of scripture should be
read that day, which speaks so very plainly of the Messiah, that they
might be left inexcusable who knew him not, though they heard
the voices of the prophets read every sabbath day, which
bore witness of him,
This text gives a full account of Christ's undertaking, and the work he
came into the world to do. Observe,
First, How he was qualified for the work: The Spirit of the
Lord is upon me. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit were
conferred upon him, not by measure, as upon other prophets, but without
He now came in the power of the Spirit,
Secondly, How he was commissioned: Because he had anointed
me, and sent me. His extraordinary qualification amounted to
a commission; his being anointed signifies both his being fitted
for the undertaking and called to it. Those whom God appoints
to any service he anoints for it: "Because he hath sent me, he
hath sent his Spirit along with me."
Thirdly, What his work was. He was qualified and
1. To be a great prophet. He was anointed to preach; that
is three times mentioned here, for that was the work he was now
entering upon. Observe,
(1.) To whom he was to preach: to the poor; to those that
were poor in the world, whom the Jewish doctors disdained to
undertake the teaching of and spoke of with contempt; to those that
were poor in spirit, to the meek and humble, and to those that
were truly sorrowful for sin: to them the gospel and the grace of it
will be welcome, and they shall have it,
(2.) What he was to preach. In general, he must preach
the gospel. He is sent euangelizesthai--to
evangelize them; not only to preach to them, but to make that
preaching effectual; to bring it, not only to their ears, but to their
hearts, and deliver them into the mould of it. Three things he is to
[1.] Deliverance to the captives, The gospel is a proclamation
of liberty, like that to Israel in Egypt and in Babylon. By the merit
of Christ sinners may be loosed from the bonds of guilt, and by his
Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. It is a deliverance
from the worst of thraldoms, which all those shall have the benefit of
that are willing to make Christ their Head, and are willing to be ruled
[2.] Recovering of sight to the blind. He came not only by the
word of his gospel to bring light to them that sat in the
dark, but by the power of his grace to give sight to them that were
blind; not only the Gentile world, but every unregenerate soul,
that is not only in bondage, but in blindness, like
Samson and Zedekiah. Christ came to tell us that he has
eye-salve for us, which we may have for the asking; that, if our
prayer be, Lord, that our eyes may be opened, his answer shall
be, Receive your sight.
[3.] The acceptable year of the Lord,
He came to let the world know that the God whom they had offended was
willing to be reconciled to them, and to accept of them upon new
terms; that there was yet a way of making their services acceptable to
him; that there is now a time of good will toward men. It
alludes to the year of release, or that of jubilee, which
was an acceptable year to servants, who were then set at
liberty; to debtors, against whom all actions then dropped; and to
those who had mortgaged their lands, for then they returned to them
again. Christ came to sound the jubilee-trumpet; and blessed
were they that heard the joyful sound,
It was an acceptable time, for it was a day of salvation.
2. Christ came to be a great Physician; for he was sent to
heal the broken-hearted, to comfort and cure afflicted
consciences, to give peace to those that were troubled and humbled for
sins, and under a dread of God's wrath against them for them, and to
bring them to rest who were weary and heavy-laden, under the burden of
guilt and corruption.
3. To be a great Redeemer. He not only proclaims liberty to the
captives, as Cyrus did to the Jews in Babylon (Whoever will, may go
up), but he sets at liberty them that are bruised; he doth by his
Spirit incline and enable them to make use of the liberty
granted, as then none did but those whose spirit God stirred up,
He came in God's name to discharge poor sinners that were debtors and
prisoners to divine justice. The prophets could but proclaim
liberty, but Christ, as one having authority, as one that had
power on earth to forgive sins, came to set at liberty;
and therefore this clause is added here. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that,
according to a liberty the Jew allowed their readers, to compare
scripture with scripture, in their reading, for the explication of the
text, Christ added it from
where it is made the duty of the acceptable year to let the
oppressed go free, where the phrase the LXX. uses is the same with
(4.) Here is Christ's application of this text to himself
When he had read it, he rolled up the book, and gave it again
to the minister, or clerk, that attended, and sat
down, according to the custom of the Jewish teachers; he sat
daily in the temple, teaching,
Now he began his discourse thus, "This day is this scripture
fulfilled in your ears. This, which Isaiah wrote by way of
prophecy, I have now read to you by way of history." It now began to be
fulfilled in Christ's entrance upon his public ministry; now, in
the report they heard of his preaching and miracles in other places;
now, in his preaching to them in their own synagogue. It is most
probable that Christ went on, and showed particularly how this
scripture was fulfilled in the doctrine he preached concerning the
kingdom of heaven at hand; that it was preaching liberty, and
sight, and healing, and all the blessings of the acceptable year of
the Lord. Many other gracious words proceeded out of his mouth,
which these were but the beginning of; for Christ often preached
long sermons, which we have but a short account of. This was enough to
introduce a great deal: This day is this scripture fulfilled.
[1.] All the scriptures of the Old Testament that were to be fulfilled
in the Messiah had their full accomplishment in the Lord Jesus, which
abundantly proves that this was he that should come.
[2.] In the providences of God, it is fit to observe the fulfilling
of the scriptures. The works of God are the accomplishment not only
of his secret word, but of his word revealed; and it will help us to
understand both the scriptures and the providences of God to compare
them one with another.
(5.) Here is the attention and admiration of the
[1.] Their attention
The eyes of all them that were in the synagogue (and, probably,
there were a great many) were fastened on him, big with
expectation what he would say, having heard so much of late concerning
him. Note, It is good, in hearing the word, to keep the eye fixed upon
the minister by whom God is speaking to us; for, as the eye effects the
heart, so, usually, the heart follows the eye, and is wandering, or
fixed, as that is. Or, rather, let us learn hence to keep the eye fixed
upon Christ speaking to us in and by the minister. What saith my
Lord unto his servants?
[2.] Their admiration
They all bore him witness that he spoke admirably well, and to
the purpose. They all commended him, and wondered at the gracious
words that proceeded out of his mouth; and yet, as appears by what
follows, they did not believe in him. Note, It is possible that
those who are admirers of good ministers and good preaching may yet be
themselves not true Christians. Observe, First, What it was
they admired: The gracious words which proceedeth out of his
mouth. The words of grace; good words, and spoken in a
winning melting way. Note, Christ's words are words of grace,
for, grace being poured into his lips
words of grace poured from them. And these words of grace are to be
wondered at; Christ's name was Wonderful, and in nothing was he
more so than in his grace, in the words of his grace, and the power
that went along with those words. We may well wonder that he should
speak such words of grace to such graceless wretches as we are.
Secondly, What it was that increased their wonder and that was
the consideration of his original: They said, Is not this Joseph's
son, and therefore his extraction mean and his education mean? Some
from this suggestion took occasion perhaps so much the more to admire
his gracious words, concluding he must needs be taught of
God, for they knew no one else had taught him; while others perhaps
with this consideration corrected their wonder at his gracious words,
and concluded there could be nothing really admirable in them,
whatever appeared, because he was the Son of Joseph. Can any
thing great, or worthy our regard, come from one so mean?
(6.) Christ's anticipating an objection which he knew to be in the
minds of many of his hearers. Observe,
[1.] What the objection was
"You will surely say to me, Physician, heal thyself. Because you
know that I am the Son of Joseph, your neighbour, you will expect that
I should work miracles among you, as I have done in other places; as
one would expect that a physician, if he be able, should heal, not only
himself, but those of his own family and fraternity." Most of Christ's
miracles were cures;--"Now why should not the sick in thine own
city be healed as well as those in other cities?" They were
designed to cure people of their unbelief;--"Now why should not the
disease of unbelief, if it be indeed a disease, be cured in those of
thine own city as well as in those of others? Whatsoever we have
heard done in Capernaum, that has been so much talked of, do
here also in thine own country." They were pleased with Christ's
gracious words, only because they hoped they were but the
introduction to some wondrous works of his. They wanted to have
their lame, and blind, and sick, and lepers, healed and helped, that
the charge of their town might be eased; and that was the chief thing
they looked at. They thought their own town as worthy to be the stage
of miracles as any other; and why should not he rather draw company to
that than to any other? And why should not his neighbours and
acquaintances have the benefit of his preaching and miracles, rather
than any other?
[2.] How he answers this objection against the course he took.
First, By a plain and positive reason why he would not make
Nazareth his headquarters
because it generally holds true that no prophet is accepted in his
own country, at least not so well, nor with such probability of
doing good, as in some other country; experience seals this. When
prophets have been sent with messages and miracles of mercy, few of
their own country-men, that have known their extraction and education,
have been fit to receive them. So Dr. Hammond. Familiarity
breeds contempt; and we are apt to think meanly of those whose
conversation we have been accustomed to; and they will scarcely be duly
honoured as prophets who were well known when they were in the
rank of private men. That is most esteemed that is
far-fetched and dear-bought, above what is
home-bred, though really more excellent. This arises likewise
from the envy which neighbours commonly have towards one another, so
that they cannot endure to see him their superior whom awhile
ago they took to be every way their inferior. For this reason,
Christ declined working miracles, or doing any thing extraordinary, at
Nazareth, because of the rooted prejudices they had against him
Secondly, By pertinent examples of two of the most famous
prophets of the Old Testament, who chose to dispense their favours
among foreigners rather than among their own countrymen, and that, no
doubt, by divine direction.
1. Elijah maintained a widow of Sarepta, a city of Sidon,
one that was a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, when there was a
famine in the land,
The story we have
1 Kings 17:9,
&c. It is said there that the heaven was shut up three years and six
months; whereas it is said,
1 Kings 18:1,
that in the third year Elijah showed himself to Ahab, and there
was rain; but that was not the third year of the drought, but
the third year of Elijah's sojourning with the widow of Sarepta. As God
would hereby show himself a Father of the fatherless, and a
Judge of the widows, so he would show that he was rich in mercy
to all, even to the Gentiles.
2. Elisha cleansed Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy, though he was a
Syrian, and not only a foreigner, but an enemy to Israel
Many lepers were in Israel in the days of Eliseus, four
particularly, that brought the news of the Syrians' raising the siege
of Samaria with precipitation, and leaving the plunder of their tents
to enrich Samaria, when Elisha was himself in the besieged city, and
this was the accomplishment of his prophecy too; see
2 Kings 7:1,3,
&c. And yet we do not find that Elisha cleansed them, no not for a
reward of their service, and the good tidings they brought, but only
the Syrian; for none besides had faith to apply himself to the prophet
for a cure. Christ himself often met with greater faith among Gentiles
than in Israel. And here he mentions both these instances, to show that
he did not dispense the favour of his miracles by private respect, but
according to God's wise appointment. And the people of Israel might as
justly have said to Elijah, or Elisha, as the Nazarenes to Christ,
Physician, heal thyself. Nay, Christ wrought his miracles,
though not among his townsmen, yet among Israelites, whereas these
great prophets wrought theirs among Gentiles. The examples of the
saints, though they will not make a bad action good, yet will help to
free a good action from the blame of exceptious people.
2. How he was persecuted at Nazareth.
(1.) That which provoked them was his taking notice of the favour which
God by Elijah and Elisha showed to the Gentiles: When they heard
these things, they were filled with wrath
they were all so; a great change since
when they wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his
mouth; thus uncertain are the opinions and affections of the
multitude, and so very fickle. If they had mixed faith with those
gracious words of Christ which they wondered at, they would have been
awakened by these latter words of his to take heed of sinning away
their opportunities; but those only pleased the ear, and went no
further, and therefore these grated on the ear, and irritated
their corruptions. They were angry that he should compare himself, whom
they knew to be the son of Joseph, with those great prophets, and
compare them with the men of that corrupt age, when all had bowed the
knee to Baal. But that which especially exasperated them was that he
intimated some kindness God had in reserve for the Gentiles, which the
Jews could by no means bear the thoughts of,
Their pious ancestors pleased themselves with the hopes of adding the
Gentiles to the church (witness many of David's psalms and Isaiah's
prophecies); but this degenerate race, when they had forfeited the
covenant themselves, hated to think that any others should be taken
(2.) They were provoked to that degree that they made an attempt upon
his life. This was a severe trial, now at his setting out, but a
specimen of the usage he met with when he came to his own, and
they received him not.
[1.] They rose up in a tumultuous manner against him,
interrupted him in his discourse, and themselves in their devotions,
for they could not stay until their synagogue-worship was over.
[2.] They thrust him out of the city, as one not worthy to have
a residence among them, though there he had had a settlement so long.
They thrust from them the Saviour and the salvation, as if he had been
the offscouring of all things. How justly might he have called for fire
from heaven upon them! But this was the day of his patience.
[3.] They led him to the brow of the hill, with a purpose to
throw him down headlong, as one not fit to live. Though they
knew how inoffensively he had for so many years lived among them, how
shining his conversation had been,--though they had heard such a fame
of him and had but just now themselves admired his gracious
words,--though in justice he ought to have been allowed a fair
hearing and liberty to explain himself, yet they hurried him away in a
popular fury, or frenzy rather, to put him to death in a most barbarous
manner. Sometimes they were ready to stone him for the good
works he did
here for not doing the good works they expected from him. To such a
height of wickedness was violence sprung up.
(3.) Yet he escaped, because his hour was not yet come: He passed
through the midst of them unhurt. Either he blinded their eyes, as
God did those of the Sodomites and Syrians, or he bound their hands, or
filled them with confusion, so that they could not do what they
designed; for his work was not done, it was but just begun; his hour
was not yet come, when it was come, he freely surrendered himself. They
drove him from them, and he went his way. He would have
gathered Nazareth, but they would not, and therefore their house
is left to them desolate. This added to the reproach of his
being Jesus of Nazareth, that not only it was a place whence no good
thing was expected, but that it was such a wicked, rude place, and so
unkind to him. Yet there was a providence in it, that he should
not be much respected by the men of Nazareth, for that would have
looked like a collusion between him and his old acquaintance; but now,
though they received him not, there were those that did.
The Expulsion of a Demon; Christ's Departure from Capernaum.
31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught
them on the sabbath days.
32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was
33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of
an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,
34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou
Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who
thou art; the Holy One of God.
35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out
of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came
out of him, and hurt him not.
36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves,
saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he
commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country
38 And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's
house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever;
and they besought him for her.
39 And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left
her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick
with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands
on every one of them, and healed them.
41 And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying,
Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered
them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert
place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed
him, that he should not depart from them.
43 And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to
other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44 And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
When Christ was expelled Nazareth, he came to Capernaum, another city
of Galilee. The account we have in these verses of his preaching and
miracles there we had before,
I. His preaching: He taught them on the sabbath days,
In hearing the word preached, as an ordinance of God, we worship
God, and it is a proper work for sabbath days. Christ's
preaching much affected the people
they were astonished at his doctrine, there was weight in every
word he said, and admirable discoveries were made to them by it. The
doctrine itself was astonishing, and not only as it came from one that
had not had a liberal education. His word was with power; there
was a commanding force in it, and a working power went along with it to
the conscience of men. The doctrine Paul preached hereby proved itself
to be of God, that it came in demonstration of the Spirit and of
II. His miracles. Of these we have here,
1. Two particularly specified, showing Christ to be,
(1.) A controller and conqueror of Satan, in the
world of mankind, and in the souls of people, by his power to cast him
out of the bodies of those he had taken possession of; for for this
purpose was he manifested, that he might destroy the works of the
[1.] The devil is an unclean spirit, his nature directly
contrary to that of the pure and holy God, and degenerated from
what it was at first.
[2.] This unclean spirit works in the children of men; in the souls of
many, as then in men's bodies.
[3.] It is possible that those who are very much under the power and
working of Satan may yet be found in the synagogue, among the
worshippers of God.
[4.] Even the devils know and believe that Jesus Christ is
the Holy One of God, is sent of God, and is a Holy One.
[5.] They believe and tremble. This unclean spirit cried out
with a loud voice, under a certain fearful looking for of
judgment, and apprehensive that Christ was now come to destroy him.
Unclean spirits are subject to continual frights.
[6.] The devils have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, nor desire
to have any thing to do with him; for he took not on him the nature of
[7.] Christ has the devil under check: He rebuked him, saying,
Hold thy peace; and this word he spoke with power;
phimotheti--Be muzzled, Christ did not only enjoin
him silence, but stopped his mouth, and forced him to be silent against
[8.] In the breaking of Satan's power, both the enemy that is conquered
shows his malice, and Christ, the conqueror, shows his over-ruling
grace. Here, First, The devil showed what he would have done,
when he threw the man in the midst, with force and fury, as if
he would have dashed him to pieces. But, Secondly, Christ showed
what a power he had over him, in that he not only forced him to leave
him, but to leave him without so much as hurting him, without
giving him a parting blow, a parting gripe. Whom Satan cannot
destroy, he will do all the hurt he can to; but this is a
comfort, he can harm them no further than Christ permits; nay, he shall
not do them any real harm. He came out, and hurt him not;
that is, the poor man was perfectly well in an instant, though the
devil left him with so much rage that all that were present thought he
had torn him to pieces.
[9.] Christ's power over devils was universally acknowledged and
No one doubted the truth of the miracle; it was evident beyond
contradiction, nor was any thing suggested to diminish the glory of it,
for they were all amazed, saying, What a word is this! They that
pretended to cast out devils did it with abundance of charms and
spells, to pacify the devil, and lull him asleep, as it were; but
Christ commanded them with authority and power, which they could
not gainsay or resist. Even the prince of the power of the air
is his vassal, and trembles before him.
[10.] This, as much as any thing, gained Christ a reputation, and
spread his fame. This instance of his power, which many now-a-days make
light of, was then, by them that were eye-witnesses of it (and those no
fools either, but men of penetration), magnified, and was looked upon
as greatly magnifying him
upon the account of this, the fame of him went out, more than
ever, into every place of the country round about. Our Lord
Jesus, when he set out at first in his public ministry, was greatly
talked of, more than afterwards, when people's admiration wore off with
the novelty of the thing.
(2.) Christ showed himself to be a healer of diseases. In the
former, he struck at the root of man's misery, which was Satan's
enmity, the origin of all the mischief: in this, he strikes at one of
the most spreading branches of it, one of the most common calamities of
human life, and that is bodily diseases, which came in with sin, are
the most common and sensible corrections for it in this life, and
contribute as much as any thing towards the making of our few days
full of trouble. These our Lord Jesus came to take away the
sting of, and, as an indication of that intention, when he was on
earth, chose to confirm his doctrine by such miracles, mostly, as took
away the diseases themselves. Of all bodily diseases none are more
common or fatal to grown people than fevers; these come
suddenly, and suddenly cut off the number of men's months in the midst;
they are sometimes epidemical, and slay their thousands
in a little time. Now here we have Christ's curing a fever with a
word's speaking; the place was in Simon's house, his patient was
Simon's wife's mother,
[1.] Christ is a guest that will pay well for his entertainment; those
that bid him welcome into their hearts and houses shall be no losers by
him; he comes with healing.
[2.] Even families that Christ visits may be visited with sickness.
Houses that are blessed with his distinguishing favours are
liable to the common calamities of this life. Simon's wife's
mother was ill of a fever. Lord, behold, he whom thou
lovest is sick.
[3.] Even good people may sometimes be exercised with the sharpest
afflictions, more grievous than others: She was taken with a great
fever, very acute, and high, and threatening; perhaps it seized her
head, and made her delirious. The most gentle fevers may by degrees
prove dangerous; but this was at first a great fever.
[4.] No age can exempt from diseases. It is probable that Peter's
mother-in-law was in years, and yet in a fever.
[5.] When our relations are sick, we ought to apply ourselves to
Christ, by faith and prayer, on their account: They besought him for
her; and there is a particular promise that the prayer of faith
shall benefit the sick.
[6.] Christ has a tender concern for his people when they are in
sickness and distress: He stood over her, as one concerned for
her, and compassionating her case.
[7.] Christ had, and still has, a sovereign power over bodily diseases:
He rebuked the fever, and with a word's speaking commanded it
away, and it left her. He saith to diseases, Go, and they
go; Come, and they come; and can still rebuke fevers,
even great fevers.
[8.] This proves Christ's cures to be miraculous, that they were done
in an instant: Immediately she arose.
[9.] Where Christ gives a new life, in recovery from sickness, he
designs and expects that it should be a new life indeed, spent more
than ever in his service, to his glory. If distempers be rebuked, and
we arise from a bed of sickness, we must set ourselves to minister to
[10.] Those that minister to Christ must be ready to minister to all
that are his for his sake: She ministered to them, not only to
him that had cured her, but to them that had besought him for
her. We must study to be grateful to those that have prayed for
2. A general account given by wholesale of many other miracles of the
same kind, which Christ did.
(1.) He cured many that were diseased, even all without
exception that made their application to him, and it was when the
sun was setting
in the evening of that sabbath day which he had spent in the synagogue.
Note, It is good to do a full sabbath day's work, to abound in the work
of the day, in some good work or other, even till sun-set; as those
that call the sabbath, and the business of it, a delight.
Observe, He cured all that were sick, poor as well as rich, and
though they were sick of divers diseases; so that there was no
room to suspect that he had only a specific for some one disease. He
had a remedy for every malady. The sign he used in healing was
laying his hands on the sick; not lifting up his hands for them,
for he healed as having authority. He healed by his own power. And thus
he would put honour upon that sign which was afterwards used in
conferring the Holy Ghost.
(2.) He cast the devil out of many that were possessed,
Confessions were extorted from the demoniacs. They said, Thou art
Christ the Son of God, but they said it crying with rage and
indignation; it was a confession upon the rack, and therefore was not
admitted in evidence. Christ rebuked them, and did not suffer
them to say that they knew him to be the Christ, that it might
appear, beyond all contradiction, that he had obtained a conquest over
them, and not made a compact with them.
3. Here is his removal from Capernaum,
(1.) He retired for awhile into a place of solitude. It
was but a little while that he allowed himself for sleep; not only
because a little served him, but because he was content with
a little, and never indulged himself in ease; but, when it was
day, he went into a desert place, not to live constantly
like a hermit, but to be sometimes alone with God, as even those
should be, and contrive to be, that are most engaged in public work, or
else their work will go on but poorly, and they will find themselves
never less alone than when thus alone.
(2.) He returned again to the places of concourse and to
the work he had to do there. Though a desert place may be a
convenient retreat, yet it is not a convenient residence,
because we were not sent into this world to live to ourselves,
no, not to the best part of ourselves only, but to glorify God
and do good in our generation.
[1.] He was earnestly solicited to stay at Capernaum. The people
were exceedingly fond of him; I doubt, more because he had healed their
sick than because he had preached repentance to them. They sought
him, enquired which way he went; and, though it was in a desert
place, they came unto him. A desert is no desert if we be
with Christ there. They detained him that he should not
depart from them, so that if he would go it should not be for want
of invitation. His old neighbours at Nazareth had driven him from them,
but his new acquaintances at Capernaum were very importunate for his
continuance with them. Note, It ought not to discourage the ministers
of Christ that some reject them, for they will meet with others that
will welcome them and their message.
[2.] He chose rather to diffuse the light of his gospel to
many places than to fix it to one, that no one might
pretend to be a mother-church to the rest. Though he was welcome
at Capernaum, and had done abundance of good there, yet he is sent
to preach the gospel to other cities also; and Capernaum must not
insist upon his stay there. They that enjoy the benefit of the gospel
must be willing that others also should share in that benefit, and not
covet the monopoly of it; and those ministers who are not
driven from one place may yet be drawn to another by a
prospect of greater usefulness. Christ, though he preached not in vain
in the synagogue at Capernaum, yet would not be tied to that, but
preached in the synagogues of Galilee,
Bonum est sui diffusivum--What is good is self-diffusive. It is
well for us that our Lord Jesus has not tied himself to any one place
or people, but, wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he will
be in the midst of them: and even in Galilee of the Gentiles his
special presence is in the Christian synagogues.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Luke' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".