In this chapter, we have,
I. The parable of the seed, and the four sorts of ground
with the exposition of it
and the application of it,
II. The parable of the seed growing gradually, but insensibly,
III. The parable of the grain of mustard-seed, and a general account
of Christ's parables,
IV. The miracle of Christ's sudden stilling a storm at sea,
The Parable of the Sower.
1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was
gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a
ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea
on the land.
2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto
them in his doctrine,
3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side,
and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth;
and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had
no root, it withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and
choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that
sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some
sixty, and some a hundred.
9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him
10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the
twelve asked of him the parable.
11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the
mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without,
all these things are done in parables:
12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they
may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be
converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how
then will ye know all parables?
14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown;
but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh
away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground;
who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with
17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a
time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the
word's sake, immediately they are offended.
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of
riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the
word, and it becometh unfruitful.
20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as
hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some
thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.
The foregoing chapter began with Christ's entering into the
this chapter begins with Christ's teaching again by the sea
side. Thus he changed his method, that if possible all might be
reached and wrought upon. To gratify the nice and more genteel sort of
people that had seats, chief seats, in the synagogue, and did
not care for hearing a sermon any where else, he did not preach always
by the sea side, but, having liberty, went often into the
synagogue, and taught there; yet, to gratify the poor, the mob,
that could not get room in the synagogue, he did not always preach
there, but began again to teach by the sea side, where they
could come within hearing. Thus are we debtors both to the
wise and to the unwise,
Here seems to be a new convenience found out, which had not been used
before, though he had before preached by the sea side
and that was--his standing in a ship, while his hearers stood
upon the land; and that inland sea of Tiberias having no tide,
there was no ebbing and flowing of the waters to disturb them. Methinks
Christ's carrying his doctrine into a ship, and preaching it thence,
was a presage of his sending the gospel to the isles of the
Gentiles, and the shipping off of the kingdom of God (that rich
cargo) from the Jewish nation, to be sent to a people that would bring
forth more of the fruits of it. Now observe here,
I. The way of teaching that Christ used with the
He taught them many things, but it was by parables or
similitudes, which would tempt them to hear; for people love to
be spoken to in their own language, and careless hearers will catch at
a plain comparison borrowed from common things, and will retain and
repeat that, when they have lost, or perhaps never took,
the truth which it was designed to explain and illustrate: but unless
they would take pains to search into it, it would but amuse them;
seeing they would see, and not perceive
and so, while it gratified their curiosity, it was the punishment of
their stupidity; they wilfully shut their eyes against the light, and
therefore justly did Christ put it into the dark lantern of a parable,
which had a bright side toward those who applied it to themselves, and
were willing to be guided by it; but to those who were only willing
for a season to play with it, it only gave a flash of light now and
then, but sent them away in the dark. It is just with God to say of
those that will not see, that they shall not see, and to
hide from their eyes, who only look about them with a great deal of
carelessness, and never look before them with any concern upon the
things that belong to their peace.
II. The way of expounding that he used with his disciples;
When he was alone by himself, not only the twelve, but
others that were about him with the twelve, took the opportunity
to ask him the meaning of the parables,
They found it good to be about Christ; the nearer him the
better; good to be with the twelve, to be conversant with those
that are intimate with him. And he told them what a distinguishing
favour it was to them, that they were made acquainted with the
mystery of the kingdom of God,
The secret of the Lord was with them. That instructed
them, which others were only amused with, and they were made to
increase in knowledge by every parable, and understood more of the way
and method in which Christ designed to set up his kingdom in the world,
while others were dismissed, never the wiser. Note, Those who know the
mystery of the kingdom of heaven, must acknowledge that
it is given to them; they receive both the light and the sight
from Jesus Christ, who, after his resurrection, both opened the
scriptures, and opened the understanding,
In particular, we have here,
1. The parable of the sower, as we had it,
&c. He begins
with, Hearken, and concludes
with, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Note, The words
of Christ demand attention, and those who speak from him, may command
it, and should stir it up; even that which as yet we do not
thoroughly understand, or not rightly, we must carefully
attend to, believing it to be both intelligible and weighty, that at
length we may understand it; we shall find more in Christ's sayings
than at first there seemed to be.
2. The exposition of it to the disciples. Here is a question Christ put
to them before he expounded it, which we had not in Matthew
"Know ye not this parable? Know ye not the meaning of it? How
then will ye know all parables?"
(1.) "If ye know not this, which is so plain, how will ye understand
other parables, which will be more dark and obscure? If ye are
gravelled and run aground with this, which bespeaks so plainly the
different success of the word preached upon those that hear it, which
ye yourselves may see easily, how will ye understand the parables which
hereafter will speak of the rejection of the Jews, and the calling of
the Gentiles, which is a thing ye have no idea of?" Note, This should
quicken us both to prayer and pains that we may get knowledge, that
there are a great many things which we are concerned to know; and if we
understand not the plain truths of the gospel, how shall we master
those that are more difficult? Vita brevis, ars longa--Life is
short, art is long. If we have run with the footmen, and they have
wearied us, and run us down, then how shall we contend with
(2.) "If ye know not this, which is intended for your direction in
hearing the word, that ye may profit by it; how shall ye profit by what
ye are further to hear? This parable is to teach you to be attentive to
the word, and affected with it, that you may understand it. If
ye receive not this, ye will not know how to use the key by which ye
must be let into all the rest." If we understand not the rules we are
to observe in order to our profiting by the word, how shall we profit
by any other rule? Observe, Before Christ expounds the parable,
[1.] He shows them how sad their case was, who were not let into
the meaning of the doctrine of Christ; To you it is given, but not
to them. Note, It will help us to put a value upon the privileges
we enjoy as disciples of Christ, to consider the deplorable state of
those who want such privileges, especially that they are out of the
ordinary way of conversion; lest they should be converted, and their
sins should be forgiven them.
Those only who are converted, have their sins forgiven
them: and it is the misery of unconverted souls, that they
lie under unpardoned guilt.
[2.] He shows them what a shame it was, that they needed such
particular explanations of the word they heard, and did not apprehend
it at first. Those that would improve in knowledge, must be made
sensible of their ignorance.
Having thus prepared them for it, he gives them the interpretation of
the parable of the sower, as we had it before in Matthew. Let us only
First, That in the great field of the church, the word of God is
dispensed to all promiscuously; The sower soweth the word
sows it at a venture, beside all waters, upon all sorts of
not knowing where it will light, or what fruit it will bring forth. He
scatters it, in order to the increase of it. Christ was
awhile sowing himself, when he went about teaching and
preaching; now he sends his ministers, and sows by their hand.
Ministers are sowers; they have need of the skill and discretion of the
they must not observe winds and clouds
and must look up to God, who gives seed to the sower,
2 Corinthians 9:10.
Secondly, That of the many that hear the word of the gospel, and
read it, and are conversant with it, there are, comparatively, but few
that receive it, so as to bring forth the fruits of it; here is but one
in four, that comes to good. It is sad to think, how much of the
precious seed of the word of God is lost, and sown in vain; but
there is a day coming when lost sermons must be accounted for.
Many that have heard Christ himself preach in their streets,
will hereafter be bidden to depart from him; those therefore who place
all their religion in hearing, as if that alone would save them, do but
deceive themselves, and build their hope upon the sand,
Thirdly, Many are much affected with the word for the present,
who yet receive no abiding benefit by it. The motions of soul they
have, answerable to what they hear, are but a mere flash, like the
crackling of thorns under a pot. We read of hypocrites, that they
delight to know God's ways
of Herod, that he heard John gladly
of others, that they rejoiced in his light
of those to whom Ezekiel was a lovely song
and those represented here by the stony ground, received the word
with gladness, and yet came to nothing.
Fourthly, The reason why the word doth not leave commanding,
abiding, impressions upon the minds of the people, is, because their
hearts are not duly disposed and prepared to receive it; the fault is
in themselves, not in the word; some are careless forgetful hearers,
and these get no good at all by the word; it comes in at one
ear, and goes out at the other; others have their convictions
overpowered by their corruptions, and they lose the good impressions
the word has made upon them, so that they get no abiding good by
Fifthly, The devil is very busy about loose, careless hearers,
as the fowls of the air go about the seed that lies above ground; when
the heart, like the highway, is unploughed, unhumbled, when it
lies common, to be trodden on by every passenger, as theirs that
are great company-keepers, then the devil is like the fowls; he
comes swiftly, and carries away the word ere we are aware. When
therefore these fowls come down upon the sacrifices, we should take
care, as Abram did, to drive them away
that, though we cannot keep them from hovering over our heads, we may
not let them nestle in our hearts.
Sixthly, Many that are not openly scandalized, so as to
throw off their profession, as they on the stony ground did, yet have
the efficacy of it secretly choked and stifled, so that it comes
to nothing; they continue in a barren, hypocritical profession, which
brings nothing to pass, and so go down as certainly, though more
plausibly, to hell.
Seventhly, Impressions that are not keep, will not be
durable, but will wear off in suffering, trying times; like
footsteps on the sand of the sea, which are gone the next high tide of
persecution; when that iniquity doth abound, the love of many to
the ways of God waxeth cold; many that keep their profession in fair
days, lose it in a storm; and do as those that go to sea only for
pleasure, come back again when the wind arises. It is the ruin of
hypocrites, that they have no root; they do not act from a
living fixed principle; they do not mind heart-work, and without
that religion is nothing; for he is the Christian, that is one
Eighthly, Many are hindered from profiting by the word of God, by their
abundance of the world. Many a good lesson of humility, charity,
self-denial, and heavenly-mindedness, is choked and lost by that
prevailing complacency in the world, which they are apt to have,
on whom it smiles. Thus many professors, that otherwise might have come
to something, prove like Pharaoh's lean kine and thin
Ninthly, Those that are not encumbered with the cares of the world, and
the deceitfulness of riches, may yet lose the benefit of their
profession by the lusts of other things; this is added here in
Mark; by the desires which are about other things (so Dr.
Hammond), an inordinate appetite toward those things that are pleasing
to sense or to the fancy. Those that have but little of the world, may
yet be ruined by an indulgence of the body.
Tenthly, Fruit is the thing that God expects and requires from
those that enjoy the gospel: fruit according to the seed; a
temper of mind, and a course of life, agreeable to the gospel;
Christian graces daily exercised, Christian duties duly performed. This
is fruit, and it will abound to our account.
Lastly, No good fruit is to be expected but from good seed. If
the seed be sown on good ground, if the heart be humble, and
holy, and heavenly, there will be good fruit, and it will
abound sometimes even to a hundred fold, such a crop as
The Gradual Advance of the Gospel.
21 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a
bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?
22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested;
neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come
23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that
hear shall more be given.
25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath
not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should
cast seed into the ground;
27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed
should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the
blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth
in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or
with what comparison shall we compare it?
31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown
in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:
32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater
than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the
fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
33 And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as
they were able to hear it.
34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they
were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
The lessons which our Saviour designs to teach us here by parables and
figurative expressions are these:--
I. That those who are good ought to consider the obligations
they are under to do good; that is, as in the parable before, to
bring forth fruit. God expects a grateful return of his gifts to
us, and a useful improvement of his gifts in us; for
Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed?
No, but that it may be set on a candlestick. The apostles were
ordained, to receive the gospel, not for themselves only, but for the
good of others, to communicate it to them. All Christians, as they have
received the gift, must minister the same. Note,
1. Gifts and graces make a man as a candle; the candle of the
lighted by the Father of lights; the most eminent are but candles, poor
lights, compared with the Sun of righteousness. A candle gives
light but a little way, and but a little while, and is
easily blown out, and continually burning down and wasting.
2. Many who are lighted as candles, put themselves under a
bed, or under a bushel: they do not manifest grace
themselves, nor minister grace to others; they have estates, and
do no good with them; have their limbs and senses, wit and learning
perhaps, but nobody is the better for them; they have spiritual gifts,
but do not use them; like a taper in an urn, they burn to themselves.
3. Those who are lighted as candles, should set themselves on a
candlestick; that is, should improve all opportunities of doing
good, as those that were made for the glory of God, and the service of
the communities they are members of; we are not born for ourselves.
The reason given for this, is, because there is nothing hid, which
shall not be manifested, which should not be made manifest
(so it might better be read),
There is no treasure of gifts and graces lodged in any but with design
to be communicated; nor was the gospel made a secret to the
apostles, to be concealed, but that it should come abroad, and
be divulged to all the world. Though Christ expounded the parables to
his disciples privately, yet it was with design to make them the more
publicly useful; they were taught, that they might teach; and it
is a general rule, that the ministration of the Spirit is given to
every man to profit withal, not himself only, but others also.
II. It concerns those who hear the word of the gospel, to mark
what they hear, and to make a good use of it, because their
weal or woe depends upon it; what he had said before he
saith again, If any man have ears to hear, let him hear,
Let him give the gospel of Christ a fair hearing; but that is not
enough, it is added
Take heed what ye hear, and give a due regard to that which ye
do hear; Consider what ye hear, so Dr. Hammond reads it. Note,
What we hear, doth us no good, unless we consider it; those especially
that are to teach others must themselves be very observant of the
things of God; must take notice of the message they are to deliver,
that they may be exact. We must likewise take heed what we hear,
by proving all things, that we may hold fast that which is
good. We must be cautious, and stand upon our guard, lest we
be imposed upon. To enforce this caution, consider,
1. As we deal with God, God will deal with us, so Dr. Hammond explains
these words, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to
you. If ye be faithful servants to him, he will be a faithful
Master to you: with the upright he will show himself
2. As we improve the talents we are entrusted with, we shall increase
them; if we make use of the knowledge we have, for the glory of God and
the benefit of others, it shall sensibly grow, as stock in trade doth
by being turned; Unto you that hear, shall more be given; to you
that have, it shall be given,
If the disciples deliver that to the church, which they have
received of the Lord, they shall be led more into the
secret of the Lord. Gifts and graces multiply by being
exercised; and God has promised to bless the hand of the
3. If we do not use, we lose, what we have; From him
that hath not, that doeth no good with what he hath, and so hath it
in vain, is as if he had it not, shall be taken even that which he
hath. Burying a talent is the betraying of a trust, and amounts to
a forfeiture; and gifts and graces rust for want of
III. The good seed of the gospel sown in the world, and sown in the
heart, doth by degrees produce wonderful effects, but without noise
&c.); So is the kingdom of God; so is the gospel, when it is
sown, and received, as seed in good ground.
1. It will come up; though it seem lost and buried under the
clods, it will find or make its way through them. The seed cast into
the ground will spring. Let but the word of Christ have the place
it ought to have in a soul, and it will show itself, as the wisdom
from above doth in a good conversation. After a field is
sown with corn, how soon is the surface of it altered! How gay and
pleasant doth it look, when it is covered with green!
2. The husbandman cannot describe how it comes up; it is one of the
mysteries of nature; It springs and grows up, he knows not how,
He sees it has grown, but he cannot tell in what manner it grew, or
what was the cause and method of its growth. Thus we know not how the
Spirit by the word makes a change in the heart, any more than we can
account for the blowing of the wind, which we hear the sound of, but
cannot tell whence it comes, or whither it goes. Without controversy,
great is the mystery of godliness; how God manifested in the
flesh came to be believed on in the world,
1 Timothy 3:16.
3. The husbandman, when he hath sown the seed, doth nothing toward the
springing of it up; He sleeps, and rises, night and day; goes to
sleep at night, gets up in the morning, and perhaps never
so much as thinks of the corn he hath sown, or ever looks upon it, but
follows his pleasures or other business, and yet the earth brings
forth fruit of itself, according to the ordinary course of nature,
and by the concurring power of the God of nature. Thus the word of
grace, when it is received in faith, is in the heart a work of
grace, and the preachers contribute nothing to it. The Spirit of
God is carrying it on when they sleep, and can do no business
or when they rise to go about other business. The prophets do not
live for ever; but the word which they preached, is doing its
work, when they are in their graves,
The dew by which the seed is brought up tarrieth not for man, nor
waiteth for the sons of men,
4. It grows gradually; first the blade, then the ear, after that the
full corn in the ear,
When it is sprung up, it will go forward; nature will have its course,
and so will grace. Christ's interest, both in the world and in the
heart, is, and will be, a growing interest; and though the
beginning be small, the latter end will greatly increase. Though
thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, yet God
will give to every seed its own body; though at first it is but
a tender blade, which the frost may nip, or the foot may crush,
yet it will increase to the ear, to the full corn in the ear.
Natura nil facit per saltum--Nature does nothing abruptly. God
carries on his work insensibly and without noise, but insuperably and
5. It comes to perfection at last
When the fruit is brought forth, that is, when it is
ripe, and ready to be delivered into the owner's hand;
then he puts in the sickle. This intimates,
(1.) That Christ now accepts the services which are done to him
by an honest heart from a good principle; from the fruit of the gospel
taking place and working in the soul, Christ gathers in a
harvest of honour to himself. See
(2.) That he will reward them in eternal life. When those that receive
the gospel aright, have finished their course, the harvest comes, when
they shall be gathered as wheat into God's barn
as a shock of corn in his season.
IV. The work of grace is small in its beginnings, but comes to be great
and considerable at last
"Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God, as now to be set up
by the Messiah? How shall I make you to understand the designed method
of it?" Christ speaks as one considering and consulting with himself,
how to illustrate it with an apt similitude; With what comparison
shall we compare it? Shall we fetch it from the motions of the sun,
or the revolutions of the moon? No, the comparison is borrowed from
this earth, it is like a grain of mustard-seed; he had compared
it before to seed sown, here to that seed, intending
thereby to show,
1. That the beginnings of the gospel kingdom would be very
small, like that which is one of the least of all seeds. When a
Christian church was sown in the earth for God, it was all
contained in one room, and the number of the names was but one
hundred and twenty
as the children of Israel, when they went down into Egypt, were but
seventy souls. The work of grace in the soul, is, at first, but the
day of small things; a cloud no bigger than a man's
hand. Never were there such great things undertaken by such an
inconsiderable handful, as that of the discipling of the nations by the
ministry of the apostles; nor a work that was to end in such great
glory, as the work of grace raised from such weak and unlikely
beginnings. Who hath begotten me these?
2. That the perfection of it will be very great; When it grows up,
it becomes greater than all herbs. The gospel kingdom in the world,
shall increase and spread to the remotest nations of the earth, and
shall continue to the latest ages of time. The church hath
shot out great branches, strong ones, spreading far, and
fruitful. The work of grace in the soul has mighty products, now
while it is in its growth; but what will it be, when it is perfected in
heaven? The difference between a grain of mustard seed and a
great tree, is nothing to that between a young convert on
earth and a glorified saint in heaven. See
After the parables thus specified the historian concludes with this
general account of Christ's preaching--that with many such parables
he spoke the word unto them
probably designing to refer us to the larger account of the parables of
this kind, which we had before,
He spoke in parables, as they were able to hear them; he fetched
his comparisons from those things that were familiar to them, and level
to their capacity, and delivered them in plain expressions, in
condescension to their capacity; though he did not let them into the
mystery of the parables, yet his manner of expression was easy,
and such as they might hereafter recollect to their edification. But,
for the present, without a parable spoke he not unto them,
The glory of the Lord was covered with a cloud, and God speaks to us in
the language of the sons of men, that, though not at
first, yet by degrees, we may understand his meaning; the
disciples themselves understood those sayings of Christ afterward,
which at first they did not rightly take the sense of. But these
parables he expounded to them, when they were alone. We cannot
but wish we had had that exposition, as we had of the parable of the
sower; but it was not so needful; because, when the church should be
enlarged, that would expound these parables to us, without any
Christ and His Disciples in the Storm.
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto
them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him
even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat
into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a
pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou
not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea,
Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that
ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What
manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
This miracle which Christ wrought for the relief of his disciples, in
stilling the storm, we had before
&c.); but it is here more fully related. Observe,
1. It was the same day that he had preached out of a ship,
when the even was come,
When he had been labouring in the word and doctrine all day,
instead of reposing himself, he exposeth himself, to
teach us not to think of a constant remaining rest till we come to
heaven. The end of a toil may perhaps be but the beginning of a toss.
But observe, the ship that Christ made his pulpit is taken under his
special protection, and, though in danger, cannot sink. What is used
for Christ, he will take particular care of.
2. He himself proposed putting to sea at night, because he would lose
no time; Let us pass over to the other side; for we shall find,
in the next chapter, he has work to do there. Christ went about doing
good, and no difficulties in his way should hinder him; thus
industrious we should be in serving him, and our generation according
to his will.
3. They did not put to sea, till they had sent away the
multitude, that is, had given to each of them that which they came
for, and answered all their requests; for he sent none home complaining
that they had attended him in vain. Or, They sent them away
with a solemn blessing; for Christ came into the world, not only
to pronounce, but to command, and to give, the
4. They took him even as he was, that is, in the same dress that
he was in when he preached, without any cloak to throw over him, which
he ought to have had, to keep him warm, when he went to sea at
night, especially after preaching. We must not hence infer that we may
be careless of our health, but we may learn hence not to be over nice
and solicitous about the body.
5. The storm was so great, that the ship was full of water
not by springing a leak, but perhaps partly with the shower, for the
word here used signifies a tempest of wind with rain; however,
the ship being little, the waves beat into it so that it was
full. Note, It is no new thing for that ship to be greatly hurried
and endangered, in which Christ and his disciples, Christ and his name
and gospel, are embarked.
6. There were with him other little ships, which, no doubt,
shared in the distress and danger. Probably, these little ships
carried those who were desirous to go along with Christ, for the
benefit of his preaching and miracles on the other side. The
multitude went away when he put to sea, but some there were,
that would venture upon the water with him. Those follow the Lamb
aright, that follow him wherever he goes. And those that hope
for a happiness in Christ, must be willing to take their lot with him,
and run the same risks that he runs. One may boldly and cheerfully put
to sea in Christ's company, yea though we foresee a storm.
7. Christ was asleep in this storm; and here we are told that it was
in the hinder part of the ship, the pilot's place: he lay at the
helm, to intimate that, as Mr. George Herbert expresses it,
When winds and waves assault my keel,
He doth preserve it, he doth steer,
Ev'n when the boat seems most to reel.
Storms are the triumph of his art;
Though he may close his eyes, yet not his heart.
He had a pillow there, such a one as a fisherman's ship would
furnish him with. And he slept, to try the faith of his
disciples and to stir up prayer: upon the trial, their faith appeared
weak, and their prayers strong. Note, Sometimes when the
church is in a storm, Christ seems as if he were asleep, unconcerned in
the troubles of his people, and regardless of their prayers, and doth
not presently appear for their relief. Verily he is a God that
But as, when he tarries, he doth not tarry
so when he sleeps he doth not sleep; the keeper of Israel doth not so
much as slumber
he slept, but his heart was awake, as the spouse,
Song of Solomon 5:2.
8. His disciples encouraged themselves with their having his presence,
and thought it the best way to improve that, and appeal to that, and
ply the oar of prayer rather than their other oars. Their confidence
lay in this, that they had their Master with them; and the ship that
has Christ in it, though it may be tossed, cannot sink;
the bush that has God in it, though it may burn, shall not
consume. Cæsar encouraged the master of the ship, that had
him on board, with this, Cæsarem vehis, et fortunam
Cæsaris--Thou hast Cæsar on board, and Cæsar's
fortune. They awoke Christ. Had not the necessity of the
case called for it, they would not have stirred up or
awoke their Master, till he had pleased
(Song of Solomon 2:7);
but they knew he would forgive them this wrong. When Christ
seems as if he slept in a storm, he is awaked by the prayers of his
people; when we know not what to do, our eye must be to him
(2 Chronicles 20:12);
we may be at our wits' end, but not at our faith's end, while we have
such a Saviour to go to. Their address to Christ is here expressed very
emphatically; Master, carest thou not that we perish? I confess
this sounds somewhat harsh, rather like chiding him for sleeping than
begging him to awake. I know no excuse for it, but the great
familiarity which he was pleased to admit them into, and the freedom he
allowed them; and the present distress they were in, which put them
into such a fright, that they knew not what they said. They do
Christ a deal of wrong, who suspect him to be careless of his
people in distress. The matter is not so; he is not willing that any
should perish, much less any of his little ones,
9. The word of command with which Christ rebuked the storm, we have
here, and had not in Matthew,
He says, Peace, be still--Siopa, pephimoso--be
silent, be dumb. Let not the wind any longer roar, nor the sea
rage. Thus he stills the noise of the sea, the noise of her
waves; a particular emphasis is laid upon the noisiness of them,
The noise is threatening and terrifying; let us hear no more of it.
(1.) A word of command to us; when our wicked hearts are like the
troubled sea which cannot rest
when our passions are up, and are unruly, let us think we hear the law
of Christ, saying, Be silent, be dumb. Think not confusedly,
speak not unadvisedly; but be still.
(2.) A word of comfort to us, that, be the storm of trouble ever so
loud, ever so strong, Jesus Christ can lay it with a word's speaking.
When without are fightings, and within are fears, and the spirits are
in a tumult, Christ can create the fruit of the lips, peace. If
he say, Peace, be still, there is a great calm presently.
It is spoken of as God's prerogative to command the seas,
By this therefore Christ proves himself to be God. He that made the
seas, can make them quiet.
10. The reproof Christ gave them for their fears, is here carried
further than in Matthew. There it is, Why are ye fearful? Here,
Why are ye so fearful? Though there may be cause for some fear,
yet not for fear to such a degree as this. There it is, O ye of
little faith. Here it is, How is it that ye have no faith?
Not that the disciples were without faith. No, they believed that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; but at this time their
fears prevailed so that they seemed to have no faith at all. It
was out of the way, when they had occasion for it, and so it was as if
they had not had it. "How is it, that in this matter ye have no
faith, that ye think I would not come in with seasonable and
effectual relief?" Those may suspect their faith, who can entertain
such a thought as that Christ careth not though his people
perish, and Christ justly takes it ill.
Lastly, The impression this miracle made upon the disciples, is
here differently expressed. In Matthew it is said, The men
marvelled; here it is said, They feared greatly. They
feared a great fear; so the original reads it. Now their fear
was rectified by their faith. When they feared the winds and the seas,
it was for want of the reverence they ought to have had for Christ. But
now that they saw a demonstration of his power over them, they feared
them less, and him more. They feared lest they had
offended Christ by their unbelieving fears; and therefore studied now
to give him honour. They had feared the power and wrath of the
Creator in the storm, and that fear had torment and amazement in it;
but now they feared the power and grace of the Redeemer in the calm;
they feared the Lord and his goodness, and it had pleasure and
satisfaction in it, and by it they gave glory to Christ, as Jonah's
mariners, who, when the sea ceased from her raging, feared the Lord
exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord,
This sacrifice they offered to the honour of Christ; they said, What
manner of man is this? Surely more than a man, for even the
winds and the seas obey him.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Mark' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".