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souls, and confirming the truth of it, by the proof they afforded of God being with him. Observe, accordingly, that he first tells the man with the palsy, “ Thy sins be forgiven thee;" and then, when he cures him, expounds, as it were, the hint contained in his miracles of healing, by say. ing, “ Whether is it easier to say. to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk ?”
THE CALL OF LEVI, WHO IS THE SAME AS MATTHEW,
AND CHRIST'S EATING WITH PUBLICANS
Ver. 13–17. And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples : for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners ? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Here is an instance of our Lord's teaching by reference to what was going on in the presence of his hearers—what was done or said. The Pharisees were expressing their surprise that a grave Teacher should be sitting at a feast with publicans and sinners; and Christ, after reverting to the character of his miracles, observes, that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He meant not, of course, that the world was divided into righteous and sinners, but that all were sinners before God; and this truth was so worded, from the appearance of many who were accounted sinners before men also. If these Pharisees had carried their presumptuous arrogance further, and had claimed for themselves, as distinguished from others, the character of angels ; he might in like manner have said, “I came not to call angels but men.” It was, in short, an implied rebuke for their assuming a character which did not exist on earth, save in his own person—for all had gone astray, and there was none righteous, no, not one.
The passage furnishes also, you will observe, a mark of the connection which was kept up throughout the course of Christ's teaching. The
proverb which he quotes, They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick," connects this lesson with the symbolical instruction afforded by his previous miracles. Our Lord's care to combine lesson with lesson is very remarkable; nor is it improbable that, among other objects, he might have designed thereby to train the minds of his hearers to a habit of thought, which would facilitate their interpretation of the obscure instructions of the Old Testament by the use of that gradual light which the New was throwing on it. God's whole series of revelations was in fact on the same principle as that portion of them comprised in the ministry of his Son. His disciples learnt perhaps the true method of interpreting the Law, by the very act of learning the Gospel as Christ taught it.
CHRIST'S ANSWER TO THE PHARISEES RESPECTING
HIS DISCIPLES NOT FASTING.
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
Keeping in view the tissue-like character of our Lord's lessons, we shall observe, that he sometimes preserves the connection, not, as in the former instances, by repeating the same truth so as to remind them of its having been previously taught; but by clothing some different doctrine in forms of expression which reminded his hearers of a preceding portion of his ministry. It would seem that, from the very earliest stage of their training, the apostles were thus taught to consider the counsel of God as a connected whole. In the present instance, suppose St. Mark to have written under the impression that the beginning of miracles at Cana was fully and universally known to his readers, so much so as to be omitted in his narrative: he might
still be supposed to preserve the allusions, or apparent allusions to it, contained in the language of our Saviour's reply to the Pharisees ; Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them ? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles : else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” That first miracle, as the “ beginning of miracles,” might be expected to be pregnant with meaning. Still, agreeably to the view taken of the gradual disclosure of the meaning of all Christ's lessons, it would at the time contain little self-explanation. Read the narrative of St. John, and such is precisely the impression which it leaves—an impression of surmise, which the circumstances taken alone by no means satisfy. For the use of such a lesson, if lesson it were, the great Teacher would surely revert again and again to the images of that scene; would explain portion by portion; first,