Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 31: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 8:14-18; MARK 1:29-39; LUKE 4:38-44
14. And when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed, and afflicted with fever. 15. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she arose and waited on them. 16. And when the evening had approached, they brought to him many demoniacs, and he cast out the spirits by his word, and healed all that were diseased: 17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, when he saith, He hath taken our diseases. 18. And when Jesus had seen great multitudes around him, he commanded that they should depart to the other side.
29. And immediately going out of the synagogue, they came, with James and John, into the house of Simon and Andrew. 30. And Simon’s mother-in-law lay afflicted with fever and immediately they speak to him about her. 31. And approaching, he raised her, by taking her hand, and the fever immediately left her, and she waited on them. 32. And in the evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were diseased, and who were possessed by devils. 33. And the whole city was assembled at the door. 34. And hehealed many that were ill of various diseases, and cast out many devils: and he did not permit the devils to say that they knew him. 35. And in the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus, when he had risen, went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed. 36. And Simon followed him, as also those who were with him. 37. And when they had found him, they said to him, All seek thee. 38. And he saith to them, Let us go into the adjoining villages, that I preach there also: for on this account I came out. 39. And he preached in their synagogues in all Galilee, and cast out devils.
38. And when Jesus had risen out of the synagogue, he entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s mother-in-law was held by a great fever, and they besought him for her. 39. And standing over her, he rebuked the fever, and the fever left her: and immediately rising, she waited on them. 40. And when the sun was setting, all, who had persons laboring under various diseases, brought them to him: and he, laying hands upon each, healed them. 41. And the devils went out of many, crying and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God. And, rebuking, he did not permit them to speak those things, that they knew that he was Christ. 42. And when it was day, going out, he went into a desert place, and multitudes sought him: and came even to him, and held him, that he might not depart from them. 43. To whom he saith, I must also preach the kingdom of God in other cities: for on this account am I sent. 44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
Mark 1:29. They came, with James and John, into the house of Simon and Andrew. There is reason to conjecture, that Matthew does not relate this history in its proper order: for Mark expressly states, that there were only four disciples who attended Christ. Besides, when he left the synagogue, he went straight to Peter’s house; which also shows clearly, that Matthew did not observe, with exactness, the order of time. The Evangelists appear to have taken particular notice of this miracle; not that, in itself, it was more remarkable, or more worthy of being recorded, than other miracles, — but because, by means of it, Christ gave to his disciples a private and familiar illustration of his grace. Another reason was, that the healing of one woman gave occasion to many miracles, so that they came to him in great numbers, from every direction, to implore his assistance. A single word, in Luke’s narrative, presents to us more strikingly the power which Christ displayed; for he says, that Simon’s mother-in-law was held by a GREAT fever. It was a clearer and more affecting proof of divine power, that, in a moment, and by a single touch, he removed a strong and violent disease. He might have done it by the slightest expression of his will; but he touched her hand, (Mt 8:15,) either to mark his affection, or because he was aware that this sign was, at that time, advantageous: for we know, that he freely used outward signs, when the time required them.
Luke 4:39. He rebuked the fever. To a person not well acquainted with Scripture this mode of expression may appear harsh; but there were good reasons for employing it. Fevers and other diseases, famine, pestilence, and calamities of every description, are God’s heralds, 347 by whom he executes his judgments. Now, as he is said to send such messengers by his command and pleasure, so he also restrains and recalls them whenever he pleases. The manner in which he healed them is not mentioned by Matthew and Mark: but Luke says, that it was by laying hands on each of them. Under the Law, this was a sign of reconciliation; and, therefore, it was not improperly, or unseasonably, that Christ laid hands on those whom he freed from the curse of God. It was also a solemn rite of consecration, as will afterwards be more fully explained. But I interpret Christ’s laying hands on the sick, as meaning simply, that he recommended them to the Father, and thus obtained for them grace and deliverance from their diseases.
Matthew 8:17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet. This prediction has the appearance of being inappropriate, and even of being tortured into a meaning which it does not bear: for Isaiah does not there speak of miracles, but of the death of Christ, — and not of temporal benefits, but of spiritual and eternal grace. Now, what is undoubtedly spoken about the impurities of the soul, Matthew applies to bodily diseases. The solution is not difficult, if the reader will only observe, that the Evangelist states not merely the benefit conferred by Christ on those sick persons, but the purpose for which he healed their diseases. They experienced in their bodies the grace of Christ, but we must look at the design: for it would be idle to confine our view to a transitory advantage, as if the Son of God were a physician of bodies. What then? He gave sight to the blind, in order to show that he is “the light of the world,” (Joh 8:12.) He restored life to the dead, to prove that he is “the resurrection and the life,” (Joh 11:25.) Similar observations might be made as to those who were lame, or had palsy. Following out this analogy, let us connect those benefits, which Christ bestowed on men in the flesh, with the design which is stated to us by Matthew, that he was sent by the Father, to relieve us from all evils and miseries.
Mark 1:34. He did not permit the devils to speak. There might be two reasons why he did not permit them: a general reason, because the time of the full revelation was not yet come; and a special reason, which we hinted at a little ago, that he refused to have, as heralds and witnesses of his divinity, those whose praise could have no other effect than to soil and injure his character. This latter reason is undoubtedly true: for he must have known, that the prince of death, and his agents, are in a state of irreconcileable enmity with the Author of eternal salvation and life.
Matthew 8:18 And when Jesus had seen great multitudes about him. Matthew, I have no doubt, touches briefly what the others explain in a more ample and copious narrative. The other two state a circumstance, which is not noticed by Matthew that Christ withdrew privately, for the sake of retirement, into a desert place, before it was daylight. Mark afterwards says, that Peter informed him, all seek, thee; and Luke says, that multitudes came to that place. Again, Matthew says, that he passed over to the other side, while the other two say, that he passed through all Galilee, to preach in every place. But the other side, or, the farther bank, (τὸ πέραν,) does not, I think, denote what was strictly the opposite side, but refers to that curvature of the lake, which was below Capernaum. In this way, he crossed over to another part of the lake, and yet did not go out of Galilee.
Mark1:38. For on this account I came out. Luke 4:43. For on this account am I sent. These words deserve our attention: for they contain a declaration of his earnest desire to fulfill his office. But it will perhaps be asked, is it better that the ministers of the Gospel should run here and there, to give only a slight and partial taste of it in each place, or that they should remain, and instruct perfectly the hearers whom they have once obtained? I reply. The design of Christ, which is here mentioned, was agreeable to the injunction and call of the Father, and was founded on the best reasons. For it was necessary that Christ should travel, within a short period, throughout Judea, to awaken the minds of men, on all sides, as if by the sound of a trumpet, to hear the Gospel. But on this subject we must treat more fully under another passage.
“Les sergens de Dieu;” — “God's bailiffs.”