We have here an account of miracles by wholesale, which Christ wrought on the other side of the water, in the land of Gennesaret. Whithersoever Christ went, he was doing good. Gennesaret was a tract of land that lay between Bethsaida and Capernaum, and either gave the name to, or took the name from, this sea, which is called (Luke 5:1) The Lake of Gennesaret; it signifies the valley of branches. Observe here,
I. The forwardness and faith of the men of that place. These were more noble than the Gergesenes, their neighbours, who were borderers upon the same lake. Those besought Christ to depart from them, they had no occasion for him; these besought him to help them, they had need of him. Christ reckons it the greatest honour we can do him, to make use of him. Now here we are told,
1. How the men of that place were brought to Christ; they had knowledge of him. It is probable that his miraculous passage over the sea, which they that were in the ship would industriously spread the report of, might help to make way for his entertainment in those parts; and perhaps it was one thing Christ intended in it, for he has great reaches in what he does. This they had knowledge of, and of the other miracles Christ had wrought, and therefore they flocked to him. Note, They that know Christ’s name, will make their application to him: if Christ were better known, he would not be neglected as he is; he is trusted as far as he is known.
They had knowledge of him, that is, of his being among them, and that he would be put awhile among them. Note, The discerning of the day of our opportunities is a good step toward the improvement of it. This was the condemnation of the world, that Christ was in the world, and the world knew him not (John 1:10); Jerusalem knew him not (Luke 19:42), but there were some who, when he was among them, had knowledge of him. It is better to know that there is a prophet among us than that there has been one, Ezek. 2:5.
2. How they brought others to Christ, by giving notice to their neighbours of Christ’s being come into those parts; They sent out into all that country. Note, those that have got the knowledge of Christ themselves, should do all they can to bring others acquainted with him too. We must not eat these spiritual morsels alone; there is in Christ enough for us all, so that there is nothing got by monopolizing. When we have opportunities of getting good to our souls, we should bring as many as we can to share with us. More than we think of would close with opportunities, if they were but called upon and invited to them. They sent into their own country, because it was their own, and they desired the welfare of it. Note, We can no better testify our love to our country than by promoting and propagating the knowledge of Christ in it. Neighbourhood is an advantage of doing good which must be improved. Those that are near to us, we should contrive to do something for, at least by our example, to bring them near to Christ.
3. What their business was with Christ; not only, perhaps not chiefly, if at all, to be taught, but to have their sick healed; They brought unto him all that were diseased. If love to Christ and his doctrine will not bring them to him, yet self-love would. Did we but rightly seek our own things, the things of our own peace and welfare, we should seek the things of Christ. We should do him honour, and please him, by deriving grace and righteousness from him. Note, Christ is the proper Person to bring the diseased to; whither should they go but to the Physician, to the Sun of Righteousness, that hath healing under his wings?
4. How they made their application to him; They besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment, Matt. 14:36. They applied themselves to him, (1.) With great importunity; they besought him. Well may we beseech to be healed, when God by his ministers beseecheth us that we will be healed. Note, The greatest favours and blessings are to be obtained from Christ by entreaty; Ask, and it shall be given. (2.) With great humility; they came to him as those that were sensible of their distance, humbly beseeching him to help them; and their desiring to touch the hem of his garment, intimates that they thought themselves unworthy that he should take any particular notice of them, that he should so much as speak to their case, much less touch them for their cure; but they will look upon it as a great favour, if he will give them leave to touch the hem of his garment. The eastern nations show respect to their princes, by kissing their sleeve, or skirt. (3.) With great assurance of the all-sufficiency of his power, not doubting but that they should be healed, even by touching the hem of his garment; that they should receive abundant communications from him by the smallest token of symbol of communion with him. They did not expect the formality of striking his hand over the place or persons diseased, as Naaman did (2 Kgs. 5:11); but they were sure that there was in him such an overflowing fulness of healing virtue, that they could not fail of a cure, who were but admitted near him. It was in this country and neighbourhood that the woman with the bloody issue was cured by touching the hem of his garment, and was commended for her faith (Matt. 9:20-22); and thence, probably, they took occasion to ask this. Note, The experiences of others in their attendance upon Christ may be of use both to direct and to encourage us in our attendance on him. It is good using those means and methods which others before us have sped well in the use of.
II. The fruit and success of this their application to Christ. It was not in vain that these seed of Jacob sought him, for as many as touched, were made perfectly whole. Note, 1. Christ’s cures are perfect cures. Those that he heals, he heals perfectly. He doth not do his work by halves. Though spiritual healing be not perfected at first, yet, doubtless, he that has begun the good work will perform it, Phil. 1:6. 2. There is an abundance of healing virtue in Christ for all that apply themselves to him, be they ever so many. That precious ointment which was poured on his head, ran down to the skirts of his garment, Ps. 133:2. The least of Christ’s institutions, like the hem of his garment, is replenished with the overflowing fulness of his grace, and he is able to save to the uttermost. 3. The healing virtue that is in Christ, is put forth for the benefit of those that by a true and lively faith touch him. Christ is in heaven, but his word is nigh us, and he himself in that word. When we mix faith with the word, apply it to ourselves, depend upon it, and submit to its influences and commands, then we touch the hem of Christ’s garment. It is but thus touching, and we are made whole. On such easy terms are spiritual cures offered by him, that he may truly be said to heal freely; so that if our souls die of their wounds, it is not owing to our Physician, it is not for want of skill or will in him; but it is purely owing to ourselves. He could have healed us, he would have healed us, but we would not be healed; so that our blood will lie upon our own heads.