The Divine Lamp

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 9:32-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

Mat 9:32  And when they were gone out, behold they brought him a dumb man, possessed with a devil.
Mat 9:33  And after the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke, and the multitudes wondered, saying, Never was the like seen in Israel.
Mat 9:34  But the Pharisees said, By the prince of devils he casteth out devils.
Mat 9:35  And Jesus went about all the cities and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity.
Mat 9:36  And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.
Mat 9:37  Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.
Mat 9:38  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.

And when they were gone out. b. Jesus exorcises a dumb devil. Holtzmann has no good reason for making this event an imitation of Mt. 12:22 ff., for the subject of the latter passage is both dumb and blind. The blasphemy of the Pharisees may have been repeated with the repetition of the miracle; the foregoing author cannot even maintain that the exception of the Pharisees comes too late in the history of so many miracles, since the evangelist shows the malice of the Pharisees most impressively by his present arrangement of material. That the dumbness of the demoniac was the result of the possession follows first from the fact that there is not mention of his deafness, the natural companion of dumbness; secondly, from the remark of the evangelist that the man spoke after the exorcism, no other miracle being mentioned [cf. Mk. 7:35].

and the multitudes wondered. c. Belief and unbelief, a. Belief. The words of the multitude show that they preferred Jesus even to Moses, since “never was the like seen in Israel.” The cause of the wonder differs in the opinion of different commentators, [a] Never before was the casting out of devils followed by such results [Alford]; [b] Jesus never appeared so glorious before [Fritzsche,]; [c] never before were such stupendous signs wrought in such number and with such little outward exertion of power [cf. Chrysostom, Dionysius, Cajetan, Jansenius, Lapide, Lam.]; [d] never before were devils cast out in such imposing and quiet a manner [Hilary, Knabenbauer]. That the last explanation is the more probable one follows from the fact that in Mt. 12:23 and Lk. 11:14, too, the multitudes wonder after an exorcism performed by Jesus; again, the Pharisees direct their attack only against the power of Jesus over the devils: “by the prince of devils he casteth out devils”; finally, it is well known that those among the Jews who attempted to exorcise the possessed had recourse to a number of outward formulas and incantations [cf. Josephus Ant. VIII. ii. 5; B. J. VII. vi. 3; Ed. i. p. 482; ii. pp. 771, 775; Weber, System der altsyn. paläst. Theol. pp. 247 f.].

Unbelief. The unbelief of the Pharisees is not merely negative, but is expressed positively; it is not private, but is expressed by the public teachers of Israel; not content with impeding the belief of others, it endeavors to excite their open hostility: “by the prince of devils he casteth out devils.” Since Jesus does not answer the calumny of his enemies, it may be supposed that they uttered it out of his hearing [cf. Mt. 12:25]. That the Pharisees did not speak in good faith follows from the circumstances that Jesus did not only cast out devils, but also cured lepers, gave sight to the blind, stilled the stormy sea, raised the dead, preached the kingdom of God, and led his followers to a greater knowledge and love of God, all of which effects could not be ascribed to the power of the devil [cf. Chrysostom]. The sin of the Pharisees consisted therefore in attributing the evident works of God to the devil; in other words, it was the sin against the Holy Ghost. Jansenius shows here the various degrees of the Pharisees’ opposition to Jesus: they blame him for forgiving sins; they blame him for eating with sinners; they blame him for not obliging his disciples to fast; they attribute his miracles to the power of the devil. The prophets appear to have foreseen this obduracy of the Jewish leaders [cf. Is. 65:2; 56:10, 11].

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One Response to “Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 9:32-38”

  1. […] Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 9:32-38). […]

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