Orthodox Daily Devotional for September 2-8
Matthew 22:1-14 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them [a]spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, [b]take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
St Theophylact commentary on Mark continues (casting out of the demons from the possessed)
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and fell prostrate before Him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not. For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And He asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.
The demons consider it a torment to come out of a man, and this is why they say, “that Thou torment not;” meaning, do not lead us out of our dwelling place, which is this man. Furthermore, they thought that the Lord would not tolerate the excess of evil they had dared to commit, and here and now would hand them over to their final punishment. This is also why they pleaded with Him not to torment them. The Lord asked the man his name, not because He needed to find out what it was, but so that the others would learn of the multitude of demons dwelling within him. Since there appeared to be only one demon, the Lord showed how many enemies there were with which that pitiable man had to struggle.
Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the demons besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country.
The demons ask the Lord not to send them out of that region, but to let them depart into the herd of swine. And He allows this. For our life is like a school of wrestling, and so the Lord was not willing to let the demons depart from this life, but wanted them to remain to wrestle with us and make us more experienced in the struggle. He permitted them to enter into the swine so that we would learn that just as the demons did not spare the swine, likewise they would not have spared that man if divine power had not preserved him. For the demons are our enemies and would destroy us in an instant if God did not preserve us. Learn that neither do the demons have authority over swine, much less over men, if God did not permit it. Understand that the demons also enter into men who live like swine, rolling in the mire of pleasures, and the demons hurl them over the precipice of destruction and into the sea of this life, where they drown.
…14: And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the demon, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the demon, and also concerning the swine. And they began to beseech Him to depart out of their coasts. And when He was come into the boat, he that had been possessed with the demon besought Him that he might be with Him. Yet Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them what great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
The inhabitants of that city, astonished at the miracle, went out to see Jesus. When they heard what had happened, they were greatly afraid. This is why they pleaded with Jesus “to depart out of their coasts.” They were afraid that they might suffer even greater damage than this. For they had suffered the loss of the swine, and were grieved at that loss, and thus wanted the Lord to leave. But “he that had been possessed with the demon besought Him that he might be with Him.” For he was afraid that the demons would find him alone and would again set upon him. But the Lord sends him away to his own house, first of all, to show the man that even though He Himself is not present, His power and protecting care will keep him safe; and secondly, so that the man would bring benefit to those who would see him. And behold, the man began to “proclaim… and all men did marvel.” See also the absence of boasting on the Saviour’s part. He did not say, “Tell what great things I have done for thee,” but, “Tell what great things the Lord hath done for thee.” So too must you, O reader, attribute to God, and not to yourself, whatever good thing you may have done.
And when Jesus was passed over again by boat unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray Thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with Him; and much people followed Him, and thronged Him. And a certain woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched His garment. For she said, If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that scourge.
After the miracle done |o the man possessed of a demon, the Lord works another miracle, raising up the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. The evangelist mentions the name of the ruler of the synagogue for the sake of the Jews who knew of this event. Now this man had faith in half measure only. By falling at the Lord’s feet, he had faith; by beseeching Him to come in person, he did not show as much faith as he ought. For he ought to have said, “Only say the word.” As the Lord went with him, as if just in passing He also healed the woman with an issue of blood.3 This woman had great faith, for she thought she could receive benefit even from His garment. And so indeed she received healing. You should also understand these things as pertaining to human nature, which also had an issue of blood. For human nature had been gushing forth sin which was killing the soul as it drained out the lifeblood of the soul. It could not be healed by the many physicians, that is, the wise of this world, and indeed the law and the prophets. But as soon as our human nature touched Christ’s clothes, that is, His flesh, it was healed. For he who touches Christ’s clothes is he who believes that Christ took flesh.
And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched My clothes? And His disciples said unto Him, Thou seest the multitude thronging Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me? And He looked round about to sec her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth. And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy scourge.
Power goes out from Christ, not travelling from one location to another, but rather imparted to others while remaining in Christ undiminished. It is the same with teachings, which remain with those who teach, and yet are imparted to those who learn. See how none of the multitude who were thronging about Him touched Him, but rather she who was not thronging about Him. We learn from this a mystery, that those in tumult and turmoil do not touch Christ; they only throng about Him. But he who touches Jesus is the one who does not crowd against Jesus, and who does not surround with turmoil the Word within himself. Why does the Lord reveal the woman? First, that He might glorify the woman’s faith; secondly, to encourage the ruler of the synagogue that his little daughter will likewise be made whole; and thirdly, to deliver the woman from her great fear. For the woman was afraid that she had, as it were, stolen the healing. This is why the evangelist says that the woman came “fearing and trembling”. The Lord, therefore, does not say, “I have made thee whole,” but, “thy faith hath made thee whole.” Accordingly, go in peace, that is, go and be at rest. What He means is this: “Depart, be at rest, since you have been, until this moment, in grief and turmoil.”
While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? The little girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the little girl, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the little girl was lying. And He took the little girl by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Little girl, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the little girl arose, and walked; for she was twelve years of age. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And He charged them sternly, that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat. (commentary on Monday)