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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - MARK 9
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    CHAPTER 9

    Mr 9:1-13. JESUS IS TRANSFIGURED--CONVERSATION ABOUT ELIAS. ( = Mt 16:28-17:13; Lu 9:27-36).

    See on Lu 9:27-36.

    Mr 9:14-32. HEALING OF A DEMONIAC BOY--SECOND EXPLICIT ANNOUNCEMENT OF HIS APPROACHING DEATH AND RESURRECTION. ( = Mt 17:14-23; Lu 9:37-45).

    Healing of the Demoniac Boy (Mr 9:14-29).

    14. And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them--This was "on the next day, when they were come down from the hill" (Lu 9:37). The Transfiguration appears to have taken place at night. In the morning, as He came down from the hill on which it took place--with Peter, and James, and John--on approaching the other nine, He found them surrounded by a great multitude, and the scribes disputing or discussing with them. No doubt these cavillers were twitting the apostles of Jesus with their inability to cure the demoniac boy of whom we are presently to hear, and insinuating doubts even of their Master's ability to do it; while they, zealous for their Master's honor, would no doubt refer to His past miracles in proof of the contrary.

    15. And straightway all the people--the multitude.
    - when they beheld him, were greatly amazed--were astounded.
    - and running to him saluted him--The singularly strong expression of surprise, the sudden arrest of the discussion, and the rush of the multitude towards Him, can be accounted for by nothing less than something amazing in His appearance. There can hardly be any doubt that His countenance still retained traces of His transfiguration-glory. (See Ex 34:29, 30). So BENGEL, DE WETTE, MEYER, TRENCH, ALFORD. No wonder, if this was the case, that they not only ran to Him, but saluted Him. Our Lord, however, takes no notice of what had attracted them, and probably it gradually faded away as He drew near; but addressing Himself to the scribes, He demands the subject of their discussion, ready to meet them where they had pressed hard upon His half-instructed and as yet timid apostles.

    16. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?--Ere they had time to reply, the father of the boy, whose case had occasioned the dispute, himself steps forward and answers the question; telling a piteous tale of deafness, and dumbness, and fits of epilepsy--ending with this, that the disciples, though entreated, could not perform the cure.

    17. And one of the multitude answered, and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son--"mine only child" (Lu 9:38).
    - which hath a dumb spirit--a spirit whose operation had the effect of rendering his victim speechless, and deaf also (Mr 9:25). In Matthew's report of the speech (Mt 17:15), the father says "he is lunatic"; this being another and most distressing effect of the possession.

    18. And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him; and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away--rather, "becomes withered," "dried up," or "paralyzed"; as the same word is everywhere else rendered in the New Testament. Some additional particulars are given by Luke, and by our Evangelist below. "Lo," says he in Lu 9:39, "a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly [or with difficulty] departeth from him."
    - and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not--Our Lord replies to the father by a severe rebuke to the disciples. As if wounded at the exposure before such a multitude, of the weakness of His disciples' faith, which doubtless He felt as a reflection on Himself, He puts them to the blush before all, but in language fitted only to raise expectation of what He Himself would do.

    19. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation--"and perverse," or "perverted" (Mt 17:17; Lu 9:41).
    - how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?--language implying that it was a shame to them to want the faith necessary to perform this cure, and that it needed some patience to put up with them. It is to us surprising that some interpreters, as CHRYSOSTOM and CALVIN, should represent this rebuke as addressed, not to the disciples at all, but to the scribes who disputed with them. Nor does it much, if at all, mend the matter to view it as addressed to both, as most expositors seem to do. With BENGEL, DE WETTE, and MEYER, we regard it as addressed directly to the nine apostles who were unable to expel this evil spirit. And though, in ascribing this inability to their "want of faith" and the "perverted turn of mind" which they had drunk in with their early training, the rebuke would undoubtedly apply, with vastly greater force, to those who twitted the poor disciples with their inability, it would be to change the whole nature of the rebuke to suppose it addressed to those who had no faith at all, and were wholly perverted. It was because faith sufficient for curing this youth was to be expected of the disciples, and because they should by that time have got rid of the perversity in which they had been reared, that Jesus exposes them thus before the rest. And who does not see that this was fitted, more than anything else, to impress upon the by-standers the severe loftiness of the training He was giving to the Twelve, and the unsophisticated footing He was on with them?
    - Bring him unto me--The order to bring the patient to Him was instantly obeyed; when, lo! as if conscious of the presence of his Divine Tormentor, and expecting to be made to quit, the foul spirit rages and is furious, determined to die hard, doing all the mischief he can to this poor child while yet within his grasp.

    20. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him--Just as the man with the legion of demons, "when he saw Jesus, ran and worshipped Him" (Mr 5:6), so this demon, when he saw Him, immediately "tare him." The feeling of terror and rage was the same in both cases.
    - and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming--Still Jesus does nothing, but keeps conversing with the father about the case--partly to have its desperate features told out by him who knew them best, in the hearing of the spectators; partly to let its virulence have time to show itself; and partly to deepen the exercise of the father's soul, to draw out his faith, and thus to prepare both him and the by-standers for what He was to do.

    21. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child, &c.--Having told briefly the affecting features of the case, the poor father, half dispirited by the failure of the disciples and the aggravated virulence of the malady itself in presence of their Master, yet encouraged too by what he had heard of Christ, by the severe rebuke He had given to His disciples for not having faith enough to cure the boy, and by the dignity with which He had ordered him to be brought to Him--in this mixed state of mind, he closes his description of the case with these touching words:

    22. but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us--"us," says the father; for it was a sore family affliction. Compare the language of the Syrophœnician woman regarding her daughter, "Lord, help me." Still nothing is done: the man is but struggling into faith: it must come a step farther. But he had to do with Him who breaks not the bruised reed, and who knew how to inspire what He demanded. The man had said to Him, "If Thou canst do."

    23. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe--The man had said, "If Thou canst do anything." Jesus replies.
    - all things are possible to him that believeth--"My doing all depends on thy believing." To impress this still more, He redoubles upon the believing: "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Thus the Lord helps the birth of faith in that struggling soul; and now, though with pain and sore travail, it comes to the birth, as TRENCH, borrowing from OLSHAUSEN, expresses it. Seeing the case stood still, waiting not upon the Lord's power but his own faith, the man becomes immediately conscious of conflicting principles, and rises into one of the noblest utterances on record.

    24. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief--that is, "It is useless concealing from Thee, O Thou mysterious, mighty Healer, the unbelief that still struggles in this heart of mine; but that heart bears me witness that I do believe in Thee; and if distrust still remains, I disown it, I wrestle with it, I seek help from Thee against it." Two things are very remarkable here: First, The felt and owned presence of unbelief, which only the strength of the man's faith could have so revealed to his own consciousness. Second, His appeal to Christ for help against his felt unbelief--a feature in the case quite unparalleled, and showing, more than all protestations could have done, the insight he had attained into the existence of a power in Christ more glorious them any he had besought for his poor child. The work was done; and as the commotion and confusion in the crowd was now increasing, Jesus at once, as Lord of spirits, gives the word of command to the dumb and deaf spirit to be gone, never again to return to his victim.

    26. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him; and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead--The malignant, cruel spirit, now conscious that his time was come, gathers up his whole strength, with intent by a last stroke to kill his victim, and had nearly succeeded. But the Lord of life was there; the Healer of all maladies, the Friend of sinners, the Seed of the woman, "the Stronger than the strong man armed," was there. The very faith which Christ declared to be enough for everything being now found, it was not possible that the serpent should prevail. Fearfully is he permitted to bruise the heel, as in this case; but his own head shall go for it--his works shall be destroyed (1Jo 3:8).

    27. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

    28. Why could not we cast him out?

    29. And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting--that is, as nearly all good interpreters are agreed, "this kind of evil spirits cannot be expelled," or "so desperate a case of demoniacal possession cannot be cured, but by prayer and fasting." But since the Lord Himself says that His disciples could not fast while He was with them, perhaps this was designed, as ALFORD hints, for their after-guidance--unless we take it as but a definite way of expressing the general truth, that great and difficult duties require special preparation and self-denial. But the answer to their question, as given in Mt 17:20, 21 is fuller: "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief. For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Mt 17:20). See on Mr 11:23. "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Mt 17:21), that is, though nothing is impossible to faith, yet such a height of faith as is requisite for such triumphs is not to be reached either in a moment or without effort--either with God in prayer or with ourselves in self-denying exercises. Luke (Lu 9:43) adds, "And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God"--"at the majesty" or "mightiness of God," in this last miracle, in the Transfiguration, &c.; or, at the divine grandeur of Christ rising upon them daily.

    Second Explicit Announcement of His Approaching Death and Resurrection (Mr 9:30-32).

    30. And they departed thence, and passed--were passing along.
    - through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it--By comparing Mt 17:22, 23 and Lu 9:43, 44 with this, we gather, that as our Lord's reason for going through Galilee more privately than usual on this occasion was to reiterate to them the announcement which had so shocked them at the first mention of it, and thus familiarize them with it by little and little, so this was His reason for enjoining silence upon them as to their present movements.

    31. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them--"Let these sayings sink down into your ears" (Lu 9:44); not what had been passing between them as to His grandeur, but what He was now to utter.
    - The Son of man is delivered--The use of the present tense expresses how near at hand He would have them to consider it. As BENGEL says, steps were already in course of being taken to bring it about.
    - into the hands of men--This remarkable antithesis, "the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men," it is worthy of notice, is in all the three Evangelists.
    - and they shall kill him--that is, "Be not carried off your feet by all that grandeur of Mine which ye have lately witnessed, but bear in mind what I have already told you and now distinctly repeat, that that Sun in whose beams ye now rejoice is soon to set in midnight gloom."
    - and after he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

    32. But they understood not that saying--"and it was hid from them, [so] that they preceived it not" (Lu 9:45).
    - and were afraid to ask him--Their most cherished ideas were so completely dashed by such announcements, that they were afraid of laying themselves open to rebuke by asking Him any questions. But "they were exceeding sorry" (Mt 17:23). While the other Evangelists, as WEBSTER and WILKINSON remark, notice their ignorance and their fear, Matthew

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