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See on Lu 9:27-36.
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.
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"
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
"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."
19. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation--"and
perverse," or "perverted"
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"
so this demon, when he saw Him, immediately "tare him." The
feeling of terror and rage was the same in both cases.
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.
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.
31. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them--"Let these sayings
sink down into your ears"
not what had been passing between them as to His grandeur, but what He
was now to utter.
32. But they understood not that saying--"and it was hid from them,
[so] that they preceived it not"