Third Withdrawal from Herod's Territory.
Subdivision E.

Healing the Demoniac Boy.

(Region of Cæsarea Philippi.)

^A Matt. XVII.14-20; ^B Mark IX.14-29; ^C Luke IX.37-43.

^c 37 And it came to pass, on the next day, when they were come down from the mountain, ^b 14 And when they came to the disciples [the nine apostles which had been left behind], they saw a great multitude about them [We last heard of the multitude at Mark viii.34. See page 416. It had no doubt been with Jesus until he ascended the mount and had remained with his apostles until he came down], and scribes questioning with them. [These scribes had caught the apostles in one and perhaps the only case where they had failed to cure, and they were making full use of the advantageous opportunity to discredit Christ and his apostles before the people by asking sneering and sarcastic questions.] 15 And straightway all the multitude, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and running to him ^c a great multitude met him. ^b saluted him. [Why were the multitude amazed? Most commentators answer that it was because the face of Jesus shone with remaining traces of transfiguration glory, as did that of Moses (Ex. xxxiv.29), but this can hardly have been so, for it would have been at variance with the secrecy which Jesus enjoined as to his transfiguration. Moreover, so important a feature could hardly have escaped from the narratives of all three evangelists. Undoubtedly the amazement was caused by the sudden and opportune return of Jesus. Those who urge that this was not enough to produce amazement show themselves to be poor students of human nature. The multitude had been listening to and no doubt enjoying the questions of the scribes. The unexpected appearance of Jesus therefore impressed them with the sudden sense of having been detected in wrong-doing which invariably leads to amazement. Moreover, those who remained loyal to Jesus would be equally amazed by his approach, since they could not but feel that an exciting crisis was at hand.] ^a 14 And when they were come to the multitude [i. e., when Jesus and the multitude met], ^b he asked them, What question ye with them? [He surprised the scribes by this demand and they saw at once that he knew all and they felt rebuked for their unwarranted exultation, and so kept silent.] ^c 38 And, behold, ^a there came to him a man, ^b one of { ^c from} the multitude, ^a kneeling to him, ^b answered him, ^c cried, saying, ^b Teacher, ^a 15 Lord, ^b I brought unto thee my son, who hath a dumb spirit; ^a have mercy on my son: for he is epileptic, and suffereth grievously; ^c I beseech thee look upon my son: for he is mine only child.39 and behold a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; ^b 18 and wheresoever it taketh him, it dasheth him down: ^c and it teareth him that he foameth, ^b and grindeth his teeth, and pineth away: ^c and it hardly departeth from him, bruising him sorely. [When the scribes did not answer, the father of the demoniac boy broke the embarrassing silence by telling Jesus about the matter in question. His child was deaf, dumb, and epileptic, but all these physical ailments were no doubt produced by the demon or evil spirit which possessed him. The phrase "hardly departeth from him" rather suggests the continual unrest in which the demon kept his victim rather than that the demon ever really relinquished his possession of him. Pauses in the delirium of agony were regarded as departures of the demon.] ^a 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, ^b and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; ^c 40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. ^b they were not able. ^a and they could not cure him.17 And Jesus answered and said, { ^b answereth them and saith,} ^a O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? ^c bring hither thy son to me. ^b unto me. [As there was no reason to accuse the apostles of perversity, it is evident that the rebuke of Jesus is addressed generally to all and not particularly to the disciples. The perverse faithlessness and infidelity of the scribes had operated upon the multitude, and the doubts of the multitude had in turn influenced the apostles, and thus, with the blind leading the blind, all had fallen into the ditch of impotent disbelief. The disbelief of the people was a constant grief to Jesus, but it must have been especially so in this case, for it fostered and perpetrated this scene of weakness, mean-spiritedness, misery, and suffering which stood out in such sharp contrast with the peace, blessedness, and glory from which he had just come.] 20 And they brought him unto him: ^c 42 And as he was yet a coming, ^b when he saw him [saw Jesus], straightway ^c the demon dashed him down, and ^b the spirit tare him grievously; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.21 And he asked his father, How long is it since this hath come unto him? And he said, From a child.22 And oft-times it hath cast him both into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: { ^a he falleth into the fire, and oft-times into the water.} [By causing the long-standing nature of the case and the malignity of it to be fully revealed, Jesus emphasized the power of the cure] ^b but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.23 And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth. [Jesus echoed back the "if thou canst" which the man had uttered. If Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile which trusted the fullness of his divine power, he also marveled at the disbelief of this Jew which thus coolly and presumptuously questions the sufficiency of that power. In the remainder of his answer Jesus shows that the lack of power is not in him, but in those who would be recipients of the blessings of his power, for those blessings are obtained by faith.] 24 Straightway the father of the child cried out, and said I believe; help thou my unbelief. [He confessed his faith, but desired so ardently to have the child healed that he feared lest he should not have faith enough to accomplish that desire, and therefore asked for more faith.] 25 And when Jesus saw that the multitude came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. [Jesus had found the multitude when he came down from the mountain, but the excitement in this multitude was evidently drawing men from every quarter, so that the crowd was momentarily growing greater. A longer conversation with the man might have been beneficial, but to prevent the gathering of any larger company Jesus acted at once and spoke the words of command. Since the demon was manifestly of a most daring, impudent, and audacious nature, Jesus took the precaution to forbid it attempting to re-enter its victim, a precaution which the conduct of the demon abundantly justified.] 26 And having cried out, and torn him much, he came out: and the boy became as one dead; insomuch that the more part said, He is dead. [The malicious effrontery and obstinacy displayed by this demon stands in marked contrast to the cowed, supplicating spirit shown by the Gergesene legion. See pp.345, 346.] 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up; and he arose. ^c But Jesus healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. [For comment on similar conduct see page 277.] ^a and the demon went out of him: and the boy was cured from that hour. ^c 43 And they were all astonished at the majesty of God. [The failure of the disciples had only emphasized the power of the Master.] ^b 28 And when he was come into the house, ^a 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, ^b asked him privately, How is it that we could not we cast it out? ^a Why could not we cast it out? 20 And Jesus saith unto them, Because of your little faith [The failure of the disciples was not because of any insufficiency of power in Jesus, but was due to their own failure to appropriate that power by faith. The relation of belief and unbelief to miraculous power is fully illustrated in Peter's attempt to walk upon the waters. See page 380]: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain [Mount Hermon] Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. [The mustard seed was the proverbial type for the infinitely little (Matt. xiii.32). Faith has such power with God that even little faith becomes well-nigh omnipotent in an age of miracles.] ^b 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come out by nothing, save by prayer. [Prayer was the means of increasing faith. Demons, like spirits in the flesh, have different degrees of will force, some being easier to subdue than others, and this once, being particularly willful and obstinate, required more faith to expel it.]

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