The Saying that was Kept
Mark 9:9-13
And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen…

The disciples did not understand their Master - a common experience. Why was this saying so difficult? It seems plain enough to us. But then we look at it after its accomplishment; they before that. And their rabbinic training taught them to look for something very different from what Christ seemed to be referring to. He spoke as if he alone was to rise again. They had been taught to think of the resurrection as universal, and altogether; not an experience of one here and another there. Moreover, their teachers had told them that Elias must first come. In fact, their habits of thought were all going in one direction, and this saying of Christ's in another. Yet, like fair and candid men, they did not dismiss the words as impossible of accomplishment or interpretation; but they "kept the saying."

I. HOW ARE WE TO EXPLAIN THE HOLD WHICH THE HARD SAYINGS OF CHRIST HAVE UPON THE DEVOUT MIND? Their "keeping" the saying was doubtless for the most part a voluntary thing, yet there was also a sense in which it was involuntary. The subject it concerned awed and interested them, and they could not, if they had wished to do it, throw off its fascination. And so it is with the other hard sayings; that which is to be said of this may be said of them.

1. Because of relation with similar experiences. Many a time had the actions of Christ, or their own spiritual history, presented enigmas that refused to be summarily explained. They were continually stumbling upon some new, strange thing. They had just come out of a scene of which the wisest and soberest of them might well wonder whether it was fairyland or fact. And they were conscious of deep yearnings and aspirations to which the Savior's words seemed to answer as the key to the lock. These had evidently something in common. The doctrines of Christianity may be difficult for the carnal mind to construe, but they appeal to a deep, universal, albeit depraved, human consciousness, which forbids their being at once dismissed from the thought.

2. And the sense of mystery is itself an element of fascination. The mind goes forth freely after the infinite and eternal in speculation and fancy, if not in serious moral interest. If there be but a substratum of apparent fact upon which thought can build, the sense of a mystery lying beyond is congenial to man; and he will continually return to it in efforts to penetrate it. This is why - at least, one reason why - the world around us never pails upon our senses. Its commonest things are steeped in wonder of the unknowable, if we but take one or two steps onward in the study of them.

3. In addition to this, the disciples knew that no mystery was uttered by their Master without some gracious meaning in it, which would sooner or later be made known. The hardest doctrine was, they felt, closely connected with their welfare, and would be seen to be so by-and-by. And Christians have experienced the same ever since. Our daily life is, if we be thoughtful, the best expositor of the deep things of grace, and keeps hovering within our horizon many an angel of revelation ready to deliver his message in due time.

II. HOW SHOULD THESE BE DEALT WITH? The disciples "kept," i.e. held fast, the saying; thus affording an example to all true Christians.

1. We should continually endeavor to understand or learn their meaning. Sometimes simple communion with one's own heart will be enough; or, again, it may be necessary to discuss them with others of a kindred spirit. Many of the happiest hours of life are so spent. Not that we shall always succeed; very often there will remain an element of the infinite or the unknown that will trouble us.

2. But when human wisdom fails, Divine wisdom may be invoked. "They asked him," and he cleared away the difficulty to the extent to which they made it known. To the praying soul the light will come in ever-increasing fullness. More light will break forth from the book of earthly experience, and from the written Word of comfort and revelation. And when the mystery still remains insoluble, the Spirit of Jesus will give us faith and patience until "the day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts," and we know even as we are known. - M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.

WEB: As they were coming down from the mountain, he commanded them that they should tell no one what things they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

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