The Pulpit Commentary

Mark 9:25-29 (Mark 9:25-29)

The multitude had been much excited by the dispute between the scribes and our Lord's disciples. And now, when they noticed that he had taken the father apart, as no doubt he had done, to question him they came running together (the word is ἐπισυντρέχει , an unusual word, meaning "they ran together to the place") where he was, crowding upon him. Then he came forward, and with a voice of sublime authority he said, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him and enter no more into him. The rest of the narrative shows how malignant and powerful this evil spirit was, who dared so to resist and defy Christ that, in his departure out of the afflicted boy, he almost robbed him of life. "Most unwillingly," says Archbishop Trench, "does the evil spirit depart, seeking to destroy that which he can no longer retain." And he quotes Fuller, who says that he is "like an outgoing tenant, that cares not what mischief he does to the house that he is quitting." Some have supposed that this was an evil spirit possessed of more than ordinary power as well as malignity, and that this was the reason why our Lord's disciples could not cast him out; so that this expulsion needed the mighty arm of One stronger than the strong. The words in the Greek are powerful, severe, and authoritative: "He rebuked ( ἐπετίμησε ) the unclean spirit, . Thou dumb and deaf spirit ( τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφὸν ), I command thee ( ἐγώ σοι ἐπιτάσσω ), come out of him, and enter no more into him." This explains our Lord's words when the disciples remarked afterwards, We could not out it out … This kind can come out by nothing, save by prayer ; that is, this particular kind of malicious spirit. For there are different degrees of malice and energy in evil spirits as in evil men. The words "and fasting" are added in many ancient authorities.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Mark 9:14-29 (Mark 9:14-29)

The lunatic boy.

In Raphael's picture of the Transfiguration, which has often been called the greatest of all paintings, the foreground is occupied by a vivid representation of this marvellous miracle wrought by our Lord upon his descent from the mountain. The conjunction of the two incidents, which are in such striking contrast with each other, seems suggestive. The native glory of the Redeemer shone forth in the presence of the three favored disciples upon the holy mount. But the redemptive work of the Son of God is brought out most prominently by his mighty work of healing, in which he shows himself able to deliver a human sufferer from the agonies of a terrible disease, and from the clutches of a cruel foe. The one incident serves to bring out the other into a bolder relief; and the two must be taken together, in order that we may obtain a fair and complete view of the nature, and especially of the ministry, of Jesus.

I. OBSERVE THE DISTRESSING CASE OF HUMAN MISERY HERE PORTRAYED . St. Mark has depicted this whole incident with a graphic minuteness that cannot fail to impress itself upon the reader's mind.

1 . The case itself is unique in the wretchedness of its symptoms. An epileptic boy, speechless, often convulsed and sometimes flung into the fire and the water, a sufferer in this way from childhood, and now wasting away from long-continued disease,—can a more affecting picture of human misery be painted than this? Add to all the particulars related the possession by an evil spirit; and the hopelessness of the case, the powerlessness of all human endeavors, becomes apparent.

2 . The anguish of the father's heart is beyond description; his attitude, his language, declare his distress and his dejection.

3 . The interest of the multitude is evident; a spectacle such as this could not fail to excite the commiseration and compassion of every feeling heart. Observe in this case a striking figure of the condition of the sinner as a captive of Satan, and of the state of this ungodly and sin-accursed humanity!

II. REMARK THE INABILITY OF ALL HUMAN MEANS AND AGENCIES TO RELIEVE THIS CASE OF WRETCHEDNESS . All that a father's watchfulness and care could effect had long been tried. Doubtless the best known and most skillful physicians had exhausted the resources of their art. But all had been in vain. And now the disciples of our Lord had been appealed to with earnest entreaties. In the absence of their Master upon the mountain they had put forth their endeavors, had exercised their authority. But all was in vain. It was the assertion of the father; it was the confession of the disciples themselves: "They could not cast out" the demon. And there is no power on earth that can deal effectually with the sinner's case—that can expel from this humanity the spirit of evil that has so long ruled, afflicted, and defiled it.

III. CONSIDER THE APPLICATION WHICH WAS MADE TO JESUS AS TO THE DIVINE HEALER . How spiritually significant and instructive is the approach of the suppliant father to the Christ! The importance attached to faith comes out in this narrative perhaps more prominently than in any other part of the Gospel. We recognize:

1 . The demand for faith. The father states his case, describes the sufferings of his son, implores compassion, and entreats help. His qualification, If thou canst do anything," calls forth Christ's marvellous and memorable utterance: "If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth." This is, indeed, a repetition of the teaching of Scripture in every page. Faith is the posture of the heart which God approves, and which renders those who assume it capable of being blessed. Faith is the cry of the heart which God will never disregard or reject. And this condition comes out in a very impressive manner in this dialogue.

2 . The assertion of faith. The poor father was driven to faith by need and suffering, by sympathy and despondency, by his repeated failures to obtain relief. He was drawn to Christ by his gracious and majestic presence as he came down from the Mount of Transfiguration. The leper had doubted the will of Christ to save; this father seems to have had confidence in the disposition and readiness of the Divine Teacher and Healer, and upon the suggestion and requirement of the Redeemer he exclaims, with fervor and with earnestness, "Lord, I believe."

3 . The confession of unbelief. He doubts, or until now has doubted, Christ's power to save, as appears from his "If thou canst," and as he himself acknowledges in his cry, "Help thou mine unbelief." If he had not believed at all, he would not have come to Jesus; if he had believed firmly, he would have come with other words and in another spirit. This combination is very true to nature. There are degrees of faith even in the faithful Where is perfect faith in Jesus? Who has not had reason to cry, "Help thou mine unbelief;" "Increase my faith"?

4 . The cry for help. The earnest applicant did not wait until his faith was stronger—until more assurances and encouragements were given. He pleads as for his life, for he pleads for his child. Hating his unbelief, he struggles against it. His appeal is the utterance of his heart, which has no hope and no resource save in Immanuel, the Son of God. An example this to all hearers of the gospel, and especially to the penitent, the doubting, the timid, and the tempted.


1 . His compassion was excited. He might pause to call forth the father's faith; but he would not withhold his sympathy from the suffering.

2 . His authority was exercised over the evil spirit; for he rebuked and bade the demon to come out, and this with a commanding voice, which even so potent an agent of evil could not resist.

3 . His healing, gracious aid was extended to the boy. When the sufferer seemed as if dead, by reason of the exhausting convulsions in which the departing demon displayed his malicious power, the Lord of life took him by the hand and raised him up, and he arose. How beautiful and encouraging an illustration of our Lord's personal interest in, and spiritual contact with, those whom he commiserates, relieves, and saves!


1 . There is no case of need, sin, and wretchedness beyond the power of Christ to aid.

2 . There is no faith, however feeble, which will not justify an approach to Christ, and elicit his compassion and his willingness to help.

3 . By spiritual discipline Christ's people may train themselves for grappling with every form, however extreme, of human misery and helplessness.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Mark 9:14-29 (Mark 9:14-29)

The cure of the demoniac child.

This stands out in striking contrast with the halcyon hour on the mountain with which the three had been favored. Their brethren were experiencing a greater difficulty than they had ever yet known. But the discussion of the saying they had kept, formed for the three an intermediate step down into actual life, and daily events and troubles. Christ, on the other hand, appears to have received a greater fullness of Messianic consciousness and power through his transfiguration, as was his wont after similar retirements into spiritual seclusion. This incident affords a view of Christ ' s manner of dealing with exceptional difficulties in spiritual service.


1 . Their spirit was being daunted . The people ceased to respect them, and the scribes began to turn the failure to account as an argument against their Lord. What could they say or do? Their Master was absent, and they were at their wits' end. A situation with its parallels in every age of the Church. Moral phases of individual, social, and national life which seem to defy remedy or even amelioration. Difficulties and failures in mission work, etc.

2 . Their usefulness was at a standstill. The enemies of their cause had now the upper hand, and they were pressing them with objections and sneers. Perhaps they were even asking why their Master had gone away so mysteriously, and left them to cope with difficulties for which they were unequal. It was high time Jesus should come to their rescue. And lo! as the thought arose within them almost despairingly, he appeared! "The multitude, when they saw him, were greatly amazed." He had come just at the right moment, as if he divined the need for his presence.


1 . To the people , or generally. He laments their want of faith, and slowness to receive the things of God. They had the highest reasons for faith—his works and himself—in their midst, and yet would not believe. He gives vent to the feeling of weariness and moral disgust which overcame him, and in the face of which he still labored and forbore. The want of faith, only immediately manifested towards the disciples, was in reality towards himself. That was the root and spring of their readiness to cavil, and their questionings and arguments.

2 . To the father. His conversation with Christ is made by the latter a perfect spiritual discipline. Already the dealings of God had been experienced in his home and heart, and that which has been begun is carried to a successful issue. It is amongst the compensations of great sorrows that, if they do not themselves induce a high spirituality of mind, they, at all events, help us to feel our need of the Savior. There was a preparatory work already done, and Christ wastes no advantage thus gained. Having signified his willingness to undertake the cure, he begins to question the father, partly as an expression of sympathy, partly to show the true character of the case. In this he succeeds in eliciting an expression of the sceptical spirit of the man: "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Here there is room for a commencement, and the Savior repeats in grieved astonishment, " If Thou canst! " It was a qualification that had no business in such a request, and it showed how poor was the spiritual life or power of the man. He then declares the grand condition of all his cures, "All things are possible to him that believeth;" which in this connection meant that all the blessings Christ conferred were given only in response to faith, but where that was there was no limit with regard to their bestowal. He did not mean that any request, of whatever kind it might be, would be granted if it were only accompanied by faith, but that all requests that were the outcome of a Divine faith, and consequently subject to its conditions—as, for instance, their being agreeable to God's will—would be granted, however hard they might appear to man. This remark awoke the slumbering spiritual nature of the father, whose love for his son was also at work to quicken his susceptibilities, and he cried out, "I believe; help thou mine unbelief." There is great difference of opinion as to the true meaning of these words, and no certainty would seem to be attainable; Yet that they reveal a low, self-contradictory spiritual state is evident. Still, progress is perceptible. He at least knows his shortcoming, and has asked for its removal. That was probably effected by the cure of his son, which took place, not because of satisfaction with the father's confession—a very faulty one at best—but through desire to prevent tumult, etc.; for when " he saw that a multitude came running together ," he quickly completed the miracle. But even in his expedition there is no hurry. The whole scene is solemn and expressive, and must have had a strong influence on all who looked on.

3 . To the disciples. A call to a more intense and elevated communion with God. Prayer (and fasting) was a means to that. Faith is thus seen to be a condition both of getting good and doing good. It is because Christians live habitually on such a worldly plane that they lack power. Oneness in heart and life with God would remove "mountains." This power should be sought by all.

III. HE MADE IT ALSO AN OCCASION FOR MORE SIGNAL DISPLAY OF HIS GLORY . The delay, failure of disciples, gradual extraction of all the circumstances of the case from the father, etc., all tended to increase the moral effect of the final exercise of power. His authority as the moral Governor of the universe, and Destroyer of the works of the devil, is also vindicated in addressing the demon. Not less, but far more, awful are the effects of sin upon the soul. Its expulsion is a work of Divine power and grace, and exhaustive of the nature in which it has dwelt. It is for Christ to raise up and revivify the poor wreck, the spiritual impotency that survives. So are the failures of weak disciples retrieved, and where disgrace is, humanly speaking, inevitable, the glory of God is revealed. The servants of Christ may despair of themselves, but never of him.—M.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Mark 9:14-28 (Mark 9:14-28)

The healing of the lunatic youth.

Descending from "the holy mount," where he had "received honor and glory from God the Father," a scene presented itself in direct contrast to "the majesty" of which the favored three had then been "eye-witnesses." Around the disciples "they saw a great multitude, and scribes questioning with them." They had suffered a painful defeat. One of the multitude had brought to them his son, having "a dumb spirit;" and he spake to the "disciples that they should cast him out; and they were not able"! A more pitiable object could scarcely be imagined. "From a child" he was "epileptic," and suffered "grievously;" "the spirit ofttimes" casting "him both into the fire and into the waters" as if "to destroy him;" and so dire was its influence over him that, as the father said, "wheresoever it taketh him, it dasheth him down: and he foameth, and grindeth his teeth, and pineth away;" "it teareth him that he foameth, and it hardly departeth from him, bruising him sorely;" and when it "taketh him" he, in inarticulate tones, "suddenly crieth out." To add to the sadness of the case, the spirit was "unclean," compelling its victim to acts of filthiness. The poor boy, too, suffered the grievous aggravation of being "dumb," so that he could not tell out his sorrows; and he was "deaf," so that no word of strengthening consolation could be spoken to him. It was almost a misfortune to him not to be blind, for he could contrast his sad state with that of other youths around him. The father, wearied and disappointed with long and daily watching—for it seized him "suddenly"—and unable to find relief, brought him to the disciples, and met the sad rebuke of their inability. "They could not" cast him out. As a last resource, with timid, wearied heart, and with a hesitancy that surely found its justification in the failure of all efforts to obtain relief, he brought him to Jesus, uttering the word so descriptive of timid doubt, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." It is now that he who bears alike our sins and sorrows, who "bears with" our weakness and our ignorance, who, even in his greatest works, strives so to work as to teach, corrects the imperfect view of the father, and makes his demand even upon his faulty faith, gently rebuking his pardonable insinuation. "It is not, 'If I can,' but, 'If thou canst!'" And he adds for all ages the all-inclusive teaching, "All things are possible to him that believeth." Christ's words, even of correction, rouse faith. The assurance that "all things" were "possible" to faith drew forth from the tremulous lips the profession of faith, "I believe;" while the tearful eyes (margin) bore witness to the genuineness of the confession hidden in the lowly prayer, "Help," and therein forgive, "thou mine unbelief." It is enough. With his word, in presence of a "multitude" that "came running together," he cast out the dumb and deaf spirit, and commanded him to "enter no more into him." The scene is full of teaching:


II. ON THE GLORIOUS POWER OF CHRIST TO HEAL AND RESTORE THE UTMOST DISORGANIZATION AND DEGENERATION OF THE HUMAN LIFE . It is an instance of his "power over all the power of the enemy." With such a picture before their eyes, who need hesitate to come to Jesus, in any need whatsoever? But the greatest teaching lies in the words spoken to the disciples in reply to their demand as to the reason why they "could not cast it out,"—"because of your little faith."

III. For us and for all, a third teaching, on THE POWER OF PRAYER AND FAITH , lies openly on the face of the Lord's words to the distressed father. It is impossible to read the Gospels without learning that in Christ's view the exercise of Divine power over the suffering human life is often suspended on the attainment of certain conditions on the part of the sufferers. There is a fitness of things. Suffering and need seem to come of departures from the Divine order. The voluntary return to that order is most aptly, perhaps most easily, expressed by "faith." It indicates the lowly submissiveness of the spirit. It is the plasticity of the clay which truly prepares it for the hand of the potter. It is the least, and yet the best, self-fitting work that can be done by any who would experience "the power of the Lord to heal." It is at once the acknowledgment of the human impotence, need, and receptivity; it is the symbol of departure from all other and competing helpers; it is an acceptance of the Lord himself, and in and with him the germ of all healing, whether of body or soul.—G.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Mark 9:14-29 (Mark 9:14-29)

The demoniac.

I. WANT OF SPIRITUAL POWER IS CAUSED BY WANT OF FAITH . Faith is a mighty word in the gospel. It really includes all the energies of knowing, feeling, and willing; it is the entire affirmation of the man in favor of truth, goodness, and love. It is life in the power of God. In a sense it is unnatural to be without faith, for it is the pulse of the world. If we have not this we are weak, we cannot move a step beyond the bounds of actual: knowledge—can take nothing for granted.

II. FAITH , WHEN WEAK , BECOMES DIMINISHED BY ASSOCIATION WITH THOSE WHO HAVE NONE . We become cowards or braver in company: pessimists or optimists. We trust in the good order of the world as God's, or give up everything for lost to the devil. "God desires from all eternity cheerful and brave sons," says Luther. Let us keep company with cheerful and trustful souls.

III. ON THE OTHER HAND , STRONG FAITH IS COMMUNICATIVE AND INSPIRING (J. H. Godwin). Tell an invalid he is looking ill, and you make him feel worse. Tell him he is improving, and his faith in his physical future will revive at the brighter picture. We are governed by imagination, and faith is a kind of imagination. It is exposed to the most contagious influences for health or disease. Whenever a strong deed is done, or mighty word spoken—

"Our hearts, in glad surprise,

To higher levels rise,"

IV. FAITH IS THE CONDITION BOTH OF DOING AND RECEIVING THE HIGHEST GOOD . Faith gives a mental picture, distinguished from other mental pictures in that it is as good as reality to him who views it. Now, we must have the distinct idea of a good to be received before we can place ourselves in the attitude to receive it; or of the good to be done and the possibility of doing it, before we can set about attempting it. The question then arises—Can faith be commanded by the will? The answer is—Not directly. "Paint a fire, it will not therefore burn." But the rebuke of Jesus implies that the disciples ought to have had faith. And the lesson is that faith may indirectly be obtained, be promoted, fostered, and preserved by communion with God.—J.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Mark 9:14-29 (Mark 9:14-29)

Parallel passages: Matthew 17:14-21 ; Luke 9:37-43

Healing of a demoniac youth, after the disciples' failure.

I. S TRIKING CONTRAST . We can scarcely imagine a greater contrast than that which is here presented between the scene on the mountain and that in the plain below—the tranquillity of the one, the tumult of the other; the calm repose of the one, the unrest of the other; the blessedness of the one, the distress of the other; the gladness of the one, the sadness of the other; the glory of the one, the gloominess of the other; the heavenly quietude of the one, the unseemly wrangling of the other; the happiness of the one, the misery of the other; the ecstatic rapture of the one, the excruciating pain of the other; the confidence and comfort of the one, the disputatious unbelief of the other. The contrast was just that which we can conceive to exist between the holiness of heaven and the sinfulness of earth. The contrast is transferred to the canvas and made visible and palpable in the great picture of "The Transfiguration," by Raphael.

II. DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLNESS . This illness may be distributed into three elements—the supernatural, the natural so called, and the periodical. By the supernatural we understand the demoniac possession. This poor boy was under the influence of a foul and fiendish spirit that made him deaf and dumb. The natural element, if natural may be applied in any sense to a state that is abnormal and unnatural because the result of sin, consists in the fearful manifestations, consisting of epileptic fits, madness, convulsions, grinding the teeth, foaming at the mouth, and pining away. The periodical element is the fitful paroxysms, the crises of which were synchronous with the changes of the moon, so that "demoniac "and "lunatic" were both applied, and properly applied, to this peculiar case.

III. A DOUBLE PERSONALITY . The change of subject with respect to the verbs used in this description brings into view a startling fact and exhibits a strange complication. Two personalities, or two personal agencies, are here combined, and the union between them is so close and complete that the transition from the one to the other is as singular as sudden. Thus the first two verbs descriptive of the sad condition of this wretched sufferer have for their subject, though not directly expressed, yet distinctly implied, the demon. He it is of whom the poor father of the unhappy boy says "Wheresoever it taketh him" or, more literally, wheresoever it seizeth ( καταλάβῃ ) him— "it teareth, or dasheth down, or breaketh ( ῥήσσει ) him." This is very graphic, and as terrible as graphic. The demon so convulsed the lad as if he would dislocate the entire frame or dismember his whole body, breaking limb from limb. But the remaining verbs in the description, as it passes rapidly from the agent to the sufferer, require a different subject; for it is only the boy of whom it can be said, "He foameth," "grindeth his teeth," "becomes parched" ( ξηραίνεται ), or" pines away." The same curious commingling of terms—some applicable to the demon, and others the possessed to occurs in describing the paroxysm which came on when the lad was brought into our Lord's presence. In the expression, "when he saw him," the participle is used, and is in the masculine gender, so that it appears to refer to the boy, and if so, it must be used absolutely; but if it apply to the unclean spirit, the word πνεῦμα , spirit, is neuter, and thus it must be constructed ad sensum , and indicate the personality of that spirit; in either ease, there is an irregularity of construction arising from this unusual blending of personal agencies. Further, when the demoniac or the demon saw Jesus, the demon or unclean spirit grievously tore ( ἐσπάραξεν , from σπάω , whence spasm, and signifying "to pall to pieces," not the same verb as that used in Luke 9:18 ) or convulsed the poor demoniac; while he fell on the earth and wallowed (akin to the Latin volvo ), that is, rolled himself ( κυλίω equivalent to κυλίνδω , used of rolling in the dust, in token of grief), foaming.

IV. THE ARRIVAL OF JESUS ON THE SCENE . Soon as the crowd saw him, they were quite amazed—perfectly astounded, the prepositional element in the compound verb implying the greatness of their astonishment. But what caused their excessive amazement? It might be

V. APPLICATION OF THE DEMONIAC 'S FATHER . To our Lord's interrogatory, one of the multitude, or rather one out of ( ἐκ ) the multitude, stepping forward, volunteers an answer. He felt that his child's misfortune had given occasion to the altercation, in which the disputants had waxed warm, if not angry, and that it devolved of right on him to make the requisite explanation. Another and a more urgent reason calling for his interference was his paternal solicitude. "I brought [ ἤνεγκα . He aorist] some short time ago my son to thee;" such had been his intention, as he had not been aware of the Savior's absence. "I spake to thy disciples, in thy absence [ ἵνα . denoting here the purport of what he said, as also the purpose for which it was said]. He that they should drive the demon from my son; but they could not;" while it must be observed that this verb is not an auxiliary, nor even a part of δύναμαι but a stronger term ( ἴσχυσαν ) which, preceded by the negative, means that they had not strength enough for such a difficult operation. After stating, in reply to a question of our Lord about the length of time the. suffering had lasted, that his son had been afflicted in this shocking manner from childhood, he went on to enumerate other aggravating circumstances of the affliction, to the effect that the demon often cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him. He then concluded with the remarkably earnest appeal, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." The expression βοήθησον (from βοὴ . cry, and θέω , to run) is very significant, being equivalent to "hasten to our cry for help;" it is more than succor (from sub and curro , to run). He which means to run to one's aid; it is "run to our aid at our earnest, urgent cry for help." The compassion is taken for granted, being expressed by a participle; and it also is a very expressive word, denoting the yearning of the bowels or heart in tenderness and pity.

VI. THE SAVIOUR 'S ANSWER . Our Lord utters a reproof on the ground of their want of faith. In that reproof he includes his own disciples, the scribes who had been in conflict with them, and the father of the afflicted boy—one and all comprehended in the "faithless generation" of that time. The failure of the apostles to drive out the demon had been a matter of humiliation to themselves, and of exultation to those hostile scribes, who had, no doubt, made the most of this case of unsuccess; and that failure had been owing in part to weakness, if not want, of faith. The scribes all along had acted the part of obstinately incredulous sceptics. The distressed father, earnest as he was, and eloquent as he was in his appeal, betrayed much weakness of faith, saying, "If at all thou canst—if in any way thou canst," or "if thou canst do anything." This refers the matter of cure to the power of Christ; the leper resolved the cure in his case into the will of Christ, "If thou wilt, thou canst." How prone we are to circumscribe the Savior by our own narrow conditions! and yet he shows us demonstratively that he is above and independent of all such limitations. He proved to the leper his possession of the will, and to the demoniac's father his possession of the power; and to us, through both, his ability as well as willingness to do to us and in us and for us "exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think." The limitations are all on one side—all on our side, and are owing to the weakness of our frail and naturally faithless humanity. The possession in the present instance had been from childhood. The distress was thus of comparatively long standing; it had become chronic; it was an apparently hopeless case. It had defied the power of the disciples, and baffled their utmost skill and strength. While this failure had lowered them in the estimation of the crowd, and left them at the mercy of the biting taunts of the sarcastic scribes, it at the same time lessened still more the faith of the unhappy parent. The cure, therefore, which our Lord effected in this seemingly hopeless, certainly desperate case, holds forth encouragement to the weakest and the worst—those morally so—to apply to him.

VII. HIS APPLIANCE . The first direction is, "Bring him unto me: " you have tried the power of my disciples; I now invite you to try mine. You have been disappointed by their failure; but I will remedy that failure by my favor to thee and thine. You have been disheartened—too much disheartened; I now bid you take heart of hope. His next step was to secure the confidence and strengthen the faith of the father; and for this purpose he employs his own words and

VIII. THE COMPLETENESS OF THE CURE . The command to "enter no more into him" may be attributed to the weakness of the father's faith—to assure him there would be no relapse, to convince him there would be no return of the paroxysm; it may also be owing in part to the malignant obstinacy of the foul fiend, who now, after crying aloud, and after convulsing the poor boy's whole frame with a horrible spasm, came out of him, leaving him all but dead, so that the many said he was dead. The great primary act of expelling the demon had been accomplished, but the effect of his long dominion over the lad, and the shock to his system at departure, left him so thoroughly exhausted and prostrate that a second miracle was required to supplement the first. In consequence, our Lord seized him by the hand, or seized his hand, and lifted him up, so that he stood upon his feet well and sound and strong, as though the whole had been but the memory of a troubled dream. An explanation was subsequently given to the disciples touching their inability in the present case, and their want of success in the exercise of a gift which had been bestowed, and which had been most probably effectual in other instances. The explanation appears to have respect to the character of the demon, and the conduct of the apostles themselves. First, there is mention of "this kind," by which some understand


1 . We learn the important duty of parental solicitude for the spiritual as well as, or rather more than, for the bodily, well-being of their offspring. In the case of the Syro-phoenician woman we saw how she identified herself with her afflicted daughter, saying, "Lord, help me!" Here likewise the father of the demoniac makes common cause with his child, in the words, "Have compassion on us, and help us!" Especially should we travail, as in birth, till Christ is formed in their heart, and till by grace they are enabled to renounce the devil and all his works.

2 . Great importance attaches to the element of time. The demon got possession early of this sorely distressed boy, and the demoniac power seems to have grown with the child's growth, and to have strengthened with his strength, so that dispossession had become next to an impossibility. The apostles were not competent to the task, and when our Lord, in the exercise of his almighty power, expelled him, it was only after he had made horrid havoc of the lad's system, frightfully convulsing him and leaving him half-dead. So, if Satan unhappily gain the ascendant in a young heart, he will do his best to blight the whole life; he will hold his dominion with tenacity, and, if possible, to the end; he will seat himself firmly on the throne of the affections, and exercise a despot's sway; his dethronement will be attended with the greatest difficulty; and if, by Divine mercy, his power is at last overthrown, it will cost pain of body, distress of mind, and grief of heart. Oh, how careful young persons should be to guard against the solicitations of the evil one, and to resist his power! How determined not to yield to his temptations, and to vanquish youthful lusts that war against the soul! How resolved, by the aid of Divine strength, to keep him out, remembering how difficult it is to get him out once he has gained an entrance, and especially if he has gained it early!

3 . Every gift that God bestows should be diligently cultivated, and husbanded with care. The power bestowed on the apostles was, as we have seen, lost through their own remissness. Faith required to be kept in healthy exercise and active vigor; devotion and self-denial were required for its maintenance. The neglect or undue performance of these left them weak before the power of the evil one, and caused them to be humiliated in the presence of their enemies. Thus it was with the apostles and miraculous gifts. How much more is such likely to be the case with ordinary persons in the exercise of ordinary gifts! We greatly need to use all the means that tend to strengthen faith; above all, we must pray earnestly, in the beautiful words suggested by this passage "Lord, increase our faith;" avoiding at the same time any and every indulgence that might weaken faith or slacken prayer.

"Restraining prayer we cease to fight;

Prayer keeps the Christian's armor bright;

And Satan trembles when he sees

The weakest saint upon his knees."

4. This passage cannot legitimately apply to any attempt at working miracles in the present day. The age of miracles is past. The power thus possessed by the apostles was not to continue, and needed not to continue, after the great purpose for which miracles had been bestowed had been attained. Faith and prayer and fasting cannot of themselves confer the power; they were needed to sustain it only where it had been bestowed; they were required for its successful exercise where it did exist.

5 . The greatness of the believer's privilege is immense, yet not without certain well-defined limits, "All things are possible to him that believeth:" this appears to comprise at once omnipotence in action and universality in possession. To the former we have the parallel statement of St. Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me;" or rather, "in ( ἐν ) Christ that giveth me inward strength ( ἐνδυναμοῦνται );" and thus the strength as to its source is obtainable by virtue of living and lively union with Christ, while as to its nature it is spiritual. But the reference is rather to what it is possible for us to get than to do; and so all things are ours, for "we are Christ's, and Christ is God's." There are here two limitations which, though not expressed, must be implied:

- The Pulpit Commentary