AND LED THEM UP A HIGH MOUNTAIN: Climbing the mountain:
a parable of our journey to the Kingdom. Poss site: Mt Nebo, where Moses died
(Deu 34) and Elijah ascended (2Ki 2).
WHERE THEY WERE ALL ALONE: Instances of Jesus
withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer, and
sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3;
28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15;
WHO WERE TALKING WITH JESUS: About his "exodus" (Luk
HE DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO SAY: Do we always have to SAY
A CLOUD APPEARED AND ENVELOPED THEM: Like the cloud of
the Shekinah Glory in the wilderness.
ORDERS NOT TO TELL ANYONE: Silence was his settled
policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36;
8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his
family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh
7:37; 9:3; 11:4).
THEY: The scribes (v 7), who had plotted with Herodias
to kill John.
Vv 14-29: Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13;
9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act
A LARGE CROWD: See v 2n. Would this be likely at the
foot of Mt Hermon?
THEY WERE OVERWHELMED WITH WONDER: Would the glory of
the Transfiguration still be visible in his face?
BUT THEY COULD NOT: Cp Gehazi's inability (2Ki
BRING THE BOY TO ME: "Children are a precious gift from
God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great
bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or
possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one
receipt for the curing of all their ills, 'Bring him unto me.' O for more
agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our
prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those
cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of
their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will
neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still
commands, 'Bring them unto me.' When they are grown up they may wallow in sin
and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should
remember the great Physician's words, 'Bring them unto me.' Never must we cease
to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives"
IF: His faith was prob weakened by the initial failure
of the disciples (v 18). His "if" was echoed by Jesus' "if" (v 23), as though to
say: "Never mind my IF. Consider your IF. IF you can believe... THEN everything
'IF YOU CAN'?: "A certain man had a demoniac son, who
was afflicted with a dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the
endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ,
and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to Him, he said to Jesus, 'If
Thou cast do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.' Now there was an
'if' in the question, but the poor trembling father had put the 'if' in the
wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to retract the
'if', kindly puts it in its legitimate position. 'Nay, verily,' he seemed to
say, 'there should be no "if" about my power, nor concerning my willingness, the
"if" lies somewhere else.' 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to
him that believeth.' The man's trust was strengthened, he offered a humble
prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus spoke the word, and the
demon was cast out, with an injunction never to return. There is a lesson here
which we need to learn. We, like this man, often see that there is an 'if'
somewhere, but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong place.
'If' Jesus can help me -- 'if' he can give me grace to overcome temptation --
'if' he can give me pardon -- 'if' he can make me successful? Nay, 'if' you can
believe, he both can and will. You have misplaced your 'if'. If you can
confidently trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all
things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God's power, and is robed in God's
majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth on the King's horse, for it is
the grace which the King delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious
might of the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God, mighty
to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit, are possible to him
that believeth" (CHS).
"If preaching and feasting [instead of prayer and fasting]
would cast out demons, there would be a general exodus."
PRAYER AND FASTING: Fasting gets a negative "press"
because (1) we don't care too much about doing it, generally, and (2) it was one
of the evidences of great zeal and righteousness, with which the Pharisees
preened themselves -- and we don't want to appear self-righteous, do
The Jews fasted and "afflicted their souls" when they were
engaged in special prayers, for themselves and the nation, on the Day of
Atonement. It would appear, therefore, that fasting was intended to help the
mind focus, and thus enhance the effect of prayer. So it sounds like Jesus is
saying, "This was an especially difficult case, and you needed to concentrate
especially hard on your prayers for this healing."
Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50:4; Psa
119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38;
6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.
BETRAYED INTO THE HANDS OF MEN: And at the same time
delivered up by the determinate counsel of God: Act 2:23; Rom 8:32.
They must have sensed enough of his message in order to be
afraid to understand more plainly. See VL: Disciples, awe of Jesus.
Similar "hearings" by the Spirit in Luk 7:39,40; Mar 2:8;
ABOUT WHO WAS THE GREATEST: Cp 2Ki 5:22,26: the
disciple Gehazi seeks "greatness" and wealth. Don't many of our little ecclesial
disputes have their roots in this question? This dispute did not cease
altogether until Christ's death (Mar 10:35; Luk 22:24-30). See Lesson, Peter: The look.
Suggestion: the special three at the Transfiguration (Mar 9:2)
arouse envy in others.
Cp the lesson in Mar 8:34.
SERVANT OF ALL: Mark's theme: see also Phi
HE TOOK A LITTLE CHILD: This theme continues... Mar
TAKING HIM IN HIS ARMS: A very small child -- prob
Peter's house, and Peter's child.
Astounding! The smallest child = Christ, and Christ =
THESE LITTLE CHILDREN: "The theme of the child runs
through a whole section of the Gospel of Mark, but always with the child
standing as a type of the genuine believer. The child's well-being is made the
measure of conduct, the child's spirit is the rule by which others are judged.
Not that Jesus would idealize children; growing up in a large family, he had
doubtless seen the 'foolishness' that is bound up in the heart of a child (Pro
22:15). But he saw the child as small, dependent, and therefore trusting; he saw
also the child's directness and simplicity, the outward-looking to those who are
loved and admired. There is a candid logic in children which can be devastating
to their more complicated elders, and it is this which enables them to recognize
a truth and see its consequences; and that is the frame of mind which makes
faith possible. In this Jesus saw in children the type of the children of God.
And it is in the service of such as these that the true disciple will find his
exaltation" (SMk 133).
NOT... BUT: "Not only... but also". A Hebraism (see Hos
A MAN DRIVING OUT DEMONS IN YOUR NAME: Something the 9
disciples could not do (vv 18,28). A further fear for loss of status. (We may
assume Christ knew the man and his mission).
NOT ONE OF US: Not one of the disciples. But he may
have been a follower of Christ. Even if he did not acknowledge their precedence,
he might still acknowledge Jesus.
DO NOT STOP HIM: A similar incident happened in the
life of Moses in Num 11:27-29.
Ct Luk 11:23.
If you would not condemn little works of kindness done by
anyone, then why condemn great works (ie v 38) just because the doer cannot
produce the proper credentials?
ANYONE WHO GIVES YOU A CUP OF WATER: Cp Mat 25:35,40:
the basis of judgment: "Inasmuch".
CAUSES... TO SIN: "Skandalon" = to cause to stumble, or
sin. "Offend" in AV. Sw Mar 9:43,45. Related to Engl "scandal".
The body parts represent those acts which they may
CUT IT OFF: Aramaic idiom, meaning simply, "Don't do
it!" Cp English idiom, "Cut it out!"
WHERE THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT
QUENCHED: Also in NIV mg for vv 44,46. Parkhurst: "This alludes to the worms
that continually preyed on dead carcasses that were cast into the valley of
Hinnom (ie Gehenna) and to the perpetual fire kept up to consume them." Note
Jude 1:7 (Sodom, etc). Fire consumes: see Mat 3:12; 13:30; Heb 12:29; Isa 33:14;
Psa 21:8,9; 37:20. Examples: Lev 10:62; Num 16:35; 2Ki 1:10; Jer
EVERYONE WILL BE SALTED WITH FIRE: Fire destroys, but
salt preserves. Fire = strife, ambition; salt = peace, purity. For salt, see Lev
2:13; Num 18:9. Salt sym incorruption, in ct leaven/yeast. All temple sacrifices
were salted: we are "living sacrifices" (Rom 12:1,2). Salt is a token of the
covenant: every sacrifice must be in bonds of covenant -- ie done in a proper
spirit. Cp Col 4:16 with Eph 4:29.
SALT IS GOOD: "We need not be discouraged because of
the stolid indifference of the people to the truth. Flesh and blood is naturally
swinish and unimpressible by the thoughts of God. The world, which is choked
with religion, such as it is, is made of this stiff-necked material. It is in
the state of an inebriate who has caroused himself into 'delirium tremens,' or a
snoring apoplexy. Its excitation or brain-congestion can only be relieved by
copious depletion. To preach the truth to it is like telling fables to a deaf
man; putting a jewel in a swine's snout; or casting things holy to dogs. This is
the nature of the flesh and blood world -- it is only evil, and that
continually. But all the individuals of this perverse race are not so absolutely
controlled by the evil thereof as to be incapable of sobriety in word and deed.
The race has some 'honest and good hearts' yet, which are as salt, preserving it
from total and irretrievable corruption. They require, however, to be salted
with wisdom, and persecution, or fire, for the truth's sake, to make them fit
for the Master's use" (FLD 241).
BE AT PEACE WITH EACH OTHER: Back to v 34: do not
dispute over who will be greatest.