All Things are Possible
¹⁴When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them.
¹⁵Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him.
¹⁶And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?”
¹⁷And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; ¹⁸and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it. “
¹⁹And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!”
²⁰They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth.
²¹And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.
²²It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
²³And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”
²⁴Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
²⁵When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”
²⁶After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!”
²⁷But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.
²⁸When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?”
²⁹And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Death and Resurrection Foretold
Some further information:
In these verses we read the story of the Christ casting the devil out of a child. It is here somewhat more fully related than it is in Matthew 17:14-21
Observe here that the Christ’s returns to his disciples, and the perplexity he found them in.
He laid aside his robes of glory, and came to look after his friends, and to enquire what was become of them. Christ’s glory above does not make Him forget the concerns of His church below, which he visits in great humility (Mark 09:14).
Observe that He came very seasonably, when the disciples were embarrassed and run a-ground; the scribes, who were sworn enemies to both him and them, had gained an advantage against them. But they didn’t answer Him.
A child possessed with a devil was brought to the disciples, and they could not cast out the devil, whereupon the scribes insulted them, and reflected upon their Master, and triumphed as if the day were their own.
He found the scribes questioning with them, in the hearing of the multitude, some of whom perhaps began to be shocked by it.
Just like with Moses, when he came down from the mount, found the camp of Israel in great disorder; Like Moses, the Christ was so soon missed.
Christ’s return was very welcome, no doubt, to the disciples, and unwelcome to the scribes. And so it will be at the end of days when the Christ returns. He will be very welcome by His own, but unwelcome to all those that oppose Him now.
Particular notice is to be taken of the fact that His return was very surprising to the people (they were amazed). Perhaps they were ready to say, “As for this Jesus, we don’t know what is become of him”, like the people once said of Moses.
But when they saw Him, they came to Him again.
They were greatly amazed (some copies add, kai exephobethesan —and they were afraid); and running to him (some copies for prostrechontes, read proschairontes —congratulating him, or bidding him welcome), they saluted him.
It is easy to give a reason why they should be glad to see him; but why where they amazed, greatly amazed, when they saw him?
Probably, there might remain something unusual in his countenance; as Moses’s face shone when he came down from the mount, which made the people afraid to come nigh him (Exodus 34:30).
So perhaps did Christ’s face, in some measure; at least, instead of seeming fatigued, there appeared a wonderful briskness in his looks, which amazed them.
Observe the case which perplexed the disciples, brought before him.
He asked the scribes, who, he knew, were always vexatious to his disciples, and teasing them upon every occasion, “What are you questioning with them? What is the quarrel now?’’
▪︎ The scribes gave no answer, for they were confounded at his presence;
▪︎ The disciples gave none, for they were comforted, and now left all to him.
But the father of the child opened the case (Mark 9:17,18).
His child is possessed with a dumb spirit; he has the falling-sickness, and is speechless; his case is very sad, for, wheresoever the fit takes him, the spirit tears him, throws him into such violent convulsions as almost pull him to pieces; and, which is very grievous to himself, and frightful to those about him, he foams at his mouth, and gnashes with his teeth, as one in pain and great misery; and though the fits go off presently, yet they leave him so weak, that he pines away, is worn to a skeleton; his flesh is dried away; so the word signifies (Psalms 102:3-5). This was a constant affliction to a tender father.
The disciples could not give him any relief; “I desired they would cast him out, as they had done many, and they would willingly have done it, but they could not; and therefore thou couldest never have come in better time; Master, I have brought him to thee.’’
Observe the rebuke he gave to them all (Mark 9:19); O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?
▪︎ Dr. Hammond understands this as spoken to the disciples, reproving them for not exerting the power He had given them, and because they did not fast and pray, as in some cases He had directed them to do.
▪︎ But Dr. Whitby takes it as a rebuke to the scribes, who gloried in this disappointment that the disciples met with, and hoped to run them down with it. Them he calls them a faithless generation, and speaks as one weary of being with them, and of bearing with them.
We never heard him complaining, “How long shall I be in this low condition, and suffer that?’’ But, “How long shall I be among these faithless people, and suffer them?’’
Observe the deplorable condition that the child was actually in, when he was brought to the Christ, and the doleful representation which the father made of it.
When the child saw Christ, he fell into a fit; The spirit straightway tore him, boiled within him, troubled him (so Dr. Hammond puts it); as if the devil would set Christ at defiance, and hoped to be too hard for him too, and to keep possession in spite of Him.
The child fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. We may put another construction upon it — that the devil raged, and had so much the greater wrath, because he knew that his time was short (Revelation 7:12).
Jesus asked, How long since this came to him?
And, it seems, the disease was of long standing; it came to him of a child (Mark 9:21), which made the case the more sad, and the cure more difficult.
We are all by nature children of disobedience, and in such the evil spirit works, and has done so from our childhood; for foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, and nothing but the mighty grace of Christ can cast it out.
Observe the pressing instances which the father of the child makes with Christ for a cure (Mark 9:22); Oftentimes it has cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him.
Note: The devil aims at the ruin of those in whom he rules and works, and seeks whom he may devour.
But, if you can do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
The leper was confident of Christ’s power, but put an if upon his will (Matthew 8:2); “If You are willing, You can”. This poor man referred himself to his good-will, but put an if upon His power, because His disciples, who cast out devils in His name, had not been able to help in this case. Thus Christ suffers in His honour by the difficulties and follies of His disciples.
Observe the answer Christ gave to his address (Mark 9:23); If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Here, He tacitly checks the weakness of his faith.
The sufferer put it upon Christ’s power, If You can do anything, and reflected on the want of power in the disciples; but the Christ turns it upon him, and puts him upon questioning his own faith, and will have him impute the disappointment to the want of that; If you can believe.
He also graciously encourages the strength of his desire; “All things are possible, will appear possible, to him that believes the almighty power of God, to which all things are possible;’’ or “That shall be done by the grace of God, for them that believe in the promise of God, which seemed utterly impossible.’’
Note that in dealing with Christ, very much is put upon our believing, and very much promised it.
▪︎ Can you believe?
▪︎ Dare you to believe?
▪︎ Are you willing to venture your all in the hands of the Christ?
To venture all your spiritual concerns with Him, and all your temporal concerns for Him? Can you find it in your heart to do this?
If so, it is not impossible but that,
▪︎ though you have been a great sinner, you may be reconciled;
▪︎ though you are very mean, evil, and unworthy, you may get to heaven.
If you can believe, it is possible
▪︎ that your hard heart may be softened,
▪︎ that your spiritual diseases may be cured;
▪︎ and that, weak as you are, you may be able to hold on to the end.
Observe the profession of faith which the poor man made upon this (Mark 9:24); He cried out, “Lord, I believe; meaning: I am fully persuaded both of your power and of your pity; my cure shall not be prevented by the want of faith; Lord, I believe.’’
He adds a prayer for grace to enable him more firmly to rely upon the assurances he had of the ability and willingness of Christ to save; Help my unbelief
Note that even those who through grace can say, Lord, I believe, have reason to complain of their unbelief; that they cannot so readily apply to themselves, and their own case, the word of Christ as they should, and that they not so cheerfully can depend upon it.
Note that those that complain of unbelief, must look up to the Christ for grace to help them against it, and His grace shall be sufficient for them.
▪︎ Help my unbelief,
▪︎ help me to a pardon for it,
▪︎ help me with power against it;
▪︎ help out what is wanting in my faith with Thy grace, the strength of which is perfected in our weakness.
Observe the cure of the child, and the conquest of this raging devil in the child. The Christ saw the people come running together, expecting to see the issue of this trial of skill, and therefore kept them in suspense no longer, but rebuked the foul spirit; the unclean spirit, so it should be rendered, as in other places.
Observe, what the charge was which Christ gave to this unclean spirit; “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”
That dumb and deaf spirit, that made the poor child dumb and deaf, shall himself be made to hear his doom, and not be able to say any thing against it.
Come out of him immediately, and enter no more into him.
Let him not only be brought out of this fit, but let his fits never return.
● Note that whom is cured by the Christ, is cured effectually.
Satan may go out himself, and yet recover possession; but if Christ cast him out, he will keep him out.
● Note how the unclean spirit took it; he grew yet more outrageous, he cried, and rent him sore, gave him such a twitch at parting, that he was as if he was dead;
▪︎ so loth was he to quit his hold,
▪︎ so exasperated at the superior power of Christ,
▪︎ so malicious to the child,
▪︎ and so desirous was he to kill him.
Many said, He is dead. Thus the toss that a soul is in at the breaking of satan’s power in it may perhaps be frightful for the present, but opens the door to lasting comfort.
● Note how the child was perfectly restored (Mark 9:27);
Jesus took him by the hand (kratesas — took fast hold of him), and strongly bore him up, and he arose and recovered, and all was well.
Observe the reason he gave to the disciples why they could not cast out this devil.
They enquired of Him privately why they could not, that wherein they were defective might be made up another time, and they might not again be thus publicly shamed; and He told them (Mark 9:29): This kind can come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting.
Whatever other difference there really might be, none appears between this and other kinds, but that the unclean spirit had had possession of this poor patient from a child, and that strengthened his interest, and confirmed his hold.
When vicious habits are rooted by long usage, and begin to plead prescription, like chronical diseases that are hardly cured.
Can the Ethiopian change his skin? The disciples must not think to do their work always with a like ease; some services call them to take more than ordinary pains; but the Christ can do that with speaking a word, which they must prevail for the doing of by prayer and fasting.
Now let us reflect on this
Back in misery
When Jesus Peter, James, and John return to the other disciples, they are immediately confronted again with the present, and all the misery that comes with it.
The people are amazed (Mark 9:15). You can also translate: upset, appalled. Apparently the people have been taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of Jesus. Didn’t they expect him anymore?
Did He come at an unfortunate time for them?
The nine other disciples are busy talking to the scribes. It is not a pleasant conversation, but rather a quarrel of some kind (Mark 9:14). Why?
There is a sick boy, seriously ill, possessed by an evil spirit, already from an early age (Mark 9:17,18,21,22). The disciples could not heal him.
Even though Jesus had given them the authority to cast out evil spirits (Mark 3:13-15; 6:7) and they had actually done so earlier (Mark 6: 12,13), they were now unable to deliver the boy from the evil spirit (Mark 9:18).
That is probably what the discussion was about.
“You may be followers of that miracle worker, but now that He has disappeared, you cannot do anything. What is it with you?”
Just after being designated by His Father as the Messiah, Jesus steps back into our world, the world of sickness, sin, and unbelief.
This boy’s illness is no problem for Jesus’ power. One short sentence is enough to set him free and heal him.
The point is: Do you trust that?
The father still has some doubts. Only when he confesses his faith, when he asks Jesus for help to overcome his unbelief, because he himself is too weak for it (Mark 9:22-24), does Jesus show that He has the power to heal this boy (Mark 9:25-27).
It is all about faith.
That is also where the problem of the disciples lies. And our problem?
Faith here is not a special force of our own by which we can work miracles. It is a complete trust in God’s work, without our own input (Mark 9:28,29).
Then everything that is according to God’s will is possible for us, because we have put our trust in God, with whom everything is possible (Cf. Genesis 18:13,14; Philippians 4:11-13).
Questions for self-reflection
▪︎ How could it be, that faith and doubt coexist so often in our lives?
▪︎ What do you do with it?
▪︎ Ask the Lord to help you overcome your unbelief.
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