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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Mark 9

 

 

Verses 1-50

Mark 9:2. And after six days, not counting the two sabbaths, as in Luke 9:28. See on Matthew 17:1.

Mark 9:16. He asked the scribes, what question ye with them? No answer! They had been insulting the disciples because they could not deliver a child, (for so the jews call young people under the age of twenty years) from the power of Satan. 1 Kings 3:7. This was a momentary triumph of the learned adversaries of Christ. They had ridiculed the apostles as impostors, pretending to work miracles in bye places, and deluding weak people.

Mark 9:17-18. Master, I have brought to thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him, and he foameth and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away. A sad case, a chronic and obstinate case. And I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not. Sometimes ministers are divested of their strength, and baffled before an infidel auditory; yet their God will not forsake them, they shall still lift up their heads.

Mark 9:19. Oh faithless generation. The onus of this rebuke, as appears from Mark 9:29, was levelled against the scribes, who had gloried in their shame.

Mark 9:20. They brought him to the Saviour, wallowing on the ground, and foaming at the mouth. Jesus allowed this to identify the case, and the more profoundly to rebuke the contempt evinced by the scribes. He wrought all his miracles for the advancement of true religion.

Mark 9:21. How long is it since this came unto him. The answer was, from his childhood. This question was put to demonstrate more clearly the extremity of the case, by the number of years it had continued, and to save the souls of the crowd, whose faith had just been shaken by the generation of infidel scribes.

Mark 9:22. If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us. The question is not whether I can do any thing or not. The touchstone is, whether thou canst believe or not; for all things are possible to him that believeth. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were made.” God spake, and it was done; he commanded, and the heavens stood fast. The great Lord knew that creation would rise at his command; and it becomes us to know and believe that his word of grace is strong as that which built the skies.

Mark 9:24. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Here is anguish of soul; here is the struggle for victory between true faith, mixed with fear, and the assaults of unbelief. The strong faith of the Centurion pleading for a valuable servant, carried the victory at once; but here is a victory obtained with a most arduous conflict. It held the Saviour with a feeble hand, but would not let him go. Jesus therefore, in presence of the accumulating crowd, delivered the son, healed and restored him to his joyful father. — Oh what a burst of praise to God would now be heard from all the crowd. Oh how light the steps of the joyful father and the son to their habitation. Meanwhile, how the doctors would steal away, having been found to fight against God; and be followed by looks of contempt from all the people.

Mark 9:29. This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting. Our Saviour, as Lord of all, could do what he would; but when families are peculiarly afflicted with chronic complaints, they must learn meekly to lay their case before the Almighty in humble addresses to his throne.

Mark 9:38. We forbad him, because he followeth not us. This marks the great reputation of the Redeemer, for men of other name (and probably of John’s) wrought cures in his name. The canon laws of Rome forbid us to preach: so do the canon laws of Luther, and of England, and the Scottish laws differ but little. They talk big against all bodies of Methodists, as though they had no gospel, no sacraments, no salvation. They swell their claims as though the Lord Jesus, while his prudence was asleep, had given them a charter absolute, that they, and they alone, should be his ministers, whether they were holy or unholy, whether they believed or disbelieved, whether they were idle or industrious, whether they gathered or scattered the sheep. Against these blind allegations the Saviour declares, that men doing good are not to be stopped, no, not even by the holy apostles themselves.

Mark 9:47. Cast into hell fire. Greek, the fire of Gehenna, where the worm of conscience dieth not and where the fire is not quenched. Isaiah 30:33. Matthew 5:22. This proves that hell is both a state and a place of punishment. The heathen poets speak on this subject in many views, as do the holy scriptures. Euripidès asks Menelaus what the disease was that wasted his body? To which he answers, that it was his own mind for the great evils he had done.

τι χρημα πασχεις; τις σ αππολοσι νοσος. OREST. ‘ η συνεσις, &c.

Mark 9:49. Every one shall be salted with fire. These words are cited froth Isaiah 66:24. The ideas are borrowed from the valley of the son of Hinnom, as explained in Matthew 5:22; and both the prophet and our Lord refer them to the punishment of the wicked. In that valley the flesh of children were burnt, and in the great slaughter of the last enemies of the church, the worm shall crawl in their carcases. Now, figuratively, as salt preserves flesh, so the salt of God’s wrathful vengeance shall preserve the wicked in existence, that their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched. This passage is therefore in itself, and in its connection, totally different from Matthew 5:13, where the disciples are called the salt of the earth. That alludes to the savour of grace, and a good conversation; this refers to the eternal justice of God.

REFLECTIONS.

We cannot follow the footsteps of Christ without gathering rich and instructive wisdom, and participations in the joy of his people. He sometimes suffers his saints to tremble in the fight, and then opportunely comes to their support with succour and salvation. So here; the disciples were embarrassed and overfaced with the unbelieving scribes. Now, the case of this boy may remind us of our own misery. He was an only son, but lunatic and dumb, and often cast into the fire and into the water by the demon. So it is morally with many a dissipated youth. He is tormented with unhappy passions, which are more and more confirmed by habit. He has often been cast into the water and fire of folly and vice; but it is happy he yet lives; he may yet be saved.

The father brought his son to the disciples; and though they tried, they could afford him no relief. It is well however for a father to bring his forgetful son to the ministry. The means of grace, in some more favoured hour may yet prove effectual to the salvation of his soul. Supine and incurable hearers are the humiliation of a preacher.

Because men attend our word, and retain their sins, infidels, like the scribes, take occasion to despise us. When the disciples could not deliver this lad, a laugh of contempt roared off against them.

Our children must ultimately be brought to Jesus, who in due time will come to succour the distressed. But alas, how weak is the faith of that dejected father. He says, Lord, if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us. Well, weak faith will save, though not so comfortably as strong faith. All things are possible to him that believeth, for all things are possible with God, whose Spirit worketh the persuasion of his help in our hearts. In all cases, faith is essential to salvation, because it honours God, and has a divine effect on our own heart.

In approaching God, let us pray him to help our unbelief. When we first extend our hand to receive a blessing, it is often too short to lay hold of it; but perseverance makes our title full, and He is faithful who hath promised.

From the rage of the demon before he left this child, we may be reminded that Satan will not depart from the unregenerate heart without a conflict. Ah, who can explain this struggle for life? A heart habituated to vice, and affections long attached to carnal pleasures, will not be renovated without a hard wrestling against the Spirit. In all such cases let men have recourse to fasting and prayer, for these are the last resources both in trouble of conscience, and in family afflictions.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 9:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/mark-9.html. 1835.

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