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§ 187. Christ Cures a Demoniacal Youth after the Disciples had attempted it in vain. (Mark, ix., 14; Matt., xvii., 14; Luke, ix., 37.)—He Reproves the unbelieving Multitude.

On descending from the mountain with Peter, James and John, Christ found the rest of the disciples surrounded by a multitude of persons, 284some well, and others ill disposed. A man in great distress on account of a deeply—afflicted son510510   Nothing could be a stronger proof of historical veracity than the three separate but agreeing accounts of this event, all from different sources. Mark’s narrative is obviously due to an eye-witness; it is marked by simplicity and naturalness, without a trace of the exaggeration which Strauss would see in it. had gone thither, attracted by the fame of Christ’s agency in healing similar cases. The youth appears to have been subject to epileptic fits, with a state of imbecility or melancholy, in which last condition he was incapable of utterance. He frequently attempted to kill himself during these attacks, by throwing himself into the fire or into the water. The unhappy father had first met the disciples who remained at the foot of the mountain, and these last attempted to make use, in this case, of the powers of healing conveyed to them by Christ. But the result satisfied them that they were yet far from being able to act as organs for his Divine powers. They could not cure the demoniac; and some unfriendly scribes who were present took advantage of the failure, and of the excitement which it caused among the people, to question the disciples; probably disputing the miracles and the calling of their Master.511511   The presence of the scribes would fix the site rather at some mountain of Galilee than at Mount Hermon or Paneas.

In the mean time, Christ suddenly appeared amid the throng, to their great surprise.512512   ἐξεθαμβήθη, Mark, ix., 15, appears entirely natural; any thing but exaggerated, as Strauss will have it. Part of the multitude were full of hope that He would do what his disciples had failed to accomplish; others, doubtless, as anxiously hoped that his efforts would be as impotent as theirs. In this, as in other cases, the Saviour combined earnest reproof with con descending love. He reproved them because his long labours had not yet satisfied them; because they still felt no higher than corporeal wants; because their unbelief still demanded sensible miracles. “O faithless generation! how long shall I be with you and suffer you.”513513   It by no means follows that Christ’s exclamation refers to the disciples: much more probably to all that had preceded; the spirit in which his aid had been sought, and his miraculous power doubted. The word γενεά is too general for the Apostles; nor would the Lord, who generally bore with their weaknesses so benignantly, have so severely reproved them in this case. Nor would they, in that case, have put the question in ver. 28.

The demoniac was brought in; and, as usual in such cases, the Divine manifestation appears to have produced a crisis, attraction and repulsion. His convulsions came on with new power. To prepare the mind of the father, Christ listened patiently to his history of the disease, which he closed, as if oppressed by the sight of his suffering son, with the prayer, “But if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us.” Fervent as the prayer was, the words, “If thou canst do any thing,” implying a distant doubt, led Christ to reprove him gently, 285and encourage him to believe, not by saying, “Doubt not; I can do all things,” but by pointing out to him the defect within himself: “Can I do any thing? Know that if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (thou thyself canst do all things, if thou only believest; faith can do all).514514   I give a free translation of that very difficult passage, Mark, ix., 23; such as the connexion appears to me to demand. Εἰ δύνασαι, in v. 23, I think, refers to the words spoken by the man, v. 22: τό = “that,” which had been said: πιστεῦσαι is wanting in Cod. Vatican., according to Bentley’s collation, and in Cod. Ephraëm. Rescript. (see Tischendorf’s reprint); and I think it is a gloss. Knatchbull considers it as middle, but without ground. The gentle reproof had its full effect; the father, full of feeling, cried out in tears, “Yes, Lord, I believe (yet I feel as yet that I do not believe sufficiently); help thou my unbelief.” Christ then spoke in tones of. confident command; and the demoniac suffered a new and intense paroxysm, which exhausted all his strength. He lay like a corpse; “but Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.”


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