World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

Jesus Again Foretells His Death

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples,

Select a resource above

An Evil Spirit Expelled.

37 And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.   38 And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.   39 And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.   40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.   41 And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.   42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

This passage of story in Matthew and Mark follows immediately upon that of Christ's transfiguration, and his discourse with his disciples after it; but here it is said to be on the next day, as they were coming down from the hill, which confirms the conjecture that Christ was transfigured in the night, and, it should seem, though they did not make tabernacles as Peter proposed, yet they found some shelter to repose themselves in all night, for it was not till next day that they came down from the hill, and then he found things in some disorder among his disciples, though not so bad as Moses did when he came down from the mount. When wise and good men are in their beloved retirements, they would do well to consider whether they are not wanted in their public stations.

In this narrative here, observe, 1. How forward the people were to receive Christ at his return to them. Though he had been but a little while absent, much people met him, as, at other times, much people followed him; for so it was foretold concerning him, that to him should the gathering of the people be. 2. How importunate the father of the lunatic child was with Christ for help for him (v. 38): I beseech thee, look upon my son; this is his request, and it is a very modest one; one compassionate look from Christ is enough to set every thing to rights. Let us bring ourselves and our children to Christ, to be looked upon. His plea is, He is my only child. They that have many children may balance their affliction in one with their comfort in the rest; yet, if it be an only child that is a grief, the affliction in that may be balanced with the love of God in giving his only-begotten Son for us. 3. How deplorable the case of the child was, v. 39. He was under the power of an evil spirit, that took him; and diseases of that nature are more frightful than such as arise merely from natural causes: when the fit seized him without any warning given, he suddenly cried out, and many a time his shrieks had pierced the heart of his tender father. This malicious spirit tore him, and bruised him, and departed not from him but with great difficulty, and a deadly gripe at parting. O the afflictions of the afflicted in this world! And what mischief doth Satan do where he gets possession! But happy they that have access to Christ! 4. How defective the disciples were in their faith. Though Christ had given them power over unclean spirits, yet they could not cast out this evil spirit, v. 40. Either they distrusted the power they were to fetch in strength from, or the commission given to them, or they did not exert themselves in prayer as they ought; for this Christ reproved them. O faithless and perverse generation. Dr. Clarke understands this as spoken to his disciples: "Will ye be yet so faithless and full of distrust that ye cannot execute the commission I have given you?" 5. How effectual the cure was, which Christ wrought upon this child, v. 42. Christ can do that for us which his disciples cannot: Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit then when he raged most. The devil threw the child down, and tore him, distorted him, as if he would have pulled him to pieces. But one word from Christ healed the child, and made good the damage the devil had done him. And it is here added that he delivered him again to his father. Note, When our children are recovered from sickness, we must receive them as delivered to us again, receive them as life from the dead, and as when we first received them. It is comfortable to receive them from the hand of Christ, to see him delivering them to us again: "Here, take this child, and be thankful; take it, and bring it up for me, for thou hast it again from me. Take it, and do not set thy heart too much upon it." With such cautions as these, parents should receive their children from Christ's hands, and then with comfort put them again into his hands.

Ambition of the Disciples Reproved.

43 And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,   44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.   45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.   46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.   47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,   48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.   49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.   50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

We may observe here, I. The impression which Christ's miracles made upon all that beheld them (v. 43): They were all amazed at the mighty power of God, which they could not but see in all the miracles Christ wrought. Note, The works of God's almighty power are amazing, especially those that are wrought by the hand of the Lord Jesus; for he is the power of God, and his name is Wonderful. Their wonder was universal: they wondered every one. The causes of it were universal: they wondered at all things which Jesus did; all his actions had something uncommon and surprising in them.

II. The notice Christ gave to his disciples of his approaching sufferings: The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men, wicked men, men of the worst character; they shall be permitted to abuse him at their pleasure. That is here implied which is expressed by the other evangelists: They shall kill him. But that which is peculiar here is, 1. The connection of this with what goes next before, of the admiration with which the people were struck at beholding Christ's miracles (v. 43): While they all wondered at all things which Jesus did, he said this to his disciples. They had a fond conceit of his temporal kingdom, and that he should reign, and they with him, in secular pomp and power; and now they thought that this mighty power of his would easily effect the thing, and his interest gained by his miracles in the people would contribute to it; and therefore Christ, who knew what was in their hearts, takes this occasion to tell them again, what he had told them before, that he was so far from having men delivered into his hands that he must be delivered into the hands of men, so far from living in honour that he must die in disgrace; and all his miracles, and the interest he has by them gained in the hearts of the people, will not be able to prevent it. 2. The solemn preface with which it is introduced: "Let these sayings sink down into your ears; take special notice of what I say, and mix faith with it; let not the notions you have of the temporal kingdom of the Messiah stop your ears against it, nor make you unwilling to believe it. Admit what I say, and submit to it." Let it sink down into your hearts; so the Syriac and Arabic read it. The word of Christ does us no good, unless we let it sink down into our heads and hearts. 3. The unaccountable stupidity of the disciples, with reference to this prediction of Christ's sufferings. It was said in Mark, They understood not that saying. It was plain enough, but they would not understand it in the literal sense, because it agreed not with their notions; and they could not understand it in any other, and were afraid to ask him lest they should be undeceived and awaked out of their pleasing dream. But it is here added that it was hidden from them, that they perceived it not, through the weakness of faith and the power of prejudice. We cannot think that it was in mercy hidden from them, lest they should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow at the prospect of it; but that it was a paradox, because they made it so to themselves.

III. The rebuke Christ gave to his disciples for their disputing among themselves which should be greatest, v. 46-48. This passage we had before, and, the more is the pity, we shall meet with the like again. Observe here,

1. Ambition of honour, and strife for superiority and precedency, are sins that most easily beset the disciples of our Lord Jesus, for which they deserve to be severely rebuked; they flow from corruptions which they are highly concerned to subdue and mortify, v. 46. They that expect to be great in this world commonly aim high, and nothing will serve them short of being greatest; this exposes them to a great deal of temptation and trouble, which they are safe from that are content to be little, to be least, to be less than the least.

2. Jesus Christ is perfectly acquainted with the thoughts and intents of our hearts: He perceived their thoughts, v. 47. Thoughts are words to him, and whispers are loud cries. It is a good reason why we should keep up a strict government of our thoughts because Christ takes a strict cognizance of them.

3. Christ will have his disciples to aim at that honour which is to be obtained by a quiet and condescending humility, and not at that which is to be obtained by a restless and aspiring ambition. Christ took a child, and set him by him, v. 47 (for he always expressed a tenderness and kindness for little children), and he proposed this child to them for an example. (1.) Let them be of the temper of this child, humble and quiet, and easy to itself; let them not affect worldly pomp, or grandeur, or high titles, but be as dead to them as this child; let them bear no more malice to their rivals and competitors than this child did. Let them be willing to be the least, if that would contribute any thing to their usefulness, to stoop to the meanest office whereby they might do good. (2.) Let them assure themselves that this was the way to preferment; for this would recommend them to the esteem of their brethren: they that loved Christ would therefore receive them in his name, because they did most resemble him, and they would likewise recommend themselves to his favour, for Christ would take the kindnesses done to them as done to himself: Whosoever shall receive one such child, a preacher of the gospel that is of such a disposition as this, he placeth his respect aright, and receiveth me; and whosoever receiveth me, in such a minister, receiveth him that sent me; and what greater honour can any man attain to in this world than to be received by men as a messenger of God and Christ, and to have God and Christ own themselves received and welcomed in him? This honour have all the humble disciples of Jesus Christ, and thus they shall be truly great that are least among them.

IV. The rebuke Christ gave to his disciples for discouraging one that honoured him and served him, but was not of their communion, not only not one of the twelve, nor one of the seventy, but not one of those that ever associated with them, or attended on them, but, upon occasional hearing of Christ, believed in him, and made use of his name with faith and prayer in a serious manner, for the casting out of devils. Now, 1. This man they rebuked and restrained; they would not let him pray and preach, though it was to the honour of Christ, though it did good to men and weakened Satan's kingdom, because he did not follow Christ with them; he separated from their church, was not ordained as they were, paid them no respect, nor gave them the right hand of fellowship. Now, if ever any society of Christians in this world had reason to silence those that were not of their communion, the twelve disciples at this time had; and yet, 2. Jesus Christ chid them for what they did, and warned them not to do the like again, nor any that profess to be successors of the apostles: "Forbid him not (v. 50), but rather encourage him, for he is carrying on the same design that you are, though, for reasons best known to himself, he does not follow with you; and he will meet you in the same end, though he does not accompany you in the same way. You do well to do as you do, but it does not therefore follow that he does ill to do as he does, and that you do well to put him under an interdict, for he that is not against us is for us, and therefore ought to be countenanced by us." We need not lose any of our friends, while we have so few, and so many enemies. Those may be found faithful followers of Christ, and, as such, may be accepted of him, though they do not follow with us. See Mark ix. 38, 39. O what a great deal of mischief to the church, even from those that boast of relation to Christ, and pretend to envy for his sake, would be prevented, if this passage of story were but duly considered!