We have here the glorious Scene of CHRIST's Transfiguration. The LORD begins to prepare the minds of his Disciples for his Death. The miracle of the Child healed of a Dumb Spirit. Our LORD's Discourse with his Disciples.
AND he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
I do not presume to speak decidedly upon so grand a subject, as this verse contains; but I venture to believe, that when the LORD JESUS saith, as in this verse, that there were some then present, whose lives would not end, until they had seen the kingdom of GOD come (by which is meant a conviction of CHRIST's person and character); the LORD Jesus meant, that there were some who now stood before him, that would live until CHRIST had fulfilled the whole purposes of his mission, and had returned unto glory, and the HOLY GHOST had come down, to establish the kingdom of GOD in grace upon the earth. See Acts 2:36-37.
(2) And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. (3) And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. (4) And there appeared, unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. (5) And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. (6) For he wist not what to say: for they were sore afraid. (7) And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. (8) And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. (9) And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. (10) And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. (11) And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? (12) And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. (13) But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
There doth not seem to be any connection in what went before, with what is here said of this wonderful scene of CHRIST's Transfiguration, since there was an interval of six days from the one to the other. But, no doubt, the glory must have been abundantly overwhelming. I presume not to enter into a description of what is not describable. In addition to what hath been offered in Matthew 17:1, etc. I would only beg the Reader further to remark with me, how frequently the LORD was pleased, both before his open manifestation, in substance of our flesh, and after he had publicly tabernacled among his people in human form, to make some special revelation of himself. Who that reads the frequent visits the LORD made to his Old Testament saints, sometimes in an human appearance, and sometimes in that of an angel, can doubt it. And what were all these, but as so many evidences how much he longed for the time of his accomplishing redemption to arrive? And what is it now, when by the influences of his blessed Spirit, he makes himself known to his people, as their Redeemer, Husband, and Surety; otherwise than he doth to the world? I beg the Reader not to overlook the special personal glory here manifested of CHRIST, as the GOD-Man Mediator. It was not the glory of the essential GODHEAD, which the SON of GOD possesseth in common with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST but it was the personal glory of the union of GOD-and-Man Mediator. And who shall describe this glory? No wonder the minds of the Apostles were overpowered, with the splendor of such a scene.
Though I cannot, because I dare not, attempt to enter far into the subject of CHRIST's Transfiguration, being above the present unripe faculties of the human mind to reach; yet I venture to suggest to the Reader, some few improving reflections, which arise out of the same.
And, First: I would have the Reader observe from it, the tenderness of JESUS in preparing the minds of his few faithful followers, for the humiliation which was shortly to follow. Yet but a little while, and he whom they saw encircled in glory, with a light, which dazzled their view, and overwhelmed their senses, would be nailed to a cross and die, like one forsaken of GOD and man. By this manifestation, the LORD prepared them for the wonderful change. Reader! do not fail to make your improvement of it also. Hath Jesus manifested himself to you otherwise than he doeth to the world; never lose sight of it. Blend the Transfiguration and the Cross; and behold CHRIST in both.
Secondly. Learn, like the Apostles, to make those special and glorious views of Jesus, the ground work of assurance, against these seasons which may be dark and discouraging. Peter never lost sight of this scene, to his dying day. 2 Peter 1:16-18. And John makes his knowledge of Jesus, the argument of comforting the whole Church. 1 John 1:1-3.
Thirdly. Learn to consider this manifestation, of the glory of the GOD-Man in the Mount of Transfiguration, as a sample, of what shall be the glorified bodies of all the saints of GOD. If in JESUS dwelt all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily, surely we may safely conclude, that our bodies, which are now the temple of the HOLY GHOST, shall become glorious in JESUS: for it is said, that he will change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto his glorious body according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:20.
Lastly, and above all. Let us never forget the preciousness and blessedness, of the testimony, given by JEHOVAH, in this transaction to the person, offices, and character of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Oh! what a confirmation is this, to all the great purposes of salvation, in the infinite dignity, worth, and excellency, of our LORD Jesus CHRIST. LORD grant that JEHOVAH's good pleasure, may be my good pleasure; GOD's chosen, my chosen; GOD's delight, my delight.
(14) And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. (15) And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. (16) And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? (17) And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; (18) And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him; and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. (19) He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. (20) And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. (21) And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. (22) And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou. canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. (23) Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. (24) And straitway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (25) When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into (26) And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him, and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. (27) But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
I hardly know among the miracles of JESUS, any, which opens more sweet, and precious instruction, and which under divine teaching may be rendered more profitable to the Church of CHRIST than this; and I hope therefore that the Reader will indulge me in enlarging upon it. Here is a tender father, with very slender faith, brings his child to CHRIST, to obtain a cure for him, under the possession of an evil spirit. The disciples who had in other instances, through the name, and by the authority of their divine Master wrought similar cures, here failed. It pleased the LORD, for the greater glory of CHRIST, the humbling of the Apostles, and the trying the faith of the father of the child, in his providence, so to order it. The poor man came, under great doubts and fears it is evident, by his manner of expression, probably tempted to fear that as the servants had failed, so might the Master. If (said he) thou canst do anything, have compassion upon us and help us. To which our LORD made this remarkable answer; If thou canst believe all things are possible to him that believeth. No doubt the LORD JESUS accompanied his words with power; for immediately the man convinced of his little faith, and full of distress on account of his child, cried out, with tears, LORD! I believe; help thou mine unbelief. The event was as might be expected, JESUS healed the son and comforted the father.
The subject is too interesting not to follow it up, with suited observations: therefore the Reader will allow me to remark, what a sweet instruction it holds forth to persons of weak faith, to exercise more confidence in the LORD JESUS CHRIST. It should be observed, that this man had faith, though it was small. Now the smallest faith is not of human creation, it must be of GOD. And as all faith comes from JESUS, who is the author and finisher of faith; there is more cause to bless GOD, for the smallest degree of faith, than for all the riches of the world. For it implies an union with CHRIST, and interest in CHRIST. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48. And another scripture saith, that by him all that believe, that is, be they many or few, be they strong or weak, yet, as it is by JESUS and his great salvation, and not from the merits of their faith, all that believe, are justified from all things. Acts 10:43. So that the weak believer or the strong, the babe in CHRIST, or the father in GOD, are all alike as to their justification; though the joy in believing will differ, according to the weakness, or strength of faith, in the believer. Reader! I beseech you, to take occasion, from what is here said of this poor man's faith, to make it in some measure a standard, by which to as certain your own. Weak as his faith was, it still led him to JESUS. Doth your faith in CHRIST do this? He had a consciousness of the weakness of it, and begged of JESUS to increase it: LORD! said he, I believe, help thou Mine unbelief. Do you feel this? and can a throne of grace witness for you, that you go there frequently with such petitions? This poor man not only sought an increase of it, but he sought it with tears. Straitway, saith the Evangelist, the father of the child cried out with tears, LORD! I believe; help thou mine un belief. It is a blessed sign, when the heart is softened under grace, and a sense of unworthiness and unbelief, leads the heart to GOD to seek relief in JESUS. Reader! I would ask for myself, and if the LORD so please, may he give you grace also so to ask for yourself, as the Apostles did: LORD! increase our faith. Luke 17:5. But while the faith of an Apostle or a Patriarch, be desirable, let us learn to bless the LORD for what he hath bestowed. For, from the smallest degree of faith, we prove our call of GOD and that we have eternal life abiding in us, by the spirit which he hath given us. 1 John 3:24.
(28) And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? (29) And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
I have separated those verses, from the preceding, though they form a part of the same history; not by way of explaining them, for very freely confess, that I do not apprehend the full sense and meaning of them: but by way of calling the Reader's attention to them, one point I think is very evident from our LORD's words, that when the disciples questioned the cause of their inability, our LORD doth not say, this kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting: in allusion to the evil spirit, for in the parallel passage, Matthew 17:20. JESUS directly refers it to a want of faith. Fastings and prayers are creature exercises. Our LORD cannot be supposed to assign to such the power of miracles. And evidently in the parallel passage of Matthew, the LORD ascribes the power rather to faith. The subject is however attended with too much difficulty to determine. Though I am inclined to think that by prayer and fasting, JESUS refers to himself, in whom alone all righteousness is fulfilled.
(30) And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee: and he would not that any man should know it. (31) For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him: and after that, he is killed, he shall rise the third day. (32) But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
I shall detain the Reader no longer, in an observation on these verses, than just to request him to notice, how tenderly the LORD began to open to them the subject of his death. He had noticed it slightly, in the preceding Chapter, verse 31; and here again he keeps up the remembrance of it. And let not the Reader fail to remark, that in both places, the LORD is pleased to connect together with his death, the certainty of his resurrection.
(33) And he came to Capernaum; and being in the house, he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? (34) But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest. (35) And he sat down and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (36) And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, (37) Whosoever shall receive one of such children, in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me
Do not overlook in this passage, the GODHEAD of CHRIST. He knew their hearts. And though he asked them of the cause of their dispute, yet this was not for his information, but for their reproof. And I pray the Reader to observe, the very engaging method the LORD adopted to cure his disciples of all that mistaken pride he discovered in them. What a beautiful emblem of CHRIST's kingdom is represented in the humbleness, and docility of a little child! David speaks of the state of his soul, under the consciousness of his nothingness, and abstraction from the vanity and pride of life, as a weaned child. Psalms 131:2. To a child of GOD, who hath really, and truly known and tasted the preciousness of JESUS the breasts of the mother would no longer afford sweet milk; but the bitterness of wormwood and gall is put upon them.
(38) And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followed not us. (39) But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me. (40) For he that is not against us is on our part. (41) For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. (42) And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
I cannot offer a better improvement, on this very interesting passage, according to my view of it, and if so be the LORD the HOLY GHOST is the teacher, both of him that writes and him that reads, than to ob serve, that here is drawn, and by the LORD himself, the line of distinction, between what the Prophet, ages before declared, the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth GOD and him that serveth him not. Malachi 3:18. Every circumstance in the word of GOD tends to the confirmation, that the two grand distinctions in life, how diversified soever they may appear to our dim sighted view; are formed between the Church of CHRIST and the ungodly world, the seed of the woman, and the spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience. The language of CHRIST is decisive, he that is not against us, is on our part. And the LORD hath very largely set the same solemn truth forth in all his discourses. The good seed and the tares, the sheep and the goats, the wise virgins and the foolish. And as they are perfectly distinct in their origin, their nature, and connection, so are they in all their progress, condition, and termination. There is nothing that can be called neutral, or of a middle state. To one or the other of these different kingdom all belong, and so will remain to all eternity. Reader! it is blessed, when under the Spirit's teaching, we discover our union with CHRIST, and consequently our interest in CHRIST. Luke 12:32.
(43) And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life manned, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: (44) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (45) And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: (46) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (47) And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: (48) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
So very important, are those solemn and awful words, that the LORD Jesus was pleased thrice to repeat them. It may well become us to make as solemn an enquiry into their meaning. Perhaps the Reader will recollect, that they are a quotation from the close of Isaiah's prophecy. JESUS thus confirms the words of his servant, by giving the authority of the Master. In that prophetical chapter, with which, Isaiah ends his ministry, he describes the result of the whole. When the LORD hath brought home his kingdom, and the new heavens and the new earth are formed; and all his redeemed are made Priests to GOD and the FATHER, in order to effect their minds with suitable impressions of distinguishing grace, they shall from time to time go forth and look upon the misery of the wicked, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched. Isaiah 66:21 to the end. Now whether this prophecy referred to the Gospel Church, when Jerusalem was destroyed, or whether to the more spiritual state, when, as in the present day, the Jews nationally considered are given up to an unbelieving mind; eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear. Romans 11:8. Or, whether it hath a reference to the awful judgments of the last day, or whether the whole be included, and it refers to all taken together; in either sense the doctrine is the same. As in the case of the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the misery of the former was encreased in be holding the blessedness of the latter; so the terrors of hell, will be aggravated from a view of the felicity of heaven; and the glories of distinguishing mercy will make the redeemed tenfold more illustrious when looking over the battlements of heaven, they view the horrors of unredeemed transgressors.
(49) For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. (50) Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Various have been the sense given to those verses, by different writers. I presume not to speak upon them decidedly. All I shall propose, I would propose by way of humble enquiry, looking to GOD the SPIRIT to guide me and instruct me through the whole passage; and if I err, to pardon my errors, and suffer them not to be the means of leading others into the same.
And first, I humbly conceive, that as our LORD all the way through this discourse, from the 43rd verse, is speaking of the misery of hell, and the blessedness of heaven; I apprehend that he is still preserving the view of both in what he saith here of the person and the sacrifice. The one, is said to be salted with fire, the other is distinguished from this in being salted with salt. The former, salted with fire, it should seem (for I humbly ask the question) hath reference to those whose everlasting misery is expressed under the similitude of a worm that dieth not, and the fire not quenched. Salted with fire will then imply, that as the common salt hath power to preserve flesh from corruption, so this fire shall be, to preserve in being those persons from being consumed. And while, as was before said, the worm of a guilty conscience shall grow upon them with inexpressible anguish, they shall never die the fire which is not extinguishable shall be as salt to preserve, while it shall burn with divine wrath to punish, and never go out; but the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever ever Revelation 14:11
In relation to the latter; every sacrifice shall be salted with salt I humbly conceive, that these sweet words have reference to the re deemed in CHRIST. It is a truth too well known, and too firmly ascertained to be questioned, that the whole law was but a shadow of good things to come; but the body is CHRIST. Hence, therefore, strictly and properly speaking, there was no real sacrifice, but the one offering of the body of JESUS CHRIST, once for all: for by that one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Hebrews 10:1-14. So that every offering under the law, was offered, with an eye to CHRIST: and HE was the one glorious substance of all. Laying this down as a foundation, which cannot be questioned, we can now enter into some apprehension at least of our LORD's gracious words, if (as I have ventured to suppose) they refer to the redeemed in CHRIST: Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. CHRIST the sacrifice; shall be offered by faith, with the salt of the Covenant. For so the LORD enjoined the Church when setting forth the sacrifice of CHRIST in type and shadow. Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt: neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the Covenant of thy GOD to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. Leviticus 2:13. So that while the salted with fire acts upon the persons of the unredeemed, as salt to flesh to preserve in being, and yet in unextinguishable torments, the salt of the Covenant with which the sacrifice is offered, preserves to everlasting happiness the souls and bodies of the LORD's people; being saved and accepted in CHRIST. Oh! LORD JESUS! say to my soul, and in saying it, confirm thy word unto thy servant, wherein thou hast caused we to hope; have salt in ourselves. Let never the salt of the Covenant of my GOD be lacking, but may Jesus in all his person, offices, grace, and spiritual seasonings, be in all my poor offerings: then shall I be as the salt of the Earth, preserved in thee, and by thee, not only from the corruption of the world around, but the corruptions within, and have peace with thee, and all thy people.
LORD JESUS! While I read thy gracious promise, at the opening of this Chapter, to some of thy faithful ones; who, according to what was then said, did not taste death till they had seen this kingdom come with power; I bless thee that though not present at thy Transfiguration; yet seeing thee by faith, and knowing thee as the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, all thy redeemed of the present day can say as holy Simeon of old, mine eyes have seen thy salvation!
Beholding thy rich mercy to the Child of the Poor Man, who, though his faith was so slender, yet thy grace was so great; help me LORD yea, help all thy redeemed ones, to join in the same prayer, and may we experience the same mercy: LORD, I believe! help thou mine unbelief.
Oh! for a spirit of humility among thy Church and People, that each may esteem other better than themselves: yea, may we all be content to be nothing; yea, less than nothing, that JESUS, our adorable JESUS, maybe all in all!
In the awful view of the unregenerate, in their worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched; oh! give thy people grace to mark, and rightly prize, their distinguishing mercies. LORD! how is it that thou hast manifested thyself unto us and not unto the world. Oh! for the salt of the Covenant of my GOD! Oh! for the unspeakable blessedness in the interest in CHRIST's sacrifice! Oh! for the grace of GOD the HOLY GHOST, salting with the salt of his regenerating, cleansing, illuminating, strengthening, and confirming influence, my soul unto the day of eternal redemption!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent