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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Mark 9

 

 

Verse 1

THE SECOND COMING

Matthew 16:27-28. “For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and will then give to each one according to his work. Truly, I say unto you, There are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste of death, until they may see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.” Mark 8:38; Mark 9:1 : “For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and wicked generation, truly, the Son of man shall be ashamed of him, when He may come in the glory of His Father, with His holy angels. And He said to them, Truly, I say unto you, That there are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste of death until they may see the kingdom of God having come in power.”

Luke 9:26-27 : “For whosoever may be ashamed of Me and My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His glory, and that of the Father, and that of the holy angels. And, truly, I say unto you, There are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste of death until they may see the kingdom of God.” Very pertinently does our Savior here follow that terribly rigid and close sermon on discipleship, by one of the grandest of all possible inspirations, to settle the problem of discipleship, at any and every conceivable cost, making sure of heaven if we lose everything else, which is certainly the normal verdict of sound intelligence.

a. As this passage, recorded by Mark and Luke, reads in E.V., it has been the puzzle of millions. I know not why they give us the future tense, indicative mode, when the Greek has the present subjunctive. Within about one week from the time of this utterance, Peter, James, and John actually witnessed a prelude of His second coming on the Mount of Transfiguration.

“For not having followed cunningly devised fables, having made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but having been eye-witnesses of His majesty. . . . And we heard this voice borne from heaven, being along with Him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18.)

Here you see, Peter certifies that they witnessed His power and coming, while they were with Him in the holy mount. Now what was that holy mount? Why the Mount of Transfiguration, which they actually visited in a few days from that time, it being the preliminary coming of the Lord in His glory; i.e., an actual adumbration of His second coming. As Peter, James, and John were all present in His audience, and actually witnessed this prelude of His second and glorious coming, we, on the Mount of Transfiguration, have a preliminary fulfillment of this prophecy.

b. Within forty years of that date, while many of those people were still living, the Lord actually came, in His awful retributive judgments on the unbelieving Jews, executing righteous retribution for the rejection of His Son, destroying Jerusalem, and desolating the land with the awful scourge of the Roman armies, putting an end to the Jewish State and nationality, and annihilating the Jewish polity. Some able critics here find the fulfillment of this prophecy.

c. On the day of Pentecost the kingdom did certainly, as Mark says, “come in power,” having been on earth during the ministry of our Savior; but in the fiery baptisms and rushing tempest on the day of Pentecost it certainly did come in the signal manifestation of unprecedented power.

d. I see no reason why we may not take the whole passage as it is, and apply it to the existing generation, as it simply affirms a gracious possibility; i.e., there are some of those who are standing here, who may not taste of death until they may see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. Hence you see it simply affirms a gracious possibility on the part of that generation to see the Son of man coming in His glory, with the glory of the Father and the holy angels, before they pass away. You must remember that man has always been a failure. He failed in Eden; failed in antediluvian times; failed after the flood, landing in Egyptian slavery; failed in Judaism, rejecting and murdering their own Savior; and, according to the prophecies, will fail in the Gentile age, bringing on the tribulation, and forfeiting the millennium. Is not this very discouraging? O no! While man is a failure under all circumstances, God is an invariable and glorious success. Hence, all of these human failures should only inspire us to give up humanity, and fly to God, sinking away, lost in Him, to spend an eternity of bliss. The generation contemporary with Jesus was no exception. There was a gracious possibility for that generation to have preached the gospel to every nation, and so evangelize the world as to meet the condition of our Lord’s return (Matthew 24:14); as in that case He would have returned in His glory before the death of that generation. Here our Savior assures us, “Whosoever may be ashamed of Me and My words, in this wicked and adulterous world, the Son of man shall be ashamed of him, when He may come in the glory of His Father, with His holy angels.” Remember, this is the peroration of that awful sermon on discipleship, which nowadays is dodged, perverted, and misconstrued by clergy and laity, laying under contribution all their wits, to devise an easy way to heaven, washing, dressing, and educating old Adam, and taking him along with them. N.B. In a similar manner we find so many tender footed on the coming of the Lord, which our Savior here gives in immediate connection with His exposition of discipleship. The true, blood-washed, fire-baptized, and Spirit-filled disciple is not troubled when we preach the coming of the Lord, but elated with heaven-born enthusiasm, causing him to leap, shout, and run to meet Him. Jesus here calls the people who are ashamed of Him and His words, “a wicked and adulterous generation.” Far from shame or embarrassment at the coming of the Lord, we should be watching and waiting, and ready with shouts, to meet Him. “And now, little children, abide in Him, in order that if He may appear, we may have boldness, and not shrink with embarrassment from Him at His coming.” E.V. says we “may not be ashamed.” This is the same word which our Lord uses with reference to His words and His presence when He comes in His glory. Hence we should all be so saved and sanctified as to put us in perfect harmony with the words of Jesus; so we do not want to turn and twist them about, nor evade their force in any way, but want them to remain just as Jesus gave them. And as to Himself, “He is the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” Since His ascension, the widowed Church has mourned the absence of her Heavenly Spouse, and longed for His return, even now watching and waiting, ready to run to meet Him with shouts of triumph. So be sure that you are not ashamed nor embarrassed, when you read His Word, and contemplate His personal coming in a cloud this day.


Verses 2-30

CHAPTER 37

TRANSFIGURATION

Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36. Mark: “And after six days, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John, and carries them up into an exceedingly high mountain, privately, alone; and He was transfigured before them, and His garments became shining, exceedingly white as snow, such as no fuller on earth is able to whiten. And there appeared unto them Elijah, with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” Luke 9:30 : “Behold, two men were talking with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who, being seen in glory, were speaking of His departure, which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. And Peter, and those who were along with Him, had been burdened with sleep. But keeping awake through the night, they saw His glory, and the two men who were standing with Him.” The transfiguration is the most unearthly scene mortal eyes were ever permitted to behold. Here, again, we see the signal honor conferred by our Lord on Peter, James, and John, who certainly did enjoy a deeper insight into Divine things than the other nine.

a. What was the character of that wonderful scene? It was a prelibation of heaven, come down to earth — i.e., a peep into the glory world; Jesus, for the time, putting on His glory in the presence of Peter, James, and John, that these notable apostles might be prepared to edify us all as eye- witnesses. Their descriptions are very graphic; Mark, Peter’s amanuensis, certifying that His raiment was whiter than any fuller on earth could possibly make it, His countenance and entire person shining with a brightness infinitely eclipsing the noonday sun in his meridian splendor. The scene transpired in the night, perhaps after several hours spent in prayer, in which their weary bodies became sleepy; the transcendent glory, when bursting on them, utterly expelling all drowsiness, so they had no trouble to keep wide awake all the balance of the night, so thrilled with the unearthly glory that they felt like remaining there forever; hence suggested “to build tabernacles.” Amid the scene, Moses and Elijah both appear.

How did the apostles know them? Either by their statues or Divine intuition, and more probably the latter. They appear in their glory, as both of their bodies had been long ago glorified. When Elijah mounted the fiery chariot, he lost all mortality, materiality, and every ounce of his weight, still retaining his identity, which had passed into celestial glory. If Moses was not translated from Pisgah’s pinnacle, he was raised from the dead, thus, in either case, escaping from Satan’s material prison, in consequence of which he gave the archangel Michael an awful battle (Judges 1:9), only to encounter signal defeat, while Moses, with the archangel, sweeps up the shining way, and joins the enraptured host in the city of God. We have in the glorified manifestation of Moses and Elijah a clear confirmation of the glorious destination of all God’s saints; those living on the earth at the Lord’s appearing being translated into the glorified state suddenly (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), like Elijah, when he mounted the chariot of fire; and all the buried saints resurrected, like Moses, when Michael came after him, and took him to heaven; thus Moses and Elijah, representing all the saints of all ages, and thus appearing in their glory, are an incontestable earnest of the glorification awaiting all the saints, some through transition, and others through the resurrection. Moses and Elijah, representing the two great departments of the old disperisation — i.e., the Law and the Prophets, the former being the lawgiver, and the latter, the greatest of the prophets; hence Moses and Elijah here appear in glory, not only confirming the glorification of all the saints, some by translation and others by the resurrection, but as the representatives of the Law and the Prophets, they here appear in the presence of Jesus, to whom they resign their delegated and expiring power, thus recognizing the supercession of the Law and the Prophets by the Kingdom of Heaven. They depart away before the scene is over, signifying the retreat of the old dispensation and the incoming of the new. Luke 9:33 : “And it came to pass, while they were departing from Him [i.e., Moses and Elijah], Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elijah; not knowing what he says.” No wonder Peter felt like staying there forever, as he had really witnessed a prelude of heavenly glory, practically spending those wonderful hours in heaven. Yet he did not understand what he was talking about, as Moses and Elijah had already finished their errand, and were moving back to heaven. Jesus must soon go, and Peter, James, and John, with the other nine, must go to the ends of the earth, preaching the gospel; hence permanently abiding there was utterly out of the question. Amid Pentecostal meetings, especially holiness camps, we frequently are permitted to tarry a little while on the Mount of Transfiguration, reluctant to come down; yet we must come down, and finish our work, fighting sin and Satan in the dark valleys of a lost world. “And He speaking these things, and there was a cloud, and it overshadowed them; and they were afraid while they were entering into the cloud. And there was a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My Beloved Son: hear ye Him; and while the voice was sounding, Jesus was found alone, and they kept silent, and told no one, in those days, any of those things which they had seen.”

b. A world of investigation and controversy has labored through all bygone ages to locate the Mount of Transfiguration. When I was on Mount Tabor, which is a long way from Caesarea-Philippi, far out southwest, near Nazareth and the Mediterranean Sea, I saw three magnificent stone temples, somewhat in ruins, the Latin monk, in charge of the convent constantly occupied on that summit, pointing them out to me as these three tabernacles which Peter suggested to build — one for Jesus, one for Moses, and another for Elijah. The convent on that mountain perpetuates the memory of the transfiguration. Origen, who was born A. D. 185 — a great preacher and a martyr in his day; his father being a preacher and a martyr; also his grandfather; the latter, of course, having seen the apostles, and having been converted through their ministry — certified, and has left it in his writings, that Tabor was the Mount of Transfiguration. Saint Jerome, who spent thirty years in Palestine in the fourth century, and other Christian fathers, add their testimony, so that, through the ages past, Tabor has been visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims, believing, without a doubt, that while walking over its summit and worshipping in its three tabernacles, they were on the veritable spot of this wonderful heavenly scene, where our Lord brought a prelude of celestial glory down, and permitted mortal eyes to contemplate the unearthly splendors of the bright upper world. It seems almost a pity to mar the sanctity and glory of this illustrious mountain by even insinuating that the adoring myriads who have lived and died, believing without a doubt that they had actually trodden upon that hallowed spot, and lingered in the tabernacles built responsive to Peter’s suggestion, and with their mortal feet trodden the summit where Jesus, Moses, and Elijah once stood, invested with celestial glory. But facts are stubborn things, and I must say that they are unfavorable to the identity of Tabor with the Mount of Transfiguration.

c. Others have labored assiduously to identify it with the Mount of Beatitudes, on which our Lord’s celebrated sermon was delivered, lying a few miles back from Capernaum, and overshadowing it, as this mountain is quite lofty; and Capernaum is the first place mentioned after the transfiguration, and the events which transpired at the base of the mountain; presuming that the six days mentioned as transpiring before the transfiguration were, in all probability, spent traveling, giving them ample time to come from Caesarea-Philippi down to the Sea of Galilee.

d. As to the six days immediately preceding the transfiguration, in which we have not an intimation, much less a record, of anything said or done, it seems quite plausible that they have a symbolic signification, typifying the days of Jehovah.

“Let not this escape your memories, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8.)

The adverb “as” is hos, and means “about,” vindicating the indefiniteness of the period, simply a long time, about a thousand years, so that we must not emphasize human chronology too rigidly, as God is His own Timekeeper.

“For, not following cunningly devised fables, have we made known to you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but being made eyewitnesses of His majesty. For receiving from God the Father the honor and glory of such a voice, having been borne to Him from the excellent glory, This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. We heard this voice, borne from heaven, being with Him in the holy mount.” (1 Peter 1:16-18.)

You see from this Scripture that Peter refers to it as a preliminary coming of the Lord, and a confirmation of His sure and certain second and glorious advent, which was thus adumbrated while on this mount, which was made holy by the heavenly scene which there transpired. Now these six days preceding the transfiguration here mentioned, symbolize the six Divine days, aggregating six thousand years, preceding the glorious coming of the Lord.

e. “And having come out from thence, they traveled through Galilee.”

(Mark 9:30.) This statement certainly sweeps away the theories in favor of Tabor, Beatitudes, and all other places, except that region in which they have spent several days in addition to the six here mentioned. Hence the facts certainly favor the conclusion that it was one of the mountains in the vicinity of Caesarea-Philippi. Strenuous efforts have been made to locate the transfiguration on the highest peak of Hermon. This is hardly probable, as it is about eighty miles from there to the loftiest summit, and directly away from Galilee, due north, whereas we have not an intimation that Jesus ever traveled north of Caesarea-Philippi in His earthly ministry. If He had gone so far, we certainly would have some specification of it. Hermon is the highest peak of the great Anti-Lebanon Range, which runs from Northern Syria south to the vicinity of the Galilean Sea, Caesarea- Philippi being in the Jordan Valley, down at the foot of this great range, and many lofty summits round about, well suited to verify the description here given of this celebrated holy mountain. I climbed a lofty mountain, belonging to the Hermon Range, overshadowing Caesarea Philippi, visiting the ruins of a large temple built by Herod the Great, where tradition says Jesus preached. I see no reason why that mountain, or some other one overhanging the Jordan Valley, through which they traveled back to Capernaum, might not have been the veritable Mount of Transfiguration f. Amid the multiplicity of claimants, through ages of superstition, we must conclude that no one knows that veritable mountain. There are so many summits about Caearea-Philippi, and rising along the Anti-Lebanon Range, hanging over the Jordan Valley, any one of which would satisfy the description, that we must leave the matter undecided, simply concluding that the preponderant argument favors some one of those mountains in the vicinity of Caesarea-Philippi, which are convenient to their journey down the Jordan, bearing in mind the affirmation (Mark 9:30), “Having come out from thence, they traveled through Galilee.” Now bear in mind, Galilee runs up almost to Caesarea-Philippi, favoring the conclusion that the Mount of Transfiguration must have been in that vicinity. Some have suggested that, as it took place in the night, they would have been uncomfortably cold on the summit of Hermon, ten thousand feet high.

While I do not believe they went to that summit, as it was too far north, the question of cold is relieved with reference to that mountain, or any other, by the fact that it was midsummer. As Capernaum is the first place mentioned, where they halted in their journey through Galilee, the facts certainly corroborate the conclusion that the mountain was up there near Caesarea Philippi, as they would travel through Galilee all the way to Capernaum. As our Lord knew what floods of superstition and actual idolatry would accumulate on that memorable spot — which has actually taken place on Tabor — I do not wonder that He dropped the veil over it, withholding its name. Peter, writing about it, gives us no clew to its identity, simply calling it the “holy mountain.” Consequently its identity is all at sea, and must so remain, till Peter, James, and John in glory return.

Matthew 17:9. “And they, coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell no one the vision until the Son of man may be risen from the dead. His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then do the scribes say that it behooves Elijah first to come? And Jesus, responding, said to them, Indeed, Elijah cometh first, and will restore all things.” As Elijah here means John the Baptist, how did he restore, verify, complete, all things? John was the greatest of the prophets, and actually wound up the prophetical dispensation, which focalized in Christ, by not only preaching Him, but pointing Him out, and publicly introducing Him to the world. “But I say unto you, That Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did unto him all things which they wished; the Son of man is thus about to suffer by them. Then His disciples understood that He spoke to them concerning John the Baptist.” This transfiguration, taking place about eight months before the crucifixion, was the solemn installation of our Lord into that momentous series of events destined to culminate in His arrest, arraignment, condemnation, execution, resurrection, and ascension, thus unveiling to mortal eyes the heavenly side of His Messiahship. O that you and I may so sink away into God, and lose sight of this world, yea, climb so high up the Mount of Transfiguration, that we shall reach an experience in which we have a constant panorama of these thrilling realities, revelatory of the heavenly state, which is so nigh, and only separated by an intervening veil, liable to drop at any moment, thus revealing to us the unutterable glories of celestial worlds, of which, in the transfiguration, we have a vivid adumbration!


Verses 14-29

DEMONIACAL EJECTMENT

Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43. Mark: “And having come to His disciples, He saw a great crowd round them, and the scribes arguing with them.” He and the three disciples had been absent from the nine and the multitude during that memorable night of the transfiguration. In the morning, when they come down from the mount, they find an oral debate going on between the nine apostles and the scribes; i.e., the pastors of the Churches, who had gathered with the multitude. The subject of the debate was the failure of the nine to cast out an awfully stubborn and formidable deaf and dumb demon, which had occupied an only son from his infancy. “And immediately all the multitude, seeing Him, became aroused, and running to Him, seized Him;” i.e., gathered about Him, and took Him into a special diagnosis. “He asked the scribes, Why are you disputing with them?” The salient point in the debate was, that as the nine had failed in all their efforts to cast out the demon, at the same time alleging that if their Master were there, He could cast him out; the scribes stoutly disputed their word, and argued with them that if He were there, He would fail just as they had done. “And one of the multitude, responding, said, Teacher, I brought my son to Thee, having a dumb spirit, and when he may seize him, he convulses him; he froths, gnashes his teeth, and pines away.” Matthew says: “He is a lunatic, and suffers exceedingly, and frequently he falls in the fire, and often in the water.” Luke: “And, behold, the spirit takes him, and immediately he cries out, and he convulses him with foam, and scarcely departs from him, contorting him.”

We see from these descriptions that the child was an epileptic, of the very worst form, his convulsions being so frequent and violent as not only to take away the faculty of hearing and speech, but to render him at times insane, raving like a maniac. When these awful convulsions came on him, he screamed and roared at the very top of his voice, falling, rolling, in indescribable agony, gnashing his teeth, foaming at the mouth, and finally pining away, gasping for breath, and apparently ceasing to breathe, looking pale as a corpse, perspiration evanescing, becoming dry, ashy, cold, and to all appearances lifeless. “And I said to Thy disciples that they may cast him out, and they were not able. Responding, He says to them, O faithless generation, how long shall I bear with you?” We see here how grievous their unbelief and consequent failure were to Jesus. Lord, save us from grieving Thee in a similar manner! “Bring him hither to Me; and seeing Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him; and falling on the ground, he continued to wallow, foaming.” Here you see, the demon knew Jesus, having long ago been a pure spirit in the celestial universe, gazing upon the glory of the Son, before he had the misfortune to deflect with the great apostasy, following in the track of fallen Lucifer. See how awfully stubborn and malignant he is! Seeing Jesus, and knowing that his time is short, he seizes the moment left him to execute his wrath on his poor victim, seizing him instantly, convulsing him with horrific spasms, so that, falling on the ground, he wallows, foaming as if he were dying. “And He asked his father, How much time there is since this happened to him? And he said, From his infancy; and frequently he throws him into the fire, and into the water, that he may destroy him; but if You are able to do anything, help us, being moved with compassion in our behalf. And Jesus said to him, If you are able to believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the little child, crying out with tears, continued to say, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” Here we see a glorious illustration of the omnipotence of faith.

O what an inspiration this wonderful Scripture flashes out on a desponding Church and a sinking world!

Millions on all sides are sweeping into hopeless ruin; whereas alt that is needed that we may be saved to the uttermost, and our friends and loved ones rescued from Satan to go to heaven with us, is faith in Jesus. It costs nothing but your sins and your doubts, which were Satan’s millstones around your neck, dragging you to perdition. Your family are unsaved, your loved ones hanging over hell by the brittle thread of life. Soon it will be eternally too late. Will you not fly to the mercy-seat in their behalf? I trow, no demon more obstinate, potent, and incorrigible than this one possesses any of them. Though awful devils have them by the throat, Jesus is more than a match for them all. Will you not give Him a chance before demons people hell with the inmates of your home and community? You see here that true faith is accompanied by tenderhearted humility, illustrated by the fact that this man is so intensely exercised for the salvation of his son, that his tears gush out copiously, and flow in rivulets over his face. So get down before God till you, in spite of doubts and devils, with heart-gushing tears, can say, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.”

“And Jesus, seeing that the multitude are running together, rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, Dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, Come out from it and enter no more into him. Crying out, and convulsing him much, he came out. He became like a corpse, so that many said, He is dead.” When Jesus was talking to the man, the multitude, observing that something was going to be done, and all eager to see, immediately began to crowd in from all directions to witness the sight. As this would produce a great confusion, Jesus instantly commands the obstinate demon, who had resisted all the efforts of the nine, to come out. The demon avails himself of the last moment to execute vile retribution against the poor epileptic. So, in the very act of evacuating him, he convulses him so awfully that he pines away, pallid and ghastly as a corpse, and the people all around say, “He is dead.” I have witnessed many scenes of this kind in my revival- meetings, people falling amid frightful convulsions, foaming at the mouth, pining away, gasping for breath, and the unspiritual people around saying, “He is dead,” “She is dead.” I could give you the positive history of many such cases, which I have seen with mine own eyes. Frequently have they been hauled away from my meetings like dead people, but they always came to life.

The physical phase of this case is abundantly illustrated in all of our lunatic asylums, without which our communities would be terrorized this day by raving maniacs. I now have in mind a good, true, and efficient, sanctified Methodist preacher, who, like this boy, had epilepsy, in its worst form, till one and twenty, when a sanctified sister, finding her way to his father’s house, told him about Jesus, and prevailed on him to commit to Him soul and body. Though three times, amid these awful convulsions, he had been laid out and pronounced dead, when he got his eye of faith on Jesus, though all physicians had abandoned him to die, the Blessed Healer, in a moment, cast out the stubborn demon, completely healing soul and body, so that he has never since had a trace of epilepsy; but, responsive to the call he received when Jesus healed and sanctified him, from that day he has been preaching holiness to the Lord.

Matthew 17:19 : “Then the disciples, coming to Jesus, privately said, Why were we not able to cast him out? Jesus said to them, For truly, I say unto you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Be thou moved hence, and it will be moved, and nothing shall be impossible to you. But this kind goeth not out except through prayer.” E. V. says, “Through prayer and fasting,” some good man evidently adding “fasting,” feeling that it would strengthen the statement, as it does not here appear in the original. We must remember that the disciples did not fast till after the Lord had left the world, as this would have been out of harmony with the glorious sunshine of His perpetual and omnipotent presence. He said that they would fast after He had gone away. Hence it is all right and pertinent for us to fast, as the Spirit leads, till He returns in glory. We must remember that our Savior is talking about spiritual things, referring to the little mustard seed and the great mountain to illustrate the omnipotence of faith. God appreciates quality rather than quantity. Hence, though your faith may be small, if it is free from doubt, the tiny mustard seed will make the great mountain of sin leap away, and sink out of sight into the sea of forgetfulness.

In these two notable transaction — i.e., the transfiguration glory on the mountain summit, and the casting out of this awfully cruel, stubborn, obstinate demon down at the base, we have a vivid illustration of heaven and hell in close proximity. So terrible is the conflict between the powers of darkness in this world, that we often find the bright summit, the transfiguration glory, and the dark valley, pervaded by infuriated demons, in close proximity. Where God works, Satan works too, et vice versa. Hence the Christian soldier should never be discouraged at the rage of hell and the howl of devils; but on the contrary, in that case, should always take courage, as Satan is not fool enough to waste his ammunition. When the powers of darkness rendezvous and the formidable difficulties intervene, always look out for bright victories.


Verses 30-32

CHAPTER 38

DEATH AND RESURRECTION

Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43-45. Mark: “And having gone out from thence, they continued to journey through Galilee.” As Galilee extends up to the very suburbs of Caesarea-Philippi, this passage is a clinching argument for the location of the transfiguration in that vicinity. Luke: “Place these words in your ears; for the Son of man is about to be delivered into the hands of sinners.” Matthew & Mark say: “They will kill Him; and having been killed, on the third day He will arise.” “And they did not know this word, and it was hidden from them, in order that they may not understand it; and they feared to ask Him concerning this word.” This took place in His conversation with His disciples while journeying down the Jordan, from Caesarea-Philippi, back to the sea of Galilee. You observe that this is the second time that He has positively told them about His coming arrest, execution, and resurrection. As you here see, “it was hidden from them,” so they did not understand it. Do you know that this dark veil wrapped the important item in our Lord’s biography till He had actually risen from the dead, though He had distinctly and positively spoken it out to them three times? Why was this revealed to them, and still withheld from them? It was really indispensable that it should be revealed, in order to the completion of the prophetical curriculum, destined, as in all bygone ages, to constitute the basis of faith for all future generations; hence the necessity of its revealment is clear and demonstrative. Then why was it withheld from them, so they never did receive it till after He had risen from the dead? This is equally obvious. If His disciples had understood it, they would have rallied His friends and fought for Him, thus precipitating on the country a bloody revolution, which Jesus did not want. Consequently, the blessed Holy Spirit just took it away from them, so they never caught the idea till after He had risen from the dead.


Verses 33-35

APOSTOLICAL AMBITION

Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:33-35; Luke 9:46-47. Mark: “And being in the house, He asked them, What were you disputing about with one another on the road? And they were silent; for on the road they had been disputing with one another which one should be greater. And He, sitting down, called the Twelve, and says to them, If any one wishes to be first, he shall be last of all, and the servant of all.” We see here the outcropping of ambition among the apostles, each one wanting the pre-eminence in the gospel kingdom; thus most unequivocally illustrating their need of the fiery baptism, to consume all their ambition, and humiliate them, meek and lowly, at the feet of Jesus, in utter and eternal abandonment to God, to be taught by the Holy Ghost. This is demonstrative proof of the second work of grace in the Divine economy, as no one would dare to call in question the conversion of the apostles. They had already, pursuant to our Savior’s commission, gone all over that country, preaching the gospel, casting out demons, and healing the sick. Jesus never sent out sinners to preach. He does not yoke up the devil’s cattle to pull the salvation wagon, but always uses His own. Jesus very pertinently notifies them that, in His kingdom, the one highest in office is least of all — i.e., deepest down in the valley of humiliation — and servant of all, as his official administrations include all, actually making him the benefactor of all his subordinates. While this is not always true in ecclesiastical officers, it is invariably the matter of fact in the kingdom of God; as in the Divine estimation, going down is coming up, and the enlargement of our field of labor simply magnifies our servitude to all included in these augmented dominions.


Verse 36-37

THE INFANT THE PARAGON

Matthew 18:2-5; Mark 9:36-37; Luke 9:48. Mark: “Jesus, calling to Him a little child, placed it in their midst, and said, Truly, I say unto you, Except ye may be converted, and become as little children, you may not enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore whosoever may humble himself as this little child, the same is the greater in the kingdom of the heavens; and whosoever may receive one such little child in My name, receiveth Me.” Mark: “Taking a little child, He placed it in their midst, and taking it up in His arms, He said to them.” . . . There is no mistake as to the conclusion that these are literal, natural infants, small enough for Jesus to lift up in His arms, exhibiting them illustratively. This is beautifully illustrative of the glorious, universal redemption in Christ, reaching every human being, even in the prenatal state, so soon as soul and body, united, constitute personality. Now as these infants, by the redemption of Christ, had been born in the kingdom, and could only get out by sinning out, which they could not do till they reached responsibility, it was demonstrative proof that they are all members of the heavenly kingdom; whereas, in the case of adults, the matter is at least problematical, so that we can not know for any one but ourselves the status before God. So here we have an irrefutable illustration of the consolatory fact that all infants are members of God’s kingdom, and here held up as paragons, because there can be no defalcation in their case, as they can only get out by actual sin, of which they are incapable till they reach responsibility. Hence, in their case, there can be no doubt, which can not be said of any adult, because no one but God knows the heart. It is a patent fact that infancy is the very period of an humble, loving disposition; humility and love constituting the preeminent graces of the kingdom. We may pertinently here observe that these infants are not sanctified, but possessed of depravity, manifested in evil tempers cropping out from the cradle; but, as Jesus says, they are normal citizens of the kingdom, standing where a genuine conversion brings every adult, and needing sanctification, like every justified Christian, such as those apostles, who there permitted ministerial ambition to show its cloven foot to their just reprehension.


Verses 38-41

BIGOTRY OF THE APOSTLE JOHN

Luke 9:49-50; Mark 9:38-41. “And John responded to Him, saying, Teacher we saw a certain one casting out devils in Thy name who does not follow us, and we forbade him, because he does not follow us. And Jesus said, Prevent him not. For there is no one who shall work a miracle in My name who will be able quickly to speak evil of Me [as he will have to backslide first]. For whosoever is not against us, is on our side. And whosoever may give you a cup of water in the name of Christ, because you are His, truly, I say unto you, He shall not lose his reward.” There is no doubt but John was the first disciple of our Lord, and during His entire ministry honored, with Peter and James, on the Mount of Transfiguration the resurrection of Jairus’s daughter, and in Gethsemane. Besides, he was even epitheted the “loving disciple,” habitually sitting close by His side, and even leaning on His bosom. That he was characteristic of pre-eminent spirituality from the beginning, growing on him through his long and useful life, till his writings are swelling rivers of love, sweeping down from heaven, the source of his inspiration, can not be doubted. Though he is the speaker on this occasion, making his own confession, you see he includes his comrades, authenticating the conclusion that those apostles actually did forbid that man to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, because he did not follow them. That man deserved their prayers and their encouragement, as well as their cooperation. He was no bogus worker, but was actually casting out the demons. Now, what is the conclusion? They most imperatively needed the fiery baptism of Pentecost, to burn up their bigotry and sectarian prejudice. Read John’s Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse, all of which are swelling rivers of love, and you can not find a solitary vestige of sectarian bigotry or ecclesiastical ostracism.


Verses 42-44

RESPONSIBILITY OF OFFENDING THE LITTLE ONES

Matthew 18:6-8; Mark 9:42-44. “Whosoever may offend one of these little ones who believe in Me, it is better for him rather if a millstone is hung round his neck, and he has been plunged into the sea. If thy hand may offend thee, cut it off; it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands to go away into hell, into the fire that can not be quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Matthew 18:7 : “Woe unto the world because of offenses! It is necessary that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” So long as we are on probation, temptation, which is but another name for offense, supervenes as a logical sequence. Our Lord is here speaking primarily of natural infants, but also including the spiritual; i.e., young converts. You see the awful and momentous responsibility devolving on all the people who offend these infants, natural and spiritual. What does this mean? It simply means leading them into sin, by precept or example, nolens, volens. There is a deep sleep on all the world appertaining to this awful responsibility. By the wonderful redeeming grace of Christ, every human being is born in the kingdom of God, and only gets out by sinning out. O what an awful wreckage is everywhere going on! Parents and Churches are blind to these stupendous facts. How long infantile justification is retained depends upon the light shining in the home, and the opportunities available. With some, the age of responsibility is reached much earlier that in case of others. Which should be the grand enterprise of all parents, to so bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so culture and fortify, as to retain them indefinitely in the kingdom. I trow, this will be the normal economy during the millennium, when the generations will look back on their predecessors with horror and astonishment, because they permitted their children to sin away their infantile justification, become backsliders, and take chances between reclamation and damnation. Doubtless the majority who go from earth to populate heaven during these probationary ages, die in their infancy, thus including one-half of the whole human race, in reference to whom there is no defalcation. Awful responsibilities in eternity and judgment await the people who have been instrumental in leading infants to commit sin. How frequently the parents, brothers, and sisters thus inadvertently crimson their hands in the blood of the little ones, actually leading them across the line, out of infantile justification, into the kingdom of Satan! God sets great store on these infants, both natural and spiritual, because His Son left heaven and suffered and died for them. He wants them to glorify Him on earth, people heaven, and do His will through all eternity. Hence the awful responsibility devolving on the audacious person who may prove instrumental in their abduction out of the kingdom. O how reckless, thoughtless, and foolhardy people are in their treatment of the little ones! “Offend” here is scindahzo, from scandalon, and means a stumblingblock. Therefore anything said or done, causing an infant or a young convert to waver or stumble in the rectilinear way of truth, innocence, and righteousness, is the offense here so rigidly stigmatized and terrifically anathematized. We know that infants have evil tempers, which nothing but entire sanctification can remove. The mere existence of this hereditary evil does not vitiate their justification, as they received it by irresponsible heredity; while its arousement would lead to voluntary acts of sin, calculated to forfeit their justification, and occasion stumbling and falling. Paul says: “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath;” i.e., do nothing to make them angry. The responsibility of parents, permitting their children to associate with evil companions, is simply immeasurable, amounting to the awful reality of giving them a ticket over the Black Valley route to hell.


Verses 45-48

DOOM OF THE WICKED

Matthew 18:8-9; Mark 9:45-48. “And if thy foot may offend thee, cut it off; it is good for thee to go into life lame, rather than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire which can not be quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” This awful deliverance of our Savior, relative to the doom of the wicked, follows as a normal sequence from the innumerable and egregious sins committed in giving offense to spiritual and natural infants. Consequently He goes out into a clear, straight, and unequivocal affirmation, relative to the endless punishment of the wicked, which is simply irrefutable by all the sophistry of Universalism, all the chicanery of infidelity, and all the diabolical effrontery of the Pandemonium. Here, Jesus says that the wicked “go into the fire which can not be quenched, where the worm [i.e., the conscious living] dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” The word for “die” is teleutao, from telos, the “end;” consequently, it means never have an end, the strongest and most inevasible word in the Greek language. These words and phrases, uttered by the Savior, can never be modified, evaded, weakened, or explained away. The sophistry that would have the audacity to tinker with these plain and unmistakable words of Jesus, could upset every truth in the Bible, completely take God’s Book of Truth out of our hands, leaving us groping in the utter bewilderment of rayless night. O that the preachers would preach like Jesus! If they do not, they have no right to preach at all. You have no right to deliver a message for another, unless you deliver it as he gave it to you. The reason why so many preachers have lost their power, is because Jesus does not send them. The reason why He does not send them, is because they have failed to deliver His message as He gave it to them. If you were to send a man with a most important message, and he should materially change it, either by additions or subtractions, or both, you would never again trust your business in his hands. Preachers stand in the pulpit, empty as the shell of a dead oyster, because of the delinquency in the faithful deliverance of the Lord’s message. The wicked are going to hell by millions. The most successful method of stopping them is faithfully, persistently, importunately fearlessly, and tearfully telling them precisely what they are doing, without mollification or modification, but persistently warning them night and day. One of the saddest concomitants of the awful apostasy in the Churches is the elimination of endless punishment out of the pulpit. Just as heaven should be the constant theme preached to the Christian pilgrim for glory bound, so hell should be the incessant theme roaring from every pulpit in the ears of all the hellward bound. If this is not faithfully adhered to, conviction will not only go out of a Church, but evanesce from a community, leaving all the gospel timber-gum logs, which will neither rive nor split.


Verse 49-50

SAVED WITH FIRE

Mark 9:49-50. “For every one shall be salted with fire.” The E.V. adds the clause, “and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt,” which does not appear in the original, evidently having been interpolated by some one, who thought the salt had a physical signification, which is entirely incorrect; the meaning of it being purely spiritual, natural salt augmenting the force of spiritual truth by the powerful symbolism, appertaining to its economy in the conservation of natural life in the material world; as the salt in the ocean alone prevents putrefaction and stagnation; whereas the watery world is the conservator of atmospheric purity, by which animal life is perpetuated; the sea-breezes carrying out the pure air from the ocean for the inhalation of animals, and carrying back the malarious atmosphere from the continents, to be purified by resting on the salt water. If there were no salt in the ocean, his stagnant and putrefied waters would so contaminate the aerial world as to fill the continents with poisonous malaria, which would quickly kill all the people and all air-breathing animals. Hence the transcendent force of the affirmation, “Every soul shall be salted with fire.” Salted means saved. Hence the only possible evasion of the hell-fire, here revealed by the warning voice of Jesus, is to get well salted; i.e., thoroughly sanctified with heavenly fire. If you have not the humility, courage, and perseverance to seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire in this life, you are bound to take hell-fire, as here described, through all eternity.

“Salt is good; but if the salt may lose its savor, with what will you salt it?”

As our Savior well says, in His memorable Sermon on the Mount, “It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be thrown out, and trodden under feet by the people.” You do not want this dead salt in the washes nor the ditches, as it obliterates all hope of restoring their fertility, turning the space of its occupancy into a perpetual desert. As Jesus says, it is fit for nothing but to make walks. The salt here means the Holy Ghost, who is the life of religion. Hence, when your religion is forsaken by the Holy Ghost, Spiritless, lifeless, and dead, it is like the salt which has lost its savor, and fit for nothing but to make walks. In a similar manner, all unspiritual religion is fit for nothing but to pave the road to hell, making it comfortable for travelers, soothing their guilty consciences, blinding their eyes, and even filling them with the false peace and joy of heavenly anticipation, till they plunge headlong into endless woe.

“Have salt in yourselves, and live in peace with one another.” When a community is well salted with the fire of the Holy Ghost, burning up all envy, jealousy, revenge, retaliation, enmity, animosity, strife, bigotry, hatred, rivalry, pride, vanity, folly, and all sorts or Satanic foolery,

“Heaven will come down, all souls to greet, And glory crown the mercy-seat.”

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Mark 9:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/mark-9.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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