When They Came Down
ŇAnd it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. 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. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. 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. 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, Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 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.Ó (Luke 9:37-45)
When our Lord Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, he found his disciples being harassed by the scribes, apparently because they were not able to perform the miracle of casting out the demon which possessed a young man who was brought to them. When the Lord Jesus saw what was going on, he immediately stepped in to defend the nine disciples who were baffled by their inability to perform this miracle and baffled by the learned scribes who were disputing with them. He asked the scribes why they were disputing with (questioning) his disciples. But, before the scribes said anything, before any of the disciples said anything, a man butted into the conversation (Mark 9:14-29). Normally, in polite society, such an intrusion is looked upon as rudeness and is disdained. However, this manŐs intrusion was most welcome, because it was the intrusion of a desperate, loving father for his demon possessed son.
This poor man cared nothing for the dispute between the scribes and our MasterŐs disciples. His son was possessed of the devil! His son was pining away under satanic influence. His son was perishing and he was helpless! Therefore, he came directly, as soon as he had opportunity, to the only One who could help. He brought his son to the Son of God, seeking mercy, grace and life for his son by the power of our great and glorious Savior.
Mountains and Valleys
The first thing I see in this passage is the fact that mountain top experiences seldom last very long. The contrast between this paragraph and the one preceding it is very striking and must not be overlooked. We move from the Mount of Transfiguration to the valley of sorrow, from the vision of ChristŐs glory to a sad, sad history of SatanŐs power and influence in the life of one young man.
Peter, James and John had been in the blessed company of Moses and Elijah. They had just heard God the Father speak from heaven. They had just seen the Son of God transfigured before their eyes. Now they come into the scene of conflict, pain, weakness and misery. Here is a boy in agony, tormented by the devil. Here is a father with a broken heart, in deep distress. Here is a band of weak disciples, baffled by SatanŐs power and unable to help.
That is a fairly vivid picture of every ChristianŐs life in this world. Mountain top experiences are delightful, blessed times; but we must not expect them too often or expect too many of them. Most of the believerŐs life is spent in conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil. Our blessed visions of glory, those sweet foretastes of heaven, those seasons spent on the holy mount with the Lord are to be seized and enjoyed when God gives them. But that is the exception, not the norm.
When we are in the valley, let us try always to remember that the Lord Jesus comes to his disciples in the valley, just as he does in the mountain. He always comes, manifesting himself to us at precisely the right time. The sorrows and conflicts of our valleys are as much by divine arrangement as the joys of our mountain tops.
We are also reminded by this story that we are utterly and entirely dependent upon our Lord Jesus Christ. Like Moses, when he came down from Mount Sinai, our Lord Jesus found his disciples in a state of complete confusion. They were under the assault of a malicious group of scribes (Mark 9:14-16). The occasion of this was the fact that the disciples had attempted to cast the demon out of this manŐs son without success. These are the same men who had, just a short time earlier, done many miracles and cast out many devils. Yet, before this man and his son, they were utterly helpless.
These disciples learned by humble experience a very needful lesson. It is a lesson we must learn, a lesson that must be burned into our hearts. You will find it in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to his chosen disciples in John 15:5. — ŇI am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.Ó Without him, without his grace, without his strength, without his wisdom, we can do nothing. — This is a lesson contrary and bitter to our flesh. However, it is a lesson demonstrated over and over again in Scripture. We must not forget it. If the Lord leaves us to ourselves, we have no strength to do anything or in any way resist the devil.
May God the Holy Spirit teach us daily that we are weak, weakness itself, and utterly helpless without the wisdom, presence, power and grace of Christ, which he alone can give us.
This story is also recorded upon the pages of Holy Scripture to teach us and warn us of the horror of satanic power. Let none imagine that Satan is a fictional force of evil. Let none be so foolish as to laugh, and think that Satan is just a religious boogie man conjured up by crotchety old men to scare little children. If we read the gospel narratives together, we find that this father described the power and influence of Satan over his son in five ways.
(1.) He called this satanic spirit a foul spirit. Every foul, unclean thing proceeding out of the heart of man is promoted and encouraged by satanic influence. Those things that are contrary to nature, the moral perversities of homosexuality, are the result of God giving men and women over to the influence of hell (Romans 1:24-27).
(2.) The satanic spirit possessing the fatherŐs child was a destructive spirit, tearing the boy apart from within, causing him to foam at the mouth like a mad dog, gnash his teeth and pine away. It is satanic influence that causes people to run to destruction.
(3.) The spirit possessing this young man made him both deaf and dumb. The evil spirit from Satan kept the boy from hearing any who might help him and from crying out for help to any. So it is with poor, lost sinners. Satan blinds the eyes, stops the ears, and ties the tongues of men. He endeavors to keep sinners from seeing the glory of God in the face of Christ. He seeks to prevent any from hearing the gospel. And he tries to keep the needy soul from crying to the God of all grace for help. But, blessed be his name, the Friend of sinners is GodŐs Mighty One, by whom the prince of darkness is cast out!
(4.) The satanic spirit possessing this manŐs son made the boy Ňa lunatic.Ó John Gill described his condition as Ňa form of epilepsy which causes fainting and dumbness, καρδιακος, a disorder of the heart.Ó He was, as Paul tells us, taken captive by Satan at his will (2 Timothy 2:26). What a sad picture! Yet, this is the picture of all sinners without Christ. Wicked men and women perform horrid atrocities in a seizure of wickedness, because sinners have no ability to resist the wicked one, until Christ comes to dwell within by the saving operations of his grace.
(5.) This demon took possession of this young man as a mere child. This is a matter of deepest importance. We must labor to do good to our children and to serve the interests of their souls, even from their earliest years. If Satan begins early to destroy them, we must begin early to save them. We must, to the best of our ability, control those who have influence over them, guide them in choosing their friends and companions, instruct them in the Scriptures and the blessed doctrine of the gospel, and pray for them.
We also see in this passage another of the numerous examples given in Scripture of the dual natures of every believer. This is brought out clearly by Mark (Mark 9:23-24).
ŇJesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.Ó
Who can read those words and fail to see that faith and unbelief, righteousness and sin are found in the same person? The father of this child said, ŇLord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.Ó He believed. Yet, he had some doubts. He brought his child with hope. Yet, he was fearful. He seems to have expressed this honestly in Mark 9:22. He said to the Lord Jesus, ŇIf thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us.Ó
You may think, ŇThatŐs not much faith.Ó You would be right in your thinking if you did. But it was enough. He took his son home completely freed of the demonŐs power. He had faith as a grain of mustard seed; but it was true, God-given faith. The fact is: none of GodŐs people in this world are perfect, not even in a single area. It is not our faith, neither its strength, nor its quality, nor its quantity that matters, but Christ, the Object of our faith. Luke 9:43-45 shows us this fact: Not only is true faith very often weak faith, true believers are often terribly ignorant of many very important things. Yes, all who are taught of God know the gospel. They all know all that they need to know to exercise true faith in Christ. All true believers know Christ. But it is a very dangerous thing for us to start trying to determine how much a person must know to be saved. It is not what we know that saves us, but WHO!
"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, Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 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." (Luke 9:43-45)
We are taught here, by vivid example, the totality of ChristŐs dominion. There are many who foolishly imagine that Satan and the demons of hell are rivals to God, that they are somehow out of control. Nothing could be further from the truth. The devil is GodŐs devil. He is under GodŐs control. God uses him to accomplish his own purposes. And when he gets done with him, he will destroy him.
Do you see this? Our Lord Jesus Christ exercises total dominion over Satan and his agents at all times. He speaks with almighty, sovereign authority, and Satan and his demons immediately, implicitly, totally obey his voice. Satan is strong, malicious and busy. We are no match for the fiend of hell. But the Lord Jesus Christ is yet able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. He will save his elect from SatanŐs power. Satan can never snatch us from our SaviorŐs almighty, omnipotent hands. Soon, the God of peace will bruise Satan under our heels (Romans 16:20).
I must not fail to call your attention to the fact that this story is recorded upon the pages of Inspiration to remind us again of the privileges and responsibilities of believing parents. We cannot save our children. We cannot change their nature. We cannot give them life and faith in Christ. Many believing men and women have raised houses full of rebels. Let none of us arrogantly and ignorantly imagine that because children are wicked something must be amiss with the parents. Such talk betrays pride and self-righteousness!
Still, there are some things we can and must do for our children. We can do for our sons and daughters what this man did for his son. He brought his son to the Savior, to the place where Christ was to be found; and we can bring our children to the house of God to hear the gospel. He brought the Savior to his Son by fervent prayer; and we can seek the LordŐs mercy for our children. He acknowledged his sonŐs condition to the Lord Jesus. This poor father acknowledged that his only child was possessed of the devil, deaf and dumb, a lunatic, wicked to the core, and dying. Then, he acknowledged that he had always been that way.
Mark shows us that his sonŐs desperate need was his need. His prayer to the Savior was, ŇHave compassion on us, and help us!Ó And he believed God for his son. He could not believe instead of his son as a proxy. There is no such thing as proxy faith. But he did believe for his son. This man understood that foolishness is bound in the heart of every child. The rod of correction must be used to drive it from him; but only the grace of God can effectually deliver a sinner from the foolishness that is in him and from the power of Satan that rules him.
Operations of Grace
There is in this passage of Scripture an instructive, beautiful picture of GodŐs mighty operations of grace. Whenever God saves a sinner, there are certain things you can expect to see, and certain things you can expect to happen. I do not suggest by any means that all who are saved have the same experiences; but every believerŐs experience is similar. Death is death. Life is life. Grace is grace. And salvation is salvation. This is how God performs it. This is how the Lord God performs his mighty operations of grace in us.
First, when God saves a sinner, there is a Divine call. — ŇBring thy son hitherÓ (v. 41). The Lord God of all grace orders providence to bring the chosen, redeemed sinner under the sound of the gospel and sends forth his Spirit to call his chosen to himself, by irresistible, effectual grace (Psalm 65:4; 110:3).
Second, whenever the Lord Jesus calls sinners to himself, as they are coming to him, there is usually a satanic throw (v. 42). Satan is now in a rage because he knows his time is short (Revelation 7:12). So he unleashes upon the sinner God is about to save, all his hellish power.
Third, when the Lord comes to give eternal life, there is a hopeful slaughter. God always brings us down, before he lifts us up. He always wounds, before he heals. He always strips, before he clothes. He always empties, before he fills. And God always kills, before he makes alive. (Mark 9:25-26).
ŇWhen 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 him. 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.Ó
Then, blessed be his name, when the Lord Jesus comes in saving power, there is a resurrection from the dead (Ephesians 2:1-4). — ŇBut Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he aroseÓ (Mark 9:27).
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