6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
Compare the words of Moses in Exo. 19:19 and Heb. 12:21.
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.
Additional detail not supplied in Matthew!
There was a reason which had no reference to the power of God, but to the weakness of man...
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.
24 And straightway 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 him.
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.
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.
The word worked with power in the organism of the lad. It coursed as a powerful life-current through his whole nervous system, restoring the obstructed continuity in every fibre, and restablishing every normal function, but with a force that was too strong for the lad to bear easily. He was convulsed with extreme pain; cried out at the top of his voice, and then apparently collapsed in a moment and lay motionless, and apparently lifeless.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 38
28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
This implies that usually they found no difficulty in effecting cures in the name of Jesus, and that they were surprised they could not deal with this case, and had so laid themselves open to the assaults of the Scribes. Jesus gave two reasons: the case was difficult, and their faith had failed them. His exact words on the last point were: -- "Because of your unbelief." But why should unbelief have obstructed their use of the power of God in this case and not in others? We are not informed.
If, however, we realise the embarrassing effect of having hostile sneering spectators like the Scribes standing round, while an acute and obstinate case was submitted for treatment, we may not find much difficulty in understanding why the disciples should waver in the feeling of ability to deal with it. Their sense of personal honour would be liable to obscure God from their momentary discernment, as with Moses at Meribah: and God, who is jealous, and will not suffer His glory to be taken by another, refused the power; which rendered the disciples helpless.
The right kind of faith is very powerful, if ever so small, when the right opportunity for its action is at hand. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed," said Christ, "ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
We have more than once had occasion to consider this question of the relation of faith to performance. It is a matter much requiring the reasonable discrimination of wisdom, in order to avoid the disasters that befall faith of almost every kind in modern times. We may all have heard of the old woman who, on the strength of the words of Christ, prayed at night that a neighbouring hill might be shifted to a more convenient place for her, and went in the morning to see, and finding the hill just as it was, said, "Ah, it is just as I thought."
Many are liable to this superficial and frivolous view of the subject, and to the consequent disappointment and depression belonging to it. Faith, in this relation of things, is usually not understood. Simply stated, it is confidence where God proposes to work by us. Faith, at such a time, is powerful to do anything. And the want of it at such a time will interfere with the greatest works of God. That is, God will not work with an unbelieving man.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 38
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.
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Fire for eternity is not taught here.
Following the apocalypse of Messiah (as a thief in the night to the unenlightened and apostates, but as the anticipated and yearned for bridegroom of the faithful ecclesia) the judgements upon the lake of fire nations will be unquenchable, as they were when Jerusalem was desolated by the Romans in AD 70.
The unquenchable fire will only cease once the nations are entirely subdued, the beast nations have their dominion taken away, and every knee bows to the Lord Yahoshua in willing obedience.
Let us ponder this a moment. Let us endeavour to realise it. Eternal torments would be dreadful, but for the time being, the sufferings of those who are the subjects of the punishment to which Jesus refers will be as terrible. Jesus associates them in another place with "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth." God is kind and long-suffering, but He has another side,
"Our God is a consuming fire."
God is love, and His tender mercy is over all His works, and yet Paul invites us to "behold His severity" in certain relations (Rom. 11:22). The history of His transactions with men is full of illustrations on this point. The flood is a standing instance to which Jesus more than once refers. An irruption of merciless waters drowned the whole population - nice babies, pretty children, beautiful girls, stalwart fine-looking men, and old men of grey and venerable aspect.
What was the cause of the terrible visitation? Because "all flesh had corrupted His way, and the earth was filled with violence." Men thought it a light thing to corrupt the way of God. They were not afraid to disregard His appointments; they thought it a weak and womanish thing to fear to do wrong - just exactly as it is now, as Jesus said would be the case.
...Consider what is meant by being sent away among them instead of remaining in the security of Christ's protective presence. In ordinary circumstances, we have always a reserve thought that eases off our worst troubles - a velvet cushion of some kind that breaks the shock. We have at least our own home left, our own friends, our own liberty, our books to read for comfort, our walks abroad to ease our agonies - the blue sky, the fresh air, the smiling landscape. We can at all events take refuge in slumber's pillow at night - which is all very true and helpful, but will no longer be true if we are dismissed with the terrible words,
"Depart from me ye cursed."
There is no resource of comfort or easement left then. The unhappy part of the rejected is to be driven out among the Lord's enemies who are themselves afflicted as in a lake of fire, to suffer they know what for and with what end. If you are among them you arrive as a vagabond, without house, without friend, without calling, without hope. There have been days of peace and privilege and health, but they are gone now.
Wrath heaped up against the day of wrath has caught you in its whirlpool blast. The righteous judgment of God envelops you in "tribulation and anguish." You have had pains and toothaches and torments; they are gathered on you now tenfold, without access to remedy and without power to end your misery, for you are in the hands of God whose slighted mercy and unappreciated greatness and discarded rights and claims now rise up against you, and smite you with scorpion torments. You now know the truth of the words,
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
"Be not deceived, God is not mocked."
Your horizon has no light, your black sky is without a break. You know the only end is in the second death, in destroying fire, which will wipe your dishonoured memory from under the heavens. It is not eternal torments, but it is as bad while it lasts.
We ought to look it in the face as a possibility to be averted. Christ's words imply this. The contemplation of it will help us to estimate their wisdom and their force. It is better to enter into life halt or maimed than having perfect members to go into the fire that no man can quench. He does not mean that men will enter life without an eye, or a foot or a hand; for the resurrection body will be perfect. He means it would be better were such a thing possible. It is one of his parables, to the use of which he was prone.
His meaning is evident, namely, that it is far better to forego any advantage or any pleasure, or even any privilege that will imperil our fitness for the Kingdom of God, than to preserve our perfect satisfactions now on all points and discover at last that we have indulged them at the expense of our calling and election. If we do not see this now, we shall certainly see it then, too late - when all the things we have tried to secure are gone from our grasp for ever - when it will be said to us as to Great Babylon of that same crisis:
"The fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee"; "Thou shalt be found no more at all."
Especially grievous will rejection be when the rejected see what they have lost - see it with their eyes as a shining and glorious reality. What this is, we have a peep at in the other part of the chapter from Mark, in the account of the transfiguration. See what the power of the Spirit of God can do. Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, unglorified, ascends a hill with three of his disciples. His mortal face shines as with the burnished light of the sun; his common clothes glisten with a snowy whiteness of glory beyond the utmost power of human art to imitate.
Moses and Elias appear with him in glory, and they confer familiarly together. Here was an exhibition in advance of the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. It was a miniature illustration of what is meant by the glory to be revealed. What was done on the small scale then will be done to all the elect of God at the time when the rejected will depart from the presence of the Lord "with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth." Then shall the righteous- (the class who have figuratively cut off their right hands and pulled out their right eyes that they might enter the kingdom rather than preserve all intact for wholesale consumption with the wicked)-
"Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their Father," so says Jesus, who also said,
"Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves shall be thrust out."
This is the equivalent to saying that the rejected in the day of their anguish will have that anguish intensified by the spectacle of the glorified multitude that no man can number, rejoicing in the salvation from which they themselves are excluded. There they are, a shining noble throng, you were once among them, now you are no longer of their number, you are cast out as unworthy of a place.
What have you gained by your snug and successful management by which your offending eye, hand and foot have all been preserved in such healthy vigour? What can the bowing and smiling friends whom you have propitiated at the cost of faithfulness to the Lord do for you now? What can your property that you prudently conserved for personal uses wholly, avail you now? Of what good to you now is the respectability you carefully cultivated with a God-despising generation - men of the world who have their portion in this life? All have perished from your hands. They are but fuel now for the everlasting fire that waits to devour. God takes no pleasure in you.
The holy son of His love, now the manifested Judge, dismisses you with calm, judicial firmness. Long-suffering has come to an end. The day of unrecognised grace has become the day of insistent judgment that cannot be evaded or put off; and you behold the glory you have missed - the splendid gift of incorruption, the shining honour of a place among God's ennobled friends, the priceless treasure of a crown of glory that fadeth not away, "Hark, those bursts of acclamation," your voice contributes no ingredient to the enraptured song.
Listen to the wail of terror-stricken multitudes as they depart with weeping and gnashing of teeth, you swell the shrieks that rend the sky. You will find no comfort from your fellow-shriekers. Sinners can do something for you now, they can do nothing then. Their day is done: judgment has arrived: in the scathing fires of which they curse each other and curse the infatuation that blinded them in the day of their opportunity to heaven's beautiful light. They will then remember the still, small voice of the Son of Man that speaks unheeded now.
"If thy hand offend thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter into life halt and maimed than having two hands to enter into the fire of Gehenna that never shall be quenched."
It is better to remember it now. It is better to act on it now. It may be difficult, it may be hard, it may often be heart-breaking, but its deepest sorrow is nothing to the "wrath of heaven revealed against all unrighteousness of men" when "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The sorrows and self-denials and the burdens of the present course of faith and obedience will all be made up to us a thousand-fold in the words of sympathetic welcome that wait the approved,
"Well done, good and faithful servant, you had a hard struggle, a difficult fight, but you have got through victoriously. You made the most of the very little that was in your power, enter now into the great and high and pleasant ways of everlasting rest."
Bro. Roberts - THE HAPLESS PLIGHT OF THE REJECTED
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.
Apathy in regard to Bible knowledge, indifference and rebellion to its requirements when known, love of ease and of smooth-sailing, instability, faintheartedness, cowardice, lack of determination, are traits that should not be discoverable in those who profess to be God's friends.
The judgment seat will make it manifest that these traits have in numerous instances barred the way to the Kingdom of God. The rulers and teachers of that Kingdom will all be exemplary men and women, able not only to say, "Do so and so," but "Do as we have done."
The beauty of their example will lie in the fact that in the days of their probation, they hungered and thirsted after righteousness, had an affectionate regard for the will of God, had been able to endure hardness as the occasion required, were single minded, courageous, steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian,Nov 1886