Mark 9 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Mark 9)

Verse 2

[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.

By themselves — That is, separate from the multitude: Apart - From the other apostles: and was transfigured - The Greek word seems to refer to the form of God, and the form of a servant, {mentioned by St. Paul, Philippians 2:6,7,} and may intimate, that the Divine rays, which the indwelling God let out on this occasion, made the glorious change from one of these forms into the other. Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28.

Verse 3

[3] And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

White as snow, such as no fuller can whiten — Such as could not be equalled either by nature or art.

Verse 4

[4] And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Elijah — Whom they expected: Moses, whom they did not.

Verse 7

[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.

There came a (bright, luminous) cloud, overshadowing them - This seems to have been such a cloud of glory as accompanied Israel in the wilderness, which, as the Jewish writers observe, departed at the death of Moses. But it now appeared again, in honour of our Lord, as the great Prophet of the Church, who was prefigured by Moses.

Hear ye him — Even preferably to Moses and Elijah.

Verse 12

[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.

Elijah verily coming first restoreth all things: and how it is written — That is, And he told them how it is written - As if he had said, Elijah's coming is not inconsistent with my suffering. He is come: yet I shall suffer. The first part of the verse answers their question concerning Elijah; the second refutes their error concerning the Messiah's continuing for ever.

Verse 14

[14] And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.

Matthew 17:14; Luke 9:37.

Verse 15

[15] And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.

All the multitude seeing him were greatly amazed — At his coming so suddenly, so seasonably, so unexpectedly: perhaps also at some unusual rays of majesty and glory, which yet remained on his countenance.

Verse 17

[17] And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

And one of the multitude answering — The scribes gave no answer to our Lord's question. They did not care to repeat what they had said to his disciples.

A dumb spirit — A spirit that takes his speech from him.

Verse 20

[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.

When he saw him — When the child saw Christ; when his deliverance was at hand.

Immediately the spirit tore him — Made his last grand effort to destroy him. Is it not generally so, before Satan is cast out of a soul, of which he has long had possession?

Verse 22

[22] And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

If thou canst do any thing — In so desperate a case: Have compassion on us - Me as well as him.

Verse 23

[23] Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

If thou canst believe — As if he had said, The thing does not turn on my power, but on thy faith. I can do all things: canst thou believe?

Verse 24

[24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Help thou mine unbelief — Although my faith be so small, that it might rather be termed unbelief, yet help me.

Verse 25

[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.

Thou deaf and dumb spirit — So termed, because he made the child so. When Jesus spake, the devil heard, though the child could not.

I command thee — I myself now; not my disciples.

Verse 26

[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.

Having rent him sore — So does even the body sometimes suffer, when God comes to deliver the soul from Satan.

Verse 30

[30] And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.

They passed through Galilee — Though not through the cities, but by them, in the most private ways.

He was not willing that any should know it: for he taught his disciples — He wanted to be alone with them some time, in order to instruct them fully concerning his sufferings.

The Son of man is delivered — It is as sure as if it were done already. Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:44.

Verse 32

[32] But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

They understood not the word — They did not understand how to reconcile the death of our Saviour (nor consequently his resurrection, which supposed his death) with their notions of his temporal kingdom.

Verse 33

[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?

Luke 9:46.

Verse 34

[34] But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

Who should be greatest — Prime minister in his kingdom.

Verse 35

[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.

Let him be the least of all — Let him abase himself the most.

Verse 36

[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,

Matthew 18:2; Luke 9:47.

Verse 37

[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.

One such little child — Either in years or in heart.

Verse 38

[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 followeth not us.

And John answered him — As if he had said, But ought we to receive those who follow not us? Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name - Probably this was one of John the Baptist's disciples, who believed in Jesus, though he did not yet associate with our Lord's disciples.

And we forbad him, because he followeth not us — How often is the same temper found in us? How readily do we also lust to envy? But how does that spirit become a disciple, much more a minister of the benevolent Jesus! St. Paul had learnt a better temper, when he rejoiced that Christ was preached, even by those who were his personal enemies. But to confine religion to them that follow us, is a narrowness of spirit which we should avoid and abhor. Luke 9:49.

Verse 39

[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.

Jesus said — Christ here gives us a lovely example of candour and moderation. He was willing to put the best construction on doubtful cases, and to treat as friends those who were not avowed enemies. Perhaps in this instance it was a means of conquering the remainder of prejudice, and perfecting what was wanting in the faith and obedience of these persons.

Forbid him not — Neither directly nor indirectly discourage or hinder any man who brings sinners from the power of Satan to God, because he followeth not us, in opinions, modes of worship, or any thing else which does not affect the essence of religion.

Verse 40

[40] For he that is not against us is on our part.

For he that is not against you, is for you — Our Lord had formerly said, he that is not with me, is against me: thereby admonishing his hearers, that the war between him and Satan admitted of no neutrality, and that those who were indifferent to him now, would finally be treated as enemies. But here in another view, he uses a very different proverb; directing his followers to judge of men's characters in the most candid manner; and charitably to hope that those who did not oppose his cause wished well to it. Upon the whole, we are to be rigorous in judging ourselves, and candid in judging each other.

Verse 41

[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.

For whosoever shall give you a cup — Having answered St. John, our Lord here resumes the discourse which was broken off at the 37th verse. Mark 9:37; Matthew 10:42.

Verse 42

[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.

On the contrary, whosoever shall offend the very least Christian. Matthew 18:6; Luke 17:1.

Verse 43

[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:

And if a person cause thee to offend — (The discourse passes from the case of offending, to that of being offended) if one who is as useful or dear to thee as a hand or eye, hinder or slacken thee in the ways of Cod, renounce all intercourse with him. This primarily relates to persons, secondarily to things. Matthew 5:29; Matthew 18:8.

Verse 44

[44] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Where their worm — That gnaweth the soul, (pride, self will, desire, malice, envy, shame, sorrow, despair,) dieth not - No more than the soul itself: and the fire (either material, or infinitely worse!) that tormenteth the body, is not quenched for ever. Isaiah 66:24.

Verse 49

[49] For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

Every one — Who does not cut off the offending member, and consequently is cast into hell, shall be, as it were, salted with fire, preserved, not consumed thereby whereas every acceptable sacrifice shall be salted with another kind of salt, even that of Divine grace, which purifies the soul, (though frequently with pain) and preserves it from corruption.

Verse 50

[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.

Such salt is good indeed; highly beneficial to the world, in respect of which I have termed you the salt of the earth. But if the salt which should season others, have lost its own saltness, wherewith will ye season it? - Beware of this; see that ye retain your savour; and as a proof of it, have peace one with another. More largely this obscure text might be paraphrased thus: - As every burnt offering was salted with salt, in order to its being cast into the fire of the altar, so every one who will not part with his hand or eye, shall fall a sacrifice to Divine justice, and be cast into hell fire, which will not consume, but preserve him from a cessation of being. And on the other hand, every one, who, denying himself and taking up his cross, offers up himself as a living sacrifice to God, shall be seasoned with grace, which like salt will make him savoury, and preserve him from destruction for ever. As salt is good for preserving meats, and making them savoury, so it is good that ye be seasoned with grace, for the purifying your hearts and lives, and for spreading the savour of my knowledge, both in your own souls, and wherever ye go. But as salt if it loses its saltness is fit for nothing, so ye, if ye lose your faith and love, are fit for nothing but to be utterly destroyed. See therefore that grace abide in you, and that ye no more contend, Who shall be greatest. Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34.