THE entire night had been passed in the
mountain; and as the sun arose, Jesus and His disciples descended to the plain. Absorbed
in thought, the disciples were awed and silent. Even Peter had not a word to say. Gladly
would they have lingered in that holy place which had been touched with the light of
heaven, and where the Son of God had manifested His glory; but there was work to be done
for the people, who were already searching far and near for Jesus.
At the foot of the mountain a
large company had gathered, led hither by the disciples who had remained behind, but who
knew whither Jesus had resorted. As the Saviour drew near, He charged His three companions
to keep silence concerning what they had witnessed, saying, "Tell the vision to no
man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead." The revelation made to the
disciples was to be pondered in their own hearts, not to be published abroad. To relate it
to the multitudes would excite only ridicule or idle wonder. And even the nine apostles
would not understand the scene until after Christ had risen from the dead. How slow of
comprehension even the three favored disciples were, is seen in the fact that
notwithstanding all that Christ had said of what was before Him, they queried among
themselves what the rising from the dead
should mean. Yet they asked no explanation from
Jesus. His words in regard to the future had filled them with sorrow; they sought no
further revelation concerning that which they were fain to believe might never come to
As the people on the plain
caught sight of Jesus, they ran to meet Him, greeting Him with expressions of reverence
and joy. Yet His quick eye discerned that they were in great perplexity. The disciples
appeared troubled. A circumstance had just occurred that had caused them bitter
disappointment and humiliation.
While they were waiting at
the foot of the mountain, a father had brought to them his son, to be delivered from a
dumb spirit that tormented him. Authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, had been
conferred on the disciples when Jesus sent out the twelve to preach through Galilee. As
they went forth strong in faith, the evil spirits had obeyed their word. Now in the name
of Christ they commanded the torturing spirit to leave his victim; but the demon only
mocked them by a fresh display of his power. The disciples, unable to account for their
defeat, felt that they were bringing dishonor upon themselves and their Master. And in the
crowd there were scribes who made the most of this opportunity to humiliate them. Pressing
around the disciples, they plied them with questions, seeking to prove that they and their
Master were deceivers. Here, the rabbis triumphantly declared, was an evil spirit that
neither the disciples nor Christ Himself could conquer. The people were inclined to side
with the scribes, and a feeling of contempt and scorn pervaded the crowd.
But suddenly the accusations
ceased. Jesus and the three disciples were seen approaching, and with a quick revulsion of
feeling the people turned to meet them. The night of communion with the heavenly glory had
left its trace upon the Saviour and His companions. Upon their countenances was a light
that awed the beholders. The scribes drew back in fear, while the people welcomed Jesus.
As if He had been a witness
of all that had occurred, the Saviour came to the scene of conflict, and fixing His gaze
upon the scribes inquired, "What question ye with them?"
But the voices so bold and
defiant before were now silent. A hush had fallen upon the entire company. Now the
afflicted father made his way through the crowd, and falling at the feet of Jesus, poured
out the story of his trouble and disappointment.
"Master," he said,
"I have brought unto Thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh
him, he teareth him: . . . and I spake to Thy disciples that they should cast him out; and
they could not."
Jesus looked about Him upon
the awe-stricken multitude, the caviling scribes, the perplexed disciples. He read the
unbelief in every heart; and in a voice filled with sorrow He exclaimed, "O faithless
generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?" Then He bade
the distressed father, "Bring thy son hither."
The boy was brought, and as
the Saviour's eyes fell upon him, the evil spirit cast him to the ground in convulsions of
agony. He lay wallowing and foaming, rending the air with unearthly shrieks.
Again the Prince of life and
the prince of the powers of darkness had met on the field of battle,--Christ in
fulfillment of His mission to "preach deliverance to the captives, . . . to set at
liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18), Satan seeking to hold his victim under
his control. Angels of light and the hosts of evil angels, unseen, were pressing near to
behold the conflict. For a moment, Jesus permitted the evil spirit to display his power,
that the beholders might comprehend the deliverance about to be wrought.
The multitude looked on with
bated breath, the father in an agony of hope and fear. Jesus asked, "How long is it
ago since this came unto him?" The father told the story of long years of suffering,
and then, as if he could endure no more, exclaimed, "If Thou canst do anything, have
compassion on us, and help us." "If Thou canst!" Even now the father
questioned the power of Christ.
Jesus answers, "If thou
canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." There is no lack of
power on the part of Christ; the healing of the son depends upon the father's faith. With
a burst of tears, realizing his own weakness, the father casts himself upon Christ's
mercy, with the cry, "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief."
Jesus turns to the suffering
one, and says, "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter
no more into him." There is a cry, an agonized struggle. The demon, in passing, seems
about to rend the life from his victim. Then the boy lies motionless, and apparently
lifeless. The multitude whisper, "He is dead." But Jesus takes him by the hand,
and lifting him up, presents him, in perfect soundness of mind and body, to his father.
Father and son praise the name of
their Deliverer. The multitude are "amazed at the
mighty power of God," while the scribes, defeated and crestfallen, turn sullenly
"If Thou canst do
anything, have compassion on us, and help us." How many a sin-burdened soul has
echoed that prayer. And to all, the pitying Saviour's answer is, "If thou canst
believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." It is faith that connects us
with heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. In Christ, God
has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation,
however strong. But many feel that they lack faith, and therefore they remain away from
Christ. Let these souls, in their helpless unworthiness, cast themselves upon the mercy of
their compassionate Saviour. Look not to self, but to Christ. He who healed the sick and
cast out demons when He walked among men is the same mighty Redeemer today. Faith comes by
the word of God. Then grasp His promise, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise
cast out." John 6:37. Cast yourself at His feet with the cry, "Lord, I believe;
help Thou mine unbelief." You can never perish while you do this--never.
In a brief space of time the
favored disciples have beheld the extreme of glory and of humiliation. They have seen
humanity as transfigured into the image of God, and as debased into the likeness of Satan.
From the mountain where He has talked with the heavenly messengers, and has been
proclaimed the Son of God by the voice from the radiant glory, they have seen Jesus
descend to meet that most distressing and revolting spectacle, the maniac boy, with
distorted countenance, gnashing his teeth in spasms of agony that no human power could
relieve. And this mighty Redeemer, who but a few hours before stood glorified before His
wondering disciples, stoops to lift the victim of Satan from the earth where he is
wallowing, and in health of mind and body restores him to his father and his home.
It was an object lesson of
redemption,--the Divine One from the Father's glory stooping to save the lost. It
represented also the disciples' mission. Not alone upon the mountaintop with Jesus, in
hours of spiritual illumination, is the life of Christ's servants to be spent. There is
work for them down in the plain. Souls whom Satan has enslaved are waiting for the word of
faith and prayer to set them free.
The nine disciples were yet
pondering upon the bitter fact of their own failure; and when Jesus was once more alone
with them, they questioned, "Why could not we cast him out?" Jesus answered
"Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a
grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and
it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out
but by prayer and fasting." Their unbelief, that shut them out from deeper sympathy
Christ, and the carelessness with which they regarded the sacred work committed to
them, had caused their failure in the conflict with the powers of darkness.
The words of Christ pointing
to His death had brought sadness and doubt. And the selection of the three disciples to
accompany Jesus to the mountain had excited the jealousy of the nine. Instead of
strengthening their faith by prayer and meditation on the words of Christ, they had been
dwelling on their discouragements and personal grievances. In this state of darkness they
had undertaken the conflict with Satan.
In order to succeed in such a
conflict they must come to the work in a different spirit. Their faith must be
strengthened by fervent prayer and fasting, and humiliation of heart. They must be emptied
of self, and be filled with the Spirit and power of God. Earnest, persevering supplication
to God in faith--faith that leads to entire dependence upon God, and unreserved
consecration to His work--can alone avail to bring men the Holy Spirit's aid in the battle
against principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and wicked
spirits in high places.
"If ye have faith as a
grain of mustard seed," said Jesus, "ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove
hence to yonder place; and it shall remove." Though the grain of mustard seed is so
small, it contains that same mysterious life principle which produces growth in the
loftiest tree. When the mustard seed is cast into the ground, the tiny germ lays hold of
every element that God has provided for its nutriment, and it speedily develops a sturdy
growth. If you have faith like this, you will lay hold upon God's word, and upon all the
helpful agencies He has appointed. Thus your faith will strengthen, and will bring to your
aid the power of heaven. The obstacles that are piled by Satan across your path, though
apparently as insurmountable as the eternal hills, shall disappear before the demand of
faith. "Nothing shall be impossible unto you."