This passage of story in Matthew and Mark follows immediately upon that of Christ’s transfiguration, and his discourse with his disciples after it; but here it is said to be on the next day, as they were coming down from the hill, which confirms the conjecture that Christ was transfigured in the night, and, it should seem, though they did not make tabernacles as Peter proposed, yet they found some shelter to repose themselves in all night, for it was not till next day that they came down from the hill, and then he found things in some disorder among his disciples, though not so bad as Moses did when he came down from the mount. When wise and good men are in their beloved retirements, they would do well to consider whether they are not wanted in their public stations.
In this narrative here, observe, 1. How forward the people were to receive Christ at his return to them. Though he had been but a little while absent, much people met him, as, at other times, much people followed him; for so it was foretold concerning him, that to him should the gathering of the people be. 2. How importunate the father of the lunatic child was with Christ for help for him (Luke 9:38): I beseech thee, look upon my son; this is his request, and it is a very modest one; one compassionate look from Christ is enough to set every thing to rights. Let us bring ourselves and our children to Christ, to be looked upon. His plea is, He is my only child. They that have many children may balance their affliction in one with their comfort in the rest; yet, if it be an only child that is a grief, the affliction in that may be balanced with the love of God in giving his only-begotten Son for us. 3. How deplorable the case of the child was, Luke 9:39. He was under the power of an evil spirit, that took him; and diseases of that nature are more frightful than such as arise merely from natural causes: when the fit seized him without any warning given, he suddenly cried out, and many a time his shrieks had pierced the heart of his tender father. This malicious spirit tore him, and bruised him, and departed not from him but with great difficulty, and a deadly gripe at parting. O the afflictions of the afflicted in this world! And what mischief doth Satan do where he gets possession! But happy they that have access to Christ! 4. How defective the disciples were in their faith. Though Christ had given them power over unclean spirits, yet they could not cast out this evil spirit, Luke 9:40. Either they distrusted the power they were to fetch in strength from, or the commission given to them, or they did not exert themselves in prayer as they ought; for this Christ reproved them. O faithless and perverse generation. Dr. Clarke understands this as spoken to his disciples: “Will ye be yet so faithless and full of distrust that ye cannot execute the commission I have given you?” 5. How effectual the cure was, which Christ wrought upon this child, Luke 9:42. Christ can do that for us which his disciples cannot: Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit then when he raged most. The devil threw the child down, and tore him, distorted him, as if he would have pulled him to pieces. But one word from Christ healed the child, and made good the damage the devil had done him. And it is here added that he delivered him again to his father. Note, When our children are recovered from sickness, we must receive them as delivered to us again, receive them as life from the dead, and as when we first received them. It is comfortable to receive them from the hand of Christ, to see him delivering them to us again: “Here, take this child, and be thankful; take it, and bring it up for me, for thou hast it again from me. Take it, and do not set thy heart too much upon it.” With such cautions as these, parents should receive their children from Christ’s hands, and then with comfort put them again into his hands.