In Focus: The high point of this chapter is one of those “Ok…moving on…” moments of Scripture. It’s called the Transfiguration. Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray. Peter, James, and John go with Him. While He’s up there praying, His appearance glows, His clothing becomes white, and Moses and Elijah show up to say “Hi!” (We actually don’t know what they said.) This is a moment where, apparently, the glory of Christ is revealed. The same voice that was heard at the baptism of Jesus is heard again, reminding the disciples that Jesus is the Son…and directing that they “listen to Him!” (9:35)
In Practice: What can we do about this story?
In Nerdiness: I promised you a nerd moment on the demon-possessed boy. Here’s the situation: we are fairly certain that most of the ordinary people (and many of the extraordinary ones) of the first century AD (and most centuries before, and at least 15 after) had no grasp of mental illness or nervous system disorders. If you could not see an illness, but you could see an effect, the general assumption was that the spirit world was at fault. It was the far opposite of our allegedly evolved view that the spirit world causes nothing, and may not even exist. Both are questionable conclusions in their extremity.
Does the boy have a demon or epilepsy? I’m inclined one way, but the text allows ambiguity. Jesus deals with the people as they are. Sometimes, that is just what is best. There is time to deal with the details later. For the time being, the glory of God is the concern.