In Mark, chapter 9, Jesus is confronted by a boy with an evil spirit and a father who has a lack of faith, faith mingled with doubt about Jesus’s power to heal. But just before this event, Jesus had been on the mountaintop with Peter, James and John and had been transfigured before them in dazzling, white clothes talking to Moses and Elijah. God spoke and declared Jesus as His Son and told the disciples to listen to Jesus. Then suddenly, everything was back to normal and Jesus told them to speak of this to no one.
As Jesus, Peter, James and John go down the mountain to meet the other disciples, they see a crowd of people and teachers of the law gathered around the disciples arguing. Sure enough, as soon as you come off a mountaintop experience with the Lord, you are immediately put back on the battlefield.
“As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing with them about? he asked.” Mark 9:15-16 NIV
It is interesting to note, Jesus spoke this question directly to the disciples, clearly marveling at why they would be defending their position. Before they could answer, a man in the crowd, the father of the son with the evil spirit speaks up. He begins to tell Jesus he had brought his son to Jesus for healing, but not finding Him there, asked his disciples to drive out the spirit, yet they were unsuccessful, even though they had cast out demons before. The father goes on to explain that the spirit has made his son mute, epileptic and demon-possessed often throwing the child into the fire or water to kill him. Jesus in his frustration for their unbelief then speaks out, He tells the father to bring his son to Him.
The demon in the boy makes one last display of his power by throwing the boy on the ground in a convulsion, rolling him around and foaming at the mouth. Don’t you wonder what Jesus was thinking? The demon knew his power was pathetic and nonexistent in the presence of Jesus and yet Jesus allowed it for the glory that God would be given. Then Jesus asks the father how long this behavior has been going on. Jesus already knew of course, since He is Omniscient, and yet he for the sake of the father allowed him to speak out the truth, almost as a confession for all the others to hear. And then the father adds,
“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Mark 9:22b NIV
Here is the little boy’s father, desperate for a miracle for his only child, his faith having already been tested when he failed to see a miracle through the disciples attempts to help, now is concerned that maybe even Jesus can’t bring about a miracle. Isn’t that so much like us? We see the failed attempts of the church to help us and if they are the representation of Christ, well then… But Jesus, confident in the power of God in Him, repeats back to the father, “If you can?” (Mark 9:23 NIV). Isn’t this what we ask of Jesus every time we doubt what He can do? Jesus asks this question rhetorically to make the father think about his own level of faith in believing in a miracle for his son. What’s your level of faith in Jesus’s ability to come through for you in whatever you’ve asked or He has asked of you? Our level of belief is paramount to what we will be a witness to or in our own ability to carry out what the Father has asked of us. He then tells the father, something we all need to hear in our minds and never question. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NIV). Not just a few things, not just the big things, small things, ordinary things or even extraordinary things. Everything! Immediately, the boy’s loving father exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV) Jesus did not only have to deal with the boy, but also with the father. Much of the father’s own suffering came from his lack of belief.
“When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. ‘You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “ I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’ The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.’ Mark 9:25-27 NIV
Jesus never needed a crowd to produce a miracle. In fact, not all of Jesus’s miracles were with a crowd. But certainly all who saw it, their faith was increased and God received much glory for what was done. In fact, in the same parable in Luke, it says the crowd was amazed at the greatness of God. When God’s power is exhibited through us, the message must always be clear, that it is for His glory and not our recognition.
Also note the way Jesus commanded the demon to leave the child and never come back in him again. In imitating Him we should do likewise in boldness and authority. and follow his example if ever confronted with this same situation. Granted, it wasn’t a quiet scene when the demon came out and for some of us, that would be quite scary, but we have nothing to fear when Jesus is in control. When others ask for our help, we need to trust that God will come through when we step out in faith. Isn’t that what He asked of the child’s father, just believe, that He will help all who believe?
“After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer (and fasting).’ Mark 9:28-29 NIV
Some manuscripts have prayer and fasting, and I agree that some healings require both. I also believe, God will direct you if and when you are confronted with a situation as to what to do. Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 6:16 “when you fast” knowing there would be times when we would need it to gain spiritual strength.
“They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples.” Mark 9:30-31
Don’t you just love the Lord! We often think the disciples just had to catch everything on the fly, listening along with all the others and catching as much as they could, only having a few moments when they could ask Him some tough questions. Jesus knew this situation with the boy had rocked their faith. They had attempted to step out and help the father and the boy only to be embarrassed and harassed. They were still feeling the sting of Jesus’s rebuke concerning their faith. And He knew just what to do about it. Jesus knows when we need times alone just with Him, no crowds and no distractions. Times when we can sit at His feet and just soak up His Presence and all He wants to show and teach us. Those times are absolutely necessary in walking on the kingdom road. If you can’t remember when you’ve had one or if ever, then set aside some time like Mary. Don’t be concerned with the things of this world for they will all pass away. Let Him strengthen your faith and show you things in His word.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 KJV
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