Mark – God is On Our Side!
When pushed to the emotional edge of adversity that breeds fear and doubt, our best and most honest prayer is, “Jesus, help my unbelief.” We come to Jesus in troubles, hanging on to a small thread, because we have faith to some degree, but when pushed to the wall, we cry out for help in desperation. This desperation comes after trying everything and everyone else. Maybe we think He isn’t listening.
We are sometimes very much like the exasperated father who longs for his boy to be safe and well, rid of all his demons. We want an end to what is beyond our control and “fix” so we cry out to the Father and pray the same pray. “If it is your will…” “If you can…” Jesus doesn’t like “IF”.
Jesus refines this anxious father’s prayer with these words, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father of the boy immediately understands what Jesus is saying. ““I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
We all pray this from time to time when we feel God is not answering our prayer when we want and how we want it to be answered. Help me to overcome my unbelief, Lord. I know you are on my side!
Mark 9, NLT
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
14 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.
16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”
29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”
The Christian life is “a land of hills and valleys” (Deut. 11:11). In one day, a disciple can move from the glory of heaven to the attacks of hell. When our Lord and His three friends returned to the other nine disciples, they found them involved in a dual problem: they were unable to deliver a boy from demonic control, and the scribes were debating with them and perhaps even taunting them because of their failure. As always, it was Jesus who stepped in to solve the problem.
The boy was both deaf and dumb (Mark 9:17, 25), and the demon was doing his best to destroy him. Imagine what it would be like for that father to try to care for the boy and protect him! Jesus had given His disciples authority to cast out demons (Mark 6:7, 13), and yet their ministry to the boy was ineffective. No wonder the Lord was grieved with them! How often He must be grieved with us when we fail to use the spiritual resources He has graciously given to His people!
Since the disciples had failed, the desperate father was not even sure that Jesus could succeed; hence his statement, “If you can do anything” (Mark 9:22 nasb). However, the father was honest enough to admit his own unbelief and to ask the Lord to help him and his son. Jesus did cast out the demon and restore the boy to his father.
The main lesson of this miracle is the power of faith to overcome the enemy (Mark 9:19, 23–24; and see Matt. 17:20). Why had the nine disciples failed? Because they had been careless in their personal spiritual walk and had neglected prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). The authority that Jesus had given them was effective only if exercised by faith, but faith must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion. It may be that the absence of their Lord, or His taking the three disciples with Him and leaving them behind, had dampened their spiritual fervor and diminished their faith. Not only did their failure embarrass them, but it also robbed the Lord of glory and gave the enemy opportunity to criticize. It is our faith in Him that glorifies God (Rom. 4:20).
You have helped me through times of unbelief, asking “if, instead of when” many times in my life. In the valley’s our faith is tested and I have seen you work in powerful ways beyond my wildest dreams. You always do more than I can ask or imagine. When evil comes to plant thoughts in my mind not of you, you deliver me when I call on your power for help in Your Name. I know you and know you want the best for us. I believe in You because you loved me before I was born. I believe because you died for me so that I could be free. There is no reason to stop believing now. Thank you for helping me overcome my unbelief.
In Jesus Name, Amen