A FATHER’S PLEA
Hear me, Father God, listen to my cries and let me sense Your loving presence.
Read Mark 9:14–29
Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.[a]”
a Mark 9:29 Some manuscripts prayer and fasting
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave there been moments when you felt weak in faith? How have you come to terms with this?
Earlier in Mark’s Gospel, we met a mother pleading for her daughter; here we have a father desperately seeking help for his son. The boy has a severe case of demon possession. The disciples have failed to deal with the problem, so the father brings his son to Jesus. After some discussion, Jesus rebukes the spirit, and after convulsing him, the spirit leaves the boy and he is well again.
Two issues arise. The first is the importance of faith, for according to Jesus, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (23). Like many of us, the father has a mixture of faith and unbelief, but at least he asks for help to overcome his doubt. Faith always requires an object, and Jesus is the object of our faith. We are to believe in His ability to heal, and His willingness to help, even when our faith is small.
The second issue is that of prayer. The failure of the disciples is addressed by Jesus as a failure not of faith, but of prayer. “This kind can come out only by prayer,” He says (28, 29). Intercession both strengthens our faith and increases our authority over demonic powers.
How does the Father’s honesty encourage you? It is not the size of your faith that matters, but where you place your faith. Do you place your faith in your own strength? In other’s words? Or in Jesus?
Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (24).
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