The Gospel of Mark – Part 32
Faithful Follow Through – Mark 9:14-29
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – April 26th, 2020
- Today we are reading the passage where Jesus delivers a young boy from a demonic spirit. In it, we learn why so often we have words but without power. Jesus teaches us where spiritual power really comes from. My prayer is that you will understand where spiritual power comes from, not just have the words of God but the power of God so that this world would know Jesus and be free from the control of darkness.
- Jesus, Peter, James and John are coming back down the mountain after spending the night. Up on the mountain, Jesus was transfigured before these men. They saw His glory and were told to listen to Him. Jesus was greater than anyone in the Old Testament and His glory is far greater than the glory of the Old Testament.
- As they came down to rejoin the rest of the disciples, they came upon the following scene.
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
Words without power
- There was this man who was endeavoring to bring his son to Jesus so that Jesus could deal with the spirit who would take over his son seeking to control and destroy him.
- This man took his son where he thought he would find Jesus, only to find out that Jesus was not with His disciples. So this man decided to ask the disciples for help. Which made sense, because Jesus did give them authority to cast out demons (Mark 3:15) and they have been successful in doing so (Mark 6:13). However, in this instance, they we unsuccessful in casting out this demon, and helping and healing this boy.
- Because of their unsuccessful attempts at helping this boy, the scribes took them to task, and they argued with one another.
- The logical conclusion is that they were arguing about the authenticity of their message when their words did not line up with their actions. The critics were pointing to their failure to act as evidence to discredit Jesus and those who follow Him.
- This is still true in our day. If we only have the words of Jesus but not the actions of Jesus, we are liable of discrediting Him ourselves. Your words must be reflected in your actions, and your actions must be reflected in your words in order for the credibility of Christ and Christianity to withstand criticism. If our words are not backed up by our actions, we have a problem (James 1:22-27).
And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
Discouragement of Jesus
- This conversation was with His disciples, not with the crowd or the man. Jesus was discouraged and perhaps exasperated with them, that they still did not have faith or belief in Him after He had been with them for so long and had shown them many things. He was becoming discouraged. “How long am I to bear with you? How long am I to be with you? How long will you lack faith?” He was frustrated. Even God Himself gets discouraged by our lack of faith and our inability to do what we have been called to do.
- And then He told them to bring the boy to Him. And the evil spirit knew who He was, (which is a sad commentary on the state of His disciples). The evil spirit then immediately went into action and tried to show his might and inflict all the pain that he could on the boy, knowing that this would be his last opportunity. It reminds me of a snake raising up to its full height and flaring itself out to try to intimidate its opponent.
- Jesus does not immediately deal with the evil sprit and the boy. He turns and has a conversation with the father.
21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Power of belief
- This demon had been tormenting the boy his whole life from childhood. Demons will take advantage of everything they can. They did so then, and they still do today. This is not some archaic problem; it is also a contemporary issue – they indeed come to rob, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
- The man then asks Jesus “if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” This man had indeed come to the right person, but he also had a lack of faith in who Jesus was and what He could do. Perhaps this man lost faith in Jesus because of what he saw in His followers (which is true today as well).
- Jesus jumped on the phrase “if you can.” You are doubting that I can? All things are possible for the one who believes. Jesus believed that He could free and heal this boy. He knew who He was and He knew what He could do. The purpose of miracles was to establish faith in those who experienced them, saw them and told others. That they would put their faith in Christ. That what He says is true.
- The man immediately and desperately responded that he did believe that Jesus would do what he asked Him to do. And then even in himself, he recognized that he needed the help of God to overcome his unbelief. When Jesus’s actions backed up His words, all doubt was gone.
- We also can help other people overcome their doubt in God by demonstrating the power of His life in ours. Actions truly do speak louder than words.
Mark 9:25-29 ESV
And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Preparation through prayer
- The news that Jesus was there must have spread out to those who were in the village. And people were running to Him. These were perhaps people who wanted to see a show or perhaps wanted to say that they “saw Jesus.” But before they could get there, Jesus dealt with the unclean spirit.
- He commanded the spirit to leave and never enter the boy again. This was not asking it to leave but commanding it to do so. Jesus demonstrated His authority by what He has accomplished by His command. The demon knew who He was, and the demon knew that he must obey, so it left in a violent fit.
- Jesus did not just “get the job done” and walk away. He genuinely cared for the welfare of this boy. He was not there to demonstrate His power and ability; He was there because He loved. It was shown that He then cared for the boy, by taking him and lifting him up.
- Later on, Jesus and His disciples had gotten away from the crowds into a house. There the disciples asked Him, “why could we not cast it out?” They wanted to know why they had failed, why they were unable to follow through. Jesus responded “this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
- Jesus was not taking about prayer at that moment in dealing with the unclean spirit. Jesus did not pray for the demon to be gone; He commanded it to leave. Jesus was talking about prayer that prepared and empowered the person to do what he had the authority to do.
- This is the problem with most of us. We have the words of Jesus and not the power of Jesus because we don’t spend time with Jesus and we don’t look like Jesus. The only way that we are going to be transformed into His likeness is through renewing our mind by spending time with Him and His words in prayer. In spending time in His presence. Remember the transfiguration? There is a reason that this event happened directly after that. If you want power to do what you know you should do, they only way that you will receive this power is through prayer. You can’t do it on your own. The demons don’t recognize you, but they will recognize Jesus’s image in you. People will not recognize Jesus in you if you are not doing what Jesus did. This is what convinces. This is what brings people to cross over the line of doubt to belief.
John 15:1 ESV
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
- Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Apart from Jesus, you will do nothing. The power comes from abiding, and abiding comes from connection through prayer. Power comes from this connection so that you can “bear fruit.” This is evidence that you have power and that you are alive. This is not talk but action.
- We damage the reputation of Jesus when we don’t put feet to our words, when we don’t live what we say, when we don’t do what we believe. The real power comes when we have been prepared by prayer in the presence of God. If you are lacking the power of God in your life to do good things and overcome evil, you must spend time with God. You must pray and be transformed in His presence.
- There is a “disappointment” that comes to God when we don’t have the fruit of our faith. When our words are not followed by our actions, then all we are left with is arguments with words. I have often heard people being “disappointed” with God or angry at Him for not doing what they though He should do. We do this out of arrogance and lack of understanding of who God is. Our accusations are unfounded, because He always does what it right according to wisdom. When I hear people take responsibility for their own activity or lack of it, I have hope. Then change will happen if they choose to fix the problem of their lack of power and fruit by changing their behavior and choosing to connect to God through prayer.
- Closing prayer.