For some time I have wanted to do a study on a specific passage in the Bible. I have talked about this passage several times in my previous posts, but this time I will be solely writing about, studying it, and analyzing it. It can be found in Mark 9:14-29 (ESV). There are several points that just jump out to me when reading through this and I look forward to writing about the passage.
Verses 14-16 set up the setting when it reads, “And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Just prior to this, Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John with Him to the high mountain to experience what is known as the Transfiguration. When the four of them returned to the remaining disciples, they found some scribes arguing with the disciples, all surrounded by a large crowd. So, Jesus asked what all the commotion was about.
Following in verses 17-18 it reads, “And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 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.” So here we have a father who has come to the disciples for help. His child was overcome with a spirit that made the boy mute and full of rage to the point where it throws him down, foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. After all, surely the people who walked with Jesus Himself, in person, would be able to help, right? Well apparently not.
I think there are times in many people’s lives where something like this occurs. Maybe you go to people who are very spiritual and Christ-like, but you don’t get the results you want. There are some people who seem very Christian and act like they’re full of healing powers, but are fakes. But what about those times where you go to a pastor who truly cares and loves God? I would say that the outcomes you’re looking for aren’t necessarily the ones for the greater good. Does that mean that your prayers won’t come true? Not necessarily. Spoiler alert: Jesus heals the boy.
Jesus responds in verses 19-20, “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.” 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.” Jesus calls the disciples a faithless generation and complains about them. He knows that He must depart from them eventually and when they fail to cast out the spirit, he becomes frustrated, so He does it Himself.
Asking them to bring the boy, the spirit convulses the boy causing him to fall on the ground, rolling about, and foam at the mouth. The spirit knows who Jesus is. He knows His great power. He knows what is to happen. Here is another case that I feel many people go through. What the crowds sees is the boy having seizure-like symptoms, foaming at the mouth and rolling all over the place. If I were in the crowd, I might be scared some. The enemy will often try to shake people up. He will make them roll all over the place. He will try to scare them. And for us, it may seem scary. But from Jesus’s perspective, it’s not. Jesus has the power to overcome whatever the enemy has to throw at us. If we are truly His chosen people, then He will most definitely shield us. Maybe not the way we want, but shielded nonetheless.
The next few verses tell us a little bit about the boy’s past. Verses 21-22 say, “And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 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.” Asking about how long this has been going on, the father of the boy responds that it has been occurring since childhood. But more than that, the spirit has often tried to cast the boy into fire and water in attempts to kill him.
Notice the word often. This word was in the original Greek text as well (pollakis). Often times the spirit would try to kill the boy. And often times the enemy will try to do likewise to us. He will try and try and try to take our lives from us. But no matter how many times he will try, he will fail. Just as the spirit tried to kill the boy and failed, likewise will Satan fail at killing us. Our being alive is proof that God is not done with what He has planned for us.
Continuing in verses 23-24 it reads, “And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”” This is probably one of my favorite verses. The father seeks help through Jesus’ power when he says ‘If you can do anything.’ Jesus responds perfectly when He says ”If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” This isn’t the first time Jesus has said this. All the father had to do was believe and his son would be cleansed.
And immediately, the father cries out “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Jesus corrects the father’s statement by telling him to put his trust in God. And so the father confesses. While he has some faith, he does have some spiritual weaknesses. For some people, it takes a lot to admit their weaknesses. Humans typically like to sweep their weaknesses under the rug and show off their strengths. But if we truly want to be better people, we will admit our weaknesses and try to grow them into strengths. This is exactly what the father does. He admits his weakness and asks Jesus to strengthen him.
Verses 25-26 continue the passage reading, “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.” 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.”” So after all of that, Jesus finally rebukes the spirit, commanding it to go out of the boy and never enter him again. The crowd gets to see Jesus’ awesome and amazing power. After commanding the spirit to leave the boy, the boy has one last convulsion before it came out. But then the boy remained motionless. From the crowd’s view, the boy was dead.
Once again, this can happen to a lot of us. We see a fight happen and after everything that has been going on, it seems like we lost. It seems like he, she, we have died. Whatever the case may be, it looks bad for us. However, that is only from our perspective. Continuing in verses 27-29 it reads, “But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.””
Jesus knew the boy was alive. He reached out and lifted the boy. Turns out Jesus won after all. Turns out Jesus’ power is really no match for anything. Turns out that we won all along. We just didn’t see it from our perspective at the time. But that’s not just it. After winning the battle (if you can even call it that), Jesus takes His disciples into the house to talk. The disciples of Jesus then ask why they were unable to cast out the spirit. Not only did they lack the understanding of how to cast out the spirit, but they also lacked the ability to fully carry out the commission that Jesus called them to do. Why? Because of prayer.
Prayer is such an important aspect of a Christian life. The disciples were unable to do what God called them to do due to their lack of prayer. When we spend time in prayer, we grow closer in our walk with God. We grow as a Christian spiritually, and we see those growths affect the way we live our lives. You heard it from the words of Jesus Christ Himself: This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. Prayer is THAT important.
I hope you have learned something or read something from a different perspective. I know I did while studying this. I hope that as you go out, you trust God with what has happened and what is happening, even if it isn’t what you want. I hope that no matter what Satan tries to scare us with, we aren’t shaken and that we stand behind God’s protection. I hope that no matter how many times the enemy tries to kill us, we continue to push back because God isn’t finished with us. I hope that we all see our weaknesses and confess them to God in order to grow as we walk with God, and I hope that you see the power and importance of prayer. Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!