Mark 9:14 – 28
Peter, James, John, and Jesus are returning from an incredible time of prayer up a mountainside. As they walk back into the village, they see a crowd gathered. The angry gestures from familiar figures show that the rest of the disciples and some Pharisees are arguing. And you know Jesus (the man) had to be torqued. “I can’t leave them alone for a second!” “Why can’t I enjoy this experience for just one more minute.”
The source of the argument stems from a father’s request for the Disciples to drive out a demon that has his son. The father describes all the symptoms and ends with that the Disciples tried, but could not help. Earlier in Mark, Jesus sent out the 12 with authority to cast out demons and spread the good news. And yet now their best efforts came up short. And the argument that ensued was whether Jesus had any authority. It’s an argument I have with myself way too often. Especially when the path isn’t easy or my way doesn’t seem to be working. Jesus rebukes the crowd (and me) “Unbelieving generation!” “How long must I put up with you!”. And then He removes all doubt by demanding “Bring the boy to Me!” And therein lies my problem. When I start down the unbelieving trail it is most often because I’ve quit bringing things or people to Jesus and have started trying to fix them myself.
Mark points out that when the spirit saw Jesus it put on a show. Jesus seems unimpressed by the mastery of the spirit over the young man. He casually asks the father how long has this been going on. The father’s reply makes me tear up every time. “Since childhood”. All the dreams this Dad had as he bounced his newborn son on his knee have long since melted away with the tears he has cried. The near-death experiences he has had to witness. You know the Dad has tried everything, exhausted all avenues to get help. He’s been defeated more times than he can even count by this point but he is still trying because he loves his son. Kind of like our Father, who keeps trying to bring us back to Him. It’s no wonder his response ends with,” IF You can do anything, take pity on us and help.” If You can… How many times have those words or that thought ran through my mind. And Jesus lets Dad have it as well “If I can?!?” “ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE!” The Dad immediately says “I do believe; help me (Jesus) with my unbelief!” Believing, yet unbelieving at the same time. I get it. I know his struggle. I know I should believe; I try to believe; I say I believe and yet there is always that unbelief part. Now this whole time the demon has been putting on a show.
Jesus addresses the demon and tells him to leave and NEVER enter him again. Think about that for a second. When God says never He means NEVER. He cannot change His mind. And He calls the spirit a deaf and mute spirit. If you look back the Dad says he is a mute but missed that his son was deaf as well. I’m sure Dad was floored. Suddenly things made sense. No wonder he never came when I called, he couldn’t hear me! And folks the spirit of unbelief makes us spiritually mute and deaf. Because I won’t call or listen if I don’t believe. I’ll do it my way or the world’s way and the results will look about as pathetic as the spirit did leaving the boy.
Later after the crowds left and they were alone, the disciples asked, “why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus responds with “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.” Now was Jesus referring to some special kind of demon; or was He referring to their unbelief. If you read the earlier account you will notice that Jesus didn’t instruct His disciples to fast or pray before driving out demons. So, I don’t think this was some kind of special demon. I believe Jesus was giving the secret for unbelief. Regular prayer and fasting to draw and stay close to God. By constantly communicating with God, we stay in His presence (and out of our own). And, after all, what is fasting but denying yourself something to get closer to God. Like denying my ability to “help” out and instead letting Him be in charge. I’m encouraged to up my prayer time and increase fasting and be able to lessen the number of times I have to say, “Help my unbelief”!