All Things Possible
14 When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17 And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” 19 And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20 They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29 And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
This passage has more to do with faith than with the casting out of the spirit.
They were waning in their trust. Had they trusted before? Yes, but not here. Had they believed before? Yes, but not here.
What was the difference? Always before Jesus was… where… there. Now when He’s gone, they’re struggling to believe. They better learn how to believe when He’s gone because He’s going away in a few months and He’ll be gone permanently. They need to learn how to believe.
This is an interesting part I hadn't noticed before:
...one of the parts that I love most about the story, verse 21, and you would probably skip over it if I didn’t help you to see deeper into it. “And He asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’” Why does He ask that question? Does He need the information? No. He knows everything. Does it matter according to His power, like, you know, if it’s more than five years, the statute of limitations has run out and He can’t do the miracle? What’s the point?
I’ll tell you what the point is. There’s only one point. He wanted to hear the father’s pain. Why? He wanted the father to tell Him the story. Why? Because the father was not coming to a power, the father was coming to a person. And if there’s anything demonstrated in the miracle ministry of Jesus Christ, it is the compassion of God that He cares and Christ cares and He cares about your pain, He cares about your suffering and He cares about the struggle you have with your children. He cares about the things that break your heart and He wants to hear. This is not a power, this is a person… this is the ultimate person. This is the ultimate one who loves people. This isn’t for the crowd and this isn’t for information, this is for the man to unfold his heart to find a partner for his pain. Why? Because Jesus is a sympathetic and merciful High Priest, is He not? Who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He wants the father to have an opportunity to rehearse what he has suffered.
And back to the point of faith:
What we have here is an issue of faith. It’s not an issue of power for these men, it’s an issue of accessing that power that comes by faith. Jesus healed many people with no faith, faith wasn’t always an issue, He healed lots of people who didn’t believe. He healed the friends and relatives of people who didn’t believe, but here the lesson is about the power of faith because He’s going to be gone and the disciples are not going to have Him around. The power will still be available to them, that’s what He says in the Upper Room, “I’ll do all things according to My Father’s will that the Father may be glorified in the Son. I’ll do it if you ask in prayer believing.”
They needed to learn how to access the absent power and make it present by faith. So the principle is for them and for us. Christ isn’t here, now we live by faith. They would soon live by faith and not by sight.
The Lord is not expecting you to be some person of great faith, magnificent faith, all pervasive faith. Or you’d have a hard time getting going in your Christian life, wouldn’t you? All it takes is the faith of a grain of mustard seed. And you know who the model of that is? The father...the father. The miracle was done on the basis of the father’s faith. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I believe my faith is mixed with doubt. I want more faith. Run to the rescue of my weak faith. Help my unbelief. That was sufficient faith.
Our Lord shows these men that a new believer who hasn’t been with Jesus at all, who had a very beginning faith, if he exercised that faith, had enough faith to bring down the power of God. I mean, it’s a hard lesson to learn if you’re a disciple and you’ve been around Jesus for two and a half years or so, and He’s telling you, if you could just be like this stranger who has never walked with Me or talked with Me before. You need to exercise only the simplest faith, that’s the grace of God. But persistently, like Luke 11 and Luke 18, you remember the stories of prayerful persistence? You have not, James says, because… what… you ask not. If you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, and you take that faith on the highway of prayer into the highway of God, you will see God do mighty things.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 9:30-41