Faith: All Things Are Possible
Scripture: Mark 9:14-29
Date: Sunday April 11, 2021 Scripture: Mark 9:14-29 Title: Faith: All Things are Possible.
- The Argument with the Disciples. 3
- The Admonition by the Lord. 5
- The Appeal to the Lord. 6
- The Answer from the Lord. 8
- The Authority of the Lord. 9
- The Application for the Disciples. 11
We're back in the book of Mark in Mark chapter 9, so I'd encourage you to open your Bibles to Mark chapter 9 and the title of the sermon this morning is faith -- All things are possible. All things are possible as we will read here in Mark chapter 9. And as we talk about faith this morning, I have a question for you. What is faith? What is faith?
Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard coined the phrase leap of faith. And to him Faith was a rejection of reason and the exaltation of feeling and personal experience. To him, truth was subjective. And therefore, his faith had no ground to stand on. None whatsoever. He was in a pointless journey trying to find out what worked best for him. You may have also have heard the phrase blind faith. Blind faith.
One definition of blind faith is this. It's a willingness to believe in someone or something in the absence of reasonable proof. That is, people who say they have blind faith believe something for absolutely no reason at all. Blind faith.
And many people think that it's a virtuous thing for someone to have blind faith. As if somehow that kind of faith has more weight to it than faith in something that is reasonable. But taking a leap of faith, or having blind faith, those terms there are not found anywhere in the Scripture. God doesn't want us to have blind faith. We are to have Biblical faith. Biblical faith.
What is that? What is Biblical faith? Well, the Bible actually gives us a definition of faith. What faith is.
In the Faith chapter Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews chapter 11:1 one says:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)
Now you might think, well, there it is --the conviction of things not seen… isn't that blind faith? But what people do when they read this verse here, is they miss out on two very important words in this verse. Two very important words, assurance and conviction. Assurance and conviction.
What is assurance? Assurance is a reality of knowing something. And with faith we can have the assurance and confidence of knowing what lies ahead. We can have confidence. We can have assurance. What is conviction? It's the act of presenting evidence for the truth of something. Simply put, it's proof. Prove it. It's knowing a truth, based upon evidence. And when we ask somebody that question… prove it -- what do they present? Evidence. There's evidence that comes with it.
In fact, some of your translations might say “the assurance” or “the proof of things not seen.” There's proof because evidence has been presented. And the writer of Hebrews is not telling us that we need to have blind faith, or just take a leap of faith, hoping that we're right. That's not what we're called to do. But he says, based upon the evidence, the conviction, the proof, even though we haven't seen it, we can still have assurance of the future.
RC Sproul says, “The idea is this, I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. But I know that God knows what tomorrow is going to bring. So if God promises that tomorrow will bring something, and if I trust God for tomorrow, I have faith in something I have not yet seen.“
That faith serves as evidence because its object is God. Its object is God, and that is the key. The key is the object of our faith, not some blind faith. Not taking a leap of faith. But the object of our faith, because God is the object of our faith. We can therefore have confidence. Even though we haven't seen Him right? We haven't seen Him. But we know He's there.
We can have confidence, because God is the object of our faith. The key is the object of our faith. And Jesus in our passage here this morning is teaching His disciples about faith. They need to learn a lesson about faith. Why does He need to teach them about faith? Because Jesus isn't going to be around much longer. He's going to leave them.
He's going to die on a cross, be resurrected, and then ascend back to the Father. He's going to leave them, but they need to be taught that they still need Him. They still need Him and He needs to be the object of their faith. And now think about their ministry here so far -- as these disciples have been walking with Jesus, they've been seeing all of the things that Jesus is doing. All of the miracles that He's performing -- everything that they have been doing has been with Jesus.
They've been able to see Him physically there and have Him there in their presence. They've walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus -- and the times that Jesus wasn't around, like in the boat in the middle of the sea, who shows up to rescue them? Jesus, walking on the water. (Matt 14:25) He's there. But Jesus has to give these guys a lesson on how to walk by faith and not by sight.
Why? Because Jesus is going to the cross. He's going to die and then rise again and ascend to the father, and they need to know how to live life without seeing Jesus there in their presence. They need faith.
And although He's not there in their presence, they have to keep Him as the object of their faith. They need to learn how to live a life of faith.
If you remember a couple weeks ago, Jesus went up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, we talked about this a couple weeks ago. And who did Jesus then leave behind? Well 12 - 3 gives us 9, right? 9 disciples that He left behind. He only took with Him Peter, James, and John. He left the other nine behind. They weren't invited to go with Him up on the Mount of Transfiguration. They had to stay behind. Why? Why did they have to stay behind? Because Jesus wanted to teach them a lesson about faith. He needed to teach them about living a life of faith.
And we're going to see whether they pass the test that Jesus gives them, or whether they fail here this morning in our text. And so let's look at our passage here this morning. And we're going to break it down into six points. And I'm going to read just a portion at a time, because it's a long text, as you can see there, a long passage and I'm just going to read it one portion at a time so we can understand what's going on here. So let's look at our first point here this morning, what we'll call the argument with the disciples.
Look at Mark chapter 9 in verse 14.
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.” (Mark 9:14-18)
Now Jesus, Peter, James, and John, they have just made their way back down the Mount of Transfiguration. Remember they were up there, and they were able to see Jesus transfigured and Peter wants to hang out there…’Let's build tabernacles and let's just stay there.’ (Mark 9:5) They've seen Jesus's glory on display, and now they come down the mountain and as they get down the mountain, they see this argument that's going on because of a demon-possessed boy. There's an argument that's going on.
Now Satan knows who Jesus is, and he's in full battle-array, and he's trying to stop Jesus. He wants to stop Jesus from going to the cross. But he knows that he can't go face-to-face with Jesus. He's tried that before, right? Remember when he was there in the wilderness with Jesus for 40 days tempting Him? And who won that battle? Jesus won it. Got him with the Word as He quotes the Word to him. He didn't fall into the temptation, so he knows he can't go face to face with Jesus. And so what does he do? What is Satan's plan? He has his demons out in full array, trying to disrupt the ministry of Jesus. He wants to get after Him.
And this event here happens to be right after this incredible event --this glorious event of Jesus being transfigured there up on the mountain. And think about that, for these disciples, they have just seen Jesus glorified, transfigured on this mountain. And when they come down the mountain, who do they meet? A demon. A demon-possessed boy. And as they come down the mountain, they're met with a large crowd that's around the disciples. That is around the other nine that stayed behind.
They come down the mountain, there's this large crowd that's gathered around them. And there's also some some scribes who are there who are arguing with them, not the crowd, but who are arguing with the 9 disciples. Jesus leaves them alone for a short period of time, about a day He leaves them alone for this short period of time, and they have already gotten themselves in trouble with the scribes.
What was the argument about? We don't know exactly. But it must have had something to do with this demon-possessed boy, because that's what this whole passage is about -- a demon-possessed boy. Now think about this picture, you've seen a lot of this going on on TV, on the Internet, all this stuff that's going on where there's crowds that are gathered around, and in the midst of these crowds there's these arguments that are going on. That's what they come down the mountain and see.
A crowd that's gathered around, and this argument that's going on, and in the middle of this crowd are the disciples and the scribes going at each other in a debate. And as they're arguing with each other, the disciples with the scribes, with the crowd gathered around them, immediately the crowd looks over and they see who? Jesus. He's back. Jesus has now come back down the mountain, and He comes walking upon them. And what do they do? They run over to Him. They're amazed by Him. There He is, there's Jesus. They didn't hang around the disciples and the scribes to continue listening to their argument. They see Jesus and they run over to Him.
Now Jesus shows up on the scene here. And He's more important than what's going on with these two groups, right? Because He is the most important. And what does it say? How did the people react when they saw Jesus? Notice what it says there? They were amazed. They were amazed. And some will say this was because Jesus was still glowing from the transfiguration like Moses face was when he came down the mountain, remember that? Moses comes off of Mount Sinai, and his face is still glowing because he's been meeting with God….but that's not there in the text. Jesus face isn't glowing at this point, that's not there in the text, and it's not likely at all, because remember what Jesus says back in verse 9…He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they have seen. And so if He tells them, don't tell anyone what you have just seen. He's not going to come down and present it to the people right? Of what's just happened. So they're not amazed there because Jesus somehow is shining brightly, has some glory.
But He comes down the mountain and they know who He is. He's the great teacher. He's the great healer. He's the Prophet that everyone has been talking about all throughout the land. Notice what happens when Jesus shows up. Look at verse 16.
And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” (Mark 9:16)
Now who does Jesus address here? Most likely He addresses the disciples in reference to the scribes because they're the ones that are in this argument. They're the ones that are having this discussion that's going on here. And notice which one of these two groups…which one of these groups here – the disciples or the scribes? Which one of them answers first? None of them. None of them do. Both of them are silenced when Jesus comes and asks this question, “what are you discussing with them?”
He's standing right there in front of them and He looks to his nine and He says, what are you discussing with them? Neither one of them answers back. There’s silence. Now, did Jesus know what they were arguing about? Of course He did. Of course He knows what's going on here. But He asked this question and He silences both of them. The scribes don't answer, probably because they're afraid to debate Jesus. They've heard all about Him. There He is, He's now in front of us, will debate His disciples, but Oh no, now Jesus is here, and He knows how to debate, right? Every time they came to confront Jesus, He would turn it back on them and they would lose. He knows how to debate.
Notice the disciples don't answer either, why? Why don't the disciples answer? It's probably because they're embarrassed. They're embarrassed that they weren't able to heal a demon-possessed boy. Because notice that's what the father does, right? He comes to bring him to Jesus. Jesus isn't there. He's gone up on the mountain, so he says, well you nine -- you guys have been hanging out with Jesus --maybe you can do something about my son. And are they able to do it? They're not. They're embarrassed.
Why would they be embarrassed? Well, if you remember back to Mark chapter 6 in verse 13 when Jesus sent the disciples to go out on their little preaching tour, what did Jesus give them the power to do? To cast out demons. They've done this before. Mark chapter 6 in verse 7 says,
7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; (Mark 6:7)
and verse 13 says, “and they were casting out many demons.” (Mark 6:13)
These disciples have done this before. But what happens in chapter 9? They're not able to do it. They couldn't cast the demon out, which most likely brought embarrassment upon them. We couldn't do it. But the boy's father runs up to Jesus, and he tells Jesus what has happened. Notice what this man calls Jesus. He calls Him teacher. He calls Him teacher. In Matthew's account, in Matthew tells us he calls Him Lord. What does he say here? This man says, Lord. Teacher, I've brought my son to you. I brought him to you.
Now when this man originally showed up, he wasn't able to find Jesus, but he found the disciples of Jesus. Because they're obviously identified with Jesus, right? Everywhere Jesus has gone, they've been with Him. And so they're identified with Him. And then the man begins to tell us about his little boy. As he tells Jesus about his little boy, and what does he say about him? Look what he says there at the end of verse 17.
He's “possessed with a spirit which makes him mute;” (Mark 9:17)
This little boy can't speak. He goes on and he says the demon --
Now think about this description. This father has had to watch all of this happen to his boy, since his boy was young. This has been his life. Watching his little boy seize up, be slammed to the ground, to foam at the mouth, grind his teeth, and stiffen up. He's been watching this happen to his boy. And this father at this point has been trying to save his son from this demon. Every time the demon attacks. This is what this father has to experience. This is what he witnesses.
And so out of desperation when he shows up with his boy to find Jesus and realizes Jesus isn’t there, what does this man do? He calls for the disciples to come and cast out the demon. But what do they do? They fail. They fail. (Mark 9:18) Which again must have shocked them. Because they've done this before. We've cast out demons before. But we can't do it now. They weren't able to cast this demon out of this little boy. But upon hearing this news, Jesus responds, which leads to our second point, point #2, the admonition by the Lord.
Look at verse 19.
19 And He (Jesus) 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!”
Jesus now turns over to His disciples, and He rebukes them. He rebukes His own disciples, these nine that are standing there, and He calls, He says to them, “O, unbelieving generation”. Some believe Jesus addressed the crowd and the scribes and the disciples, but I believe Jesus aims this rebuke at His disciples, since the whole account centers around them not being able to heal this boy, right? That's what it's all about. Now are the scribes and the crowd implied in this unbelief? Of course they are. That's why He says, “O, unbelieving generation.” extending it out to all of them. But the aim is at the disciples, and He lumps them in with the crowd and the scribes. And Jesus, in a sense, is saying to these guys, oh, you of little faith. Oh you, boys who lack faith.
And then out of frustration and disappointment at the unbelief that He sees there, He gives two rhetorical questions, notice what He says there in verse 19.
“How long shall I be with you? And how long shall I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19)
Remember, Jesus was a man who had emotions, right? Fully God and fully man. He had emotions. And this was an emotional moment for Him. As He comes back down the mountain and He sees His disciples who were there lacking faith. And so He asked them, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? And implied in these statements and questions, is this weariness of Jesus having to take care of these guys all of the time… He's been bearing the burden for these guys.
One commentator says, “That phrase ‘I put up with you’ gives the picture of holding oneself up under a load to support another. It indicates that their spiritual dullness was a heavy load to the Lord.”
But notice this, Jesus is going to act where these men fail. Jesus is going to act here, where these men fail. Now the disciples are able to cast out demons before because they were given the authority by Christ to do it. And they relied upon Him on their preaching tours. They went out and cast out demons.
They were completely reliant upon Christ. And they're able to cast out demons under the authority of Christ.
But at this moment. Jesus wasn't here on the scene. And they're in a sense, surprise-attacked by this father with his son, right? They're not expecting this to happen. Now, before they were sent out and Jesus gave them authority and told them beforehand, you're gonna go and you're going to cast out demons. But what happens here? They don't know that a father is going to show up with the demon-possessed boy.
And they're there, and all of a sudden his father comes up and says, where's Jesus? ‘Oh, He's not here. He's not…well, my son is demon-possessed and I want Jesus to heal him. Hey you, nine guys, you've been with him, haven't you?’ Yeah, we have. ‘Then you guys can heal him. Heal my son.’ And they're not able to do it. They fail. But Jesus is going to act where they fail.
Notice what Jesus says at the end of verse 19. He says,”Bring him to me.”(Mark 9:19) Bring the little boy to Me. Give Me the boy and I'll take care of the situation here. I've got it under control. Which leads to our third point, the Appeal to the Lord. Point #3
Look at verse 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” (that is Jesus 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!” (Matt 9:20-22)
So the boy is brought to Jesus, but the demon obviously notices Jesus is there. The demons know who He is. Remember, the demons know exactly who Jesus is. James 2:19 says,
“The demons also believe, and they” (do what? They) “shudder.”
They know that God is right there. God in the flesh -- there is Jesus, the second person of the Trinity -- right in front of him, and this demon recognizes Jesus, and he knows ‘this is my last shot’, right? ‘I'm going to lose the battle here, because there He is, there's God in the flesh, right in front of me and I know He's more powerful than I am,’ and so this demon knows ‘I got one final shot, because I'm toast.’ Jesus is going to win this. And so with one last shot, he throws the boy into a convulsion. And notice what it says there. “The boy began rolling around and foaming at the mouth.” What the father had previously described to Jesus is now on display for Him to see.
I remember in college there was a girl sitting right in front of me in one of my classes who began to have a seizure. And we had to get her out of the chair and lay her on the ground and call 911, get the ambulance to come, and of this and that was a scary moment. I'd never seen someone before have a seizure like this. It happened right in front of me. If you've ever seen something like that happen, it can be a scary sight.
And that's what's going on right here in front of Jesus. As this father is standing there watching his boy seize up and foam at the mouth. This boy is doing this because he's possessed by a demon. But Jesus, the Healer, the one who has all power, is there on the scene. He's there to take care of this. And notice what He asked the boy's father. “How long has this been happening to him?” How long has this been happening to him?
And the father tells Him “from childhood.” How long has that been? We don't know. We don't know how old this boy is, but we know that it's been a long time…since he's been really little, based upon this description that this father gives here, it's been a while. The father says “it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water to destroy him.” Now think about this. This happens often in this boy's life. That he gets thrown into a fire or put into water to drown. And this father has to watch his son get thrown into a fire and then run over and save him.
And think about that. This time there's fires everywhere. That's how they heated the places. That's how they cooked their food. There was fire everywhere. They didn't have the heating systems like we have in our homes today. And so this little boy would be thrown into the fire, and this father has to go and save his son from the fire. And if they were near water, this demon would throw this boy into the water to drown him, and this father would have to go and rescue his son.
That's the life that this father has been living with his son, watching his son go through all of this. And the father says it happens often. It happens often. Now Jesus asked him this question. How long has this been happening to him? Is it that Jesus doesn't know? No, Jesus knows. Jesus knows everything that's gone on in this boy's life. He knows everything that's gone on in this father's life. So why would He ask this father this question? Answer…because Jesus cares. Because He cares. Because He's compassionate and He wants to hear the heart of this father. “Tell Me about your son. Tell Me all that's going on in your life, father, I want to hear it. Because I care.” He cares about this father. He cares about this little boy. And look, Jesus is in complete control of this situation. It might seem odd to ask a question like this while this boy is there in front of Him, convulsing and being attacked by this demon, but Jesus is in complete control and He shows His loving care and His compassion for this father.
But look at the father's response. Look at the father's response and his appeal to Jesus at the end of verse 22, look at what he says there, he says to Jesus,
“But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (Mark 9:22)
This father here is in a helpless and a hopeless situation. But notice he also has a lack of what? Faith.
It's a lack of faith. Remember back in verse 17, the father says “Teacher, I brought you my son.” (Mark 9:17) Why would this father bring his son to Jesus? Why would he bring him there? Because he knows that Jesus can heal his son. But when the disciples are there and they're not able to heal this son, what happens to this man’s faith? It diminishes. He has a lack of faith. And it's the action of the disciples, not being able to heal his son, that brought him to a point of a lack of faith. Their failure and their lack of faith caused this man's faith to waver as well.
Which causes this man to question whether Jesus even has the power to heal his son. And that's why he says “if You can do anything” Jesus, Teacher, Lord, if You can do anything… This man’s faith is shaken. And now he doesn't even know if Jesus can do anything. But Jesus is going to confront this man’s faith, and He answers this man’s request. Look at Verses 23 and 24…point #4 we will call The Answer from the Lord.
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.” (Mark 9:23-24)
Jesus says to this man, notice how He answers him. “If you can?”. Some of your translations there have a question mark at the end. But what should be there is an exclamation point. “If you can!” This isn't a question. This is a rebuke.
It's a rebuke to this father for making such an outrageous claim. “If You can do anything” Jesus? If you can heal my son, I don't know if You can or not, but if You can, can You please help? Can You please do something here? And Jesus responds to him, If you can? Are you serious? Do you know who you're talking to? I'm the Creator of the universe. I am 100 times more powerful than that demon…beyond measure…I created it all, and you're asking Me right now, “If You can?” That's how you respond?
And Jesus confronts this man's lack of faith by telling him that He does have the power to heal this boy.
But the issue here lies with the father's faith. Which is why Jesus says,
“all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
Look “if you can?”. Yeah, I'm going to confront your faith. The issue is not Me. The issue is you right now father…all things are possible to him who believes…
Now this is not some kind of Word of Faith movement type of statement that Jesus is giving here. This has nothing to do with the amount of faith that this man has, that somehow he can muster up all of this faith within him, and therefore this man is going to make something happen in his life. It's not what Jesus is talking about here when He says “all things are possible to him who believes.”
One commentator says, “The point is not, of course, that with enough faith you can do anything. It is rather that God has the power to do anything.” It is not the amount of faith that is important, it is the object of that faith. It's the object of that faith. It is about faith in Christ, and what He can do. He is the object of our faith. Christ is the object of our faith. It's not as if we just somehow muster up a little bit more faith and then somehow, we're going to be able to do something. It's about the object of the faith that we have. And when we begin to either think about…think that we can do something on our own, in our own faith, in our own strength. Or we begin to question what God can do. That is, when our faith diminishes. That is when we show a lack of faith in Christ. That's what this father shows when he makes this statement, “but if you can do anything.” He's showing a complete lack of faith in Christ at this moment. A complete lack of faith in Christ…the object of his faith.
So how does the father respond to this rebuke of Christ? Verse 24. Notice what he says there, he
“…cried out…” (Mark 9:24)
Why did he have to cry out? Because there's a crowd around him, because there's disciples around, there's a lot of people that are there, and so he cries out to Christ, and he says,
“I do believe, help my unbelief.”
He recognizes and confesses his lack of faith in Christ in that moment, and he cries out for Christ to help him first.
Now remember what's going on with his son at this time. He's being attacked by a demon on the ground, seizing up. But Jesus, at this point, is focused upon this father. He's in complete control, He knows what's going on over here with the son, but He's got something to work on with this father.
This father recognizes his lack of faith, and he confesses it before Christ in this moment, and he cries out for Christ to help him. And he wants Christ to help him in his unbelief. And he cries out for Christ to strengthen his faith. ‘I do believe, but help my unbelief. Grow my faith in You.’ That's what he's saying there.
One commentator says, “A faith which declares itself openly and at the same time recognizes its weakness and pleads for help is a growing faith.” It's a growing faith. Yes, this man had a lack of faith, but in that moment when he is confronted with his lack of faith at that moment, he realizes and recognizes it, and he confesses it before Christ, and therefore his faith is growing. It is strengthened at that moment.
And that's what we need to all do. Confess a lack of faith that we have in Christ. And when you confess that, your faith will be strengthened. Before this man, this father, could be healed…before his son could be healed, he needed healing first. And with this confession, Jesus then turns His attention to the boy, which leads to point number five, point #5
The authority of the Lord. Look at verse 25.
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. (Mark 9:25-27)
Now as this crowd begins to gather around, more people begin to hear what's going on here in the midst of this crowd, that Jesus is there and there's a demon-possessed boy. And there's these disciples that are there, and all this that's going on. Jesus just wants to get this done and over with. He wants to get this done and over with, why? Because His public ministry of healing has come to an end. It has come to an end at this point…He has proven who He is…and what have the people done with Him? They've rejected Him. They've rejected Him. He has nothing more to offer these people. He's not going to go around and continue to do all the miracles that He's doing before…He's already done miracle after miracle after miracle, and how have the people responded... rejection.
Jesus knows at this point He's going to go to the cross and now his attention turns to the disciples. He's got to teach those guys because those guys are going to be the ones who are left with the gospel who need to go out to the world and to go and preach and proclaim the gospel. And so He's focused on these guys, His public ministry of healing is done. But these guys at this point at this moment, what do these guys need? They need a lesson on faith. They need a lesson on faith. So Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and He commanded him to come out of the boy, never to return.
But the demon noticed he still wanted one last shot and he cries out and throws the boy into convulsions and comes out. This demon wants to make his presence known. Notice this demon cries out from a mute boy. He was mute before, he wants to make his presence known. But this demon knows when Jesus speaks and says you must come out that demon must do what? Obey. Because Jesus has all power and all authority, and at that moment when He commands that demon to come out of the boy, that demon must do exactly what Jesus does. And he comes out of the boy.
And the boy just laid there. Why did he lay there? Obviously he's worn out. He's exhausted from the torment of this demon. And although the boy was not dead, he was so exhausted that he just lay there motionless like a dead corpse. Like a dead man. But Jesus, as He often did, He comes to the boy. And what does He do? He touches him. He offers a personal touch to this boy who has been tormented for almost his whole life. And He comes and He touches him and He shows compassion on this boy. And He gives the strength back to this boy.
Notice there's another miracle that goes on here that often goes unnoticed. As that boy lay there like a dead corpse, Jesus comes and He touches him. And what happens to that boy at that moment? All of his strength comes back. In an instant. At a touch from Christ. A miracle happens. And this boy who's exhausted, who's been tormented by this demon, at that point is given all of his strength back, and Jesus picks him up, gets him off the ground. And in Luke's account he tells us Jesus raised the boy up and gave this boy back to his father. Totally completely healed. No longer to ever be tormented again, no longer is this father going to have to be worried and concerned around a fire. No longer is he going to have to be worried and concerned next to water. This boy has been completely healed by Christ at this moment and given all of his strength back and given back to his father. And both this boy, and his father, went home that day changed by Christ. The boy is healed from the demon. The father…his faith was strengthened that day…his faith was healed…his lack of faith in Christ was healed that day as Jesus healed this man’s son.
But in all of this, there's a lesson for these disciples to learn. Remember, the disciples are standing there and they're watching all of this go on. And this is the focus of Jesus’ ministry now, as He's come back down the mountain, He's going to go to the cross and die. And so He's got to focus now His attention on the twelve disciples, and they've got a lesson to learn here, which leads to our final point, point #6.
The application for the disciples. Look at verse 28.
“28 When He (Jesus) 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.” (Mark 9:28-29)
By anything but prayer. Jesus and the twelve arrive at home Where's this house? We don't know exactly where it's at, but it's probably somewhere there in Caesarea Philippi. That's where they've been. That's where they went to, before Jesus went up on the Mount of Transfiguration, into that region there of Caesarea Philippi, up on the northern part of the Sea of Galilee. (see map) And they are there, in this region, but when they get there to this house, as the disciples often did, they get a private lesson from Jesus, and they needed it, right?
They needed this private lesson. And they asked this question. Why could we not drive it out? Jesus, why couldn't we do this? Obviously these guys are confused. They're confused at this point since they've cast out demons before, right? They've been able to do it. So why couldn't they cast out this demon? Why weren't they able to do it?
They wanted to know what had happened to that power that they had before. But Jesus tells them, notice what He says. This kind cannot come out by anything but what? Prayer. Prayer. You men who were here yesterday at men's breakfast, we talked about prayer, the power of prayer. And why it's so important to be men of prayer, right? And I told you we'd talk about prayer this morning. Here it is.
This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer. Well, what does Jesus mean by this kind? Why does He say “this kind” talking about this demon? This kind of demon? We don't know exactly, but most likely it's in reference to the power that this demon had. That is, that this demon is more powerful than all other demons.
In Matthew chapter 12, (see Matt 12:43-45) remember what Jesus says when a demon is cast out? What does he do? He goes to find how many more demons? Seven more, to come back and to fill that person. But Jesus says in Matthew chapter 12, in verse 45, He says,
“…and then it goes out and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself,..” (Matt 12:45)
…greater demons than itself, to come back and to attack this person. And so this is some other kind of demon here. This is a powerful demon. But this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.
What is the key for these disciples to cast out this demon? Prayer. Prayer. The key here is that they needed to pray. Why would Jesus bring up prayer here? What is prayer? Prayer is not just simply communicating with God, although it is communicating with God. It's not simply just communicating with God, but it's also an acknowledgement of our dependence upon God.
When we pray and we go before the throne of God, we are acknowledging our dependence upon God. God, I fully depend upon You. And that's why I'm coming to You in this moment. When we pray, we're showing our complete dependence upon God and therefore we are showing our what? Our faith in Him. We are showing our faith in Him.
But these guys had begun to think that their authority came from their status as being disciples of Jesus. Oh, we've done it before. Oh, we can handle this, and they do it there in front of this crowd. Don't worry, father, we've got this. We got it taken care of. Don't worry scribes, we got this. We got it taken care of and what happens when they try and do it in their own power and their own authority? What happens? They fail. They fail.
And so Jesus has to remind them that they have no power on their own. You have no power on your own. Very soon these guys are going to be out on their own. And Jesus isn't going to be around them physically anymore. What do they need to learn? Total dependence upon Christ and upon His power and His authority. Faith in Christ. They need a lesson on the object of their faith that they need to have faith in Christ alone. And it's only by faith, through prayer, total dependence upon God, that they can then tap into the power of God. They have no power on their own, and you and I have no power on our own. We cannot do things on our own. We need God. We need total dependence upon Christ. If you try and go out and do things on your own, you will fail.
You must live a life in complete and total dependence upon Christ. Your faith needs to be strengthened. You need to grow your faith and it needs to be rooted in the object, which is Christ. That's what we need. We need total dependence upon Christ. We must rely upon Him.
Now notice the faith that these guys have. Is it saving faith? Or is it faith after salvation? What is Jesus strengthening here? Their faith after salvation. These guys have already declared that Jesus is the Messiah. They know who He is. They believe in Him. They know He's Lord. They have saving faith.
Some of you here this morning don't have saving faith. You're here trying to do it all on your own. You're trying to get to heaven all on your own. You think that by your own good works and by your own deeds that somehow that's going to get you into heaven. And God says, that's not how it works. You can't come to God on your own. It's impossible. What must you do? You must repent of your sin and put your faith in Christ. And have a saving faith in Him. You must call out to Him and ask Him to save you.
And if you do that, you will have eternal life and then the result of that, for all of us here who have saving faith, the result of that is to continue in faith in Christ, and grow in that faith, and not to depend upon ourselves, but to have full and complete dependence upon Christ. That's how we need to live our lives, and that's why Jesus says here to this father, “All things are possible to him who” what? “believes.”
Father, we thank You for this amazing time in Your Word and what this account reveals to us. Father, we thank You for these disciples, and through their failure, even though they failed on that day, because they tried to take things into their own hands…Father, what a lesson for us to learn. I pray that we would not be like them. That we would not fail. That we would grow in our faith in You. This is a lesson for all of us to learn. I pray that You would help us not to walk in the flesh, and not to fulfill the desires of the flesh, and not to think as if we can do things on our own without You. We know that that is a lie from the enemy….it is what he wants us to try and do… but we know, as we have read here this morning, that our faith must be in You completely, totally dependent upon You. God help our unbelief.
Help us to grow, to be strengthened by You. We thank You for our time and Your Word this morning…how it speaks to us. I pray that we would leave from this place this morning with greater faith in You as the object of our faith, knowing with confidence that we have eternal life because of what Christ has done for us, and the work that You have done in our hearts. We thank You for that confidence and that assurance that we can have, because it's all dependent upon You, and not us. We pray that we would live our lives to bring You glory and honor that You alone deserve. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.