Mark: According to
Help My Unbelief
“And when he came to the disciples. He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. 15 Immediately when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him. 16 And He asked the scribes, ‘What are you discussing with them?’”
It must have been quite the conversation between Jesus, Peter, James, and John as they came down from the mount of transfiguration to the plain below. Below Jesus had left the other nine disciples. It is interesting that upon Jesus coming to the other nine disciples, that he didn’t ask them what was happening, instead Jesus immediately asked the scribes, “what are you discussing with them?” Perhaps the presence of the scribes made it evident that they had been belaboring the nine disciples, so this is why Jesus had asked them instead of the disciples. Whatever the reason it was one from the multitude that spoke up saying:
17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
This poor man, had come to Jesus’ disciples asking that his son could be healed. This is not an unusual request for the disciples had performed miracles in the past. In fact in a recent missionary trip they had all performed miracles, but as it states in verse 18, this time they were unable to command the evil spirit from the boy.
Jesus was moved with pity and compassion for the father and his son. The gospel of Luke, having been written by a Medical Doctor and Historian puts a slightly different take on this event (Luke 9:38). Here Luke says the father requested Jesus to “look upon” his son. In the Greek this was a common idiom for a medical examination.
By The mans words and in requesting Jesus to examine him, shows that the father, although coming to have his son healed, did not really believe that the disciples or Jesus could heal his son. What is also clear is that the boys condition had worsened causing the boy to dry up or to wither away. It appeared the father was concerned that his son would soon die, because of the continued attacks of whatever spirit this was.
What Jesus said next makes me stop and ask the question, was Jesus upset with the disciples, the people, the scribes or just the situation in general. 19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21 So He asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” and he said “From childhood. 22 and often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
There it is in verse 22 this big two letter word “if”. “If you can do anything.” The father certainly must have had some knowledge of Jesus and the miracles he had performed in the past, but despite this knowledge, he came to Jesus asking not for healing, but a medical examination, because he failed to have faith in the evidence put before him in the teachings, and miracles that Jesus had performed. The Bible is full of the evidence of God’s great love for us, and the gospel is full of the good news, of Christ’s saving grace and the miracles that he performed. Within our churches are the changed lives of people who have surrendered their hearts to God, all evidence of the wonderful saving and healing power of God.
But how often do we, like the father, come before God and say, examine me to see what is wrong, but I really don’t want you to heal me or my friend, because I just don’t fully believe.
The apostle Paul address this and reassures us that we all have a measure of faith given to us. “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
That faith grows and becomes stronger the more we exercise that faith. A new born baby does not have the strength or the coordination to walk, but my moving its limbs and exercising, their muscles begin to develop and as they develop, they gain the coordination and strength necessary to eventually learn to walk. This same holds true in our spiritual walk. If we sit back never doing anything for ourselves never exercising our faith, how is it that we expect to grow and walk upon the spiritual path of faith? Your right, it just won’t happen.
Jesus is asking of this father to exercises this measure of faith that has been given to us all. Once the father believes, then the power of God can work to heal the son.
Jesus asked of the boy’s father the condition of his son so that those around could understand the gravity of the condition, but also to get the father to express his unbelief and exercise the small amount of faith he did have.
23 Jesus said to him “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
There it is, that is the key to our faith, is to exercise our faith by placing that small amount of faith in the hands of Jesus, and he in turn will increase it and multiply it as necessary for us to continue on our upward journey through life. You see the father would not have brought the child if he had not already had a measure of faith, that measure of faith only needed to be exercised to be made stronger.
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
I cannot imagine the joy and happiness the father must have experienced as this unclean spirit was removed from his son.
It must bring great joy to our heavenly father when we come in faith, asking for healing from this sickness that we are all infected with, and powerless to overcome on our own. It is only through Jesus that we can receive the healing necessary to be restored.
Later the disciples privately asked of Jesus, “why could we not cast it out?” 29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Our faith is exercised by prayer and fasting. The scribes had attributed the helplessness of the nine disciples to the presumed superior power of the demon, asserting that Jesus’ control was limited to the less powerful demons. The real trouble, however, lay not in the power of the demon, but in the spiritual impotence of the disciples. It is only through Prayer and giving up of the things of this world that the power of the Holy Spirit can work through us. It is through prayer that our faith is strengthened. It is by giving up of self and the things of this world that we allow the spirit of God to work within us and through us to help those around us. But it is our unbelief that prevents all this from happening. Our unbelief that is the result of lack of prayer and spending personal time in the word of God that causes us as the disciples of old to effect change in the lives of others.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
Jesus gave us an example of how we are to seek our heavenly Father, and when we do, we will have the power to change the world as the disciples did.