2020-02-23 – Mark 9.14-32 – Desperate Faith
Bible Text: Mark 9:14-32 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Mark | 2020-02-23 – Mark 9.14-32 – Desperate Faith
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
According to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, as Christians, we walk by faith and not by sight. He also wrote in Galatians in chapter 2, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me..” In Hebrews 11 it says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So we believe and we live by faith, thus as Christians, we put our trust entirely in what we cannot see. We trust in a God we have not seen. We trust in a Christ we have not seen. We trust in a Holy Spirit we have not seen. We embrace a death and hope in an eternal heaven, which we have not seen. It is all about faith, however it is not blind faith, it is faith based on the amazing evidence found in God’s Holy Word, Amen?
We are going through this book of Mark, and for two years plus, the disciples had lived by sight. They had walked with Jesus 24/7. They had heard everything He taught right out of His own mouth. They had seen every miracle that He had performed. Every time He cast out demons, they were there. When He raised the dead, they were there. Up to this point they were first-person witnesses to everything Jesus did, but soon they would have to continue on and live by faith. And that is what our message today is all about. Faith, even Desperate Faith.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 9.14, pew Bibles pg. 896 of God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. But let us first start with Prayer.
Last week we read where Jesus had taken His closest disciples up to a mountain, and right before their eyes they saw Jesus transfigured into a glorious figure of light. On that mountaintop He met with the Old Testament profits Elijah and Moses and they conversed about His upcoming crucificition. What a privilege it must have been for the disciples to witness Jesus in His true glory revealed. Now they are heading down the mountain and that is where our scripture today starts.
Verse 14 reads: 14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes disputing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran to greet him. 16 He asked them, “What are you arguing with them about?” 17 Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.”
This same account in Matthew 17 adds that the man was falling on his knees, and he called Him, “Lord.” So this man obviously has some faith in Christ, in His person as well as His power. He comes to Jesus in a very reverent and humble manner, although Matthew also says that he shouted. There is a large crowd there and they were arguing so I would guess it was noisy.
Based upon the man’s testimony, the boy was having uncontrolled seizures and his father was seeking help. The other disciples were trying to heal him from a demon while Jesus was up on the mountain, but they weren’t successful. I have known people who were plagued with regular seizures and it is a very difficult challenge both physically and emotionally. You feel helpless when this happens, mostly all you can do is to try to keep them from hurting themselves from the fall or from other objects until the ambulance arrives. Again, this man attributed the seizures to being demon possessed, and later we see Jesus affirms that. We also find out later in the story that he was deaf. The boy could not hear and the boy could not speak. It is no wonder that the boy’s father was very emotional and desired his son to be healed, to be rid of this demon possession.
Doctor Luke’s account of this incident says the father begged the disciples, but they still couldn’t heal the boy. That’s very strange because back in chapter 6, Jesus “gave them authority over the unclean spirits.” And it says, “they were casting out many demons.” We see in verse 19 Jesus’s harsh response:
19 He replied to them, “You unbelieving generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20 So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father. “From childhood,” he said. 22 “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
I find it interesting that Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been happening to him?” One might wonder why would He ask that question? Jesus know everything doesn’t He? I believe Jesus asked this because He wanted to hear the father’s pain. He wanted the father to tell Him his story.
You see the boy wasn’t the only casualty here. We can all attest that when one of our loved ones is inflicted with pain and suffering, those around them also are impacted. Here, the father was not coming to just a person with healing powers, he was appealing to the compassionate person of Jesus Christ. And if there’s anything demonstrated in the healing ministry of Jesus, it is that He cares greatly. He wants to hear about your pain, your toil, and your sufferings. Jesus cares about the struggle you have with your children. He cares about the things that break your heart and He wants to hear your story. Isn’t that an amazingly beautiful truth to realize? The man said “have compassion on us and help us.” And that is exactly what Jesus did for him, and what He will do us as well.
Then the boy started convulsing, but notice that Jesus stayed calm. So many times we hear of people overreacting in bad situations and they loose their cool and do something they later regret. We should all take example of what Jesus so well demonstrates here. Remember the old saying, “What Would Jesus Do” or WWJD. That is the first thing that Christians should be asking themselves in times of stress or trouble. What Would Jesus Do. [Everyone: “What Would Jesus Do”]
First He would stay calm; Then He would properly assess the situation, as we see so well demonstrated in these verses; Then He would take appropriate action.
I love how Jesus then responds to the man when he said “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” In verse 23:
23 Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
Let me ask you a question, is there anything that God cannot do? He is the Author and Creator of all things. He created us and this world we live in, He put the Sun, Moon and stars in the sky and set them all to motion. God can do anything. And Jesus ‘the Christ’ is God incarnate or God in the flesh. There is nothing He cannot do. But then notice how Jesus turned the table on the man, He said “Everything is possible for the one who believes’. So let me ask you now, Do you believe? I sure hope so. But maybe sometimes you feel like this man, who cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” I am not too proud to tell you that sometimes I am like that man, especially when my faith is weak. But take heart dear brothers and sisters, because Jesus said that even with the faith as small as a mustard seed, we can tap into the power of God and He can move mountains. Our Lord doesn’t expect perfect faith. Although He is certainly worthy of it. However He knows us, and He understands our limited abilities in this fallen world, that even the most dedicated Christian believes with a measure of doubt mixed in. And just like Jesus demonstrated His compassion on that man, we can be assured that He has compassion for us as well. This man was desperate for a miracle. Thus the title of our message today, Desperate Faith. Sometimes it is only when we come to a point of desperation that we are truly ready for God to show up. Verse 25 continues:
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, 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.” 26 Then it came out, shrieking and throwing him into terrible convulsions. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
Jesus commanded the spirit, and the spirit or demon immediately responded. Notice Jesus called him though a “mute and deaf spirit”. There was no record of anyone telling Jesus that, but He knew. I would argue that we really don’t know what kind of spiritual influences we are up against. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground”. Put your trust in the Lord brothers and sisters, let Him fight this fight with you, Amen?
And I love what Jesus did after the demon left the boy, again verse 27 says, “Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up”. Such a beautiful picture. Luke adds, that “Jesus gave him back to his father.” The tenderness of that – what a magnificent scene. I love Jesus’s consistent care and compassion.
Verse 28 continues, 28 After he had gone into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 And he told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.”
Earlier in His ministry, as recorded in Matthew 10, “Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits, so that they could drive them out and heal every disease and sickness.” However, because of what didn’t happened in the boy’s account, they were now questioning Jesus. Jesus acknowledged that they had a special anointing for healing, but in this case they had to depend on Him in prayer.
Jesus wanted them to understand that the only true power they had was from Him. And prayer is the highway that faith takes to tap into the power of God. God is the ultimate healer in all situations, it isn’t a man, it is God alone. This situation allowed the disciples to not become too prideful in their own abilities. We should all learn to trust in the Lord for all things.
In our last verses today, Jesus again tells them about what is going to happen to Him, verse 30-32 reads:
30 Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know it. 31 For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after he is killed, he will rise three days later.” 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him.
As Jesus told them, and told them, and told them about His future demise. Each time it seems He gives them a little more to chew on as they are able to understand it. First He told them that He had to go into Jerusalem, and Peter didn’t want Him to go. Then He told them that He was going to be put to death and they didn’t want to hear that. Now He adds that “after He is killed, He will rise three days later”. How would you respond to that kind of proclamation?
Jesus cares for them, and as He is developing their character, He is preparing them for what is about to happen. And that is what He does for each of us in our own Christian walk as well. God’s Word is a beautiful masterpiece that both entertains the infant, and it challenges the minds of the scholar.
In this message are a couple great life applications for you to consider.
First, God knows what is going on in our lives even when we do not. Jesus knew what kind of evil spirit the boy was inflicted with and how to get rid of it. At the same time He demonstrated so well the cool-headed compassion that we all need to learn to employ as His followers.
Second, when faced with adversity, “What Would Jesus Do” should be our initial inquiry. And the only way to know that answer is by reading our Bibles regularly. According to the verses we read today, and so many times previously, Jesus answered that question by demonstrating that “He Would Love First”.
Before He healed the boy, Jesus ministered to the father. He showed uncommon love for both of them. “He Would Love First” is the answer to most everything that the Bible presents for life’s challenges. In fact, I would argue, the whole Bible is really one long love story.
[Hand out – “He Would Love First” bracelets.]
As we are approaching now Easter or Resurrection Sunday on April 12th, I ask you to consider wearing these bracelets and perhaps God will send you somebody that asks you what that HWLF means. To which you might be able to speak into their lives and perhaps invite to church, so we can introduce Jesus to them. Wouldn’t that be great!
Finally, Just as Jesus told the disciples that they should pray. We should be praying now for that type of blessed encounter. That God would be sending to you somebody that may not even know they need a Savior. And you will be blessed to serve the Lord in leading them on a new and glorious eternal path to everlasting life. Amen?
As Jesus said in our verses today, we need to be praying brothers and sisters.
For it is only through God’s intervention that the Devil’s schemes will be thwarted. Are you with me on this?
Would you please stand and pray with me now.
Father, this is why we’re here to worship today, because of the glory of Your gospel. Confirm it to our hearts Lord, as we pray this in Jesus Christ’s Holy name, amen.