14 When Jesus, Peter, James, and John came back to the other followers, they saw a great crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 But as soon as the crowd saw Jesus, the people were surprised and ran to welcome him. 16 Jesus asked, “What are you arguing about? 17 A man answered, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He has an evil spirit in him that stops him from talking. 18 When the spirit attacks him, it throws him on the ground. Then my son foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes very stiff. I asked your followers to force the evil spirit out, but they couldn’t.” 19 Jesus answered, “You people have no faith. How long must I stay with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” ~ Mark 9:14-19
Today, we return to our study of Mark 9 where we see Peter, James and John coming down from their mountain top experience with the Lord. What a contrast is given to us here. Up on the mountain, the glory of the Lord was overwhelming. Whereas, down in the valley, darkness was in full array. Down in the valley, the other disciples had some of the religious leaders of Israel arguing with them about their inability to cast out a demon from a man's son.
Faith is the second most dominant feature of the believer in Christ, the first is obviously its object. We trust in a God whom we have never seen with our eyes. We trust in a Christ we have not seen. We trust in a Holy Spirit we have not seen. We embrace a death and resurrection we have not seen. We trust in a justification we have not seen. And we look for an eternal heaven, which we have not seen. We are enabled to do this because we have been given hearts that can see Him in our every day lives.
In v.14-15 of today's passage we read, "14 When Jesus, Peter, James, and John came back to the other followers, they saw a great crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 But as soon as the crowd saw Jesus, the people were surprised and ran to welcome him."
Down in the valley below were the nine other disciples, and, even though they had experienced great success before at casting demons out of people, here, they failed. Failure is not always the opposite of success with God. He has often been known to use our failures to bring about His successes. The key is that we learn that He is the One who brings about the success. And, we must be careful to give Him all of the glory for the miracle.
The symptoms of the young man were the classic symptoms of epilepsy. But, the problem was being caused not by epilepsy but by a demon. And, as soon as the Lord Jesus arrived on the scene, the crowd ran to Him because they were "awestruck" by Him. Due to all of the miracles He had been performing, the people treated the Lord Jesus as if He were God.
In v.16-18 of today's passage we read, "16 Jesus asked, “What are you arguing about? 17 A man answered, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He has an evil spirit in him that stops him from talking. 18 When the spirit attacks him, it throws him on the ground. Then my son foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes very stiff. I asked your followers to force the evil spirit out, but they couldn’t."
The word "arguing" used in v.16, often describes the confrontations the religious leaders were faithful to deliver. After the Lord Jesus asked the question, a volunteer in the crowd answered Him. In the middle of all of this, according to Matthew's version of this incident, the father of the young man had fallen on his knees before the Lord Jesus, calling the Lord Jesus both, “Teacher and Lord.”
This man had come to bring his son to the Lord Jesus for deliverance. This should be the goal of every father; to get his son or daughter as close to the Lord Jesus as possible. And, even when His followers aren't able to help, we must not relent from bringing them to Him. And, we get them the closest to the Lord Jesus by living in a meaningful and intimate relationship with the Lord for ourselves. It is much easier for our children to trust and love the Lord when we are demonstrating our trust and love in Him for ourselves.
According to v.17-18 the man explains the condition of his son as being demon-possessed. Then he reveals why the disciples did not answer the question the Lord Jesus had posed. They could not cast the demon out of the young man which was strange because back in Mark 6, the Lord Jesus had given the disciples the authority to cast other demons out of other people. We can only imagine the shock of these disciples when they failed.
In v.19 of today's passage we read, "Jesus answered, “You people have no faith. How long must I stay with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
The disciples did not fail because they did not expect anything to happen ... they expected something to happen, and, they were surprised when the young man was not delivered from the demon. They had seen people delivered before from demons when they said the word, and did so in Jesus' name. But this time it did not happen. This reveals that faith is not merely a sense of expecting something to happen.
The disciples had faith, but it had changed from faith in God to faith in the process they were following. Perhaps, they thought that if we said the right words, and followed the right ritual, that the demon would have to leave. Without their even realizing it, they had transferred their faith from confidence in a God who can act, to a formula that can bring it about. It is so easy to take our eyes off of the Lord.
This is what we often do. We get to thinking that it is the words we say, or the way we say them, or the success we are enjoying in our lives spiritually, which is the real reason things happen, rather than the God who acts. The Lord Jesus chided the disciples for this and later said their faith must be in God Himself, if it is to be a fresh and vital faith. God’s will doesn’t always automatically come to pass in our lives when and the way we expect it. We must believe what God has said, or else we may not experience what God has promised.