Some spiritual challenges can only be overcome through prayer. That is the message of today’s passage, where Jesus casts a demon out of a very troubled, suffering boy. We need God’s power to do things that only God can do.
The Text (Mark 9:14-29)
14 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, greeted Him. 16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”
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.”
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 his 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.”
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!”
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.
28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Background and Observations
• Jesus and Peter, James, and John have just rejoined the rest of the disciples. While Jesus was away on the mountain showing His glory to the 3 leaders, the other 9 of the 12 disciples were down in a town still trying to help people.
• For some reason, the disciples did not have enough spiritual power to defeat the demon causing the poor boy to be mute (unable to speak) and have seizures. It seems like they were trusting more in their own abilities than in God’s power.
• Jesus is disappointed with the disciples’ lack of faith. He also rebukes the scribes for mocking the disciples. Jesus wants us to believe and not doubt
• The boy’s father is honest with Jesus. He wants to believe that Jesus can heal his son, but he has watched his son suffer for so long that it is hard for him to still have any hope.
• Jesus loves the man and rewards the little faith that he can offer by healing the man’s son.
Questions to Think About
1. Think about a time when you struggled to believe that God could or would answer your prayer. What did you do?
2. What kinds of spiritual challenges are you facing now that might only be helped through strong prayer?
3. Salvation is always a miracle of God. A definite application of this verse is our need to pray hard for our family and friends who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to repent, believe in the gospel, and be saved. For whom are you praying this fall?