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Fortifying Your Faith–part 1
Learning from the unbelief shown over a possessed little boy,
from Mark 9:14 to 29, part 1
How many of you have built sand castles at the beach? How many of you fathers of young children still build sand castles? Are there any of you adults who still build sand castles, even though you don’t have children with you at the beach? I confess! I build sand castles, even though I have married children who sometimes wish I wouldn’t build sand castles. I’m not sure why, but I enjoy it.
I love to build them right at the edge of the surf, at the point where the wave reaches up on the beach where there is a danger of the castle being destroyed by a wave. And the secret to doing this is I fortify my sand castles with sand walls–walls of sand around my castle. I build a giant wall to protect my castle, and sometimes I build two walls with a big trench in between, and sometimes even three walls, which is an illustration of what the Pharisees did, and some Christians do. They build walls between themselves and God’s laws.
The Pharisees would read a prohibition in the Word of God, like “Do not lust.” And in their zeal, they’d build walls around that command like I build walls around my sand castles so they will never get even close to lusting. They built external walls around a command in Scripture, so that they’d not lust. They’d build wall #1 around lust–how? By not talking to a woman, in order to remove the temptation to potentially lust after her.
Then they’d build a second wall around lust by not looking at a woman, but turning their eyes away to fortify their resolve not to lust. Those who were really pious would actually walk around with their eyes closed, called the bleeding and bruised Pharisees for obvious reasons–to form a third wall, so as not to lust. The hope of these external walls was to fortify their spiritual life.
Now even though an external wall can be a help, it cannot solve the problem, because the issue is a problem of the heart. The Christian life is not about building walls against sin. Sure, we are to flee youthful lusts, but we are also to pursue Christ, His Word, living by faith, developing character, serving, loving, giving and growing to be more like Christ. The Christian life is not just about what you do not do. It matters more what you run towards than what you avoid. And the Christian life is more than avoiding things externally, but it is about growing stronger internally.
The Christian life is all about the transformation of the heart in salvation, and the fortifying of the heart in sanctification. Trying to avoid exposure to sin is like building a sand castle wall–eventually the waves of sin are going to wipe us out. But true internal fortification is actually like having your wall made of cement, metal or immovable rocks–it can’t be broken. This is the same for the Christian. You can change your situation externally and it may help, but you’ll never be freed until your heart is fortified internally.
How does that happen–through the means of grace. The Word of God strengthens you so you are not tossed to and fro–Ephesians 4. The Word of God empowers you so you don’t sin against God, Psalm 119:11. Trials build your character so you can endure more, in James 1. Serving in the Church in our giftedness and functioning in the one anothers, causing us all to grow more like Christ, in Ephesians 4:16. As we grow in character, our faith in Christ, our trust in Him our dependence upon Him, even our answers to prayer grow.
So how dependent are you on Jesus Christ? How much do you rely on Him? In what areas of life are you more independent than dependent? What part of your life do you find you trust yourself more than you trust Christ and His Word. Where do you tell others you have faith in Christ, but the reality is you are merely trusting in yourself and your resources? As I have meditated on this for my own life, I have asked…
Am I depending on my paycheck more than on the resources of Christ?
Am I relying on these people more than depending on God in prayer?
Am I depending on my abilities more than God to work in others?
Am I trusting my decisions more than God’s guidance through His Word?
What kind of faith do I have, and what kind of faith do you have?
Key question–are you growing in your faith? Too many of us in this room right now are building walls in our lives externally, so that in all honesty, we don’t have to live by faith. We don’t have to depend on Christ, we don’t have to trust Him moment by moment internally. We only talk to certain safe friends, go to safe places, allow ourselves certain safe routines, build lots of walls so we don’t sin, but we are not living by faith in Christ and depending on His Word. We are not relying on Him to help us, cause we have our external routine all figured out, with all the right barriers against sin.
But Christ calls us to live by faith–whatever is not of faith is sin. Are you depending on Christ in everything, asking Him to empower you, use you, work through you? No word in the Christian vernacular is more important than faith. Faith includes believing, trusting, relying, dependence and worship. No one denies faith is a central truth in your walk with God.
Hebrews 11:6—“without faith it is impossible to please God”
Luke 7:50—“we are saved by faith”
Ephesians 2:8 to 9—“faith is a gift from God”
Romans 5:1—“we are justified by faith”
2 Corinthians 5:7—“we walk by faith”
Galatians 2:20—“we live by faith”
2 Corinthians 1:24—“we stand by faith”
Romans 1:5—“we obey by faith”
Ephesians 3:17—“Christ dwells in our hearts by faith”
1 John 5:4—“we overcame the world by faith”
Acts 15:9—“our hearts are purified by faith”
1 Timothy 6:12—“we fight the good fight of faith”
Romans 10:11—“whoever believes in him will not be disappointed”
All genuine Christians are men and women of faith, and today in our study of Mark we are going to learn how to fortify our faith. Open your Bibles to Mark 9:14 to 29 as Jesus and three of His disciples come off the mountain, back to real life.
The Bible points to the power of faith in God in the lives of believers. It was faith in God’s power that caused young Caleb to look at the giants in the land and report to Moses, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it,” in Numbers 13:30. It was faith in God’s care that enabled Job to say of God in the midst of personal disaster, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him,” in Job 13:15.
It was faith in God’s protection that enabled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to stand at the edge of the fiery furnace and declare to King Nebuchadnezzar, “’Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up,’” in Daniel 3:17 to 18. Faith allowed Daniel to stand in the lion’s den in Daniel 6:10, and faith drew the woman to Christ for forgiveness, causing her to wash His feet with her tears and dry them with her hair in Luke 7:37 to 50.
And it will be faith in Christ that will bring about the deliverance of an only child from a vicious demon now in Mark 9. What’s been happening in Mark? In Mark 8, the Lord pointedly revealed He was the Messiah who will soon suffer, die and rise from the dead. And shockingly, if you choose to follow Christ, you too will live as if you’re about to die on a cross of your own, as you deny yourself and live for Him.
Then in Mark 9:1 to 13, Jesus proved it was all true by the Transfiguration. The glory of God was allowed to be put on display, Christ the God-man was unveiled, and His character as God the Son showed through His humanity in brilliant light. A glorified Elijah and Moses joined Jesus, discussing His coming death for sin in Jerusalem, proving that Jesus is the one the Old Testament was pointing to, and that the cross was God’s predetermined plan.
Now in Mark 9:14, it’s the day after the Transfiguration and Jesus and three close disciples are coming down from the mountain and are slapped with a horrible situation. The nine disciples who stayed behind failed to deliver a little boy from a demon. The hateful scribes are using this failure to belittle the disciples and their Master in front of a curious crowd of people. So now the boy remains unhelped, and still possessed by a vicious demon. And the father of the little boy is desperate.
So picture the scene–Jesus and three disciples are walking down the mountain into the valley from glory to gross, from heavenly to harsh, from divine purity to demon possession, from light to dark. Really–talk about an “after camp low.” And notice the focus on faith and belief in this passage before we read it. Verse 19, “O unbelieving generation, . . . 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.’”
Stand in honor of the Word of God and read aloud with me verses 14 to 19, “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.’ 19 And He 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!’”
Let’s pray–Father, cause us to grow in our faith. Make today a day of salvation for some to come to saving faith. And for those who are your children, let today be a day we grow more dependent upon you in faith. Expose our lack of faith, our little faith and all the ways we don’t depend on you, and change us to walk, live, obey and worship You in faith, until the day we get to see You by sight. Amen.
Jesus and His three closest disciples are coming down the mountain the day after the Transfiguration, and more than any other gospel, Mark describes what happens next in detail. In fact, Mark’s account of this event contains sixteen verses compared with Matthew’s seven verses and Luke’s 6-½ verses describing the same event, letting us know this event made a big impact on Peter, who is behind the writing of Mark’s gospel.
The other two gospels add some tender details Mark leaves out, like Matthew tells us when the father approaches Jesus to share about his son, the father kneels before Christ. Plus Jesus says it was the lack of sufficient faith that contributed to the cause of the disciples’ failure to heal this boy. Luke tells us this miracle was the next day after the Transfiguration that the father tells us his demon possessed son is his only child, and closes his account by telling us that “everyone was astounded by the majesty of God.”
This passage emphasizes the need of living by faith–and in these verses are many helpful truths about faith. So today I’ve built my outline around faith application points that come out of this incredible event after the Transfiguration. If we’re to grow in dependent faith, then we need to be . . .
#1 Avoiding Spiritual DISTRACTION Verses 9 to 13
The three disciples are coming down after seeing God in His glory. The three just saw Christ as He truly is–God in human flesh. The three just witnessed a glorified Christ, glorified saints from old confirming Christ’s identity and mission to go to the cross, and the voice of God the Father commanding them to listen to Christ.
Sadly, instead of focusing on this, they’re quickly distracted by a discussion on the resurrection and the scribal teaching on Elijah in verses 9 to 13 of Mark 9. Though not all bad, don’t you think they should have been discussing what they just saw? They should be thinking about Christ, focusing on Him, meditating on His person and His passion, the coming cross. They should be thinking about how worthy Christ is to follow– that any price they pay in denying themselves and suffering for Him is worth it. They should be focusing on the fact that what they just experienced in the Transfiguration just proved all He has said about Himself and His mission is all true.
Keep focused on Christ, His Word, His Person, His Character, that Christ is Sovereign, He is all-wise, and that He loves you. That means everything happening in your life right now is His perfect will. Focus on His ability to stop any trial if He chooses, and to give any resource that’s needed, and that all He does is for your good. Keep focused on the cross, His sacrifice for you, His love for you, His forgiveness of all your sins, His freedom from the penalty of sin, His ability for you to overcome the power of sin in this life and His promise to one day free you from the presence of sin forever.
Are you focused? Even here this morning right now? Are you seeking to set your mind on Christ. Some of you men sitting in church right now are thinking . . . “Jesus was transfigured . . . man, He did so many miracles . . . I mean, feeding the 4,000, that’s powerful–they took up seven baskets of scraps . . . baskets—it’s not basket-ball season, it’s football season . . . wow, I wish my team was doing better. If only Joe Montana was still playing . . . Montana has good fishing. WHAT? . . . Jesus was coming down the mountain–he probably needed a NAP. I hope I can take a nap today.” Are you actually focused on God’s Word?
Some of you women sitting in church right now are thinking . . . “Jesus was transfigured . . . man, He did so many miracles . . . I mean, feeding the 4,000–they took up seven baskets of scraps . . . baskets–wow, I could wrap Suzie’s birthday gift in a basket . . . gifts? Oh no–Christmas is coming. What are we going to do this year. I don’t want to go to Tom’s mother’s house again . . . what’s that? Jesus came down off the mountain? Yea, well at least He didn’t have to go to my mother-in-law’s house.” Focus!
If you want to grow in Christ, and grow in dependent faith, then you must stay focused on Christ and not get distracted by lesser things. Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
A personal, intimate, dependent relationship with Jesus Christ is what grows a Christian–and that relationship is by faith. But faith does not grow strong in a vacuum. Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” First Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” It requires you stay immersed in the Word of God. Like eating three meals a day, your spiritual life is only nurtured by regular feeding on God’s truth–and it is that truth which grows you. Start with a paragraph a day, or a chapter a day, until the Word speaks to you personally–the fuel of faith is a focus on Christ and His Word. The disciples are headed down the mountain high to an earthly low–and if you’re going to fortify your faith, then you need to be . . .
#2 Acknowledging you live with DIFFICULTIES Verses 14 to 15
You remember Peter wanted to stay up on the mountain–he basically said, “This is a good place for us to be.” He wanted to build three booths for Jesus, Elijah and Moses to stay there. Life was so much better nearer to God there on the mountaintop. But life can’t be lived on the mountaintop in the ease of God’s presence. We cannot grow to be more like Christ, and cannot grow stronger in faith unless we come down the mountain where there is resistance, trials and difficulty.
Just like working-out means lifting weights to grow muscle, growing in faith means enduring difficulties to grow spiritually. Look at what awaits the three disciples as they finally join the other nine. Verse 14, “When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them.” Mark writes this from the perspective of the returning three disciples, Peter in particular. And what Peter sees is a big crowd gathered around some scribes who’re arguing with the remaining nine disciples.
The nine were being heckled and taunted by a group of hateful scribes. Scribes are super Pharisees, who not only sought to self-righteously live the law, but also teach it. The disciples had attempted an exorcism and failed. So the scribes were mocking them for their powerlessness. They hate Christ and want Him dead. So this is what they’ve been waiting for–an opportunity to blaspheme Christ.
The Greek word argue in verse14 is used to describe a heated disagreement–vehemently discussed. They probably shouted, “The messenger is as the man himself. You are all phonies, and so is your Master!” It was one noisy confrontation, and like the crowd that gathers on your campus to see a fight, the watching crowd loved it. They were so engrossed in the debate, they didn’t see Jesus approach in verse 15, “Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him.”
“Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him”–the entire crowd who had flocked around the frustrated disciples had been so intent on what was taking place that the approach of Jesus had been unobserved. The sudden realization of His presence evoked a strong reaction. You’ve experienced this kind of shock—“We were just talking about you. Were your ears burning?” Verse 15, “They were amazed,” means they were greatly astonished. It comes from a strong compound verb, used only in the gospel of Mark to communicate strong emotional shock—literally, an exhausting surprise.
There are some who say their alarm is a reaction to Jesus, who was still glowing bright from the Transfiguration. But that view is contrary to His command to keep the Transfiguration a secret until after His resurrection, in verse 8. Plus, they would’ve immediately asked Him, “How come you’re glowing?” No, the strong reaction came from the Lord’s immediate, sudden, unexpected, and opportune appearance at the very moment Jesus was the center of an unsympathetic discussion. They were so engrossed in their debate they had not seen Jesus arrive–and now, just when the moment was right, He was there, “in their midst.”
So they began running up to greet Him. The next impulse of the disciples and probably the crowd, was to run up next to Jesus and gladly welcome Him, who they thought was far away. They welcomed the fact that the Lord, who was the subject of a critical discussion, was now present Himself. They welcomed Jesus back with delightful astonishment. The disciples are thinking, “At last, help has arrived!” The crowd is thinking, “Alright, now this is really gonna get good.” And the scribes are thinking, “Now’s our chance to make Christ look bad.”
But there is another present who is discouraged but hopeful that Christ has arrived, for his only son is enslaved by a being who wants to kill him. The disciples couldn’t help, maybe Christ can. Every person present is lacking faith in the difficulties of life. The crowd only sees a fun debate, the disciples see only embarrassment, and the scribes see only hateful opportunity.
Yet it’s your trials that grow you. Right now your difficulty has been intentionally given to you to cause you to grow. Read James 1:2 to 4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Second Corinthians 12:9 and 10, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Own your difficulties so that you might depend on Christ. Embrace your trials as opportunities to grow in your faith. You and I are so often proudly independent that we need trials to keep us clinging to Christ, dependent in faith, and this situation is no different. Here are the hateful religious leaders, the frustrated disciples, a faithless watching crowd, a child in bondage, and a desperate dad teaching you to be . . .
#3 Admitting the FRAILTY of your Faith Verses 16 to 19
I love that the Lord immediately comes to the aid of His nine disciples. Verse 16, “And He asked them, ‘What are you discussing [dispute] with them?’” Jesus asked them a question—“What were you debating about?” The big question of interpretation here is, “Who is the ‘them’ here?” Some see it as Jesus asking His nine disciples, with the crowd listening in–what’s the argument with the scribes about? But get this–the Lord’s question may also be legitimately translated into English this way. “Why do you question them? Why do you argue with them?”–showing Christ defend His men. Jesus goes after the scribes directly, and comes to the rescue of His followers.
I love it–the hateful fun/the felt advantage of the scribes is over. We don’t hear another thing from the scribes in this passage. With one question, Jesus shuts them down–#inyourface! Never forget, when you’re weakest, He is strongest! The Lord will not test you beyond what you can handle. So the hateful scribes shut down in silence, His nine do not answer, and the crowd says nothing until one of the crowd steps forward, and because of his personal involvement feels obligated to explain.
It is a distraught father–Mark calls him in verse 17, “And one of the crowd answered Him.” Matthew 17:14 adds in his gospel that the father got on his knees before Jesus. And Dr. Luke in 9:38 records him saying, “I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.” What happened that brought this all about? This is scary!
Verses 17 says, “And one of the crowd answered Him, ‘Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed [having] with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams [rips] him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens [dried] out.’” This boy was intimidating to those who would try to help, heartbreaking to his father, and terrifying to himself.
Some commentators say this child is suffering from epilepsy, since his symptoms perfectly match that ailment. My friends, read your Bible–the child was also mute and deaf, was only cured by Jesus casting out the demon within him, and the Scripture says the demon was causing this, not a disease. The Greek verbs describe the demon frequently, suddenly, and at any place seizing the boy, throwing him to the ground, making him foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and become stiff as a board.
The horror of these continual attacks is found in the Greek word seizing, telling us the demon takes control, then when it does, the Greek word slams him down means the demon rips him—it literally tears him to pieces, breaks him, and convulses him around. Later in verse 25, we learn that the demon has made several attempts to kill the child by burning him alive or drowning him. No doubt the child is covered with scars from burns, and loaded with bruises from being thrown down and rolling about.
Even worse, the demon has made the child deaf and dumb, forcing this child to live as if he is in an aquarium. How terrifying would it be to see this behavior going on around your own pathetic body, but be unable to hear or speak. Satan hates God—therefore he hates the image of God in man. So his army seeks to do anything they can to destroy you and me, who are made in God’s image, in any way possible. And this father is asking for help over a very serious situation.
So verse 17, “And one of the crowd answered Him. ‘Teacher, I brought You my son.’” The Greek word “Teacher” can also translate into “Master”, showing respect, and indicating he regarded Jesus as a miracle-working rabbi. “I brought You my son,” states his intention–he brought, literally carried, his son who was his “only child,” to be delivered. The father probably doesn’t realize it, but he is about to bring his only beloved son into the presence of God’s only beloved Son.
But at first, verse 18b, “I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” Finding Jesus gone, the desperate father appealed to His disciples to exorcise the demon. Apparently the father had heard reports that the disciples, as well as Jesus, were casting out demons. And they could–they did, they were empowered to do so. These twelve apostles did cast out demons–do you remember Mark 6:7 and 13, “And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 13 and they were casting out many demons.”
Having cast out demons before, the disciples accepted the father’s request, but their attempt to cast out this demon proved tragically futile. Verse 18, “They could not do it.” “Do it” means they lacked the strength–they were not able. They literally lacked the power to pull it off. Key point–are you ready to admit you can’t pull it off? If you’re going to grow in Christ and grow strong in faith, then you must admit the frailty of your own faith–come to a point where you embrace and live the truth.
YOU can’t glorify God, only God can glorify God
YOU can’t live the Christian life, only Christ can through you
YOU can’t do anything to please God in your own strength, you must depend upon His Spirit according to the Word of God
Come on, Christian–Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Admit the frailty of your own faith. Fortifying your faith comes as you realize you can’t, God can. Sure you exercise your will, you step out in obedience no matter what–but you do so dependently in faith. You drive dependently, clean dependently, do homework dependently, think about a boyfriend dependently, carry on conversations dependently, watch TV dependently–everything!
I believe the New Testament teaches the Christian life is not DO–do this, do that, just do it. NO–the New Testament teaches D.O., Depend and Obey. And growing Christians are those who realize they can’t do a thing without depending on God’s Spirit, and only through the Word of God. What had gone wrong or changed with the disciples? Why not deliver the boy?
Some say the disciples’ failure to deliver the boy was due to the fact Jesus was not near them. Think, people–that’s not it. When they cast out demons before, they were not near Christ. The best answer is this—and write this down. This is for you and me too. They failed to appropriate the power available to them. They had the ability from Christ, but failed to rely on Him–verse 29.
The nine disciples were shocked about their inability to deliver this boy. And what a massive disappointment to the boy’s father. But worse than all that was the heartache it caused our Lord. Verse 19 is one of the moments in the gospels where you see the struggle and pain and heartbreak and sorrow and hurt of God the Son as He lives among faithless followers. Verse 19, “And He answered them and said, ‘O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up [endure] with you?’”
This is a dramatic, deep, painful response. The “O” in “O unbelieving generation” in the Greek proves Jesus was deeply moved. It expresses the Lord’s personal pain and indignation. The fact that Jesus directed this complaint to the unbelieving generation proves He wasn’t only addressing the nine disciples who had failed in this emergency. The entire generation of Jews in Israel were faithless, represented on this occasion by the father, the crowd, the self-righteous scribes and the disciples who were all there.
The Lord was also deeply dissatisfied with the father, who lacked sufficient faith in Christ’s healing power. Also with the scribes, who instead of showing any mercy toward a suffering child, were merely gloating over the disciples’ failure with the crowd in general, who were far more concerned about themselves and the show, than about a tortured little boy. And last but not least, with the nine disciples because of their failure to exercise their dependence on Christ in faith, by putting their whole heart into persevering dependent prayer, which Christ will explain in verse 29.
They didn’t exercise faith–they were not depending on Christ, but trying to accomplish the task in their strength, by their gifts, like they had before. Whoa–that is our problem too. We’re gifted, experienced, seasoned believers, but we too must depend on Christ for everything! They were all faithless to some degree. Those present at this event represent the entire nation of Israel, and people in general today.
Jesus then added, how long shall I be with you? His ministry had lasted almost three years now. And it really seems, doesn’t it, that the Lord was ready to go home. Maybe the Lord said these words to Himself, as much as to them. No doubt He was becoming increasingly anxious to return to His Heavenly Father, with whom He had just experienced a unique time of fellowship on the mountain. How long must I remain here? And how long shall I put up with (endure) you?
Jesus Christ had perfect trust in His Heavenly Father, and enjoyed perfect love, which was infinite–and there were times, like at this moment, when it was painful for Him to put up with those who massively lacked those qualities. And it was hard for Him to endure those who failed to depend on Him, to show those qualities to a child who was in desperate need of them. Plus, in His humanness, Christ must have been tempted to doubt whether His soon-coming suffering and death would be worthwhile. Satan may have whispered in Jesus’ ear, “If they do not trust You while You are with them, how do You expect them to trust You after You have returned to heaven?”
The thrill-seeking crowds followed Jesus to watch what He’d do, and for the personal benefit of His healing. The gloating Jewish leaders followed Him in order to accuse Him of a capital crime. And although the disciples knew He was the promised Christ, they were still confused about the full nature of His person, and the amazing purpose He was working towards. We would have given up. Regardless, Jesus did not vary from His mission, nor succumb to Satan’s temptation to despair. He was on earth to do His Father’s business, and nothing would keep Him from His mission, nor displaying His attributes.
Therefore, look what Jesus commanded in verse 19—“Bring him to Me!” This command was actually a promise. Fully aware of His own power, the Lord clearly indicates He’s going to act. Weakness had failed first, but now God’s strength will be shown. The present imperative, “bring,” (be bringing), has a plural subject–it was directed to the crowd generally. The boy was not with the father–he’d been taken to a place of safekeeping not far away. But now this is going to turn really good.
In spite of His own personal pain . . . instead of reacting in anger . . . instead of feeling sorry for Himself, the Lord looks beyond His emotions and lovingly commands, “Bring [carry] him to Me!” Jesus shows the perfect example of proper behavior during annoying and distressing circumstances. Do what you can for God’s glory. I can’t fix everyone’s lack of faith right now, but I can love this little boy. So our Lord prepares to show His power, and to display His amazing love. What happens? For the answer to that, you have to come back next week. Let’s pray, and think deeply about this amazing event in Mark 9.
1 Just because CHRISTIANS have let you down, that doesn’t mean that Christ has
The disciples failed at relying on God’s power, but that doesn’t mean God is not going to work. Just because Christians have let you down in the past, doesn’t mean God is not going to do incredible things as you pray.
2 The more DEPENDENT you are in every task and relationship, the more Christ can display His power
When we’re weak, God is most strong. If we were to approach every daily task, school, friends, driving, cooking, cleaning, family time, talking with a simple prayer—“Lord, I can’t do this in a way that pleases you unless you do it through me.” Then step out dependently and obediently, we will start to see God do some amazing things through everyday life.
3 Christ displayed His GLORY on the MOUNTAIN, but discipled His men to GROW in the VALLEY
We all need to have those sweet times of awesome communion with Christ. But Jesus usually grows us most when He hits us with a trial or a failure, showing us how much we need Him for everything.
4 You can’t come to Christ nor live for Christ without FAITH, and faith is only a GIFT from God
You can’t come to Christ or live for Christ without Christ first working in you. Some of you need to cry out for God to give you the gift of faith. Have you admitted, as a sinner, God must condemn you to Hell? And the only way to be delivered from punishment is to believe that God became a man in Christ, lived a perfect life, then took our place on the cross, paid the wages of sin in His death and rose from the dead. And when you surrender your life to Him by faith, turn from your sin in repentance–He gives you His eternal life now and forever. But God must do it–ask Him to open your heart to your need and pray.