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Basic Bible: Jesus’ Authority over Demons

Mark 9:14-29

“And when he came to his disciples . . .” (v. 14). The events recorded in the text before us took place immediately following the transfiguration upon the mount which was witnessed by Peter, James and John (Matt. 17:1-8 and Mark 9:2-8). The disciples to whom Jesus came would have been the nine who were not with Him upon the mount. Mark’s account differs from that of Matthew in that Mark reports that which Peter, James and John witnessed. They saw a great multitude. They saw scribes questioning fellow disciples who were not with them upon the mount. They saw the crowd rush to greet Jesus. They heard Jesus ask the scribes, “What question ye with them?” (v. 16).

When Jesus asks questions, He is not seeking information. Jesus spoke the words given to Him by God the Father who knows all things. In this instance, His answer was for the ears of Peter, James and John. Jesus directed this question of the scribes. No scribe replied. The man whose son was afflicted by the spirit answered. He described the affect which the dumb spirit had upon his son and the disciples’ failure to cast it out (v. 17-18).

Jesus replied saying, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.” Jesus’ answer to the afflicted man’s father was directed, not to the father of the afflicted alone, but to any and all who were without faith. Jesus’ answer consisted of two questions and the instruction to “bring him to me.” The two questions could not be answered. Again, Jesus was not seeking an answer. He was plainly informing all present that He would not always be present to do works of faith and that a time would come in which He would not abide with a lack of faith. Jesus said, “Bring him to me.” Unsaid were the words, ‘I will show you what faith can do.’

In addressing the faithless generation, Jesus addressed all who had rushed to meet Him. The faithless generation could have included the scribes but did not because the scribes were never followers of Jesus. The faithless generation included the disciples. They, however, would not remain faithless; they would later go forth with great power and proclaim the gospel to all the world.

How is a faithless generation changed into a generation of gospel proclaiming believers? Look at the example found in the father of the afflicted son. In verse 22, the father asked Jesus to have compassion and to help. His request was prefaced by an “if” — “if thou canst do any thing.” The father’s request lacked certainty. He did not say, “I know you can do all things.”

Jesus answered the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The faithless generation included the father because he lacked the faith necessary for his son to be made whole.

The father answered with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” The father believed but he did not believe enough. How much is enough? Jesus provided the answer to the father. He cast out the spirit from his son. The father believed enough. The father asked Jesus to help him from his unbelief. The father transcended from the faithless generation to become a triumphant believer by uttering a seven word prayer: “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.”

The difference between being part of the faithless generation and being a triumphant believer involves confession of failure and enough faith to ask Jesus for help.

Every believer believes with imperfection. The father believed with imperfection, but he believed enough to ask Jesus for help with his unbelief. He possessed faith that Jesus was the answer to his unbelief.

Jesus’ disciples, like the father, believed with imperfection. Their belief had previously allowed them to cast out many devils and to heal the sick (see Mk. 6:13) but their faith was insufficient to cast out the dumb spirit.

The disciples witnessed Jesus cast out of the spirit. They heard the father’s the seven-word prayer, but they failed to recognize the power of that prayer. They asked Jesus why was it that they could not cast the spirit out. Jesus answered that prayer and fasting were necessary to cast out this spirit.

What is prayer and fasting? Believers and non believers alike can pray and fast. True prayer involves asking the Lord for His intervention and His strength and believing that He shall answer that prayer.

Fasting is more than a measure of self control. Fasting is a prayer of persistent confession that one is totally dependent upon Him. Fasting without faith is not true fasting.

The father had witnessed years of suffering by his son. The father’s every effort to help him had failed. The father knew he had no strength; his only hope was Jesus. Jesus answered the father’s prayer to help his unbelief.

Let us, like the father, confess our unbelief. The faith that heals unbelief is just a prayer away.

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