Tue Apr – 9 Can Faith look Like This?

Mark 9:17-25(CEB)

17 Someone from the crowd responded, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, since he has a spirit that doesn’t allow him to speak. 18 Wherever it overpowers him, it throws him into a fit. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and stiffens up. So I spoke to your disciples to see if they could throw it out, but they couldn’t.”

19 Jesus answered them, “You faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I put up with you? Bring him to me.”

20 They brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a fit. He fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been going on?”

He said, “Since he was a child. 22 It has often thrown him into a fire or into water trying to kill him. If you can do anything, help us! Show us compassion!”

23 Jesus said to him, “‘If you can do anything’? All things are possible for the one who has faith.”

24 At that the boy’s father cried out, “I have faith; help my lack of faith!”

25 Noticing that the crowd had surged together, Jesus spoke harshly to the unclean spirit, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you to come out of him and never enter him again.”


Trying to interpret this section of scripture is difficult for me.  We begin with a father saying that his son has been possessed for a lengthy period of time and has sought a cure from the disciples.  In verse 19 “you faithless generation” could refer to the disciples who were unable to cast out the spirit, or to the father, or to everyone around Jesus. Clearly Jesus is exasperated but asks that the boy be brought to him.     

In verses 20 – 23 we see the spirit seeing Jesus and then throwing the boy into a fit which prompts Jesus

to ask the father, how long has this been going on. I wonder, did Jesus ask for the boy to be brought to

him to provoke the spirit in that moment?

The father is desperate and asks Jesus if he can do anything – clearly, especially after the disciples failure,

not an expression of faith but rather a request for compassion as if that will bring about a miracle. Jesus’

retort, in verse 23, reads to me like, why did you not have faith, don’t you know that all things are

possible for one who has faith? The boy’s father in response cries out that he does have faith but also asks

for Jesus to help his lack of faith.      

When scripture interpretation is difficult sometimes I think of searching out what John Wesley said on the subject. Interestingly, what is believed to be Wesley’s last sermon was written in 1791 and it was on Faith and referenced Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the evidence of things not seen”.  He went on to say that many times I have thought, spoken, and written on these words. Despite that, there is a depth in them which I am in no way able to fathom. Faith is, in one sense of the word, a divine conviction of God and of the things of God and also a divine conviction of the invisible and eternal world.

I find the fact that Wesley did not have faith put in a box – one answer fits all.

Verses 28 and 29 of chapter 9 are the end of the section describing healing of a boy with a spirit. Here Jesus says that their inability to heal was a result of failing to pray. In every one of Jesus’ prayer sessions in the Gospel of Mark, the disciples are absent or unable to stay awake.   

by Clarence Beverage

For Pondering & Prayer

What do you think about this concept? Earnest prayer and talking with God. Will those things allow us to have greater faith?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, like the father in our scripture, may we earnestly ask you to help our lack of faith. Amen

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