The man’s son was possessed by a demon. The boy could not talk. He would occasionally have seizures, be tossed around, foam at the mouth, grind his teeth, and lay rigid on the ground. The father had tried every option, but no one could help him. So, he brought his son to Jesus. Unfortunately, when he got there, Jesus, Peter, James, and John were on top of a mountain.
Jesus’ followers – the remaining nine apostles and probably others as well – tried to cast the demon out of the boy, but it did not work. The demon remained and continued to cause the boy physical, mental, and emotional distress. Once again, the father’s hopes were dashed. But, then, Jesus came back down the mountain with Peter, James, and John.
The boy’s father had another decision to make. So far, all of his attempts at alleviating his son’s problems had proved futile. Nothing helped. But, something inside him told him to trust this man who was walking down the mountain. Something inside him told him that this man could help. It wasn’t rational; it wasn’t reasonable. Everything and everyone else screamed out that the boy’s situation was hopeless. But, there was that one voice that continued to encourage the man to hope, to trust, to ask.
While the crowd continued to argue about who was to blame for the failure to help the boy, the father rushed up to Jesus. He tells Jesus what had already happened. “Can you really help my son?” he pleads.
Jesus responds mysteriously, “All things are possible to the one who believes – has faith – trusts…” (Mark 9:23)
The father answers hurriedly, then thoughtfully, “Of course, I have faith… help me with my lack of faith.” (Mark 9:24)
After Jesus casts the demon out of the boy, I can imagine the joy and gratitude of both the father and the son as they rush home to tell their relatives. What amazing power this man had demonstrated! Look at how he had cast out the demon and restored the boy! Trust him!
But, what about Jesus’ followers? Did this miracle cause them to trust Jesus more also? Well, according to Mark, they continued to argue and ask, “Why could we not cast the demon out of the boy?” It seems that they missed the most important lesson of this episode.
Instead of observing what Jesus had done and learning to trust him, they were more concerned with their own inability to cast the demon out of the boy. Within this short episode, we should recognize that Jesus responds positively to the man who admits his own lack of faith, but he responds negatively to his followers who only seemed to be interested in what they could or could not do themselves.
When we are trusting God, we recognize that there are limits to our faith, and we ask him for help with those limits. When we are trusting God, we are not as concerned with what we can or cannot do, but are learning to trust in what God can do.