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Thursday, January 21, 2010

1/21/10 Mark 9:14-29 Believing in God's Power

(left- Three Rich Hours- Exorcism- Duc de Berry Musee Condee, Chatilly)
1/21/10 Mark 9:14-29 (pp. MATTHEW 17:14-18; LUKE 9:37-43)

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 "What are you arguing with them about?" he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not." 19 "You unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23 " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes." 24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" 29 He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer.

Calvin abridged: “if you can”- In Christ is found an inexhaustible fountain of power provided the faith which you bring is large enough. It is not the Lord that prevents his benefits from flowing to us in great abundance, but it must be part of the limits of our faith. Often the cause of our lacking is because we disparage the power of God by our unbelief. 24- “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” These two statements may appear to contradict each other, but each of us has experienced this. As our faith is never perfect, it follows that we are partly unbelievers. But God forgives us and recognizes us for the small amount of faith inside us. It is our duty, in the meantime, to shake off any remnants of infidelity, striving and praying against them, flying to Him for help.

Thoughts: the key verses in this passage are 22-24 in which faith and the power of God are inextricably linked. The boy’s father had some faith and hope or he would not have brought him to Jesus. But he was so discouraged from having to face the day in day out heartache with his son, that it seemed there was no help- even from God. Many of us today are like that. We still come to God in worship, but our expectations are brought low by our daily burdens and problems, so that we forget the power of God to help. Jesus says something that the angel told Mary at her annunciation (Lk 1:37): “Nothing is impossible for God.” Jesus echoed this later with the sending of the 72 “with humans this is not possible, but nothing is impossible with God” (Mk 10:27; Mt 19:26); Jesus says in Matthew (17:20) that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move mountains because nothing will be impossible for you.” In a sense one of the great missions of Jesus was to open the minds of people beyond the probable and interject the power of God to help and to love into the situation. We desperately need this today. Too many put their hope only in western medicine-which is a tool of God based on His creation. Today (unlike twenty years ago) many are turning beyond science to eastern religions and homeopathic medicine. But too many are not truly bringing their burdens to Jesus. We believe, but we are not asking Jesus to help our unbelief. We need to open the door to the possibility of God’s answered prayer and the power of God.

Prayer: Lord, I believe, but my faith is limited. Help me to believe more, and trust in you more.

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