28 – The Importance of Faith
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
- Mute: Silent, unable to speak
- Convulsed: Shook violently
- Rebuked: Expressed sharp disapproval
If someone asked you what ‘faith’ is, how would you answer?
Do you ever try to do things for God in your own strength?
This passage from Mark’s gospel deals with two extremely important aspects of the Christian life, namely faith and prayer. We hear that a man had a child, and that child had suffered from an early age under the influence of an evil spirit. This spirit caused him to have fits of some kind and even tried to make the boy kill himself. The father had heard about the way that Jesus and his disciples had been healing people and was hoping that they could help. But the disciples were unable to do anything. It looks like they were becoming self-confident and believed they could help the boy in their own strength rather than praying to God. Their confidence was not in the correct place and therefore their faith was weak.
When Jesus arrives and the father asks him if he is able to help him, Jesus explains that anything is possible if you have faith, if your confidence is in him. The man’s response says it all – “I believe, I have faith, but it is weak. Help me to believe”. He clearly realises that he can’t help himself or his son, and he asks Jesus for help, and for strength to believe. He depends on Jesus to strengthen his faith.
After Jesus healed the boy, he explains to his disciples the necessity of prayer in order to accomplish works like this. Therefore, read the passage again, and look for the prayer. There is no mention that the disciples pray, and neither does Jesus. The only person who calls out for help is the father. He prays to Jesus for help, and the Son of God answers his prayer. So, faith is putting your confidence in God rather than in yourself, and praying is calling out to God as you realise that you cannot help yourself, that only God can help you.
Why do you think that the disciples have become self-confident?
Has your faith ever been weak? What kind of things can you do to strengthen your faith?
for God to help you in situations where your faith is weak and pray that you will rely on him in every situation.