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The Gospel of Mark #22 - Help My Unbelief

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The Gospel of Mark #22:

Help My Unbelief

Text: Mark 9:14-29

Thesis: To note that a life of prayer can help to combat failures and unbelief.


(1)   Imagine how Jesus and the 3 disciples must have felt after the transfiguration event.

(2)   However, things quickly changed as they re-enter the “real world.”


I.                   The Story:

A.    Jesus, Peter, James, and John come down from the mountain and walk into the middle of an argument.

1.      “A mountaintop experience is often followed by a strong reminder of the problems of life” (Black 167).

2.      “The other nine disciples were being heckled and taunted by a group of leering, self-satisfied scribes.  The disciples had attempted an exorcism and failed, the scribes were deriding them for their powerlessness, and were blaspheming Jesus as well” (Hughes 2:22).

3.      “It was at [Jesus’] sudden, unexpected arrival, just at the right moment, that they were surprised” (Barclay 221).

4.      The crowd’s “leaving the disciples and running up to greet Jesus emphasizes the distinction between the Master and His followers” (France 363).

5.      After hearing about the situation that had led to the present discussion, Jesus cried out in frustration (v. 19).

a.       “Jesus’ poignant cry of exasperation is an expression of weariness which is close to heart-break” (Lane 332).

b.      “He was evidently deeply dissatisfied with his contemporaries: with the father, who lacked faith in Christ’s healing power; with the scribes, who, instead of showing any pity, were in all probability gloating over the disciples’ impotence; with the crowd in general, which is pictured in the Gospels as being generally far more concerned about itself than about others (John 6:26); and, last but not least, with the nine disciples, because of their failure to exercise their faith by putting their whole heart into persevering prayer” (Hendricksen 347).

B.     Jesus then asked that the boy be brought to him so that He could cast out the demon.

1.      Concerning the boy, “the violence of the seizures, and the reference to repeated attempts to destroy the youth by hurling him into a fire or water, indicate that the purpose of demonic possession is to distort and destroy the image of God in man” (Lane 331).

2.      The father asked Jesus to help the boy, “if he could.”

3.      Jesus responded by saying that “all things are possible to him who believes.”

a.       “Faith opens up possibilities that remain closed to unbelief” (Black 168).

b.      “The sole bridge between frail humanity and the all-sufficiency of God is faith” (Edwards 280).

c.       Jesus had the power, but did the father have the faith?

4.      The father responded that he did believe, to some degree, but that he did still have some doubt.

a.       “He pleads for help just as he is, a doubter” (Garland 356).

b.      He was honest enough to lay it on the line with Jesus.

5.      Jesus then cast out the demon from the boy and, basically, gave the boy new life.

C.     After the healing, the disciples asked Jesus about their failure.

1.      “When Jesus says ‘this kind’ he points to a difference. Some [demons] are more powerful than other and, like the one that held the boy as his victim, are more difficult to dislodge” (Lenski 386).

2.      However, Jesus also pointed out that they had failed “because they had been careless in their personal spiritual walk and had neglected prayer and fasting” (Wiersbe 1:142).

a.       “Since Jesus did not offer up a prayer to exorcise the unclean spirit, the prayer that he has in mind is not some magical invocation but a close and enduring relationship with God” (Garland 357).

b.      “Spiritual power is not something which once possessed will always be available. It must be maintained and renewed” (Brooks 147).

II.                The Application:

A.    Life is full of its ups and downs.

B.     We, like the disciples, will experience our share of failures.

C.     We, like the father, may at times struggle with unbelief.

D.    We, like the disciples, need to give heed to prayer.


(1)   No matter how many times we fail or when we have our moments of doubt, Jesus is still there for us.

(2)   Will you come to Him and receive “new life?”

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