by Mike Winger
At first it seems like this story is dropped awkwardly into Mark 9 with no apparent reason. But studying the passage more carefully shows that it may well be a deliberate act on the part of God to illustrate the need for faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This poor boy, afflicted by a demon for years, seems to be a representation of Jesus on the cross and how challenging it would be for the disciples to trust in a Messiah who would die. This passage also has something that is hugely important to me personally; the father of the child crying out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” The fact that Jesus received the conflicted faith of this man shows me that He receives us when our faith is equally conflicted. Thank God for His patience. This is part 31 in the ongoing Mark series, here’s the whole thing! If you love this ministry and want to help me keep making free content, please click here.

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in this passage in the Gospel of Mark we have an encounter where Jesus does another exorcism in the Gospel of Mark but this one's unique it's a unique exorcism and in my opinion the unique elements of it such as it looks like it's failing while it's happening it looks like it's not working that kind of element going on I think that this unique element shows us the cross and I know that's like a big claim and it's like oh that's nice of course your pastor you think it shows us the cross but I like to build the case for that as we get to that point in the text that's probably the most exciting part to me is how this this stubborn demon is what we'll actually see here demonstrates the cross of Christ we'll get there as we plow through for right now here we are this is a mark chapter 9 starting in verse 14 we're gonna read right through verse 29 this is part 31 in our continuous series through the Gospel of Mark I will try to keep it under triple digits for the whole series probably no I'm confident we'll be able to do that but but yeah here we go let's read mark 914 it says 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 Oh 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 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's 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 all right let's plow through this verse by verse try to understand it this is of course I didn't mention this at our intro here but this is also the I believe help my unbelief passage that I think is precious to the heart of any Christian who struggle with doubt your you found this verse and went Thank You Lord that was like salv to my soul and and it is and we'll get there as well that's also really important is that faith is not the absence of doubt actually I don't think and I think this first supports that so here we go mark 914 it says when they came to the disciples they saw a great crowd around them and the scribes arguing with them the scene just to back up and remind us right Jesus took the disciples Peter James and John just the three these three primo guys right took them up onto the mountain and the Transfiguration happened they have this great revelation as a glory of Christ and a really kind of a picture of the first and second coming then they come back and they come back and there's a whole scene going on there's all this stuff that's already happening Jesus arrives with the three disciples well there's the other nine that are already there and they have failed to cast out this demon and it's caused a disagreement or an argument the argument seems to be between the disciples the nine who failed to cast out the demon and the scribes what do you think they're arguing about well we know enough about the scribes at this point in the Gospel of Mark to assume they're saying you couldn't cast out demon because you guys are false and your teachers false and you don't have the approval of the correct religious leadership and you guys are basically you have no power that's why you couldn't cast out the demon note however that they're not casting it out either so it's not like they're you know showing their authority over them so I think it was about how this event shows Jesus must not be who he claims to be or who the disciples are claiming him to be I think that was the emphasis that was going on here so verse 15 isn't immediately all the crowd when they saw him were greatly amazed and ran up ran up to him and greeted him so that they charged forward the crowd wants to see Jesus that's kind of who they've come for they've got these nine disciples whose names are trying to remember you know and then and then Jesus isn't around and Peter James and John aren't around while they see Jesus they run up verse 16 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 it and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid so I asked your disciples to cast it out and they were not they were not able notice how he says in the beginning of his thing I brought my son to you but obviously Jesus isn't there he's up on the mountain doing the Transfiguration stuff so he says so I asked your disciples to cast him out and they couldn't do it brought him to you oh well I got your disciples instead and they couldn't do it the answer to Jesus's question that was really interesting to me because he asks the crowd what are you arguing about and it seems as though the father he just interrupts all that they're probably arguing about why can't your disciples cast this demon out but the father's like wait Jesus is here I don't care what you guys are arguing about I just want help so he kind of interrupts and hijacks the conversation and he says help Jesus please help this is what triggered the argument but it's not what the argument was exactly about I don't think so the father doesn't care about the argument he cares about the problem he has and there's something to be said for the person who cares more about finding help from God than they do about arguing about God don't get me wrong I like debates and interesting discussions about God and I find them informative and thoughtful and I find them interesting but there are some people who are only interested in the argument but they would rather avoid the actual help of God they just want to argue about him because it gives them some benefit that they perceive so at any rate here's the diagnosis the guy says my son has a spirit okay this is not a euphemism for sickness sometimes we use this as a euphemism for sickness in some circles like oh that person's sick he's got a spirit of sickness that person's lazy they have a spirit of laziness that person's you name it they have a spirit of you name it this is seeing spirits everywhere we have these two extremes seeing spirits everywhere in seeing spirits nowhere and these are the two extremes that the Bible would actually probably have us avoid both of those extremes and realize it's a reality but it's not automatic in this case it's a spirit the Gospels do show that spirits the spirits or these demons are personal beings sickness it seems is merely a symptom his actual root issue is this demonic spirit that's messing up with this messing with this boy's life it do do spirits always cause sickness no we've seen that in the text of Scripture that the spirits don't always cause sickness for instance in first Timothy when Paul writes to Timothy he says drink some wine right don't just drink only water drink wine for your many infirmities why isn't why hasn't Paul like pray that the demon of infirmity would be cast out from you Timothy you know no he sees that there is a legitimate medical condition going on here there's no spiritual concern here Paul also who had incredible gifts where God would use him to heal massive numbers of people yet we read that he left a Pafford itis sick in my Letus he's got one of his ministry partners who he leaves and loses an important ministry partner for a season cuz he leaves him sick in my leta stand he the guy almost died Paul left Paul why did you stay there and keep praying and keep praying and keep praying and keep praying until he was healed well because that's not always what you do because life is complicated and God has a variety of ways of dealing with our sickness sometimes healing it sometimes not sometimes healing it over time it's just we got to be more wise than this sort of black-and-white view so the symptoms though that of this spiritual demonic possession the symptoms are there's a few of them one he's mute now this is not focused on much in the Gospel of Mark it's mentioned he's mute right there's not like a strong emphasis we don't even hear about the boy talking after this but we're assuming that he does because Jesus says it was a mute demon or a demon that was causing mutinous mute means he doesn't speak it's like when you mute the remote or the the video you're watching so this is not focused on much in mark and it's actually not even mentioned in Matthew or Luke the other two accounts that record this you know parallel story it's not mentioned at all and this is what Artie fronts says about this he sees the casual mention of the mutinous as having implications about the historicity of the event so let me read it to RT front says well there's nothing improbable in this combination of problems it's interesting that neither Matthew nor Luke mentions a speech defect and Mark's narrative focuses on the epileptic symptoms rather than on the restoration of speech the fact that the boy was also dumb or mute seems to be one of those irrelevant narrative details which mark so often preserves even though it is not where his interest is centered when you see people preserving irrelevant details it increases the credibility of the claims of the you know I know it's the store and Matt was really hard to park that day and then did that they're just sort of recollecting things as they actually happened where are some people fabricate stories they tend to miss those details so accomplished Liars will deliberately put in these sort of irrelevant kind of details to try to make it look more true but you know on a fair measuring of reading a document from history irrelevant kinds of details like that increase the likelihood of its historicity so it's like just another little checkbox on the historicity side of the Gospel of Mark this is what happens when you recount a true story the second symptom not mute it's that it occasionally ceases him the boy gets seized sometimes it comes on worse than other times which means that the the demonic oppression or demonic impact that's happening this boy's life it's just it's occasionally worse than it is at other times I think that's just an interesting thing to something he's sort of constantly afflicted in some respect but it sometimes comes on much worse than others and then the third one or three I'll just group a few together he foams grinds his teeth and becomes rigid this is like what happens when it comes upon him there's a little more inside that we get from the context in verse 22 it says it has often cast him into fire and into water to destroy him so that when these attacks come they don't just come randomly they seem to come at times when an attack would be especially dangerous as though the demons looking for opportunity to try to harm the boy or he can do a certain amount of harm that might lead to even greater harm that's the idea right thrown into fire thrown into water to kill him Matthew 17:15 affirms this as well it says lord have mercy on my son for he is a lunatic and is very ill for he often falls into the fire and often into the water and so the statement is that he's falling into fire and water it's it's often a life-threatening thing this to me and I would be careful how I say this but it seems to me there's a consistent early semi consistent feature of demonic effects is that it's causing self harm that self harm you know for no apparent reason might have some sort of demonic connection might not does might catch that like I said might you guys understand nuance so you could do but but I'm worried about you guys on the internet sometimes so we'll see verse 22 and then Matthew 17:15 seemed to indicate this it earlier in mark the demoniac who is cutting himself he cut himself he would often cut himself the guy that had all the demons in him then we have Judas after Satan enters him he betrays Jesus and the next thing he does is he goes in commit suicide there's another self-harm so I'm just saying perhaps unexplained intuitions towards self-harm or or the self-harm activity of those who seem to be manifesting some symptoms of possession or demonic oppression might be another indicator that this is in fact demonic because it's directed towards self-harm but I don't want to assume anything um it does seem that demonic influence was at a particularly high point during the Ministry of Jesus and that we don't look at the Ministry of Jesus to see a pattern for how often we see demonic possession in our lives in fact most of us probably see it very rarely if ever right you could have any kind of one and the kind of crazy experiences you've seen in your life where you thought that was probably something demonic going on there so that seems to be the norm in fact as we go through the book of Acts we see it's different than the Gospels in that the demonic events and things are are lessened their greatly decreased and so there's a sort of spike in the ministry of Jesus we don't look to see that replicated in every ministry or every life around the world so here's some things we learn here's some things we learn demonic affliction is not one size fits all it's not one size fits all we see a variety of different symptoms and activities going on in people's lives it can manifest in physical symptoms it can manifest in physical symptoms but it doesn't necessarily have to but it can it's it's not however the only cause of those symptoms demon possessions actually distinguished from epileptic seizures in other places in the Bible Matthew chapter 4 verse 24 listen to this list it's it's demonic possession on one side epilepsy on another side it says the news about him spread throughout all Syria and they brought to him all who were ill those suffering with various diseases and pains Demoniacs that's possessed people epileptics paralytics and He healed them so they're not grouped together they're not if it's paralysis or if it's epilepsy or then it's automatically demonic so we see that it can they can cause that but there's also other causes I just think that we can avoid those two extremes the two extremes of it's never demons and it's always demons these are both unwise they're both unwise we do live in a world that has that sort of that spiritual realm going on interacting with us at all times and we should be careful and be thoughtful about it without being fearful we should be aware that it's a real thing okay so that's the man he comes to Jesus and he's like hey help me please this is what's going on with my son let's look at Jesus's answer it's kind of shocking it's not what you'd expect this is one of those moments where modern sensibilities would say Jesus you're not acting like Jesus right because frequently he doesn't act like the kid gloves version of Jesus Jesus full of compassion but sometimes harsh with his words okay that's the reality of him verse 19 it says he answered them Oh faithless generation how long am I to be with you how long am I to bear with you bring him to me first question I have is who is the faithless generation who's he talking about here I think it's all of them I think there's three kind of groups of people here and they're all are demonstrating lack of faith there is the scribes who want to not believe and they're looking for excuses to justify their unbelief that's kind of the perspective that's why they're arguing hi he didn't heal this one thing God didn't heal this thing over here that means that you're wrong about God then there's the disciples perhaps because of weakness of the flesh perhaps perhaps because of some other problem going on whatever it is there seems to be an actual faith issue going on with the disciples in some regard they're with Jesus they believe Jesus in one sense but perhaps they don't have confidence in his power like they should perhaps they don't have confidence in their access to God or God's care for the situation I don't know because previously these same disciples had gone out towns away from Jesus as presents two-by-two and they had cast out demons but this seems to be particularly difficult and it seems to require a particularly strong faith and or I shouldn't say strong faith but it seems like like their faith is more of an issue in this scenario than it was previously when they were casting out demons there's something different about what's going on here the father himself might be a victim of a faithless generation situation here as he's like if you can if you can I don't know for sure if you can I'm just looking for help it's kind of a long shot he's doing a Hail Mary it's the Jesus forgive the expression hmm I do think though that we see Jesus as being so happy to hang out with sinners that we don't realize that that's not the whole story now I'm including myself in the category of sinners here okay isn't the sinners isn't the other that's not the thing Jesus shows us his sinners is the us it's not just the other it's all of us but I don't think he was so elated and so chill and so cool and judgmental that he would just chill with anybody and they could be like sitting in front of him and he was like haha bro I love you Matt I just love you so much I don't even care like I don't think that that's the real biblical Jesus here here's Jesus giving us a little glimpse behind the curtain and he straight-up says like it irritates me to have to be around you how long do I have to bear with you well Mike that's just a pure expression like well no I think it's I think it's a sense of frustration I think if I read it plainly just read the text as its presenting itself how long in Matthew 17 17 it adds this word perverse how long shall I have to bear with you you faithless and perverse generation you people are wicked you're messed up you don't get it it's it's somewhat a little tough for me to be around you Jesus you're not acting like Jesus Jesus you're supposed to go to people and you're supposed to say to them I think you're amazing I think you're amazing I'm so proud of you you're said you're so amazing I just I just I want to be around you so much all I want to do is be around you you're such a your I've lonely without you here it's just like the opposite of this meaning that we're not getting the whole picture in our sort of modern sort of I don't know life coach version of Jesus you know it's he's just so affirming of us don't get me wrong his love is solid it's in place it's there but that's not the only dimension we need to consider consider this it was because of love and because of patience that Jesus was bearing with them even though they're sinful presence was unpleasant to him in some regard he tolerated them in love now if you think Jesus is self-righteous then I would say well yeah I mean he is righteous so he is self he's literally self-righteous in the non hypocritical sense he is righteous in and of himself and so of course he has a different difficulty you might be thinking is about you and how hard it is for you to tolerate sinners I'm like this isn't actually about you or me right it's not about me and how hardest for me to tolerate sinners like no I'm one of them okay this is this is the thing God patient towards us in that in our constant trials and constant struggles and constant sinful behaviors he still tolerates us and he's like how long am i got to bear with you but he's willing to bear with us but let's not act like that it isn't without some some cost on his own you could say he tolerates them in love God always has tolerated us in love it's the reason why the world still exists he's long-suffering not willing that any should perish it's a tolerance thing God is the original preacher of Tolerance it's what real tolerance not not modern confusion about the topic but actual tolerance where it's like yep disagree with you yep you're messed up but I'm gonna I'm gonna wait I'm gonna be patient and be loving towards you giving us time time to come to him so he's always tolerated the world but it's not limited to the world his own disciples seem to be included in this huh it's tough to be around you guys that's his disciples seem to be included in this it's in response to hey I asked your disciples to cast out the demon but they couldn't and then he his next thing is uh I am really grateful for God's patience with me when I think about this I'm like just imagine the thoughts and behaviors that I have done in the past month that have displeased the Lord that have been difficult in some sense for him to be around and that he tolerates me his incredible patience his incredible love waiting on my very slow sanctification as I slowly become more godly and in some cases I've become less godly I'm just amazed by his patience amazed by it and I think we shouldn't take it for granted is the whole thing I'm not deserving I'm just loved I don't deserve it I just am loved it's the natural thing of kids to think that they're owed whatever their parents give them have you noticed like we do this I do this when I was a kid right whatever they give me that's what I'm owed whatever you know like when my birthday comes around I'm owed presents it's my birthday I'm owed presents and we can be treat take us kind of in gratitude towards the Lord and his patience with us in his per severan Slyke waiting on us and all of our constant issues and you're gonna have them until you go to be with them until you're rid of this flesh finally you're gonna continue to have these issues and then heaven the glorious thing is that heaven is gonna be the situation eternity right whether that's a temporary in his presence or if it's finally when heaven meets earth sand the recreation of all things there's not going to be any of this tolerance because we will be fully sanctified fully I mean in his presence there'll be no no one's gonna tolerate anybody at that point not like that not not tolerating sin it's gonna be glorious finally for now he's bearing with me our current culture feels a need to be worthy and to have self assurance and to feel like they're good people that that sense of need perhaps it's because you want to feel good about yourself which I understand I want to feel good about myself too but there's there's a sober reality when you look at yourself and you look at your heart you look at your mind you hold that up to God's actual moral standard and you go yeah he just tolerates me a lot it's kind of what's going on it's not that I'm good it's that I'm loved it's that I'm greatly loved because thinking you have to be feeling good about yourself I think it can cause either arrogance or blindness right arrogance because you think you are good blindness because you're blind to your actual issues I think it can cause those kinds of things if you do happen to see through those issues and you see that you have problems it causes great distress because you think you have to commend yourself to God by your goodness and you have all kinds of distress I can't pray I can't seek the Lord I can't go to church the roof have fallen on me those kinds of things and you're like well you don't understand God's grace God's kindness so I say let it go just be loved just be appreciative just be grateful that's our job is just say thank you for his incredible patience and love for us alright verse 20 it says and they brought the boy to him and this when the spirit saw him something happens when the spirit sees Jesus immediately it convulsed the boy and he fell on the ground and rolled about foaming at the mouth I think that this demon knows that it cannot resist Jesus but it has a different reaction than other demons I know other places you know they come and they bow before Jesus and they're like oh please don't you know cast us out before our time and they they're like worshiping you know I know who you are you're the son of God this one it attacks boy it convulses him perhaps to keep him from coming whatever the reason is I don't know I do think though that this indicates demons have a greater awareness of who Jesus is than we do in many cases they're walking up to Jesus no let's do this let's go see you in the demon season freaks out appropriately right as James says the demons believe and tremble this was kind of a literal experience of that believe in tremble my own limited experience in dealing with people who were caught up in the demonic is that they do react to the name of Jesus I remember talking to a one teenager who was doing all kinds of weird things and when we were discussing things I just mentioned the name Jesus and he took a visible step backwards I didn't mention it religiously I was just talking about God to him you know and and I didn't say anything I said it again in conversation and he takes a step back again and there was just there was more of a spiritual awareness on his part tampering with evil things than there was perhaps even sometimes in the hearts of Christians when they're praying in Jesus name so it's good just to be aware verse 21 it says and Jesus asked his father how long has this been happening to him and he said from childhood and then your heart sinks you're like it's a little boy it's like a little kid and this is not normal this is not like a typical thing that happens this is like totally abnormal so only time we see something like this really that I'm aware of and I don't know what the cause is and we're not given any indication as to why he just seems innocent he just seems like some innocent boy you know like hasn't done something to bring this on him in particular but let's keep that in mind because I think that that weighs in on what we're learning from this story remember how bothersome it is that it's this little boy that's being affected verse 22 and it has often cast him into the fire and into the water to destroy him but if you can do anything have compassion on us and help us jesus said to him if you can like if I could do something all things are possible for one who believes earlier in mark in mark chapter 1 verse 40 there was a leper who said to Jesus if you are willing you can heal me he's just asking if you're willing to heal me or not it's if you will think this is different this is if you can't and it is a shocking idea because of who Jesus is Jesus knows who he is if he's like if if I can and so he kind of rhetorically bluntly puts it back to him if I can he's pointing out the faith issue that's going on here you're not trusting me faith is essential but then when we get to verses like this we come up to some questions like does that mean that if I just have enough faith I can make anything happen anything and if you take Jesus's words you might think that if you take them out of context out of and that is out of context I'd like to put them in context for us Jesus here says all things are possible for one who believes implication anything will happen right if I just have enough faith I just have to stir up that faith now faith is an important factor in prayer we don't to diminish that but but I don't want to misunderstand it either in fact I would say that this man's faith was never super strong he believed but he had unbelief at the same time and Jesus still heals Jesus still heals with unbelief mixed in with belief which means it's not about this strong super strong faith that he builds up it was just about choosing to trust Christ the simplicity of faith when Jesus talks later about having enough faith he talks about having a mustard seed a mustard seed of faith in other words it's not about how much you have you just have to have it if the choose faith that's important but also it's not as though anything without qualification is going to happen if you believe God for it I don't think that's the case scripture qualifies it let me give you an mark where he qualifies it there's another place where Jesus used the phrase all things are possible all things are possible well it's in mark 14 verses 35 and 36 listen to how Jesus prays he knows all things are possible he believes right he says any went a little beyond them and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible the hour might pass by him and he was saying and listen to his prayer Abba Father all things are possible for you remove this cup from me yet not what I will but what you will that would be a faith filled prayer submitted to God's will now I've heard prosperity style preachers or health and wealth kind of preachers mostly health preachers I guess nowadays some of the wealth ones do it too but sometimes they shy away from talking about wealth because it just looks so bad on him but the health preachers and they'll say don't pray if you are willing God yet we have multiple examples in Scripture of this and we have an example from Jesus from Jesus himself and he says yet not what I not what I will but what you will so I think that we have a good sample there that faith isn't essential it's super important you must have it but it's not a guarantee result because God's will is what we're asking for here his plan his purpose is yielded to his will verse 24 it says immediately the father of the child cried out and said I believe help my unbelief and to me this is such an important verse I remember years ago when I sort of discovered it I know I had read it before but when I discovered it in the middle of my own trial of doubt having lots of questions that I didn't have answers to yet and nobody I knew had answers to them I didn't want to ask them the questions I was questioning about because I thought they've never even thought about this and it's just gonna mess him up I remember going through all that and you know yeah I ended up finding answers took awhile found some answers found good answers took awhile took some work had to look for the answers but man this this scripture was so important to me I believe help my unbelief this means that faith is not always without doubt or unbelief that belief is not the absence of all unbelief or all feelings of unbelief now I like certainty but there is sort of an unhealthy commitment to having certainty that a lot of Christians have some Christians have incredible confidence they there's like no wavering of any kind and that's ideal I want that I don't want to demonize that or act like that's a bad thing that's a good thing that's a wonderful thing but it's not a necessary thing that's all I'm saying it is not necessary that every Christian have 100% total confidence in certainty it's not necessary for you to be a Christian to have that but when Christians who feel that incredible confidence when they encounter believers who are doubting it it doesn't make sense to them and that's fine maybe they're more spiritually clear minded about this maybe it's the one who's doubting that's got all kinds of fog going on and confusion and things like that but still we can have compassion on people who are doubting and we can say hey you don't have to have certainty to believe in Jesus what that's right you don't have to have certainty to believe in Jesus although ideally you have a very high degree of certainty it's not required in all honesty I think you can be a Christian if you just feel like you've got better reason to trust in Christ and you do not trust in Christ you may have questions and unanswered issues that go both ways but you decide I will trust in you lord it's that decision to trust him that's where faith comes in it doesn't mean it's blind no you have reasons for it sure good reasons for it but it doesn't mean you have to answer every question there is this thing where some believers they think if I can't answer every single apologetic question then I can't really have confidence in Christ if I don't know how to prove the exodus really happened then I can't have confidence in Christ if I don't know how to prove that Paul really wrote you know whatever the the book of Philemon then I can't have confidence in Christ if I don't know how to show that the New Testament hasn't been changed over time then I can't have confidence and it's it's weird because it and then skeptics take advantage of this in fact skeptics some of them are skeptics because they felt that way right and so then they come and let's take advantage of this you know I think unwise thinking not really entirely rational thinking by by hitting Christians with questions what about what about what about what about what about what about and then forget what all the questions you can answer let's just find one or two you can't answer that you don't know the answer to and now let's try to imply that you should abandon your faith in Christ rethink your commitment to Christ because of it over the years I I was that guy who felt like I had to answer every question and after a while I was like this is like monumentally unwise I mean I don't know how to answer every question about anything that doesn't mean I can't believe anything I mean if that's my bar for belief in things then I'm gonna be a very unstable individual now skeptics sometimes get out of this by only setting the bar that high when it comes to God and religion and then they set the bar really low when it comes to other topics in life so they can sort of maintain what they feel is rational unbelief along with being able to accept lesser evidence for other things and that's that's kind of where the argument goes it's like well what kind of evidence do you need extraordinary evidence by which who knows what people mean by extraordinary evidence it's kind of a nonsense term all I need is better reason to believe than to disbelieve and even if all you have is the testimony of the work of God in your life that is that's kind of a big deal let's see I know God changed my life and I really feel like I'm in a relationship with Christ and like why is that not a good reason to trust in him now now over time I've walked through my checklist and I've demonstrated for myself my own to my satisfaction that the Bible's inspired of God that it has been delivered to us faithfully over the years that there is actually fulfilled prophecy that Jesus really is the Messiah that he really did rise again and I've checked off all these boxes I didn't want to know how to check off but in my pursuit of apologetics I also realized that there was this bad epistemology we'll call it it's like how you how you know what no what you know kind of thing there's a bad view of how to learn things how to know things are true that was hiding behind my pursuit of apologetics that was this idea that I had to prove everything to believe anything like you have to prove that the flood was global to believe in Jesus I want you to imagine how hard of a bar this is for average Christians because most of us are completely unequipped to even discuss those type of topics how much do you understand about plate tectonics just please spit it out for me and I'm supposed to like have a debate about plate tectonics to believe in Jesus it's it's fine to say I just don't know the answer here but I have good reasons to trust in Christ I don't have to answer every question I think it's a healthy position to be in doesn't mean we don't need to have good reasons for our faith we have to have good reasons for our faith we do it just means I don't have to answer every potential question to believe in Christ I just have to have good reasons so I personally had varying degrees of certainty plus there's issues of psychological doubt versus intellectual doubt intellectual doubt I would I would classed these as like an actual reason to disbelieve right intellectual doubt is like there's all this evidence against some core doctrine of my faith okay there's a lot of good evidence to say Jesus didn't rise that would be intellectual doubt I don't think there's any good evidence but let's suppose there was that be intellectual doubt psychological doubts more like this I know I have all these good reasons to believe in the resurrection Jesus but what if I'm wrong what if that's psychological doubt psychological doubt and these the what-ifs fears are not healthy for human beings in any area of your life any area of your life we we just we can't fight them with intellectual answers anyways right because no matter of what good reasons you have to think that such-and-such won't happen or such-and-such isn't the case psychological doubt doesn't care those reasons it's just sort of fear sitting upon you if you're experiencing psychological doubt that's when steps of faith are required obedience to Christ in your life pursuing the Lord and being patient and waiting on God and to know that you can unbeliev and believe at the same time in Christ will embrace you that's my my psychological fears and doubts but I do choose to trust you Lord if it's intellectual doubt you take the core issues that matter you sift through what really matters find the issues chase it down study it do the research find the answers and that will help the intellectual side so yeah so anyways I love this help my believe help my unbelief I think it's great encouragement to those who are struggling with psychological emotional doubt or even some intellectual doubt is Lord I'm struggling right now but I'm choosing to trust you and Jesus does receive you because what does he do next he heals the boy he heals him meaning this is acceptable faith verse 25 and when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together on their drawn by the return of Jesus and them running together triggers Jesus to heal the boy okay he's gonna do it quickly maybe to avoid the whole crowd cramming in first perhaps he rebuked the unclean spirit saying to it you mutant deaf spirit I command you come out of him and never enter him again and after crying out and convulsing him terribly and noticed this this is the weird part Jesus commands the spirit and then he doesn't come out immediately cries out and convulses the boy terribly then it comes out and the boys like a corpse so that most of them said he's dead keep that in mind verse 27 but Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up and he arose so I see this exorcism although I don't know if this is actually the right term to use for this but I see it as in two stages one it's the removal of the spirit and two it's the restoration of the Bott of the boy there's first the removal the spirit then the restoration of the boy happens in sort of two stages which is unique this is very different we don't see this with the other accounts when there when the spirit removed its permanent Jesus is like and never enter him again it's permanent in this case as opposed to other ones where he warned someone hey don't you know sin no more or less the worst thing happened to you or he talks about a demon being cast out but then it might potentially come back not in this case nope is this permanent it's over now it's all over Jesus here was different than the culture around them Craig keener talks about the exorcisms of the Jews of the time it says exorcists usually tried to subdue demons by incantations invoking higher spirits by using smelly roots or by pain compliance techniques these are these are the ways they would do it Jesus here uses only his command showing his great Authority this is counter the culture so this is the thing they would have noticed when they saw Christ just command this demon out and that's it it has to go which brings up the question is it right to call Jesus an exorcist he's often called an exorcist by people and like literature and stuff the word is used of some Jewish exorcist in the book of Acts but in the Bible Jesus has never actually called an exorcist and possibly this is because exorcism implies a ritual like what they would go through to to try to get a demon out there but do like a whole procedure of some kind that's an exorcism there was an exorcism so there's gathered incantations invoking higher spirits smelly roots spells hundred troops I don't want to know what roots they want to know anyway these types of things pain compliance which sounds horrible sounds like torturing the person Jesus just commands him out so there's no ritual involved with Jesus it's purely as Authority now we need both of these things we need the removal of this of the of the demonic and we need the restoration of our bodies we need both of these things in our lives as well deliverance from Satan and the restoration to life in Christ I think we need both of those things an interesting thing there but now I want to share some parallels because here's where I see I think the gospel is tied into this story I think here we are in the heart of the Gospel of Mark and in the Gospel of Mark right here at the heart chapter 8 chapter 9 it's about the death and resurrection of Christ it is focused like a laser on the death and resurrection of Jesus and here in the heart of the gospel mark focused on the death and resurrection we have a random statement random story about an exorcism after Jesus has performed a bunch but there are some unique elements here that do seem to relate to even Jesus's death and resurrection so let's talk about those parallels and the way I think we can get our head wrapped around this is think about it from the disciples experience think if you were one of the disciples and you were there one of the nine you would already cast out demons but this guy shows up Jesus is up on the mountain doing something with somebody who's doing stuff right and you can't do it and you're embarrassed and then the scribes and the Pharisees come and they're like trying to say that see you guys are wrong and your failure is proving that you're wrong and now you're doubting to the point where Jesus calls you part of this faithless and perverse generation so they could not help the boy they couldn't help the boy just like they couldn't stop the cross I think the boy here is similar to Jesus they couldn't stop the cross they couldn't help the boy they couldn't stop the affliction from what was happening they see this as an insurmountable problem just as I saw the cross as an inter mountable problem with a fled they were despondent they lost faith Jesus shows up and the disciples are there and they're thinking maybe Jesus can do this maybe he can't we tried to heat it we did it in his name and nothing happened maybe he can't maybe he can't so they perhaps don't have faith for this particular event that's what's implied the disciples don't have faith for this particular event just like they didn't have faith for the death and resurrection of Christ it was after he rose their faith was restored but not at the time when Jesus approaches the problem gets worse right he approaches the demons sees Jesus and starts freaking out this doesn't look good to them they're think you see this is it's getting worse instead of better this isn't typical for the demons they don't act up like this generally when Jesus commands the spirit to come out it gets even worse now think about this Jesus finally says okay come out of him and now they're watching to see okay it's gonna is gonna work and the boy shakes even worse falls down and then he looks like he's dead and most of the people there think he is dead what message does this send about Jesus he failed that would be the impression this is this is at the moment your now we know the whole story so we just we like rewrite past that but I think they're thinking it looks like he's failing this is a unique element in the story that's unlike any exorcism that we read about the boy not only does it look perhaps like a failure but the boy looks like he's dead this was like a dramatic pause there was some sort of moment of time where they were thinking the boy's dead they're discussing it they're like I think he's dead Jesus is letting this play out I think they would have thought their worst fears are confirmed the demon might have won and after the cross this is exactly what it looked like here's Jesus he goes to the cross the forces of darkness coming against him and there they are they're kind of like thinking this isn't gonna he's not gonna make it but maybe he will and they're waiting and they're waiting and they're waiting and he dies on the cross and they're like he's dead it's over it's over he's dead we've lost our hope the next thing that happens verse 27 Jesus holds his hand out and it says and the boy arose what happened after Jesus died on the cross he arose I think this might be a parallel to the death and resurrection of Christ in some cases it's sin no more um but no no here it's permanent it's like boom that's it end of story the battle with that demon is permanently over and just like the death and resurrection of Christ was the permanent victory over Satan over the forces of darkness as well I know that it bothers me when I read about this little boy having a possession because he seems so innocent and now I can see how that could be a parallel to Christ because here he is innocently suffering innocently suffering the results of our fall the results of our failures the results of our sins now I do think that this is actually a step by step you know put there by the Holy Spirit meant to look like the cross meant to picture the cross it fits in that place in the Gospel of Mark there's multiple things in the past few chapters that are 8 9 that are all about the cross and the death and resurrection of Christ then we also have the the unique elements of this resurrect of this exorcism or the casting out of this demon the unique elements themselves are the things that lend towards this sort of analogy to the cross this makes me feel it's intentional by the Holy Spirit but there's one more element I'll mention and that is that this may reflect another mark in Sandwich we've been talking about sandwiches in the Gospel of Mark that is right where there's like a there's like a story that starts and then there's like something interrupts it then there's a story that finishes well in Chapter 9 verse 12 Jesus asks his disciples how is it written of the Son of Man that he will suffer many things and be treated with contempt and they're struggling with this like he's gonna die he's gonna rise like how do we he's is this an analogy like they don't understand how this will work because they're thinking it just can't happen then after this story the very next thing that happens verses 30 through 32 Jesus again tells them he's gonna die and rise again so there's the sandwich king device is those two phrases verse 12 and then verse 30 through 32 and in the middle you have this apparent what looks like a failure but is actually a great victory and it's matched with the disciples lacking faith and all these elements that look just like the death and resurrection of Jesus in my opinion I don't know why else this story would be here why is this random exorcism here in the middle of mark 9 if it's not about that I couldn't figure out reason this is where mark turns to the cross and where belief in the cross is asked for and rejected by the disciples at least temporarily all right let's finish the story verse 28 and when he 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 now in some translations it's gonna say prayer and fasting I don't know the right rendering here this is a textual issue in some manuscripts it has and fasting and other manuscripts it does not basically in a couple very like highly respected manuscripts it just says prayer and it doesn't say and fasting but these are very highly respected manuscripts and in both of them it doesn't have this phrase fasting but in the majority of other manuscripts a large majority it's and fasting and so there's like a discussion of debate on whether or not prayer and fasting belongs and I think the majority believe it doesn't belong which is why it's reflected that way in this translation so yeah this is one of those textual ones where I don't know the right answer this is one of those places where the right text is either in the text or it's in the footnote you'll see a footnote in your Bible that'll say some manuscripts say and fasting more most Majors and so here's where you're like it's not like do we have the Word of God it's more like which one of these is correct we don't know it's between these two options I'm not sure and I don't have the the the conclusion there but I do think that the application is probably gonna be about the same which is to say they obviously tried prayer in some sense we tried to cast out this demon it's like they did it without praying hey get out like I mean obviously they've done this before they've done these things before there's something unique about this particular demon it seems to be a different kind of demon in fact Jesus says this kind does not come out except by prayer well this would imply this is a different stronger more stubborn more difficult demonic thing which means that demons are not all just totally identical there are different strengths just like with humans we have different degrees of power and strength like I'm like nine out of ten almost you guys are like a six sorry I can't help it if those online they were all laughing hysterically you just can't hear them on the microphone don't laugh now now they know yeah so different demons that they're not all identical but the application I think is simple it's that prayer as a discipline gives us does provide us with greater strength to deal with bigger issues in life more powerful demons or just struggles that we're going through harder things we're going through that prayer not only as something you do but as a discipline I think that's the emphasis here my opinion prayer is a discipline I think that it's good for us to remind ourselves that prayer is supposed to be a discipline something we do regularly something we do intentionally something we do when we plan and then we engage in on purpose prayer is powerful and continuous prayer is also powerful let me close at this example in acts 12 we read about Peter who is put into prison right the the the other church members leaders and stuff gathered together and they were praying continually for him verse acts 12 5 it says Peter therefore was kept in prison but prayer was made without ceasing of the church in unto God for him so they're praying continually it's a regular ongoing continual prayer and this is interesting because this is your prayer combined with some degree of doubt I think let me read to you why Acts 12 verses 12 verses 12 through 16 says and when he realized this this is after Peter realizes he's been set free because an angel sets him free he thinks he's dreaming or something and he's like wait a minute this is real so it says he went to the house of Mary the mother of John who was also called mark and where many were gathered together and were praying when he knocked at the door of the gate a servant girl named Rhoda came and answered when she recognised Peter's voice because of her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate they said to her you're out of your mind like he's in prison like here they are praying right it seems Lord please get Peter out of this he's there hey it's me he's there I hear him it's his voice no you're crazy Road you guys know Rhoda she's a little you know I don't know I'm just I don't know what was going on but at any point they don't immediately believe it they don't even think let's get up and check right they just dismiss her off hand then they said to her you're out of your mind but she kept insisting that it was so they kept saying it's his angel but Peter continued knocking and when they had opened the door they saw him and were amazed they were amazed I think this is perhaps an example of this kind of thing where again we get belief and unbelief kind of mixing together but the important thing for a faithful II praying Christian even if they're struggling with things to continue in that discipline of Prayer and it has a big impact not only I guess a demon but against whatever the things are that are going on we still pray for God's will we still wait on him and his answers we don't control things he does thank God but the discipline of Prayer is important it's a good reminder for us so let's pray Lord we yield to your will we yield to your control we yield to your sovereignty and authority in our lives we don't know what the future holds but we know who holds the future but now we pray we pray for the nation around us we pray for Christians around us in particular right now Lord we lift up the church that the church would be calm faith-filled reasonable and really wise we pray Lord that we would be wise people who don't respond to gossip but who respond to what's really going on around us with great wisdom we pray Lord that you would give us that awareness when we're struggling with any of us who might be struggling with doubt that there is there is a ability to choose to trust God in the midst of those types of trials and that it is you respond to it Lord it's enough it's enough just like that man when he believed and didn't believe at the same time it was enough so grateful Lord that you meet us there in our weaknesses and our confusion and our hard times we pray that you be glorified in our lives and that you would remind us even moving forward after tonight after this this time in your word that you remind us about prayer the the essential nature of being in prayer on a regular basis lest we come to trials that were not equipped handle because of our lack of prayer in Jesus name Amen

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