And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. — Mark 9:24
Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we are helpless and in desperate need of God’s power to deliver us. That happened to me not many winters ago, when I was driving alongside a river on a snow-covered, two-lane state highway. That day, I had traveled over one hundred miles when suddenly I found that the van was no longer responding to the steering wheel, and I was heading toward the river. Many thoughts raced through my mind in those few split seconds, but I only had time to say, “O Lord!” twice before I was heading down the steep bank into the river.
I expected to get a face full of icy water the next instant and be fighting for my life, but the van rolled once and landed upright in the river. Water came in through the damaged side door, but I was able to open the window and get onto the roof. As the van had rolled, it had knocked down a small tree, and I climbed on that to the riverbank. The only part of me that got wet was my feet, and I walked away with only a small scratch. It truly was a miracle!
Even though I could do nothing as the van went over the bank, I really believed that God could help me in the situation, and I instinctively cried out to Him. My faith was based on His help to me in the past. Years before, the Lord had come into my life and saved me, sanctified my soul, and filled me with His Holy Spirit. He had healed my body, and helped through many stressful and dangerous situations, when I had no control over the outcome. So in that moment of helplessness, I knew where to turn.
The man in today’s text was humanly helpless, and had watched his son suffer for a long time. He pled that Jesus would help if He could, and Jesus caused him to understand the necessity of believing. He cried for help with his faith, and Jesus responded and cured his son.
When we ask the Lord to do something for us, we also must believe that He really is able to do what we ask. On some occasions, we may identify with the man in the text and pray, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” At such times, God will hear and help us believe. In sudden situations, with only split seconds to lift our hearts to God, or in on-going difficulties such as the one this man in Jesus’ time faced, we can have a solid faith that God will work on our behalf.
In Mark 9, Jesus was in His third year of ministry, and most of His disciples had been with Him for two years or longer. During that time, they had seen Jesus calm the stormy sea, feed the multitudes, walk on water, and bring Jairus’s daughter back to life. Earlier in His ministry, He had also given them power to cast out demons and heal. Yet in today’s text, when Jesus was not with them, their faith was weak and they could not help the epileptic child that the father brought to them. The scribes were quick to exploit this weakness and “question” or debate with them. Therefore, Jesus descended from the Mount of Transfiguration to a scene of argument between His followers and religious leaders of the day, and despair on the part of the father.
The phrase “were greatly amazed” may mean that Jesus’ arrival took the crowd by surprise. It may also indicate that His face was still glistening from the Transfiguration. Whatever the cause of the amazement, the people quickly looked to Jesus for a resolution of the discussion.
When Jesus said, “O faithless generation,” He referenced the unbelief of the entire population, not just the disciples. Mark carefully documented the drastic state of the child, making it clear the situation was not temporary. The foul spirit caused muteness and life-threatening convulsions.
The father demonstrated despair and uncertainty of Jesus’ power when he said, “If thou canst do any thing.” However, Jesus quickly clarified that His power was sufficient, but faith was necessary to receive the deliverance. The father’s plea for help with his faith was answered, and Jesus gave the boy permanent healing. Later, when the disciples asked Jesus why they could not help the boy, He indicated that faith strong enough for this type of victory came only through persistent prayer.
After this scene, which probably took place in the area of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus passed through Galilee, leaving the crowds so He would have an opportunity to teach the disciples. This was the beginning of His last trip to Jerusalem, and here He gave His second emphatic prediction of His upcoming death. However, the disciples did not understand. Some of their lack of understanding may have been because they were focused on Jesus establishing an earthly kingdom.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The instructions of the Son of God
E. Instructions concerning His power and human helplessness (9:14-29)
F. Instructions concerning His death (9:30-32)
If we maintain a life of daily prayer and desire to walk with the Lord, when we need God’s help, we can call on Him with the full assurance that He is willing and able to undertake for us.