Thursday, May 24th. Mark 9:20-29

And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’


When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ 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 was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’ Mark 9:20-29


This is a roller coaster of a story.  As we saw yesterday, the scribes and the disciples  have been arguing with one another, ignoring a troubled dad standing there with a suffering son.  Jesus arrives and takes over.


Notice that when the boy is brought to Jesus his suffering immediately gets worse.  We see that and remember all the times in our lives we have been told that it will get worse before it gets better.  Now the boy is rolling on the ground with foam forming on his lips.  If we don’t take the time to notice this text in our minds we will miss the horror of it.  Blithely reading the words allows us to pass over the pain, the noise and the disruption.  If this is an emergency room, we would more likely find it at a psychiatric hospital than the normally more quiet suffering of a general admission sort of place.


Then the text picks up speed on the downslope and it jostles us intellectually and emotionally.  Jesus assures us that there is great power in believing (which to us is both encouraging and troubling.)  Anticipating that we might be troubled to be so subtly reminded of our lack of trust, the father rescues us with a prayer that has brought great encouragement to me at key times in my life, “I believe; help my unbelief.”


With a loud voice, Jesus exorcises the demon.  The boy is made well.  Strangely, unlike so many other healing stories, we don’t hear a word of reaction from the father or the boy, only the mistaken guess of the crowd that perhaps Jesus killed the boy rather than healing him.


Only then, at the very end, do we hear the disciples question Jesus about why they were unable to help…suggesting that they had been trying but were unable, hence the initial argument with the scribes.  And the story ends with those haunting words from Jesus, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” which leaves us, to this day, wondering about the depth, the purpose, the power, of our own prayers.


A roller coaster ride.  When it is done, the disciples head off in one direction, wondering what they have just witnessed can teach them about prayer. And in the other direction, a profoundly grateful father and a newly healed son return home with a brand new lease on life.


Such things happen when love comes to town.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, this story reminds us of all of the hurting children and troubled parents who reach out to you for healing and hope.  We know some are healed and some are not.  This is an often painful mystery to us.  Yet we continue to pray, we continue to trust, which we believe is our part.  Healing is up to you.  We believe; help our unbelief.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Thursday, May 24th. Mark 9:20-29”

  1. Tina Peterson Says:

    I don’t remember ever hearing or reading the phrase, “this kind can only come out by prayer.” It is kind of creepy thinking that there are multiple types of demons, each with it’s own achilles heel. Sometimes the supernatural part of Christianity makes me very uncomfortable, and this is one of the scenes that brings it out. Thank God for Jesus’ saving power! Thank God for the Holy Spirit!

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