If You Can Do Anything
June 9, 2021
And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:21-24).
This is the parallel text to Matthew 17:14-18. John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, was not a disciple of Jesus, but a disciple of Peter, who was the spokesman for the 12 disciples. This added information on the event of the demon possessed boy came from Peter as he mentored John Mark many years later.
The father said, But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us. Jesus replied, If You can? All things are possible to him who believes. The father said, I do believe; help my unbelief. Is there a difference in faith between this father and the leper who came to Jesus (Matthew 8:1-4) and said, Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean? I don’t believe so.
The leper was desperate for Jesus to heal him and came to Jesus knowing Jesus could heal him if Jesus was willing to do so. The father of the boy was also desperate for Jesus to heal his son and came to Jesus knowing Jesus could heal him. But his words, ‘if you can’, do not reveal a lack of faith. Rather they reveal the extent to which the boy had suffered under demon possession. He had been thrown into fire and into water. His convulsions were such that he became stiff like a board. No doubt bones had been broken, muscles torn, skin and muscle destroyed, injuries to the head, etc. He was in such bad shape the father felt his son might be beyond help. He came to Jesus for help - that was faith. Whether or not the boy could be physically saved from the effects of demon possession - well, that remained to be seen.
Sometimes desperate situations cause us to cry out to God for help or deliverance. The fact that we cry out to the Lord demonstrates a certain amount of faith in Him. But even then, the situation can be so grave that we wonder if God is able to fully restore us to health or deliver us from a situation unscathed. Sometimes He does, as in the case of the leper, the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22), the paralytic (Mark 2:3-12), blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), and this demon possessed boy. Sometimes He doesn’t (see 2 Corinthians 12:3-10).
The father of his poor boy responded honestly to Jesus, which all of us should when He confronts us in our faith - I do believe; help my unbelief. We will consider these words tomorrow.
“Lord Jesus, remind us daily of Your sovereign power and authority over all things in life. Remind us not to assume You will automatically help us without our asking, nor presume that You will help us in way we ask. May we always come to You asking that Your will be done in every situation, every circumstance, every problem we face. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”