Fatherhood is under
assault all across America.
Every study on the state
of the American family tells the same story.
Families and parenting over the last twenty-five
years have followed a radical departure from human
history. The result is indescribable damage to our
culture and the future of our society.
authorities on child rearing tell us that
"fatherhood is unimportant." Since fatherhood is
gender-based, they say it is no long needed, and can
therefore be altered at will.
They claim men in general
are part of the social problem in the world. They
see the transformation of society being accomplished
only as the gender role is changed. They have
created a "new father for a new age." The only
problem is the "new father" does not exist. He is a
father without gender roles. They do not want a
father image. Do away with him; get rid of him. Make
fatherlessness the norm.
Instead of a father let a
boy friend, male friend or extended member of the
family occasionally act as a father substitute and
only when needed.
A good father is not
perfect. He simply loves his wife and his children.
He understands gender roles and the important role
played by a father in the family. He is responsible
for his family.
When we talk about the
Fatherhood of God many people don't have the
faintest idea how to identify with a healthy,
wholesome father. They only thing they can relate to
their mother’s new boy friend or a substitute
You are an endangered
species if you are taking your responsibilities as a
father seriously. You are becoming rare, indeed.
In the Gospel of Mark
chapter nine, we encounter Jesus and a desperate
father. He is a good father, and we will assume from
the context a spiritual leader in the home, a role
model, and provider for his family. He takes his
responsibilities seriously. He loves his son, and he
is a father who is hurting. He is a man with a son
in a hopeless situation.
As we watch Jesus
reaching out to this hurting father it is important
for us to keep in mind what is happening to Christ.
The time of the encounter with a desperate father is
the day after the transfiguration of Jesus. He along
with Peter, James and John descend from the summit
of the mountain into the plain below. They left the
radiant light of the transfiguration experience to
go into the shadows of shame and confusion below.
On that occasion Peter,
James and John witnessed Jesus, Moses and Elijah
talking about the coming death and resurrection of
Jesus. "And He was transfigured before them; and His
garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no
launderer on earth can whiten them" (Mark 9:2-3).
The very divine, inner nature that had been hidden
in His fleshly body was expressed before them in
that same body. The normal outward expression of our
Lord in His humiliation was that of a man acquainted
with grief, the frail human weakness of man and
aware of the brokenness of mankind. All of a sudden
that outward expression was changed. Out of His
inmost being shone the dazzling glory of the essence
of deity which He possessed co-eternally with the
Father and the Spirit. The radiance of His glory
suddenly shone through His humanity and through His
clothing. Matthew tells us, "His face did shine."
This outpouring of glory came from within as the
Lord of glory. It was like the light of sunshine on
pure gold, or the flash of a large carat pure
diamond. The Shekinah glory cloud overshadowed them,
like in the days of Moses in the Tabernacle on the
mercy seat. A voice came from the cloud saying,
"This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" (v. 7). It
is from that experience we see Jesus with the three
disciples coming into the mainstream of humanity
with its desperate suffering.
DOUBLE DESPAIR OF THE
Jesus came back to the
nine disciples whom He had left in the valley. There
was a "large crowd around then, and some scribes
arguing with them" (v. 14). It was a rowdy scene.
The scribes were squabbling with the disciples. From
the context they were probably ridiculing and
harassing the disciples for their failure to cast
out a demon from a boy. They had tried to heal a boy
and had failed. No doubt the scribes were delighting
in the failure and were taunting them. With the
gathering crowd watching, the scribes were making
the best of the opportunity to criticize and
belittle their Master. The scribes seized the
opportunity to put down the Savior. They judged
Jesus by judging His disciples. They still do.
"And immediately, when
the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed, and
began running up to greet Him" (v. 15).
The people saw Jesus and
were astonished at seeing Him. His presence caught
them by surprise. They were completely amazed. I
really don't think it was the radiance of the
transfiguration lingering on Him because He had
sternly warned Peter, James and John not to mention
a word of it until after Jesus rose from the dead
Imagine the feeling
rushing through the veins of the disciples:
confused, glad, ashamed, delighted to see Him,
betrayed, failure, questioning, and desperation.
Perhaps the response of
the scribes was an, "Oh, no! Not now."
Jesus asked them, "What
are you discussing with them? (v. 16).
I believe they were all
amazed because of the sudden appearance of Jesus
just at the time when He was most needed by His
disciples and a hurting father. It came as a shock
that He should suddenly appear at a time when the
disciples had just miserably failed to help in a
desperately cruel situation. Not only are the
disciples humiliated, but also the desperate father
is driven further into despair. The scribes are
cheering. Suddenly, Jesus appears almost out of no
where when He is not expected, yet He is needed and
His name is being profaned. His timing is always
Perhaps from the tone of
His voice they sensed His authority and the crowd
In the midst of the crowd
the agonizing voice of a severely hurting father
seizes the opportunity and answered Jesus. Perhaps
he thinks there is one last chance. I am the reason
for the commotion. He says, "Teacher, I brought You
my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him
mute; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him to
the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his
teeth, and stiffens out. And I told Your disciples
to cast it out, and they can not do it" (vv. 17-18).
It is a cry of
desperation. Perhaps, maybe You can do something
Your disciples can't do.
This terrible situation
was more than an epileptic deaf-mute child. This was
not a case of simple epilepsy. An unclean spirit
brought on this inhumane condition. The boy was
demon-possessed. It was a far more complicated case
because the forces of evil were turned against him.
The evil spirit "dashes
him to the ground" (v. 17). The idea is to take hold
of him as to take possession of him. The evil spirit
makes the boy its own possession. It seizes the boy
and pulls him down. And when it has the boy down on
the ground it causes convulsions. The boy gnashes
his teeth, shrills with a loud cry, and is left in a
The child probably had
scars from where he had fallen into the fire.
The disciples were
powerless in this situation. The scribes were
probably gloating over the disciple's failure. Ever
wonder how many times this father had cried out to
God for help? Doesn't your heart go out to the child
and his father?
You can hear the father's
strong appeal echoing in the crowd, "Help us at
once." Wuest expands the father's words forcefully,
"But if you are able to do anything, help us at
once, having had compassion upon us."
How would your faith
respond in this kind of situation?
DARKNESS OF DOUBTING
In verse nineteen Jesus
responds to everyone in earshot. "O unbelieving
generation, how long shall I be with you? How long
shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!"
Everyone present lacked
faith that takes possession of demons. The father of
the child, the disciples of Jesus and the scribes
were all faithless.
Jesus wholly trusted in
the heavenly Father, why couldn't His disciples
trust Him? It was painful for Him to have to "put up
with" all of them. Were they hopeless? Could He dare
trust the future of the kingdom of God into their
hands? He was preparing them for His soon departure.
If they could not take possession of one demon in a
child, how could they take the kingdom of God to all
the ends of the earth and conquer demons worldwide?
Everything depended upon them. Not only do we see
the anguish of the father, but also the anguish of
Jesus as He sees the faithless condition of His
I think the demon saw the
situation and tried to take advantage of it. In a
fierce expression of His contempt for Jesus the
demon took possession of the boy. "Immediately the
spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to
the ground, he began rolling about and foaming at
the mouth" (v. 20).
Mark well the attitude of
the demon toward the presence of Jesus. "When he saw
Him [Jesus] immediately the spirit threw him [the
boy] into a convulsion . . ." The evil spirit tried
to kill the boy right in the front of the Creator.
The convulsion occurred at the very moment when the
demon saw Jesus. The demon "grievously" convulsed
This had been going on
ever since he was a child (v. 21). "And it has often
thrown him both into the fire and into the water to
destroy him" (v. 22).
The intense, tender love
of the father for his son can be heard in his one
last plea. "But if You can do anything, take pity on
us and help us!" (v. 22).
The response of Jesus is
equally as intense. "The question is not whether I
am able but whether you believe," is a good
paraphrase by Hendriksen. Jesus places a strong
emphasis on faith on this occasion.
"If you can! All things
are possible to him who believes" (v. 23). It is a
play on words in the original. "If you can (dunei),
all things can be (dunata) possible to those
who believe." As to your "if you can," "All things
are possible to him who believes."
Matthew shares with us a
little more of the evidence. He quotes Jesus when He
was with all of the disciples privately. "Because of
the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to
you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall
say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and
it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to
you" (Matthew 17:20). They have faith less than a
grain. It only takes a grain of faith.
I hear a lot of people in
our day trying to "work up the faith" with loud
shouting and screaming as if God is deaf and they
have to wake Him up. Faith of a grain of mustard
seed is simple trust in the living One.
What was the response of
the father? Verse twenty-four, "Immediately the
boy's father cried out and began saying, 'I do
believe; help me in my unbelief.'"
It is an inarticulate,
"eager, fear-stricken cry" of faith.
"Help" is boetheo
meaning "to run to the cry" of someone in danger. We
hear the cry of a small child and we drop everything
and run in the direction of the crying. He asked for
continuous help for his unbelief. "Be all the time
helping my unbelief." It was an instant response to
the demand of Jesus for full trust in Him. "I am
believing. Be constantly helping my weak faith."
Hendriksen translates, "Continue moment by moment
and day by day to come to my aid, so that I may
overcome my unbelief."
Thank God for the
compassion of Jesus. He doesn't just sweep the man
aside saying you are faithless. I cannot help you.
Jesus first met the spiritual need of the father by
bringing him to a focused faith.
DELIVERANCE FROM A
Privacy, even in such a
delicate situation, was impossible. The crowd,
probably hearing the cries of the father and son,
converged on a single point, perhaps from several
directions. No one wanted to miss out on a miracle.
Jesus "rebuked the
unclean spirit, saying to it, 'You deaf and dumb
spirit, I command you come out of him and do not
enter him again'" (v. 25). The idea is come out of
him and stay out. Do not enter him again.
The command of Jesus to
the demon is sharp and firm. Jesus commanded him to
come out and stay out. How beautiful is the
cleansing of Jesus.
"And after crying out and
throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out;
and the boy became so much like a corpse that most
of them said, 'he is dead!'" (v. 26). Swete
observes, "The convulsions were violent and
prolonged, and when they ceased, the sufferer's
strength was exhausted; a collapse followed; he lay
motionless and pallid as a corpse." The boy
resembled a dead body flat on the ground.
It must have been a
frightening scene. The demon uses the boy's vocal
organs to let out a loud shriek. The boy on the
ground is convulsing terribly with muscle spasms,
and then becomes rigid as if dead.
"Jesus took him by the
hand and raised him; and he got up" (v. 27). He was
instantly and completely cured.
Like the disciples we
often ask, "Why can't we do that?" Jesus still
responds the same way, "This kind cannot come out by
anything but prayer" (v. 29). We are powerless
because we are prayerless. We can't cast out demons,
and move impossible mountains because we don't get
alone with Him long enough to know Him and do
business in His presence. We are faithless because
we don't know Him in an intimate love relationship.
The relationship must come first. God cannot use us
until He has prepared us spiritually. Only when He
has us in an intimate love relationship with Him can
He invite us to join Him in what He is doing in a
The word "fasting" does
not appear in the two best manuscripts. It was
probably added by scribes later to explain the
disciple's failure. Their failure, however, was due
to their prayerlessness. They were powerless because
they were prayerless. Nothing but prayer will
overcome the most difficult of circumstances.
I am amazed once again
how Jesus dealt with this man. Jesus took him from
fear, frustration, despair, doubt, and faltering
faith to a place of trust. He cried out, "Help me,
if you can." In his face to face encounter with
Jesus his faith began to come alive, "I believe,
help my unbelief. Take away my doubts and fill me
with unquestioning faith in You." Jesus still takes
us where we are in our spiritual life and brings us
to an intimate love relationship with Him.
When we have a
grain of faith we can move mountains.
We can accomplish great
things as individuals and as a congregation if we
keep our faith focused on Christ. Do you face
overwhelming difficulties? Has God placed a
challenge before you that is like a huge mountain
looming over you? Jesus pictures a mountain being
uprooted or pulverized. If you put your faith in
Christ even the most difficult task or problem can
be accomplished. Upon what or whom is your faith
focused? It only takes a grain, like a tiny mustard
seed, so keep it focused on Christ.
When we play around
with demons we become just like them, unclean.
Demons will never repent.
They are foul, unclean, impure, sinful and guilty.
There is nothing good in demons. Absolutely nothing!
This is not an area in which you want to experiment.
We become like those with whom we associate. You
play with the devil and you will become like him.
You mess around with filth and corruption and it
will rub off on you. Don't think you can play around
with the forces of evil and get away with it. You
can't. It will take control of you. It will possess
you. The only thing that cleanses from corruption is
the power and the blood of Jesus. "If you walk in
the light as He Himself is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus
His Son cleanses us from all sin. . . . If we
confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness" (1 John 1:7, 9).
When there is
little faith there is little praying.
When there is a wealth of
genuine, persevering faith, there is also
passionate, unrelenting prayer of a righteous
person. If Jesus came back today, would He be
appalled by our lack of faith and prayerlessness, or
would He be delighted with our faithful of trust in
Jesus gave the son back
to the father whole. This is His goal with each of
us. One day Christ will present us perfect (whole,
mature, complete) in the presence of His Father
(Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:28; Phil. 3:21; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Think with me for one
moment about some impossibility you are facing
today. What is that huge mountain you face? Do you
approach it with an attitude of hopelessness? If you
approach it with an attitude of hopelessness you
make it hopeless. When you bring the LORD God into
the picture it all changes. Will you ask Jesus to
come along side and give you His strength to move
that mountain? Remember faith talks. Lord you can do
it! Lord you are always doing the impossible. Here I
am. I believe You can and will make the difference.
I hand this marriage over to you. Lord here is my
son, my daughter, my situation at work. Lord I give
my mountain over to You. I want your perfect will
for my life. Lord you can do it. I know you can. I
have never been disappointed in you. Lord take away
my doubts and fears and help me grow in your grace.
Would you like to know
more on how to have an intimate, personal
relationship with Jesus Christ? Go to A Free Gift
Title: Mark 9:14-29
A Father's Faith
Series: People in Life of