After a great and amazing experience at the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus and his 3 disciples were coming down, and at the bottom of the mount, there was a great havoc taking place. The rest of the disciples were having a discussion like a debate with the Scribes. There was a great multitude of people was watching them. The issue at hand was this father brought his son who was demon possessed and asked the disciples to cast the demon out, but the problem was the disciples could not do it.
Through this incident, Jesus gave teachings about Faith and Prayer. Let’s think about Jesus’ 2 comments:
1. O unbelieving generation (Mark 9:19)
Unlike the amazing experience up there, the reality under the mount was chaos. Sometimes we get blessed by the Word, sometimes we get blessed and are filled with God’s grace but when we come back to our home or work, and daily life, the reality hits. In the reality of our lives, just like the rest of the disciples, there are issues, problems.
When things get hard and difficult, we have these scribes whispering into our ears asking those questions, you did all that why is God not helping you? These questions cause us to spend time to debate. The disciples rather than focusing on the child, they were wasting time trying to answer these Scribes. These questions rather than helping us to overcome our problem, they lead us to stumble, get caught up in the entanglement.
We need to stop entertaining those doubts and questions but we need to learn to bring our problems and issues to Jesus first.
Why couldn’t the disciples cast out the demons?
In our daily lives today, there are demons of unbelief, the demons of gossip, the demons of sinfulness, the demons of doubt? These are covering us; covering our mouths so we become mute in proclaiming His awesomeness, blinding our eyes so that we may not see and understand, covering our ears that we may not hear the Word of God.
They felt like they were able to do it before, they were probably wondering why is it not happening. We used to be so blessed but now every service is just mundane, we are just going by week by week. Why? This is the result of trying to live today with the faith of yesterday . We cannot but see and experience a shocking reality that the faith I used to have yesterday is not there today. Because I am called pastor, elder, deacon, I have to act like I have faith. So I try to drag the faith that I used to have into today. But it’s not working.
Faith, as the Bible tells us, and as Jesus teaches us, it is present tense. Faith is today. Faith, prayer and serving the Lord is not done by skills. It’s not like riding a bicycle, you will be able to pick it up right away and do it again. The problem is many people try to do it, and are doing it all by skills. Because we know how to say the right words, we know how to do the right thing.
But Jesus is saying O, unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me. Jesus said ‘bring him to Me’, that is the answer . They were able to heal the sick and cast out demons in the past because Jesus sent them. They were only messengers and deliverers of Jesus’ power, that’s why it worked. This time they were trying to do it on their own. We need to realise that is the key to faith. Bring the problem to Jesus and let Jesus deal with it.
Then Jesus said this kind cannot happen without prayer. . Prayer is not just an eventful thing to do during worship times, not a tool like a magic wand to solve our problems, of course prayer is something we need to do when we are in trouble but not only during those times. The prayer that Jesus is speaking about is the kind of prayer that he prayed. How did He pray? Every time he had a chance, he went up the mountain and spoke to the Father. Prayer is not 911 or 999 emergency dial or SOS line. But it’s your speed dial #1 on our phones; the one you call most of the time, the most precious.
The prayer that Jesus is talking about is daily communication with God, daily fellowship, communion, and relationship with God. Jesus is saying without that kind of prayer, no such thing can happen. The power of faith comes from the Word and prayer.
2. This kind cannot happen without prayer (Mark 9:29)
Before this incident, Jesus had gone up the mount of transfiguration to pray, and Jesus revealed the image He will have after the resurrection, and there, Moses and Elijah appeared. Why Moses and Elijah?
(i) They were people of prayer
Moses was a man of prayer during the Exodus and throughout Wilderness journey. Elijah was a man of prayer during the time of the most wicked king and queen.
(ii) They were closely related to the identity and the coming of the Messiah
Moses and Elijah are the signs of the coming of the Messiah, signs of Jesus’ going (leaving) and Jesus’ return.
Coming of the Messiah:
– (Deut 18:15) God spoke through Moses saying the Messiah will come and will be like a prophet like Moses. So Moses becomes a hint and sign to recognise the Messiah.
– (Malachi 4:5-6) Prophet Malachi comes and says before the coming of the Messiah, will come Elijah.
Jesus’ going (leaving):
(Luke 9:30-31) They were talking about how Jesus would leave this earth, whether through resurrection or transfiguration. Because Moses and Elijah happen to be representatives of resurrection and transfiguration.
(Rev 11:6) speaks about the 2 witnesses of the end time
– having the power to shut the sky so that rain will not come – Elijah did that.
– the power over the waters to turn them into blood, to strike the earth with plagues – Moses did that.
Their prayers were not seeking for miracles. They were praying for salvation of God’s people. It is through their prayer, that God did His amazing works.
“If you can? All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23-24)
Mark 9:23 But Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
May this be our response today. I do believe but help my unbelief.
Jesus says All things are possible for the one who believes. We are trying to do some kind of magic through prayer and our focus is the result of that prayer. But Jesus is saying who are you praying to? I am here, are you believing in your prayer or are you believing in Me? When we pray for our family members, do we ask God what is Your Will in this sickness? But often, we decide that we want this person to be healed right now, so we pray “I believe I believe”. Jesus is saying, what you are doing is not a prayer, you are just memorizing a spell. This kind cannot come out without true prayer.
Today how is our prayer like? People like Moses and Elijah gave their life in their prayer. It was not ‘if you can’, may we change our prayers too today. Faith is about whom we believe. Faith and prayer is about our relationship with the Father, just like what Jesus showed us.
Is our prayer a prayer that seeks for the Lord’s Will or is our prayer a request of what I want and I need. Is our prayer a continued communication and communion with Jesus and our Father or just an emergency line?
May we pray in the right way and may all your problems, issues, unclean spirits be cast away.