“Jesus said unto him, If thou cast believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears. Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:23, 24
Jesus had just descended the mount of his transfiguration. During his absence a boy possessed with an evil spirit was brought to his disciples. The disciples were unable to cast the evil spirit from the boy and were consequently put to scorn by the scribes. Jesus’ sudden appearance and pointed inquiry, “What question ye with them?” thoroughly confounded the wicked scribes. In answer to Jesus, the father of the possessed boy introduced his pressing case. Verse 19 describes the pathetic condition of his son. “And wheresoever he (i.e., the evil spirit) taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” Jesus responded, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto me.” Weary of their faithlessness, of their unbelief, Jesus thoroughly rebukes the disciples. They had labored with Jesus, had accompanied him on numerous preaching tours, had seen the mighty works of His hand, had beheld his perfect example for so long and yet how easily they fell into unbelief and sin. How quickly they forgot his perfect example, his words as the words of everlasting life.
The boy was brought to Jesus. Verse 20 tells us, “. . . and when he (i.e., the evil spirit) saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.” Confronted by the Son of God, him who has all power over every creature, this evil spirit is smitten with fear. Realizing his imminent doom, he makes one last desperate attempt to retain his power over the boy.
Asked how long ago it was that the boy was afflicted, the father replies, “Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything have compassion on us, and help us.” What a bond of love between this father and his son. The father beseeches Jesus, “Have compassion on us!” Jesus utterly ignores the man’s “if thou canst,” for it has no bearing on the case whatsoever. The issue at hand is not whether Jesus possesses the power or ability to heal the lunatick boy. But rather the question stands before the father, do you have faith, do you believe?
The father’s reply constitutes our text. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
What a rich and blessed confession! Happy is the man who can make this confession his own.
Grief-stricken by his own sinfulness and unworthiness, bowed low by the burden of his guilt, the father cries out with tears. He confesses his faith in Jesus, faith in Jesus not only as the healer of his son but as the eternal God of his salvation. But further, by this very faith he recognizes his many shortcomings, his imperfectness, his utter weakness.
Every child of God must make this very same confession. As a child of God he finds within himself the will to perform good. He sees in his life the desire to please God, to walk in accordance to his will and way. But he also finds that he is unable to perform the good. He is forced to acknowledge that even his best works are polluted with sin, that he is carnal, sold under sin. This is of utmost importance!! A true and pure confession of faith is a confession which acknowledges SIN! It acknowledges the sins of our past, it acknowledges the sins which do still cleave to us. Confession of worldliness, backsliding, rebelliousness are necessary requisites to an upright confession of faith.
This is as true today as it was in the Old Testament. Our father Abraham, for example, an upright man who is listed in Hebrews as a giant in the faith, placing his confidence in God is willing to obey God’s command and offer up his only son, Isaac. But this same Abraham could so easily fall into sin. On two occasions we witness him lying concerning his wife Sarah. We see him weak in faith, not trusting God to care for him.
Or again consider king David, the man who made righteous war with the heathen nations of Canaan, and had the desire to build the temple of Jehovah. But oh, how quickly this man of God could commit the basest of adultery and even murder.
This is, however, the earthly life of the man of God; always stumbling, falling. Reaching pinnacles of faith but also passing through the darkest valleys of sin and unbelief. For even the holiest of God’s people have but a very small beginning of the new obedience.
But have faith man of God. Look to Jesus, he will carry you through. Burdened by your sin and guilt confess all to him. He is just and ready to forgive. There is no question as to his power or ability. He is almighty, King of kings and Lord of lords. He is ruler supreme and sovereign over all. With tears of contrition and repentance seek him. He is able. Look to him in faith.
And by looking to him, by falling down at his feet grief-stricken at your sinfulness and unworthiness, I can assure you that he will grant you forgiveness. Coming with tears you can have the confidence that he will one day wipe all tears from your eyes; that a more glorious day is yet before us when we shall dwell with our Savior in heavenly bliss forevermore.
Prayer: Our Father and our God, we come before thee with tears of repentance, confessing our faith in thee. Grant us strength to fight against the evil that still clings to us. And give us the hope of everlasting deliverance in the blood of our Savior. Amen.