Summary: There are chances of failures in our Christian life. But how to face failure and turn it to a story of success.
Failures in Christian Life
“After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:28)
Mark has a more complete account of this story than either Matthew or Luke. This, the last exorcism story in Mark's Gospel, occurs when Jesus, Peter, James, and John rejoin the other disciples after the experience of the Transfiguration.
Jesus and three disciples- Peter, John and James-were at the mount of Transfiguration. The Transfiguration took place on Mount Hermon.
(The high mountain is not identified. The traditional site is Mount Tabor, a loaf-shaped mountain in the middle of the Plain of Jezreel. But Tabor is not a "high mountain" (1,843 feet above sea level) and so is an unlikely site.
Mount Hermon, which is over 9,000 feet high, is a more probable site. It is located near Caesarea Philippi.)
1. Mount of Transfiguration vs. the Valley of Disfiguration
Peter, John & James wanted to stay back at the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter suggested that they will make three shelters: one for Jesus, one for Moses and the other for Elijah. It seems an unselfish suggestion. Probably he might have thought that they could stay with Jesus. This was an attempt to avoid the challenges and dangers of the valley of disfiguration. It is a natural tendency.
2. People are looking at us to see and experience the blessings of Jesus.
The other nine disciples were at the foot of the mountain. In Jesus' absence the man had brought his possessed son to the disciples for healing. Doubtless the disciples had fully expected to be able to exorcise the demon. Had that not been a part of their commission (cf.3:15), and had they not already been successful at it (cf.6:13)? But they failed miserably.
3. Our failures in Christian life can make several non-Christians to disbelieve Jesus and His claims.
The failure of the disciples caused the father to doubt Jesus power to heal his son.
It was followed by an argument and probably ridicule for the disciples. The disciples were engaged in a debate with the teachers of the law while a large crowd looked on.
Then Jesus and the three disciples came down from the mountain. They saw them debating on something. Jesus' inquiry as to what the other disciples and the crowd were arguing about (v.16) brought a reply from a man who had brought his son for healing (v.17). The description the father gives of his son's illness is graphic:
• He is possessed by a spirit,
• And this has caused a speech loss.
• He also has seizures accompanied by foaming at the mouth, grinding of the teeth,
• And bodily rigidity (v.18).
These symptoms suggest epilepsy one of a group of diseases that have had particular attention because of their mysterious nature.
The boy had been sick since childhood and had experienced numerous attacks in which the demon had attempted to kill him by convulsing him and throwing him into fire and water (v. 22). Mark uses the plural form of water (hydata), which in this context may mean pools or streams.
Pathetically the father asked Jesus for help. When he left home to bring his son to Jesus' disciples, he apparently believed the boy would be healed.
Now he is not sure and says, "If you can do anything."
4. Jesus immediately fixed on the father's "if" clause.
a. The question was not whether Jesus had the power to heal the boy but whether the father had faith to believe Jesus could- "Everything is possible for him who believes."
b. Or perhaps the reference is to the failure of the disciples. In that case the statement is not about belief as a condition necessary for receiving healing; it is about belief as an active force in the accomplishment of healing. This would help explain Jesus' rebuke of his disciples in v. 19.
However, in view of Mark's emphasis in his Gospel of the importance of faith for healing, the first interpretation is to be preferred. Jesus' statement, which is really a promise, elicited faith from the father. "I do believe," he exclaimed; but he recognized that his faith was far from perfect (v. 24).
c. The father’s faith was still mixed with unbelief.
So in a beautiful display of honesty, he asked Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.
Calvin comments: "He declares that he believes and yet acknowledges himself to have unbelief. These two statements may appear to contradict each other but there is none of us that do not experience both of them in himself."
The demon's exorcism is accompanied by cries and convulsions (v. 26). The effect on the boy was so severe that he seemed to the crowd to be dead. Completely exhausted and looking like a corpse, the boy responded to the touch of Jesus.