Summary: A sermon on Mark 9:14-29 regarding the confrontation of the demonic-satanic in our lives and the power of Jesus to free and cleanse our lives.
“Faith and the Power of God”
Most of us want to live on the excitement of the highs in our lives. We don’t want to come back down to the valley and walk amidst the unbelief and ridicule. Our faith is not the kind that thrives on the assaults of unbelieving and unkind people. It is not the kind that confronts boldly and courageously the demonic and satanic. It is not even the kind that stands against simple human wickedness.
The religious leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees, harassed Jesus and His disciples. They were a determined, embittered and hateful group of people. Here in verse 14 it says that these Scribes were “disputing with them.” They were trying to “set them straight” about things in relationship to Jesus. Their “disputing” was not according to faith or the power of God.
Jesus confronted them. Verse 16 says that Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” But before they can answer, a man from the multitude answers, saying, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever he seizes him, he throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast him out, but they could not” (Mk. 9:17-18).
It must have been embarrassing for Jesus’ disciples to be so powerless and unproductive in the face of the Scribes and the enemies of Jesus. They were unable to free this young man from the grip of the demonic powers in his life.
I think it is important that we recognize once again this fact. Demons are real. Satan is real. There is a vast multitude of demons who serve in his kingdom. Their aim is to mislead, defeat, discourage, enslave and destroy us. One of the deceptive things is to think that after we become Christians we are free from the influence and deception of Satan and his servants. Here the disciples who walked with Jesus could not free this young man from the grip of demonic powers.
Jesus’ response is important. He said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me” (Mk. 9:19). Here is the voice of holy despair, godly sorrow over the state of unbelief, the faithless people. Even Jesus’ disciples failed in this situation.
Satan is at war against us. He is our enemy. He wants to destroy us. He wants to destroy our relationships. He wants to destroy the work of the Lord in our lives, in our church. We stumble about under attack, mislead by gossip, misunderstanding and ineffective. We are so like these disciples as we confront our spiritual enemies.
These people in the bondage of demonic powers are an example of Satan’s intention. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” The father said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mk. 9:21-22).
There is an insight into the malignant nature of Satan and his demons. What they cannot control they seek to destroy. Even what they control they want to destroy. In fact they will destroy whatever they can. You cannot trust Satan or his servants. He is a liar and the father of all lies. Any agreement that people make with him he will break. He is not to be trusted. His people are not to be trusted.
First, there is the powerlessness of unbelief in this story. Unbelief has no power. Jesus’ disciples had failed. He had called them and trained them and here they cannot exercise their authority over the evil spiritual powers of the demonic (3:14, 15). Jesus’ words are fitting words for us today. Many people are comfortable in their unbelief. They are even bold in their denial of obvious spiritual truths. Jesus comes to confront us in unbelief. He comes grieving that we have no spiritual power or victory.
Unbelief cannot please God. Neither can it succeed against Satan. Satan is pleased when we do not believe God and cannot exercise authority in the spiritual realm.
Second, here is the clear statement of the power of faith. The father said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mk. 9:22b). Can you imagine a person saying to God, “If you can”? Surely God can do anything He wants to do. God is not bound by the finite or by any power. He can do anything. He made everything that is out of nothing. It’s not a question of whether God can do this. Jesus clearly states this back to the man. He says, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk. 9:23).