Summary: Can you keep from failing, from losing faith? Can you get it back if it has already failed? Can you keep it from failing? Today, we will answer these questions as we see Jesus face a man in this kind of a situation.


Mark 9:14-32


At the library a couple of weeks ago, where I often go to study, I saw a car with a bumper sticker. This car was parked in the first space, so it was unmistakable – you saw it the moment you pulled into the parking lot, and it confronted you as you walked to the parking lot from the library. It read, in large, loud letters, “Nothing fails like prayer.” Nothing fails like prayer. Now, it is one thing not to believe in prayer, or to think those of us who do pray are misguided or even foolish. But to go to such lengths to ridicule and discourage prayer is something else altogether. And I wondered, what happened to this person? What prayer didn’t get answered the way they wanted it to and caused this crisis of faith? What had happened to cause their faith to fail? Perhaps it wasn’t their faith that failed initially, perhaps it was someone else’s…

PREV: Has your faith ever failed? Maybe today, this very moment, your faith is hanging on the edge, on the brink of failure as you face something big in your life. Can you keep from failing, from losing faith? Can you get it back if it has already failed? Can you keep it from failing? Today, we will answer these questions as we see Jesus face a man in this kind of a situation. Last week, we saw Jesus and 3 of his closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, go up a mountain and have an incredible experience. Up there, Jesus revealed his glory to them, and God spoke to them. Now, its time to head back down the mountain, back to reality. We pick up the account in Mark 9:14. Follow with me as I

read Mark 9:14-16.

A. Jesus comes down the mountain and finds the disciples in trouble

After experiencing the glory of the mountaintop, they quickly return to the reality of the valley.

They find the rest of the disciples engaged in a heated argument with the religious officials, in the presence of a large crowd.

What’s going on here? Can’t I leave you for one minute?

What were they arguing about, Jesus asks.

Let’s read Mark 9:17-18 to find the answer.

A father speaks up and gives a vivid account of a very serious situation.

He brought his son with expectation of help.

The boy is possessed by an evil spirit, who:

• Robs him of speech

• Seizes and convulses him violently

• Produces foaming, gnashing, rigidity

• Attempts to destroy him (v.22).

The purpose of the demonic is to distort and destroy the image of God in man.

A sober reminder that Satan hates, and goes after our kids. It may not look like this, but intention is the same.

With Jesus absent, he expects disciples to help, having their master’s power.

A basic principle of discipleship: “The messenger of a man is as the man himself”

The disciples no doubt expected to be able to help, based on their past commissioning and past success (6:7, 13)

“But they could not.”

Their failure had drastic consequences.

This led to arguing with the teachers over their authority to exorcise demons – they attempt to embarrass the disciples.

Why the failure? Why couldn’t they help this boy and cast out the demon as they had previously? Notice how Jesus describes them as I read Mark 9:19.

B. They were defeated by unbelief

Seeing the situation, Jesus cries out with exasperation, weariness, close to heartbreak. This is a word addressed primarily to the disciples – they had failed in a critical time

Jesus describes them as “unbelieving.”

Jesus pins their failure, their inability, their defeat on their lack of faith, or absence of faith. Defeated by unbelief.

Throughout, we have seen them characterized by unbelief, and hard heartedness. (Cf. 4:40; 6:50, 52; 8:17-21)

Now it catches up to them, with disastrous results.

A serious need is left unmet.

“Disaster occurs when men from whom faith may be expected are proven to be void of power when it is needed.” – Lane

What did they not believe? Where did their faith fail?

They failed to have faith, to totally rely on God. They had faith in themselves, in their past success. They were self-reliant, not God-reliant.

C. We too are defeated by unbelief

It works the same way with us, doesn’t it?

We go from the glory of the mountaintop to the reality of the valley. From Sunday to Monday.

We too are defeated by unbelief.

We too are often characterized by unbelief, or wrong belief

We rely on ourselves, not on our God.

This happens to individuals:

• We have faith in ourselves instead of God as we try to get our lives straight.

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