Posted by: Jo | August 17, 2012

Overcoming Unbelief

Face to Face with Jesus (Part 8 of 10)

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23)

imageTwo very dramatic stories unfold today as we watch two people, a man and a young boy, come face to face with Jesus and see him overcome the power of Satan to inflict misery on mankind. The first man is a pitiful sight tormented by many conflicting impulses which he cannot control and consequently is denied the joy of living a normal life. The young boy in the next story appears to have some form of violent fits which bring much heart ache for his family and of course he also is being denied a normal life.

The first man’s story is found in Luke 8:26 – 39

The first interesting fact we learn about this man was that he was waiting on the shore to meet Jesus, in spite of all the hideous forces trying to destroy him, there was deep inside within him that desire to meet his Saviour and it was this desire that defeated all of Satan’s power over the man. A wonderful lesson to remember for us is that Satan is never able to destroy our desire for Jesus if we are prepared to seek Jesus as our Saviour. The evil spirits immediately recognise who Jesus is and know they are no longer able to control the man and give up any fight in the presence of Jesus. There are many conflicting theories as to why the spirits asked Jesus to send them into the pigs, but the end result of the pigs being sent crazy by the demons was a very graphic picture of what can happen when evil is let loose to roam at will. The incredible outcome of this story is the beautiful picture of our tormented man now, sitting at Jesus feet, dressed and in his right mind.

“…When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid” (Luke 8:35)

imageIt is interesting that dramatic healing actually made the people afraid and perhaps many nowadays still are frightened of healings that come from the Holy Spirit. Our healed man begs to go with Jesus, but Jesus sends him away with a command that applies to us as well.

“Return home and tell how much God has done for you…” (Luke 8:39)

The young boy’s story is found in Mark 9:14 – 29

Any parent who has experienced a very sick child with any sort of illness will immediately relate to this father’s agony. We learn he has already taken the boy to Jesus’ disciples who are unable to help and instead are involved in arguments about the law. How sad that sometimes this is the case today when we see denominations quibbling about doctrine instead of spending more time in prayer. Jesus rebukes the disciples and reminds them to hold fast to their belief and tells them to bring the boy to him. Another reminder for us is that prayer should not be the last avenue, but be the first. The following scenario is such a sweet example of how many of us approach the Lord, hesitantly, with the same words the father uses.

“…But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22)

Jesus challenges the father by repeating his words “If you can?” and challenges him again to have belief in his power. The father’s reply is one of my favourite verses and I have cried it out many times in my life when I have been facing frightening situations.

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

imageWe do not hear Jesus say “Sorry not enough faith” but instead witness a loving understanding of mankind’s weakness and I think acknowledging the man’s honesty, and with all his power banishes the evil spirit from the boy. We are not told of the father’s reaction, but we can imagine the joy of seeing his son healed and we can also imagine how the man’s faith has been strengthened. This healing was a powerful lesson for the disciples as well as for us. When we cry to have our belief strengthened the Lord is very willing to help us stand firm on our faith.

Personal Reflection

Does reading of Jesus’ compassion towards the father in our story, even with his faltering faith, help you in those times of doubt in your own life?

Next week we glimpse how wide and deep is the Lord’s compassion as we witness two more dramatic healings


  1. I’ve taken Mark 9:24 as a verse I try to remember to pray everyday – and often end up praying it several times a day. I do believe, but often seem to struggle with weak faith. God is so much more powerful, loving, merciful and gracious than I often trust Him to be.
    Good thoughts on 2 wonderful passages. – thanks


  2. […] Overcoming Unbelief ( […]


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