Jesus Changed the Demoniac Boy—not the Disciples (Mark 9:14-10:16; 32-45)
Sometimes life feels like it doesn’t let up. You never get a break. I’m not sure if Jesus ever felt like that, but if we followed Him around, we would sure feel that way! As He comes down from being transfigured (no big deal), He finds He has to deal with some unchanging disciples and some unchanging demons. While He was away, a desperate father had approached the disciples who remained behind and asked them to cast the demon out of his son. But they couldn’t do it—no matter how hard they tried!
The desperation this father shows stirs up great pity. His young son is possessed by a violent demon who is intent on destroying the child. The demon keeps the child mute, yet causes the child to foam at the mouth and thrash around. It throws the child’s body into fire and into water, intent on burning or drowning him. The poor child was probably scarred, deformed, and a public nuisance. The father had to live constantly on edge as to when his son would “act out” and try to kill himself.
Jesus surveys the situation and says,
“O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
The father does so, but the child only falls to the ground and thrashes around. The father, with tears in his eyes, looks to Jesus and pleads, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!”
Jesus looks to him and says,
“‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes!”
I love what the father says next: “I believe—help my unbelief!” The father recognized his desperation. He wanted to believe. He wanted to fully understand Who Christ was. He wanted to fully believe, but he still had doubts. His faith was imperfect, but it was there. He just needed help.
And that’s enough for Jesus.
“You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again!”
Jesus’ own disciples needed to learn a lesson from this father. They needed a good humbling—to be knocked down a button hole. They already got some when they couldn’t cast out this demon. But they didn’t learn their lesson. Later, after Jesus again told them about His upcoming death, Jesus overheard them talking about which one would be the greatest. Jesus humbles himself to death while the disciples argue about which is the best!
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Jesus took a child and put him in their midst. He proceeds to tell them about how to interact with children—how they should stop acting like hissy-fit children and start acting like humble children. But the next chapter over, we find these same guys trying to keep the children away from Jesus! Talk about thick-skulled! These guys wanted to be the best, be Jesus’ favorite, even sit on his right hand and left hand in the kingdom. That’s what James and John wanted later in the chapter. After Jesus—for the third time—tells them He’s going to die an awful, humiliating death, James and John come and ask to sit beside Him “in His glory.” The other disciples get mad at James and John—but only for asking the Master before they had the opportunity to!
To this great pride, Jesus responds,
“Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
If God Himself came to earth to serve others—rather than be served—how much more should we, His creatures, serve others rather than promote ourselves!
Now, before you get on a high horse and claim that you aren’t near as stubborn and self-exalting as these guys, think again. Pride is rooted into our very DNA—we all struggle with it, in different ways. But the cure for pride is surrender. It’s doing what that father did—admitting that you have a problem and need help. To whom? To the Changemaker who can handle your problem and can work through your weakness!
Instead of thinking you’re the greatest, think that you’re the one in most need of grace!