The disciples are helpless and ineffective

I once heard the story of an organist who was getting ready to play as the church service began.  When he put his hands on the keys there was no sound. Everyone knew something was wrong, so the preacher quickly got up and led in prayer. The janitor was aware of the fact that … More


A great multitude of people surround Jesus who have been disputing with the scribes (vv. 14-16). When they see Jesus they are amazed and come running to greet Him. This is a very touching scene as you see a father watch his boy being torn apart by evil forces and he begs Jesus for help (vv. 17-22). Jesus had come down from the mountaintop to find His own chosen followers baffled, helpless and powerless. The father had gone to the disciples asking them to cast a demon out of his son, but they couldn’t. What a tragedy. These words could be written over many churches today - “and they could not.” We are living in a world that is sinking in sin and desperately needs Jesus, and the world looks at the church and says, “They could not.”

The man had now come to Jesus with, “Help me if you can” and it was as if Jesus said, “The cure of your boy depends not on me but on you” (vv. 23-27). It sometimes happens, people get disappointed in some church or some servant of God, just as in this case. When that happens they need to go beyond the church or the servant to the Master of the church who is Christ Himself. When the disciples were by themselves they asked Jesus the cause of their failure (v. 28). In essence His reply was that they didn’t live close enough to God (v. 29). He answered them quite simply by saying that this kind of cure demanded prayer. (The added words, “and fasting,” are omitted in the oldest manuscripts). God may have given us a gift, but unless we maintain close contact with Him we may become only a person of words and not a person of power.


To approach anything in the spirit of hopelessness is to make it hopeless, but to approach it in the spirit of faith is to make it a possibility. If I am going to be a person who has God’s power in my life I certainly need to be a person of prayer. I need to consider what specific steps I can take this week to improve my prayer life.

Mark 9:14-29 (English Standard Version)

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer."

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