Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Evil Spirit
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil[a] spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.[b]”
I find v24 interesting – Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
It seems like a paradox! At first the boy’s father said he do believe. Then he continued by asking Jesus to help him to overcome his unbelief.
a. the teachers of the law arguing with them: From the context, it is reasonable to assume that scribes criticized the disciples for their inability to help the demon-possessed boy. “One wonders why these same scribes, instead of further embarrassing the crestfallen disciples before the crowd, did not set about exorcising the demon themselves, as a proof of orthodoxy.” (Cole)
i. This kind of conflict was exactly what Peter wanted to avoid by staying up on the mountain of transfiguration (Mark 9:5). But it couldn’t be that way. They simply had to come down off the mountain and deal with what they found.
ii. “He found disputing scribes, a distracted father, a demon-possessed boy, and defeated disciples . . . He silenced the scribes, He comforted the father, He healed the boy, He instructed the disciples.” (Morgan)
d. That they should cast it out, but they could not: This particular case of demon possession was too much for the disciples, though Jesus had given them authority over unclean spirits (Mark 6:7).
e. Apparently some demons are stronger – that is, more stubborn or intimidating than others. Ephesians 6:12 seems to describe different ranks of demonic beings, and it isn’t a stretch to think that some ranks might be more power than others are.
b. A mute spirit: In the eyes of contemporary Jewish exorcists, this was a particularly difficult – if not impossible – demon to cast out. This was because they believed that you had to learn a demon’s name before you could cast it out, and if a demon made someone mute, you could never learn his name.
a. O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? Who does Jesus call the faithless generation? He might refer to the contentious scribes, to the desperate father, or to the unsuccessful disciples.
b. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground: When Jesus comes near, the demon inside the boy knows that his time is short. He wants to do as much damage as he can before he leaves.
v24 “help me overcome my unbelief!” is something a man can only say by faith. “While men have no faith, they are unconscious of their unbelief; but, as soon as they get a little faith, then they begin to be conscious of the greatness of their unbelief.” (Spurgeon)
e. Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him: Jesus had no difficulty whatsoever in dealing the demon, even though the demon made a final display of his terrible strength. Knowing he must leave, the demon did the most damage he could before he left. But it was not lasting damage.
v28-29 – Why were the disciples unsuccessful?
i. Jesus had already given them the authority to cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15), but “The authority that Jesus had given them was effective only if exercised by faith, but faith must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion.” (Wiersbe)
Some challenges in life can be extra challenging than the normal challenge. There are many ways to solve challenges. We can get help from one another. We can use our own knowledge and experience. But when all fails, this show that this challenge is not a normal challenge. When we face extra ordinary challenges, we need to depend on God through prayer and to get strength from God through prayer.