Tuesday, September 16, 2008


When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 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.”

“O unbelieving generation, Jesus replied, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

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. Jesus asked the boy's father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “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.”

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Mark 9:14-29

The question Jesus most often confronts his followers with is, what difference does your faith make to the circumstances you find yourself in, the situations you face?

Does it make all the difference in the world; or are we, to all intents and purposes, atheists, or agnostics at best?

Often, when we concede that “Anything is possible through faith,” what we are really saying is, “Theoretically, anything is possible through faith. In principle, God could choose to do this thing or that thing, but in practice certain things are highly unlikely; and, indeed, we’re not even sure whether our asking has any impact on God’s choice one way or the other, for he is not held to ransom by us…”

But in that case, the “through faith” is surely surplus to requirements. Anything is possible, and who can say what will take place? Whatever that faith looks like, it doesn’t look like the kind of belief Jesus was hoping to find…

Heal the sick, drive out demons, raise the dead, proclaim that God’s kingdom is breaking in:
Believe Jesus.

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