Mark 9:14-29

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 30, 2005


Jesus took Peter, James, and John for a little field trip up the mountain. He went up the mountain for a reason:

(Luke 9:28 KJV) … went up into a mountain to pray.

While up on the mountain, something happened. Jesus was “transfigured”. He was glowing. Moses and Elijah appeared and spent time talking with Jesus. The disciples caught a glimpse of who Jesus really was.

As they make their way down the mountain, they’ll be walking into a mess.

:14 …and the scribes questioning with them.

questioningsuzeteo – to discuss, dispute; NLT – “arguing”, NKVJ – “disputing”

What are they arguing about? Their arguments apparently have something to do with the inability of the disciples to cast a demon out of a boy.

:15 and running to him saluted him.

salutedaspazomai – greet, to receive joyfully, generally by embracing and kissing

:17 Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

dumbalalos – speechless, the boy couldn’t talk.

Luke tells us that this is the man’s only child. (Luke 9:38)

:18 …he taketh him, he teareth him…and pineth away

he tearethrhegnumi – to distort, convulse; of a demon causing convulsions in a man possessed; to dash down, hurl to the ground

pinethxeraino – be withered. After the convulsions, the boy was wasted.

This boy was thrown into something that looked like an epileptic seizure by the demon. Keep in mind, epilepsy is not caused by demons, but demons can make a person look like they’ve got epilepsy.

:18 I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

could notischuo – to be strong; to have power; to be able, can

The disciples had been authorized by Jesus to cast out demons (Mark 6:7). What the man had asked the disciples was not out of the question.  They just couldn’t do it.


The disciples and the Master

People will let you down
Hospital Mystery
Doctors and nurses in the Intensive Care unit of a hospital thought they had a problem. Patients always died in the same bed at the same time on the same day. It was always on Sunday morning at about 11 a.m., regardless of the patient’s illness or medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought that it had something to do with the supernatural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. on Sundays. The hospital assembled a World-Wide team of experts to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 a.m., all the doctors and nurses nervously gathered outside the unit waiting anxiously to see of the esteemed panel of experts could determine what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits. Just when the clock struck 11:00 a.m., a part time janitor entered the unit and calmly unplugged the life support system of the first bed so he could plug in the vacuum cleaner.
People may let you down, but Jesus won’t.
Just because we as disciples fail at some things doesn’t mean that Jesus is a failure.

:19 O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?

O faithless generation – who is Jesus talking about? The disciples? The crowd? The scribes that were arguing? The father? Yes. All of them.

:19 bring him unto me.

bring him – apparently the boy wasn’t with the father at that moment, perhaps being held off at a distance.

:20 …he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

wallowedkulioo – to roll itself in mud; to wallowing in the mire; imperfect tense – the boy was on the ground for awhile rolling around in the dirt and foaming at the mouth.

:22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire…to destroy him


Two plans for your life

The father felt that these suicidal attempts of falling into a fire or into water were caused directly by the demon.
This is Satan’s way of handling things.
(John 10:10 KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

This week there was a great tragedy up in Glendale. A man who was suicidal parked his Jeep on the tracks of the Metrolink train. He was intending to commit suicide, just as this boy was thrown into the fire at times. At the last minute, the man jumped out of the car, but his jeep caused the train to derail, collide into a parked freight engine, and then jackknife into another oncoming commuter train. I’m sure Satan was real pleased with what happened. Eleven people were killed, 180 people were injured, and the suicidal man is charged with eleven counts of murder.

For some reason people have this notion that it’s cool to play around with Satanic things – listening to Satanic music, dabbling in the occult, dressing up to look “bad”. There’s nothing cool about it. Satan wants to destroy you.
Satan hates you and has a horrible plan for your life. He wants you to spend eternity in hell with him.
On the other hand, Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
He wants you to spend eternity in heaven with Him. He has taken care of the very thing that will keep you out of heaven – your sins. He died on a cross in order to pay the price for your sins.
All that remains is for you to start trusting in Him and following after Him.

:22 but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

The man isn’t questioning whether or not Jesus has compassion for he and his son. He isn’t saying, “Well if you’re so big and wonderful, then why don’t you have compassion on us and help us?”

What he’s saying is that he simply isn’t sure that Jesus has enough power to deal with this demon. After all, Jesus’ disciples didn’t have the ability to help.

:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

canstdunamai – to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

possibledunatos – able, powerful, strong; it’s a form of the word translated “canst”

In some of the manuscripts, the first “believe” is not there and it reads a little differently, “Jesus said to him, “’If you can’? All things are possible to him that believes”

It’s as if Jesus is quoting the man’s words back to him “if you can” from the previous verse.

However you look at it, the emphasis is still on the fact that we need to believe.

Where we get into trouble is when we think that the “all things” includes every possible thing that could ever happen.

Some folks like to think that “faith” is some sort of cosmic energy, and if you have enough of this cosmic energy you can spiritually zap anything and make it happen.

The problem is that we get to thinking that the power is from us. The power is in Jesus.

This is not some kind of a pep talk like the person that says, “You can do ANYTHING if you put your mind to it”.

The truth is, you can’t do “ANYTHING”.
I really don’t think any amount of faith or positive confession could make you jump to Catalina. There are some things that God has no intention of you having or doing.
There is a difference between faith and presumption. Faith knows what God wants and acts on it. Presumption guesses what God wants.

It’s better for us to say, “All things that God wants for us are possible if we will only believe”

Some things that God wants for us are not possible because we don’t trust Him.



What is faith?
Trusting in something you don’t see.
Knowing in your heart that what God has promised, He will do, even when it doesn’t look like it will happen.

(Heb 11:1 NLT) What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

Faith is something that pleases God. He loves it when we trust Him.

(Heb 11:6 KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

We are saved through the act of faith

(Eph 2:8 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

God has done wonderful things for us in sending Jesus to die for us. This is His grace. But the way God’s grace gets turned into salvation for me is through my faith, through trusting in Him.

What does a life of faith look like?
Abraham is called the “father” of faith. He was one of the first fellows to understand what faith was all about.
(Heb 11:8-16 KJV) By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

He didn’t know where he was going, but he followed God’s direction and went anyway.  Faith is active – it makes you do things, go places.

{9} By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: {10} For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

He didn’t live his life in order to have a bigger and better house. He was looking forward to living in God’s city, heaven – even though he didn’t see it.

{11} Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. {12} Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Abraham and Sarah trusted God.  And because they did, they got pregnant, even though it didn’t make sense to the human mind. Abraham became the father of Isaac when he was one hundred years old.

{13} These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. {14} For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. {15} And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. {16} But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

He lived for heaven, though he didn’t see it in his earthly life.

Dave Ritner was talking to the men on Saturday morning about how God will plant His ideas into our hearts.
For some of us, when God whispers an idea in our heart, we respond by saying, “Oh I could never do that!”

The issue isn’t what you are capable of doing, but whether or not you will trust God.

How do I grow in my faith?
(Rom 10:17 KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

In this passage, Paul is talking about how a person comes to believe in Jesus, and it starts by having someone share God’s Word with them.

The person hears about God’s Word, and God’s Word stirs up “faith” in them.

I believe it goes beyond salvation – God’s Word is one of the big sources of “fuel” for our faith.

It’s through the Word that I know more about God, about who He is, and about how I can trust Him.

:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

He realizes that when Jesus said,

(Mark 9:19 KJV) …O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?

That he was part of the problem.



Don’t be afraid to admit where you’re weak.
Sometimes we get the feeling that we need to put on a front of being a strong believer when deep down inside we know that we struggle with trusting God at times.
It’s okay to admit that you need help. Jesus doesn’t rebuke the man for this confession, He helps him.
In reality, Jesus is looking for honesty from us.
Jesus responds to this fellow by delivering his son.
If you are feeling like your faith is weak today – you need to ask Jesus for help.

:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together

It may be that Jesus had pulled the man and his boy away from the crowd to talk to him and now the crowd comes running to see what’s happening.

:25 I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.

I chargeepitasso – order, command, a military term used in ordering troops around. Jesus barks a firm command to the demon that He expects to be obeyed.

no moremeketi – no longer, no more, not hereafter.

Jesus had taught that when a demon was cast out, it would wander around looking for a new home and if it came back and found the old place neat, clean, and unprotected, it would come back (Mat. 12:43-45).

Here Jesus is telling the demon to leave and ordering it to never come back.

:26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him

One last thrashing for the boy and the demon is gone.

:27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

tookkrateo – to have power; to take hold of, seize

:28 Why could not we cast him out?

coulddunamai – to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

:29 This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Some of the translations omit the word “fasting”, but that’s not a big issue here. Fasting is important, but it doesn’t need to be the issue.

Jesus had already given the disciples authority to cast out demons (Mark 6:7). And apparently they had already experienced some sort of success in casting demons out of people. But the nine had come across a particular case where the demon wouldn’t respond.

Something was missing in the disciples.


Disciplined Prayer

Matthew tells us that when Jesus responds to the disciples:
(Mat 17:20 KJV) And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief…

And then the specific ingredient that was missing in their faith was a lack of prayer and fasting.

We don’t have a record of Jesus praying at the time of this exorcism. When He’s talking about prayer being a key ingredient in this exorcism, He’s talking about a life that has cultivated the habit of praying.
Where had Jesus just come from when this incident occurred?  Jesus had been up on the mountain praying.
God can use just about anybody, but to be honest, there will be a few times when the situation calls for a person who has learned to discipline his life to build strong spiritual muscles.
As we develop the disciplines of study and prayer, we build our “faith muscles” so that when we encounter situations requiring a lot of “muscle”, we can handle it.
Prayer does so many things.
It opens the curtains for us into the realm of the invisible, spiritual world.  Prayer is where we touch the invisible.

Daniel the prophet got glimpses into the spiritual world – things that came after times devoted to prayer and fasting.

(Dan 10:2 NLT)  When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three weeks.

His vision included a visit from a heavenly visitor, an angel. His period of “mourning” was a time of fasting.

(Dan 10:12-13 NLT)  Then he said, "Don't be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. {13} But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way…

Prayer builds our faith.

Getting up early on Tuesday morning for the Men’s Prayer meeting is a difficult thing.  I rarely wake up on Tuesday mornings and say to myself, “Oh boy, I get to go pray this morning”.  Just being honest.

But after our prayer time is over, it’s a rare morning where I don’t feel so pumped up spiritually that I feel like I could fly out of the office.

Are there things in my life that God wants to be doing, but I won’t do them because I lack the faith?  Could these things be affected if I learned to pray a little better or a little more?
Did the disciples ever “get it”?

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.

They didn’t just wait, they prayed.

(Acts 1:14 NLT)  They all met together continually for prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

As you read through the book of Acts, you’ll see that one of the ingredients in the early church that is always present behind the scenes is prayer.  The early church was a praying church.  The early church was a church with faith. The early church was a powerful church.