Mark 9: 17-29 NIV- Being Spiritually Fit
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 impure 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.”
Last week, we focused on the compassion, love, and willingness of Jesus to comfort and help us even in the worst of our circumstances. Luke 5 and Mark 9 give wonderful illustrations of what the power and love of Jesus could do for someone’s life. Thankfully, there is nothing in this world that could separate any of us from the love of Jesus. The Holy Triune desires to withhold nothing good from us. Nonetheless, sometimes we ourselves must be willing to put in some of our own effort. I believe that sometimes we don’t get to experience the impossible with God because we haven’t been willing to pursue all that is humanly possible.
In Mark 9, the disciples spent hours upon hours in front of a large crowd trying to free the boy from his demonic spirit and absolutely nothing happened. I don’t even know if “embarrassing” completely captures how humiliating the experience must have been for the disciples. Hence after Jesus somewhat easily casts out the boy’s demon, the disciples wanted answers. We must remember that the disciples had cast out demons without Jesus prior to this. (Mark 6: 7-13) So, their confusion was reasonable. Nonetheless, the answer Jesus gives them in verse 29 is telling. He tells them that certain interventions require explicit prayer. In fact, in several manuscripts, verse 29 ends with prayer and fasting.
As Christians, we can never forget the power and anointing of spiritual disciplines. Things like praying, fasting, tithing, singing, and meditation are more than spiritual rituals. They are exercises that strengthen us. Regardless of what secular society says, there really is an ongoing war for the souls of humanity. Yes, confessing our sins and accepting the salvation of Jesus will save our souls. However, Mark 9 is a clear example that we may also encounter scenarios in our Christian walk that will require a certain level of spiritual maturity. Now is the time to exercise spiritual discipline that will lead towards true spiritual fitness.