One of the saddest parts of pastoring is hearing the stories from people that you love and care about when they confide in you the brokenness that has transpired in their life. Many times they have to confess: Help my unbelief. It is almost as though they preface the story with the phrase “the devil got in.” Don’t misunderstand me please, I actually count it an honor that people trust me to try to give biblical counsel and try to alleviate some of the tension or pain in their lives. But the stories almost always have to do with areas of sinfulness, addictions, affairs, betrayals that brought consequences. And the consequences tore things up.
As I look back on years in the ministry, I can bring to my mind different faces of people and different families and friends and even among people that are related to me, and as I hear the stories, the only thing I can say is that it just seems like the devil got in and messed things up. The scripture tells us that we have a real enemy. He is your adversary. Satan has an agenda for you and your family. He wants to steal the blessing, the prosperity, the unity, the love, the joy, the peace, and the happiness that comes when all is well. He wants to kill. And he wants to destroy. He wants to destroy any sense of God given peace and order in and around you. That is his goal. And that is exactly what we see in this passage of scripture in Mark 9.
Jesus and three of his closest disciples are up on the Mountaintop. Peter, James and John. They see Jesus transfigured. It is a holy powerful moment for them. Moses and Elijah supernaturally appear. Jesus garments become shining white. These three disciples have been in the presence of the glory of God. They would rather stay on the mountain and build a shrine rather than come down. But of course that is not possible, so Jesus leads them to come down the mountain to where the other nine disciples are and what they find is a mess.
Let’s jump into this passage and see the mess. Mark 9:14-18 “And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
Jesus walks into a mess! Many people could have said as they looked at that mess, help my unbelief. The first individuals we need to take note of in his scene is a desperate broken Father and his son. The father is called “one of the crowd.” That is significant. He could have been anyone. Had you and I lived in his day, that could have been me or you. And somehow the devil has gotten into this man’s home. We don’t know how he got in. We don’t know if this man opened a door. We don’t know if he had dabbled in other religions. We have no idea. All we know is that the devil has tried to destroy everything. His son is severely possessed by a demon. The bible doesn’t tell us exactly how old the son is…he could be 12, or 15 or 21 The demonic force inside him most of the time keep him from speaking. He is mute. He probably hasn’t spoken for years.
But there are moments when the devil seizes him and in that moment all chaos prevails. He gets thrown to the ground. He convulses. He wallows on the ground, that literally means that he rolls back and forth in the dirt. He foams at the mouth. As Jesus begins to deal with the situation, he begins by asking this father a question. Mark 9:21-22 “So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.”
I want you to put yourself into this text. Imagine this was one of your kids. Imagine that from just being a little child this would happen to your son or daughter. You would try to teach the child to talk and he wouldn’t. You would try to take him somewhere and a scene would happen and crowds would form and you would feel embarrassed. He would be thrown to the ground and you would try to manage the chaos. I can imagine that this man was so weary. Dealing day after day for many years with this boy that he couldn’t control. It is easy to understand why the man later told Jesus, help my unbelief as this went on for so long.
Like any parent, he loved his child. He didn’t want to see him hurt. Yet if there was a fire nearby, the child would run and literally jump right into the flames. If there was water nearby, the child would run towards it and try to drown himself. I mean this thing dominated this family. ho knows where the wife and mother was at this point? Maybe she had given up. How was she handling this? Her son being so incredibly volatile. Mute one moment. Crazy the next. It was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This child had to be watched every moment. I can see the father with tears in his eyes tying the child up just so he could get some sleep. They had probably tried everything possible to help him. They had tried to love him more. They had tried spanking him. They had taken him to the priests. They had talked to the neighbors. They had asked their extended family. And nothing seemed to help.
And when they heard of Jesus, they made the decision to find Jesus and ask for help. It was a journey. And they finally met up with some of Jesus disciples. Nine of the twelve. And these men had tried to help the situation. They had been given authority by Jesus to cast out demons. They had actually done this before. But this was a hard case. And even though they had tried, the could not.
I can imagine how those disciples felt. They knew that the situation had deteriorated around them. A ministry situation that they really didn’t have the answer for. A demonic power that was making a show…tossing this boy to the ground.
So what was a mess, now had become an even bigger mess. A crowd had gathered. In the crowd were some of the religious leaders called scribes. These were men who were very knowledgeable in the Old Testament Law. They were very closely associated to the Pharisees. And they had been watching as Jesus disciples appeared powerless to help the boy. I am sure the scribes had more than a few words to say. Mark 9:14 “He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them.” Disputing means having a grand discussion. It was probably more like an argument. I am sure there was a lot of scoffing and sarcasm. I am sure they had their own idea of how this should be done. They were probably criticizing Jesus. And the disciples were defending him.
And all the while the crowd had gathered. We think of 20 people. No! A multitude had gathered. I don’t big a multitude is, but this was a giant mess that Jesus walked into.
You may look at your life today. You may be reading this and you are thinking my life is a mess. Hear me! Jesus is the answer. When he walks into a situation, things can change. You may not believe God can help but you can say, Help my unbelief!
How many of you know that if you take the simple words of Jesus and follow them, you are sure to be doing the right thing? You can never go wrong following the red letters in the Bible.
The question we have as we look at this passage is what do I do if the devil has gotten in and made a mess?
- Bring the Situation to Jesus
Remember Jesus has walked into a mess. He listens. He understands the situation and what is going on. Here is his advice: Mark 9:19-20 “Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him.”
It sounds simple doesn’t it? Bring him to Jesus.
- Bring your mess to Jesus.
- Bring your addiction to Jesus.
- Bring your betrayed heart to Jesus.
- Bring your family to Jesus.
- Bring them to Jesus.
This should be the very first thing that people do when they find that the devil has gotten in and made a mess. I want to tell you that for many people, it is a last resort. Why is it that we prefer to rely on our own selves and our own ingenuity? Why do we tell ourselves, I will be able to fix this? Bring it to Jesus. When you walk into the house and hell has broken lose. Stop, right then, and bring it Jesus. Stop and pray right then and there. If the devil is causing trouble in your home and marriage. Stop! Pray! Bring the situation to Jesus.
Resist the urge to talk to the people down at work let everyone know. Do not get on the phone to your friends and ask advice. You can’t google the answer. YouTube doesn’t have the solution. The latest pop psychology book cannot help you. Dr. Ruth, or Dr. Phil or Oprah don’t have the answer you need. Go my friend to the one who is all knowing, and all powerful and take the mess to Jesus!
I feel a strong responsibility as a pastor to tell parents how important it is that children have an opportunity to learn and to grow. Bring them to the house of God when they are little. Bring them to church when they are students. If they live in your home, even if they are in college, make sure that they understand that attending the house of the Lord isn’t an option. Online or at church.
Someone once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I guess I am old school. I was raised old school and I raised my kids that way. When I was a kid, I got drugged.
- My parents drug me to Sunday School
- They drug to midweek.
- They drug to youth.
- They drug me to revival.
- They drug me to Sunday night service.
I was in church hours every single week. I am grateful! Bring them to Jesus when they are little. But today I know that many parents did that very thing and now their adult children no longer serve God. They can’t bring them to Jesus in the sense that they bring them to church. But when you see that the devil has gotten in and there is a mess. Listen, you can still bring them to Jesus. You can bring them right before the very throne room of God.
I am convinced today, that we need a revival of prayer for the lost and the dying and the hurting and the messes of our world. I can remember my grandmother. My mom’s mother. There was a season when my Uncle Paul wasn’t serving the Lord. My grandmother would linger in the altars and pour her heart out to God. And I can tell you that on a daily basis she brought him before the Lord. Until finally my uncle gave his life to Jesus Christ and he is a solid believer today.
Where are those moms today? Maybe some need to repent and say, Help my unbelief! Bring them to Jesus. John 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
You may be asking why are there so many problems in our world? Maybe you wonder, how did it get like this? Jesus knew we would ask these questions.
- Understand the Reason for the Messes in Our World
When Jesus walked into that mess. He knew and understood exactly what was going on. It was a generation that lacked faith. As the man began to speak and say, “I brought my son who has a demon to your disciples and they couldn’t cast him out.” The moment he began to speak, Jesus knew this man had some unbelief in his soul. He saw some faith, but he also heard the despair in his voice.
As he saw the looks even on nine of his disciples faces, he understood their lack of faith in that moment. He saw that they felt powerless and frustrated and embarrassed. He knew the situation of what had happened. He understood the power of this demon. He knew that they lacked faith. They had not prepared themselves with prayer and fasting as they should have.
As he saw the scribes with their smug faces, thinking that they understood everything about the Old Testament Law. They were there arguing, disputing, creating a scene. Jesus knew they lacked faith even in the very word they said that they knew so well. Because those Old Testament scrolls testified of Jesus.
That is why Jesus said what he did in Mark 9:19 “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” Whenever you find a generation of people who lack faith, you are going to find that the devil has a foothold to get in.
- Maybe they do not even believe in him.
- Maybe they have forsaken his ways.
- Maybe they once believed but the struggles of life and the cares of this world choked out the faith they once had.
Where you find a generation without faith, you are going to find messes. You are going to find arguing. You are going to find powerless churches. You are going to find families in turmoil. You are going to find children that somehow get full of the devil.
Many are building their house on the sand. They thought they knew how to live their lives. They are living how they want to. They think they know what was best. I can assure that the wind and the waves are coming. And when they come. Some of those lives are going to crumble. Their house will not stand. And sometimes, “great will be the fall of it.”
But I have good news today, in the midst of faithless generation, God is raising up a church that believes. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
They believe that the best way to live is to obey and to do the things commanded in the Bible. They are building their house on the rock. That rock is Christ Jesus. They are saying, I believe in Him. I am going to have faith in Him. That faith becomes the foundation of a home and a family. It will stand.
Those who believe in Jesus will not be exempt from the storms of life. The rain and the wind and the waves will beat on their house to. But it will stand. Why? Because they have faith and are building on the right foundation. I honestly believe we live in a generation that is becoming increasingly faithless. That is why we must increase our faith, extend our influence, and stand for God in these days.
Well, the devil wants to get in! Don’t let him! Ephesians 4:27 NIV “ and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Do not give him a place in your home.
Do not give him a place in your life.
Do not allow sin to be present in you.
Live for Jesus.
Love your wife.
Respect your husband.
Do what is right and in the end you will see that the enemy has tried over and over to get in and create a mess. But he cannot find a place. You have your armor on! Your shield of faith is up. You have to sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God! With Gods help you will prevail.
Be Honest About Your Struggle And Admit Help My Unbelief
This is an interesting passage because sometimes when we face stuff in life our faith can be shaken.
Isn’t honesty refreshing? I resist this hyper faith Christianity that says, I never struggle ever! I think God can see right through that façade that people sometimes put on before they come to church. They think that by saying certain things and by pretending to act in certain ways, they think that with God they can fake it till they make it. God sees right through that!
What is interesting is as we look at this passage is that Jesus didn’t criticize this man for his struggle. A lot of people say, I can’t admit I am struggling, because God will be mad. Listen, who you trying to fool? He knows you struggle. What did Jesus say to this man? Mark 9:23“Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Do you know what Jesus did? He didn’t scold Him, he encouraged him! He said, all things are possible. God isn’t going to scold you. He will encourage you. How did the Father respond? With an honest confession. Mark 9:24 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” We need to learn how to be honest. Most of us have at least a small amount of unbelief. As we bring our struggles and our mess to the Lord, He will encourage us.
- Don’t Despair for Delays if Things Get Worse
Have you ever prayed, thought you were trusting God, and it just seemed like things got worse? Have you ever had a mess or a struggle, and you brought it to Jesus, and then it seemed to slide back downhill? Think of this Father. He finally gets to the disciples of Jesus and they cannot help. And even when Jesus deals with the situation, notice what happens. Mark 9:25-26 “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.”
Imagine that you are that father and you are watching as Jesus rebukes the demon. The demon convulses the boy greatly. He falls down and people not only think he dead, but they are actually saying. Oh no! He is dead! He is laying on the ground, and he isn’t moving. I can assure you that the 90 seconds that it took for Jesus to get over to the boy, those 90 seconds were the slowest moving seconds in that man’s life. Was his son dead? Did the demon win? Did the devil win?
And there are moments in our lives when we wonder, is God going to come through or not. There is always a gap of time between when you pray and when you receive the answer. Sometimes that gap is just seconds. Sometimes it’s a week. Sometimes it’s a month. And sometimes it seems like things are going from bad to worse. Abraham had to wait 25 years. In that gap, you need to do one thing! Trust Jesus for the outcome.
- It doesn’t matter how broke checking account looks.
- It doesn’t matter if the doctors report isn’t good.
- It doesn’t matter if the walls of your house that are built on the rock are shaking from the wind and the thunder is pounding in your ears.
Trust Jesus for the outcome! I love the outcome of this event. Mark 9:27-28 “But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.”
The scribes were silenced. The faith of the disciples was encouraged. The Father received his son.
- Go Back to the Place of Power.
The church has to get back to the place of prayer and fasting. We have to continue in prayer until we prevail. I know that many people look at the situation they or their family members are in and think, there is nothing that can be done. They reason that this is a hard case. It is too difficult. The enemy has won. The disciples couldn’t cast this demon out because this was a severe case. Jesus used two words to describe the hard cases of life. He called them “this kind.”
Jesus is finally alone with his disciples. The mess has been cleared up and they have a conversation. Mark 9:28-29 “And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Most of us immediately look at the cost and wonder is it worth it that I pray and fast. Listen, if you focus on the first five words that Jesus said, you will be encouraged. THIS KIND CAN COME OUT!
There is nothing too hard for God. No family situation that cannot be mended. No mess that He cannot clean up. Let’s return to the place of prayer and see what God can do.