One word for an entire year. The idea was intriguing so last year I concentrated on the word “Faith”. This year, through unfolding circumstances, I felt drawn to the word “Believe”
Jesus takes three disciples up a mountain to be alone, leaving the rest behind. Upon their return, He finds them all arguing and one of the men in the crowd explains. “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. [You were not here….] So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” (Mark 9:17-18, NLT)
“Jesus said to them,
“You faithless people! How long must I be with you?” (verse 19)
In Jesus’ absence, this father asked the disciples to heal his son, who had been possessed of a demon for some time. But they could not do it.
The questions Jesus asks is thought provoking. In the brief time apart from Jesus, unbelief had overcome the disciples. Jesus knew the time was approaching when He would be physically removed from their presence permanently.
Jesus turns His attention back to the father, asking about the condition of the boy,
“How long has this been happening?” (verse 23)
Again Jesus asks a “how long” question. The father explains the desperate situation and says, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” (verse 22).
If? The man obviously believed Jesus would be able to heal his son or he would never have sought Him out. Now he seems to be not so sure. The inability of the disciples to help him has created some unbelief in the man.
Unbelief is contagious.
“What do you mean, “If I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” (verse 23)
The father then cries out with an oft quoted Scripture, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (verse 24)
He recognized that while he does in fact, believe, it is still mixed with unbelief. He admits his belief is imperfect.
The inability of the disciples seems to have also impacted the ability of the father to believe.
And this is where “Faith” and “Believe” intersected.
In order for us to have faith and to believe in the midst of difficulties, we must spend time with Jesus. When we are apart from Him for a length of time, we will waver, our belief will weaken. We will doubt.
Our faith must be maintained and renewed. The disciples learned a hard lesson that day and we must relearn this lesson in our day.
This father, in that moment, recognized his weakened faith. He knew he still believed in Jesus yet he also admitted, and confessed, his unbelief.
Jesus asks us as well, “How long?”
How long will we remain in our weakened state of unbelief?
Perhaps He asks so that we will come to realize …
It is not a matter of whether He will or will not grant our request.
It is …
Will we believe that He can?
How long will it take?
This is Day 13 of 31 Questions Jesus Asked. You can find the entire series here.